Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens (Lifeforce/Century Media)Friday, 26th February 2016
It’s been a treat to watch Omnium Gatherum work their way up over the years. Seemingly stuck in ‘middle of the road’ status, that all seemed to change when The Red Shift hit. With their next album, New World Shadows, it seemed the band had finally found their calling. Beyond finally brought them to a deserved place among the melodic death metal elite, and now OG has returned with its anticipated follow-up, Grey Heavens.
Much like their kindred spirits Insomnium’s last release, Grey Heavens doesn’t attempt to re-establish a new formula. OG sticks with what worked so well on their last three albums and focuses more on the songwriting aspects. Overall, things seem a bit tighter, with the band trying to maintain a balance of their practically-trademarked melancholic and yearning melodies and attempting to up the throttle on some of the tracks and move things into more upbeat ground, like the aptly named “Rejuvenate!” and the thrash-worthy riffs that open things up with “The Pit.”
Tough to pick out favorites in this bunch, but special mention should go to “Frontiers,” “The Great Liberation,” and “These Grey Heavens.” “Frontiers” is just quintessential Omnium Gatherum, from the atmosphere to the vocals to the melodies. Probably one of their best songs to date. “The Great Liberation” follows a close second with its intense gallop that transforms into some simply serene melodies and leads that you’ll be hard pressed to get out of your head. Lastly, the instrumental “These Grey Heavens” starts off nice and mellow, easing you in before sweeping you away with some enchanting guitarwork and longing atmosphere.
Some may argue that it’s more of the same, but Omnium Gatherum’s commitment to songwriting ability from start to finish on Grey Heavens delivers an album that stands head and shoulders above what you’ll hear from most melodic death metal bands this year. Tossing in some added aggression (see “Storm Front”) elevates the dynamic between stark melodeath riffing and spellbinding atmosphere to the next level for OG. Grey Heavens should keep the band healthily at the top rung of the melodic death metal food chain for more years to come.