Earworms abound on the latest rager from Nihiloceros, Self Destroy. The vocal interplay between guitarist Mike Borchardt and bassist Alex Hoffman is the one of the band’s strongest points—with guest vocals from Gillian Visco (shadow monster) and Stephanie Gunther (Desert Sharks, Murder Tag), the vocals hit a thrilling new level. We previously reviewed the infectious single “Mammal Science Fiction” which featured plenty of their signature grunge power pop (read here).
A prolific and energetic live act around Brooklyn, Self Destroy is the first Nihiloceros release in four years and it’s worth the wait. The band sounds confident, playing hard, but dynamically, on some of their strongest tunes to date.
Restrained strumming and plucking from Borchardt and Hoffman open the record on “Dirty Homes” while drummer Chris Gilroy brings the big beat. The melodic verses explode into a screamy chorus of repeated “You!”s. Hoffman does some nifty, discordant bass work as the song builds to the end. Lead single “iamananimal” is a highlight of Self Destroy. Featuring Borchardt and Hoffman in harmony during the verses and then a call-and-response chorus, the song is already lodging itself into your brain folds before Visco takes it home with the end chorus, her first of two featured vocals.
Nihiloceros performing (photo by Kate Hoos)
In addition to lending their voices, both Visco and Gunther helped co-write a couple tunes on Self Destroy. Visco’s “Halfway Human” is a sludgy basher where she and Hoffman harmonize through the verses and choruses. Gunther (who plays with Borchardt in Murder Tag) co-wrote and sang on “Baby Teeth,” one of the hardest-rocking tunes on the record. The album closes with “Odie,” a melodic slow-dance waltz that uncoils into a 4/4 pop punk chorus, which features Borchardt, Hoffman, and Gunther alternately singing and screaming “Powder bomb/clap clap gone.”
Perhaps due to the pandemic, Hoffman and Gilroy also took on engineering duties for this record. Gilroy engineered the guitars and bass, while Hoffman recorded the vocals. Drums were tracked by Erik Braund at Braund Studios in Brooklyn. Gilroy also mixed the record at Douglass Recording in Brooklyn. While Gilroy was key in the making of this record, drum duties are now handled by German Sent when the band plays live.
The band’s growth as songwriters is apparent on Self Destroy, without losing any of their trademark boundless energy. The six tunes rock and demand your ears hear them again and again.
“iamananimanal” video directed by Jen Meller
Self Destroy is out now via Totally Real Records and available on Bandcamp and Spotify.