Review Summary: Heavier, catchier, more aggressive and without any keyboard overkill.
Old Man’s Child have been around for quite a while and over that time they’ve managed to incur the hate of many black metal fans. The most blatant reason for this hate is because the band is commonly associated with Dimmu Borgir
, Cradle of Filth
and other black metal bands that utilize keyboards and slick productions. Of course, these bands also spark heated debates about whether they’re even black metal but that is for a different time. What is certain is that Old Man’s Child probably doesn’t deserve that hate (anymore). Over the course of seven albums, they have continuously progressed away from generic black metal and have steadily progressed towards a sound that is mostly their own. If Vermin
was the culmination of that progression than Slaves of the World
is its refinement and enhancement.
One of the best things that Vermin
did was blend thick, heavy death/thrash riffs into its black metal foundation. These riffs allowed the songs to seamlessly shift between melodic black metal and moments of crunchy heaviness, and that’s still the case here. The difference is that these riffs are now the focal point of each song, and they’re stronger than ever. Galder managed to improve on every facet of these riffs by making them as catchy as they are heavy and also by incorporating the slightest bit of groove into some of them. These death/thrash sections are complimented perfectly by quick breaks into fast-paced melodic black metal that is full of malevolence and speed. It’s these black metal sections that receive most of the keyboard accompaniment, but even at those peak moments the keyboard melodies play nothing more than a support role.
Instead of relying on keyboards to gloss over the complete lack of good ideas (as other bands are known to do), Old Man’s Child actually injects quite a bit of effort into every area of their sound. In order to better compliment the heavier riffs, quite a bit of Galder’s vocals are delivered in a very deep death metal growl that adds much more aggression than they’ve been previously known for. Even his higher-register rasps seem to impart a fullness and aggression that they’ve rarely achieved in the past. In addition to these typical (yet improved) elements, the band has also included little touches that occasionally crop up and provide a quick surprise. These nuances include guitar harmonies, melodic solos, clean guitar implementation and many dynamic shifts. These clever inclusions provide each song with a unique distinction that allows it to have its own personality despite the singular focus on aggression.
Old Man’s Child may have started out as another generic black metal band that relied too much on studio polish and keyboards, but they’ve evolved into so much more. The band’s current sound is built around powerful death/thrash riffs and commanding deep growls that utilize melodic black metal and higher rasps as more of a complimentary element. This is the sound of a band that is continually pushing their own boundaries in an attempt to find an arrangement that sets them apart without alienating their fans. While the arrangement they’ve come to isn’t exactly original, it works very well for them and it is what has allowed them to deliver the strongest album of their career. In the end, though, your enjoyment of this album is going to largely depend on how much you enjoyed Vermin
because this is definitely just a refinement of that sound.