September 23, 2014 Nonpoint – The Return (Album Review)
Originating in Florida, Nonpoint has been blasting their way through the Metal scene since 1997. Having released eight studio albums and two live albums, these seasoned rockers are no strangers to the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to make a record. After hitting the scene with the splash that was their debut album Statement (2000), Nonpoint has been working tirelessly to expand their fan base, which they lovingly refer to as the “Nonpoint Nation.” In 2012, they paired with stellar studio producer Johnny K who has also worked with such artists as Disturbed, Sevendust, and Pop Evil, for work on their eponymously titled album. Now, two years later they seem to be looking to recreate that same electric chemistry and power with their eighth studio album The Return.
Opening with “Pins and Needles”, Nonpoint begins their return with a bouncy, rhythmic intro, accented with vocalist Elias Soriano’s trademark gritty vocal grind in the chorus. The prominent drum work of Rob Rivera really makes this a great start for the album, like bold appetizer to eclectic four course meal. It is soon is followed by the first single off the album, “Breaking Skin”. Featuring melodic and jumping riffs of guitarists Dave Lizzio and Rasheed Thomas makes this an easy track to get lost in. One of the most technically interesting tracks on the album is “Razors” with Soriano’s vocal swells and peaks cascading across the instruments smoothly and almost effortlessly. Everyone gets to be a star on this track between the way the percussion folds into the bass and guitars and the vocals melt over top in an intoxicating musical marriage. Whisk in some powerful imagery (“Leaving scars behind just like razors”) and one has a cocktail that is sure to perk the ear. Following this is the bitter-sweetness of “Misery” and its almost hip-hop-esqe funk that could have you bopping along or banging your head at the turn of a single note. It is a fine line that Nonpoint seems to walk precariously, mediating the balance just enough to keep listeners moving either way.
The next few songs “The Return”, “Take Apart This World”, “Forcing Hands”, and “Never Ending Hole” follow the simple science that has become Nonpoint’s signature. Sound rife with jarring string work, dominant kit devastation and highlighted by aggressive vocal tenacity that is both infectious and determined. Moving into the more somber tune on the record, “Widowmaker”, Nonpoint makes a much more poignant impact with a soft instrumental intro that slowly rises and swells into a full on melodic upswing with humbling undertones. The vocals warn the listener not to get involved, ‘So don’t invest your heart too much / Because I’m going to break it,’ but the music pulls them in. Lizzio and Thomas’ work alone are enough to break hearts, but the delivery of the lyrics deepens the connection with the freshly summoned ache. It is a soulful fringe song whose effect lingers internally even after the final note and the fairly abrupt end only intensifies the longing. They make up for it by barreling full steam into “Never Cared Before”, which features the relentless skins assault by Rivera that echoes in the chest and rings in ears of all who listen alongside the snarling yawls of Soriano and full-body bellowing bass of Adam Wolosyzn. Of course no Nonpoint album is complete without at least one blatant “f**k you” to the state of today’s society and that is where “F*CK’D” comes in. Some memorable tracks with similar subject matter on past albums have been: “The Truth” on Recoil (2004), “Bullet With A Name” on To The Pain (2005), and “Wake Up World” on Vengeance (2007). It cannot be said that the men of Nonpoint, Soriano especially, are too far removed from the world’s problems, because they aim to bring some awareness to it on just about every record they make. Rounding out the final notes of The Return is “Know Myself”. With its silky lyrical flow and up-tempo heart-line, accented by jagged riffing for flavor, the recipe is a complex dichotomy of sound and sense that leaves the listener intrigued with the content and moving with the melodic undercurrent of the song.
After two pre-label releases, a live album, over twenty singles, seven studio albums, and hundreds of thousands of records sold, Nonpoint are still as relentless as ever. Despite moments where notes and riffs from different songs seemed to meld together, overall The Return is just that, the keystone to the return to Nonpoint 101- hard riffs, dynamic melodies, enticing harmonies and unyielding perseverance. The only thing left is to see how they deliver this material live, which is a whole other adventure unto itself and one that is eagerly awaited. CrypticRock gives The Return 4 out of 5 stars.