Nostromo, Le Cave d’Ilot 13, 9.12.16

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2017 is going to be huge for Swiss grindcore legends Nostromo. They disappeared from the scene in 2005 but are suddenly and miraculously back with a vengeance- a string of tour dates supporting Gojira in January, a prime spot at Hellfest and various other European festivals, and a new album in production.

It’s been almost 12 years since Nostromo, the pride of Geneva’s underground metal scene, last played together, and Le Cave de L’Ilot 13, a bar underneath the modern-day commune of L’Ecurie, was the perfect venue for their homecoming concert. It was in underground spots such as this where Nostromo, formed in 1996, made a name for themselves and built up a loyal following. They navigated their way through the demo-CD network before going on to release several acclaimed albums (Argue, Eyesore, Ecce Lex, Hysteron Proteron) and sharing international stages with the likes of Napalm Death and Dillinger Escape Plan.

Nostromo’s style is difficult to define- grindcore in its soul and relentlessly brutal, but with a rhythmic complexity worthy of Meshuggah, jazz influences, intelligent lyrics, and a uniquely inherent menace.

This performance wasn’t publicised, so the crowd was an intimate mix of friends, family, commune residents and loyal devotees who had waited over a decade for this moment. So a special evening and there was a buzz of nostalgia and emotion in the bar pre-show, although emotion is hardly the word for what happened next.

Nostromo launched into their first track, Epitomize, with no fanfare and no warning, setting the tone for a half-hour of unremitting brutality. Wide-eyed vocalist Javier was so incensed with angry energy that he almost seemed to skip across the stage. Jerome, the guitarist, sound engineer and powerhouse behind the band, rarely strayed from the bottom two strings, but on these strings he created an immensely rich and threatening soundscape. There were moments of genuine beauty in Sunset Motel, and favourite tracks Selfish Blues and Stillborn Prophet had lost none of their momentousness.

This was about as challenging a listen as you can get, with constantly shifting and pummelling rhythms. The venue at L’ilot 13 is primitive- breeze block walls and damp wooden rafters almost collapsing under the strain- but thanks to Jerome’s acoustics skill the sound quality was excellent and his riffs rang out with extraordinary precision.

The ceiling was dangerously low, such that a few brave stage divers took their lives in their hands, and tall audience members found themselves rather evocatively covered in spiderwebs.

Nostromo powered their way through the best of their back catalogue- Collapse, Jagged, Twist The Knife, Delight- in a triumphant return to the scene. Even in the late 90s they were noted for the maturity of their musical composition, and now with all that life and experience behind them we can’t wait for the new material… roll on 2017.

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