Hitting the eighth album in a 22 year career is a milestone for any band, that goes without saying. But what if over the course of those years you took the time and risk to really try something different as time goes on? That is the subject of discussion when talking about “The Burning Cold” by Finland’s Omnium Gatherum.
As time has gone on, they have augmented their original Melodic Death Metal sound with influences of Prog to create a flavor unique to themselves. The immediate influence of Van Halen, Bathory, Metallica, Megadeth, At The Gates, Entombed etc has seemingly always held a presence within the core of the band and especially with songwriter and guitarist Markus Vanhala. With this latest offering there is an evolution of the progressive influences including frequent time signature changes, multiple key changes within the same songs, an extremely diverse array of dynamic range that is typically not present on Melodic Death Metal releases which I will dive into later on. In short; it is a production that builds upon a familiar base and draws from many musical personalities seamlessly and to great sonic effect, offering immersion to the discerning listener.
Many would note that the songs on exhibition are succinct, doing away with the atmospheric buildups of previous releases. I half agree with that sentiment, more-so that the atmosphere has been shifted into more meaningful places and used to entice the listener into feeling different emotions as the songs sprawl out rather than set a stage for a story to unfold.
A keen eye would observe the first and last song of the album spelling out its name. As such they share a thematic and epic scale that encompasses the remaining tracks. “Gods Go First” and “Refining Fire” are strong openers to the album and go straight for the throat, though both contain sections where things become a little unexpected vocally, this is definitely a strength!
It’s when you get to “Rest In Your Heart” that the pace changes into a chugging, almost marching kind of pace. This is where the atmosphere of the album begins to introduce itself and continues to grow with “Into The Battlefield”, which contains the familiarity of the previous tracks before flowering and meandering into its own world. The band comes together as a unit and goes full prog. Tapped, reverb drenched guitars, thick tapped bass lines, syncopated drums that hop wonderfully from bar to bar, it is a hypnotic change of pace at the perfect interval.
“The Fearless Entity” begins with a red herring, you feel as though you might know where it’s going and then BOOM, the floor drops out and the band is back to pummelling greatness. The execution of timing is nicely manipulated, it’s as though they’re trying to induce whiplash. This leads us into the epic “Be The Sky”, my personal favorite of the album. It has a strong folk feel to it and employs a clever pop-based arrangement until, just, bliss. Fretless bass, acoustic guitars, dancing drums, then a quick chorus before leaping into a guitar solo that gave me the mother of all dick twists.
Of course, you could only follow this up with conflict, “Driven By Conflict” to be precise. Combining Black Betal into the base MDM formula and employing harmonic accidentals and harmonic solo’s, it’s a big ball of madness.
Things calm down a lot next up in “The Frontline”, There’s tons of dynamic peaks to climb and troughs to tumble into as well as some mind bending key changes. The structure and musical arrangement really exposes the 80’s influences the group has. Every time this track does a thing it’s hard not to clutch your chest as your heart explodes from a magnitude 1000 feel.
“Planet Scale” is a foreboding monolith. It’s uncomfortable, purposeful, exact. In this track the band strip away all of the extensions and augmentations, returning to their purest form, a Melodic Death Metal machine. Like a monster revealing its true self, the track compliments everything that has come before it and gives the sense that this living, breathing collection of songs is entering its death knell.
This brings us to “Cold”, a thematic extension of the first track.
In all, this is a superb and unique expression. Omnium Gatherum prove that one need not break new ground in order to grow something of substance. It also helps if, like OG, you plant uncommon seeds in that ground.
Get your copy of The Burning Cold HERE