In the Woods... - _Omnio_
(Misanthropy Records, 1997)
by: Pedro Azevedo (10 out of 10)
_Omnio_ is one of those albums that ends up proving to be highly rewarding, even though at first that may not seem very likely. Compared to the only previous work of theirs I know, _Heart of Ages_, the overall feeling in _Omnio_ is a lot doomier: there's much more doom and less black metal here, even though it still 'feels' like black metal sometimes. Nearly all the black vox are gone (there's a total of three short black-like screams in _Omnio_, all very effective), the vocals now being clean and helped by very versatile female voices which add a lot to the result. I personally usually enjoy distorted vocalists much better, but the vocals in _Omnio_ just fit the music, and the result is great - for once, I must admit that a leading distorted voice wouldn't have been a welcome change. (Some more well-placed black vox would have been fine, though.) However, the male singer alone wouldn't have been good enough; the backing female voices help him very much. Like such great bands as My Dying Bride and Opeth, ITW seem to write each song not caring about its final length, resulting in long, complex tracks that are like mini-albums within the album; and what may be surprising for the casual listener is that, in the end, it all fits together, like one huge song. The first one, "299.796 km/s", is over 14 minutes long, and is a fine example of how good _Omnio_ can get: superb doomy melodies and atmosphere, good harsher parts, and it all just seems to flow and change very naturally - in fact, the whole CD is highly varied. The instrumental quality helps as well, especially the guitars and occasional keyboards, as well as very good drumming. The instrumentation also presents the first appearance by the Dust String Quartet (cello, viola and two violins), giving _Omnio_ even more atmosphere. They show up again in the fifth song. The brilliant artwork in "I Am Your Flesh", the second track, portrays the whole feeling of the song, completed by the lyrics and music. Track three, "Kairos!", is shorter, featuring only the female vocalist, and quality is still high. Then comes "Weeping Willow", the doomiest one, with slow, sad guitar and keyboard lines throughout its 11 minutes. And finally, the big one - 26 minutes, split into three subsections: "Omnio?". The reason for this partitioning is that the second piece is a six minute long slow crescendo interlude, with the last subsection picking up where the first left off to conclude this outstanding CD. Quite simply, this is superb music, showing a great amount of work and talent, resulting in a truly rewarding album.

(article published 16/10/1997)

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