The Omega Experiment
The Omega Experiment
25 February 2013
by Ruth Booth
After three years of demos, EPS and teasers, it wasn’t whether The Omega Experiment’s debut was worth the wait, simply how long that wait would be. Yet the showers of praise that followed last year’s self-released debut came with a catch – that this record was mostly for fans of a certain, bald, proggish Canadian. Now reissued with label backing – and the greater reach that comes with it – the question now is if that’s all there is to The Omega.
The answer begins with a cosmic riff ripped right from the How-To Queen songbook. It’s a deceptively upbeat kick-off to this, the widescreen soundtrack of frontman Dan Wieten’s decade-long struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Clearly no studio spit-shine’s been required since last year’s release. Then, what impresses about The Omega Experiment isn’t such polish for a team of two guys and some guest vocalists in a living room.
While their closest peers sit on the progressive spectrum – Cloudkicker, Periphery, Chimp Spanner – this album isn’t solely for the djentlemen in the audience. TOE mashes classic prog with the best of nineties alternative. Metal, drum’n’bass, sparkling electronica and shoegaze often blend together within single bloodsugar-raising tracks. But what could have been simply a very messy hypo-confection is handled with unusual clarity of purpose, making for a most triumphant journey through despair, euphoria, rage, and the space beyond. Huh. Come to think of it, that does sound awfully familiar, doesn’t it?
So, the elephant in the room. Sometimes, yes, The Omega Experiment is a wee bit like Devin Townsend. Scratch that – in places it sounds a lot like Devin Townsend, but TOE have hardly shied away from this. The liner notes for the 2011 EP version of ‘Furor‘ pointedly hat-tip Townsend’s ‘Truth‘ as an influence. Still, it’s not the only thing you can hear in there. The other haulovers from the EP include ‘Karma‘, a song whose intro owes much to Faith No More’s Angel Dust, and the quasi-Pendulum of ‘Paramount‘. And Wieten’s vocals continue the chord-stretching tradition of Queensrÿche’s Geoff Tate.
Listen to (most of) the debut album from The Omega Experiment:
Ultimately, TEO’s main similarity to Townsend, or FNM, is in their eclecticism, their ability to turn genres on a dime. Yet unlike both these acts, TOE tend to blend such elements, rather than separate them by album, song or track sections – more akin to Pendulum, in that sense. Picking these elements apart from the whole leaves us stuck like the six blind men and the elephant. ‘Cept it’s an elephant made of blast beats and 7/4 time signatures.
In the end, it’s not their skill with Ableton, or who they’ve supposedly ripped off that’s most promising. Straight out of the gate, ‘Gift’ gives us Brian May on top of space mountain, a shimmering spectrum of harmonies, and a balladic piano finish to make your granny weep. Though it doesn’t yet sound as confident and bold a statement as you’d like, neither does it feel like some cynical twist of the heartstrings. And that is an encouraging thought.
The Omega Experiment is a bright, accomplished start for band already rubbing creative shoulders with the figureheads of progressive metal. Almost certainly, there’ll be a backlash follow. But boxing TEO simply as copyists of any of the bands they’ve digested over the years is like describing a woolly mammoth by its fewmets. And that, in the words of Jeff ‘Ian Malcolm’ Goldblum, “is one big pile of shit”.
Sounds Like People who should remix The Omega Experiment: Rob Swire, Mike Patton, Paul Ortiz, Ben Sharp, Som Warner
Standout Tracks: Karma, Motion, ‘Tranquility