Nyia Head Held High

They’re on Candlelight, they hail from Poland, and they feature at least one ex-Vader dude in their ranks, but don’t jump to any conclusions just yet. Nyia do nothing but shatter preconceptions throughout the 12 songs on this 24-minute disc. Operating in a realm of their own, one can hear the Polish death metal influences here, but mainly it’s more of a down-to-earth sound, one that brings to mind technical metallic hardcore giants Knut, Crowpath and Keelhaul more than anything. Eschewing Polish staples like funny Muppet-style vox and triggered drum-laden production sounds, Nyia instead actually sound like human beings playing (and singing) this stuff. Hey, it makes a difference, as this hits home harder than many of their peers. Songs like "Everything Is A Dream” slow things down to a Neurosis-like dirge, but even then you can hear the drummer’s penchant for off-time beats sneaking in, and the general feeling of chaos lurking about in the distance. And the drumming is a highlight here, but there are really no low points to be found on this satisfying release. From the production to the artwork to the refreshingly brief playing time, this one is worth coming back to again and again. (Candlelight)