Dodheimsgard
A Umbra Omega


4.5
superb

Review

by Robert Davis CONTRIBUTOR (286 Reviews)
March 29th, 2015 | 52 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Prepare for moments of delusion, confusion and definitely frustration. Dodheimsgard's latest effort is a game-changing, career-defining effort, not just for black metal, but extreme metal in general.

Albums like A Umbra Omega really test your patience. Not just the first time, or even the second and third, but in some listeners' cases, it could take up to ten times of hearing the album before you realize what black magic is at work. And so the same can be said for any other Dodheimsgard work, because in all honesty, they seem to be a black metal band often isolated from the rest of the pack. At least this was the case until drummer Kvohst left the band in early 2008 for a couple of years. Now the year is 2015, and all but the devoted fanbase have probably forgotten about the madcap, experimental, meandering previous effort that was 2007's Supervillain Outcast, which if anything, proved Dodheimsgard were the weirdest extreme metal act to have formed in the mid-90s. So the big question for the devoted fanbase is, without a shadow of a doubt, does 2015's A Umbra Omega hit expectations, exceed them, or have the band intentionally decided to sell out and take the easy road to black metal super-stardom?

Depending on your taste, it could be all three or none of these answers, because A Umbra Omega, as versatile, bizarre and obscure as it is, certainly gives you a challenge, and in the end you may just move on before the album's even finished. And those who do get tired of this should never be blamed for doing so, as there are many aspects here which prove ultimately divisive. The vocals are warped, raw and brutally honest in their delivery. The experimentation shoots off in all directions, but not all the time. And the black metal influence probably only makes up about 5% of the album's entirety. So why is this review giving such a high rating when these three "flaws", if you will, are largely evident. Well, A Umbra Omega was only ever intended to suit particular tastes, even if it gains inspiration from most musical styles and twists them to sound anything but pleasant. Aside from the obvious black metal sound (which, here, only really serves as the intro of most songs), you have jazz fusion ("Aphelion Void"), progressive rock ("God Protocol Axiom", "Architect of Darkness") and a hell of a lot of ambient parts (every song bar closer "Blue Moon Duel"). And the best thing about it is, everything seems to work together in a collaborative manner.

There's never any sudden shifts in style, nothing ever seeks out to alienate the fanbase or throw the listener off course, but at the same time, A Umbra Omega demands complete concentration. Take the fifteen-minute long "Aphelion Void" for example, which for the first minute or so is some of the most simplistic black metal music you'll ever heard. The remaining fourteen minutes basically suggest that the production of the album went through a black hole, became warped and twisted with every other musical style you can think of, and sent the finished product hurtling through space, isolated and ignored by the mass audience. That's what you should expect from the rest of the album, in all fairness. Because "Aphelion Void" is both majestic and maniacal enough to send you into a mind-numbing frenzy. It takes so many roads that by the end of its fifteen-minute length, you will be intrigued enough to have it on repeated listening just to gather all the musical ideas for a more critical take on what you've just listened to. "God Protocol Axiom" and the rest of the album follow the same disorganized, jagged musical pattern, yet every single song here has its own particular world to explore. Indeed, you can pinpoint exactly which song you're listening to, because the experimentation also makes perfect sense. "God Protocol Axiom" and "Architect of Darkness" actually go hand in hand due to their more progressive mid-sections, where you can hear Yusaf Parvez strainingly yet sorrowfully wincing each lyric out as if it was his very own nightmare. "Aphelion Void" and "Blue Moon Duel" are naturally more immediate and engaging at first glance, but even they have their own identifiable sound. They are what one could consider "ambient black metal", but when you're even considering that particular style of the sub-genre, the band throw a spanner in the works to direct your attention to other instruments and vocal effects.

There is a more important aspect to consider which at times eclipses the musicianship, and that's basically the meaning of each and every song. Dissecting each and every song here and relating musical tone to lyrical imagery would take an entire dissertation, but each song apart from the opening "The Love Divine" stands out from the other. "Aphelion Void" is developed through insane musical passages but constantly taunts you as if you were about to enter a nightmarish hallucination. "God Protocol Axiom" and "Architect of Darkness" are more self-exploratory, and the lyrical content of both songs seem more like extended, literary monologues moments before the speaker is about to suffer a horrible death. "Blue Moon Duel" at times reflects Pink Floyd's idea of spacey unconsciousness, and a large chunk of the album closer is simply dedicated to looking above and beyond, witnessing life and death twisted in many forms, before the menacing barrage of black metal hurtles you back to reality. This lyrical imagery contributes excellently to the spoken-word delivery each and every time, and particularly reaches its peak in "The Unlocking", which is arguably the one song which closely resembles black metal in its most traditional form. The monologue style which is managed throughout "God Protocol Axiom" returns here, and controls the song as if it was one act of an entire, self-indulgent play. This isn't to say that the musicianship or vocal delivery is non-existent on A Umbra Omega, but in the rawness and harshness of each lyrical part, you can feel emotions being torn apart then put together with new ideas and senses.

Alas, all this probably sounds pretentious and self-indulgent, more so than many of you would probably want. But it really isn't. It isn't one of those records which are too beautiful for their own good, too majestic to be holding its head high above the clouds. Nor is it a statement of intent, because Dodheimsgard already proved themselves with 1999's 666 International, and again with 2007's Supervillain Outcast that, if anything, they are performing with honest intent, and not trying to force themselves on the listener too much. A Umbra Omega will most likely confuse you as a first impression, and there's no denying the amount of focus you'll need when going into the album. But as challenging as you think it will be to listen to A Umbra Omega, it was most probably just as challenging for Dodheimsgard, if not more so, to have crafted an album like this in 2015.



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user ratings (122)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
March 29th 2015


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album stream:



http://bravewords.com/news/dodheimsgard-a-umbra-omega-advance-album-stream-available



It's one of the longest reviews I've written in a long time, but I feel as if this album really deserved it. Warning: It is certainly NOT for everyone.

ComeToDaddy
March 30th 2015


1803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweeeet I was halfway through a review for this but it's so tough to write, glad to see someone who actually knows the artist give it some time. Killer review too, mindpos hard.

As someone who had no idea what to expect when I got a hold of this, it was pretty off-putting on first listen. Took me a while to click, but it's grown a lot, hope more people check this out.

VoxMonster
March 31st 2015


1 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Extremely Progressive Psychedelic Black Metal is a description and an understatement at the same time. Vox are way out front so be prepared to take in the mono-tonal off key shouts in their full glory. Yes, that last sentence was somewhat sarcastic. This is abstract music. The vocals provide a degree of cohesion because of their lack of diversity. Unfortunately, that is a two way street. The off key jarring aspect of them is distracting and overshadows the amazing diversity of the music. Don't get me wrong I love this band and what they stand for; complete originality and boundless structures. The vocals as always for me just don't have the same technical proficiency as the music period. At some point you need to acknowledge that fact. Beautiful melodies and complex rhythm structures are present in the music, but not the vocals. It's the same way I felt about Cryptopsy with Lord Worm. It's like some Neanderthal spouting off with reckless abandon over extremely precise, detailed, melodies and rhythms. It's great to get across a chaotic feeling, but I grow tired of that feeling eventually and crave something that helps accent and accentuate complex structures and melodies underneath. I enjoy this band and this album, but I can't listen to whole thing all the way through because the vocals just get to annoying.

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2015


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the detailed comment Vox, I see where you're coming from. For me though, the vocals really aren't all that distracting-it's more like I find them a helpful bonus to the musicianship rather than a detractor of the quality. Like I mentioned though, things like this are what makes albums like A Umbra Omega so hard to get into in the first place.

Serenityinaz12
April 6th 2015


134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

digging this, will have to listen more.

Spag
April 8th 2015


2540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is fucking awesome

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2015


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed. Also, nice dig there Spag, I enjoyed most songs on Solefald's latest release quite a bit.

Anthemic
April 9th 2015


341 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Would be 4.5 from me if I didn't hate the vocals so much. I feel like they really took away from the experience.

Spag
April 9th 2015


2540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed. Also, nice dig there Spag, I enjoyed most songs on Solefald's latest release quite a bit.



Yup! This, that, the new Enslaved and the new Code are my favs from this year.

Serenityinaz12
April 20th 2015


134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Like the vocals myself, but then again I tend to like odd vocal styles - one of the reasons I like Silencer so much also.

adr
April 29th 2015


12019 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this album is annoying and the vox is awful

titanslayer
April 29th 2015


2713 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just listened to this the first time a bit ago, it's delightfully weird. One thing I really didn't expect is how important the bass is in this, it's more important then the drums on half the album

minimesmyidol
May 7th 2015


314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Idk this clicked for me on the first listen. I agree the progressive psychedelic black metal is absolutely true and an understatement. It is becoming my favorite DHD album.

It is like Colored sands meets Abigor and a little of Teethed glory for good measure. As unsettling and weird as it gets.

Spag
May 7th 2015


2540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah it's awesome. Totally caught me by surprise too. Glad I listened to it on a whim.

ivorymen
June 1st 2015


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A real avant-garde experimental black metal meet so many twist and turn !! a true contender for aoty

Flugmorph
June 1st 2015


21820 Comments


Im not really into bm but that sounds interesting

Digging: Opeth - In Cauda Venenum

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2015


11745 Comments


666 International is even more interesting considering that it was released in 1999.

kx8
August 5th 2015


16 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wow seriously, so Arcturus - Arcturian having the same score as this? Rhere is a chasm between these two albums in quality (not that they are similar or anything, I'm just coming from position when I was listening to and getting excited by both about 15 years ago)

Spag
August 5th 2015


2540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow seriously, so Arcturus - Arcturian having the same score as this? Rhere is a chasm between these two albums in quality (not that they are similar or anything, I'm just coming from position when I was listening to and getting excited by both about 15 years ago)





Arcturian deserves a 4 average again. This ALSO deserves around the same average. I love both, but the way you're questioning Arcturian's average is strange. I think both of these bands deserve every little bit of praise they get honestly.

kx8
August 5th 2015


16 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I would really like to think they are both good. But everytime I listen to Arcturian for the n-th time I want to skip to the "The loooords of woooords unspoken.." part. With Umbra Omega I enjoy every single moment.



Yes both of the bands deserve the praise overall, I'm not taking anything away from Arcturus.



However, Umbra Omega might not "click" on the first listen but it's getting better the more you listen to it. I find the opposite with Arcturian - good at first listen and it does feels like Arcturus, but then it get's a bit too boring. Different type of an album I guess. I just tend to rate one type much more than the other.



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