Review Summary: Origin mix things up.
The underground metal community’s collective hard-on for deriding anything and everything technical is becoming as stale and cliché as they purport the music itself to be. To chastise a tech death band on the basis of their virtuosity would be to say that Merzbow is too noisy and thus lacks artistic credibility or something to that effect. Indeed, it’s easy to find fault with something when you assess it via criteria that characteristically demonises everything a subject stands for. An aim of music that is technical by nature has always been, among other things, to challenge the musicians and push the fold with regards to technique and speed. Should a group of technically accomplished musicians sheath their abilities in fear of some misguided criticisms, would it not go against their vision and defeat the very purpose of what they’re trying to do?
Granted, some bands become so fixated with the idea of becoming the fastest, most complex group on earth that technicality becomes no longer a means but an end, resulting in garish, nebulous cacophonies that resemble exercises more than they do songs. Origin, having always been one of the scene’s most extreme bands has copped a fair amount of flak from disinterested naysayers that erroneously group them with bands that eschew integrity for complexity. Most tech death bands can effectively be broken into two categories; ones that utilise technical flair as a means of heightening the intensity or atmosphere within a song, and those that simply use said song as a vehicle to demonstrate their proficiency. When a band happens to be of Origin’s calibre, lines can become blurred and people can easily mistake the music’s opacity for a lack of attention paid to song writing. Now, given that acts akin to Origin are becoming more common place, this has created the idea that tech death is comprised entirely
of over talented players who are simultaneously under talented writers. Strictly speaking, this is not the case, but there is still a vigilant bias against tech death that is rooted in a tendency to overlook the genre’s merits, no matter how apparent they are.
I say this because Origin’s latest album is very good and yet, like clockwork, the same detractors are likely to come forth spewing the same baseless drivel – laced with that delightful “wank” pejorative – just as they have for practically every contemporary tech death album in existence. Origin’s latest album is complex, it’s relentless and yes, you could even call it ostentatious, so in effect, it’s par for the course for them. Omnipresent
is another thirty-something minutes of dazzling fretwork, arachnid drumming and ferocious vocals, tightly bound together by thick production and executed at inhuman speeds. Opening with two screamers in the form of “All Things Dead” and “Thrall:Fulcrum:Apex”, you could be forgiven for immediately having doubts about album’s tolerability. However, what follows is a steady alternation between slower and faster numbers that we haven’t really seen Origin attempt to the extent that they have here. Entity
did make use of some breathers, but Omnipresent
sees the band toning down the overall intensity and making an effort to implement some noticeable variety.
Tracks like “The Absurdity of What I Am”, “Source of Icon O” and “Unattainable Zero” are classic Origin, blisteringly quick, undeniably heavy and superbly calculated for maximum effect. However, these sonic wrecking balls are routinely broken up by softer, dare I say, dynamic
little tunes such as “Permanence”, “Obsolescence” and “Continuum”, with the latter two even featuring some breezy synthesisers that sound neither tacky nor overbearing. Omnipresent
is one of, if not the band’s most versatile album to date, at least in terms of pacing and presentation. Naturally, they didn’t nail absolutely everything in their attempt to shake up their formula. One of the most recognisable tracks is “Redistribution”, the chorus riff of which wouldn’t sound out of place on a groove metal album from the 1990s. Unfortunately, while recognisable, the song’s main riff sounds awkward in the context of the song and indeed, the album as a whole. But irrespective of the odd blip here and there, Omnipresent
is still a high quality album, both as a collection of individual songs and as an entire body of work.
With Origin’s reputation preceding them as it does, Omnipresent
is probably going to be ridiculed without hesitation by the usual decriers while being concurrently lauded by droves of tech heads. Given the rather steadfast demeanour of your average “metalhead”, this sort of divide is unlikely to result in the most profitable exchanges either. This, to put it bluntly, is a shame. Omnipresent
, like any good product of tech death, is something that requires patience and time to absorb, patience and time it will assuredly not be given by some. Regardless, for those fond of a little sonic devastation, this is a more than adequate collection of destructive energy, with enough substance underneath to satisfy those who are a little more analytical.