This self titled album by Swedish punkrockers Nonthewiser is their first album, as of now released digitally and following digital releases of three tracks from the album. The band themselves describes their music as “Punk rock with one leg in California and the other leg in their Scandinavian roots. Fast and catchy songs about life, death and a world gone mad”. And that’s a pretty aptly description of their music in my opinion.
The record opens with a kind of sermon, talking about the awfulness of hell and that without god that’s where you’ll end up. I guess it’s supposed to set the mood for the rest of the album, which it does well, but for me as an atheist it becomes a little bit too preachy and biblical. It also makes me as an listener read biblical themes into some of the lyrics on the rest of the album, which might be intentional, but for me becomes a bit of a problem sometimes. Life, death and world gone mad Nonthewiser says themselves, and that describes the lyrical themes on here well. It’s not a sunny picture that is being painted for the listener, but the way the world looks right now it makes it relatable for a lot of people.
“Musically with one leg in California and the other in their Scandinavian roots”. The California part is straight up Bad Religion. Many of the songs sounds so much like Bad Religion that I think I would have a hard time saying that this was something other than Bad Religion if I where to hear it “blind” so to speak. Granted I’ve never been the biggest fan of Bad Religion, but enjoyed some of their repertoire from time to time. That likeness might be an achievement, but can also be a bit of a problem as it becomes impossible not to compare the band with their inspiration. The Scandinavian roots that I connect the music with is mostly No Fun At All, and at some places there’s harmonies that reminds me of Millencolin on their later albums. Not Scandinavian, but there’s also some Nirvana to be heard on a track.
It’s a well crafted album from beginning to end, there’s no doubt that Nonthewiser can write and play good music. I think my main problem, which I also have with Bad Religion from time to time, is that the music feels surgically crafted and therefore lacks a bit of grit that I tend to fall for in punkrock. The authenticity is there in that I feel like the band believes in their songs and what they’re saying, but musically I lack some originality. The biblical connotations is a bit of a thorn in my side at first, but is more easily forgettable once skipping the intro-track on each playthrough.
If you’re a fan of Bad Religion you’ll either enjoy this album from Nonthewiser immensely, or if you compare it too much to the original you might feel like it’s a bit of a copy of one of the most legendary bands out there. It might seem like I’m talking down a bit on this album, but it’s dividing me a bit. On the one hand it’s pretty high quality punkrock, especially considering this is the first record from the band, and on the other hand a bit too clean and lacking some grit and originality. It’s well worth the listen for you to make up your own mind though.