Written By: Noctus
If a masterwork of a doom metal album is made but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Let’s go with yes, and allow me to prove it with Omit’s Repose. Horrible jokes aside, it was undeniably one of 2011’s most overlooked doom metal albums, an ambitious double album of orchestral, female-fronted doom metal mastery that nearly nobody listened to. Though their 2014 return is largely uncelebrated, allow me to tell you why you should change that: Omit are great, unique and refreshing, sadly rare traits in European doom metal in the last decade.
Take late-era Shape of Despair’s taste for minimalism and pair it with Kauan’s taste for orchestral, modern-classical leanings and you have Omit’s catharsis for misery. It’s a rather unique focus; most metal bands try and fit orchestra into the metal instrumentation, and Omit do the exact inverse. In spite of this, nothing about it seems tacky or overwhelming, and doesn’t come close to enveloping all else. Everything about Medusa Truth feels very subdued and sparse, much of the thickness and heaviness associated with doom metal stripped bare in favor of a spacious and less active soundscape. Omit, however, accentuate this with a far more subtle songwriting style with little regard for theatrics. The unique feel cannot be understated, and what Omit manage so effortlessly is to remain patient and confident in their own songwriting, never resorting to gimmicks.
It’s as lush and gorgeous as it is easy to listen to, and though it takes doom metal in a very contemporary direction, often undermining the metal aspect, Omit hold up well enough on the songwriting front to give it crossover appeal. Kauan fans should be jumping at the opportunity to dive into this despite the less organic feel, and any fan of modern classical in the vein of Ólafur Arnalds may find this a perfect gateway into something macabre. On the vocal front, Omit couldn’t have chose a more fitting voice than Cecile Langlie’s remarkably soothing soprano vocals. They feel equally as subdued as much of the instrumentation within the record, and perhaps sound a touch distant, but it makes it so easy to focus on any given aspect of the record with no distractions, balance truly being key.
The balance isn’t perfect however, and a bit more crunch and prominence in the guitars would have been welcome for differentiating movements, rather than being mere background textures. There’s also an unusual lack of lead guitars, much of the melody coming from the vocals and orchestration, though the good organisation thereof does compensate for it. Furthermore, in comparison to Omit’s first record, the drum machine is louder in the mix and its wooden nature is therefore more obvious. Conversely, the artificial orchestration is handled very tastefully. The flute, brass section and piano flourishes are never obnoxious or brash. It’s a refreshing change from the influx of Hollywood-inspired orchestras tacked onto modern metal in a desperate bid to sound more climactic. I do wish, however, there were more standout moments. All of the instrumentation feels focused on complementing the rest of the mix instead of making truly memorable moments, but the album’s length makes this more justifiable at 51 minutes, compared to the 2+ hour juggernaut of Repose.
Medusa Truth Part 1 feels all too brief, despite being a continuous 50 minute piece. But allow yourself to be absorbed and you’ll be lost in the serene moments contained within. The unique focus, even with the occasional kinks, makes this album wholly recommendable and with a bit more “oomph,” they could be something truly remarkable. Bring on Part 2!