Nomad – Feral (2018) REVIEW

Every time I look up a sludge band on Facebook they always seem like such shining, happy people with their beanies, goatees and stoner sense of humor. Clearly it must be the good life for a lot of these ‘happy’-assed sludge bands. Well, it makes me sick. Growing up alongside sludge as a genre it was a catharsis, a strange and depraved hellish doom groove with hardcore punk freak-outs and fat, beer-chugging dudes who constantly looked like sad-faced clowns. Nomad might be heavy and their hairy sack of 16 and Eyehategod influenced stoner/sludge metal is effective enough, but it all seems a bit too enlightened and peppy on the surface. Where is the drug abuse, the mental illness, the angst and the grime? Without suffering, irony, and honesty, sludge is a chore.

There were a ton of bands that popped up sounding like this around ’95-’98 as Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity hit bigger waves and if I didn’t still own a bunch of those ‘groove metal-but-sludge now’ CDs ‘Feral’ might just be a more special album for me. So, whatever, it isn’t a fresh or original sound that isn’t a big deal. NOLA sludge influenced groove metal might be a more fitting description for all of the mid-paced triplet chugs and shouted vocals that make up the majority of ‘Feral’ but Nomad can definitely whip out a mean stoney groove when they need to. My only real criticism of this debut is that it’s groove sounds like a devolved, hardcorish take on 16 ‘Curves the Kick’. It only really works when they slow down to a Negative Reaction pace and throw in some stoner rock riffs.

‘Feral’ is a progression and a better realization of their sound, though. Nomad‘s growling doom-riffed ‘The House is Dead” EP from 2014 had the groove right but the vocals were oddly subdued marble-spittin’ gargles. I appreciate the improvement here as they’ve dropped some of the more derivative guitar work of their earlier conception and put in some time developing their own sound. “Swarm” and “Culture of Ruin” showcase this best with a decent stoner groove and songs structured closer to Eyehategod‘s more doom-focused sound. “Shallow Fate” was likewise one of the stronger tracks, I think because any track I haven’t named was full of lazy guitar chugs and the band really seem more inspired when leaning fully towards stoner/doom metal.

Nomad don’t really stack up with the best of sludge in 2018 so far (Bedlam, Heron, Sixes, Coffin Torture, Nest, etc.) but they continue to be a promising act with good taste for doom riffs. I know this review will come across relatively harsh but the more I listened the more that the guitar work seemed rote. I want to emphasize that “Shallow Fate”, “Culture of Ruin” and “Swarm” are some of the more worthy sludge tracks of the year so far, particularly “Culture of Ruin”. I’ve no doubt they’ll improve into something even more worthwhile through iteration.

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Artist Nomad
Type Album
Released May 31, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on APF Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Nomad on Facebook
Genres

Sink lower still. 3.0/5.0

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