Omnium Gatherum

Years in Waste

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Omnium Gatherum's 2003 debut, Spirits and August Light, was promising enough that when their record company, Rage of Achilles, went belly up soon after its release, they were hastily handed a new contract by European powerhouse Nuclear Blast -- 'nuff said! However, what was obviously a golden opportunity to propel their career to the next level appears to have been squandered with a mini sophomore slump in 2005's Years in Waste. On the upside, Omnium Gatherum's mildly accessible death metal no longer reeks of In Flames and the excessive influence of other such Swedish metal bands; on the downside, their songwriting here isn't always as distinctive and immediate as on their first effort. Of course as is to be expected, opening salvos "The Fall Went Right Through Here" and "Waste of Bereavement" shower the listener in impressive fireworks, their spiraling harmonies and catchy melodies whisking rapidly in and out of the jagged-edged thrashing that propels them. But what follows simply fails to live up to their example, as the band initiates a maddening cycle of alternating absolutely forgettable filler ("Misanthropic [Let the Crown Fall]," "It's a Long Night," etc.) with semi-worthy attempts ("Black Seas Cry," "No Moon & No Queen," "The Nolan's Fati") -- all of them, sadly, not nearly as interesting as their titles would suggest. To the band's credit, they've extended the harmonic dimensions of their guitars and cleverly restrained synthesizer use to the point that the combination of these are now catchier than the band's choruses, most of which are ineffective anyway due to vocalist Antti Filppu's less than forceful, hoarse growls. These are a matter of some worry since they appear to be lagging behind the steady development of his instrumental cohorts, and even his more subtle, half-whispered, half-groaned approach falls a little short of the majestic sounds attempted in "More Withering." That last point of concern aside, perhaps this is the sort of album, which, in retrospect, will prove a case of taking a step back to take a step forward. Should Omnium Gatherum manage to escape this no man's land between their capable if derivative past and a satisfactory future personality of their own, Years in Waste may not seem all that, ahem, wasteful.

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