Demo:listen: Nomad

Nomad’s six track self-titled demo proclaims the enduring potency of 90s black metal. The heart of this demo burns with satanic ambition, and hellish inspiration courses every riff.

Says Nomad: “It took quite a few attempts and several months to find my sound. The current Nomad sound that appears on the demo is the third major sonic iteration I’ve been through. The first one was low-quality, stripped down, and though important in figuring things out, simply bad. The automated drums were weak and very obviously programmed, the guitars were thin, there was no low end to speak of, and the vocals sounded like a shrew being strangled. Not in a black metal way, either, it was just weak and lifeless. However, there were a few things I picked up that can be heard on the demo. Mainly that of the importance of the riff. The one song made with this sound- initially named Polyglot, actually- felt fairly weak overall, but it had a rather strong breakdown riff in the middle that I’ve still been saving to use elsewhere. The other major lesson was regarding the importance of flow. The song had vocals all over the place, and they didn’t work at all, both with each other and with the instrumentation.

“The second sound I pursued was a jump too far in the opposite direction; too aggressive and loud. I was starting to nail down how the drums should sound, and the reverb-caked guitar sounded really solid, if a bit thin. The vocals were really similar to what appears on the Nomad demo, with a bit of an echo applied to them. Even though each instrument in this style worked individually, they didn’t mesh well, and it sounded noisy and chaotic. That said, the style has grown on me, and I’ve considered revisiting it since.

“The existing Nomad sound is something of a middle ground . . .”

Nomad speaks with candor, where many of his contemporaries prefer pretense. When it comes to his riffs, there’s no denying his influences, nor hiding his inexperience. But, just like his answers, his riffs rip and resonate with an intelligence that belies presumptions about their maker’s capability and knowledge.

“I’m a worshipper of the riff,” says Nomad. “A lot of my favorite albums are composed mainly of kickass riff after kickass riff. Sargeist’s Let the Devil In and Gorgoroth’s Under the Sign of Hell, for example, are just shows of masterful riff craft. That’s not to say riffs are the only thing that determine an album’s worth, but I find myself gravitating towards riff-focused black metal, and I can’t name a single album I enjoy hat doesn’t have its fair share of riffs.”

Those are evil albums that he mentions, released by bands with likewise evil-sounding names. But he went with more of a neutral good aligned name for his own black metal project.

“Nomadism is as old as humanity, still present today, and truly fascinating . . .” he explains. “[In] equal parts, the name ‘nomad’ is an homage to the some of the oldest and strongest peoples on earth, and a goal; to be able to have less and be more, spiritually. Hardly satanic, and not in line with black metal in theory, but the lone individual is indeed rather close to some conceptions of what black metal is about. In essence, I think nomadism and asceticism are perfect matches for black metal’s rejection of the modern world.”

For Nomad, the emphasis on the individual runs deep. He goes on to explain how he prefers to make music alone.

“I don’t particularly enjoy the company of others when it comes to music. It’s not an ideological fixation on isolation or a misanthropic need to be left alone. I like to do my work alone, and let it take shape as I’d like to see it. I feel perfectly capable of doing the work required alone, plus I’ve always found raw, uninhibited, distilled artistic output to be the most interesting.”

As for how he recorded Nomad, explains: “I had little money to spend on the project, so what I used was barebones, cheap, or pulled out of the basement. My mic for recording guitars was an AKG D 950, and perplexingly little information is available about it. I didn’t even have an amp mic stand, so I hung the mic from my Vox DA15’s handle by its cord, and just messed with placements until I found a spot that sounded right. My vocal mic is the humble Blue Snowball. I’ve had mine for ages, and in using it just to record some practice screaming, I found it picked up the screams with remarkable fidelity, so I used it for all the vocals on the project. All the guitar you hear is from my PRS S2 . . .

“On the demo, the original songs are presented in order of their writing; ‘Polyglot’ coming first and ‘Slowly the Glacier Creeps’ coming last, though the Sargeist cover closes the demo as a nod towards a band that was hugely influential in how my style developed.”

Nomad, devout student of self-reliance and seeing things through to their end, apparently, even dubbed the demos himself.

“Tapes are in many ways integral to the culture of underground metal, it just seemed like the logical extension of trying to undertake this project alone—front to back, I wanted this to be my work . . .”

Nomad is a quintessential black metal demo put out by a young artist possessed by the spirit of true black metal. There is no denying its occasional clumsiness, but its killer moments are brazen and parading in tandem, and its potential is at times blinding. This demo may someday be the opening chapter of a powerful discography, and dubbed by the artist as a young man himself. Or it’ll be one of very many killer black metal demos that have come out, full of fury and promise, only to fade into shoe box obscurity.

But Nomad seems set on sticking around.

“Another Nomad album is going to be coming along eventually, though the timing depends on how thoroughly school interferes with my work. Making the album was a thrilling experience, and I look forward to doing it all over again. I have other projects under different names and genres in the works as well!”