Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Friday, December 8, 2023

Review: Нула – Со земље

Label: Via Nocturna / Geenger Records / Three Moons Records

Date: May 13th, 2022

Tread carefully here. Нула is a Cyrillic word for “zero”. However, if you were to browse for Nula, its Latin counterpart, you might stumble into the old Croatian crust punk band. Other than these two, there is a Bosnian band called Nula Plus. And a couple more somewhat similarly named acts. So, just use Cyrillic letters and you won’t get anything wrong. Copy it from above and you’ll be fine.

By the way, my first question would be why the whole album is not “wrapped” in the same lettering? The front cover is Cyrillic, the track list in the back is in Cyrillic, but the inside of the booklet is Latin. A weird decision that doesn’t really ruin anything, especially if you’re not Serbian, but it hurts my eyes nonetheless. Particularly because the release is a graphic masterpiece and carefully designed to fit the content. The lyrics are also something to look at and absorb with absolute sense. Okay, many of you will need to translate it, and you definitely must, considering the lyrics are an extremely important factor to gathering all the brain waves of this release, so the Latin lettering will help you. But still…

Anyway, on with the “show”. The title of the album translates to “Salt of the Earth”. Which immediately got me thinking of Balmog from Spain and their monument of a record, called “Pillars of Salt”. Now, don’t get me wrong, Нула is as far as possible from the Spaniards, genre wise. Apart from that fairly black metal segment in the closing track, “Семе”. The similarity, however, does not end there. The most obvious piece that gets you thinking of Balmog is the immense weight of the soundscape on both mentioned records. Production of them both has, apparently, the same intention. To drop a massive bomb on top of your head, exploding in a musical palette that, while not being all too colorful, crushes you both within and without.

Namely, Нула is all about sludge doom metal. That sticky, greasy kind of music that wraps you tight and won’t let go. An incendiary device that you cannot shake off. “Со земље” hurts you intentionally. Not physically, but mentally. It brings about your own insignificance in the grand scheme of things. You feel like a bug about to be squashed. Or even less. And the feeling increases during the band’s live performance. Trust me, I’ve seen it. Any more of it and we would’ve been showered with shards of glass from the windows, glasses and bottles packed in the venue.

The other thing that “Со земље” is out for is the sense of letting go. In a number of songs the topic seems to be surrender to the pressure of existence in a void that is humanity. Naturally, the band does not promote compromises with the surrounding world or giving in to the temptations of living like a “regular” person. Quite the contrary. But the music present on the record perfectly summarizes what that pressure, to adapt and perish in the mass, feels like on a daily basis. Again, it is portrayed in the lyrics, as well as in the sound itself, helped immensely by the massive production work.

And, what concerns music and the creative effort, the quartet (of three Milans and one Miloš) builds the suspense magically. They heighten and lower the pulse of each individual track at its best convenience. Using each instrument to, first, check all the boxes necessary for the genre, and second, to drive the sledgehammer right at the foundation of every personality in the audience at the moment. Be it with the hard hitting knock-out blows or the mellow and melancholic slowdowns.

In that regard it is necessary to point out two aspects of “Со земље”. Namely, the guitar solos and vocals. Not that the others didn’t deserve sincerest congratulations for the effort, as they all contribute to this grand release, but these two massively stick out.

The former being nicely assembled and inserted at the right moments, and remaining unpretentious in accentuating the selected pieces. It’s almost as if they’re not solos at all, but fragments of song arrangements that serve to no bigger purpose than to lead you further within the track itself.

As for the voice, it is my humble opinion that within the genre you will find very few singers that can carry around such energy. There is not a shred of doubt that Mr. Miloš Milošević feels these lyrics boiling under the surface. With significant assistance from the string section that is backing him up he creates a vortex sucking you in his own fears, doubts, moments of optimism, as well as pessimism. Executed to perfection!

Finishing off, I would like to once again turn your attention to the graphic side of “Со земље”. Sure, we can joke around and describe the front cover as an etching of a Tolkien’s Ringwraith riding a bull eating people on a bunch of pillars (of salt). But I really don’t think Нула is messing around here.

So, dive into the art as well. Go for the CD, until there’s a giant vinyl around. Also, you can try the tape version that is among the finest editions you can find. If you can even find it, considering the very limited quantities. There’s also a digital version. As you can see, the choice is yours, but the choice that needs to be made, as this is some top-notch, world-class sludge / doom metal. And certainly the finest Serbia gave birth to (so far) this year (and not just in this genre).