Omination – NGR (New Golgotha Repvbliq) Review

It may not be quite accurate to say funeral doom is about minimalism, but it’s not far from the truth either. Much of that is a result of the pace. Even if a funeral doom song has as much going on as a regular metal song when condensed to a regular runtime, stretched over 15 or 20 minutes, it sounds like less. Notes are sustained longer, beats per minute are reduced, and at any given moment, less really is going on. Mournful Congregation loves their lush soundscapes and twin guitar harmonies, but at their preferred glacial pace, every note becomes a point of focus. Then you get folks like Bell Witch who really do strip things down to the irreducible. Two members, no guitars, just a bass and drums and vocals. Until now, I would have told you the idea of maximalist funeral doom was an oxymoron, antithetical. It seems no one told that to Tunisia’s Omination.

Although now a three-piece, Omination was formed as a one-man project in 2016 by Fedor Kovalevsky, who performed and recorded his third full-length NGR—which stands for New Golgotha Repvbliq—entirely solo. From the first cavernous-sounding drum strikes to the dour organ to the foreboding atmosphere and forbidding length, NGR is unmistakably a funeral doom record, but it’s evident on opener “Crossing the Burned Wasteland” that there’s more to this wake than mourners and mausoleums. After about a minute of the requisite organ, an evil monk choral arrangement and Kovalevsky delivering an ominous sermon in a low speaking voice, the listener will notice the drum beat begin to quicken. This continues as the other elements grow in urgency until the vocals suddenly break into a sort of shout singing not unlike hardcore punk. The drums thunder to the fore, the organ recedes and an intense madness seizes the basic components of funeral doom and contorts them into something only nominally related.

In a genre that is mostly the despair after a terrible event, NGR is the unfolding of the event itself. Each track is its own apocalypse, with shifts in tempo from hulking doom to pounding death metal to occasional dramatic blasts, all while Kovalevsky growls, chants, sings, shouts, and rants. On “Apocalyptic Ignis Fatuus” he employs no less than five distinct approaches and fills almost every one of its ten minutes with desperate vocals in multiple languages. This continuous intensity, this compositional restlessness took considerable adjusting to on my part, but as every listen rewarded with new details I came to understand this as incredibly controlled chaos. Behind the deranged sermonizing and constant distortions of genre norms are carefully plotted songs that never lose their through-lines. Motifs repeat now and then to add melody, clarity, and even overt beauty to the din, such as the piano line in “Necropolis, the Backbone” and the absolute heart-rending guitar lead that begins and ends “Unto the Age of Ages.”

I came around slowly to this record, perhaps in no small part because of its nearly hour and a half runtime counting the bonus Skepticism cover, and the complexity of this beast is an asset, but it’s also a relative strike against it. This is a rich, layered, and captivating listen, but it’s also absolutely exhausting. The overall tone maintains the same level of intensity over the prodigious runtime, and of course, this leads to repetition that could do with editing. Fittingly, the longest track makes a fine microcosm of the whole. “The New Golgotha Repvbliq,” not counting the cover song, closes the album with a twenty-minute doom spectacle full of gothic gloom, rabid derangement, and a final blast of raw energy that somehow ups the ante over everything that came before it, but it also could lose a minute or two from the middle.

Still, the length, the intensity, the sheer volume of Omination’s NGR is the point. This is an album concerned with the end of all things. This will be the soundtrack as the world shudders and lurches to its inevitable undoing, and it’s fittingly terrible, beautiful, and unrelenting in turns. Now that the band has added new members, I’ll be curious to see what influence they have on Kovalevsky and how their sound evolves. Whatever direction they take, New Golgotha Repvbliq will always be there as a testament to Kovalevsky’s singularly maximalist funeral doom vision.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 3 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 5th, 2021

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