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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.