Local Motion: Nonpoint's Miracle
Miracle starts off with an effective bit of guitar melodicism in the staccato, slightly arpeggiated guitar intro to opening track "Shadow", courtesy of Nonpoint's now not quite so new guitarist, Zach Broderick. Soon enough, though, the guitars are allowed to explode into chugging riffage, with insistent and nimble bass and cymbal heavy drum bashing keeping pace. This push and pull carries throughout the song, with Elias Soriano's vocals mirroring the duality of the instruments, with both his snarl and his croon vying for attention. Really, it's a blueprint for the entire album, and for most of Nonpoint's better material.
Title track and lead single "Miracle" follows suit, leading off with a sort of sludgy, downtuned and quarter-speed version of the intro to "Joker and the Thief", but with more weight and less sparkle, appropriate for the dark bent of the lyrics. With this track, Nonpoint pays its closest homage in years to its early days as a funk-metal supercollider, lending itself to head-nodding and banging in equal measure.
"Crazy" sounds like a mid-'90s modern rock staple, offering one of Soriano's most straightforwardly melodic vocal performances, albeit surrounded by more chugging guitars and guttural exhortations. "Frontlines" almost brings a touch of softness to Nonpoint's sound, its delicate finger-picked guitar intro paired with tight vocal harmony and a moderate pace. Perhaps a touch over-wrought, but clearly earnest, it also gives Broderick a chance to stretch out a bit, showing his flexibility, and a bit of shred as well.
Likely the most disappointing track on the album is Nonpoint's cover of Pantera classic "5 Minutes Alone", which, while being nearly a note for note recreation, falls sadly flat. Strangely, Soriano's finer tuned vocals are his downfall here; his Phil Anselmo impression just doesn't sound, well, bad enough. Of course, all of this dissection runs a bit counter to the (non)point (sorry, had to sneak one in somewhere). This band is not about subtlety, though it is at times surprisingly subtle.
At its core, Nonpoint is all about the moment, about taking something and running with it, and this album is no exception. Nonpoint is immensely served by the fact that they seem preternaturally capable of catching little wisps of genius, even if it's at the surface level of a subconsciously catchy sub-melody encapsulated in the extended rave-up chorus that truly defines Nonpoint. I'm willing to bet that, in a "blind taste test" of song snippets, the best of Nonpoint's ear-worms would catch even the worst of their detractors off guard.
-- Nicholas L. Hall