(Andy Synn has a few words to share about the new album from Belgium’s Omnerod)
I pontificated a little while ago about what type of year this was going to be… was it going to be a Black Metal or a Death Metal year? Or maybe a Hardcore or Sludge one?
What I didn’t expect was that 2023 might be all about Prog!
The release of genre-b(l)ending, boundary-pushing albums from Hypno5e, Dødheimsgard, The World Is Quiet Here, Nebulae Come Sweet, et al, all make the case for this being a proggier year, and if you include even more melodically-rich releases from the likes of Witch Ripper, Klone, Ohhms, etc, then the argument gains even more weight.
And, hell, I haven’t even mentioned some of the absolutely killer new records which you haven’t heard yet, including (but not limited to) outstanding new records from Rannoch, The Anchoret, and Grant The Sun, all of which I plan to cover here at some point soon.
But before we get to those albums we’ve got the outlandish new album from Omnerod to dig into.
While previous Omnerod albums have erred far more towards the “Progressive” side of the spectrum – and, to be clear, those elements and influences are all still very much in play here – The Amensal Rise opts for a notably heavier and harder-edged approach which, if not quite fitting the “Progressive Death Metal” moniker it’s been tagged with by some, certainly feels much more like “Progressive Metal with Death Metal elements” than any of their previous works.
With that in mind, certain similarities to both early Leprous and to the heavier and more bombastic bits of Devin Townsend‘s ridiculously varied repertoire (especially circa-Deconstruction) can immediately be observed during the impressively hefty riffage and dynamic, dramatic vocals of opener “Sunday Heat”, while fans of Autotheism-era The Faceless and/or the proggier endeavours of latter-day Allegaeon will find a lot to love during the nearly twelve-minute long “Satellites”.
But while these comparisons are certainly useful as a way of giving you at least some idea of what to expect here, they are neither comprehensive or conclusive when used as descriptors of the band’s sound, as Omnerod frequently take some big swings (such as during the unpredictable meeting of jazzy theatricality and blasting technicality that is “Spore”) which, while they might seem crazy on paper, more often than not end up knocking things right out of the park.
Truthfully, if you don’t mind me making one more comparison in an attempt to illuminate things a little further, the band’s adventurous songwriting and impressive ability to balance punchy, powerful riffs, soaring, pseudo-symphonic synths, and lashings of ostentatious melody means that The Amensal Rise frequently reminds me of Luna Call‘s similarly ambitious and extravagant second album, Void, and while I don’t think it’s quite as good as all that (due to a bit of self-indulgent sprawl here and there) the very fact that I’m making such a reference should tell you a little about how good this album is when it all lines up as intended.
Sure, at just over sixty-nine minutes long there’s always going to be a question about the record’s long-term staying power (potential listener-fatigue is an inevitable concern with anything this shamelessly OTT), and I can’t help but feel that “Towards the Core” gets in the way of what could/should have been a truly epic climactic pairing of “The Amensal Rise” and “The Commensal Fall” (with the latter being both the album’s heaviest – and, arguably, best – track) but there’s no denying that this is one hell of an impressive piece of work – one whose sheer ambition and creative confidence enables the band to take risks and go the extra mile without fear of failure or ridicule – which could very well end up being a real cult classic.