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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.