Melodic death metal has been in a slow yet constant freefall – both in terms of popularity and creativity – remaining somewhat of a shadow of its former glory set in the highly prolific and diverse 90´s and early 00’s. However, for those who did not simply hop on the bandwagon (pun intended) and remained huge fans of the genre, it is a distinct pleasure to see one of the household names show some pulse, as is the case of Omnium Gatherum’s latest LP, “The Burning Cold”.
The band’s heritage – fairly consistent in terms of quality – is definitely not stained with this latest full-length venture. Generally speaking, the main features of this work includes epic riffs, tasteful breakdowns, highly melodic orchestrations, a very diverse rhythmic section, powerful guttural vocals interlocked with occasional clean chorus. All these features show that Omnium Gatherum have successfully retained their identity, perhaps a bit too much, as when compared to previous works it sounds as a bit more of the same.
The vocals are pretty much what you would expect, with Jukka Pelkonen’s powerful drive taking the lead after the first riff in “Gods Go First”. In comparison with their recent works, vocals on “The Burning Cold” appear to be slightly raw and less highlighted, an aesthetic detail that will not go under the radar of their hardcore fans. This doesn’t make the album better nor worse, it really depends on what is your particular cup of tea. Clean vocals, courtesy of founding member Markus Vanhalla, can occasionally be heard in “Refining Fire” – where the noticeable autotune might alienate the more conservative fan – and in “Over The Battlefield”, which is one of the absolute highlights of the album.
The songs, riffs and drums structure follow similar compositional patterns when compared to the band’s previous work, “Grey Heavens” (2016), albeit more direct and perhaps a bit less inspired. Exceptions are some truly excellent six-string affairs such as the “The Fearless Sky” ’s amazing solo, which I personally deem as one of their best. A noteworthy detail is the obvious reference to an easily identifiable Metallica’s classic in the guitar riffs throughout the album’s final song, “Cold”.
Production-wise, “The Burning Cold” sounds substantially more organic and “rough” than the band’s previous albums. This can be seen as a nice throwback to their earlier years or as a step back, specially for those preferring cleaner mixes such as the ones in “Beyond” and “Grey Heavens”. Preferences aside, production is overall good, with every instrument and vocal lines audible and distinguishable from one another. Decent guitar/bass tones – which greatly contribute to the heavier and slower songs such as “Rest In Your Heart”, yet another undeniable highlight of this album– and powerful drum sound, doing proper justice to Tuomas Latvala’s high musicianship.
Creatively, this album is far from being an unforgettable masterpiece that both reinvents and revives the genre. Nonetheless, “The Burning Cold” undeniably shows that Omnium Gatherum’s flame, albeit slightly colder, still burns bright.