Old Man's Child

Vermin

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Never quite able to compete with the heaviest hitters of Norwegian black metal (Emperor, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Enslaved), Old Man's Child appeared headed to the also-ran scrap heap when main man Galder decided to join his more successful rivals, Dimmu Borgir, in 2001. But, ironically, it's almost as if accepting second fiddle status was exactly what the multi-instrumentalist needed to ensure that post-Dimmu Old Man's Child records -- of which 2005's Vermin is the second -- would rank among their best works to date. Not earth-shattering or revolutionary, Vermin is nonetheless sturdy, entertaining, and "civilized" Scandinavian black metal featuring semi-symphonic highlights like "Enslaved and Condemned," "The Plague of Sorrow," and "The Flames of Deceit," executed with the clinical precision that OMC fans have come to expect. The very nature of this controlled attack means that some of the genre's more extreme savagery is inevitably forfeited during the delivery, but occasional offerings such as "War of Fidelity" (with its machine-gun riffing) and "Lord of Command (Bringer of Hate)" still manage episodes of near loss of control now and then. Yet it's probably Galder's talents at conjuring endless sinister melodies -- not his competent but less than unique vocal growls, not his admirable but equally sub-Dimmu orchestrating abilities -- that supply Vermin's most frequent distinguishing moments. That and the rotating quasi-folk melody threaded through the rather unusual "Twilight Damnation," which precedes the industrial outro "…As Evil Descends," wrap up a solid, unspectacular, but above-average Old Man's Child album.

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