Omnium Gatherum

New World Shadows

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While the same old melodic death metal bands appear to reap all the fame and glory, year after year, Finland's Omnium Gatherum have eked a living out of being underrated, sneaking up on unsuspecting listeners who stumble upon their albums and ultimately converting them to their cause, almost without fail. Released in 2011, New World Shadows -- the group's fifth studio outing but first for German label Lifeforce -- adds another chapter to this curious career arc, once again boasting a wealth of compelling new songs, even though their core ingredients rarely deviate from type. As such, energized post-Gothenburg nuggets like "Ego," "Nova Flame," and "The Distance" (all heavily influenced by vintage In Flames) charge along on the usual deathly combinations of bowl-churning grunts, agile guitar picking, and frantic drum tattoos. But, in all honesty, beyond the abundant synths and keyboards nestled among them, adding textural colors to the mix, there's virtually nothing in any way groundbreaking about them. Even the unprecedented nine-minute epics -- "Everfields" and "Deep Cold" -- that bookend the remaining tracks reveal influential shades of bands like Opeth and Insomnium, as they meander into more atmospheric, progressive, and gothic-tinged domains. Still, there's something to be said for a band's ability to pen instantly memorable tunes, also including the wildly varied title track (note clean vocals and post-metal accents), the moody "An Infinite Mind," and even the plaintive instrumental "Watcher of the Skies." All of which confirms Omnium Gatherum's talent for cooking up delicious dishes out of the same old recipes: it'll probably never earn them the same respect accorded to either true innovators or radio-ruling copycats, but there's much great music (and, yes, a living) to be made between these two extremes.

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