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Albert Bell (Nomad Son)

Interview with Albert Bell from Nomad Son
by Yiannis Doukas at 21 December 2008, 4:34 PM

As this year approaches to its twilight I see the all releases I can easily say that NOMAD SON's debut is surely the best one in the Doom SABBATH -esque genre. Except this, the following interesting and much informative -I believe- interview shows that behind the band are people 100 per cent devoted to their art. And that is all that matters. Let's see what Albert the bassist also of FORSAKEN said to us.

First of all, congratulations for your debut, I found it excellent. Since you are a new group, can you make a presentation to our readers? The band actually is collaboration between FRENZY MONO and Albert Bell. Can you give us some information about FRENZY MONO?

Thank you Yiannis for your kind words on First Light and moreover, for providing us with the opportunity to reach across to your readers and hopefully spur their curiosity on NOMAD SON and to check the band and our debut album out.NOMAD SON was formed at the tail-end of 2006 and comprises myself on bass, Jordan Cutajar on vocals, Chris Grech (Guitars), Chris' brother Julian on keyboards and power-house drummer Edward Magri.  All of the latter form part of FRENZY MONO, a classic/hard rock band based in Malta that have strong popularity among local rock enthusiasts and who released their debut album Unorthodox early 2007.  

The band is still going strong and they are presently working on their follow-up to Unorthodox which is scheduled for release next year, possibly toward the summer. There is a strong connection between the recording of FRENZY MONO's debut album and the formation of NOMAD SON.  In fact, the band was formed upon the initiative of both FRENZY MONO and FORSAKEN's producer David Vella who also owns Temple Studios, where both bands record.  While FRENZY MONO were recording their debut album, David Vella felt that some of the stuff the guys were recording was darker and had a doomier vein to the rest of their stuff. Moreover, he knew that I was interested in getting a new doom metal band going, which pursues a more 70s and early 80s inspired form of doom, and thus allow me to delve deeper into this style of the genre, while also getting my regular dose of  power, epic doom metal from FORSAKEN.  David called me at home and asked me to come down to the studio to check this material out.  

I had no hesitation to accept the invitation and made my way to the studio. What I heard was really captivating and I immediately felt that a collaboration could result between FRENZY MONO and myself, in a separate project, where the band's SABBATH - ian and 70s influences could be tweaked further into a stronger doom direction.  Apparently, the rest of the guys were really keen about the idea and David arranged a jamming session between all five of us while FRENZY MONO were still set up in the studio for their debut album recordings.  The jam really proved exciting and fruitful and in no time we had two songs, namely, Shallow Grave and Empyrean Fade recorded live during our first ever meeting together.  

Eventually we re-recorded these two tracks for the debut album, but we were confident that even with these live recordings, the material was strong and convincing enough to get some interest from abroad.  In fact, I sent a promo with these two tracks after we re-worked the vocals to some friends of mine in the doom scene, and the reactions were very positive. All this, and the electric atmosphere during that jam enticed us to take the band forward. From a simple jam, NOMAD SON started taking off. We started meeting more regularly and composing new material and it became evident that this was not going to be a simple project, but rather a fully-fledged band running in parallel to Jordan, Chris, Julian and Edward's commitments in FRENZY MONO and to FORSAKEN in my case.  In fact, within no time we had a live set ready and have been gigging regularly since our inception, while also releasing our debut album in July 2008.

How did you come up with your name? Whose idea was it and does it mean anything special?

Basically, we wanted a band name that reflects how the band originated, and after some thinking I came up with the idea for NOMAD SON based upon on the notion that each band member has his own musical influences and reference points which point to different directions. In these sense, we are nomadic in nature, nomads coming to a singular point of convergence, and creating an art-form (or son) where all these influences reach fruition - thus - NOMAD SON.  

Did you release any demo before First Light? How long was the writing process? Do you compose via jamming or separately from each other?

As I've already pointed out, all that we had in our hands prior to the release of First Light was a two-track promo, which was just intended for circulation mostly among some friends of mine who I really value for their knowledge of the underground metal scene. Jowita Kaminska (who I knew quite well beforehand from FORSAKEN's collaborations with her for the Dominaeon artwork) was one of the persons I sent the promo to. She immediately wrote back, and was really enthused about our material. She also said that she and her partner (now husband) Simone Peruzzi, were in the process of forming their label Metal On Metal focusing specifically on different sub-genres within the old school metal scene including doom metal and asked us if we were interested in a deal for our debut album. Knowing Jowita well, and her sound character and professionalism, after negotiating the terms of the contract we had no hesitation to sign with Metal on Metal.  

All this happened over the course of a few months and the release date for our debut was set for July 2008. So basically, we really worked hard within a limited time-frame to ensure that we had all the material ready for the album before entering the studio in February and March of this year. Although we had already had about four tracks written (including the two promo tracks) prior to getting the deal we needed more material for the album.  So we spent a few months getting all the material together. All the material we had prepared eventually made it on the album.  Nothing was discarded. We also ensured a strong pre-production process in our rehearsal room and at Chris' home studio before entering Temple Studios. This really helped to facilitate the process and the recording was completed in no time.  

As for the way we approached the song-writing for the album, the formula varied somewhat between tracks. As explained earlier for example both Shallow Grave and Empyrean Fade resulted from our first ever jamming session together.  I had already penned some lyrics and after Chris and I put some riffs together, we jammed them with the rest of the guys until the songs took shape.  Eventually, however, both tracks were re-recorded from scratch for First Light.

As for the rest of the tracks, most of them originated from a really productive song-writing collaboration between myself and Chris. We would often meet between rehearsals and exchange ideas until we would roughly have a clear idea of the song structures for the tracks in question. These would develop into full-blown songs after teaming up with the rest of clan who would ensure the necessary embellishments to the song-structure, tempos, arrangements and so forth.  After getting all the material organized, we would then focus on Jordan's vocals who would bring his own ideas into the process. So in reality, NOMAD SON is a strong collective effort and everybody contributes significantly to each aspect of the band.

How did you the contact Metal On Metal Records? Are you satisfied so far? Are there any plans for future live appearances or some tour to promote your record?

As I explained earlier on, we weren't really using the promo to shop for labels, but just to test the ground on the strength of the band so to speak. However, once Metal On Metal's offer matured, we never looked back and immediately took up Metal On Metal's offer as this was well in line with the band's road map for 2008 and our expectations for the terms of a debut album release.  We are more than happy with our decision to move forward with Metal On Metal. The collaboration has been excellent so far on various fronts and we are looking forward to strengthen our co-operation with Jowita and Simone. We have forged an even stronger partnership ever since they made their way to Malta for the debut's launch gig. They are both outstanding people and very reliable. It is hard to find such integrity in today's scene and Metal on Metal really stand out in this regard.  I really can't recommend them enough!

As for live appearances, we will of course, continue with our local gigs for next year. We have been very active in this regard throughout this past year in Malta and we have now built a very solid Maltese fan base. However, our priority for 2009 is to take our show on the road in Europe. Plans are already in place to this effect as we speak. Hopefully, by the turn of the year, we should have a clearer idea of our commitments in this regard.

The cover art is really astonishing. Does it represent something? Does it have anything to do with life after death? Is there any link to the title First Light?

Indeed it is Yiannis! I personally think it's Jowita's best work so far and it has certainly helped to ensure that the album is captivating in all respects.  Basically, the concept for the album resulted from some ideas we put together while recording the album in between the recording sessions. We communicated the general concept to Jowita, together with the band's lyrics and within no time she gave life to the whole concept in a truly outstanding way.  Well, the artwork has various themes to it, including the victory of light over darkness (depicted by the stain glass artwork). The light emanating from the stained glass is symbolic of the album title First Light (as you correctly highlighted above), but more than that, the rays of light falling on the sarcophagus on the left hand side of the artwork, brings to the fore the notion of triumph of life over death as ensconced in the belief of the immortality of the soul and after-life.

What kind of themes do the lyrics of NOMAD SON deal with? In Forever Twilight I noticed some ecological or eschatological messages. Do you feel that we are in front of the gates of destruction of our planet?

Our lyrics can be very introspective, but also offer some socio-political commentary in some instances. Forever Twilight as you rightly pointed out, is one case in point. It basically deals with the gradual but certain demise of our planet, as we continue to wallow in greed and pursue a path toward global destruction.  Moreover, in the process, we are also losing sight of our spiritual self; and this in itself, is the major catalyst for our spiral into total decay.  Unfortunately, I do not envisage any way out of this. Modern man is too self-centred and egoistical to recognize a different way forward. Doom is indeed inevitable!   

How would you describe NOMAD SON's music? I feel there are some references to the 70s scene, besides BLACK SABBATH, URIAH HEEP or DEEP PURPLE. Do you agree?

I think that the best description is indeed apocalyptic heavy doom metal with a 70s tinged direction.  SABBATH are certainly a common reference point for all band members in the band, as are the giants of the 70s like URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE. KING CRIMSON, ELP and so forth, but then we each have our own musical backgrounds and preferences and this is important as it gives our material a unique sound which incorporates the purity of the true doom metal idiom in the form of PENTAGRAM, early TROUBLE, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, ST VITUS, COUNT RAVEN, REVELATION and the masters of the genre with other influences, such as, classic 60s bands like MOODY BLUES or CREAM to NWOBHM and early thrash metal too. However, the main source of inspiration in NOMAD SON comes mainly from true doom and classic 70s rock.

How are the things in Malta's scene? Is it easy to organize concerts there? Are there any bands that you would like to recommend to us?

Albert: Well, the metal scene is quite healthy here, especially when you consider the small size of the Island. There are tens of bands pursuing diverse metal sub-genres and new ones continuously sprouting up. Apart from FORSAKEN, the most renowned Maltese bands internationally are the extreme metal bands SLIT and BEHEADED who have both toured extensively abroad and also released various albums with foreign labels. As for other recommendations, well, I can really recommend the veteran hard rock/melodic metal band FIRE for all of you out there who like me are still firmly rooted in the old school.  Death Metal band LITHOMANCY are also one of my favorites locally and certainly worth checking out.  The list of quality bands from Malta is quite extensive and impressive really. Over the years, I have had the opportunity with FORSAKEN to play with various bands from abroad, and I can certainly say that most established bands here certainly give those from abroad a good run for their money.

What are the future plans for NOMAD SON? Have you written any new songs? Do you intend to follow the same patterns as with First Light?

As I mentioned earlier, our first immediate goal for 2009 is to ensure that the band is introduced to the European doom audience. However, we have also started working on a follow-up album to First Light and have already written two new songs Winds Of Golgotha and Vigil and are presently working on another new track called Carnival Of Souls. I've already penned more lyrics and have a tentative title for the album and there's several riffs by Chris and myself looming on the horizon.  And I'm sure that the rest of the team also have lots of ideas up their sleeves, as they've already demonstrated on the new stuff we have written. In fact, Carnival Of Souls developed from a triplet Hammond riff that Julian penned, while Vigil resulted directly from some interesting drum patterns that Edward had, coupled with some dark, heavy riffs from Chris and myself.  On the other hand, I penned most of Winds Of Golgotha at home and I have to say that I'm really pleased with the end result, especially after the input from all the other guys, on all fronts; from Julian's awesome organ orchestrations on it, to Chris' magical guitar harmonies, Edward's potent drum work and indeed some great vocal work by Jordan to top it all! The direction of  the new material follows the same vision we pursued on First Light, although as with any of our tracks, each song has its own uniqueness and characteristics, so while retaining the same formula, we are also charting new territory with the new material. One thing is for sure - you can expect more apocalyptic heavy doom from NOMAD SON in the future.  

There is a symbol of the triple crucifix on your CD. Does it mean anything? Are there any Christian ideas behind your lyrics or something?

Albert:  The use of the triple crucifix was Jowita's idea and it is a motif that we intend to retain in our artwork for the future.  The triple crucifix is emblematic of Christ's reign over death and the salvation of humanity, and it is wholly compatible with our personal religious and spiritual views. Yes, there is certainly a Christian outlook permeating NOMAD SON's lyrical vision. This does not mean that we are set on a mission to evangelize humanity or anything like that, or that we are tied to a specific religious denomination intent on converting the world! We have no restraints when it comes to putting pen to paper and the institutionalized form of religion often comes within the sights of our critique. However, this said, I personally value the basic tenets of Christendom (solidarity, compassion, belief, tolerance etc.) highly and shall not shy way from pronouncing my faith, even if this means that some people might not like it. However, I'm sure that most metalheads out there are open-minded and not affronted by such a lyrical stand.  

If there was a chance to open gigs for a specific band, for which one would you like to do it?

The list is indeed quite long as there are several bands that I am passionate about….however, if I had to chose ten bands then it would something like this (in no particular order of preference) - BLACK SABBATH, CANDLEMASS, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, ANGEL WITCH, PAGAN ALTAR, JUDAS PRIEST, ST VITUS, PENTAGRAM, DEEP PURPLE and URIAH HEEP!

The last song on your album, The Light At The End, reminds me a lot of early BLACK SABBATH. Do you agree? What is your opinion about them now and especially about Ozzy?

You're not the only one who has made this observation Yiannis and the song has been linked directly to Planet Caravan and Solitude by several people.  We really consider this as a compliment as we simply adore the fab four from Aston!  The SABBATH overtones are certainly there, especially in so far as the bass lines (quite Geezer-esque) and Julian's piano outro are concerned.  Yeah, we are all huge SABBATH freaks, especially of the band's Ozzy period. This said, we are also into later SABBATH, and both Jordan and myself for example are very fond of Gillan's collaboration with Iommi and co on Born Again for example.  As for SABBATH today, well they certainly remain an institution in metal and their influence is still very pervasive.

 Unfortunately, Ozzy's recent Osbournes show on MTV has removed some of the mystique previously associated with Ozzy and SABBATH in general, and one may argue that he has been too commodified by his wife.  At the same time however, that show, with all its faults has helped to dispel some of the prejudices associated with metal music and in this respect it does hold some value I guess.  As for Ozzy's solo material, I have to say that I am

not such a big fan of his solo work after Bark at the Moon. Somehow, his work after that became too Americanised for my liking…but his earlier solo stuff does indeed have some great, mammoth songs.  But nothing beats the Osbourne, Butler, Iommi, Ward albums of the 70s….I have been into metal since my early teens. I am forty one now. And basically, those albums have remained a constant companion to me ever since. They are indeed timeless gems!

Thanx a lot for your time, if I forgot anything and you want to mention it, please do so. I really hope to hear more things from your band in the future. Take care.

Thank you Yiannis for these great interview questions. I've really enjoyed doing this interview. I'd like to end this by encouraging all your readers to check NOMAD SON out.  Our debut album can be purchased directly from the band or our label from the links below. It is also widely available in most leading on-line metal stores worldwide and we are also presently working on ensuring that the album is also widely distributed in stores across Europe.  There is really no excuse for not purchasing the album if you want to. Please support all underground metal bands, and true doom bands in particular by purchasing their merchandise. Illegal downloads are killing the true spirit of underground metal, which has always rested on the principle of supporting bands directly!  So if you like what you've heard, get the album. I hope to see some of you on the road with NOMAD SON one day soon!  Until then, doom forever onwards!


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