NonExist From My Cold Dead Hands

When frontman Johan Liiva left Arch Enemy in the late '90s, he immediately found success with his new project, Nonexist. 2002's debut, Deus Deceptor, blazed brightly, but the subsequent years caused fans to deem it a one-off project. This digital-only follow-up, From My Cold Dead Hands, finds Liiva returning to the stage more viciously than ever, though once again the music is a showcase for the phenomenal pickings of Andromeda/Skyfire guitarist Johan Reinholdz. "Days Without End" is quietly interspersed with a jazzy, Donald Fagen-esque guitar solo before the frenetic, fret board-ripping finale. "Fire at Will" finds space for Reinholdz's prog tendencies, while "Lost in Darkness and Confusion" sees him doing his best Randy Rhoads impression. Liiva's growls in "Flesh Falls From the Bone" sound like Napalm Death's Barney Greenway, while his clean vocals are a dead ringer for that of Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes. The punkish verses of "Collective Coma" hearken back to early Slayer, while the choruses and solos operate well within the confines of In Flames-inspired melodicism. The title track and "Here Comes the Pain" exemplify said musicianship. The bonus EP of covers is worth the price alone, and Reinholdz's take on Megadeth's "In My Darkest Hour" and his reimagining of Atomic Rooster's "Death Walks Behind You" are conclusively two of metal's finest covers. Coroner's "Masked Jackal" also shines from Reinholdz's consummate skill and covers of Eucharist and Merciless receive similar treatment. The download also comes with 20 pages of album art designed by Reinholdz. With an album of this calibre, let's hope that Nonexist don't wait another decade for a third masterpiece. (Pivotal)