Review Summary: Who says cheaters never prosper?
Omnium Gatherum escape the trap that comes with all the second and third tier pre-release hype from metal-zines and really come out with something powerful here, an album that draws from critic-heralded melodic death metal groups from across the world to make their fifth and best release, New World Shadows
. Amon Amarth
can be heard here ala the powerful guitar tone of the mid-tempo riffs and the deep growls of vocalist Jukka Pelconen; the work of Finnish Insomnium
seemingly flow through the band’s melodic work as well, guitar and vocal; and lastly, Be’lakor
and In Mourning
wave their progressive metal heads in the band’s songwriting, particularly on both nine-minute book-ending pieces, “Everfields” and the glorious “Deep Colds”.
So is New World Shadows
just a bunch of copycatting? Well, yes, actually, it sort of is. Yet
Omnium Gatherum comprise and meld the work of those bands mentioned above into a sound of their very own, in a way, greatly improving over the songwriting and playing of their past releases, and making an album full of excellent, flowing melodic death metal tracks in the process. While highlights are plentiful, New World Shadows
certainly works best when played all the way through. There’s something climatic and euphoric that comes when one hears the final climax of closer “Deep Colds” after traveling through the album’s contents, for instance, bringing to mind the same type of effect that came at the end of Insomnium
’s “Last Statement” on their 2006 album, Above The Weeping World
. In retrospect, it makes sense, then, that many were turned off by New World Shadows
' title track when it was released a few weeks ago – in context of the rest of the album, the “repetitive” nature of the riffs here work well in this sort of lulling, transitional track, segueing the more confrontational and involved “Ego” with highlight “Soul Journeys”.
It’s the latter mentioned song, though, "Soul Journeys", along with the closer, that truly is New World Shadow
’s defining moment. Here Omnium Gatherum employ varying tempos and catchy riffs to build the backbone of the song, while Pelconen puts on his best vocal performance and Dan Swano offers his cleans. Here Swano's vocals work to build a wonderful atmosphere for “Soul Journeys”, once again bringing to mind Insomnium
in how Swano puts his voice to use to engage and sooth the listener. The other areas in which the singer employs his cleans are on the title cut and on the closer for chorus-like melodies that work well within the songs. It goes without saying, however, that Omnium Gatherum are wise to use these moments sparingly, though, being careful to avoid the pitfall of many melodic death bands where the overuse of clean vocals greatly damages and oversaturates the music– kind of like, say, what happened to Universum
Remember last year when Barren Earth’s Curse of the Red River
was released around this time, and many of you said, “hey, melodic death metal isn’t dead yet”? Well, New World Shadows
is 2011’s sign of hope for the subgenre, so to speak – at least, that is assuming that Amon Amarth
fail us later on this year. Is it innovative, or does it sport a sound that the band can truly call their own? Not really. But as far as ripping-off your contemporaries goes in melodic death metal, no one, and I mean no one, does it better than Omnium Gatherum does on New World Shadows
. Find riffs as powerful as the fist-in-the-air moment that comes two minutes into “Nova Flame”, or a chorus as catchy as that of “The Distance” in the work of any other band like this. Yeah, you can’t, and that’s why New World Shadows
is just so excellent. If you're going to rip other bands off for your album, then you might as well steal from the best of the best, right? Well, Omnium Gatherum do just this and come out with their strongest album yet.