Album Review: The Beast of Nod – “Multiversal” 9/10 (Death Metal)

Written by John Angel

The Beast of NodMultiversal
Intergalactic death metal from
Releases March 29th, 2021
Self-released
9/10

Do you like intergalactic death metal? Wild ass shred guitar? Cybernetic tigers with dorsal mounted laser cannons? SPACE SQUIDS?!? Boy howdy then do I have the album for you!

Multiversal is the sophomore effort from self-described “intergalactic death metal” outfit The Beast of Nod. Wondering what exactly intergalactic death metal is? The group has provided an informative definition: 

Intergalactic death metal: [noun] 1. A subgenre of death metal music featuring linear song structures, odd time signatures, and extremely technical passages

After listening to Multiversal I’d say this definition is right on the nose. I would just add “lyrical themes dealing with sci-fi & space opera concepts” to the definition (more on that below). The amount of jaw dropping shred on this record is insane. Dr Gore (not his actual name but it’s my understanding he has a Ph.D from MIT so he is indeed a doctor) has an insane, perhaps intergalactic, level of technical facility and he’s not afraid to put it on display. Using every inch of the instrument these tracks will go from blistering arpeggios in the highest registers to deep thalls at the drop of a hat. A new section starts and I think to myself “is this the solo on the track or just another blazing lead? How can someone play all this? WHAT’S HAPPENING?!?” Not to be out done, Lord Marco (aka Marco Pitruzzella) lays down an absolute wall of sound behind the drum kit, expertly keeping up with every shift in texture and time and matching the intensity of Dr Gore’s high-flying shred-nanigans. Sometimes I’d forget this band has a bass player (listening to 8-string guitars will do that) but then Brendan Burdick comes in with the perfect counterpoint for a passage and has just such a tasty tone.

The Beast of Nod are undoubtedly a group full of musician’s musicians. Exhibit A of this claim is Multiversal featuring 6 guest solo spots from luminaries of shred guitar past and present. Joe Satriani, Michael Angelo Batio, Abiotic guitarist John Matos, Wormhole guitarist Sanjay Kumar, Equipoise guitarist Nick Padovani, and Bleak Flesh guitarist Matias Quiroz are all fans enough of the group to lend their talents to the effort. As mentioned earlier, the album is packed front to back with an incredible amount of virtuosic, wild ass guitar playing. Dr Gore, who also handles most of the composition duties, is certainly blazing his way into the pantheon of shred guitar through his work with The Beast of Nod. 

The compositions themselves are wonderfully detailed and reward close, repeated listens. Moving from intense tech death sections full of blast beats and arpeggios to gentle interludes putting the lush, ever present orchestral elements front and center, the music on Multiversal presents a wide ranging palette to sink your teeth into. Main themes of each track are given efficient treatments, having every ounce of music wrenched from them. Often passed between instruments these themes are presented in a variety of contexts and textures. Harmony on this record is colorful and adventurous. Progressions common in Baroque music of the 18th century sit alongside beautiful changes that one would find in early 20th century classical music and even jazz. Although I’d have to really dig in with transcription and analysis to confirm this, I suspect that the themes are varied and developed throughout each song. I’d often hear a new theme and wonder if it was a variation of the A section or a brand new melody. This leads me to my one big criticism of the album: I didn’t find any melody all that memorable. My listening notes are filled with phrases like “wall of shred” and “virtuosic stream of notes” and I think it can be hard to make super memorable passages when you’re doing your damnedest to melt faces. However, the lore and stories presented on the group’s albums more than make up for this!

The Beast of Nod have created a sci-fi universe (referred to as The Land of Nod) populated with all kinds of zany creatures descended from ancient and contemporary species found on Earth. Vocalist and loremaster Paul Buckley has imagined everything from cosmic squids to celestial cetaceans (space whales in layman’s terms) to the ferocious TCTWADMLC (The Cybernetic Tiger With A Dorsal Mounted Laser Cannon), affectionately referred to as Tee Cee. The story of Multiversal continues where their debut record, Vampira: Disciple of Chaos, leaves off and features elements of space opera: titanic clashes, larger-than-life characters, and detailed world-building rooted in modern science, technology, and philosophy. 

The Land of Nod is filled with tongue-in-cheek humor as reflected in the wonderfully stylized and colorful illustrations of Omar Field-Rahman that populate the section of the band’s website known as the Encyclopedia of Nod. It will be updated with new lore as the release date approaches, providing all sorts of delightful new subject matter. Personally, I find this refreshing in a landscape full of death metal and tech death bands that only play Very Serious Metal and have all their visual elements in a monochrome. More bands in the death metal space could stand to take themselves a little less seriously. And throw some pink and purple in your fuckin color palletts.

Overall, I find that The Beast of Nod has beautifully married over-the-top death metal with over-the-top sci-fi in the funnest way possible on Multiversal. They recently relocated to the SF Bay Area, where I’m located, and I can’t wait to get out to one of their shows (or any show for that matter). Make sure to check this record out when it drops on March 29!

9/10

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