Omnium Gatherum

New World Shadows

Written by: AP on 12/03/2011 23:01:56

When it comes to brooding, atmospheric metal, few countries have the sound nailed down better than Finland. Set against a backdrop of barren nature and subarctic climate, bands like Omnium Gatherum are inevitably influenced by their surroundings: organic like the peat that blankets Finland's forests, and anguished like the concrete, Soviet era structures that house its working class. But isolation has its advantages, as the band's fifth studio album, "New World Shadows", testifies. It imagines a brutally cynical vision of the future, as reflected in the despondent artwork, and saturates it with expansive soundscapes, lush melodies and haunting ambiance.

Though often lumped into the melodic death metal pool, there is a strong presence of doom, black and post-metal in the music, characterised by long-winding progressive songs like the gripping opener, "Everfields", delicate clean interludes reminiscent of Opeth's blues rock and jazz parts in the likes of "Soul Journeys" and "An Infinite Mind", and a mix of guttural growling, melancholic singing and whispering that fans of such bands as Swallow the Sun and Insomnium would surely appreciate. Speaking of the latter, Omnium Gatherum employ a very similar approach to songwriting, allowing their riffs and melodies room to breathe and evolve so that even the more characteristic melodic death metal pieces à la "Ego" and "Nova Flame" grow into bellowing, full-fledged epics with the defiant and thunderous atmosphere of Amon Amarth.

"New World Shadows" is the kind of album that requires time and patience for dissecting the wealth of texture and detail present, and understanding the amount of deliberative effort and technical mastery underlying its composition. On the other hand, Omnium Gatherum are by no means a unique proposition as the ample references in this review might suggest; nor the pinnacle of the style. But by varying the nature of their expression from the doom and gloom of domestic colleagues Ikuinen Kaamos and Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum are able to claim at least some degree of intellectual property rights: from the progressive majesty of "Everfields" to the conclusive crescendo of "Deep Cold", the songs are consistently cinematic and exude an almost optimistic mood (in a sense, like death metal's take on Devil Sold His Soul). As such, "New World Shadows" is not as suffocating as many of its kind.

But whether or not the album is destined to regular play on your stereo depends largely on your partiality to other bands already populating the Finnish melodic death metal genre. Bar the toning down of typical moroseness in favor of brighter synths and non-minor melodies, "New World Shadows" is not a particularly original record, and there are many alternatives. However, the musicianship and compositional awareness of Omnium Gatherum cannot be disputed, and, consequently, the band deserves applause for writing songs that may not break new ground, but are extremely solid nonetheless.

Download: Everfields, Nova Flame, Deep Cold
For the fans of: Ikuinen Kaamos, Insomnium, Kalmah
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.02.2011
Lifeforce Records

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