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Messy transition album - 68%

gasmask_colostomy, July 18th, 2016

I can understand why fans of Omnium Gatherum's debut might be disappointed by Years in Waste. The band's debut had the melodic sensibility of Kalmah at their most exuberant, while dialling back a bit of the heaviness to create playful, almost cheeky songs like 'Amor Tonight' that darted and swooped in free-flowing joy. Things changed a bit in the year and a half it took for this album to emerge, not least the erasure of some of that free-spirited melody and an increase in darkness and heaviness. It still sounds distinctly Finnish, but the melodeath elements take a back seat for a more varied modern sound. All this makes Years in Waste a good deal less accessible and bit harder to love.

The first thing that you're going to notice as 'The Fall Went Right Through Here' splatters into view is that Omnium Gatherum have managed to find another rhythm guitar tone that doesn't work for melodeath, just as they did on the debut. Think of the ragged bonesaw of Children of Bodom's early releases, think of the brutish bellow that Arch Enemy used to have, even the lighter sounds of In Flames, and you can imagine why they went for that tone, but here there is no sharpness or weight or speed to the rhythm riffs, just a knuckle-dragging modern kind of heavy that metalcore bands were searching for in 2004. Compare that to the lightweight rush and shine of the leads at the end of 'Gravesilence': as that song reaches its final minute, I literally wake up and realize that something is happening, whereas for the most part I was sleeping as the rest of the band screamed and clattered along.

Note that I've already used the words "splatter" and "clatter" about the sound of the album and you might guess that it sounds messy. You'd be right as well, since the drums in particular are overbearing and interfere with the rest of the song, while Antti Filppu's voice is too rude a weapon for the kind of ideas the band create. The drums are just everywhere, some of the kit being so loud that I can't get the idea out of my head that someone is trying to break into my apartment, while there are altogether too many beats at times, which makes the songs feel crowded and chaotic - and not in the good sense. Filppu's singing also marked the debut album to a certain extent, though his low growls were more suitable for the sludgy guitar tone, whereas here there is less melody to be found so a brutal and unchanging voice feels like hard work at times. However, that messiness is also in part due to a surplus of ideas to be found within the songs. The production and levels of sound don't help matters, but Years in Waste is a busy album in the vein of more creative melodeath acts like Kalmah and Insomnium, though with those modern features that Dark Tranquillity have also incorporated in more recent years.

The ideas aren't all great, especially since the power is drained from some of the riffs, though there are plenty of parts that are worthy of attention, with most songs changing very quickly between different sections, which has always been one of the band's strengths. On the other hand, I have the same nagging feeling as some of the other reviewers that not all of the songs are well thought out, meaning that we occasionally run into a new section almost at random, regardless of how it fits with the previous direction of the song. 'Waste of Bereavement' is a typical track in this regard, since it starts off with high energy melodeath riffing and a burst of melody, then slows to more atmospheric verses shaded by keyboards, returns to the first section without seeming to have a chorus, drops kind of randomly from one atmospheric section to another, different atmospheric section, then just keeps heading away from the original pattern of the song to a slightly epic sounding instrumental outro. There aren't any real leads on 'Waste of Bereavement' either, which is strange considering how strong the band are in that department, though those that show up on other songs are always highlights.

What it seems like to me is that Omnium Gatherum were rather stuck at the time of recording Years in Waste. On their way from the more traditional melodeath of the debut towards the more experimental likes of Stuck on Snake's Way and New World Shadows, this album shows a band trying to shake off generic restrictions but unsure exactly how to do so. As such, when added to the messy production and mixing job, it makes the album feel chaotic and in a state of disunity. If you have plenty of time and tolerant ears, there is good music to be found here, but you will need to do your digging patiently and over repeated listens - do not expect instant gratification.

Definitely not a waste. - 80%

hells_unicorn, April 12th, 2013

Omnium Gatherum's 2nd studio offering is something of a favorite whipping boy, being pegged with the all-too-unpleasant sophomore slump label by many. Contrary to what the general sentiment is, "Years In Waste" is hardly a poor listening endeavor, though it is somewhat understandable why many who have come to like their later recordings didn't go for this album. Unlike the pristine production and polished grooves of late, and definitely unlike the rock-based feel that followed immediately after, this listens almost like a thrash metal band attempting to mimic the melodic death metal style, and the result is an album with a fairly strong hint of Kalman influences, but also a production that sounds heavily reminiscent of late 80s offerings, opting for a thinner guitar sound and a tinnier drum sound that emphasizes the attack far more than the sustain.

If there is a particular album in this genre that this is fairly reminiscent of, it's actually the Skyfire debut "Timeless Departure", though minus a lot of the progressive and overtly symphonic quirks. It walks a fairly thin line between being completely aggressive and being wholly contemplative, and these two extremes tend to manifest in separate songs rather than being spliced together. A particularly clear version of the latter approach is found in "Black Seas Cry", which definitely plays up the more atmospheric character of the band's sound, but does it in a way that doesn't meander or coast, but rather runs smoothly from one idea to the next, building up from a somber down-tempo affair into an explosive climactic speeder by the closing seconds. Vocalist Antti Filppu's growl is pretty well moderate in range and functions mostly as a means for delivering the lyrics here, allowing the guitar melodies and flowing keyboard lines to really tell the story and set the mood.

For the most part, this album differentiates itself from subsequent offerings in powerful riff work and a shorter scale sense of complexity, again emphasizing the inherent thrash tendencies within the songwriting. Sometimes this is really overt as in the cases of "Misanthropic (Let The Crown Fall)" and "Gravesilence" where things literally point toward a speeding yet melodic approach that occasionally invokes some latent Bay Area images, while at others hinting at a progressive character in the mold of Watchtower or Atheist. At other times this is less obvious and comes across more like a dense, keyboard loaded power metal affair with a slight thrash sensibility, such as with "The Fall Went Right Through Here", "No Moon & No Queen" and "Auguries Gone". But no matter how intense or fast the delivery, the general feel of each song is animated and lively, with short but frequent and fancy lead guitar sections that are pretty technical and borderline on Children Of Bodom-like at times.

Arguably the biggest case against "Years In Waste" is that Omnium Gatherum didn't get the message that playing up-tempo, riff happy melodic death metal was out of season come 2004, but for someone like myself timing matters little provided that the quality is actually there. This definitely isn't the greatest album they've ever put out and I've actually found myself a bit partial to the posh production that this band has been getting from Dan Swanö on their 3 latest albums, but it should definitely be on the radar of anyone who liked the way the Finnish strain of melodeath sounded in the early 2000s. It's one of those releases that tries to put its best foot forward, yet is unapologetic about how similar it sounds to a number of its contemporaries.

Disrupting the flow - 25%

GuyOne, July 21st, 2010

I was listening to the last track of Omnium Gatherum's debut full-length offering Spirits and August Light when this album fell into my lap. The first listen through almost caused me to fall from my chair. It was equal to a well placed blow to the gut winding me just how the momentum of Spirits and August Light immediately came to a screeching halt. Sure, the debut album wasn't easy for me to get into but eventually, a dozen listens later, I began to feel the grooves and melodies. Unlike most melodic death metal bands Omnium Gatherum went with short melodic bursts and disregarded the longer lead guitar melodies a lot of the melodic death metal bands were already doing. It sounded second rate compared to some of the bigger names. But what was found there was still worth listening to. How it works together with this sophomore outing is that collectively as a band they learn from their mistakes and how to correct and advance past them. But a year later and what they offer on Years in Waste is nearly 45 minutes in waste.

The instant the album starts like a stinky 1980's thrash metal jean vest covered in felted logos and worn patches you are slapped in the face by thrashy drums and a thin guitar tone. The sluggish guitar tone slowly grinds along in what seems to sound like a struggle to keep up with the drum performance, which I might add sounds fantastic and very much like the style the thrashy Nevermore would begin to adopt in 2005. When the guitar tone lacks the bite it needs to turn those lifeless palm mutes into killer chugs it just ends in the listening of a tug of war. The over all production gives just as much depth to the music to possibly match the latest Hilary Duff movie.

Moments come where the album really isn't that bad. The synth melody in the opening track The Fall Went Right Through Here shows hopes for consistency if not advancement by the band and the super melody intro riff to both Waste of Bereavement and Misanthropic. Now I have named already three good things about the first three tracks of the album but when listening to the entire songs in full it is plainly obvious that these moments are few and fair between. For example Waste of Bereavement's intro is a melody beaut and the outro is a melodic acoustic piece which would fit into the first album without a moments thought. We have start and finish. But in order to get from one point to the other we have to travel cross the middle. This is the dangerous land. This is where the riffs all take a turn for the worst. Uninspired ideas wrapped around and trying to work together with a few of the brilliant riffs. It just won't work.

Where Spirits and August Light highly succeeded and was the reason for my continually coming back to the album was the flow within each song and of the album in whole. There were only a few transitions between riffs that didn't work for me and left me sitting there awkwardly wondering if what just happened was supposed to. It feels here like the entire band is struggling to find that fluidity they had on the first album and now I am left wondering if not the moment but the entire album was supposed to anti-flow like this. Where tracks like The Perfumed Garden flowed like a cool soothing stream though the acoustic melodies, verses and chorus it truly felt progressive and more than just riffs tacked together. Flash forward to Years in Waste's Black Seas Cry. Not only do we have a slower tune that lacks anything truly interesting and sounds like what molasses would sound like but it even tries to create the same transition between acoustic and heavy but without any of the seamless flow and eventually the track just drags on for what feels like twice as long as it really is. This turns the whole album from a collection of songs to a collection of riffs.

Antti Filppu just doesn't do it for me on the vocal front. I get the image that after vocal duties he has to take a few weeks off due to severely sore throat. That is what this sounds like. Ineffective and sounds like what belongs in the middle of a pack of American metalcore bands. His performance on the first full-length was 100% better and is such a shame it took such a step down. Going back to that race between the drums and guitars I would say Antti's vocals come in last place.

All is not lost. There are a couple tracks here that save this release. No... wait... there isn't. Aside for The Nolan's Fati there is not a full song here enjoyable from start to end. The Nolan's Fati has possibly the only verse riff that is worth noting and the last half of the album is what I would come to expect from a sophomore release. It really is melodic from start to end and could possibly be labelled as the best song by Omnium Gatherum to this point. Even the acoustic interlude near the beginning which abruptly cuts the song in half is forgiving. This is what they must have brought with them to the studio and hoped Years in Waste would sound like. Outstanding track.

No Moon & No Queen is another track that has a great intro and melodic solo but these highlights are again soured by dullness and I don't want to waste my time listening through the generic riffs to get the twenty second highlight. There is just so much more music that is in truth more interesting from start to finish to be listening to.

This album is really not terrible. Only the faults are rife and outweigh the highlights. I highly enjoy all the mentioned parts but everything is just terribly executed. Luckily you don't have to wait long as the third track Misanthropic is about where it ends for what Omnium Gatherum has to offer for their listeners this year and from that point I would recommend skipping directly to track eight and then the bread is on the table. The rest is littered with thin guitar tones, dull riffs and flow disrupting moments that leave the listener hanging on a limb. Years in Waste feels like it was pushed off the assembly line immediately after the debut album in obvious hopes to build momentum for the band but with only a few decent ideas here and there between tedious music that seems to just go in any direction without any particular goal in mind. Sticking to the first album would be a great idea until these boys can sit down, clear their palette and build new better ideas.

Love was not a glance away - 60%

autothrall, April 10th, 2010

My first impression upon listening to Omnium Gatherum's 2nd full length offering was something akin to 'damn, it didn't take that train long to run off its tracks'. A good example of promise and momentum gone sour and sluggish, the album seemed a mere mix of boxy, heavier guitars than its predecessor, and brief segues of the keyboard tinted progressive metal that the band had been whittling away on the previous two releases. I've since gone back to the album a few times, hoping there was something I missed, and while I've come to appreciate a few of the songs, no really deep connection can be made.

But perhaps in titling the album Years in Waste, the band were attempting to warn us that it would be a few years until we would once again hear the level of songwriting the band had emitted on Spirits and August Light. It's hard to glean a difference at first, as "The Fall Went Right Through Here" is a strong enough opening track, which introduces us to the band's more clear and present guitar tone, which stands out a little further from the keyboard atmospheres than the previous effort. There are some fine descending synth lines here, and a nice melodic/chug breakdown, and the track does get ones hopes up that the band have at least remained consistent. "Waste of Bereavement" begins with a decent, if typical melodic death battery the likes of which you'd hear from any random band performing in the style, but the only parts of the track which really called to me were the subtle synth textures over the low-down, bridge, which add the flavor of mystique to what is otherwise your standard Swedish melodeath or US metalcore/melodeath bite-off.

At this point you've heard almost all this album will attempt to offer you. "Misanthropic (Let the Crown Fall)" once again tries to hammer you with heavier guitars, streaming octave chords and synth glaze, but despite its fluidity it doesn't stand out until the melodic guitars of the bridge, and by this point Filppu's vocals are almost ineffective (as they were with much of Stealing the Light), especially when he starts his little storm of cussing dialogue around 2:30, which is something Phil Anselmo might do to spice up a track, but seems juvenile and out of place for Omnium Gatherum. "Black Seas City" sees the band try their hand at a more progressive metal overtone, with clean guitars and a somber synth passage that creates a lot of atmosphere before the guitars bristle forth with majestic melodies. I actually found this to be the single best song on this album, and the most emotional, though the vocals are once again a minor hindrance as he just gets lost in the well balanced mix of instruments.

"It's a Long Night" has a few catchy twists to its dominating rhythm, and "No Moon & No Queen" some provides a reasonably epic stop/start momentum and a slew of shining crystalline melody through the guitars, but at the best they both feel like less successful attempts at Soilwork's Natural Born Chaos, with better production but less impact. "Gravesilence" begins with a heavier, Opeth-like pace to the guitars, and it moves pretty nicely until its less than spectacular thrashing verse. "Nolan's Fati" too has some half-decent guitar work within, but there's nothing impressive awaiting around any corner, and "More Withering" is a slower, atmospheric track which sounds like a midpoint between Soilwork and Amorphis, with the exception of the vocals. This one actually had some potential, though it lacks that extra punch. The album closes with "Auguries Gone", which seemed like a pretty generic melodic death track with a thick, Fear Factory riff inserted between some of the more spry, bouncing guitars.

I will say that the mix here is a lot cleaner than Spirits and August Light, and I would love to have heard that album with this production, though I think the vocals occasionally do feel like they are struggling against the far more talented musicians. Though the album still feels like a mediocre step backwards 6 years after its release, I don't actually hate Years in Waste. Clearly the band put some work into making the compositions fluid and exciting, they just forgot to add memorable riffs about 50% of the time. I still enjoyed a lot of points where the synths intersect with specific rhythms, and I admire that Omnium Gatherum have always been able to relegate them to the background without reducing their importance or function. As far as career missteps, Years in Waste is not as bad as most, but it would be a few years before the band could answer for it.

Highlights: The Fall Went Right Through Here, Black Seas City, More Withering

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

They ran out of ideas... - 41%

SculptedCold, March 11th, 2005

...as well as forgot how to construct a good song. I felt compelled to write a review, like the reviewer before me, in response to krozza's review. Now, i'm a big fan of krozza's reviews; he's sensible, informative and has similar tastes to mine, and i'm also a big fan of Omnium Gatherum, so there's no juvenile flaming going on here or anything, but I reckon krozza's way wrong with his review for this album.

He said that this album is heavier and faster than their previous. The former part of that statement is correct; this album is crunchier and features a much more prominent rhythm section, but faster? No way. Part of the reason this album fails is because, unlike Spirits and August Light, Years in Waste feels lethargic and, most of the time, as if it can't work itself into a good rhythm. This is partly to do with poor songwriting choices and partly to do with the focus on midpaced rhythm guitaring. There *are* brief moments on this album that are faster than anything on Spirits, but overall the feeling is midpaced, unrushed and occasionally serene but more often lazy. The line is thin, and they wrote their songs on the wrong side of it. As far as songwriting is concerned, one particularly speedy number of a song, and indeed one of the better ones, The Nolan's Fati begins with an excellent pace and some interesting melodic ideas, but fifty seconds in, it just stops. Dead. Just like that. And offers some quiet moments instead, but only for about ten seconds, before going back into furious speed. What *was* the point in that? All it does is chop the song-up and ruin the pace. It is moments like these that really tear the album apart. At other times, songs just never get going at all, such as Waste of Bereavement, which plods along with uninteresting rhythm guitars for the entire length.

I'll also mention the other sore thumb that the previous reviewer highlighted; the keys. Yes, they're bad. Not in the sense that they stick-out as cheesy, although they are in danger of doing that from time to time, but because, as discussed, they add nothing to the songs. In Spirits, they were woven so effortlessly into the music that they were barely noticable (unless you consciously listened for them) but in Years in Waste, they just come marching in blandly at random times, and contribute little to any melodies, more often resembling rejects keyboard ideas from the latest Dark Tranquillity album. A real disappointment in that department.

I feel bad for knocking this down so much, because, again like the previous reviewer stated, there are some great moments here and there, especially in the closing four tracks, but in context of the scene, it is just lazy and lacklustre. It's also a blemish on the band, because Spirits and August Light is, in my opinion, one of the greatest melodic death albums ever written, indeed a crowning achievement of the genre, and it's a shame that they followed it up with this. I wasn't expecting anything better than the previous album, but Years in Waste barely even sounds like the same band.

'...Waste' of time. - 35%

DaggersAndIce, February 20th, 2005

Omnium Gatherum’s sophomore release ‘Years In Waste’ was probably the biggest let down of 2004 in my book. I fell in love with this band years ago when they had posted their entire “Gardens, Temples... This Hell” demo on mp3.com and while the quality wasn’t the best, I was drawn in by their style. After the ‘Steal the Light’ EP and then their debut ‘Spirits And August Light,’ I was an addict to the style of this band. Every song they created was melodic, aggressive, thought out, and had a lot of feeling.

The first and most noticeable aspect of their ‘Years In Waste’ is the change in production. As a whole, the recording sounds dry and the guitars lack the powerful impact that they had in the debut album. Nothing sticks out in the mix, everything is balanced but in a way that kills the atmosphere of the album.

While the guitar playing still has its moments of excellence, as a whole the powerful yet catchy and melodic riffs are seemingly absent from the entire recording. Additionally, many riffs simply sound out of place or just kill the flow of the entire song. Waste Of Bereavement is a perfect example of the failed song writing. While the initial riff is quality, it breaks down into a heavy part (a la the first album, but without the impact) and then switches to a clean guitar part with Antti’s vocals and nothing else. Little sections like this are what ruined this album for me. Each song I listen to I found myself enjoying specific sections and then getting bored with the filler sections. The soloing is still ace though, great work on the solos throughout the album.

While I wouldn’t exactly say that bass is one of Omnium Gatherum’s stand out elements, the bass playing is solid here and helps thicken out that mix.

Antti’s vocals are still great (unlike others I enjoy that raspy screams) but a lot of the time the sections that he’s singing over just kill the mood of his vocals, thus eliminating the power of his voice. He also seems further back in the mix thanks to the balanced production

The two big detractions from this album in my opinion are the horrible use of keyboards and the boring drumming. ‘Years...’ has some of the most predictable and stereotypical key work that I have heard in metal. You can practically predict when the keys will come in just doing some held chords. They absolutely add nothing to the songs. The drumming also is predictable and rarely adds anything of interest to the songs.

What I think kills this entire album is just the terrible songwriting. There are no songs that draw me in or even really impress me. Additionally, there are absolutely no stand out tracks on this release. There are a few stand out moments here and there on a couple of the tracks but as a whole nothing on this album really manages to carry my interest through an entire song. The intensity is just absent from this album. It pains me to type this because I really do enjoy this band’s music.

I do not write a lot reviews for this site but after I read the only other review for this terrible album I felt immediately compelled to warn other listeners that might want to buy this CD from the review written by krozza. If you are curious about this band and you would be better off grabbing their debut release ‘Spirits And August Light’. If you already own 'Spirits...' exercise caution because you very well may be wasting $20.

Finns v Swedes in 2004? Knock out to the FInns!! - 95%

krozza, December 7th, 2004

Don’t you just love it when a band delivers on their potential? Omnium Gatherum’s debut full length of 2003, the wickedly delicious ‘Spirits and August Light’ hinted of a band destined for big things. As good as ‘Spirit’s…’ was, it was the follow up that would prove their worth and longevity. And I’ll be damned if they just haven’t gone and done it in the most glorious fashion. Everything that has arrived out of Finland this year has been extremely impressive (quite contrary to the material we’ve endured from their Scandinavian neighbors in Sweden), and Omnium Gatherum is just about the best of the bunch.

As far as Melodic death metal is concerned, ‘Years in Waste’ is this year’s piece de resistance! This is about as good as it fucking gets punters. And I mean that with total respect to all that have come before them. Perhaps the best thing about this album that it is in fact written by a Finnish metal act and not a Swedish one. Melodic Swedish metal is like an albatross curse at the moment.

Still THAT sound is an important element here - the use of the ‘Gothenburg’ sound is very much a part of what Omnium Gatherum do, but their ‘Finnish-ness’ provides that subtle, and as it so happens, extremely important difference. The difference is in their riff structures (not always ‘thrash/death’ inspired), their more traditional/classic metal partiality, the never-ending melodic lead work and flamboyant atmosphere provided by the sythn’s. Back this with some incredibly tight and smart as fuck song writing, plus a production that will have you heads down in very quick time and the results are simply spectacular.

Like ‘Spirits…’ the only possible downside that punters will find with Omnium Gatherum is the somewhat acquired vocals of frontman Antti Filppu. Once again Antti has opted to forgo the trendy move towards clean vocal sections as others have done, and thus delivers his smart prose in his distinctive dry rasp. Granted Antti doesn’t have a tremendous range or the power of say, a Thomas Lindberg, but in the context of his bands music, the cold bitter aggression his voice emanates works exceptionally well. For the uninitiated, he just takes some getting to use to.

Years in Waste is a superbly written. The energy and drive drips in bucket loads from this album. Each track has something else about it, whether it’s a new riff pattern, a dramatic keyboard section or searing maiden-esque lead work. It is a much faster, much heavier album than Spirits whilst still maintaining that brilliant melodic dynamism the debut so effortlessly captured. Furthermore, Omnium Gatherum has a great ‘emotive’ feel about their song writing, yet it never comes off as ham fisted or trite in any sense.

I cannot recommend this album highly enough. As a Scandinavian melodic death album, it sits at the very top of the tree. None shall surpass it this year folks. If you in any way jaded by this type of sound, I plead with you now; DO NOT IGNORE this album based on those feelings. Omnium Gatherum is a truly exciting band and this album deserves massive exposure. These Finn’s are at the top of their game. Invest immediately.

Originally written for www.pyromusic.net