Review Summary: Who knew they had it in them?
Melodic death metal group Omnium Gatherum has often been criticized for sounding too much like its predecessors. It’s undeniable the group takes large influence from the more top-tier artists in the genre, like Insomnium and Amon Amarth. But fans of Omnium Gatherum have always accepted this aspect of the group’s sound, perhaps going to other groups for that innate spark of originality. The great thing about Beyond
, then, is that it sees a rejuvenation of sorts as the band’s most unequivocally unique album yet.
The most innovative aspect of Beyond
is its emphasis on atmosphere. The songs presented embellish a chaotic but beautiful world, with dissonance underlined by melody. Vocalist Jukka Pelkonen is accustomed to providing his guttural vocals in a fairly mechanistic manner, and he continues to do so on the heavier tracks at hand here. But there are instances where he rises above the group’s songwriting habits to try his hand at something new, and these moments are some of the most thrilling. “Could Say” is a full-out ballad, fronted by Pelkonen’s emotional croons: sounds cheesy as hell, right? This makes it all the more surprising that the song is easily one of the best on Beyond
. Long-time fans need not worry, though, for there are plenty of traditionally heavy tracks here. The more dismal moments here are more far-reaching than they were in the past, probably because Pelkonen understands the limitations of his voice much better than last time. He alternates between ferocious gutturals and soaring cleans, utilizing both his talents to bring a strong sense of aggression to the band’s updated palette. Because of this, Beyond may very well be Pelkonen’s most consistent performance yet.
The instrumentation here is top-notch, too. Beyond
is infectious because of the way the musicians utilize both repetition and variation, and it’s clear the group’s songwriting abilities have grown by leaps and bounds because of this. Just when an initially monotonous track like “In the Rim” begins to breathe its last exciting breath, the gut-wrenching bridge enters the picture and keeps the track fresh. And while all the musicians perform well, the guitar and synth are utilized in the most exciting way. The two instruments create the hypnotic atmosphere at the forefront, with which the song’s backbone coexists. “Could Say” steadily works a smooth-as-silk guitar melody into its verse, marrying the serene synth texture. The band’s choice to embrace subtlety makes the song one of the group’s best, and other similar instances can be found in the majority of tracks on Beyond
It’s exciting to see Omnium Gatherum carving its own niche in the melodic death metal realm, an act of which the group’s always been capable. If Beyond
proves anything, though, it’s that the derivative acts in modern music really do have the potential to mature into something noteworthy.