Nucleus is an interesting band. Therefore you could easily wager that Sentient, the debut album from this Chicago quartet, is guaranteed to be an interesting listen, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Though what I deem to be the most interesting thing about Nucleus, is the fact that they play old school death metal, but they don’t. Sentient is clearly rooted in an old school death metal style, but said style itself was one ahead of its time. Demilich, Atheist, and Timeghoul influenced death, bonded with a Seance like fortitude is what Nucleus offers up with Sentient, but does that classify it as old school, or semi-modern tech, with just enough class from some of the pioneering elders of death metal? Honestly, who gives a rat’s ass, because all that truly matters is that Sentient is a great album.

  Nucleus gets the ball rolling with “Sentience”, a short instrumental intro of simple chords and an off kilter melody that rings with just a touch of spaciness before heading off into “Dosadi”, with its Atheist meets Seance aesthetic that sets up nicely, the formula for the rest of Sentient‘s tracks. More off kilter Atheist type rhythms and melodies show up in “Cantos”, as well as some Immolation and Demilich mannerisms, with that prevalent Seance vibe. Both “Extirpate” and “Swarm” drip with that heavy, punishing, yet catchy, Saltrubbed Eyes old school familiarness, in the way that the bass and kick drums just beat you down relentlessly. It’s hard to really pick an album highlight. Not only do all the tracks shine in their own way, they do so in such a heavily influenced recipe that comes across in a completely, non-plagiaristic fashion. From the large influences of Timeghoul and Demilich on “Ancient” and “Insurgent”, or the “Cube”, with its myriad mix of everything from blasts, tremolo picked melodies, off kilter rhythms, rung and strummed chords, hammer ons, pull offs, and so on, all melded together with a little weirdness and even some Anacrusis-isms too, Sentient simply seems real and honest.

“Starflyer” closes the album out in a supremely, fine form. Slower cosmic/ethereal, dissonant doominess begins the track, and the Timeghoul influence is strong with a wonderful interplay in the instrumentation. The 3:00 minute mark lays a fat groove, then quickly melds into massive chords drenched in doom that call at the throne of John McEntee(Incantation), before falling back into a Timeghoul thrashing to close out the song and album. Every track offered up on Sentient is a success in my book. They all have a nice balance; an ebb and flow of solid, even familiar, rhythmic structures with a healthy dose of eccentric melodies, flair, and ideas that push the material forward.

The influences of Demilich, Atheist, Timeghoul, and Seance are just pouring off of this album like sweat off a whore in church. It’s like Nespithe, Piece of Time, Saltrubbed Eyes, and the Tumultuous Travelings and Panaramic Twilight demos all took part in some metal orgy, and somehow Sentient was the odd, yet wonderful outcome. Admittedly, that’s a weird analogy, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t true. Nucleus have a winner with Sentient, and their label, Unspeakable Axe, continues to pull from a seemingly, infinite well of talented bands. Very much like their labelmates Ripper, and their latest album, Experiments of Existence,(in fact, both Ripper‘s and Nucleus‘ new releases feel very much like they could be companion/brother and sister albums, so to speak.) Sentient is an awesome, old school flavored attack that can easily hold its own in today’s more “modern” metal scene.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
September 15th, 2016


  1. Commented by: Juan Manuel Pinto

    Totally agree on Nucleus and Ripper recent albums being nice “companion” albums. Meaning that either one fits nicely to be played right after the other.

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