Nothing – Guilty of Everything (Relapse Records)

Relapse releases a shoegaze album
Release Date: 
28 Feb 2014 (All day)

Well, this is … odd. Shoegaze — yes, it’s a genre. No, seriously. Remember back in the ‘80s when My Bloody Valentine and Ride were big? Not that big, obviously, but big enough to warrant their own (pretty silly) genre tag. Shoegaze has gained traction in the metal world of late, with the signature distorted, droning riffs and melodically driven wall of sound cross-pollinating with black metal. Bands such as Deafheaven, Alcest, Palms and Wolves in the Throne Room were ‘the next big thing’, topping end-of-year-best-of lists, winning critical and popular acclaim, and spawning a multitude of second-rate imitators.

I suppose all of this explains Relapse Records’ (a record label beloved for releasing acts such as Cephalic Carnage, Pig Destroyer, Dying Fetus, Exhumed and so on) decision to sign Nothing, who are not a crossover, shoegaze/metal band, but rather play straight-out shoegaze.  

Sure, it’s loud, heavy and distorted, but there’s not an ounce of aggression here. That’s not a criticism: this isn’t a metal album, and Nothing’s debut album, Guilty of Everything, should certainly be evaluated on its own terms. This is dreamy-pop, billowy-blustery shoegaze. But it’s worth mentioning that the ‘terms’ are a little different from what we’re used to.

Credit is certainly due to Relapse, it’s a bold move to expand their roster away from the extreme metal that they’ve championed so far (grindcore, death metal, sludge, doom). But I still can’t seem to shake the cynicism about this release (similar to when, following the success of Mastodon and Baroness, the Relapse roster filled with bands that sounded like … wait for it … Mastodon and Baroness).

This is perhaps motivated by the fact that I didn’t find this to be a particularly enthralling album. I remember being more interested in this sort of thing back in the days of Galaxie 500 and The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Guilty of Everything sounds, to these jaded ears at least, like an uneccessary rehash.