New World Shadows
07 February 2011
by Tom Dare
In the litany of bands that have failed to live up to the promise of their debut, Omnium Gatherum are perhaps one of the most glaring examples from the Noughties. Thankfully, alongside football pundits making sexist remarks within earshot of a microphone, Omnium Gatherum’s place on that list can now be firmly dumped in the bin of Noughties ideas best done away with. New World Shadows sees the band re-emerge as the force they hinted at nearly a decade ago.
In case their career has passed you by (an understandable circumstance, largely), Omnium Gatherum play a style of melodic death metal that (gasp!) isn’t based on rehashing At The Gates riffs from the mid-90s. Instead, they focus on their own brand of lyrical lick and keyboard augmentation that sounds far more distinctively Finnish than the hopeless despondency of the acts ripping off the Swedish titans. The minor key lead lines still abound, the rhythm guitars are still gruff and chugging and the vocals harsh and abrasive, but the urge to scream at the darkened sky and to cry into your beard that the Gothenburg classics evoke are not the order of the day. The sound is more “have a drink and a good time” than “drown your sorrows”.
Opening nine-minute epic, ‘Everfields‘, wanders between crushing and more gentle, contemplative lyrical passages. The thudding riffs and death growls are interspersed with hints at glorious melodies yet to come, teasing and and toying before the full glory emerges. The lead lines that are the genre’s signature are as haunting and mellifluous as you could ask for, while the keyboards stop way short of self-indulgent histrionics, content to fill out the sound as part of the ensemble rather than to steal the thunder.
The band’s characteristic upbeat mood is at its strongest on the soaring ‘Soul Journeys‘, snatches of clean singing so soft as to be almost whispered melding with a guitar lead of the “fist in the air” variety in before thrashing distortion and wandering acoustics swap places to close the piece. The fret-dancing of ‘Nova Flame‘ balances the requisite harsh ugliness with the melodic beauty in a manner that modern metal seems to forget too often- rather than “pretty bit, heavy bit”, some of the most soft and dulcet moments of the album occur simultaneously to some of the most abrasive, the combination closing the eyes and banging the head with equal compulsion.
Hear the title track ‘New World Shadows’ here:
Inevitably the odd Dark Tranquillity moment sneaks in – there aren’t that many minor key riffs, after all – but this is comfortably the record that fans of Omnium Gatherum have been waiting for all these years. The constituent components are all present in sufficiently large quantities that you can forgive the occasional slip into genre-feeding filler in the third quarter, before the mighty album-closer, ‘Deep Cold‘, arrives and makes you forget any such momentary lapses.
New World Shadows is a considerable step up from anything Omnium Gatherum have done in years, and a strong example of what can still be done with the style even now. This is a record that heralds an emergence from a cold, bleak time into the warming sun that invites you out with your mates for a boisterous resumption of the finer times of year. It may have taken its sweet time and more than its fair share of line-up changes, but it has been well worth the wait.
Sounds like: Dark Tranquillity meets Norther
Top tracks: Everfields, Soul Journeys, Nova Flame
Omnium Gatherum – New World Shadows tracklisting:
New World Shadows
An Infinite Mind
Watcher Of The Skies