Finnish melodic death guys Omnium Gatherum in early November have released their ninth LP Origin in collaboration with Century Media Records. And despite some line-up changes (new drummer and new bassist) there are absolutely no stylistic shifts, musical experiments or other unexpected surprises. Origin is a firm and solid continuation of their trademark ideas and cherished classical views on melodic death metal.
There’s only one original member (guitar player/songwriter Markus Vanhala) left from the beginning, when 25 years ago the band was formed in Southern Finland. Many talented musicians replaced each other during the 25 year span, but the backbone of the band’s former ideas and dreams is still the same. This band is not about the rapid progression, it is rather about sustainability and a tribute to the good old days, when melodic death metal scene was blooming and spreading its roots. Some of these mdm bands have developed their own personal style, some have transformed their music into groovy sound, and some have abandoned their love for extreme metal or on the contrary have shifted closer to classical death metal realm. But Omnium Gatherum is always there – recognizable, melodic and catchy, and always with fresh ideas, that are very well-fitted to their created high standards.
Of course, no one can stand on one place for 25 years; the last opus of Omnium Gatherum also has some interesting details and newness, so let’s not judge it as static or repetitive. The main accent belongs to melodic background, it’s almost like something invisible, but indispensable. Sometimes this melodic side goes through the roof, making every inch of a particular song soaked in melodic madness, almost in an ethnic way (like typical situation with the last albums of Amorphis); “Unity” is a great example of this extra melodiouseness. And the same can be applied against the singing matters, there’s nothing sweet about the voice of their singer (and lyricist) Jukka Pelkonen, and even some rare clean voice echoes (mainly performed by guest singer Jani Liimatainen) don’t make this album meek or sugary.
Omnium Gatherum is rather a classical metal band; their music is based on hard and heavy principles, so the use of synths is slightly muted to be constantly at the forefront. Yes, the keyboards soften the general sound, but are also responsible for atmospheric swings. “Prime” is almost about symphonic power structures, and “Reckoning” surprisingly refers to synth pop era. This is not very technical album, throughout their history there were far more progressive songs, but now they are focused on melodic catchiness and traditional values, however “Friction” offers some significant allusions to progressive details. And of course, this well-known love for melancholic expressions and nostalgic clichés is also familiar to the music of Omnium Gatherum. Even Infected Mushroom’s cover song “In Front of Me” sounds ridiculously omniumgatherish, yeah, these guys are really grounded to their own rules and traditions. Or maybe devoted.
Northern European melodic death metal scene is known for its painful and gloomy soul, either it would be expressed as tearful melancholy or as sweet sadness, but that is not the case with Omnium Gatherum. They are enormously optimistic – from positive lyrics, upbeat melodies and bright cover art (bright pink color of portal has extremely soothing effect), Origin is meant to keep your spirits up in a most natural way.
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