The Stillness IllnessSilverdust Records
By Cole Faulkner
Every year I anticipate that one horrorpunk or psychobilly album that absolutely captivates me by lifting the genre out of novelty and into regular rotation. That one album you can play for your friends and not get strange looks your way. In 2006 it was Blitzkid’s Five Cellar’s Below, in 2007 it was Sweden’s The Coffin Shakers self titled work, and in 2008 it was The Gutter Demons’ final genre-defying masterpiece Misery, Madness, Murder Lullabies. Being half way through 2009 I was getting a little antsy that this year might not bring the goods, but then I ran across Vancouver’s favourite horror punk outfit Nim Vindand I knew that would soon change.
Now I have to admit, I have followed Nim Vind ever since I first heard their 2005 debut, The Fashion of Fear. Nim Vind’s distinct blend of horror, rock, punk, and 50’s doo-wop took me by surprise and became a personal staple for more than a while. But then the group just sort of fell off the map. Their lead singer and frontman busied himself with his other local band, The Vincent Blackshadow, updates became scarce, and Nim Vind became somewhat of a memory. But then, after four years of stagnation came promises of something new, and while the album missed its original 2008 release, after much delay Nim Vind finally released their 2009 follow-up, The Stillness Illness. Based on how much I had enjoyed The Fashion of Fear, I had secretly been hoping that The Stillness Illness would be “that” record which 2009 had yet to deliver. And was it ever worth the wait – even with 2009 only being half over, I can safely say that The Stillness Illness is the novelty transcending, oh-so-playable horror album of 2009 I had been waiting for.
The Stillness Illness is 48 minutes of pure energy. The highs are mountainous, catchy, and engrossing, and the lows find a perfect balance of atmosphere and intrigue. Even before The Stillness Illness, Nim Vind stood apart from the pact because of frontman Chris Kirkham’s unmatched smooth croon (reminiscent of higher pitched version of former Misfits’ vocalist Glen Danzig), masterful integration of horror themed lyrics, and deathly immediacy of every note, vocal, and instrument. But The Stillness Illness elevates Nim Vind’s ambition even further, with the man behind the band now drawing upon subtle metal and rock flourishes, giving the Nim Vind a immediacy like never before.
The album opens with “Killing Saturday Night,” serving as a wonderful introduction to Nim Vind’s genre ascending aspirations. The track seamlessly blends an unforgettable 50’s doo-op inspired chorus with all the furiousness of a melodic Blitzkid track. In keeping with the horror theme, a closer listen reveals a subtle, doom-filled organ hum. It’s the strategic integration of these elements that make all the difference. For example, in “The 21st Century” the band regularly employs echo distortion, creating an atmosphere of haunting uncertainty. While the core of many of Nim Vind’s songs remain similar, these little flourishes keep things catchy without feeling repetitive.
The Stillness Illness also introduces periodic metal influences to Nim Vind’s already winning formula. “Suicide Pact” features a particularly aggressive guitar solo that helps the album achieve that “huge” factor, and others like “Revenge” keep the influence strong without becoming overpowering. That isn’t to sayNim Vind has ditched their punk-roots though. For example, “Blood Clots… Rise of The State Police” features the album’s fastest pace and most unrelenting drumming, achieving a balance of speed and melody usually only met by veteran punk acts like Bad Religion.
Before moving on I feel the need to make a quick note about the album’s slower tracks. There’s no denying Nim Vind can write a mean acoustic track, and nowhere is that more apparent than on the album’s concluding composition, “The Message.” Without a doubt The Stillness Illness’ most atmospheric track, “The Message” features the perfect balance of echoic backing vocals, moody distortion, and distinctive synth beats. That Nim Vind can conclude an album as energetic as The Stillness Illness with an acoustic track and retain every ounce of intensity is a testament to the album’s vision.
And finally, a quick comment about lyrics. Despite being associated with a lyrically clichéd genre, Nim Vind rises to the occasion and breaks out of that mould. In the interest of time and space I won’t delve too deeply into the exact lyrical content, but I will say that much like psychobilly greats The Gutter Demons,Nim Vind has a way with words that just makes you stop and think. In other words, Nim Vind doesn’t just say unique things, but they say them in unique and captivating ways, making repeat listens a pleasure.
To conclude this bloated review, there isn’t much more I can say other than to restate the obvious: The Stillness Illness completely blew me away and exceeded all expectations. Nim Vind has created a widely appealing release without sacrificing their horror influences or legacy. Even if you don’t typically enjoy things in the horror genre, I can’t recommend The Stillness Illness enough.