Omnium Gatherum are arguably one of the heavy hitters in melodic death metal, even though many may find their approach a bit on the indulgent side. The Burning Cold in many ways expands on what has come before, deepening both the melodic and death metal aspects of their sound.
It’s no secret that Scandinavia is home to some of the biggest and most influential metal acts. It also seems that each country in the region tends to gravitate to a specific subgenre: Norway has their black metal, Sweden is a pure death metal haven, and Finland seems to have a corner on melodic death metal. Omnium Gatherum hail from the latter and their latest album The Burning Cold is a melo-death opus that cuts the brake lines and puts the pedal to the floor.
One of the pervading tendencies of this band is to make music that is brutal, but also quite lovely at the same time. The Burning Cold leads in with an intro track aptly named “The Burning”, and as far as intro tracks go, this one is pretty epic. There are swells, lovely harmonies, and an energy that sets the tone for what follows. Of all of the lead-in tracks that I have heard this year (and I have heard plenty), this is by far the best one. It fades nicely into the upbeat “Gods Go First”, which punches up the intensity and melodicism. The riffs here are nice and the backing keys and double bass really make this a showy and indulgent way to kick off the album.
One thing becomes clearer the more I listen to Omnium Gatherum: they love classic heavy metal. In fact, if you were to take away Jukka Pelkonen’s bellowing growls, OG would probably qualify as a power metal band. The lyrics and melodies usually work together to create a feeling of triumph and overcoming, which is one of the many tropes present in power metal. Take “Refining Fire” as a case in point. The song’s swells match the lyrical sense of pride and make for a genuinely stunning death metal track. As is usually the case, Pelkonen’s vocal style is harsh but not aggressive, allowing for a seamless junction of vocals and instrumentation.
Synths get a nice workout on this record to add atmospheric effects on “Rest In Your Heart”, and as a featured instrument in the ripper “Over The Battlefield.” It really can’t be overstated how well Omnium Gatherum balances their approach on The Burning Cold. Each blistering solo or pounding rhythm is kept in check by melodious orchestration and accessibility. Nowhere is this more clear than “The Fearless Entity.” It’s perhaps the most aggressive composition in the tracklist, but the jubilant chorus saves the track from monotony. At times, however, this collection of songs can be a little monotonous, as the approach for the songwriting doesn’t really change throughout the album. The tracks, while composed well, often fail to differentiate themselves from each other.
Omnium Gatherum are arguably one of the heavy hitters in melodic death metal, even though many may find their approach a bit on the indulgent side. The Burning Cold in many ways expands on what has come before, deepening both the melodic and death metal aspects of their sound. While at times their formula can get slightly repetitive when protracted over a dozen songs or so, this latest outing is a fun listen that seeks to provide an escape rather than a provocation.