Review Summary: Kublai Khan’s latest offering doesn’t do much to push the envelope, but memorable riffs, raw vocals, and thick production make it a fun ride.
On their Rise Records debut, Kublai Khan capitalizes on all of their strengths. Matt Honeycutt’s indignant growls are accompanied by chunky riffs and memorable grooves. The bland production that hampered their previous releases has been exchanged for a richer, deeper sound. There is little experimentation here, but the grit and authenticity captured on their first two records have been revitalized with stellar production and tight performances.
Possibly the most notable difference between Nomad
and its predecessors is the sound. The menacing vocals are at the front without compromising the rest of the instrumentation. The guitar and bass no longer bleed together in sterilized harmony but flourish alongside one another. The production on Nomad
highlights individual performances instead of fusing them together in a cacophonous mess.
Matt Honeycutt’s vocals have always been a highlight for the band. On Nomad,
he is absolutely frothing at the mouth. Using only a few words, he makes his presence known on "Antpile." “The Hammer” and “True Fear” feature some of his most vicious performances yet. Matt snarls his way through Nomad,
grabbing the listener by the throat and refusing to let go until the creepy murmurs of “River Walker” close the album.
The tortured voice on Nomad
is joined by an abundance of catchy grooves. The opening riff in “The Hammer” is heart-stopping. Eric English’s bass gets some much-needed attention at the beginning of “Salt Water.” “8 Years” transitions seamlessly into the pummeling “Belligerent” without becoming a victim to monotony. The breakdowns on songs like “B.C.” and “No Kin” are perfectly placed to keep up the momentum without becoming stagnant.
Kublai Khan’s greatest strengths also serve as Nomad
’s sole weakness: there is little experimentation to be found here. While vocals are a high point on the album, the lyrics explore a myriad of familiar themes that have been recycled across the genre. “B.C.” is a dime-a-dozen assault on religion, while “True Fear” comes across as a half-baked response to police brutality. “River Walker” begins with an ominous, doomy riff and creepily murmured vocals, but fails to deliver on its promise before fading out – becoming an anti-climactic way to end the album.
Kublai Khan doesn’t do much to experiment with their sound on Nomad,
but they don’t have to. The band capitalizes on the unbridled rage and authenticity that was captured on their previous efforts. Nomad
is coursing with pummeling riffs, impassioned vocals, and tight performances that, backed by incredibly lush production, make it an album worth checking out.