Nocebo by Elizabeth Colour Wheel

Release date: March 15, 2019

It’s quite rare for sludge and doom metal to really crack open its seams for other musical influences to effectively creep in; and when it does it doesn’t always pay off. This is not the case for Elizabeth Colour Wheel, the Boston based five-piece whose debut record Nocebo is joining the notable catalogue of dark, experimental post-everything veterans The Flenser.

The band introduce themselves solemnly in the opening passage of ‘Pink Palm’, but quickly build to its frantic climax that’s a view to the towering highs and pummelling lows that are yet to come. It’s impossible to deny that Lane Shi’s vocal performance is incredibly unique from the off; you could reference Joanna Newsom or Regina Spektor as a vague comparison, but she is tapping into something that’s totally her own on these tracks. ‘23’ is a shining example of this, her cries and chants over crushing guitars and plundering drumming are captivating as they sway into its stark mid-point, cascading from the almost hopeful preface of the track to reach something akin to Oathbreaker’s more harrowing Rheia moments.

The true highlight ‘Hide Behind (Emmett’s Song)’ gives the full scope of diversity in both the vocals and the instrumentation, a scorching opening serves as the most break-neck moment of the record before descending rapidly into the most desperate. Shi’s vocals hit their stride as they rise and wither, haunting the space between each note before it transitions into the 6-minute, heart-wrenching thrum of ‘6 Bedrest’; an auditory companion to a cathartic stare at the world blurring past from a moving vehicle.

The record’s deviation from crunching instrumentation and more shimmering musical climbs can sometimes feel meandering, however it takes nothing from the quality of the song writing. From the bleak epics like ‘Life of a Flower’ and the comforting haze of closer ‘Head Home’, so many sounds are reached for and drawn in to the dense walls that Nocebo encloses around you and are so cohesively welded that it never feels depthless.

Beautiful and refreshing, Nocebo is an impressive debut for a band who takes risks and weaves them into the familiar tropes of shoegaze, doom, punk and a multitude of other genres which frankly the band manage to transcend – the record’s warm yet scathing disposition leaves its mark accordingly and demonstrates that Elizabeth Colour Wheel can only go up from here.

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