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Old Man's Child, the offspring of current Dimmu Borgir guitarist: Galder, contains perhaps Galder's most musical and creative ideas thrown into a grinding and imposing Black Metal assault, with a symphonic texture effortlessly woven into this mix. Now let me preface this review by saying, I do not like much Black Metal. I find much of it to be hard to take seriously, very dull, very simplistic, and boring. I have given it many chances and still have not found much of the genre alluring at all. Old Man's Child, however, is wildly different. Every song is a new adventure and brilliantly crafted, exposing different melodies and grinding riffs to complement Galder's satanic growl.
I will start with the title. "In Defiance of Existence" It seems to be a very cliche title and fitting for a band headed by one of the main members of Dimmu Borgir. However, upon further retrospect, I realized that perhaps the title does hold a clever meaning behind it. The band as a whole is a giant middle finger towards the Christian religion as a whole (Old Man's Child is a slang term for the Devil, if anyone was curious), and the title seems to delve beyond that. Galder was not only writing an aesthetically pleasing album, but it appears he was jotting down a defiant (see my pun, there?) cry against the Christian religion and what the freedom of living beyond its boundaries can produce. It seems like a very cliche and immature approach, but it is an effective one nonetheless.
Nicholas Barker? What more can people say? His double bass sounds like a machine gun, his timing is amazing, and the technicality he has is outstanding. He is a phenomenal addition to a very fast album, adding his brutal technicality to the contrast of the symphonic tones. Examples of his crippling speed and brutal force would be very evident around the "1:07" mark of the 2nd song "Agony of Fallen Grace" During the outro, Barker's double bass crunches through your ears, crushing your ear drums to a bloody pump.
The combination of both Jardar's, and Galder's monstrous riffs and catchy harmonies keep the listener both interested and excited. Whenever I think of this CD, I tend to find myself reminded of the grinding tremalo picking of the title track "In Defiance of Existence" The musicianship of the album as a whole is not what I expected from a black metal CD. The riffs are pounding, the solos are very melodious and catchy, and the addition of Gus G., of Firewind, Dream Evil, and now Ozzy Osbourne fame, is a very welcome addition.
The standout tracks from this CD have to be "Felonies of the Christian Art", "Black Seeds of Vengeance", "In Defiance of Existence", and "Life Deprived." These tracks all follow a very intricate structure, and break into a fantastic and extreme melodic assault on your ears. What I found most interesting from this CD and from digging through Galder's previous works, the production is not only outstanding, but his voice is much more audible. His lyrics are clearly enunciated, and come out strong enough to not be overpowered by the machine gun blasts of Barker, and the crunching riffs of both Jardar and Galder. The moment in "Felonies of the Christian Art" where the heavy drone of Galder and Jardar's riffs ends, and a haunting keyboard enters the background to the outro that begins is an orgasm of creativity for a band, that before this record, seemed content with stock black metal.
The only cons I have for an album like this, and for black metal as a whole, I suppose, is that the bass is quite inaudible. There are very rare times I can hear the bass line, and it never seems to evolve beyond following the guitar.
"Just like a dream in mysterious splendour" This album is both aggressive in its writing, structure, yet pierces the boundaries of basic black metal to pursue something more melodious, haunting, dramatic, and one of the best extreme metal albums I have ever had the pleasure to experience.
I listened to this album many, many times. Each time that I listen to it, there is another element that I didn't hear the first time, or possibly didn't notice. For one thing, it is extremely well produced, and carries every instrument extremely well, and the way they work together is mesmerizing and absolutely perfect.
Yes, I am one of those fans that like the direction that DimmuBorgir has taken, the synthesizer that isn't just in the background to make the black metal symphonic in nature. I truly feel that Dimmu, as well as OMC (seeing as they are intertwined so thoroughly) are taking the symphonic sub-genre of black metal, and stepping it up a notch.
I guess the first that I will start with is what made me like Nicholas Barker in the first place. He is one of the world's most amazing drummers. Set aside everyone's apparent hatred for him because of his disputes with bands and members of bands that he used to be a part of, or the fact that he is associated with bands that people love to hate. With that aside, he cannot be short-changed on the fact that his feet moving that fast, accompanied with insane fills, and cymbal work...I cannot imagine 1) how he moves that fat ass of his so fast, and 2) how he can keep so many different beats, and time signatures, and variations of the two straight for more than 5 seconds without getting lost in his own rhythms...well it's way beyond me. Which is why I feel drawn to his music, because I appreciate that extreme talent that he has. With that said, the drumming is absolutely spot-on. I honestly have never heard poor drumming from him. He definitely gets better and better with age, and with different bands that he is with.
Galder does an excellent job of vocals and guitar (including bass because there really isn't any distinguishable bass licks on this album, or any BM album for that matter). He adds excellent riffs, and good deep and higher pitched screaming that makes the music just sound good. I don't understand what people's issues with him are either. I think that his riffs are much better than Jardar, mainly because they are more complex and he adds some solos in there which doesn't happen very often in black metal, or symphonic types for that matter. So it's nice to hear every once in a while because it only makes the music better.
The synthesizer work is amazing in this album. He is better than many synth players because he uses different sounds, and there is just enough to add some depth and mysterious-ness to the album. It is not overbearing, like CoF, where it seems that the synth drives the songs. Here, it is atmosphere and fills out the sound.
All in all, this album is probably the pinnacle of OMC's sound. There is not a bad song on this album. They are all top notch. I cannot imagine the band maturing their sound much more, so the other albums will probably be a disappointment from here on out.
Vermin, their latest, is great. But this album is much better.
Old Man's Child, a black metal band who aren't exactly the most respected in their genre. In fact they are probably the most hated after the ex-Black metal bands Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. Because they share some members with the terrible two? Because they include melody in a genre that's supposed to be raw? The use of keyboards? The fact that they're fairly popular? Who knows. But this isn't reflected in the quality of their music. Personally I think it's a good thing to share the two most talented (ex-)members of those two bands, namely Galder and Nicholas Barker. As a whole Old Man's Child looks like this:
This album is arguably the finest work Old Man's Child has ever put out. Contrary to some of the band's earlier work, this isn't drowned in keyboards or synths, something that might have put off some people. The keyboards are used appropriately, only to create an atmosphere or add a touch of melody. And this is done with great skill. The production is crystal clear and sounds really great (So what they didn't record in some cellar?) The keyboards are more in the background, where they should be. They give the album a dark and mystical sound, suited for the genre, there are even some chanted vocals to add to that atmosphere. The other vocals have a layered effect and sound good. The guitars and the drums are the most prominent. And with good reason!
The riffs on this album are superb, Galder is certainly a talented guitarist. Every song contains at least a couple of creative riffs and here and there a nice solo. The guitar work has quite a bit of Death metal influence and it certainly sounds a lot fuller and chunkier than other black metal. And they mix very well with the keys, there's even some acoustic work around, mainly intros but 'In Quest of Enigmatic Dreams' is fully acoustic and instrumental.
The drums sound perfect in the mix and they really are some of the best I've heard. Barker is an amazing drummer, despite of being so hated. He does some great blast beats, but he's more than that, he has some wonderful fills and his double bass work is furiously trampling and fast as lightning. He's really the driving force of this album, excellent stuff.
I can really say this is a very enjoyable album, great production, brilliant song writing, mixing melody and occult lyrics with speed and aggression of the drums and the guitars. And even though the sound of this album is too full and melodic to be accepted by the elitists this is a strong recommendation.
After the release in 2000 of "Revelation 666: The Curse of Damnation" I’ve lost the trace of this band. That album was pretty good in many ways but it had a clear flaw: it was too similar to the sound and songwriting that Dimmu Borgir was using at that point. Just listen to "Spiritual Black Dimensions" and then to "Revelation 666...". It's almost the same record done by two different bands. Fortunately with "In Defiance of Existence" Old Man's Child takes a big step forward in his musical development.
Galder recruited drum monster Nicholas Barker –famous drummer of ex-Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir - and with Jardar recorded a very powerful opus of symphonic black/death metal.
The first difference between this and the previous record is that the songs are much heavier, with death-metal-esque palm muted and down tuned riffing, together with an intrincated synth orchestration. All of these come together with the drum clinic made by Barker, including a stunning double bass work, and very progressive rhythms supported by a fascinating use of the cymbals. Also, the bass - as always in this band.- is very prominent and possess a relevant role in the album. However, this work is much more than the sum of its components.
If you listen to the masterful guitar work in "Felonies of the Christian Art"- including a great solo (courtesy of Gus G. of Dream Evil) -and the epic (but not gay) synth parts in the second verse you will get immediately interested. Also "Agony of Fallen Grace" is a powerful anthem with some schizophrenic keyboards and very classic metal riffs. "Black Seeds on Virgin Soil" is the catchiest song, but it is also very intense with a nice intro and some evil riffing. There is not a single bad song. All of them are entirely well-written and can perfectly hold the high standard of the first awesome track. But for me the best one is "Sacrifice of Vengeance”. It is a dark and hateful anthem which invokes relentless guitar expressions with Death Metal influences. There’s also one riff that takes the same disonant patterns that gave MayheM their own musical personality.
However, along the record there's a lot of thrash stuff (especially in drumming), but it stills manage to show always a great level of technique. Definitely Galder is writing better music than in Dimmu Borgir. This release destroys and reduces to ashes the last two Dimmu albums. It could have been even better if he had just focused on OMC and had let those Dimmu-posers to drown in their trendy shit. But I guess Galder wants money too. I hope that he will use DB for money and OMC for the musical side.
Finally, if you like primitive, raw black metal, you should know that OMC is not for you, just go and listen to Burzum. But if you like technical metal with great arrangements you should give this a try.
Even if I didn’t already lump Old Man’s Child into the same category as other gimmicky symphonic noise pseudo-BM bands as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, the three have intertwined themselves so incestually as Ex-CoF, Ex-Dimmu drummer Nicholas Barker now joins OMC’s ranks with Galder (also of Dimmu) and Jardar.
Never a fan of any of the three bands, I was less than thrilled when the fifth and latest Old Man’s Child album, IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTENCE arrived in my mailbox for review. Since OMC’s previous four works were received by my ears with reactions of apathy or disgust, I had no positive expectations as I put the album into my stereo.
Well, I will not withdraw my previous comments about my prior dislike of Old Man’s Child, but I will now add that IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTENCE is a good album.
Yes, it’s true. I admit to liking an OMC album. Kind of a skanky feeling, isn’t it?
IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTENCE shows a fuller, richer sound for Old Man’s Child. This is due in part to the excellent production of Fredrick Nordstrom, but the main contributing factor is that the riffs are meatier, taking a stronger and beefed-up approach. Galder and Jardar strike hard with some really great riffs that are heavy, sometimes waxing a bit technical, and most importantly, head-bangable. Instead of thin, lifeless riffs, OMC has more fully entered the realm of death metal, and even punched up the sound with a number of thrashy instances. Secondly, the addition of Nicholas Barker (better known as “Uncle Fester,” Cradle of Filth’s ex-drummer). Easily the best musician from CoF, and indeed from his more recent stint on Dimmu Borgir’s last album, Nicholas pounds away in his characteristic fashion. Even the keyboards here are used with more discretion as the riffs are not as buried in a wash of blastbeats and synths. There are plenty of great atmospheric passages on this album that made me sit up and say, “wow, that’s a really cool, menacing atmosphere going on here,” especially on tracks like the opener, “Felonies of the Christian Art,” “The Soul Receiver,” “Life Deprived,” and my favourite track on the disc, “Black Seeds on Virgin Soil.” Speaking of “Black Seeds,” the solo about halfway through just rips before going into a nice riff break. The end result reminds me somewhat of a stronger, deathier Old Man’s Child mixed with the atmosphere of one of Cradle of Filth’s rare great moments of excellent songwriting.
Two points, however, detract from the overall quality of IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTANCE. First, OMC still retains too much of the blastbeat-ridden Dimmu-ish sound common to the band’s previous works. Secondly, the songwriting still leave some things to be desired. While every track on the album is very good (minus the useless instrumental, “In Quest of Enigmatic Dreams”), the songs do tend to run together. A couple other minor issues I have include the use of silly synth effects that pop up every now and then, ruining an otherwise good run of riff/atmosphere/whatever, as well as a few atmospheric passages that bog down and begin to encroach upon uselessness.
Fans of OMC, CoF, and Dimmu will undoubtedly be creaming their pants over the release of IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTANCE. This album, which is easily many times better than anything Old Man’s Child has done to date, may even catch a few skeptics such as myself off guard. Really, with Cradle of Filth releasing their latest t-shirt and gimmick...err...I mean album on Sony, and Dimmu currently doing who cares what, now may be the time for Old Man’s Child to step forward after spending the past four albums in the shadows of others.
(originally written by me for www.metal-rules.com, April, 2003)