`Dum Spiro Spero’ marks 10 years of life for this grisly, underground outfit from Switzerland, although by the sounds emanating from this filthy slab of nastiness, you’d think they had been going a lot longer! These boys are from the Emmental region of Switzerland, a tranquil, hilly region famous for its dairy produce, but for once I am not going to fill the review with corny jokes about cheese, muesli or any other stereotypical things. All I can say is – Nihilo must be disturbing the peace considerably down there.
This is a truly authentic. old-school racket all right, with primitive brutality which drags you kicking and screaming back to the very early days of death metal and grind. Nihilo do a nice line in punky, primitive speed, which really reminds me of Autopsy, early Carcass and their ilk, as well as large slices of filthy, blasting grind. The band really mix up those elements well, although a lot of it isn’t particularly catchy, or sticks in the mind after you’ve listened to it. The vibe, however, is spot on.
Especially when they decide to slow it right down to a zombie-esque crawl. This is when the band really hit the spot with dark, creepy, primitive atmospherics. The final track on the album, after which the album is named, is an exercise in all things doomy, grim and bleak, and runs just over the 20 minute mark.
There are a few hints at more modern trappings, such as some serious bursts of pounding double bass drum, and some pretty weighty blast beats, just to remind us that Nihilo are keeping an eye on more modern ways of brutalizing people’s ears, but for the most part they faithfully stick to the gnarly, ugly old school style, from back in the day when bands didn’t define themselves by such narrow, tight little definitions, and could play at varying speeds without confusing people. Here we have fast, frenetic face-mashing, combined with slow, sickening sludge, as well as a gobbet of grisly groove to really get things moving. Nihilo also provide twin vocals – one deep and gurgling, the other harsh and throaty.
On the whole, this album is a bit of a grower. It is definitely a mix of styles listeners of older bands will have heard before, but Nihilo do it well, and do with it a certain style and class of their own. This album may raise the pulses of fans of Autopsy, early Carcass, Grave and some of the other ancient, grim bands of that period. Not bad at all.
(7/10 Jon Butlin)