Review Summary: This, my friends, is what post-metal was always meant to sound like.Omega Massif
's debut album Geisterstadt
was an aural personification of a vast landscape that had just been devastated by an immense volcanic eruption. Through slow, crushing riffs and crushingly beak atmospheres, this instrumental post-metal act painted a vivid image of a world with darkened skies and its ground covered by mounds of heavy, grey ash. It was dotted with dead and burning skeletons of trees, and nary a trace of life remained in the blast zone. If this was Geisterstadt
, its successor Karpatia
is more of a prequel than anything else, choosing to illustrate the immensity of the eruption itself rather than just its aftermath.
Sonically, Omega Massif
have not changed their formula much since 2007. They still are completely instrumental, relying on massive riffs, tribal-influenced drumming, and deep bass to get their point across rather than on the rough, grating shrieks and growls that are so characteristic of similar acts. Periods of devastating noise are still balanced out by long sequences of foreboding ambiance, and there still is not a huge amount of variation between tracks. However, the difference between Karpatia
and its predecessor lies in the drastically amped up energy of the former. Karpatia is faster, heavier, more intense, more atmospheric, and, above all, more desolate than Geisterstadt
. It takes everything that made Omega Massif
's debut such a great album and turns it up to 11, resulting in what is, in this reviewer's opinion, the strongest post-metal effort of 2011.
Variation may, as before, take a backseat, but that does not mean that Karpatia
ever gets tedious. There are just enough differences between tracks to keep the listener engaged, yet the album still feels like one continuous story. Aura
is a massive, 10-minute amalgam of everything that the band is good at, with immensely skillful dynamic shifts, infectiously bleak riffs, and more emotion that most similar bands pack into their music with vocals. Im Karst
effectively takes the place of Geisterstadt
's Unter Null
, bringing faster rhythms and atmospheric leads into the band's equation, while the title track acts as a relatively brief interlude with its foreboding drone and slow, plodding percussion. Closer Steinernes Meer
might be the most obviously "post-metal" out of the album's tracks, with a dreamier, Isis
-like atmosphere and a stronger emphasis on the buildup than can be found on the rest of the album. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, however, we have Wölfe
. Shorter even than the drone-influenced title track, it is a glorious three-and-a-half minute joyride (although "joy" may not be the correct word) of tribal percussion and galloping riffs, and it may be the single most intense song Omega Massif
has ever written.
truly is an intense album, and it is also remarkably well-conceived and executed. Imagine that four German dudes decided, on one especially dark and foggy morning, that they would create a band that combined the instrumental dynamics of Australasia/Fire In Our Throats-era Pelican
with the crushing darkness of post-metal contemporaries Amenra
. Finally, add an uncanny sense of dynamics, some quite impressive riff-crafting abilities, and a strangely unique, undefined "something" that separates this band's music from every similar act. The result would be Omega Massif
. So do yourself a favor and pick up one of post-metal's bleakest, most desolate, and most crushing albums since Through Silver In Blood
. This, my friends, is what the genre was always meant to sound like.