Review Summary: A gratifying return.
This new Caverne album dropped completely out of the blue and at first, it had me wondering whether it’s actually the same project that released the wonderful “Aux frontières du monde” five years ago. While I miss the logo and the medieval artwork of the debut, the dimmer photo that was used for “Omphalos” (Greek word for “navel”) does the job, dressing a record that is otherwise musically close not only to Caverne’s debut but also to the mainman’s other notable project, Nécropole.
From all the bands lurking around in the black metal underground, who build their wall of sound only in the noisy production and black and white aesthetics, but not in the music itself, there sometimes arrives one hero who doesn’t need tricks or faking material that is actually powerful. The more one listens to “Omphalos”, the more the realization is established, that it is a wonderfully textured black metal album, which is rich with nice ideas. There’s three long tracks and an interlude, with a warm but not polished production that will immediately ring a bell if you have heard of them before, while the vibrating epicness that characterizes Caverne is all over the place. Wonderful vocals are used throughout the album, from worn out screams to narrative cleans, and the tempos change frequently in the compositions, finely switching from middle to fast paced moments.
Every track is on its own, a piece of art from start to finish. The clean guitar part in the beginning of “Tampours de Pierre” starts off a five-minute introduction and if you manage to keep listening, it gets more and more awesome as the song unravels. “Omphalos” features trully thrilling guitar work and it’s not exactly obvious with a hasty listen, yet after a while all the wondrous nuances of the main guitar melodies, the shorter riffs in various spots and the different parts of the tracks will rise to the surface. The compositional comfort of Caverne takes the album a level higher, which constantly offers convincing moments, with a highlight being the second, and most memorable track, “La Forge de Pyrène”. Not even the two-minute instrumental should be skipped, as it happens sometimes with other albums which have interlude parts that are completely boring. Through that, way is given to the final track “Le Mue du Serpent” which is also full well-written, moving guitar lines and offers a calm, acoustic guitar outro with deep chanting vocals that closes “Omphalos” ideally.
“Omphalos” is a very solid album by a project that seems to take what it does, rather seriously. The quality of the music here is remarkable not so much from the angle of technicality, but how well the ideas are knitted together, and how well it flows with content that is just enough. Boosted by great production and vocals, it could be a must for fans who go slightly deeper into black metal than sticking to bigger acts who live in the spotlight or are willing to go towards that direction. As a matter of fact, more acts like this are needed in my opinion.