Review: Nasty – Heartbreak Criminals
Hardcore is the playground where the punk rock kids and metalheads can frolic together freely and mosh peacefully (still no karate in the pit and crowd killing is strictly banned). If the hardcore is a playground analogy is the framework here, Belgian/German outfit Nasty is the kid at the top of the slide that tosses you down the hot metal slope and tops it off with a pile of mud right to your face at the bottom. The playground will be a very dangerous place September 8th, 2023 when their 9th studio album Heartbreak Criminals crashes recess via Century Media Records. Formerly known as Van Damme, Nasty show their years of experience and pull from all different shades of punk and metal and cram it into their already hulking, muscular beatdown hardcore frame, to make their newest release a gargantuan, behemoth of a project, that will have you throwing elbows and smashing tables in your local Denny’s at 3:00 am.
The Nasty boys (not the tag team) all deserve some praise for their individual contributions to the record. Matthias “Matthi” Tarnath brings the much needed aggression to pull off vocals to please both the hardcore and metal crowds. Patrick “Paddv” Gaidzik brings a similar amount of brawny riffage to the guitar. There’s so many guitar leads and hooks that stick out. Very memorable playing that’s sure to get hardcore kids pumping their fists when they hear these tracks live. Berislaw “Berry” Audenaerd bass, and Christian “Nash” Fritz on drums are a force to be reckoned with. Their pounding and driving rhythms assault the listener from all sides, while Gaidzik’s guitar shocks them directly to the core, leaving them vulnerable for Tarnath’s vocals to land a pinpointed blow right between the eyes.
“Intro” is a self explanatory track that does a good job of building a tone for this project. It sets an unsettling atmosphere that takes on a harsh undercurrent which explodes into the real opening, “Roses”. There’s an equal mix of great emotion and playing here. It’s a little repetitive but great energy (hardcore in a nutshell). With vile vocals and sick guitars it’s a good way to set the bar high for the album. “Reality Check” is a bruiser of a number with emotive vocals and surprisingly uplifting lyrics. Complete with frantic drums, cranking bass, and banging riffs. Add in lyrics like “Believe in myself” it’s a track that leaves a big smile on my face. “Total Domination” is another thrilling well paced number from beginning to end. I dig how drum focused it transitions into near the end.
“Heartbreak Criminals” is where Nasty really proves how talented they are. Showcasing a great sense of diversity, eclecticism and lyricism that builds, grows and changes. This is the first taste of the band’s melodic side. “Resurrection” is a necessary slap in the face. Bringing back the visceral rage of the first few cuts, it’s a great mosh worthy number. Jam-packed with a heavy ass breakdown, furious drum patterns that change and keep the pacing of the song consist but also interesting. “More Fire” is much the same. A nice and aggressive piledriver, but a little one notes. “Nobody Cares” kicks off with a sick glitchy opening into a tom based beat. Short fun rage filled decree. Must be awesome to hear live.
“Don’t Play With Fire” is a pulverizing beatdown banger. Bursting open with aggressive intensity, it’s enormously fun. Bonus points for the great break down near the end. “Kiss From a Rose” takes a turn into metalcore territory. Smooth transition from a clean vocal part to harsh second verse with a much needed guitar solo that completely changes the course of the song and adds a great second layer to it. “Declaring War” (Rerecording from 2006) is coated with blistering drums, great change ups, thought provoking lyrics and a devastating last section. The most demonic vocal delivery on the record. “Chaos” (rerecording from 2006) is a balls to the wall no nonsense bare knuckle brawling number. It succeeds by taking all the best elements of the earlier tracks and ending the record with not a period but an exclamation point.
Nasty delivers a mostly killer, very light on filler, compact affair that is furious, fun and will please both the hardcore and metal crowds. There’s something for pretty much everyone here. It’s a surprisingly well rounded project and, if Nasty keeps this consistency up, they will be relevant for a long time to come.
Top tracks: “Heartbreak Criminals”, “Kiss From a Rose”, & “Chaos”
Heartbreak Criminals gets 4 flaming Toilets ov Hell out of 5
Nasty’s Heartbreak Criminals is out on September 8th via Century Media Records.