2012 is winding its way down much as it began – with tons of retro Swedish death metal. Nominon, a name that doesn’t lend itself to correct spelling, pronunciation or memory, is yet another in the long line of bands striving to keep the original “Stockholm Sound” alive and rotten. Unlike most of their peers however, Nominon opts to forego the sludgy and buzzing guitar and the mid-tempo, D-beat staples of the sound and replaces them with a shitload of thrashing intensity. Sounding way less like Entombed and Dismember than one might expect, the best way to think of these gents is to imagine Grave sped up…a lot! There are also some Bloodbath, Asphyx, Tribulation and Legion of the Damned references and even some Morbid Angel. The Cleansing is all about fast-as-hell, groove-based, deathrash with few frills and lots of crude, sloppy, gurgling intensity. This kind of stuff is usually right in Steel Druhm’s Wheelhouse of Metal Glory, so imagine my surprise when the bulk of the album flew by without doing all that much to excite or engage me. The Cleansing isn’t bad by any means, it’s just a bit generic. I’ve heard it all before and while I do enjoy Nominon‘s light-speed, foaming-at-the-mouth approach, this fails to rise to the level of essential hearing. It does have its moments though.
Lead track “In the Name of Gomorrah” pretty much clues you in on what to expect throughout The Cleansing. It’s Slayer-meets-Grave thrashing insanity with fetid, subhuman vocals and an omnipresent sense of barely controlled chaos. Its aggressive and plenty nasty and has a bit of an Asphyx feel to it (especially the vocals), even if it’s fairly generic. Better is “Mausoleum,” which channels a wee bit of Dark Angel circa Darkness Descends into the wild thrashery and blastbeatery and also does a decent job at switching tempos to keep things exciting (I also dig the deeply intoned chanting that crops up). Also on the good side of the ledger is the combination of hyper-speed and doomy segments during “Obliteration” and the particularly well done riffs and harmonies during “Infernal Rites.”
Less successful are the rote, by-the-book thrash attacks of “Unholy Sacrifice,” “Abhorrent Parasites” and “Hellwitch” (though the latter has a few interesting Destruction-like riffs scattered about). The problem is that too much of this stuff feels like rehashed Legion of the Damned material and while its plenty aggressive, it all runs together and fails to leave much in the memory banks. The bulk of the album whirls by without making much of an impression at all, except that its fast and angry. I respect what Nominon is trying to do, but the execution and writing doesn’t excite me.
I do enjoy the guttural snarling of Henke Skoog. He sounds nasty and congested and he brings a bunch of old school charm to the sound. At times he channels Martin Van Drunen, which is always a good thing. The axe work from Christion Stromblad and Alexander Lyrbo is competent and urgent, but too many of the riffs feel recycled from other recycled riffs. You know the whole rule that a clone of a clone kinda sucks? That’s kind of the problem on a lot of these songs. The frequently blasty drumming of Per Karlsson however, is entertaining and nicely abrasive.
Sound-wise, Nominon nailed it. The Cleansing has an under-produced, raw and ugly sound which greatly compliments the low-tech, old school death approach. The guitars lack the typical Entombed buzz, but they still have plenty of distortion and edge. If the writing matched the mix, this would be a beast of the apocalypse. Sadly, it ends up more like the fat neighborhood dog of the apocalypse.
Not a terrible album, The Cleansing is decent, but perhaps a shade below 2010s Monumentomb. It isn’t required listening by any means, but if you need a dose of fast and furious death, you could do worse. I’m of the opinion that Nominon is a tier two act and nothing here changed that perception for me. I’d suggest listening to Bombs of Hades or Desaster instead.