Nodriza: 'La Montaña Desnuda'
It is the existence of bands like Nodriza that guarantees the quality of a musical scene: tireless bands that, with high levels of commitment and experimental vocation are possessed by their sound, their hearing and the unexplainable rules of their interplay, instead of yielding to some obsolete radio tags.
'El camino de la reina' opens the ascension of this Naked Mountain (that is the translation of the album title) with a melodic riff where heath and cold fight for domince, as the rythmic backing brings forth a feeling of expectation that soon gets its climax with the entry of a new riff, metallic and filled with violence, that gives ways to a voice that is able to maintain articulate melodies assembled with blood-curdling screams.
The album is filled with moments that make you want to go to a Nodriza concert, yield to the music and drive the evil spirits out
The experience of this prog metal quartet from Valencia playing live is noticeable from the beginning: mixes and tuning are extremely careful, in order to bring harmonies forth, but they don't lose an ounce of aggression because of that: their sound is violent and gutsy, but that doesn't prevent them from introducing melody leaden passages seamlessly. If I had to choose a defining trait of Nodriza's compositional talent is their capacity to integrate a great diversity of melodic lines into a greater whole, while also giving breakdowns and time signature changes a sense of purpose instead of just doing them because of gender constraints: something sorely missed from many bands in the contemporary metal and hardcore scene.
Mixes and tuning are extremely careful, in order to bring harmonies forth, but they don't lose an ounce of aggression because of that
Even if the most evident influences come from Tool and the nu-metal sound (in the brodest sense of the term), this first song showcases elements that would seem at home in a thrash (or even djent) number, and keys and melodies that seem to come straight from doom metal, post metal or an Alice in Chains album. In 'Devorado por Quien' we might quickly hear why they chose to call themselves, amog other things, a "nu-metal band". However, this song's structure also makes clear that whatever genre tag they might choose to adhere to, they are not going to be your typical genre band. It's also easy to notice how they expand the sound palette offered by Maynard James Keenan and his sidekicks, turning it into something quite different: they turn Tool's starry sky into a smoke stained cave ceiling where fiery shadows dance, a tendence that is specially noticeable in 'Orgullo Vacío', with its labyrinthine surfaces filled with echoes and phantoms which we walk hand in hand with a bass sound that keeps our feet on a soot-covered floor: in the rare moments it decides to keep silence, we feel thrown into a world that glows with a dark red hue.
In 'Perros de Paja' we find ourselves inside of a seemingly more conventional song, that sees the band threading the line that separates hardcore and nu-metal, and taht lets the voice take a more dominant role. 'Corre Fuerte', the album's second instrumental piece, soon follows, and acts as a perfect counterbalance to the previous song. Its style is difficult to pinpoint, but its length and its riff-laden character separete it from the somewhat disperse charachter of many post-metal compositions. It isn't a typical prog metal composition, either: it is in moments like this one where Nodriza's special talent to bring different influences together into an original and attractive new mass of sound.
'Gracias por existir' returns us to the universe of groove and thrash metal riffs, and serves as one of the album's more extreme moments, one of that moments that make you want to go see them live, yield to the music and drive the evil spirits out. Album closer 'Refugio en el abismo' doesn't simply work as a cathartic conclusion, but it also casts beatiful lights and colors into the band's future.
We must have faith in the growth of the global experimental music scene: and of course, Nodriza had already contributed to the effort
If I must point a flaw (and it's difficult when we're dealing with such a thoroughly enjoyable album) it would be some lack of memorability, which might be caused by their experimental sound and structures. The untrained ear might have had detecting the many differences that exist among (and even into) the different songs, eventually losing its way in the many galleries that pierce through this naked mountain.
But of course, when discusing a quality album both in terms of composition and mixing/production, and that showcases the power of a metal music scene that is fruitful and multiplies (unlike so many other musical scenes) this is a rather minor problem. I believe that this band has a very bright future ahead, and that despite the hardships that minority genre bands have to gain exposure. We must have faith in the growth of the global experimental music scene, aided both by the Internet and the many nascent festivals: and of course, Nodriza had already contributed to this effort.
Text: Dimas F. Otero