Omnium Gatherum - The Redshift
11 songs (47:52)
Release year: 2008
Omnium Gatherum, Candlelight
Reviewed by James

Perhaps I'm the wrong person to review this. Melodeath, is by and large not my cup of tea, and in my opinion far too much of it insists on watering down its sound with tacky synths and embarrasingly gauche clean vocals. Still, I enjoyed Eluveitie's Slania, despite a worrying lack of originality, and thought there was a lot to like about Scar Symmetry man Christian Alvestam's Miseration side project. So hopefully I'm fairly qualified to give this a fair and even-handed review, though due to the fact I don't generally listen to this sort of thing you might want to add a few points to the score if you do. Omnium Gatherum have been kicking about for a few years now, releasing their first demo is 1997, albeit with a very different lineup to the one we see today, and The Redshift is their second album on Candlelight, after a brief stint on the Nuclear Blast roster. But is it any good?

Well, it's flawed, to be brutal about it. Vocalist Jukka Pelkonen has a decent set of growls on him, but when he sings cleanly his voice sounds flat and dull, and perhaps overly deep for the kind of soaring choruses. The synths here are admittedly more tastefully used than say, Soilwork, but there are moments where they cross the line, particularly the belief-beggaring eurodance synths on The Return. Perhaps the next point is more a matter of personal taste rather than any complaint I can level at the band, but some of the riffs sound a bit too “happy” (check the intro of A Shadowkey to get an idea of what I'm talking about). They'd fit well on a power metal album, but here they feel more than a little incongrous. And I suppose I must make particular note to the song Greeneyes, as it's an utterly dismal power ballad. Very few bands can pull off a decent one, and when you have a no-so-hot singer and don't have much talent at writing vocal melodies, it is simply foolhardy to even attempt one.

Yet despite these rather glaring flaws, there's still quite a bit to like about The Redshift. There's an interesting progressive element to the album at times, the band drawing from such acts as Opeth, Dream Theater and even Cynic at times. The aforementioned influences add a whole new dimension to the album, lifting it from what would be a fairly humdrum slice of melodeath into an interesting yet flawed one. Despite the synths occasionally spilling over into cheese, as I've previously mentioned, I understand they are essential for the odd excursions scattered throughout. Luckily the band manage to do something a little more interesting with them than the simple washes that so many others seem content to use, often coming to the forefront (check the piano melodies on No Breaking Point). Interestingly enough, the album was mixed by a certain Mr Dan Swano (and I must say he does a sterling job here), so I assume I can't be the only one who detects a certain whiff of prog to the band.

Of course, widdly keyboard bits and bass doodles straight out of Focus would all be for nought if the band didn't have any decent songs to back it up. Despite the almost disco-metal beat, The Return manages to have an absolute stormer of a main riff. Almost-title-track The Redshifter is utterly pummeling, sounding like a threeway brawl between Opeth, Dream Theater and Meshuggah. And finally, on closer The Distant Highway they do what they've been threatening to do throughout the album and go all out prog-metal on us.

So although it's too flawed for me to recommend The Redshift wholeheartedly, there's enough good stuff on display here that you may well enjoy it far more than I did. If you're getting a little tired of the endless parade of Gothenburg-apers, this may well be right up your street. Let's see if they can iron out the little niggles in time for the next album, shall we? There's the potential in Omnium Gatherum to make a great rather than good album, and I wish them all the best in accomplishing it.

February 2014 PS: Weathering storms on the east coast for the start of their North American tour with Dark Tranquility, Omnium Gatherum have reissued their fourth recording, The Red Shift on Candlelight featuring previously unavailable tracks.

Killing Songs :
The Return, The Redshifter, Distant Light Highway
James quoted 69 / 100
Other albums by Omnium Gatherum that we have reviewed:
Omnium Gatherum - Beyond reviewed by Metalette and quoted 80 / 100
Omnium Gatherum - Years in Waste reviewed by Jay and quoted 85 / 100
Omnium Gatherum - Spirits And August Light reviewed by Crims and quoted 93 / 100
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