Review Summary: Born of the Flickering is Old Man's Child's rawest black metal release, and is also their least interesting.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Black metal since it's real true birth in the early 90s by bands like Mayhem
has really changed. We've seen bands start off sounding "traditional" but then go off and change their style to something else. Black metal bands have experimented with styles like death metal, gothic music or maybe even traditional heavy metal. Some great examples of these would be the ex-black metal bands Dimmu Borgir
and Cradle of Filth
. They both started out black metal, but then just got bored with that style and began experimenting until they found what suited them best. Even though it's not true to the scene, it still is a whole lot better. Enter...
Old Man's Child's 1995 release
Born of the Flickering
Such is the case with a lesser known black metal band, Old Man's Child
. You may know the guitar player from Dimmu Borgir known as Galder. Well, this is his band. He's been in this group since the beginning and is the primary songwriter in the band. His guitar playing and vocals are always taking the spotlight throughout this album and show off his talent as an overall musician. This album was recorded when the band was still young and finding their niche in the metal world. This album is pure melodic black metal similar to that of bands like early Dissection
The album starts off strong with "Demons of the Thorncastle"
. It's filled with the familar elements of early Old Man's Child
: plenty of melodic guitar doodling, generic black metal drumming, thick bass lines, and grating vocals. It works in this song because this is the first song the album has to offer so you don't become tired of it. Unfortunately, this style is surely overdone far too much in this album and most of the songs will sound very similar to the opening track.
Galder's vocals on Old Man's Child
's newer albums like Vermin
and In Defiance of Existence
are awesome; they're thick, harsh, and leave me wanting to hear more. These older vocals when I heard them didn't impress me nearly as much. In fact, they even bother me in some parts. His voice is just far too harsh and, well, indecipherable. Even though it's in the traditional black metal style, there are still plenty of black metal vocalists that can sound harsh but still can deliver their lyrics clearly. Galder just can't on this record. While it's not too much of a setback, I still like to be able to know what the song is about. His clean vocals aren't better by any means, but the occasional female vocal sections will make up for it when it occurs. With the exception of the lovely crooning of female vocalist Torill Snyen, it's nothing I was really pleased with.
Galder's guitar parts certainly make up for his lack of vocal skill, though. His songs are chock full of melodic riffs and leads that should be enjoyable to fans of extreme metal. Galder doesn't solo very much on this album, but his instrumental work is usually changing enough to keep the songs interesting so that there isn't much of a need to. Such songs like "Demons of the Thorncastle", "Born of the Flickering", and "Funeral, Swords, and Souls"
have some great riffing throughout and keep me wanting to hear more. There are also even a few times when classical guitar will be introduced to the songs provided by Richard Wikstrand, providing it with an even richer atmosphere than before. There are actually some guitar solos in the song "The Last Chapter"
and it's very lovely. It certainly makes the song a highlight of the album.
The rhythm section keeps the pace of the song going and will even occasionally get a chance to play out. The drums don't really do this much, but the bass is heavy in the mix and has plenty of times to lay down some cool and even groovy lines that really impressed me. Most black metal bands keep the bass out of the mix totally, but not Old Man's Child
. I really liked what they did with it, too. The drumming is pretty basic if you know what black metal beats are supposed to sound like. Born of the Flickering is filled to the brim with blast beats and double bass, but none of it is really impressive at all. Once you've heard one black metal band, you've heard everything that this album has to offer. I would have liked it if the drumming was brought out a little bit more and the beats were more creative than they were on here.
So to finalize things, this album is good, but it certainly has problems to it. The guitar work and bass work interlock greatly to provide us with some new great riffs and songs to melodic black metal. But these highlights are often overshadowed by Glader's annoying harsh vocal style on here and even worse clean vocals. The female vocals give it a bit of a boost, but not too much. The drumming is often too basic for my tastes and could be much better. The album also tends to repeat itself which is a problem for a 51 minute album. If you really want to hear what Old Man's Child
can really do with sound, I really think you should get their album The Pagan Prosperity
Thor gives this album a 3/5
, which means that fans of black metal should look into getting this, but if you're new to the genre than you would probably want to get something else before this.
Old Man's Child consisted of on this album:
Galder - Vocals, guitar, synths
Gonde - Bass, background vocals
Tjodalv - Drums
Torill Snyen - Female vocals
Richard Wikstrand - Classical guitar
Demons of the Thorncastle
Funeral, Swords, and Souls
The Last Chapter