Omnium Gatherum – Beyond

Omnium-Gatherum-Beyond

Omnium Gatherum

Beyond

01. Luoto
02. The New Dynamic
03. In The Rim
04. Nightwalkers
05. Formidable
06. The Sonic Sign
07. Who Could Say
08. The Unknowing
09. Living in Me
10. White Palace

[02/22/13]
[LifeForce Records]

Metal, and music in general, is often best when it explores a multitude of moods and feelings. That’s what has always been the strength of Omnium Gatherum, a melodic death metal band who focus primarily on the ‘melodic’ aspect of their music. Incorporating thunderous riffs with delicate keys, and ascending guitar riffs that dance around the listeners ear. While the band’s ‘metal’ aesthetic has declined with each subsequent release since The Red Shift, their ability to create captivating music has not. With Beyond, the band continues their trend of focusing on melody, and even with fewer truly metal moments to be found, this is done to great success.

Beyond
opens with the almost post-rock-esque ‘Luoto’. Delicate notes are sung out by the guitar which slowly builds to a crescendo of interwoven instrumental melodies, and atmospheric ambient noise. It’s a simple track on the surface, but one of the best that the record has to hold, and while not a great indication of what’s truly about to come, it does tell the listener what to expect out of the softer sounds that the band will be incorporating. The band then transitions into the first real song on the album, the familiar sounding ‘The New Dynamic’. Like the album’s name, ‘The New Dynamic’ is a bit of misnomer, as it brings hardly any new elements to the band’s sound. But innovation is not everything when it comes to art, and as is often the case, refinement can be just as important as innovation, and refinement is the name of the game with Beyond.

There are some much appreciated new elements at work on Beyond, though. The use of more clean vocals, and using them as centerpieces to quite a few tracks, previously only being used sparingly, is a welcomed changed. While the death growls have always been unique, and are still quite formidable, the clean vocals on Beyond really outshine the harsh approach on every single level, perfectly complimenting the intricate keys and guitar leads, with simple yet powerful melodies.

Omnium Gatherum have capitalized on two really great sides to melodic death metal with this album; being more reliant on atmosphere and mood than previous records, yet at the same time being far more technical. The atmosphere is created through a healthy use of slick, driven keys, that really stand head and shoulders above the band’s previous work. Dynamic guitar leads dominate every track, with these beautiful ascending riffs that trade off and interlock between the three guitars. Where a lot of melodic death metal comes off feeling sluggish and weighted down, the interplay of intricate guitar-work almost always keeps the music fresh and driven, even during the moments that are objectively “slow”. This ability to captivate the listener is a testament to the band’s wonderfully creative and evocative composition skills.

If there’s one true negative about this record, it’s that it may drag on a bit, specifically towards the end. The album could spare to be five to ten minutes shorter, as after the fourth track, the monumental ‘Nightwalkers’, there is a large run of songs before the album closer, a track that clocks in at just under ten minutes. It’s hard to pinpoint which song or songs on the latter half of the album should have been left out, they all have sections that are deeply vibrant and interesting, like the ballad esque ‘The Unknowing’, or the hard hitting and shredding riffs of ‘The Sonic Sign’. They each have something unique to keep you interested at certain points, but there is just something about this last run of songs before the closer that feels a bit muddied. However, it’s easily forgiven once the absolutely amazing ‘White Palace’ kicks off.

One of the key aspects of Beyond that should be noted is the contrasting themes from that of New World Shadows. With that previous effort the band seemed to be exploring an idea of “dark versus light”, as well as “dark is light”, incorporating clean vocals, a heavy emphasis on key work, and a subtle use of clean guitar melodies underneath the heavy chugging riffs. While the album was predominantly darker, and  heavier,  those “brutal” sections felt hopeful and optimistic, and those positive feelings were assured by the softer elements that would spring up sparingly and at just the right time to make them all the more poignant. Beyond is quite the opposite in this regard. With the light side featured predominantly throughout, there seems to be an almost constant feeling of sadness that permeates the music, despite the heavy focus on cleaner, more elegant sounds. In much the same way that the lighter elements were used on New World Shadows, the heavier, darker elements on Beyond bring the realization back to the listener that the darkness is still ingrained, despite the pretty and alluring sounds that dominate this record.

Omnium Gatherum – Beyond gets…

4/5

– EC

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