(Here is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Tunisian band Omination, which was recently released by Hypnotic Dirge Records.)
Like many of you (including, I would imagine, at least some who discovered the band through our site) I was first introduced to the work of Fedor Kovalevsky via 2019’s astoundingly ambitious Prog-Death opus Back to the Black Marsh, the second album from his semi-solo-project Vielikan.
Having instantly fallen head over heels for that release (which was, and remains, one of my favourite albums of that year) it wasn’t long before I decided to delve further/deeper into his previous work, which quickly led me to his other primary project, the “Post-Apocalyptic” Doom Metal of Omination, whose full-length debut, 2018’s Followers of the Apocalypse is well worth checking out if you’re after a truly gargantuan dose of gloomy grimness.
But we’re not here today to talk about the band’s past, we’re to talk about the present, namely their new album, which was released on February 05 by our old friends at Hypnotic Dirge Records.
So, without further ado, allow me to welcome you, my friends, to the New Golgotha Repvbliq. I hope you packed a change of clothes, because we’re going to be here for a while…
At just over seventy-seven-and-a-half minutes in length (not counting the bonus Skepticism cover), NGR is a significant album in several different respects – from the significant amount of time it takes up (you can, perhaps, understand why it’s taken me this long to put together a proper review), to its significance as being only the second Doom Metal album to be born out of the more conservative culture/country of Tunisia.
But what’s perhaps even more significant about it is that even though NGR is almost ten minutes shorter than its predecessor, it feels bigger. Bolder. More ambitious. It feels like the product of an artist with both a clear and expansive creative vision and the unwavering will to bring it into being… although perhaps not quite enough willingness to self-edit as much as necessary (but that’s another story).
It’s also, as befitting its “Post Apocalyptic” moniker, an album clearly crafted in the ever-present shadow of the end times… whether represented by the current social and political situation surrounding its creation or a hangover from Kovalevsky’s own heritage as a child raised in (and then renouncing) Catholicism in a predominantly Muslim country, who can say… and as such is very much painted in multiple shades of brooding black and gloomy grey, with very little in the way of light or hope to break up its desolate, doom-laden aesthetic.
This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a purely one-note affair by any means, as the album’s crushing combination of massive riffs, ritualistic rhythms, and remorseless momentum, all interwoven with a scintillating series of sombre melodies, soaring solos, and sacramental synths, ultimately produces a rich and surprisingly varied – not to mention unexpectedly dynamic – tapestry of sounds and sensations.
This is particularly true of the vocals, as not only is Kovalevsky’s gritty, gravel-throated growl somewhat atypical of this particular style of music, but the use of grandiose, pseudo-operatic cleans and passages of portentous spoken-word at key points also helps to expand the album’s creative and emotional palette even further, making for a deeper and more immersive experience all-round.
Of course, it probably won’t shock you that, due to its sheer size and scope, NGR does have its fair share of flaws, most notably the production (which is a little one-dimensional and could really benefit from a lighter, more nuanced touch), and a nagging sense that a few judicious cuts here and there might have been beneficial (though this is less about the album’s length and more about playing to its strengths), but its many highlights – from the bleakly cinematic, broodingly atmospheric, strains of “Apocalyptic Ignis Fatuus”, to the eloquent ebb and flow of doomy density and haunting ambience which makes up “The Sword That Came Out Of His Mouth”, all the way to the thrilling climax of the titanic twenty-minute(!) title track – far outweigh such concerns.
They say there’s a fine line between genius and madness, between conviction and hubris, and New Golgotha Repvbliq straddles that line for practically its entire hour+ run-time. But, then perhaps all the best albums do?
No matter how you choose to look at it, however, there’s simply no denying the fearless ambition and focussed clarity of vision behind this phenomenal – if flawed – work of art.
Top 10 of the year, for sure!!!