Ukrainian visionaries Nug place focus on personality disorders with sweeping debut ‘Alter Ego’

No one can defeat the mind, especially those suffering from a mental illness. In those battles, the mind is undefeated, and there’s little chance that it’ll ever be fully conquered no matter how much work one puts into the fight. Luckily, we live in a time when these types of disorders are not stigmatized like they used to be, so trying to address them doesn’t make you a pariah.

Ukrainian artists Nug put a very interesting and difficult subject matter at the forefront of their debut record, that being that idea of an alter ego and people’s troubles dealing with such a phenomenon. “Alter Ego”  is an eight-track, 49-minute excursion into the deep, trying to make a space for those who deal with personality disorders and the issues that cloud their lives. The band makes it clear that this music is meant to be a sort of companion along the way,  a force that can take you by the hand and lead you through the darkest of times. Along the way, the band—vocalist/synth player Yura Dubrovskiy, guitarist Vitaliy Rysakov, guitarist/backing vocalist Yurii Popov, bassist Bogdan Kalynets, drummer Jevgen Tarasenko—unloads atmospheric post-metal-style creations that would sound at home alongside Cult of Luna or ISIS in your heart, taking you on a sonic journey that reaches into the sky.

“The Birth/Народження” opens the record in calm but immersive noise where synth swims into the atmosphere and paves the way for “Beast/Звір” that immediately delivers swaggering riffs and smothering fury. Dubrovskiy’s vicious growls dig deep as the playing chugs along, and the gravity fills your chest. A cold weather front pushes through, bringing some calm with it, but then it bursts with new life, scraping ahead and chewing up earth as the track closes in a heavy groove. “Psyche/Душа” has colors rushing as the roars quake the earth, and spacey synth winds itself into the mix, blurring vision. The playing torpedoes into deep sludge as the hammers are dropped, and the track ends in thick mud. “Shores/Береги” lets keys swim in a cosmic woosh as the track begins to clobber, and Dubrovskiy’s vocals wrench your insides. Parts of this feel mystical, like a haze is taking you into hypnosis, and then the body soars through the skies, coming back into gut-wrenching madness, the vocals crying out, and the final blows leaving bruising.

“Eleven/Одинадцять” slowly emerges from the fog before the trudging breaks up rocks, mixing menace with imagination. The howls reach out as the playing crushes, jolting spines even amid some pleasantly breezy synth work. The playing pummels out of that as the devastation disappears into a haze. “Dorian/Доріан” delivers lurching wails and slurry guitar, slowly delivering punishment. Psyche flushes swagger in as the leads explode with power, bursting with blood and sparks as the guitars continue to mash, as sounds hover and the fury spirals out. “Radiance/Сяйво” ushers in keys and stinging bass, setting a mood that slowly picks up and digs into muscle. The track smothers harder later, sending devastation into the stars. Closer “Night Shine/Блиск Ночі” trickles in before it smashes apart, cutting into bone and letting wild wails ricochet. Keys blip as the power crumbles, trudging through the mists, blending into the clouds, and merging with the stars.

The biggest battles we face often take place within our own mind, something that can be both a gift and a detriment, depending on how our brain chemicals filter out. Nug capture a measure of that struggle on “Alter Ego,” a record that certainly can sink into your senses and make you feel different aspects of your own personality. It’s an immersive, powerful record that unveils different layers with each listen.

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