While we’re all waiting for the new Norma Jean album to come out (which is apparently soon!) or praying for Big Black to get back together (who knows; who really expected Refused to reunite, anyway?), we need to fill the time with some good, noisy, sort-of-post-hardcore music. In this case, I’d like to highlight Nonpareil and their EP Allergen.
Nonpareil is an Arizona-based supergroup featuring, among others, ex-Abigail Williams singer Connor Woods and ex-The Bled bassist Darren Simoes. The band’s sound is pretty much a combination of the bands referenced above; they take Norma Jean-style songwriting, strip it back a smidgen, and top if off with some production that sounds like it was taken straight out of Steve Albini’s garage. Allergen—the band’s debut EP—wears these influences proudly, while also bringing their own interpretation of the genre into their songwriting. Get ready for tons of feedback and purposely sour notes, all played at a pretty frenetic pace. Woods’s vocals have a lot of depth, changing from standard hardcore shouts/yells to full on screams, while the instrumentation is precise and cutting like a serrated knife. The band is very well-practiced, and it shows.
If Allergen has a flaw, though, it’s in the EP’s length, and the variance in songwriting. Overall, it’s worth listening to if you’re a fan of standard hardcore and/or math rock, but it’s under 20 minutes—not enough time to get a full feel of what Nonpareil can do with their music. Nonetheless, it’s a great sample of things to come and cements these guys as a band to be put on any list containing the words “noise”, “post”, “hard” and “core”. In any order you want.