A Swedish “supergroup” consisting of former ARCH ENEMY frontman Johan Liiva, ANDROMEDA guitarist Johan Reinholdz and DEFLESHED/DARK FUNERAL skinsman Matte Modin, NONEXIST offer very little in the way of surprises on their debut CD, Deus Deceptor, but nevertheless deliver the goods with a respectable amount of conviction, in the process creating one of the more enjoyable debuts I've heard in the recent months.
Sounding not a million miles removed from CARCASS' classic Heartwork album, Deus Deceptor is a riff-laden, power-packed affair that makes up much of what it lacks in originality with its sheer brute force, which is only further accentuated by the raw, stripped-down production courtesy of Tommy Tätgren (brother of Peter) and Reinholdz at Abyss Studios.
As one would expect from a debut offering, not all the songs live up to the promise of opener "Entrance"/"Devil Incarnate" or the album's best cut, "A Halo Askew", with some of the later cuts sounding largely indistinguishable from one another, a factor that diminishes the album's effectiveness and prevents it from going down as a genuine classic. At least part of this can be attributed to Liiva's one-dimensional delivery, which sounds powerful enough most of the time, but ultimately does nothing to enhance the songs' dynamics, a shortcoming that is especially obvious during the more progressive sections where a different approach would be more suitable.
Although NONEXIST's first effort will not be talked about as one of the masterpieces of the genre, it will certainly have a place among the more promising debuts to have come out in the last couple of years. Deus Deceptor is not an essential purchase, but it is certainly a recommended one, particularly for fans of early ARCH ENEMY and the classic CARCASS sound.