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. Their debut album, 2014's Guilty of Everything, struck a chord with metal and shoegaze fans, and while subsequent albums dialed back the heaviness, they 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 health issues.
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 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 group'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 struggles. After the release of the record, the band's lineup underwent a major shift with long-time guitarist Setta replaced by Cloakroom's Doyle Martin.
The new lineup began work on the group's next album in early 2020, just as the U.S. began lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They headed to a studio outside of Philadelphia and ended up quarantining together with producer Will Yip for five weeks as they recorded what became their fourth album, The Great Dismal. Overdubs were later added by harpist Mary Lattimore, violinist Shelley Weiss, and Alex G. The finished product was released in November of 2020 and recaptured the heavy textures of their debut while showing off the refined melodic sensibilities they'd honed over the years. ~ Gregory Heaney & Tim Sendra