Nio – Nio

Nio - Nio

As much as I disdain the term ‘post metal’ for all it implies, I tend to love a lot of the music the label gets slapped onto. Cult of Luna were a major band for me back in high school, and I’ll always remember when I heard Russian Circles for the first time. This enduring love I’ve had for texture-based riffs became all the more piqued in the case of Nio when I learned that Ephel Duath‘s Davide Tiso comprised one half of the two man group. Although Nio sounds far closer to the likes of Pelican than any of the blackened jazz madness of his former flagship, I’d be lying if I said the mere association didn’t set my expectations high for this duo’s twenty minute EP.

Whether you’re coming to Nio as a fan of Ephel Duath (or even drummer Jef Pauly’s work in New Diplomat and Vela Eyes) or simply a nomad in search of his next post-metal fix, Nio have a lot to offer from the very beginning of this self-titled debut. I am consistently impressed by two-man acts that manage to fill up a room with sophisticated sounds. Of course, in the case of the studio, it’d be easy for Nio to overdub themselves relentlessly, but Nio relishes in a rich, ‘off the floor’-type production that makes it sound like it’s being played live before your very ears. Each of the psychedelic grooves the pair let unfold sounds as though it’s been conjured spontaneously. This has less to do with the writing (which sounds plenty thoughtful) and more with the way Tiso and Pauly play as a team. For such a crisp-sounding EP, Nio gives off a raw and primal aura, as if we’re hearing the sound of magma gushing down a mountainside. For the sort of genre these guys are playing, that is as high praise as metaphors or similes could muster.


Much like Russian Circles, I can tell Nio are good songwriters by the fact I’m consistently interested to see where they’ll take the song next, even if the impression of composition is mostly just a sequence of like-toned riffs strung together. Referring to an earlier point, one thing I really like about Nio is the way they’re able to do so much with a relative ‘skeleton crew’ of personnel. Even if they technically could overdub as much as they wanted, there’s greater charm in sticking to the limits you know you could recreate live if you so chose. Davide Tiso’s guitarwork trades between crunchy rhythms and minimalistic, repetitive leads. Just as impressive (although more overlooked, I’m sure) is Tiso’s use of guitar tones on the EP. Tone is such an integral part of any band’s sound, and it’s rarely so integral as with post-metal. For Nio, he uses tones that manage to sound crushingly heavy yet clear all the same.

The Nio EP strikes a remarkable consistency throughout. If I had to pick a favourite here, it may well be “Grey Healer”, the song Nio chose for their prospective single. Debut EPs are often interpreted as a sneak peek for greater things to come, and while that may well be true in this band’s case, this EP feels substantive and plenty satisfying in its own right. The formula for crushing warmth and organic beauty can never wear old to my ears, and I’ll be first in line when they have a full-length out.


1. Summit 05:16
2. Delta 04:05
3. The Wheel 04:24
4. Grey Healer 05:17 video
5. Cave Dweller 07:50


* Davide Tiso – guitar

* Jef Pauly – drums


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