ALBUM REVIEW: Graphic Nature – A Mind Waiting to Die
They say that fashion is cyclical, and that what was cool 20 years ago, will once again come back to the forefront. 20 years ago, nu-metal had a moment, but there was much debate among millennial and Gen X music aficionados as to whether or not it was ever really ‘cool’.
20 years later, however, that debate has been laid to rest, as a new batch of metal and hardcore bands are embracing the nu-metal sound, and are allowing it to influence their work. One of the newer (nu-er?) bands to fall into this category is Graphic Nature.
Following a smattering of singles and EPs, the band’s debut album is a fiendishly delightful amalgamation of aggressive nu-metal and hardcore. Indeed, frontman Harvey Freeman has described a mind waiting to die as “nu-metal as fuck.”
Combining the down-tuned chugging riffs of turn of the century nu-metal with contemporary breakdowns and metalcore electronic flourishes, this is an incredibly strong debut, and a great snapshot of modern metal.
Appropriately for a band sharing a name with a Deftones track, this influence can be heard throughout the album. However, Graphic Nature‘s most recognisable influence is Slipknot; as the Kentish mob effortlessly combine introspective lyrics concerning mental health, with a savage metal onslaught. Something that Freeman was keen to pursue in his formative music career. Another clear influence on the band’s work is Linkin Park, and nowhere is this more obvious than on The Downpour, whose maudlin keys sound more than a little similar to In The End.
While there’s plenty for fans of old-school nu-metal to enjoy, there’s a lot of forward-thinking metalcore here. Into the Dark is an aggy, heavy rant of a track that’s reminiscent of Stray From the Path; while Killing Floor wouldn’t be out of place among high-fliers Knocked Loose’s work.
What sets GN apart from the nu-metalcore pack is their love of drum and bass, and their willingness to thread that influence throughout this album. It should be a clash of genres, but they sit hear together brilliantly to deliver a brutally heavy sound. This is most notable on tracks such as Sour, Sleepless, and interlude 90. It almost sounds like a sonic fist fight with Freeman’s mental health struggles; with blast-beat jabs pummelling them back, for a momentary cathartic release.
There are many highlights on this album, however, the standout track is arguably Death Wish. The lyrical content of a mind waiting to die deals with mental health in unflinching, frank, and often bleak terms; but on Death Wish the battle reaches its pinnacle. This is the sound of Freeman fighting his demons head-on, and coming to the realisation that whether he is successful or not, he is willing to see the fight through to the end. Indeed, he announces that “for once in my life I’m not afraid to die.”
The struggle with mental health is something that Freeman has been keen to emphasise across the band’s work to date. “I write about mental health. Not enough people talk about it in a genuine way. It’s a subject I make sure to discuss at every single show. I don’t have a big presence online, I don’t care for that, but when I’m on stage and people have taken the time to watch our band, I feel I can really express myself that we need to talk about mental health.”
As pointed out, musical trends come and go. And while nu-metal is currently having another moment in the sun, you get the feeling that Graphic Nature would be making this kind of music anyway. Whether the band stick with this style in future, or explore different sounds, if they approach it with the same directness, passion and creativity as they have on their debut, then the future is very bright indeed.
Standout Tracks: Death Wish, Headstone, Into The Dark
For Fans Of: Knocked Loose, Stray From the Path, Slipknot,
Written by: Tom Forrester