Released: 2005, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
It took him six albums to get here but Galder has finally hit the nail on the head with VERMIN. Old Man’s Child has been living in the basement of the Black Metal scene now for ten years, never quite capturing the “golden ticket” that would escalate the band (that term used loosely since OMC has essentially been Galder and a rotating stock of drummers, with Reno Killerich taking the reins here) to the next level. Sure, ILL-NATURED SPIRITUAL INVASION came close but Galder seemed like he was just treading water on REVELATION 666 and IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTENCE. Those days are over as VERMIN, with its licking riffs and atmospheric use of keyboards, finally realizes the vision that Galder created as a 17-year old fan of Norway’s Black Metal scene. The production, courtesy of Fredrik Nordstrom at Studio Fredman, is top-notch and the compositions are written with a savvy enough ear to appeal to fans of Galder’s other band, Dimmu Borgir, as well as the traditional followers of the Black Metal scene. Forsaking the shit-can production but never smacking the listener across the face with bombast is a difficult balance but along with reeling in the blastbeats that plagued IN DEFIANCE OF EXISTENCE, Galder has created a listenable yet starkly evil-sounding trip through Hades.
“Enslaved and Condemned” immediately grabs you with the clean guitar riff and darkly melodic opening. Galder’s rasp has never sounded more intense and when juxtaposed with the lush keyboards and swirling guitar solo, the end result is one of the standout tracks on the CD. The jackhammer drumming at the beginning of “War of Fidelity” segues into a vicious shrieking roar from Galder and double-tracked vocals throughout. The drums and guitars (listen for the Hell-bound diving solo) are incredibly tight on this track and are a real testament to what Galder is capable of both as a songwriter and as a musician. Speaking of Testament, that band’s Eric Peterson drops by “In Torment’s Orbit” for a blink-and-you-miss-it solo. “Lord of Command (Bringer of Hate)” opens with a rather odd-sounding keyboard sample but the tinkling ivories of the all-too-familiar symphonic Black Metal sounds of Dimmu Borgir creeps in. Likewise, “Twilight Damnation” could easily fit on to a Dimmu album and never skip a beat with its galloping rhythm and haunting keyboards. The instrumental “…As Evil Descends” wraps up the package in a tidy 37 minutes and in true Old Man’s Child fashion, leaves the listener wanting more.
Old Man’s Child has always been Galder’s outlet for his art while Dimmu Borgir pays the bills. VERMIN has the potential to change that. Listening to VERMIN back-to-back with any of the previous Old Man’s Child albums shows not only how much Galder has improved as a songwriter but also as a musician and vocalist. VERMIN is Old Man’s Child fully realized and while it may not put food on the table, Galder can rest assured in knowing that the last ten years have finally paid off.
KILLER KUTS: “Enslaved and Condemned,” “War of Fidelity,” “In Torment’s Orbit,” “The Flames of Deceit,” “Twilight Damnation”