Reductivity is hard to resist when reviewing a band like the Italian death/thrash 4-piece Omnivore. If I were lazier, my review of their self-titled debut would be comprised entirely of Youtube links to various songs by Sadus, Kreator, Demolition Hammer and early Sepultura. I’d be a jerk, but accurate nonetheless. Just by looking at the airbrushed album art and awkward song titles, one might automatically assume that someone had reissued some long-forgotten record by a contemporary of Morbid Saint. Rather, Omnivore are a brand new band who, despite being put on hold almost as soon as they began, are just about to release their debut self-titled LP.
As proudly steeped in the old school as Omnivore are, no meaningful comparison is to be made with many modern thrash bands. Even other stalwart re-thrashers such as Havok, Toxic Holocaust and Evile, despite being informed by the thrash era of yore, still manage to be products of their time in many ways. Omnivore, rather, go for broke in their singular devotion to pretending that the last 25 years never happened, a philosophy encoded in every little bit of their debut. Even the production boasts a wafer-thin, bassless sound reminiscent of Sepultura’s golden years – as one might imagine, modern tendencies towards overproduction and sheeny compression are tossed out in favor of a dirty, organic timbre. Tube amps, denim vests and speed, speed, and more speed are the highlights here – old-school authenticity is certainly a chief virtue, and they more than competently hold themselves to it throughout the record.
The performances stumble over each other with manic, youthful ferocity that’s actually kind of hard to resist – Omnivore could give a damn less about bells, whistles and metronomic precision. Rather, tracks like “Dead” and “Hypochrist” cut every last bit of flab and pretense out of the equation and party like it’s 1989. “I Hope the War Comes” breaks the breathless monotony with stomping mid-tempo groove, and “Nothing More Than Dust” combines the two before closing with an obligatory acoustic piece. And before you know it, they close things out with a cover of Sepultura’s eternal thrash classic “Arise” and call it quits. They even have the good taste to rein it in before their youthful excitability becomes stale, with this covering a mere eight tracks in just about 32 minutes.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m being generous in my praise. As endearing as Omnivore’s old school, speed-addicted ultra-violence is, it’s not hard to find oneself questioning the necessity of what ultimately amounts to a well-played amalgamation of the above mentioned bands of yesterday. To many, Omnivore will inevitably sound redundant and dated for this reason, no matter how authentically old-school they may be. And, as much as I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff, they would be right. Omnivore bring nothing new to the table, so those folks would be wise to stick to thrash records of yore instead. But, for the rest of us, it will be very easy to forgive a lack of innovation in return for neck-snapping thrash domination done the old way, as utterly unoriginal as Omnivore’s sonic palate is.