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The Cleansing is Nominon's 5th full length album over a 19 year period. While their release schedule may be as slow as some funeral doom bands, their sound is most certainly not. What you have here is some solid Swedish death metal that'll give you flashbacks to the good old days of Dismember, Entombed, Nihilist, Grave, etc. While I feel it's a step back from their masterful album, Terra Necrosis, it's only by around a half step. It's still better than most of the death metal you can find today, and its certainly better than the slew of bands that simply retread familiar ground by imitating the old sound and adding nothing new to it.
The first thing you'll notice about The Cleansing is the production. It's phenomenal. It truly captures the essence of the feeling of the old school days while keeping things gritty and dark enough to never let you get too comfortable in this familiar ground. However, if I were to compare it to Terra Necrosis, the production is almost a little to clean and crisp here (probably fitting given the album's title). While still dark and gritty it lost a bit of both from that album to this one. That glorious buzzsaw tone is still there, albeit a bit less rough. Personally, I prefer my death metal rough and grimy and so this isn't a preferred change for me.
Now the songs themselves are all spectacular save for one. The songs all average around 4 minutes outside of the intro and an instrumental in the beginning. They all tend to move at a similar pace, slowing down on occasion but for the most part carrying the speed and aggression you'd expect from a death metal album. The songs strike me as being less varied than Terra Necrosis, both in length and in structure, but the riffing is so fucking awesome it almost doesn't even matter. Then you have the solos. Oh my god the solos. What few there are here are incredible. The highlight song of the album, for me, is the closer "Infernal Rites" largely due to the magnificent solo found within. They give the album a bit more of that dark presence I feel this album is lacking when compared Terra Necrosis. The one track I didn't care for was the instrumental title track, "The Cleansing." Honestly it felt like fillet to me. It doesn't really build up any atmosphere and was the one part of the album where I found myself almost growing sleepy. However, it's only 2 minutes long and so is only a small blemish on an otherwise flawless release, structurally speaking.
Now for as stellar as the album is, there is one aspect I was fairly disappointed in and that's the vocals. I feel dirty just saying that because this is, by and large, an above average death metal vocal performance. Henke Skoog does a phenomenal job, and he really fits with the band. However, I feel he doesn't quite live up to what Daniel Garptoft did before him. Garptoft delivered one of the greatest vocal performances in death metal in my opinion, and so while Holstenson is great, it's still a step back as far as I'm concerned. Skoog strikes me as sounding more by the books (books that he's studied quite well). All in all, a solid performance. But probably the weakest aspect here.
With the Cleansing Nominon have taken a step back from Terra Necrosis but still keep one foot firmly ahead of the competition. There is an album in-between these two that I'm now highly interested in checking out, as well as the bands earlier releases, to see how those stack up to these two. Regardless, with this release Nominon shows that they're still more than capable of finding new ways to keep an old style fresh and exciting. Let them kick your ass. You'll be crawling back for more.
Oh, the waiting is over, new album from Nominon has arrived. Surely those Swedish motherfuckers have gained a lot of my respect for the music they’ve been delivering through the last 15 years, I already collected quite much of it on vinyl, so even if “The Cleansing” is only the fifth full length album of Nominon, it feels like we’re dealing here with old veterans already (who they probably are, if you think that Perra Karlsson played already with Suffer, Altar, In Aeternum, etc) and surely the time went fuck knows how quickly since I’ve been bulldozered by the awesome “Recremation” LP for the first time. Surely it may be due to the fact that Nominon in the time between the previous LP “Monumentomb” and “The Cleansing” did not waste any opportunity and time, releasing three split 7”EPs and one which they did not share with anybody. So they were always there, but the hunger for the new album was strong, especially after “Manifestation of Black”, which was just a KILLER EP!!!! At the same time I can say that “Monumentomb” was not my favourite album, so I hoped that the new effort will be better than this.
Believe my words, “The Cleansing” doesn’t disappoint. Already after I’ve listened to the first couple of songs I felt like this is going to be my favourite release from Nominon. What a strong opening, what a great power and energy is coming out of the speakers, what a fuckin mayhem. It is fast, it is relentless, it feels like you’ve been under the unstoppable fire in the battlefield. This music is so vicious and brutal and what’s more, it has more black metal influence that one would ever dare to expect from Nominon. But I love it. Sincerely, I fuckin do. I knew after “Manifestation of Black” that this EP will be a great proclamation for that Nominon will take no slaves and will really crush everything with the next full length album. And I’m so glad that they didn’t disappoint; what’s more I think they even surpassed my expectation, because – as I already mentioned – not even in my darkest dreams I hoped for such a merciless, fast, malevolent and crushing death metal piece.
“Mausoleum”, as far as I’m concerned, is the song, which I liked most and which really blew my head off instantly. I love everything about this track, but surely I must also point out the riffing in its ending part, where it gets very black metalish – I love it anyway! The atmosphere in it is just supreme, so are the riffs and everything else. This is just a MASTERPIECE of metal of death! Another exceptionally killer tunes would be the LP only "Slaughter the Imposter" (with great old Morbid Angel atmosphere all the way through), “Obliteration” and “Son of Doom”… but on the whole album I can really feel such an incredible passion and a constant stream of lethal energy and violence… there’s no bad song here, no dull moment, everything is perfected and as far as I’m concerned this is complete, perfect record. Even the instrumental title track has its place in the whole and shreds to pieces. Hell, did I already write in another review that Coffin Text’s “The Tomb of Infinite Ritual” is my death metal album of the decade? Now I don’t know what to think hehe!
One thing, which makes hell of a lot of difference between this and all the previous Nominon albums are the vocals. Henke Skoog, who joined the band right after “Monumentomb” was released, is a beast and I really, really like all his vocals. He’s using his throat with no compromise, screaming like possessed, in almost black metal way, but that fits the music perfectly, as in the end it only adds the fuel to the fire and makes the music even more merciless and morbid. Oh, I really wonder now, how would “Monumentomb” sound like with him, instead of with Erik Sahlström, who was the main guest vocalist on that LP. Hmm, obviously it is a bit useless to say “what would happen if…”, as it belongs already to the past, but who knows? Henke Skoog fits Nominon perfectly and that’s the fact. He’s a perfect choice for the current style of this band and I – as a fan - can only applause that choice. And will definitely have to check Eviscerated one day, if only Blood Harvest ever manage to release their vinyl. And that Inverted Cross demo also tempts me incredibly now…
Then the production… did I already mention how great is the sound of “The Cleansing”? It really is powerful as hell, with great, brutal guitar tone and fantastic drumming… Here every fast part sounds like it was about to dismember you and every slower bit is to crush you to the bone. And that artwork of Juanjo Castellano… Absolutely breathtaking! So creepy, so morbid, malevolent and memorable. That vinyl should come together with huge poster of that artwork for fuck sake! So, you see that I absolutely see disadvantages of “The Cleansing”; perfect death metal record.
Standout tracks: “Mausoleum”, "Slaughter the Imposter", “Obliteration”, “Son of Doom”