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A different Old Man's Child - 95%

PhantomMullet, March 1st, 2011

In the Shades of Life is home to some of the best Old Man's Child songs and much of the material here is quite different than what has appeared in their newer albums. Although released in 1994, this little demo still stands the test of time even today and not without a few good reasons.

As I said, there are lots of ideas here that differentiate this from other Old Man's Child albums. First, there are clean vocals to be found in most of the songs. They don't play a big role, but they certainly add more flavor when they do come up. Second, there are some acoustic guitars mixed in, especially in "Seeds of the Ancient Gods." The acoustics make for more memorable music. Third, there's a certain feeling of sadness and sorrow which do seem like foreign concepts to modern day Old Man's Child.

You can sort of view In the Shades of Life as some sort of folk metal album, although much different from those silly, generic campfire-metal bands that are a dime a dozen in Scandinavia. There's a certain sense of maturity in this demo. In terms of style, expect something similar to Dimmu Borgir's Stormblast, but the more interesting part is that In the Shades of Life came out before Stormblast. Unlike Stormblast, there's a cleaner production, as opposed to Stormblast's murkier sound.

Now it is of course an Old Man's Child release, so there's a lot of catchiness to be had in the tracks. Many of the riffs from some of the songs will get stuck in your head and you then can't help but hum to them. But I think the two best songs are the ones in Norwegian, which again, is another difference between OMC's other work.

"Manet Sorgfull Igjennom Skogen" has an incredible atmosphere with lots of tempo changes. Galder's, well Grusom's, Norwegian vocals are great and there's an interesting blend of synths with the bass, guitars, and drums. Very memorable song. Even more strange is the outro, "...Og Jeg Iakttok Dødsrikets Inntog", a very solemn sounding, sorrow-filled song that makes for an incredible ending to this demo. It's a very well done mesh of keyboards, acoustic guitars, and even a flute! The ending consists of drums that give off some violent omen. This is probably the strongest song on the demo and might even be my favorite song by OMC.

When all is said and done, In the Shades of Life is actually one of Old Man's Child's strongest releases. There are no real flaws with it. There's a lot of variety here in terms of instrumentation, atmosphere, and mood. It's a shame that a gem like this is so overlooked. You should definitely go out of your way to track this down if you're a fan of some slightly unconventional melodic metal.