Lately, I’ve been finding that the bands/artists that don’t take themselves too seriously are the ones that I find myself regularly coming back to. Being at either end of this hypothetical ‘musical seriousness’ spectrum, be it compulsively striving for objective perfection or just aimlessly making music just to do it, can adversely impact the music in more ways than you could imagine. Exceptions certainly exist, but the sweet spot is being somewhere right in the middle as being able to entertain the wildest ideas with resolve and aptitude is necessary to create music that both sounds fantastic but more importantly, that is truly unique.
France’s Nord is one such artist that strikes this balance quite handsomely. I discovered them with their 2020 release, The Only Way To Reach The Surface, and was quickly smitten with their immensely chaotic and genre-blending take on post-hardcore; this particular album is the embodiment of modern progressive post-hardcore. Their new EP, The Implosion of Everything that Matters, marks their anticipated return after quite some time of radio silence, although it features the band taking a new direction that may or may not be appreciated by existing fans; depends entirely on who you ask.
The reason I mention that is apparently their guitarist is no longer with the band (I don’t know the details) and Nord have carried on without a replacement, heavily utilizing synths to fill that instrumental void. Whether or not that tidbit is a deal breaker is entirely for you to decide. Regardless, the band continues onward and treads the waters with this new but equally familiar sound. The inherent character of the music is still very much what you’d expect from Nord, that much hasn’t changed.
As I mentioned and as far as I am aware, there are zero guitars on this album. In place of that comes the form of swirling and tantalizing synth-work; the relieving thing about that is it actually has some depth to it rather than being used as a temporal aesthetic touch just to fill in space as is often heard in these types of -core bands. Nord had to find a way to integrate the synths into their music in a way that could effectively replace the guitars entirely, and they have certainly done that and the end result is this infectious French synth musical.
With Nord having to think outside the box due to the massive change in the instrumental department, naturally their sound would shift from the heavily abrasive chaos to what we have here on this EP. There are a few moments in which Nord show that they are still capable of being gnarly as all hell, as heard in “Truth Philters” and “Sexorcism” for example, but they’re incredibly explosive but transient as a result. Other than that, this EP is an abstract earworm of an EP that reminds me of Closure In Moscow’s experimental escapades and hooks heard on Pink Lemonade. With only five songs here, there is no shortage of catchy melodies that’ll burrow into your temporal lobe and latch on like a parasite, one that develops a commensal relationship with your brain.
Aside from the uber catchy nature of the vocal melodies, the rest of the band pops off just as hard as there is so much attention to detail and care put into the crafting of the music, making for a single second never once being wasted. Altogether, this makes for a beyond satisfying listen that begs for repeat listens. The middle segment of the title/closing track is one of my favorite parts of the whole EP, with the dizzying synths that swirl and swirl, leaving me in musical vertigo, only to be rescued by the kick drum and bass guitar that come in perfect unison with a complex and satisfying rhythm.
While The Implosion of Everything that Matters may not exactly be what long-time fans wanted from the band, especially this far out since their last release, it shows the band adapting to their new situation in a way that maintains any and all authenticity that they always had. The music heard here is still very much that of Nord, just with a slightly different presentation. While the ideas across several of the tracks could have been fleshed out a little more, it is clear that this EP marks a transitional period for Nord as they get back into the swing of things and find their new niche. Even then, there is still plenty to sink your teeth into as Nord’s latest release begs to be spun again and again.