Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nomad - Transmigration of Consciousness (2011)

Nomad are perhaps one of the more intellectual and conceptual of the Polish death metal stalwarts, but they've oddly enough received very little attention as of yet. You could very easily compare their sound to Lost Soul, Vader, Behemoth and others within their direct sphere, but not so much that they overlay any one of those bands' particular aesthetics entirely. With luck, their 5th album, Transmigration of Consciousness will build upon their audience, because while I cannot promise that it's completely brilliant, it does capture a fair deal of atmosphere through its mix of ambient and guitar intros and crushing, grooving death hymns.

Similar to Pestilence's Testimony of the Ancients, or Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle-Earth, this album alternates its intros, interludes and outros with the full-length tracks. This is not always a welcome practice, and gods know I've seen myriad complaints about the tactic when employed on other works. Well, those complaints would be justified here, since their lack of titles really offers no individual distinction. Some of these are actually quite fetching, like the steady muted clean guitars that inaugurate "Flames of Tomorrow", or the spacey guitar ambiance that heralds "Dazzling Black", and I feel like perhaps they should have just been incorporated straight into the songs. Alas, at the very least Nomad have given the listener the option to skip them and head straight for the meat of the matter...

That meat would be the nine 'actual' songs of the album, which are almost without exception splayed out in a series of deep grooves that fall somewhere between Gojira, Alchemist and Lost Soul in practice. These Poles are far more fond of atmospherics than technicality, so the core of each track like "Dazzling Black" and "Pearl Evil" exists in a simple and bludgeoning space, lorded over by ambient sounds and effects, and the grunting force of vocalist 'Bleyzabel Balberith' (it gets better, as other members have adopted the stage names of 'Hydrant Hydrousus', 'Nameless Immenus' and more lazily 'Domin Dominus'.) The result is an experience both potent and tribal, the lack of truly distinct riffs somewhat compensated through the sheer gravity of what you're hearing, and plenty of deep thrashing segments to which you can break out into a private pseudo-mosh.

There are some deviations of the formula, like the rasped vocals of "Raised Irony", or the more uplifting grooves of "Four Percent of Hate", but the crushing effect of the Transmigration is a constant broken only by the segues. This is certainly the most ambitious and interesting that I've heard from Nomad yet, though I feel like the general quality of the songs on their 2004 effort Demonic Verses (Blessed Are Those Who Kill Jesus) was a little higher. That said, if you're into the structured proficiency of Polish acts Decapitated, Hate, Behemoth and so forth, and don't mind hearing that style pounded into riffing primacy and then lavished with a resilient and darker atmosphere, you might want to experience this mildly unique ritual for yourself.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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