Full Album Premiere: Nonsun – ‘Blood & Spirit’

It would be wrongheaded to only view Blood & Spirit, the sophomore effort by Ukraine’s Nonsun, through the lens of Russia’s war on their country. They didn’t write these five songs of adventurous, mostly instrumental doom with Putin’s tanks and rockets in mind. Yet there’s something in the album’s full-bodied expressions of grief and resilience that connects to the strength and sorrow of the Ukrainian people, something dormant but innate, waiting in the ether for Nonsun to come along and tap into it. As the band notes, the songs (and their evocative titles) all had a personal meaning before the war. Those meanings, tragically, have become more universal.

Take “That Which Does Not Kill,” the shortest and most direct song on the album. It’s an interrogation of the famous Nietzsche aphorism, and it leaves its conclusion ambiguous. Does surviving a personal trauma – like, perhaps, a Russian air strike – really make you stronger, or does it trample your spirit? “A Wizard Grieving Over the Loss of His Magic” is an elegiac introduction of the album’s themes, while the towering, 13-minute closing track “In Your Eyes I’m A Cripple” rings out on an angry and defiant note. The band’s sound is anchored in the rhythmic pounding of drummer Alpha and the sturdy playing of bassist Alex, who leave multi-instrumentalist Goatooth plenty of space to add expressive guitar figures, bursts of squawking saxophone, and lush, atmospheric synths. It’s clear that a lot of care went into the compositions on Blood & Spirit. Everything is in its proper place, and the emotional impact of the songs is bolstered by the band’s precision.

Nonsun provided a statement on Blood & Spirit, as well as a list of ways to support Ukraine. Find those below, and pre-order the album, out this Friday via Dunk! Records.

Blood & Spirit is more ‘doom,’ more ‘metal’ than its predecessor Black Snow Desert, but no less experimental. It’s also more song oriented. A little more introspective and personal, and a little less ‘dehumanized.’ The album’s theme refers to spiritual struggles through the bloodiest of times. The five tracks, in a sense, are yearnings, or prayers, thrown into the void. What doesn’t kill you… Does it make you stronger? Or leave you even more crippled? When all magic is gone… Is wisdom worth a thing? It’s about raising questions rather than giving answers.
As the rational mind & willpower fail, a spiritual quest begins.

Never could we imagine how painfully relevant the album and song titles would sound at the time of release… Wish they wouldn’t. Though initially meant to have a personal meaning, obviously now they resonate with oh much more…”

Please consider supporting Ukraine in these dire times: