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Melodic and Atmospheric magnificence - 95%

fromheretodeath, April 19th, 2006

Omnium Gatherum's first real full length album 'Spirits and August Light' has got to go down as one of the finest examples of melodic death metal that I've ever had the opportunity to listen to. The only problem with creating a near masterpiece as your first album however, is that you have to come up with something as good or better the next time around and that's a big ask, which unfortunately OG couldn't live up to. This review isn't about Years in Waste though, so let's crack on...

I'm going to get rid of the flaw first because theirs only really one. The vocals. Now they're not the greatest death metal vox you're ever going to hear and they could put some people off, but in my case however the vocals are a minor thing and the music playing behind them is all that matters. A redeeming factor with the vocals is that you can tell he's putting some passion into what he's singing which in a way makes up for it.

In a previous review their was a comparison made to In Flames/Dark Tranquillity. This, I must say, is complete and utter bollocks. For sure, it's melo death... but it's something that you won't find on any In Flames or Dark Tranquillity release.

OG create a sound that's extremely atmospheric, yet technical in its own right. The guitar work for instance is some of the best in the genre that I've heard. The guitars are accompanied by light synth for most of the album and when the synth is brought to the forefront, its used to perfection and not too heavily. As for the drumming, it's nothing spectacular but serves the material well and has perfect tone which is basically what you'd want in a melo death band. The album is produced extremely well. It doesn't sound to crisp/sharp which has been the case with some albums in the genre and it usually ends up removing some of the atmosphere. It's just perfect. This combination creates an original and extremely atmospheric sound. You won't find this anywhere else.

In parts this album has a progressive feel about it, mixing lighter elements with much more aggressive styles. 'The Perfumed Garden' is a good example of this, starting off with a light guitar intro and building its way up into much more heavier guitar riffs (but not too heavy) and then returning back to the lighter guitar work for the outro. All accompanied by stunning, yet subtle synth. Other example's of this style would be 'The Emptiness of Spirit' which captures your imagination and takes you off into a world of your own which you wish you'd never leave. Heavier, pacier songs exist on the album to mix things up a little. The opener 'Writhen' gives you an idea of what you're going to be in for through the rest of the album, with some amazing melodic guitar work and that atmosphere which is ever present throughout the album. 'Amor Tonight' hits you like a tonne of bricks after the quite melancholic 'The Perfumed Garden' but it fits in just right.

Highlights of the album are basically all of it, every song has something new to explore and you'll find yourself listening to it time after time and hearing something different. Every song involves technical skill but its molded into a way in which the beauty of the music prevails. If I had to pick songs however then I'd probably go for 'The Perfumed Garden' which I mentioned a little earlier in which the guitars will make you want to cry because it's so beautiful, 'Deathwhite' which is a melodic masterpiece and 'Wastrel' which flows gracefully into 'Son's Thoughts', they both have different characteristics and only by listening to them would you be able to understand how truly magnificent and masterful these creations really are.

This albums more than just another melodic death metal album, this has emotion, imagination and originality. If you're into bands like Insomnium for example, then you'd be able to understand just what I mean. If the vocals were a little better then this album would have got 100% but apart from that small hiccup this is truly an album that any melo death fan should have in their collection.