Released: 2013, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Malta's finest doom metal exports Nomad Son could also be referred to as one of the flagship acts of Italy's Metal On Metal Records, having perviously delivered 2008's debut full length "First Light" and 2010's excellent "The Eternal Return". THE DARKENING marks the band's third full length album for Metal On Metal Records
THE DARKENING opens with the bouncing, upbeat tempo of the opening verses of "Light Bearer" until slowing things down a considerable amount for the hypnotic and piercing banshee wails of the chorus as vocalist Jordan Cutajar belts out "Light Bearer: you once sat on the Father's right. Lucifer: your seductive splendour had shone ever so bright" in a higher register, blood letting metal scream. The talents of keyboardist/organist Julian Grech are brought to the forefront on the punishing "Age Of Contempt" and I have to say that the band's use of the organ really sets them apart from many of their contemporaries in the doom metal genre. Make no mistake, Nomad Son is no throw back or retro infused doom band, the band's music sounds anything but dated and the production quality carries a very modern feel to it. "The Devil's Banquet" opens up with crushing power chords and a very somber organ melody, this is a pretty atmospheric track, conjuring a dark candlelit hall where the masses have gathered to feast with the devil. Nomad Son's vocalist Jordan Cutajar at times soaring off the deep end like an absolute madman, possessed by unseen forces of evil as he delivers line after line with unfaltering conviction. "Only The Scars" is a hard rocking, fist pounder, with the keyboards utilizing a more epic choral effect. The only comparison that really comes to mind would be a modernized version of Ronnie James Dio fronted Rainbow. These guys can really play and belt it out and it shows.
"Descent To Hell" opens with a progressive jam band feel before settling into another driving, hard rocking beat. This "Descent" carries a lot of twists and turns along the way for the listener with varying tempos and feels and a considerable dynamic range of vocal prowess to behold. The title track on THE DARKENING opens with a more traditional seventies-styled doom riff and a heavy verse section that's sure to have the horns thrusting in the air. About three minutes into the title track everything begins to build towards a massive wall of epic doom metal glory and guitarist Chris Grech delivers some pretty wicked soloing. "Caligula" is the only song on the album where the lyrics weren't written by Nomad Son bassist Albert Bell. The lyrics for "Caligula" were adapted from "Caligula, Book IV in De Vita Caesarum" by Suetonious. Jordan delivers a raspy, reptile like performance vocally as the rest of the band usher forth a dark, brooding atmosphere with slick and sinister riffs shrouded in blackness. "Orphaned Crown" could be considered the last real song on the album, as the ninth track "Epilogue" is a short instrumental piece. "Orphaned Crown" mixes things up with tempo changes that stop on a dime, showcasing the band's abilities to rock with the best of them at any speed, incorporating multiple musical influences and feels and in the process delivering an album that sounds really fresh and uneasily pigeonholed. You can't throw a lot of unwarranted comparisons at a band like Nomad Son, they have a pretty unique sound.
The album artwork by Jowita Kaminska-Peruzzi is really befitting of the music, the booklet is well put together and has all of the lyrics and album credits. There weren't very many band photos included in the booklet. (Perhaps to add to the band's mystique?) The album production by Nomad Son and David Vella is of superb quality. Overall I would highly recommend this band and album to all fans of doom metal and all followers of killer underground metal.