Innersphere – Omfalos Review

So there I am, reading a book of poetry in the filth and muck of the Angry Metal Guy Promo Pit — totally minding my own business — when I overhear some kind of commotion. Raised voices, overblown guitar solos, agonized screaming, the whole nine yards. “Ah,” I think to myself. “Holdeneye did the 4.0 thing again.” I move to refocus on my book when I see something out of the corner of my eye: Innersphere. Omfalos. “Melodic death doom metal.” Pause for effect. Melodic… death… doom… metal. I try to wrap my head around the concept, and decide, with no chance remaining that I’m going to have the peaceful afternoon I’d planned for, to snatch up the album and leave, because, frankly, I need to know what exactly this thing is and how it works, because I’m telling you right now, there’s no way that’s a thing.

But of course it’s a thing — Insomnium’s been doing it forever, and “angrier Insomnium” might not be the worst frame of reference I could lob at this sophomore release for Czechia’s Innersphere. While the band (or at least its promo team) describes their music as melodic death metal with elements of doom metal, I’d argue that Omfalos is closer to being doom metal with elements of melodeath than the other way around. After an obligatorily melancholy intro, the album strides straight into doom territory with “The Darkest Hour,” offering a standard fare of heavy, dark riffs and roars that could pass for death metal or some of the heavier hardcore styles. Throughout the album, big riffs, angry vocals, and mid-paced marches define Innersphere and Omfalos, with consistently strong, and often melancholy lead guitar work adding variety alongside the occasional sample and clean vocal melodies.

So far so good, and so far fairly standard, but the thing I’ve liked best about Omfalos since that fateful day in the Promo Pit is the way they deftly navigate from style to style throughout the album. “Above” utilizes the band’s rare symphonic side the most, colliding energetic riffing with drawn-out strings chords that give the song a grander feel than the rest of the album. “Fire” is intense, fast, and filled with angry energy, showcasing the band’s edgier death metal side before transitioning into the title track, perhaps the closest to melodeath on display with a killer chorus that’s still stuck in my head. And so it goes, as Innersphere shift from death to doom and back again, sliding through melodic territories, with the occasional traditional influence. It all comes together to create a sound that doesn’t really become stale or tired over the forty-six minutes of its runtime.

Now might be a weird time to bring this up, but I do tend to think that Innersphere are playing things pretty safe on Omfalos. I know, I know, I just said that their sound doesn’t become stale, and it doesn’t, but despite the zigging and zagging throughout influences, this feels very much like a template release. Not every song leaves a strong impression — “The Nature of Sorrow” has a chorus that severely clashes with the rest of the song, for example, with a vocal line that sounds like it should be clean, but isn’t. Meanwhile, “Blackness” is a fairly forgettable number of straightforward death metal. Without a whole lot of vocal variation, and a strong reliance on big, crushing riffs, Omfalos winds up feeling a lot more repetitive than an album of its variance should. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it feels like it’s missing something for sure. When samples come out in songs like “The Fall,” it’s a welcome breath of fresh air in dark and dangerous tombs.

But why complain about a good thing? Omfalos sees Innersphere take a loaded concept and execute it well. While the album does stick to the safe side of things, they’re sticking to the safe side of some strong doom, great melodeath, decent death metal, and their own cool sound. Looking back, I see I’ve only really name dropped Insomnium, and that’s partially because it’s a little bit tough to really pin down who or what I think Innersphere sound like — their consistent blend of styles keeps me on my toes, and I look forward to seeing what a few risks here and there do for their sound in the future.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Slovak Metal Army
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 25th, 2021

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