HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Old Man's Child - Vermin
(Century Media)

With Galder officially one of black metal's big shots, given his Dimmu-ship as well as a multitude of Old Man's Children, somehow the reticent black star rising finds time to boil and toil another swirling cauldron of black metal foodstuffs. For Vermin, Galder plays all the instruments except drums, and as usual, what one gets is a high fidelity cavalcade of sounds panoramic, epic, and eerily melodic, as evidenced by opener Enslaved And Condemned which balances a vicious set of opening sequences with a gorgeous, sin-draped melody introduced later. War Of Fidelity is also a shining highlight, its almost power metal-ish thrash recalling the magic of Immortal before meltdown. And really, what you have here is the last best black metal band standing, at least beyond the theatrics of Dimmu and Cradle, Old Man's Child raging with a heart of pure but earthy metal (check out the opening to 'In Torment's Orbit') despite the well-dovetailed orchestrations. And smartly, Galder enlists a top-notch drummer, Reno Killerich (ex-Dimmu) arriving with complex ideas to add to Galder's uneasily warm and quiet and alone and underground mindscapes. Very gothic, complicated but more with respect to arrangement than speed, Vermin is a seductively listenable (and short) record of top drawer black metal.
Rating 9

Icarus Witch - Capture The Magic

Following up on their more than well-received debut EP, traditional archivists Icarus Witch bring back the best guitar tone in rock for a record that bravely doesn't stand up and wave its arms wildly about the band's many strengths. In fact, Capture The Magic envelopes the listener in lush progressive metal, mid-paced and even panoramically languished grooves. Thinking man's Primal Fear, double bass-void Stratovarius (Kotipelto solo?), or the last couple of Maidens comes to mind, Icarus Witch, track by track, creating a landscape of dependable frilly-sleeved metal that captures the ennui of the under-rated Mercyful Fate reunion albums up to but not including 9. Vocalist Matt Bizilia has a uniquely twangy, cannily over the top voice, that puts the band outside of power metal categories despite the earthy, Force Of Evil-styled twin leads, the sum total of these tracks capturing an earlier time in metal through open architectures, trudging rhythms, a merciless moroseness. And finally there's an unadorned and swinging cover of Ozzy's S.A.T.O., the band's treatment of this serving as metaphor for the mood of the album as a whole - it's actually more laid-back than the original. One applauds the fact that this album doesn't blaze brightly (an intriguingly warm, rounded-off fidelity aids in the achievement of this), but one also wonders if the more impatient among the power metal set Icarus Witch draw from, will find it too uniformly unshowy.
Rating 8

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