NODE, In the End Everything is a Gag  (2010, Scarlet)

The skull:
Got the whole Rorschach test artwork approach going on…kind of. You can spot tiny variations, but ultimately it’s yet another skull cover that plants a skull in the middle of the frame and chucks a mess of formless junk at it, plasters it around the skull and calls it good. Is it really good? I guess it’s better than many we see here at BDS HQ. We sure would like to see the skull a lot bigger though…any skull smaller usually gets stuffed into the Honorable Mentions closet and forgotten about. But man, look at all that junk! That skull ain’t gettin’ outta there any time soon. What it all has to do with the album title I have absolutely no idea…

The music:
For as long as this Italian band has been around, it sure seems like no one has cared very much. Constantly under the radar, their music is of a consistently high quality, in terms of performance, but do they deliver something special, something to treasure and revisit year after year? Not really. Albums and songs have their moments throughout their discography, but it never feels essential and never draws you back for repeated listens. This album, their fifth, is their least remarkable yet, ruined by vocals that are the epitome of modern metalcore screaming — interchangeable with the hundreds of other bands that sound like this. So fucking vanilla. Think Anselmo-meets-Lindberg…yep, that thing. Musically, nearly every song has a cool riff, an unexpected rhythmic shift, or a comes-out-of-nowhere spiraling melodic guitar line or theme (“Masks of Life”), but as a whole it’s forgettable stuff. The Billy Idol cover (“Rebel Yell”) is lame, although you gotta give them credit for trying. Ultimately, they’re heading down the metalcore road and that’s a mistake. They’re too experienced to be jumping on bandwagons, and they’ve chosen the worst bandwagon to jump on. Node? Nope.
— Friar Wagner

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