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The Darkening - 73%

Buarainech, January 31st, 2014

You really have to hand it to Nomad Son and their countrymen Forsaken for single-handedly managing to make their tiny island home of Malta and its population of less than half a million one of the key destinations in Europe for doom metal. This has been in large thanks to the Malta Doom Festival but also how absolutely solid their combined releases have been. Compared to their first two albums this is pretty slap bang on par as far as quality goes, but if you are partial to Trouble/Candlemass-styled traditional doom metal with heavily accented but emotionally overwrought vocals and a rough lo-fi approach to production and keyboards then look no further.

As with previous releases the thing most quickly noticeable about opening track “Light Bearer” is the church organs which have a very Mediterranean Catholic vibe to them, as well as how Jordan Cutajar's vocals tend towards the histrionic side of things. He is far from the best traditional doom vocalist out there, but strongly accented twang and delivery is definitely dramatic and striking. Tonally he is on the rougher end of the mid-range with some admirable falsettos, kind of like how I imagine a Dio tribute singer smoked 20 a day would sound.

“Age Of Contempt” takes everything about the first song as ramped up the melodrama even more before “The Devil's Banquet” channels the dafter side of Messiah Marcolin the crooning of the “The death of emotion/The death of feeling!” Things are equally as camp and almost cartoonish on “Descent To Hell” which has a cheap and unconvincing organ freakout that reminds me of Dr. Teeth And The Electric Mayhem from The Muppets more than anything else, but there are still moments of pure quality here. Ridiculous as this album is in parts there's no denying the power of the classy riffs on “Only The Scars” or the flat out killer chorus to the title track which has more than a little of Heavy Demons by Death SS to it.

“Caligula” does away with the organs briefly and manages to create a palpable darkness just from the crush of its riffs that perfectly suits the more aggressive tone of the vocals, before the vibe switches to one of sadness “The Orphaned Crown.” It's a shame that the Trouble-referencing crunch guitars can't quite match the sorrow invoked through the keyboards and the vocals, but this is a decent finale to this album all the same. A solid album by an absolute stalwart pilgrim of doom. [7/10]

From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine-