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Nomad Son - Doom all over the world! (Albert Bell) - Online January 2009


Hi Albert, this is Ralf from Germany – how are you doing?

Hey there Ralf! Cheers for this and the chance to get across to your readers on NOMAD SON. Well, things are good, but damned busy! The work has really multiplied with two bands now (NOMAD SON and FORSAKEN)…but I can’t say that I regret it….I really can’t get enough of this music and both bands are really very special to me.

 

Please tell me about the beginning of NOMAD SON. How did you get the deal with Metal On Metal records?

The band’s origins are really due to David Vella who runs Temple Studios at Mistra Bay in Malta. This is where both FORSAKEN and Classic Rock formation FRENZY MONO (the band that the rest of the NOMAD SON clan are in) record. So we’re all (and our musical interests and abilities) very well known to him. Anyway, while FRENZY MONO were recording their debut album “Unorthodox” towards the end of 2006, the band’s material included some vintage SABBATH oriented stuff. Meanwhile, David was also aware that I was on the prowl for some musicians to get a new band going with strong references to early SABBATH and other 70s bands while obviously still retaining a strong doom orientation. So basically, after a phone call from David I made my way to Temple Studios to check out what David was really getting hyped up about and I was really impressed and thought it would be a great idea to jam with the guys while they still in the studio and had some time off from their FRENZY MONO recordings. And right from that very first jam, the electricity in the band was astounding. We composed and recorded two tracks in one afternoon session and we were all really excited about the outcome. We all really clicked together on both a musical and on a personal level. After that session, some weeks after, Jordan (vocals) and I went back at Temple to work with David refine the vocal lines on both tracks. Meanwhile, the band started to rehearse regularly and compose more songs and it was evident that this was going to be something more than a project band. When we got a set together, we debuted on stage in Malta at the Malta Doom Night towards the end of 2007 and the crowd reaction was fantastic; as it has been in all the gigs we’ve played so far. With this great vibe going, I decided to send some CDRs with the two tracks we had recorded at Temple to some of my contacts abroad to see how they value our material. One of those CD-Rs made their way to Jowita from Metal On Metal, and she was very impressed with what she heard…to the extent that she and her husband Simone (who is also a co-owner of the label) offered us a deal for our debut album. This was at the beginning of 2008, so within a few weeks we made our way into Temple Studios again and finalised all the recordings for “First Light” which was subsequently issued by the label in July 2008. So it’s all been a rush really and due to that fantastic first session we had at Temple.

 

“First Light” was done in the Temple Studios in Malta, right? What can you tell me about the recordings and are you satisfied with the result?

Yeah, Temple Studios was the obvious choice; firstly because we know the Studios well and more importantly, because Temple are a guarantee of quality; and given the band’s potential we were not ready to compromise this. Once we were aware that Metal On Metal’s release schedule required the album to be released in summer, we set our minds to the task at hand and really worked hard over the winter months of 2008 to ensure that we were very well prepared for the recordings. The pre-production work was done in our own rehearsal studio at Mellieha and at Chris’ (our guitarist) home studio. Most of the arrangements and guide tracks were completed within a matter of weeks and when we eventually made our way into Temple Studios to record the album we are all really psyched up and into the material. All this led to the strong performances by each individual member on the album. For me personally, recording “First Light” was a tremendous time and one of the most (if not the most) enjoyable times I’ve had while recording an album, and I’m really pleased with the way the album turned out – both in terms of my bass playing and sound and moreover by our collective performance. There’s some great work there by each band member. Moreover, even though the pressure was on to produce a quality album within a relatively short time; I can’t say that there was any pressure at all during the sessions and the magical spirit that characterised our first ever session together was more than evident in the “First Light” recordings and has remained with us throughout. Hopefully, it will continue for many years to come.

 

How were the reactions so far?

The reactions have been overwhelming really. We launched the album here locally a few days after the album was released. Both Jowita and Simone from Metal On Metal made their way to Malta to experience NOMAD SON on stage. More than 160 Metalheads turned up for the launch and we really had a great gig. Most of the first batch of 100 CDs we had available for the launch were sold on the night and sales have been encouraging ever since both here and abroad. The metal press has also really warmed up to the band and the reviews we’ve had so far have exceeded our expectations and have been very positive and encouraging. I’m sure that with the type of promotion Metal On Metal can guarantee, the album will reap dividends for both the band and the label.

 

I like the cover artwork very much – who did it?

As you know, our label co-owner Jowita is a fantastic artist and has built a strong reputation for some really mind-blowing cover art with bands like EXODUS, MANILLA ROAD, STYGIAN SHORE and DANTESCO. I know her work well as she handled cover art duties for FORSAKEN’s “Dominaeon”. So she was the obvious choice really, and we certainly don’t regret as the work she produced for “First Light” is possibly her best ever in my opinion. If there’s anybody out there who still requires convincing as to her artistic abilities, then they should really check her work for NOMAD SON on our debut. The grandeur of her work on “First Light” really captures the essence of our music in every way imaginable.

 

I like the song “The Light At The End” very much, which is a bit different than the rest. It is very minimalistic but very intense... Got more songs in that direction...?

“The Light At The End” is a very personal song for me. Lyrically, it focuses on my mother’s recent passing and we wanted to capture a mood that is fitting to the song texts. It is a bass-driven track really, with the bass lines meandering between various brooding yet emotionally evocative moods that compliment the lyrics. However, the overall effect of the track is certainly also due to the fantastic embellishments Chris, Julian, Jordan and Edward produced for this track. Chris’ guitar work on this track is deeply moving and intense, and Jordan’s vocals (apart from showing his versatility as a singer) really set the atmosphere of the track. Edward managed to keep a steady flow to the rhythm without however imposing himself too much (which requires considerable skill for a drummer) while Julian’s intelligent keyboard work gives the whole track the ambience that it required. It is certainly not a complex song, but believe me to capture the right mood and atmosphere for such a track requires everybody to be on the same wavelength, and this characteristic of the band really shines in that track. I am really indebted to all the guys for their sterling performance on the song as I think that we have produced more than my fitting tribute to my mother’s undying memory.

As for other songs in this vein, I am presently working on some bass lines which capture a somewhat analogous mood. Whether this will develop into a track for our albums is still to be seen however as I have yet to jam the bass lines with the rest of the band as we are presently working on other new songs and need to finish this work first. However, as in all other cases with NOMAD SON, if these ideas sound right once we jam them together and continue to elaborate the song structure, then most definitely you can expect some more material of this kind. What’s important is that it sounds right and moving. That is the basic pre-requisite in this band!

 

You are also playing in FORSAKEN which is another great Doom band hailing from Malta – are they still alive?

Yes, we shall be unleashing our fourth full-length album called “After The Fall” on I Hate Records (Sweden) later this year and also had some gigs lined up for Germany this fall, including the Metalfest in Friedewald on October 25th and the Days of Doom festival in Dortmund on November 22nd.

 

Apropos Malta: why is this place so good for Doom Metal? I would expect happier music from there...hahahaha.

Ha ha. Basically, I guess it’s principally due to BLACK SABBATH’s far reaching influence. That band’s legacy is global and speaking for myself and the musicians I know here who are into this music, we draw our main musical inspiration from SABBATH. Obviously, we’re all deeply passionate about the Doom genre itself and we also draw reference from those seminal bands that have forged this music. From a more socio-cultural perspective, Malta is a deeply religious island, with a strong spiritual tradition spanning thousands of years. Our deep familiarity with the imagery and symbolism of Christianity makes us naturally open I think to similar symbolism you find in most Doom Metal. Speaking personally, I certainly think that this has influenced my passion for the music, as for me (at least those bands that I follow), the music possesses a cathartic spiritual effect.

 

NOMAD SON have this Hammond sound and the voice reminds me a bit on Marc Storace (KROKUS) combined with doom riffing and a lot of classic metal – would you agree?

Yes, I think that this is pretty much a perfect description of the band. Another journalist described us like hearing a jam between members of DEEP PURPLE and URIAH HEEP and WITCHFINDER GENERAL and PENTAGRAM, which I also think is more than fitting to describe NOMAD SON!

 

Did you ever play outside Malta and are there plans to play in Germany?

No not yet. We hope to start gigging abroad in 2009 and Germany is obviously a strong priority for us.

 

What are your statements to:

BLACK SABBATH

The ultimate Heavy Rock/Metal/Doom band (call them what you want!) in my opinion. That’s were it all really started and their inspiration has been pervasive throughout Metal’s history. I personally prefer the classic Iommi/Butler/Ward/Osbourne line up, but Gillan’s work with the band on “Born Again” comes close in my opinion. The Dio, Hughes and Tony Martin eras had their moments, but for me, SABBATH’s most monumental and monolithic material remains rooted in their “Ozzy” years. Their first album, “Paranoid”, “Sabotage”, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, “Volume 4” are timeless gems, and I always find myself going back to these albums even though I’ve had them since I was a young teen.

 

CANDLEMASS

Apart from SABBATH, my introduction to doom came mostly via WITCHFINDER GENERAL and TROUBLE rather than CANDLEMASS; however, over the years I gradually grew very fond of this band. I personally think that their first “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” album is their best, although I’m also really into the “From The 13th Sun” and “Dactylis Glomerata” albums which can be considered more as Leif Edling solo albums really. As for the band’s Messiah Marcolin albums, there’s obviously some classic and trademark CANDLEMASS stuff there and I was also really impressed with their comeback self-titled album. It was a shame that Messiah had to leave but it appears (at least from the interviews with the band that I’ve read) that he was becoming too much of a prima donna for them to handle…so you can’t really blame them for turning their attention elsewhere. Their new line-up featuring Robert Lowe is pretty decent too and “King Of The Grey Islands” was quite enjoyable. “Stars And Smoke” for example is a great Doom track with one of the best choruses penned by Edling in my opinion. I’m really looking forward to more from this line up although at the same time I really hope that Leif Edling will also continue to deliver more great doom with KRUX (I really love both KRUX albums) and that Robert will continue to work with John Perez and SOLITUDE AETURNUS – “Alone” was such a great comeback for them and it’ll be a pity if we lose this pillar of Doom!

 

SAINT VITUS

A godly band and hugely influential on the Doom Metal idiom. All their different line-ups (with Scott Reagers, Wino and Lindersson) produced some of the most inspirational doom ever, though for me V remains the ultimate VITUS album, with timeless Doom anthems like “Petra”, “Living Backwards” and the simply infectious “I Bleed Black”…which is possibly one of Doom Metal’s most defining moments. I wasn’t too keen on Wino’s post-VITUS work with some of his projects (particularly HIDDEN HAND). Some of his work with SPIRIT CARAVAN was ok but HIDDEN HAND failed to reach the heights of his OBSESSED and ST VITUS work. I also really liked Wino’s collaboration with Victor Griffin on the second PLACE OF SKULLS album “With Vision”. As for Chandler’s work with Ron Holzer with DEBRIS INC, I can’t say that I was too enthused with this either. It’s really high time for ST VITUS to hit the world by storm and Doom again!

 

DOOM SHALL RISE FESTIVAL

Two days of Doom bliss! I really missed it this year, as the organisers decided to re-charge their energies a bit before moving on to the next edition. I think it was a well deserved break as it surely is not easy to put on a festival of such magnitude on an annual basis with limited human and financial resources. I’ve been to each edition except for 2006 and each festival was truly outstanding. I’ve seen some of the best live performances ever there (e.g. COUNT RAVEN, REVELATION and PLACE OF SKULLS) and long to return. For me Doom Shall Rise is like a pilgrimage to Doom Metal haven! Any self-respecting Doom head should make his/her way to the Chapel to truly witness the essence of Doom Metal and the Doom Metal community.

 

HAPPY METAL

My listening preferences revolve around Doom Metal, 80s Metal (particularly NWoBHM and early Thrash Metal) and late sixties/70s Classic Rock, and bands today who still pursue these genres. I really don’t find anything appealing in the modern, corporate-packaged stuff that is considered as Metal these days! I guess I’m in a time-warp, but I don’t really care!

 

PAY TO PLAY

I guess this is one way of how the big bands/promoters slave off the younger up and coming bands…at the same time, the latter can get a good break if they manage to hook up with a good tour. I have never pursued this practice in either of my bands, although to be honest an offer did once come our way in FORSAKEN. We just simply couldn’t afford the money and didn’t make it even though the bands on the tour were very high profile. We have always had to rely on our resources and the hospitality of friends when playing abroad. In reality, this DIY ethic helps to preserve the bands’ autonomy and we’re lucky that in the true doom and old school community you can rely on like-minded fans/musicians and you rarely come across the unscrupulous bastards that plague the Metal industry. Normally, such bastards are correctly weeded out by those in the know!

 

GROUPIES

Can’t say that I’ve had my fair share of them! Ha ha. In Doom circles what you mostly get back stage is 30-45 year old beer bellied, sweaty men like myself who are often too drunk after a gig too stand on their own two feet…let alone entice members of the fairer sex for a good shagging! At least this is my experience!! Seriously, though, I guess it all depends on what one is after through playing Metal. I’ve been pursuing this music for well over two decades now purely out of love for Doom and Metal and the friendship that I’ve experienced with many people who are similarly motivated, and nothing else. Creating this music and playing live is also an important outlet for personal creativity and that is also an important motivation. Thankfully, I can get my fair share of the action at home!

 

What are your personal top 10 of all times in music?

This is such a difficult question to answer! Damn it! Here are three tentative lists…one for my favourite Doom Metal albums, another with Heavy Metal stuff I worship and another with more Classic Rock and Prog stuff I enjoy. SABBATH could have easily topped each list…but I’ve listed them in my Doom list just for convenience’s sake. I’ve had to group some entries together…as it’s simply impossible for me to just come up with ten albums.

 

Doom Metal:

BLACK SABBATH – Black Sabbath/Paranoid/Sabotage/Sabbath Bloody Sabbath/Volume 4/Born Again

PENTRAGRAM – Relentless/Day Of Reckoning/Be Forewarned

WITCHFINDER GENERAL – Death Penalty/Friends Of Hell

PAGAN ALTAR – Mythical And Magical

TROUBLE - The Skull/Psalm 9/Trouble

ST VITUS – V

PLACE OF SKULLS – Love Through Blood/Nailed

COUNT RAVEN – Destruction Of The Void

CANDLEMASS – Epicus Doomicus Metallicus

SOLSTICE – New Dark Age

IRON MAN – Generation Void

REVELATION – Salvations Answer

 

Heavy Metal:

JUDAS PRIEST – Sad Wings Of Destiny/Sin After Sin/Stained Class/Screaming For Vengeance

ANGEL WITCH – Angel Witch

MERCYFUL FATE – Don’t Break The Oath/Melissa

MANILLA ROAD – The Courts Of Chaos/Gates Of Fire

CELTIC FROST – Into The Pandemonium/Emperor’s Return

MOTORHEAD – Ace Of Spades/Another Perfect Day

SAXON – Denim And Leather/Wheels Of Steel/Power And The Glory

VENOM – Black Metal

MANOWAR – Into The Glory Ride/Battle Hymns/Sign Of The Hammer

DARK QUARTERER – s/t

KING DIAMOND – Abigail

DIO – Holy Diver

SAINT – The Mark/Tomorrow’s End

W.A.S.P. – s/t

MÖTLEY CRÜE – Shout At The Devil

 

Classic Rock/Prog

DEEP PURPLE – Machine Head/Fire Ball

KING CRIMSON – Court Of The Crimson King

URIAH HEEP – Magicians Birthday/Demons And Wizards

ELP – s/t, Tarkus And Trilogy

RAINBOW – Rising

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT – Extra Terrestrial Live

HAWKWIND – Warriors At The Edge Of Time

CAMEL –s/t

JETHRO TULL - Aqualung

CAPTAIN BEYOND – Dawn Explosion

MAGNUM – Chase The Dragon

 

Are there any newer albums in the last months that impressed you?

I just got the two RITUAL (NWoBHM) albums recently re-issued by Shadow Kingdom Records (“Widow” and “The Valley Of The Kings”), and they’re truly mind-blowing stuff to say the least, true gems that are representative of all the magic in NWoBHM. I’ve also just got the new PRIEST album – “Nostradamus” – and I have to say I was impressed by the band’s effort to take a step in a different direction and come up with a concept album of such epic proportions. True, some parts do sound a bit too modern for my tastes, but for the main this is a great effort by the band and should be applauded. Then again, I’m such a huge PRIEST fan that they rarely can do anything wrong in my eyes! Another of my recent acquisitions was the WITCHFINDER GENERAL “Resurrected” album which marks the band’s return after more than two decades absence…I’m still trying to get to grips with Zeeb Parkes’ absence from the comeback line-up but there’s enough evidence on the new album to demonstrate that along with Alan Jones from PAGAN ALTAR, and “Gypsy", Re Bethe from RITUAL, Phil Cope was one of the finest guitarists to emerge from the NWoBHM, and he is still forging some awesome Iommi-esque doom riffs! I should also be getting the new URIAH HEEP album soon – “Wake The Sleeper” – apparently from what the press is saying it is a cruncher of an album – can’t wait to get my hands on it!

 

What’s next with NOMAD SON?

Well, we’ve already written two new songs titled “Vigil” and “Winds Of Golgotha” and there are ideas for lots more, so we’re already looking forward to a follow-up to “First Light”. I’m positive that it’ll be more than a worthy successor to the debut. We shall be playing more gigs locally this fall and then hopefully, get the band on the road across Europe next spring. The new album will probably be recorded towards the end of next year and released some time later. We’ll have to see on which label we’ll be releasing it, but we’re more than pleased with how things are working out with Metal On Metal and if they’ll have us and conditions are right then I can only see our collaboration with Simone and Jowita getting stronger by time!

 

Thanks a lot – see ya on tour and have some beers together!

Kudos to you too Ralf. It’s been great talking “Metal” with you and I’m sure there’ll be lots more to say when we meet…so get those beers chilled and prepare for the aftermath of a great Doom night’s out hang-over! Meanwhile, those of you out there who want to grab some unbridled, passionate heavy doom get our debut from the band (info@nomadson.com), or our label (www.metal-on-metal.com) and most reputable on-line stores worldwide.

Discography:

2008: First Light (CD, Metal On Metal)

Ralf Henn



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