Omnium Gatherum // New World Shadows
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —A whole new world…
Label: Lifeforce Records
Websites: omniumgatherum.org | myspace.com/omniumgatherum
Release Dates: EU: 07.02.2011 | US: 03.01.2011

Omnium Gatherum - New World ShadowsThere was a time when melodic death metal was every breath I took. While it’s been a long time since that was the case, I certainly can say that I spent the late 90s and early 00s listening to my fair share of melodic Swedish death metal and loving it. But since then melodic death metal has kinda fallen off a cliff. This is partially due to the dawning of metalcore and the co-opting of Swedish thrash and death metal by hardcore kids, but I think it’s mainly because just like every scene after a while you start growing tired of the sound. Every new album that gets released gets a “Yeah, well, I’ve heard this before.” While there have been some notable melodic death metal records in the last couple of years, Barren Earth and Be’lakor come to mind, only the former has really stuck out as truly remarkable. That is until I checked out New World Shadows from Omnium Gatherum.

It should be obvious from the title, but the fundamental currency of the melodic death metal band is the fine line between addictive melody and technicality and extremity. This line is not easy to walk. While bands like In Flames were almost too melodic on their earlier stuff, there was still a feeling of extremity. That extremity was lost by, for example, Soilwork, who basically put form above function and began ham-fistedly shoving pop choruses into every song. Omnium Gatherum, on the other hand, walks this line with the balance of seasoned performers. Where other bands are tempted to throw in lots of clean vocals, New World Shadows sports very few, and yet, I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard such poppy melodies and song structures. Aside from the first and last songs on the record, which both end up at about 9:50 in length, the rest of this album is loaded with pop-laced melodies worthy of Stratovarius or Sonata Arctica, more than a death metal band.

Omnium Gatherum - Promo 2011Frankly, Europower is a lot of what I hear going on here. Because all of the melody is carried on guitars, there is a ton of stuff on here that sounds like it should be off a Nocturnal Rites record. The keyboards lace everything with their synthy sounds and yet, these guys can still break out Dark Tranquillity style progressive riffs with ease and flow into acoustic and melodic parts reminiscent of Amorphis or Opeth. Swinging 6/8 feel and whole note, simple melodic leads like in “Watcher of the Skies” are offset by Dark Tranquillity riffing like in “New World Shadows” and “Ego” (which is easily the best track on the record).

But while much of this material lends itself to easy references to other bands and other moments in time, there is something that is unique to Omnium Gatherum and that doesn’t feel derivative. It is true that they bear likeness to Barren Earth and Insomnium, and these couldn’t be better comparisons. However, the power metal tone that shows up in the guitars, particularly the solos are epic and outstanding, see “Nova Flame” and “An Infinite Mind,”and in the song-writing gives these guys a bit more of a unique feel, despite being on par with their Finnish contemporaries. And with only minor blemishes, like the main verse in “An Infinite Mind” which is a straight up Colony-era In Flames rip-off, and the wailing clean vocals in “New World Shadows” that sound more like Michael Bolton than I think most metal guys would be comfortable with, New World Shadows is certainly the better of most modern melodic death metal that I’ve heard.

While I’m not a seasoned listener of the band, I can say that given what I’ve heard of the band’s other material, I’d say this is definitely my favorite to date. Melodically, it’s better than its predecessor, and while it continues in the same vein, there’s more of a mournful vibe and doomy approach at times a  la Barren Earth or Swallow the Sun, that combined with the pop sensibility makes New World Shadows a definite must have for the fan of melodic death metal.

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  • Juuso

    The album just hit Spotify and I can confirm its awesomeness.

    I’m a long-time listener of the band and this certainly doesn’t disappoint. Not yet sure if I prefer it over The Redshift though, gotta give it a few more listens.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      I definitely prefer it over The Redshift. I think the melodies are WAY better. But it’s nice to hear a longtime listener confirm my suspicions. :D

      • Juuso

        Yeah, after listening to it for a week now, I do prefer it over the previous album.

  • Steelhead

    Funny enough, but in my own review (in russian) I’ve admitted almost the same things. After masterpieces from In Flames, Children of Bodom, etc., melodic death-metal scene have followed very strange way, and many started to play very different music. The one I actually did not like, music that has no former beauty, atmosphere and emotions. And this release, while being in some terms retrospective, is a breath of fresh air, prove that this style still has potential.
    Cheers from Belarus and thanks for sharing your opinion on this beautiful music (and for “Barren Earth” hint, I’ll check this out).

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Barren Earth is a super group made up of old Amorphis members and from a bunch of other bands (including Moonsorrow and Swallow the Sun). Similar in style to New World Shadows and has a great feel. This record is definitely all about feel and atmosphere. A truly magnificent record.

  • newworldshadows

    just to let you know, the “michael bolton” clean vocals you spoke of are actually done by dan swano.
    i, personally, think they’re great.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Ha. Really, that was Swanö? Nice. Well, they stink.

      But his production is fantastic, as is the rest of the record, so Mr. Swanö is forgiven. ;)

    • dijev

      Indeed, a ‘metal scholar’ recognizes Dan Swanö’s voice immediately.

      • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

        Ah, and therefore I am not one. That’s cute. ;)

        • dijev

          Haha, no, you still are the best metal reviewer I virtually have come across.

          • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

            Well thanks, I appreciate that.

            But yeah, I didn’t recognize Swanö’s voice until it was pointed out to me. It was still too fucking Michael Bolton.

          • Johannes Niklas

            It’s great just BECAUSE of the Bolton-type lines – when did you ever hear soul-inspired clean  vocals on a melodic death album? And that’s the beauty of NWS, having these small fragments of ingenuity here and there fitting right in.

  • Bogdan

    Thank you so much for the review; it made me really curious about what this band had to offer (it’s actually my first encounter with their music) and, boy, did they blew my mind !

    • Bogdan

      *blow

  • johan

    I think it’s a plus that they sound like old In Flames of Dark Tranquility, or even old Soilwork, because all of those bands sure as shit don’t sound like each other anymore. For the most part, all of those bands dropped the Gothenburg sound on purpose and they’ve been sucking ever since. Kudos to this band for keeping the sound alive.

  • http://www.deathmetalbaboon.com Niek

    I’m loving the Kalmah-ian keyboard solos that are on the record too! Someone should’ve noticed that too I’d say.

    I’ve heard the album twice now, and I can say the melodies are a lot more subtle and less expressed as on The Redshift. That contained heavily addictive melodies, but it was a bit too … outlined after a while. Where The Redshift is discrete, NWS is analogue. Doesn’t feature layers, or even many layers, but actual depth.

    Another album I’ve got listed to review soon.

  • Valankir

    Damn I really need to listen to that again for Swano’s vocals – Ever since I heard Edge of Sanity’s Crimson I have had nothing but respect for him – even if he can sound like Michael Bolton =D.

  • http://www.strategimedia.com Talleyman

    Thank you for your review of an amazing album. I always dug Omnium Gatherum’s sound but until now I have newfound respect for them. I honestly haven’t stopped listening to New World Shadows since it’s release. I know this may sound corny but I feel the song New World Shadows changed my whole perception of life. I was going through life blind and never appreciated the small things in life that make me who I am today. Cheers!!

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  • your mommy

    “That extremity was lost by, for example, Soilwork, who basically put form above function and began ham-fistedly shoving pop choruses into every song.”

    You present no proof here to make that claim! Have you listened to “Deliverance is Mine” recently? That’s pretty un-ham-fisted. By the way, you can’t shove pop choruses i think your english has got expressing problem. Did you graduate from Elementary School with no certificate and you just randomly in your brain cells bloody hell pull out that dumb claim and you did not provide sufficient evidence to it. You are fucking biased and i hate you!! Evidence: Because you have said that Soilwork only knows how to clumsily “shove”( according to your elementary English) pop choruses.

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