Remnants of a Diabolical History
7/3/2008 - Review by: Etiam
In midst of a resurrection that has seen two LP's in the new millennium after none for six years, the resurgent Nominon offer us 'Remnants of a Diabolical History'. Released in 2006, between 'Recremation' and 'Terra Necrosis', one might consider this album as Nominon's effort to establish their 'street cred'. Although they've been around as long as many in the classic Swedish death scene, large-scale media attention has passed them by, and only with their most recent studio outings has the praise begun to roll in. So it seems apropos that a band built upon the past would turn the audience's attention away from the present to pay homage to tradition. 'Remnants of a Diabolical History' compiles unreleased material dating from before their first LP in '99 to 2005, with three relatively obscure covers mixed in, (Voivod, Whiplash, Repulsion) all executed with just the right sense of slapdash brio.
Given the patchwork nature of these recordings, 'Remnants...' is not a unified or especially congruent album, with production values, mixes, technical aptitude, and vocal styling changing dramatically from one track to the next. This imbalance is furthered by the perplexing layout of the material--rather than arranging the tracks chronologically, Nominon have split them up, seemingly at random. The band's general mindset and aptitude have been consistently admirable, however, so if by nothing else, 'Remnants...' is united by its vigorous, old-school spirit. The pairing of old tracks with new is most effective in pointing out how stable the band's quality has been, despite their numerous lineup changes.
The collection is an entertaining and appropriately filthy reminiscence, but its nature prevents it from deserving exceptional praise. After all, the band is treading ground that is already quite thoroughly trod, and no homage will come across as seminal or groundbreaking to any fan with adequate experience in the genre. Still, Nominon manage to inject an irresistible zest into this tried-and-true formula that prevents them from being purely standard fare. Cuts like 'Cemetery of Life' feature them at their best--ripping vocals, scattered harmonies, head-bobbing Swedish grooves, and an ethereal reverb melody that lends an unexpected depth to the composition. In these moments, old Swedish death is a true art form, albeit largely by accident, in that from its vulgarities and rudimentary creators, fragile beauty is born.
Of course, Nominon are eager to obliterate that beauty with impunity and do so any number of times throughout the rest of this compilation. Given the subject matter (death, often grisly) and artwork (skeletons, again) this should be neither surprising nor disappointing to their audience. Though their trade is a rude one, Nominon are adept craftsmen, as this compilation clearly shows, and their skills show no signs of diminishing.
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