Omnium Gatherum

Stuck Here on Snakes Way

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If there's one thing that fans of extreme metal can count on, it is that many bands will experience lineup changes. Replacing a guitarist, bassist or drummer can be challenging, but replacing a lead singer is even more challenging because the absence of a familiar voice is so noticeable. With their third full-length album, Stuck Here on Snakes Way, Finnish death metallers Omnium Gatherum unveil a new lead singer: Jukka Pelkonen, who replaced Antti Filppu. The good news is that Pelkonen works out well; he has a gruff, menacing delivery that is perfect for the band's blistering high-speed assault. Omnium Gatherum has often been described as a melodic death metal band, and Stuck Here on Snakes Way does have some occasional melodic passages. But ultimately, this 2007 release is about vicious bombast and crushing exhilaration rather than melody, intricacy or nuance. Of course, the fact that Omnium Gatherum uses keyboards extensively is bound to result in some people assuming that the material is ultra-melodic; some death metal (and black metal) enthusiasts automatically think melodic the minute they hear the word keyboards. But the important thing is not the very presence of keyboards, but how they are used, and on Stuck Here on Snakes Way, they are used in a manner that is spacy but doesn't make for a great deal of melodic appeal. Regardless, it's an interesting contrast when those spacy keyboards are heard alongside Omnium Gatherum's furious thrashing -- an unlikely contrast that helps to keep this CD from sounding generic. Stuck Here on Snakes Way is somewhat uneven, but the tunes are decent more often than not -- and those who acquired their previous releases will be glad to know that there is indeed life after Filppu for Omnium Gatherum.

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