Uhm, wow! This is Omnium Gatherum’s seventh album, I have their fifth album from 5 years ago after seeing them live back then, but hadn’t actually realised they’d been around for 20 years now and had such a body of work behind them. Now you’ll have to excuse that digression as the real job here is to review the Finnish sextet’s latest album, which I shan’t get around to if I keep warbling on here in order to keep it playing in a loop for a little longer. I guess that could be because the album varies from ultra-aggressive to sublimely melodic with such smooth transitions that it’s hard to believe you’re still listening to the same song.
Opening track, “The Pit” has a catchy twin guitar melody played by Markus Vanhala and Joonas Koto that fits seamlessly into their heavier riffing allowing Jukka Pelkonen’s growls to flow to gentle clean choruses with ease as Aapo Koivisto’s keyboards lend the harmony they accompany.
“Skyline” starts with a mid-tempo timing signature beaten out by Jarmo Pikka giving rhythm to the chuggy riff that has a melodic counterpart added to it, but it’s the haunting quality of the leads towards the end that takes your breath away.
As they’ve just released a video for “Frontiers”, I’m guessing this shall be used the song to promote the album, and a really good choice too. It contains enough twiddling guitar-manship to make a power-metal fan happy, but it’s the solid guitar riffing and death growls that carry it to the heavy bass bridge played by Erkki Silvennoinen before it fades to piano and vocals on its way back to belted out fury.
The nearly 9 minute “Majesty and Silence” has all the hallmarks of ambient atmospheric black metal in the way it encaptures a serene scene with snow covered trees and a azure sky, but maybe that’s just what I’m seeing when I hear it as it meanders from angry choppy riffs with growls to nearly acoustic harmonies accompanied by piano and sweetly sung clean vocals.
The aptly titled “Rejuvenate” is just mellow enough to have the keyboards be the focal instrument, but heavy enough that the guitars can drown them out at any time, which they do with pause when required.
The whispered growls work really well on “Foundation” as they keep the feel of the song much slower and more subdued than the guitars and drums actually are for the most part, but there are some really gently played leads that whither their way through the heavier riffs and piano.
“The Great Liberation” is very allegro in its delivery with a bright keyboard sound and even brighter guitar sound; the drums are also crisp and sharp adding to the very up-tempo feel even giving the death vocals a levity that you perhaps wouldn’t expect.
At this point the album mellows a little and while “Ophidian Sunrise” may start strong it does temper itself as it goes along becoming more melodic and restrained focusing on the melodic twin guitars.
“These Grey Heavens” is a truly exquisite instrumental song that feel more like mood music that a metal track, but that’s certainly not a bad thing, as it adds to the experience of listening to this great album.
While not an instrumental, “Storm Front” still has that vibe about it, owing to the minimal vocals and majestic keyboards soaring above the guitars for the final half of the song until the leads kick in in full force.
All I can say is: Guess I need to go out and find the 5 albums I don’t have.
(9/10 Marco Gaminara)