Coming hot off the tail of a rough early summer between myself and Unique Leader records, Omnihility‘s last album, Deathscapes of the Subconscious, quite impressed me with a mix of inventive and impossibly demanding riffing and a sleeve full of compositional tricks. Indeed, some of its riding embedded itself in me, and I find myself recalling the title track’s modulated theme again and again, even as I listen to the wealth of new shred that Dominion of Misery presents. The band have come back with a record that’s just as strong as their previous work while remaining a step in a slightly different direction, embarking their brutal ships in search of ever more malevolent shores.
They’re still as technical as they come, and the riffs on this album are absolutely ridiculous. Omnihility write brutal death metal riffs better than just about anybody on the planet; frenzied, chromatic and distorted, with keen sense of harmony and an absolute abhorrence of the clean channel that’s unique in a genre full of lightning fast fretwork that’s all but indecipherable without it. “Psychotic Annihilation” is the debut of such madness after a moody and well executed intro track, and the first thirty seconds or so will crush the dreams of many a budding guitarist. Taken in concert with “Immaculate Deception” and its stunningly expeditious fingerwork, it’s hard to believe the band are for real, and it takes real concentration to figure out what any of the note patterns are.
One of my complaints about 2014’s Deathscapes of the Subconscious was its reliance on long and often over-written songs and it seems that the band were amenable to my suggestion of trimming fat. The songs on Dominion are generally shorter than those on Deathscapes and are much more streamlined; the band will dish out many variations on a guitar line but these come in succession, rather than after intermediate riffs that only add to the length of a song. “Dementia Praecox” spits out an incredible amount of fretwork using just a few melodic motifs, which reinforce its identity, and even chugs become structurally important in “Dead Eden.” The album’s interludes are also impressive and despite their somewhat cheesy orchestration serve as an excellent breather between the band’s crushing and exhausting songs.
But even with tighter songs, I’m still not entirely satisfied with Dominion of Misery. For all of their very unclean guitar work, it surprises me that the band has again used a production style that’s very clinical and modern – the drums are so goddamn canned that I nearly gave this promo to a local food bank, and the album, while as impeccably mixed as any Zack Ohren production, is obviously squashed for every decibel it can muster. This band doesn’t need volume to sound oppressive (which they should know, since they’re obviously listening to Origin) and I wish they realized that and started producing their albums in an appropriate style. For a band so heavily reliant on ’90s riffing, their releases are transparently modern and nobody would believe they were recorded before 2010. I’d like to love this album, but it’s very hard to do so when it’s produced so fucking loud that I dread listening to it all the way through.
Omnihility may be a bear to listen to, but the difficulty is well worth it; more than just impressive riffs, the band composes great songs, although not ones you’re likely to latch on to immediately. In a perfect world, these guys would ask Mr. Ohren for a master that doesn’t sound like an ice sculpture being made in your ear canal, but I guess that’s just good news for Origin. Until then, Omnihility are just short of producing top-tier material that I’d really love to listen to and I firmly believe that with a production style that gives their music room for dynamics, this band would dominate the death metal scene.