Review Summary: The Omega Experiment switch gears from flaunting their best to trying to get by with a more atmospheric sound.
There are two glaring faults with The Omega Experiment's self-titled release. The first is a fault of the listener that is becoming more and more prevalent: with bands rapidly creating and releasing material online in high volume and relatively high quality, we as listeners come to expect something astonishing, fresh, and entirely original whenever we listen to something new, even when coming from the same band a year later. This can create a problem when a relatively new band is introduced to the music world by way of an EP - in this case the Karma EP
, released only a little over a year ago to the online community. Sure, the EP gets the band a lot of interest and hype, but there's also a cost.
In this case, that cost is that one third of the full-length album's material is a re-release. We've heard these songs before, and even if Acle Kahney has messed with the production and leading man Dan Wieten has tweaked things a little bit... so what? The differences are minute enough that no casual listener will ever pick them out and even veteran audiophiles will have issues nitpicking due to the repetitious nature of the song structuring. Even more irksome is that the group have tried to play around with the order of the Karma
songs on this album, introducing the first of the tracks only after the close of "Tranquility" and interspersing at least one track between each of the three EP songs. In some cases, I'd say that's a winning strategy, especially when artists release a varied sort of "demo" album that just debuts a bunch of tracks slapped together. But Karma did
have a cohesive flow to it that didn't need to be disrupted in that way, especially in the case of the overproduced circuslike ending to "Tranquility," meant to lead into the similarly chaotic intro to "Furor," but instead over-complicating the track it calls its own.
Maybe if we were hearing The Omega Experiment
without prior exposure to Karma
we wouldn't think this way. We'd be hearing the tracks for the first time and marveling at Wieten's high, soaring vocals meshing with sparkling keyboard and guitar leads playfully layered over heavy, distorted rhythms, willing to let some of the filler ("Tranquility," "Bliss," and the full minute of mumbling over electronic noise inserted into the start of closer "Paramount") slide.
been out for a year now, though, and it does
taint the reception of this album. But at least we can accept the fact that those tracks ("Furor," "Karma," and "Paramount") are
great tracks, and, bitterness about the change in flow aside, it's right to say that the album has some objectively good material on it. Unfortunately, it seems like these tracks are also the best
tracks on the album and are markedly distinct from many of the new additions. For example, "Karma" is marked by a huge flux in tempo, tone, and direction, while songs like "Terminus" rely too heavily on an atmospheric take that underutilizes the band's instrumental skills while relying too much on Wieten's vocal capabilities. And at an over nine minute run time, the song starts to blur together and drone on far too long. Again, excusable if it's a once-and-done thing, but the same issue looms over most of the new tracks on the album ("Gift" at least somewhat excepted).
Much of these new stylistic issues can be attributed to a few things. First of all, the harsh vocals on Karma
are absent from any of the new tracks on The Omega Experiment
. The three song preview seemed to suggest a good mix of harsh and clean vocals that created a very strong contrasting effect that enhanced Wieten's vocals in a way similar to Opeth or Devin Townsend songs. But they're simply not there and it leaves you scratching your head at the end of the day. Couple that with the dull sense of rhythm on the new tracks that is over produced and placed too high in the mix and you get... Well, bored. The drumming and rhythm sections on Karma
were as exciting and dynamic as most of the new tracks are simple, boring, and drawn out. Again, just another huge head-scratcher.
Of course, melodious lead guitar and keyboard parts jump in from time to time to support Wieten's majestically warm and light voice, but, again, they're not as consistent as they were on the EP. They also seem to have lost some of the bell-like shimmering quality that the Karma
tracks possess in favor of a lower, jazz-driven tone that dampens what was once a more unique sound. But at least they're there and they can
take center stage when given the opportunity, piquing the listener's interest in a period of otherwise dull semi-atmospheric mush.
On the whole, while The Omega Experiment
is a disappointing follow-up to a rather astounding EP, it doesn't dash all hopes for the group. The talent is clearly still there, but something has happened to its implementation. Hopefully Wieten and company can re-evaluate their direction, reconsider the strengths and weaknesses of the full-length as compared to their earlier release, and come up with a better game plan for their next outing.