NOTHINGFACE

"Violence" (TVT; 2000)

Reviewed by Alicia Downs

"Violence" is Nothingface's third album and debut release with TVT records. This Washington, D.C. based quartet is presently racking up the frequent touring miles. Just completing a tour with metal icons Pantera, they are now getting ready to hit the road with some of metal's newest noisemakers, Mudvayne and Disturbed. Impressing audiences along the way, Nothingface's newest album provides a diverse listening experience of "new" metal - the kind that does not offer raw talent rather combines melody and passion in blazing instrumentals. 

The most stunning accomplishment of "Violence" is the multi-dimensional aspect, no doubt from the contributions of producer Drew Mazurek (Gwar) and mixer David Bottrill (Tool). With each listen a new facet unfolds, sounding so pure in one aspect yet complex at the same time. Tracks like "Bleeder" and "Dead Like Me" provide moments of compelling guitar solos so melodic and unsuspecting. Guitarist Tom Maxwell exposes the vulnerability of his playing exemplifying his influences Dave Navarro and Led Zeppelin in these serene moments only later to be suffocated by the formidable blend of drums, bass, and vocals. 

"Can't Wait for Violence" easily lends itself as the album's signature track filled with hard core metal mastery expected of seasoned musicians. Listening closely the true gem of "Violence" comes from the absorbing drums that combine primitive tribal sound with hard core metal aggression (drums were played on this album by former member Chris Houck, not Tommy Sickles who joined the band after "Violence" was recorded).

While "Violence" does fall into the trap of coming across more radio friendly hard rock than in your face brute metal, its impassioned vocals and awesome instrumental offering forgives any shortcomings. 

The present members of Nothingface are Matt Holt (vocals), Tom Maxwell (guitar), Jerry Montano (bass), and Tommy Sickles (drums). Bill Gaal (bass) and Chris Houck (drums) were the former members who played on and contributed to "Violence." 

More information can be found on their official web site: http://www.nothingface.net

"An Audio Guide To Everyday Atrocity" (Mayhem/DCide; 1998)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter



Baltimore's Nothingface aren't in the music business to make subtle impressions. Nothingface is full bore, in-your-face fervor bordering on aggressive hostility without being too violent. Nothingface have proved that it is possible to play hard music with drama and a sense of melody.

Nothingface have the right idea - they are quick and to the point; their nine songs clock in at a total of 38 minutes. There is nothing fancy about Nothingface's material - straight ahead '90s hardcore. Although the band gets caught sounding a bit like other bands at time ("Ginning" reminds me of early Korn in its spirit) this no way detracts from the emotional impact of the songs.

Vocal melodies help the band get their point across. "Grinning" has a great resonant chorus with the lines "it happens way too often/eyes closed and mouth forced open/you always seemed confused" which reminds us all that it is better to keep our mouths shut and look confused than to say something and remove all doubt. "So Few" utilizes a relentless drum beat to counterpoint the halting guitar riffs and lyrical euphony - it's not hard to image this devastating track getting some radio airplay from a daring disc jockey.

Cool tracks are in abundance on the disc. "Villains," an uptempo ode to self-reliance, has a series of huge riffs that quickly grab your attention. "Error In Excellence" has driving riffs and decent vocals; this song reminds the listener that powerful music need not be abrasive and completely relentless. The disc ends with "The Sick" and reminds the listener that Nothingface have quite a bit of potential; the slow riffs aren't predictable and provide enough breathing room for the vocals to make a substantial impact.

A couple of disappointing tracks are "Goldtooth" and "Sleeper."  Although "Goldtooth" has bristling energy, it comes across as second-rate Vision Of Disorder. "Sleeper" has a rambling vocal that takes away from the quiet power of the indolent music.

"An Audio Guide To Everyday Atrocity" was produced by Nothingface and the famed Baltimore-based Drew Mazurek (click. and Compression). The production on the disc is outstanding; the disc sounds great. The vocals are high in the mix without detracting from the power of the music. The tone of the guitars, bass, and drums are neither too harsh nor too smooth.

Matt Holt provides the emotional vocals, Bill Gall plays a ferocious bass, Chris Houck plays the tribal drums, and Tom Maxwell plays a mean guitar.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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