If there are a select number of bands that manage to encapsulate the gloominess but also melancholy of Finnish metal in one package, those are definitely INSOMNIUM and OMNIUM GATHERUM. With their upcoming album, “Origin,” due for release on November 5th, 2021, via Century Media Records, melodic death metal unit OMNIUM GATHERUM is bringing the chilly breeze and warm sunny days of Finnish autumn to the masses. So the question is, how does their Death Leppard style sounds on this new album?
Where “The Burning Cold” (2018) impressed listeners with layers of harmonies, soaring melodies, vibrant leads, and Jukka Pelkonen’s excellent vocals, “Origin” is just as meandering in its delivery of an immersive atmosphere that hinges on melodic guitars, ambient keys, and a buzzing bass tone. Once again, the vocals shine on these tracks; they not only merge well with the instrumental side, but also take charge of the music’s direction with power and confidence, just like their previous album. Basically, they have built “Origin” on the strengths and stylistic choices of “The Burning Cold,” while also expanding the soundscape by leaning into progressive metal and ‘80s hard rock. The lineup change in between these two records has definitely helped shape the adult-oriented death metal (AORDM) that permeates through “Origin.”
Instrumental track “Emergence” opens up the album on a methodical rhythm of chugging guitars, thumping bass, and steady drums that soon make way for a layered guitar and keys melody that sets the mood and gets things rolling. “Prime” is a mid-tempo track whose main drives are Atte Pesonen’s sturdy drums and Jukka Pelkonen’s low growls, while the guitars and keys take a back seat. Markus Vanhala delivers a beautiful solo that injects the song with melody and brings some brightness to the gloomy atmosphere. Released as a first single, “Paragon” features some ‘80s guitar riffing that gives it a nice, headbanging rhythm and makes it sound like it could be a rock anthem, but the drums and growls steer it into traditional melodeath territory. The occasional choir of clean vocals brings atmosphere and a sense of peace to the track, contrasting with Pelkonen’s somber delivery.
Second single “Reckoning” could almost pass for an INSOMNIUM song, as it boasts a big chorus, playful melodies that trade-off of the deep growls, and sections of clean vocals that add to the dynamic nature of the guitar leads. However, the drums anchor it by delivering a consistent underlying rhythm. The album’s most beautiful moment comes with “Fortitude,” an introspective and slower track that is drenched in melancholy and heartfelt emotion as a bright guitar melody moves the song forward. Here, touches of progressive metal merge with the might of death metal to create a wistful yet somber ambiance and bring this tale of endurance and perseverance to life in vivid colors. “Friction” is a heavy and fast-paced number spearheaded by aggressive riffs, deep growls, thundering drums, topped by Vanhala’s masterful solo. It feels like a straightforward death metal track, even if some clean vocals pop up here and there to give it depth and texture.
Living up to its name, “Tempest” is probably the heaviest song on the album, with layers of melody and a great earworm hook that will make this a great live hit. The clean guitars and vocals work together to create hefty but delightful harmonies which disguise the song’s actual aggressive nature. “Unity” starts with spacy keys and rhythmic soundscapes that soon give way to Pelkonen’s low growls while heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums lay a thick, groovy foundation. Album closer “Solemn” is a multi-faced track that twists and turns through its almost 9 minutes of runtime. It showcases the Finns’ skills at writing big compositions that are dark and gloomy but still full of beautiful melodies.
To summarize, “Origin” is a fast-paced, yet epic and melodic offering where brutal soundscapes are sweetened by occasional choirs and multifaceted guitar riffs. It offers aggression and darkness without sacrificing emotion and melody, and I think this is the ultimate strength of this record. And considering this is OMNIUM GATHERUM’s ninth album in their quarter of a century carrier, “Origin” says a lot about their wonderful craft, excellent musicianship, and burning desire to continue to be not just a top tier melodic death metal band but also a benchmark on the Finnish metal scene.
Written by Andrea Crow
- Jukka Pelkonen – vocals
- Markus Vanhala – guitars and clean vocals
- Mikko Kivistö – bass and clean vocals
- Aapo Koivisto – keyboards
- Atte Pesonen – drums