Solo instrumental djent EPs are often very much hit or miss, but in the case of Mike Vermeire’s NOAD, it’s a hit. Featuring enough elements to stay interesting yet be able to maintain a sound unique to the musician is always a challenge yet Vermeire has managed to achieve this with his 8 string guitar for Nature of a Doppelganger. Also incorporating ambient metal and death metal, the EP is an enjoyable slab of trusty ol’ djent, but it is in no way tech-metal-by-numbers.
Nature of a Doppelganger begins with a heavy ambient track called Intro which soon blends into Collapse; a punchy tech track full of djent mannerisms and rumbling bass. It soon becomes noticeable how full the mix is which is impressive for a solo production, some one man band recordings are sparse on layers of sound, but Vermeire has produced material rich in substance and textures – a bit like an indulgent djent dessert.
The atmospheric start to Deceit soon breaks away to a punchy, chuggy riff. A few GOJIRA-like squeals here and there help make this track a heavy tech metal track which pounds through the headphones. Deceit is probably the song most likely to induce some head nodding as it never lets up. It is one constant riff-athon. At first the drums do not sound entirely convincing but halfway through the song they’re close to stealing the show.
A killer riff kicks in with Forlorn before it erupts into another splendid array of ferocious heavy progressiveness. There is an opportunity here to go full riffy djent but it is a relief in a way that Vermeire doesn’t as it would have been too predictable and not the most original. Instead he provides us with interesting effects and an ambience not too dissimilar to SHOKRAN.
With Bardo we hear NOAD’s more ambient side, a treat of a song with harmonics galore and a Fragile-era NIN vibe happening with the main guitar hook. Although it is unlike the other tracks on the EP it does not sound out of place. It is a beautiful and well composed piece and is actually the most memorable track on Nature of a Doppelganger. If NOAD end up pursuing the ambient route of metal, it certainly wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Bardo almost acts as a palette cleanser before the punishing closer Antumbra. By far the heaviest track on the EP, the middle of the song absolutely obliterates the senses and keeps on delivering until the very end. An impressive release, there are enough components to Nature of a Doppelganger to make you want to return to the EP again and again.