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Omnium Gatherum Could Use a Look Beyond Their Roots

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Omnium Gatherum’s 2011 release, New World Shadows, was a refreshing example of melodeath in a stale environment. It was a testament to the band’s songwriting skill that they maintained their stylistic roots while also producing intriguing material. Unfortunately, their upcoming release Beyond lacks what made New World Shadows great: compelling riffs blended with a phenomenal balance of metal and melody.

The album’s melodic qualities are stretched into hyperbole, rendering them an annoyance rather than a textural asset. The album often uses melody as a crutch, diving into cartoonish synth passages and effusive major progressions in tracks like “Who Could Say.” “Formidable” too leans on its lead lines, and guitarists Joonas Koto and Markus Vanhala thoroughly exhaust their chord patterns.

Likewise, the band’s death metal half tends to be ineffective. The overambitious “White Palace” attempts to forge a doomy, progressive identity, but never quite manages to find itself. As a result, it plods along rather than thundering. Thunder does make an appearance, like in the grooving “The Sonic Sign,” but it’s all too often subdued, and ignored in favor of more temperate weather. The somniferous tracks  “In the Rim” and “Nightwalkers” are drenched with Jukka Pelkonen’s desperately bland vocals and misplaced, unmemorable heaviness.

Part of the blame may be due to the production. Beyond sounds like your typical 2000s-era metal production – crystal clear and highly processed. There’s nothing wrong with the clarity here, and the lead lines are searing, but the rhythm guitar parts can feel overcompressed and small. “In the Rim,” the arguably heaviest song of the album, fails to pack much of a punch. The bottom end in general feels a little light, and both bass and kick could easily have been boosted.

It’s easy to see reminders of the skill the artists displayed on New World Shadows. “Living In Me” and the aforementioned “The Sonic Sign” demonstrate the varied melodeath stylistic spectrum, and the tracks are more “meh” than they are offensively bad. But the band’s stale song structures and forced-feeling riffage make the cumulative effort feel a bit minimal. Good melodeath invites us, leads us to dive right in, but Beyond presents no such motivation. That prevents most of the songs from having lasting coherent power, and prevents Beyond from being worth many listens.

 

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