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I've gone back and forth on Nominon. A year ago I called them "old men stuck in the past". Before that, I remember YouTube clips of them practically putting me to sleep.

But recently I reviewed their Omen EP, which kicked all kinds of ass. The experience forced me to re-view their back catalog. Now I can't get enough of Nominon.

Obviously they didn't change. I did. My main reservation about them was their old-school bent. There is so much throwback death metal out there now. I respect the intentions (rawness, atmosphere) but usually not the result (something I've already heard before).

I still have that reservation. But sheer quality overcomes it. That's the standard for a genre exercise. Two bands go through the same motions, but only one has "it", that spark. "It" is holistic: performances, production, good fortune. "It" is the difference between good and bad nights for a band playing the same set live.

In this case, "it" is quantifiable. The quantities are familiar: in-the-moment performances (no stench of Pro Tools editing); Tore Stjerna's most natural production in a while - the snare sounds like a snare, how sweet the sound; attentive songwriting that makes good use of space.

But one feels "it", most of all. One doesn't need lyrics - I asked for them from band and label, and was ignored; I don't understand why labels provide incomplete album packages for review; titles like "Archfiend" and "Undead Beast" probably suffice anyway - to get "it". This is death metal. It wears denim and leather. It hires Chris Moyen for artwork, and doesn't blink when he does skulls for the umpteenth time. The artwork is two-toned, of course, and went nowhere near a computer.

Maybe that's what "it" is: nowhere near a computer. It's handmade. Wood, metal, electricity - and a ton of skill - are all one needs.

— Cosmo Lee

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Nominon are briefly touring the US in June and July. See dates here.

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