Omnium Gatherum - _New World Shadows_
(Life Force Records, 2011)
by: Mark Dolson (10 out of 10)
Yes, _New World Shadows_ received a perfect score. You know what, though? The lads from Karhula, Finland couldn't have done anything else to make this album any better -- it's perfect the way it is. The only fault is that once the album has finished, you want to hear more. And clocking in at just under 52 minutes, the album, to me, seems to go by in half that time -- it's that good.

So what makes this album so great, then? Well, the answer's complex, but I'll try and break it down. Their previous effort, _The Redshift_ (2008), was a fantastic album, too, but I found that my mind started to drift about half way through the album. It seemed to me that around track number six, a strange, rockish (almost alternative) influence -- which isn't a bad thing in and of itself -- started to seep through and supersede the band's trademark quickened melodic death metal. The main problem, for me, was a drop in the intensity and energy level of the songs themselves.

Luckily, this isn't a problem with any of the songs on _New World Shadows_. Boosted by a crystal clear and perfectly balanced mix by the legendary Dan Swanö, each song conveys all of the heavy, melodic precision -- undergirded by a looming sense of melancholy -- that Omnium Gatherum are known for since their first album. What I find interesting about _New World Shadows_ is that is sounds more mature, controlled and epic than their previous albums. This may be a result of the fact that the members of the band are getting older; and, while still wanting to play melodic death metal, desire a more nuanced and refined approach. Incidentally, it was in an interview from last year that guitar player Markus Vanhala (now a full time member of Insomnium as well) claimed that Omnium Gatherum play "adult-oriented death metal" (AOR for short).

The major differences that result from this shift in song writing, to me, are: 1) longer songs (especially the rollicking and highly melodic opener, "Everfields", as well as the moody and subdued album closer, "Deep Cold" -- both clocking in over nine minutes); 2) a much slower pace on average, though there is a blast-beat at the end of the aforementioned opening track; and 3) an increased use of keys/electronics, which gives the songs a very modern and sophisticated feel.

Along with all of the fantastic riffs, solid drumming and bass-playing (this is the first album to feature Tony Mäki on bass) on offer, Jukka Pelkonnen's vocals seem much more ferocious, deeper, and more convincing. His clean vocals seemed to have improved greatly, too. A nice surprise for fans of Dan Swanö is that he lends his vocal talents (clean) to not one but two songs: "New World Shadows" and "Deep Cold". I find that Mr. Swanö's voice just adds that extra dimension of grandness to the songs.

If you're looking for melodic Scandinavian death metal with memorable riffs, sophisticated and classy use of keys/electronics, and a more mid-paced approach, then make sure to pick this album up. For people like me who are over 30, this is a refreshing and definitely more mature take on a genre that is still great, though susceptible to such generic interpretations (cf. Eternal Lies' _Spiritual Deception_ with its derivative riffs and incessant tremolo picking and blast-beats). For those interested, please check out the latest two videos for "New World Shadows" and "Soul Journeys" -- both taken from _New World Shadows_.


(article published 12/2/2012)

9/30/2008 K Sarampalis 8 Omnium Gatherum - The Redshift
4/20/2007 K Sarampalis 7 Omnium Gatherum - Stuck Here On Snakes Way
11/29/2004 J Smit 7 Omnium Gatherum - Years in Waste
9/29/2003 P Azevedo 8 Omnium Gatherum - Spirits and August Light
3/26/2003 P Azevedo 8 Omnium Gatherum - Steal the Light
8/12/2000 P Schwarz 2 Omnium Gatherum - Promo 99
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