Despite biting by hordes of metalcore imitators, Gothenburg-style melodic death metal is alive and well. On Stuck Here on Snakes Way, Finland's Omnium Gatherum wisely wisely uses melodeath as a starting point, not a goal. Thus, don't expect rehashed thirds-based harmonies and rejected At the Gates riffs. Instead, tasteful keyboard touches and extraordinarily rich guitar work make this album a melodic pleasure.
It's impossible to overstate how phenomenal the guitar playing is. Not only is the shredding tasteful and fluent, the chords and melodies burst with inventive, abstract voicings that reach far beyond the usual standard scales. The result is nuanced and often quite moving. The acoustic intro, "The Snake and the Way," is absolutely lovely, while the melodies in "Drudgery" are unabashedly uplifting; "Just Signs" delicately dials back the distortion before surging into its choruses. Light and shade aren't common in metal, but this album evokes many moods. Varied tones combine with subtly lush keyboards and clean, clear production for a vibrant soundscape.
Vocals are the only thing holding this album back. Harsh and monotonic, they sound like Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg during a domestic dispute. However, they mostly stay out of the way long enough to let the guitars do the talking. For prog without the pretense and melodeath without the monotony, give this album a spin; each listen will reveal new delights to aspiring guitarists and seasoned metalheads alike.