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With Dimmu Borgir preoccupied with re-recording their sophomore album Stormblåst, 2005 certainly looked to be Old Man's Child's time to shine. Galder's genre mainstay had finally come into it's own upon the back of two great records in Revelation 666: The Curse of Damnation and In Defiance of Existence. Old Man's Child was dealt a winning hand, but in a shocking about-face decided to play it way too safe and delivered a criminally boring record in Vermin.
Exactly why this album falls so short is a difficult paradigm to accurately distinguish. On a superficial level, much of Vermin's caustic delivery falls in line with it's direct predecessor. Biting, modern-sounding tremolo passages merge with tense, reverb-drench acoustic tones and esoteric keyboard pads that repeatedly make ill-fated melodic advances upon the listener. Their jest is largely in vain, as the stock and phoned-in nature of Vermin's compositional aesthetics is both glaring and obvious. The faceless guitar acrobatics defer to the keyboards whenever possible, but the ivories aren't up to the task as they end up fumbling the melodic ball more often than not.
One interesting note is that Galder has dialed up the incendiary disposition of his riff assault, showcasing his blisteringly-quick picking hand and plenty of acrobatic palm-muted passages that upstage In Defiance of Existence on a technical level alone. Regardless, the riffs fall mostly flat in the manner in which they are used here. It certainly doesn't help that their tone comes off as very sterile and stock-sounding, lacking the boomy sonic palette that gave a knuckle-cracking appeal to Revelation 666: The Curse of Damnation's distorted swells. Vermin gains some level of coherency when the band plays up it's heavier inclination, achieving a decent level of combustible appeal most apparent during the keyboard-free sections of "Lord of Command (Bringer of Hate)". Most of Vermin's tracks feature isolated sections that exhibit glimmers of past brilliance, but the band repeatedly kneecaps itself along with any hope of turning the proceedings around just when things start looking up.
Vermin features an organic, flat drum mix that reminds me of Overkill's pacified dud I Hear Black. Killerich is actually a decent technician on the kit, but he doesn't exactly enthrall here. These compositions, while masterminded with zeal and fervor by resident misanthropic architect Galder, do little more than exist. This remains something of a shame, especially after the truly indelible In Defiance of Existence. Some, like "Twilight Damnation" try and conjure up some sort of abstruse, clinical hybrid of melodic black metal and melancholic synth lines but come off as unreasonably forced in the process. "Black Marvels of Death" has some minor neck-jerking potential by virtue of it's simplistic driving drum beats alone, but even pointing out obscure high points such as these required me to sift through layer upon unbridled layer of meandering mindrust on Galder's part.
Old Man's Child would recover in memorable fashion with 2009's Slaves of the World, so Vermin thankfully remains the band's lone post-millennial low point. Even as such, it remains disconcerting to know that Galder has the proclivity to grace us with less-than-stellar compositions when creativity begins to wane. The man's torrid output very nearly forgives him on principle alone, but Vermin is simply far too off-putting to be given a free pass.
The release of Vermin was an interesting time for Old Man's Child. With Jardar and Nick Barker gone, what could the next Old Man's Child album sound like? Would it be as heavy hitting as their previous album, In Defiance of Existence? Nick Barker's drumming was one of a kind and gave a lot of punch to their previous album. It would be interesting to see what kind of shoes Reno Killerich had to fill..
If there's one thing that can be said about Vermin, it's how clear the production is. Compared to previous OMC albums, it's definitely noticeable. Galder's grunty vocals blend in well with the guitars. Killerich, the new session drummer, has a heavy presence but doesn't necessarily steal the entire show like Barker did in the last OMC album. There's a very modest approach within Vermin and I believe that Galder took a more conservative approach in his songwriting, not intentionally trying to do anything over the top.
All of the songs follow a similar format - nearly everything is under 5 minutes, you have a smooth mix of rhythmic and lead guitars, and you have keyboards to supplement the music. There are no truly articulate guitar solos, but the competence of the lead guitars makes for some incredible riffs. All of this is done in a simple, but catchy way as is usually the case with Old Man's Child. Some songs are heavier than others. "Plague of Sorrow", despite the stupid distortion in the beginning, sounds really badass despite its simple nature. It is one of the heaviest songs on the album the clean production really fuels this attribute.
On the flip side, you have songs like "War of Fidelity" and "In Torment's Orbit." These tracks really emphasize the incredible riffs that are the main foundation for the songs. As far as OMC albums go, some of Galder's best ideas, in terms of guitarwork, happens in these songs.
The only problem I have with Vermin is that it's way too "average". I don't mean average in a mediocre sense, but while it doesn't have any flaws, it doesn't have any significant strengths that were experienced on other albums. For example, if I wanted something heavy, I'd go after In Defiance of Existance. For an engrossing atmosphere, I'd check out Born of the Flickering or In the Shades of Life. If I was in the mood for something catchy, I'd probably go with Ill-Natured Spiritual Invasion or Revelation 666. Vermin has all these traits - heaviness, catchiness, atmosphere - but none of this is articulated as strongly in previous albums. As I said earlier, some songs have incredible guitar work, but that only holds true for a few songs. Everything else is sort of just average, or at least expected. I wouldn't say Vermin is sterile, but it just isn't as memorable. I was waiting for that particular punch in songs like "Lord of Command" and "Flames of Deceit." Usually the songs started out good, but there wasn't much progression and it would always lead me to think "damn, that was it?" I guess I got my hopes up a bit too much while waiting for some big climax. Many songs did remind me of ones from Revelation 666, but that power never really happened in some Vermin songs.
Other than that, Vermin is a pretty good album. There is nothing too absurd or objectionable going on here, but if there was slightly better songwriting, perhaps the music could be more entertaining. Maybe the production was just too clean. Or maybe the album just didn't click with me as much as others. Fans of Old Man's Child should still check this out. In fact, if you're not familiar with the band, Vermin would actually be a good place to start as it does have all strong attributes of your typical Old Man's Child song.
I'm a little apprehensive when it comes to the majority of modern metal releases; when something has the title of 'melodic' in its description, it's usually a red-flag for me to stay away as I will most likely hate it.
After reading reviews on Old Man's Child, I decided to give this band a chance. I've never heard a single Dimmu Borgir song in my life so I had no preconceived notions of what to expect outside of what the reviewers on metal-archives had described regarding "Vermin".
Galder's vocals are absolutely top-tier on this release; for the most part he uses an approach not wholly dissimilar to the late Jon Nödtveidt (RIP) or even Nisse Karlén (SACRAMENTUM). The vocals are hate-filled and throat-tearing but Galdur enunciates well so the listener can understand the lyrics and stay engaged. The death metal vocals are thoroughly excellent too and the two are intertwined on "Vermin" expertly and really add a nice dimension to the music.
Very few bands come to mind which employ a somewhat symphonic sound in their extreme metal that I enjoy. A rare example would be Nokturnal Mortum's "Lunar Poetry" demo and maybe some Emperor as well. Old Man's Child uses keyboards when necessary to add a dark, ominous atmosphere to every single one of these songs. I concur that this album, as a whole, has an apocalyptic vibe to it and gives the listener a sense of imminent doom.
While there is nothing technical about "Vermin" (outside of the excellent drumming), the compositional abilities of Galder are absolutely astounding; not once while listening to this did I become bored or feel like I was listening to stereotypical 'melodic black metal'. The production is excellent and the keyboards are mixed perfectly into the music. One of the redeeming values here is that Galder knows when to employ the keys to add a little something extra to the music and when to simply use two guitars, a bass, and drums to get his musical ideas across.
The riffing style is varied and crosses genres from black metal, death metal and traditional heavy metal. There are a ton of morbid melodies found on "Vermin" which would not be out of place on some classic Swedish death metal releases and they really boost the overall quality. There are solos as well but they're used to complement the riffs and the mood of whichever particular song is currently playing; the solos seem to be classically influenced and they're very melodic and well-placed.
Overall, "Vermin" is about as perfect of an album as one will find in modern metal... highly recommended. The guitar playing, production, vocals, drumming and musical vision of a highly, highly talented Galder make this a must own.
Old Man's Child is a Norwegian black metal band founded in 1993 by current Dimmu Borgir guitarist Galder (aka Thomas Rune Andersen). With other members coming and going (mainly drummers/ percussionists), Galder remained the main driving force behind the band, being the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and vocalist of the band. In 1996 the band was signed to Century Media, but due to the constant lineup changes, the band has rarely toured. Galder then joined black metal behemoths Dimmu Borgir in 2001 as their new guitarist while still fronting Old Man's Child. On Old Man's Child latest release, Vermin, the band continues to make heavy, symphonic, grisly black metal. With guest member Reno H. Kiilerich on drums and a guest guitar solo by Eric Peterson on Lord Of Command (Bringer Of Hate), Vermin stands as a solid black metal release.
The first track, Enslaved And Condemned, begins with dark, melodic guitar strums followed by some quick drum rolls and heavy, grooving, apocalyptic riffage. Galder comes in with his demonic vocal style (which actually resembles that of Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy) as he roars his satanic lyrics. There is a lot of strong keyboard backdrop and a wicked guitar solo about halfway through the song and another near the end of the song. The track has a very good brutal yet symphonic feel to it, and is a great opening track to introduce the listener to the album. The Plague Of Sorrow starts off with industrial noises and static only to kick off into heavy blast beats and gothic riffage. The track has a great groove to it and some more symphonic keyboard backdrop mixed in with it's brutality. Galder again shows off his demonic death metal inspired vocals with intense rage as the track blisters with gothic atmosphere and ambiance.
War Of Fidelity kicks off with a powerful drum solo intro that is backed up quickly by some sweeping guitar riffs and Galder's menacing howls. The song is tad more thrashy then the previous to tracks and has a slightly less presentful symphonic feel. The bass on the track gives a good groove to it's swinging thrash melodies and blast beats. Another great guitar solo is present on the track, along with a quick symphonic breakdown that sounds almost like it came out of a video game. An overall solid track with great riffs and guitar melodies. In Torment's Orbit has a much more dynamic apocalypse feel to it as the opening riffs kick on with the drums only to lead into a strong guitar solo and keyboard backdrop. By this point, Galder doesn't present much difference in his vocal style, but makes up with creative song structure. Another track dominated by it's symphonic feel and various thrash elements giving it a brutal gothic feel.
Probably the greatest stand out track is Lord Of Command (Bringer Of Hate). The intro reminds me of Nile an it's symphonies. The song then kicks into dark guitar riffs and keyboard backdrop, giving a much stronger symphonic feel then the previous tracks. The track also has some great thrash guitar and keyboard breakdowns mixed in with it's demonic brutality of guitar and vocals. Galder does an interesting echo with his voice in one part of the song that you can't help but find amusingly catchy. Overall a perfect black metal track in my book. The Flames Of Deceit begins with some scratchy riffs and heavy drum lines followed by some more gruff vocals. The track has some very strong guitar dynamics and some good vocal performances from Galder. A powerful breakdown occurs with some sweeping guitar solos and keyboard ambiance. Overall the track has some great guitar work, but could stand to having a better song flow and structure.
Black Marvels Of Death has some chugging melodic guitar strums as it starts that ascend into some dynamic drum lines and guitar chugging. The symphonic feel to the song is very strong, and sounds a lot more like Dimmu Borgir then any of the other tracks on the album. There is more wicked guitar solos and some standout bass riffs fueled by keyboard backdrop and drum beats. Another typical Old Man's Child track, but still good none the less. Twilight Damnation also has a melodic guitar intro that plays some very folk-esque tunes before some quick slashes at the guitar lead it into an aura of blast beats and thrashy symphonic black metal. The song doesn't present anything new to the album that the other tracks haven't already distinguished, but the song still has a nice groove to it. The album ends with slightly over a minute long outro track ... As Evil Descends, which is basically a bunch of dark gothic ambiance and symphonies mixed with industrial noises and creepy howling noises. Overall, Vermin is a standout black metal album with some gothic tunes that say that the band is still going strong even after all these years. All hail Old Man's Child.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR SPUTNIKMUSIC.COM
Galder ( Dimmu Borgir, Requiem ) has always been the driving force behind Old Man's Child, writing lyrics, playing guitar, as well as doing bass, synth and vocal duties. Vermin is the latest piece of work from Galder, and it's beautiful as ever.
In Defiance of Existance was decent, but comparng it to Vermin is absurd. Reno Kiilrich makes, yet another appearance in the line-up, hammering us to hell like always. But, when listenign to the tracks on IDE, and then the ones on Vermin, there is a great difference between melodies. For instance, Reno can control himself while playing. Nicholas Barker beats the shit out of his drums, stopping only when need be. Big difference. IMO, should Reno have done the drum work on IDE, it would be different, but let's get back to the review.
Galder impressed me majorly with the intro to Enslaved And Condemned -- the first track. No, it wasn't the usual acoustic piece, it was the fact that right from the beginning, he adds an atomosphere with his guitar skills. You can feel the darkness grow while listening to it. The whole album features great guitar work, and Eric Peterson from Testament tributes on In Torment's Orbit -- yet another amazing track. Galder's ability to take riffage and make an atmosphere out of it impresses me alot. Even when the synthesizer isn't in use, Galder's guitar is there, and that is the atmosphere to which we grow. Once the synth kicks in, the guitar blends with it, and the atmosphere spreads. Beautiful.
The Vocals were nothing new, if not still impressive. I like Galder's style of blending Death Metal-esque vocals with the tradition Black Metal sound. They both seem the connect, and Galder does a great job of making things work.
The synthesizer is excellent as ever, nothing over the top as the previous review suggested. In fact, from what i've noticed, the synthesizer is rarely used. It comes in only during a Chrous, pre-Chorus, or , again, to create an atmosphere already attained. It's great to listen to somethign just as heavy, if not heavier, as Dimmu Borgir, without an Orchestra drowning everything out, and what sounds like eight different synthesizers in the backround. Don't get me wrong, Mustis is an excellent musician, but it ruins the songs. Galder impressed me the most here.
The Vermin album is great. Whether you like Old Man's Child or not, give this album a try. It's not bad at all, IMO, and to those of you that dislike OMC, this may surprise you.
Finally, I've got the new Old Man's Child record "Vermin". It doesn't take a direction far away from the music we know of the previous records, but it has a main focus: Darkness. Damn this album has an obscure feeling!. Galder has decided also to stop trying to make a "Little Dimmu Borgir" from Old Man's Child, wisely keeping the music less bombastic and focusing more on a dark atmosphere in a more straight-forward (and far more listenable) approach than his norwegian fellows.
This time, Galder decided to record everything but as always he took a great drummer: Reno Kiillerich. The danish guy did an elegant drumwork, never being too much over the top or just showing off but adding musical quality and dynamics into the music. In other words, his drumming adds and doesn't detracts from the music while creating a wide spectrum of different patterns in every song. His tasteful ornaments just keep his drumming always interesting, in addition his double-bass work is flawless and his style is somehow similar to Nick Barker's but more controlled.
Following the path explored on "In Defiance of Existence", Old Man's Child's symphonic black metal continues borrowing elements from classic Death Metal especially in some of the riffing based on tremolo picking and 5th power chords. But the guitars don't keep on doing the same thing. There is always a lot going on. The harmonies are well constructed in order to fit in the whole musical picture as are the synth arrangements which are used moderately and with care. The whole album is musically (not lyrically) a concept. There are recurrent motifs present in all songs. The music is on one hand very impresionistic, trying to evoke images of ancient dark times; and on the other hand, incredibly catchy. So, while this brings to mind a Lovecraftian atmosphere you can headbang to almost everything here.
Nobody can deny Galder's ability to create instant ear-pleasing songs like "Enslaved and Condemned", the opening track. Starting with the Old Man's Child's already trademark spanish guitar intro, the song mutates into an agressive Black Metal with a symphonic feeling that delivers pummeling double bass work by Mr. Kiillerich and the symbiotic asociation between extreme metal riffs and synthetized classical ensembles and choirs even though this is far from a "wall of sound". I would say that this is more like Emperor's "IX Equilibrium" where every single instrument can be clearly heard. When "The Plague of Sorrow" unleashes its dark cloud of chaotic-but-controlled riffs you know exactly where this record is going. The razor-sharp precision of the duo shines in this song, showing all the technical dexterity they can offer in order to achieve the most evil and hellish atmosphere possible.
"War of Fidelity" takes us yet to another dimension including a lot of thrash metal riffing that reminds of the band's earlier works and featuring the peak of Reno Killerich's machine-like control of double bass and masterful cymbal work. "In Torment's Orbit" is the faster song of the record, keeping the thrashy feeling of the previous track with some Kreator-like atonal riffs and awesome lead guitar courtesy of Eric Peterson from Testament. "Lord of Command" is a song that would perfectly fit into the "Ill-Natured Spiritual Invasion" album, displaying the same kind of disturbing synth tricks and Heavy Metal harmonies amazingly well conected to Dissection-esque cold riffs.
At this point comes the most groove-oriented song "The Flames of Deceit". Despite its Dimmu Borgir reminiscences, this track works thanks to a magnificent post-chorus riff filled with that dark and mystic feel. "Black Marvels of Death" is a slower and classic Old Man's Child sounding song. It definitely peaks up towards the end preparing the listener to the next onslaught. "Twilight Damnation" shows all the harmonic creativity of Galder, being a polyphonic four-minute slaughter with multiple guitars playing in a heavier Children of Bodom style, but keeping the obscure atmosphere of the entire album. "...As Evil Descends" is an evil sounding outro, pretty generic but it goes well with the rest.
The new creation of Galder's Old Man's Child probably isn't a record that will make history, but is a great addition to your collection and to the band's discography. Highly recommended to those who like Dark Symphonic Black Metal in the vein of Emperor (circa IX Equilibrium). It may be enjoyed also by people who like dark and/or extreme metal in all forms and incarnations, from Samael to Behemoth.