Nomad’s new album, Feral, opens in homage to the progenitor of all things heavy: rain and pounding tomes set the scene for a grinding riff in much the same way as Black Sabbath’s eponymous debut. However, the Manchester outfit aren’t confined to doom alone, with their palate drawing heavily on sludge and industrial metal – Down seems to be a particular influence. The result is a straight-ahead collection of stomping riffs, harsh barks and bellows from singer Drian Nash, and a focus on tight songwriting and rhythms that verge (dare I say it) on danceable.
Progressive (at least in the traditional sense) this band ain’t – their new album (out in late May), like earlier EP This House is Dead, delivers brute force and basically nothing else, which makes a refreshing change from bands attempting to combine as many disparate elements as possible, and then present it as a startling innovation. Like a hammer, Nomad deliver crushing blows, and like a hammer they serve one important purpose – to make your head bang. With this in mind, we strapped on hard hats and put the band through their paces…
Congrats on your debut album! How did the Feral sessions go?
Lewis Atkinson [guitar]: They went great. Leading up to the recording we knocked gigging on the head and locked ourselves away in our practice room to finish writing the material and to make sure we were well prepared. This was our first time recording an album so we wanted to go into the sessions with confidence. Hopefully, that confidence comes across. It was also our third time working with Simeon Ogden. He’s done an amazing job recording, engineering and mixing this album. He’s the fifth member, for sure.
The band is from Manchester, but you’ve got a lot of New Orleans-type sludge influences. How do you feel this geographic mix influences your sound?
Lewis: It’s not the first time we’ve been described as having a New Orleans sludge sound. It’s very flattering as the four of us are fans of bands such as Down, Crowbar, C.O.C. etc., but we never set out to sound like a specific genre, we just knew that we wanted, whatever we played, to be heavy.
Y’all sound pretty angry on Feral. What were the experiences or events that inspired the new album?
Drian: A large mix of things. During the period in which we wrote this album, it seemed like there was a string of increasingly bizarre events and a strong shift in the political landscape. I feel like a great deal of the things we assumed or believed in have been eroded. I think there is an unease that you can just sense. So lyrically, at least, I tried to address that or at least represent some of the frustration or uncertainty that I think has become so prevalent.
The art for the new album seems to be a forest in decay. Does this tie into the music?
Lewis: When it came to the artwork we all agreed that we wanted a cover that didn’t give too much away. We came across this image and thought that it represented the music we were writing and the album title Feral pretty well. The back cover is like an urban version of the front. We’re a Manchester band and we’ve always rehearsed in a rough, almost feral part of the city. It’s probably one of the reasons why we sound as angry as we do.
How does Drian stop his throat from collapsing in on itself?
Drian: It frequently collapses into itself, forming a cocoon in which various forest creatures eventually emerge.
It seems like doom and sludge are having a moment in the sun. Do you have high hopes for the genre?
Drian: I think the genre has certainly grown in popularity and gets more mainstream attention than it previously had. Which has both its positives and negatives. I would hesitate to say high hopes though, as the genre’s popularity constantly shifts. We just see it as our jobs to make tunes you can smash up your office cubicle to.
You’ve got a few shows coming up in June, any plans for a tour soon?
Drian: We have the weekend dates we are doing in the first three days in June with Mower [R.I.P. – ed.] and Redeye Revival and we are currently looking into booking a tour for later on in the year, if we can find a band that can deal with our sunny dispositions.
APF also look after your stage-mates BongCauldron. Is there a strong camaraderie within the label?
Lewis: Very much so. Earlier this year was the APF showcase all-dayer. All the bands on the APF roster played it and the atmosphere was amazing. We’re all friends and some of the bands have known each other for years. It’s not just camaraderie within the label, though. The whole UK underground scene is pretty much about bands that support and promote each other. It’s a privilege to be a part of it.
Do you see the band developing its sound on the next release, or will Nomad stick to its guns?
Lewis: Probably a bit of both. Prior to this album we released two EPs, The House Is Dead and Split with Wort, and the progression from the first release to this album is quite evident. We’re not afraid to try something new but we’ll always be about riffs and groove. When it comes to writing we always go with whatever we feel works well and sounds good at that time.
Drian: Yeah, I think we have grown with each release and will continue to grow. We want that level of experimentation that it’s still visceral and the music doesn’t become stagnant and predictable but not the level of experimentation where we have synths and Lewis is throat singing into a well.
Last and certainly not least, beer or spirits?
Lewis: The honest answer? Beer and spirits and cider!
Nomad is out May 31st via APF Records. Pre-order here.
Words: David Burke