Tuesday 10 March 2015

Review: Dødheimsgard – 'A Umbra Omega'

'A Umbra Omega'

One of the most visionary bands to have emerged from the Norweigien black metal scene of the 1990s. The name of Dødheimsgard (AKA DHG) is now one of the most respected avant garde metal acts around and, at one time or another, has counted some of the scene's top musicians amongst its personnel including members of Thorns, Zyklon-B, Code, Hexvessel, Immortal, Dimmu Borgir, Darkthrone, Satyricon and Emperor.

It has been eight years since the band's last outing on 2007's 'Supervillain Outcast'. In that time the various members of the band have germinated other acts that all draw from the avant garde and experimental complexities fostered by DHG. Eight years is a long time in the music industry, but there has been a whole in the extreme metal scene that only, DHG can plug and their new album 'A Umbra Omega' looks set to do that.

Those who were expecting 'A Umbra Omega' to pick up where 'Supervillain...' left off will immediately see this as a left turn by the band. The industrial and electronic elements are pulled right back and the band's technical prowess is pushed to the fore across six sprawling and progressive-tinged tracks. It recalls the band's 1998 outing 'Satanic Art', however the sound is cleaner, leaner and the band find themselves completely free to let their warped imaginations run riot.

Tracks such as 'Aphelion Void', 'God Protocol Axiom', and 'Architects of Darkness' evoke elements of progressive rock, black metal, post-punk, jazz, folk, neoclassical and ambient distilled through demented vocals, frenzied riffs, blast beats and more sonic detours than most bands would dare to dream of. It is spellbinding in its skill and definitely destined to preserve that most DHG of traditions by pissing a lot of people off. Perhaps no track on the album achieves this better than the closing number 'Blue Moon Duel' with its schizophrenic construction giving way to full on prog indulgence.

The album is kind of all over the place in terms of its influences. But the band condense it all into a well executed and intelligently presented album which benefits from a strong production job and an even mix that allows each element to shine through with ease.

'A Umbra Omega' is a welcome return to service for DHG that keeps in their tradition of not keeping with tradition. It is a beast that demands attention, whether you like it or not. It's ultimate strength lies in its diversity as it continually forces a little bit more into the genre and thus take it to another level. 

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