Omnium Gatherum – Origin (Album Review)

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

All things begin in simplicity.

Open-ended subjects and highly generalized concepts have been the forte of a subset of melodic death metal that rose out of the recent aftermath of the Gothenburg scene’s seminal output of the 1990s. Establishing a dreamy, dense atmospheric backdrop of keyboard textures inspired by the example of Dark Tranquillity that imbue the generally cold yet consonant style with a hazy, impressionistic flavor, it’s a sound that took root primarily in neighboring Finland, though it has subsequently spread further since. But while the late 2000s and 2010s offerings of noted adherents to this sub-style in Insomnium, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Be’Lakor and Fractal Gates, Kotka’s Omnium Gatherum has proven the most prolific and accessible contributor to this more contemplative and nuanced expression of consonant splendor with a harsh edge. Their impressive output since the early 2000s has been an exercise in qualitative consistency and controlled evolution, but in the past few years has taken on a more polished and progressive character, with their latest studio LP “Origin” taking this tendency further still.

Following the dense atmospheric character and subtle naturalistic tendencies of 2018’s “The Burning Cold,” which was also an exercise in concise songwriting and hook-driven refrains, things have taken on more drawn out and adventurous flavor. Some of this may owe to the substantial lineup shifts that have occurred since, as longtime bassist Erkki Silvennoinen and guitarist/clean vocal foil Joonas Koto have vacated the fold, the latter of whom was not replaced as guitarist/founder Markus Vanhala has opted to go it alone in the riff and singing melodic schemes department. As such, Vanhala’s wide array of expressive leads and overdubbed harmonized passages carry most of the weight, and when combined with a tight foundation beneath the precision drumming of Tuomo Latvala and tastefully supportive bass work of new recruit Mikko Kivisto, also proves heavy ended enough to contrast with the almost perpetual balladry of Insomnium (which also employs Vanhala as one of their guitarists) and balance out the dense keyboard sounds of Aapo Koivisto with a greater level of impact.

“Origin” Album Artwork

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this 54 minute journey through sorrowful seas of sound is that, despite its highly symmetrical and formally predictable character, it hits the ears with a fair number of unexpected twists. The most blatant deviation from standard practice by this band actually arrives at the very beginning via the brief instrumental prelude “Emergence”, which combines a bluesy rock principle theme in the guitars that’s almost Deep Purple-like in demeanor with a slow marching heavy stomp reminiscent of an early 80s heavy metal anthem and an impressive array of soaring keyboards and guitar melodies. It proves a very effective; albeit unorthodox segue into the opening cruiser “Prime”, which proves a more conventional up tempo melodeath banger that’s about as elaborately structured as the most recent material heard out of Mors Principium Est, though a tad less technically charged. Throwing a few more twists into this musical tale are punchier, riff-happy thrashers like “Paragon” and “Friction” that strike a little closer to the classic Gothenburg sound, though smoothing out the rough edges with an assortment of chanting clean-sung passages and lighter instrumental touches.

Generally speaking, the longer the songs go, the more opportunities are seized by this quintet to veer the audience into new territory. Among these more progressively-forged compositions is the slower moving semi-ballad “Fortitude”, which features some occasional flourishes of Dream Theater and Queensrÿche in how the guitar interplays with the keyboards, though the continual dominant presence of vocalist Jukka Pelkonen’s deep, bear-like barks and groans and a few heavier guitar passages keep it from getting too ethereal. Likewise, the occasional off-kilter rhythmic devices employed between the flowing melodies and lighter moments of “Unity” prove an effective touch, while Pelkonen’s guttural input often provide a lone extreme metal counterbalance to what is almost a celebratory anthem with some power metal tendencies. Alongside the highly dynamic mixture of thrashing chaos and epic grandeur of closer “Solemn”, these longer cuts also showcase Vanhala’s prowess as a soloist, blending a tasteful melodic approach with some shredding technicality to masterful results.

Like a classic vintage from the finest vineyard, Omnium Gatherum is a band that just continues to get better with age, and where some may look to the past for their finest hour, the present has seen them at their highest point. Though this time around they’ve veered a tad closer to the more progressive and long-winded end of the spectrum normally associated with Be’Lakor, they’ve retained more of an impact-based demeanor in line with the more traditional sound of Dark Tranquillity and simply amped it up with a greater degree of structural development. This album’s flavor also leans a bit more heavily into the keyboard-oriented, electronic side of the coin, which makes the inclusion of a cover of Israeli psytrance/electronic group Infected Mushroom’s “In Front Of Me”, which has naturally been given a darker metallic interpretation, all the more fitting. It’s still ultimately an album that will play the best to its existing fan base, but it could prove an appealing listen to those who enjoy a smattering of gothic influences after the mold of Before The Dawn and the progressive maze of Persefone.

Released By: Century Media Records
Release Date: November 5th, 2021
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Musicians:

  • Jukka Pelkonen / Vocals
  • Markus Vanhala / Guitars and clean vocals
  • Aapo Koivisto/ Keyboards
  • Mikko Kivistö / Bass and clean vocals
  • Atte Pesonen / Drums

“Origins” Tracklisting:

  1. Emergence
  2. Prime
  3. Paragon
  4. Reckoning
  5. Fortitude
  6. Friction
  7. Tempest
  8. Unity
  9. Solemn

“Origin” is available as Ltd. CD Digipak, Gatefold LP and as digital album. All physical formats can be ordered HERE.

9.3 Excellent

Finnish-born melodic death metal titans and prognosticators of the all-encompassing Omnium Gatherum retain their brilliant studio stride into the 2020s with yet another abstract yet infectious foray into the sonic ether of dreamlike forms

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 9
  • Production 9.5
Share.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

24,401Fans
1,991Followers
34,000Subscribers