There does seem to be a persevering idea in general extreme metal fandom that funeral doom hasn’t really moved on much from its origins. Despite progressive and expansive bands such as Ahab, Loss and Pantheist, the genre doesn’t often get serious billing in discussions around the future of metal. Bands like Ahab, Loss and Bell Witch have started to change this though, and Omination could well be the latest to turn the heads of those who admonish funeral doom as a regressive genre. Their third full length album NGR is a wild and excessive display of creativity that pulls from multiple areas across the extreme metal landscape, and what it lacks in spacious atmospheres, it makes up for in ingenuity and imagination.
Omination is the brainchild of Tunisian musician Fedor Kovalevsky, a multi-instrumentalist who produces all the sounds on Omination‘s records including, on NGR at least, the engineering. Considering how huge the mix sounds, and the level of detail that comes from it, this is clearly the work of a very focussed and attentive creator. As with most funeral doom albums it’s pretty long, clocking in at just under an hour and a half, if you include the bonus track, an excellent cover of Skepticism’s Nothing. There are some signs that Omination does run out of coherent ideas towards the end of the album, but baring in mind how high they set the creative bar early on, that isn’t to be unexpected and doesn’t affect the album’s impact too much.
The record begins in ominous fashion, with the opening drones and chants of introductory track Crossing The Burned Wasteland. It reaches a peak as things explode into a cacophony of roaring vocals and hard hitting guitars, before calmly leading into Apocalyptic Ignis Fatuus. This track flows with a recognisable funeral doom style but expands into an absolutely massive sound featuring some quicker tempo riffs and technical drum beats, making it as much reminiscent of Behemoth, as it is of Evoken or Esoteric. The chanting vocals that feature here, and at various points in the album, are almost sitting in a different rhythm to the music and it creates a quite dissonant tone that develops even further the apocalyptic atmosphere.
Last Trisagion works with even more clean vocals and huge choral sounds, and the main vocal delivery has a particularly mystical tone to it. There are contrasting melodies across guitars, pianos and organs that completely envelope the sound, and the whole thing builds up into an epic peak. Necropolis, The Backbone is far darker in tone with a slow and depressive guitar melody backed by strident guitars and a powerful beat. The melodies completely leave traditional funeral doom territory, and actually remind me of the emotive sounds of post-metal bands like Neurosis or Cult of Luna. There’s some incredible drumming that doesn’t just add technical flashes but also utilises the wide mix to full affect, with toms and cymbals crashing in from all directions.
The Sword That Came Out Of His Mouth opens with some chugging death-doom riffs and a mid tempo groove that combine brilliantly with the droning organs and sublime vocals. The track steadily leads us down a path towards the instantly catchy melodies of the second half, portrayed by wailing guitars and more intricate keyboards. The melodies on Unto The Ages Of Ages once again seem completely fresh to funeral doom. The riffs have more in common with melodeath, and I could easily see At The Gates or Darkest Hour producing some of these with a little more speed.
it does seem like a funeral doom album this wide-ranging in style has been long overdue….
Death(s), Love And Life has a hypnotic fundamental melody that in another form could be the basis for a black metal piece, but Omination spare no expense in elevating this into something gargantuan, throwing in waves of drum fills and roaring vocals. After a brief soft piano segment, the track builds up again with deep folds of guitars and organs that assimilate into each other. Post-Apocalypticism is led by a recurring middle-eastern vocal melody that’s balanced against enormous gutturals and gothic organs that develop gradually and persistently.
Up until this point most of the tracks have sat in the six to eight minute mark, with only one topping ten minutes. The challenge then of final track, The New Golgotha Repuliq, is to increase the song-length to twenty minutes without resorting to filler, and it begins promising enough with a crushing riff and melancholic guitar arpeggio. The vocals are once again seriously impressive, displaying an emotive tone that contrasts excellently with the suffocating chants. The track certainly has enough twists and turns to remain interesting, but it does feel as if it was designed from the outset to be twenty minutes long, as opposed to naturally becoming this length.
The instinctive flow which was present in every other track has been lost slightly in the process of building the differing parts together. For most of the first fifteen minutes, it’s still enjoyable and the sections are individually very strong. However when they suddenly decide to drop into an isolated Agoraphobic Nosebleed style grindcore section, it comes across as an unfathomably misguided attempt to be deliberately subversive, something which really wasn’t necessary. The final few minutes are pure melancholy with the organ and guitar together producing a beautiful melody that eventually develops into a recurrence of the opening section. It’s an elegant finale to the record, and the slight missteps the band took on this track, don’t leave too much of a bad taste.
NGR is a remarkable album that I hope will gain Omination a lot of traction. There are many laudable elements, not least the overall sound which isn’t just down to the voluminous mix, but also the incredibly talented performances. The vocals in particular are outstanding, and go far beyond the minimalist gutturals that many funeral doom bands rely on.
While there may be an argument that in being so progressive, Omination have lost the raw depressive atmospheres that made funeral doom such an enigmatic genre, it does seem like a funeral doom album this wide-ranging in style has been long overdue.
Scribed by: Will J