So here we are at Graphic Nature’s first full-length, not even a year removed from their EP new skin. If that doesn’t clue you in on where things are for this band right now, maybe the fact that said EP was only about ten minutes long will, and still got as many tongues wagging as it did. It’s not exactly surprising though, given how the pendulum is once again swinging in nu-metal’s favour, and how Graphic Nature’s particular form of it plays closely to a caustic, blitzed-out version that has a lot of legs right now. That A Mind Waiting To Die could easily have come courtesy of nine masked gentlemen out of Iowa plays even more to its favour.
Yes, in case you couldn’t tell, Graphic Nature are really drawing on some Slipknot worship here. Though let’s not make out like that’s a bad thing, especially when the throughlines can be traced to their earlier days, in more animalistic aggression and industrial harshness. Tone really is the clincher in all of this, as Graphic Nature bypass any sterility or gimmickry that nu-metal has been burdened with over the years. Within approximately the first five seconds of opener proper Sour, the low-end brutalising is already thrown as a fastball, along with the clatter of percussion and the electronic whirrs of presumably some kind of torture machine. It all just feels right, in a way.
In fact, to lean in on the percussion even further, that’s probably the element that serves A Mind Waiting To Die the best. It’s got that taut, hollow, oil-drum style that’s always such a great tone; you find it mostly in hardcore these days, but beefed up against this sort of onslaught does a lot for it. It’s another factor in Graphic Nature’s more feral, unhinged vibe, topped off by the programming, touches of turntable scratching and even the odd glance at drum ‘n’ bass. It’s not much, but you do feel the influence on Into The Dark and Killing Floor, in how the nerviness creeps forward and the edges become even more bladelike.
Of course, there remains an elephant in the room to address with all of this—it’s not the most flexible sound in the world. Interludes notwithstanding, the vast majority of A Mind Waiting To Die does feel like mild variations on the one theme, in what amounts to frontman Harvey Freeman’s own mental immolation, executed with all the sound and fury you’d expect. And when this is the sonic template it’s drawing from, amid the metric tonnage of riffs and bleakness that could grind the average human skeleton to atoms, it can kind of run together. Not saying that’s necessarily bad though; hell, judging by closer The Downpour that opts for something closer to modern metalcore built on a big, clean chorus (and dissipating its impact rather severely), Graphic Nature sticking firmly to their strengths is more than welcome. And it’s not as if the blunt force doesn’t speak for itself, in what seeks to ram through the barriers set by a frequently more conservative style in modern metal by any means necessary.
And to take credit away from Freeman himself would be truly unfair. You could easily use words like ‘feral’ or ‘carnivorous’ to ascribe some stylistic metal-man persona, and while that wouldn’t be wrong, his is a performance with a depth that extends beyond this. This is a guy at the apogee of total mental anguish, exhibited through screams as necessity rather than stock conventionality. Something about his presence feels genuinely raw and mangled; a track like Headstone and its lines like “Give me a reason to live / ‘Cause I’m one bad day away from taking it all for myself” are ripe for abuse among the edgelord role-playing set, but Graphic Nature aren’t among them. Admittedly it can all teeter on the brink, but the frequency of the intensity displayed saves it every time. The exorcising burns just that hot, and the bludgeoning easily finishes it off.
It adds up to a metal experience designed to lay waste to venues and festival tents wherever its creators decide to set foot, in such an exhilarating way. Truly, Graphic Nature give off the impression they’d kill live, and elevate material that’s already strong to something borderline untouchable. And for nu-metal, that can sometimes be the best possible outcome on an album. A Mind Waiting To Die brings it in droves, a crushing, cathartic 35 minutes with scope to become even more so with just a few more road miles to prop it up. Don’t be sleeping on Graphic Nature then, because that’ll likely be coming very, very soon.
For fans of: Slipknot, Cane Hill, Korn
‘A Mind Waiting To Die’ by Graphic Nature is out now on Rude Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall