With a sound that splits the difference between heavy metal darkness and shimmering shoegaze beauty, the Philadelphia band Nothing revolves around the songs and vision of Domenic Palermo. The group's walls of distorted guitars and pummeling drums are topped by angelic vocal harmonies and thoughtful lyrics, sung by Palermo with a kind of frozen soul. Their debut album, 2014's Guilty of Everything, struck a chord with metal and shoegaze fans, and while subsequent albums have dialed back the heaviness, they have replaced it with a soaring pop sound and some soul-searching lyrics, particularly on 2018's Dance on the Blacktop, which dealt with Palermo's fragile health.
After going through a violent period in his life that resulted in him doing two years in jail for attempted murder and aggravated assault, former Horror Show member Palermo found himself searching for change. His internal struggles began to manifest themselves musically as Nothing, a shimmery shoegaze project that found Palermo infusing the genre with a touch of his hardcore intensity and some metal heaviness. The group's debut EP, Downward Years to Come, was released in late 2012 by A389 Records. After signing to Relapse Records in 2013, Nothing (now including Brandon Setta on guitar, Chris Betts on bass, and Kyle Kimball on drums) made their full-length debut with Guilty of Everything, which was released on the label in early 2014. After a busy year of touring, the band released a split single with fellow noisegazers Whirr on Run for Cover Records in November.
Before they were able to start work on their second record, Palermo was severely beaten after a show in Oakland, California, which resulted in a long hospital stay and spells of vertigo that lingered into the recording sessions. With the help of producer Will Yip and some perseverance, Tired of Tomorrow was ready for release on the newly formed label Collect Records. Before that happened, they were shocked to find that the label was funded by the notorious pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli and fought to get out of their deal. They were successful and were able to rejoin Relapse and the less metal, more alt-rock-sounding Tired of Tomorrow was finally released in May of 2016.
Palermo's brush with death led to more health tests that revealed he had the early stages of CTE, a degenerative brain disease brought on by numerous head injuries. This diagnosis colored the lyrics of the songs he wrote for the band's next album, 2018's Dance on the Blacktop. With new bassist Aaron Heard in tow, Nothing headed to Woodstock to work in a church turned studio with veteran alt-rock producer John Agnello, and recorded an album with the emotional weight of their debut and the smooth sheen of the second, but made more dramatic by Palermo's uncertain future. ~ Gregory Heaney