There’s a lot to be thankful for when one of your favorite bands decides to give it another go and release a proper follow-up to one of your favorite albums of all time. Before I started writing for this site, I was obsessed with No Devotion and their debut record entitled Permanence. It ended up being my favorite album to come out that year, if not one of my favorites for that entire decade. Catching up with lead singer Geoff Rickly was surreal in many ways. Hearing first-hand how his band in No Devotion crafted their follow-up, entitled No Oblivion, as well as some of the background behind Permanence was too cool for me to even begin to describe. So how could No Devotion, which is also comprised of Lee Gaze and Stu Richardson, possibly top what they were able to accomplish on their debut. No Devotion would answer that question in a thunderous encapsulation of everything they did well on Permanence paired with even more artistic brilliance found on No Oblivion.
The record opens with the beautifully haunting “Starlings” that features dripping synths paired with Rickly’s trademark croon that explodes into each hook like a calculated right hook. The pre-chorus of, “Did anybody see the silver stars glowing pink on the black shore? / Or see the bomb burst like a cherry, deep red with a black core? / White flags in a black war,” is well thought out, organized, and never rushes to the ultra-rewarding chorus. The songs found on this album, in general, are very airy in that they allow room to breathe and grow on their own.
”No Oblivion” reverberates with a pulsating, electronica-tinged drum beat that allows for Rickly to sing above the noise in the verses of, “No death, no sex, no danger, no absolutes / No cross, no code, no country / No one to shoot / No lover collapsing into the bedroom / No terror collecting in the empty pool,” and the song is ultimately about overcoming his addiction and depression that came through that recovery process. Things continue to explore the darkest parts of the band’s thoughts on “A Sky Deep & Clear” that finds the band navigating the listener through the depths like a flashlight leading towards the finish line of a long, empty tunnel.
My personal favorite in the set is “Love Songs from Fascist Italy” since it’s simply gorgeous in its simplicity of pairing Rickly’s great vocals with the guitars and bass that haunt the listener for days on end. In fact, I’d put this song down as one of Rickly’s top-10 vocal takes of all time; it’s just that fucking good. The chorus of, “Close, too close / I feel too closе / Close, too close / I’ll lose mysеlf,” explodes with one more great guitar riff before Rickly whispers “But that was just a dream.” The song reminded me a bit of what AFI were going for on their Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground records, with equally pleasing results.
The back half opens with “The End of Longing,” a very NIN or industrial type of rock song that features some really cool synths and verse breakdown parts to keep the interest incredibly high in the album. “Endless Desire” allows the audience another chance to take a deep breath and breathe in all of the complexities brought forth in No Devotion’s sound, while “Repeaters” showcases more impressive combinations of pairing the heavy, siren-esque synths with the instruments while Rickly’s voice remains the steady beam of light to keep things from getting too dark. Add in the epic closer of “In A Broken Land,” and anyone who has even a small sliver of interest in synth-based rock will be chomping at the bit for another spin of this fantastic album called No Oblivion. It’s haunting, tragic, and yet leaves the listener with a sense of hope that things can eventually get better if you’re willing to work for it and put the best version of yourself forward.