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Brilliant on stage, bland on record - 65%

kluseba, January 31st, 2018
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Lifeforce Records

Omnium Gatherum is a quite complicated case. The Finnish melodic death metal band is absolutely captivating in concert but rarely transmits this certain type of magic onto its regular studio albums. This is particularly obvious on Grey Heavens. The band sounds as if it were on autopilot. The group is playing it safe without taking any risks. The songs are rushing by but won't get stuck on your mind. I don't know how many times I have already listened to this record and yet I can't remember one single song. That's a shame because the band has so much potential.

The mixture of melodic keyboard sounds and classic heavy metal guitar solos on one side, combined with gritty riffs, harsh vocals and faster passages on the other side, is a combination that makes bands like Amorphis or Soilwork stand out. In Omnium Gatherum's case, everything sounds quite by the numbers. The melodic keyboard passages always sound the same. The melodic guitar solos are inoffensive. The gritty riffs are too simplistic to impress. The harsh vocals sound like any other average melodic death metal vocalist. The fast passages rarely harmonize with the melodic and slower parts. The band only shines when it really slows down and focuses on melancholic melodies that are so charismatic for Finnish bands but aside a few positive exceptions like in ''Foundation'', the group doesn't give these passages enough time to unfold.

The most intriguing elements about this album are the brilliant cover artwork and the question why a band sounds close to perfection on stage yet so bland on a regular studio album. I hope Omnium Gatherum will soon release a live album because this will easily end up being the band's most essential record. Grey Heavens is neither great nor awful but it's painfully average. My advice for you would be to go see the band in concert and ignore this album.