Nistikko (previously known as "Konevalta") is a young Finnish grindcore-group that recorded its first demo under the name Nistikko in 2009. A bit over a year later the group released its 17-minute debut full lenght album "Hävitys." If you have heard the "Verta Lumella"-demo, you can expect more of the same, but done way better. The album is available as a very affordable CD-R with dark and detailed cover artwork, as well as a free download.
The band plays loud and somewhat heavy underground grindcore in the vein of bands like Sakatat and Wormrot. Although the band's doesn't bring forth any new innovations as such, their even retrogressive approach to crusty grindcore is delivered with such enthusiasm, honesty and youthful drive that you don't really note the lack of new ideas. The brisk, harsh and heavy guitars execute riffs ranging from punk-influenced three-chord wonders ("Uskonsota") and similar, crusty riffs ("Olof Napalme") to way more death metal-based ones ("Erämaa"), all the way to some slower, darker and atmospheric bits ("Talo, parts 1 & 2"). The bass guitar's heavy-ish pounding makes the songs more sturdy and provides a good dose of their pulse, and does its part well even though I wouldn't mind it having just a bit more weight in the compositions. The organic and simplistic drums are very lively and makes the songs seem faster and more energetic and violent, without even trying to steal the show.
The tempo stays high and the riffs change on a more or less fast pace, but the songs and the overall album has such an amount of versatility and small twists and spices that it stays interesting for a good while. A brief break, guitar lead, a discord note or a drum fill appears often to spice up the already vivid songs, so, despite the crude and simple first impression and the short playtime, the album has a lot to offer. The band has two vocalists; one screams, and one growls. The vocalists have shared their parts in an almost mathematically equal way, and at times I felt that the vocal styles' predictable way of changing could use some less evident twists, but overall they do their part fittingly and well. The constant switches back and forth between the two styles makes the songs more relentless, but is rather boring compositionally. The vocalists sound as young as they are, but what their voices lack in depth and power, they make up in effort and lack of shame; the growls don't make an impact but sound interesting, and the highest shrieks have a cutting edge. They suit the band's overall underground style, too, even though they could've employed more daring arrangements.
The band isn't the most serious one, although they're still far from a joke band. Their lyrics deal with modern world issues and crises, goverment and police control, personal and mental problems, and they do have a point even though the band does not try to preach or teach at all. They have a couple of more humouristic tunes about booze, drugs and murder, too, and they don't stick out in a bad way due to all the lyrics sharing a similar writing style. The band does what they want, like it or not. The lyrics are included on the CD-R as a printed A4, which holds no translations.
I was originally sceptical about the album's lenght and the group's overall approach, but after numerous listens I've found the album to be just of the right lenght, and it seems to stay interesting and appealing even after many, many spins. Honestly, I did not expect the album to be this good. The album gets a 9- for being such a relentless and well-crafted whole, and for it bringing out the band's strenghts. I originally hoped for more innovation and lenght from the album, but in the end the album is the way it is because the band knew its limits and decided not to stray too far from their "safe zone," and instead focused on their strongest points to create a powerful and solid album.
The band has now built a strong foundation for its future efforts, and I can only hope that they keep up the same trend of progress that they had between their demo and this album. It'll be interesting to see if the band takes their style to a more modern direction, or will they keep on treading forward on the more oldschool path. Either way, I wish they group puts more focus on their vocal arrangements and the singers' place in the mix, as it seems they haven't explored this area to the farthest.