Another case of “déja vu” is striking as I press play on this album. The last time I reviewed an Omnium Gatherum album, I had seen the band a couple of months prior where they had finished writing the album and really wanted to play the new tracks. Cut to earlier this year where once again, I interviewed Markus and Jukka and they had just finished up working on this album. As Markus said: “The same as last time, actually. Déjà vu!”. However, with this album it’s more a case of refinement than the former as I’ll explain.
Kicking off the album, “The Burning” harkens back to Beyond with an instrumental introduction track before everything kicks in on the following track. This is certainly the case however this time, it’s “Gods Go First” that takes centre stage. Blending both old and new with superb guitar solos from Joonas and Markus, it is the perfect track to get the ball rolling on the album.
Not letting up, the band fire on all cylinders into “Refining Fire” which is as the band say: “This is maybe the most Omnium Gatherum old-schoolish song on the new album!”. They aren’t wrong to say that either as it has a vibe similar to a track off The Redshift or Stuck Here on Snakes Way. The next track has a more “modern OG feel” with an almost similar style to “Skyline” off the previous record. With layered keyboards and a marching beat, it is definitely one of the tracks on the album that you can’t help sing along to at points with its huge chorus and epic ending.
Ramping the pace back up, “Over the Battlefield” features some of the best drumming on the album courtesy of new but not new drummer Tuomo Latvala. It’s nothing fancy or intricate like you might see from George Kollias or Derek Roddy, but it fits perfectly with the music and to me that’s what makes a great drum track. Now, my favourite track on the album has to be “The Fearless Entity”. Whilst the intro might be a touch cheesy, the rest of the track is pure no-nonsense melodic death metal with a nice layering of synths thrown in for good measure. Now, that could sound like the recipe for organised chaos in terms of mixing but it doesn’t and that’s courtesy of Dan Swanö. We’re big fans of Dan here at the site and it’s always a pleasure to listen to something that he’s been involved with either on a production or musical standpoint.
“Be The Sky”, “Driven by conflict” and “The Frontline” follow the traditional OG style of having mid-paced, fast and flowing melodies songs back to back. The first is the mid-paced one with a huge chorus and clean guitar sections, the second is the fast one with everyone playing at mach 3 and the final one has the flowing melodies. Whilst “The Frontline” might not have the same epicness as “The Unknowing” does, it has its own thing going with both spoken word, a choir and a key change towards the end that put it pretty high up on the “epic scale”.
The first few seconds of “Planet Scale” remind me of “The Distance” from New World Shadows and in some ways this track could be considered the more modern version of that track. With a similar structure and again another huge chorus consisting of Jukka belting out his lyrics amidst a sea of instruments, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album. Rounding out the album, “Cold” takes the word melodic from melodic death metal and runs with it. With a choir compromised of clean vocals appearing alongside whispers and Jukka trademark growls, it ends the album similarly to how it started with a calm fade out of some keyboards and what can only be described as some kind of reversed cymbal sound.
So, with this new release, has OG recaptured some of the magic that occurred on their early releases or have they settled on their laurels and not tried anything new? That question has been floating around my mind ever since I first listened to this album. I have to say, this feels like the most complete Omnium Gatherum album. The album as a whole feels more mature and the songs still have that energy that was present in the early releases. The mixing on this album as well is impeccable and you can hear everything in its right place.
Whilst this album might not have some of the epic melodies of Beyond or the energy of Stuck Here on Snakes Way, The Burning Cold is a triumph of melodic death metal and is one of the best – if not the best – album the band has made.
Standout Tracks: Gods Go First, Refining Fire, The Fearless Entity, Cold.
The Burning Cold will be released on 31st August via Century Media Records.