On its latest full-length, hard-rock trio Sine Nomine positions itself somewhere amid the intersections of hardcore thrash, head-banging metal and structural post-rock. Doug Huttegger and Derek Yeager share vocal and guitar duties while Michael Frisella keeps time with pneumatic precision. You don't miss the lack of a dedicated bassist, as there is enough low-end present in the trebly, spindly guitar work. Much of Super Molecular Dust Separator follows a similar formula: Screamed vocals and rapid-fire guitar kick things off before the tempo is cut in half and smartly plucked guitar notes and unblinking, barely sung vocals deconstruct everything that came before. "Heavy," the appropriately titled opening track, serves as a pretty good litmus test for one's love of Sine Nomine: If you can make it through four minutes of chugging riffs and churning vocals, proceed with blessings on your head. If not, you might need an aspirin.
Sine Nomine is at its best on a song such as "Brown," where those twin forces — fast/vicious and slow/measured — intersect and play together in congress. On the track, you can most clearly feel the push and pull of the band's musical poles, which are explored individually throughout the rest of the disc. The ten-minute "Chester" is the band's most adventurous track, an even split between the more plaintive (but still menacing) spoken-word vocals and throat-scraping excoriations. Patient listeners will stick around for a two-minute sound clip from the famed peyote scene in the 1988 Billy the Kid biopic Young Guns. (Kiefer Sutherland never sounded so hardcore.) The film's clips pop up again in the next song, "Kill" (though this time, Lou Diamond Phillips gets a chance to shine). Which raises a question: Is Separator a track-by-track rebuttal to the late-'80s gunslinger flick? Probably not, but it's anyone's guess as to what lyrics are actually being sung through the blazing yowls and primal screams.
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