Portuguese death metal outfit, Nihility, ignore the morbid element of the genre in favour of Nietzschean philosophy. With a black metal influence running beneath the surface, they also give us the elitism we demand from artists of this nature. How could you be impressed with Nihility if they had no cerebral angle to their music and espoused their worldview with anything but supremacy?
It’s ironic that Nihility are so certain in their weltanschauung (ideology) when they follow a philosophy that created the moral relativism we see today in our society. As they make clear in every song on Beyond Human Concepts, there is no true religion, no civilisation that will always conquer, and no superior political doctrine that enlightened people must follow. In this respect, a throbbing death metal framework is perfect for this message. Growling vocals, crunchy guitars, mellifluous bass shredding, and complex drum shifts speak the language of that which can comprehended by a small elite. Opener, ‘Martrydom for the Herd’, starts like a dirtier version of Decapitated with aching chords ringing out among the precise palm-muting. You’ll notice a death-doom metal feel creep into the song at sporadic moments, but the Phrygian dominant tremolo ending is pure black metal. Vocalist, Mário Ferreira, is like a Portuguese Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse in the way he ruminates on the venom of his vowels and consonants in a guttural tone of voice. In any other genre of music, the anti-bourgeois lyrics would stand out (“Sublimate your will to power/ Separated from the rest/ A life of constant struggle shall mould you/ Creating a worthy higher being”), but the sound here is too gruesome to communicate its philosophical message, and that’s not a bad thing, either.
Their lyrics may have Christianity in their kill-shot range (see Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals for an introduction to this type of antipathy for the religion), but the sonic approach is one that aims to gratify the listener with technical riffs and a surprise amount of mid-tempo grooves that Machine Head and Carcass perfected in the first half of the 1990s. Ignore the low-range vocals, and the likes of ‘Will to Power’ and ‘Conflicting Vanities’ could be from that period but with an updated emphasis on finding the nastiest chord fills on the fretboard. Perhaps the technical death metal of Psycroptic offers a better comparison on ‘Destroying the Shackles of Prejudice’, although the wisdom of Chuck Schuldiner is never far away on this record.
How many times do the most acerbic bands have a lot to say and little musical talent to accompany their message? You won’t find that weakness here on an album that delights in promoting the idea of the strong crushing the weak. Bassist, Miguel Seewald, takes many an opportunity to shred through his scales as if auditioning for a future slot in The Voodoo Gods. Guitarist, Renato Barbosa, is just as talented in the mastery of his instrument. Listen to ‘The Religious Doctrine’ for a full appreciation of his progressive techniques.
As with any dogmatic album, the lyrics are sometimes too certain in the righteousness of their message, which is ironic for a nihilistic artist that claims to believe in nothing beyond the darkest fundamentals of the human desire for self-recognition. Listening to the songs with the lyric booklet makes for a better experience rather than relying on the grunting of Mário Ferreira to transmit this ideology.
The noisier and rougher guitar distortion will remind you of Brazilian death-grinders, Nervochaos, but Nihility show here they can mould their own sound on future records. Beyond Human Concepts is an ambitious marriage of music and philosophy and deserves thirty minutes of your time, even if you’re unworthy of its worldview.
Release Date: 08/01/2022
Record Label: Vicious Instinct Records
Standout tracks: Hubris, Human Stupidity, The Religious Dogma
Suggested Further Listening: Decapitated – Blood Mantra (2014), Nervochaos – Dug Up (Diabolical Reincarnations) (2021), Psycroptic – Psycroptic (2015)