It’s only fitting that Omnium Gatherum would release their latest album, Grey Heavens during the latter portion of Finland’s “grey season”. Fortunately, none of the dismal winter imagery that accompanies this record goes over my head, being from the grimacing, bone chilling realm of Buffalo, NY.
Hailing from Karhula, Finland, Grey Heavens is Omnium Gatherum’s seventh studio album and is a true testament to the band’s signature sound of albums past. However, there is an interesting new flavor on this release that I can only describe as a longing for closure through ambient, tranquil sounding progressions.
Since they label themselves as a progressive melodic death metal band, you’re going to be bombarded with an onslaught of heavier moments, consisting of foreboding chugging and At The Gates note driven thrash riffs, however, I also hear a great deal of Opeth’s Blackwater Park on this album. I suppose that comes from the saddened, frostbitten, distorted chord progressions, accompanied by vocalist, Jukka Pelkonen’s impressive growls. Then, of course, you’re bound to hear the obvious sound symmetry between Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium in these songs, which has been apparent for years. But if you share my tastes in metal, you won’t find it at all discouraging. It’s the omnipresent melancholy in OG’s writing that keeps them in the same realm as Insomnium for avid listeners.
In past Omnium Gatherum releases, like The Red Shift or New World Shadows, I’ve always found certain songs to be “skip worthy” because of creativity lacking from the guitars and keys in certain spots, but after a few runs through Grey Heavens, I can really hear a definitive step up from guitarists Markus Vanhala and Joonas Koto, as well as keyboardist, Aapo Koivisto. While certain things felt lacking or misplaced to me in the past, I got the impression that OG’s current lineup has matured and gotten on the same page for the new album.
Grey Heavens kicks off with “The Pit” which is a textbook new school melodic death song. The quick riffing is spot on, as is the catchy anthem like chorus. The bridge also offers a beautiful lead, which isn’t quite a solo but delivers the typical OG punch you crave. The clean singing in this section is perfectly placed as well. Clean vocals on Omnium Gatherum releases never cease to take me by surprise, but it’s always a welcome one.
Track two, “Skyline” is a ridiculously hooky song that you can’t help but headbang to, however, such pleasures usually come with a price. Perhaps you’ll hear something I don’t, but I feel the song has a little too much in common with In Flames’s “Only For the Weak”, particularly in the verse and a pickup before the final chorus. If you’re familiar with both songs, you be the judge and let me know what you think!
The first single/video released for Grey Heavens is called “Frontiers”, the third track. Instantly, you’re transported back to songs like “New Dynamic” or “Shadowkey” with its epic, lead guitar driven chorus and infectious melodies throughout. In my opinion, this was the perfect choice for fans’ first taste of the album.
Truthfully, aside from some tracks being more mellow than others, the rest of the album pretty much follows suit with the first three tracks. So, if you give Grey Heavens a spin (or stream), and you like it up to track four or five, you’re in for the long haul and you’ll be happy with your purchase. So, rather than give you a long and boring analysis of the rest of the album, I’m going to let it speak for itself by including the spoiler track for “The Pit” and the full video for “Frontiers” below. If you’re a “melancholic death” fan like me, I’d love to read your thoughts either on Facebook or in the comments below! Let’s talk European melodic death! Thanks for reading!
Grey Heavens was released on February 19, 2016 in Europe and on February 26 in North America.