When it comes to elite melodic death metal bands, the Finnish group Omnium Gatherum may not be the first name that comes to mind, but over the past two decades they have built an impressive catalog. The Burning Cold is their eighth studio album, and first with drummer Tuomo Latvala (Torture Killer, Demigod).
Guitarist and songwriting Markus Vanhala gives a very accurate description of his band, saying, “We have always been about the marriage of lot of melody and really aggressive vocals. We never sound too cheesy or too aggressive. It’s a chaotic balance between love and hate, melody and aggression, where those AOR melodies meet the growling cookie monster!”
He's absolutely correct, as the melodies are provided by Vanhala and Joonas Koto's guitar work, augmented by keyboards from Aapa Koivisto. The vocals from Jukka Pelkonen are harsh and aggressive throughout.
After an opening instrumental, the album kicks into gear with “Gods Go First,” an upbeat track with catchy riffs and an extended shredding solo that adds some progressive touches. “Rest In Your Heart” is more moderately paced, with yearning melodies and a subdued piano ending contrasted by the harsh vocals. Though the harsh vocals dominate the proceedings, there are some brief moments of melodic singing on songs like “Over The Battlefield” and “The Frontline” that helps provide some diversity.
While Omnium Gatherum hasn't changed up a lot musically, one area that is different is the song lengths. They specifically streamlined things this time around, with no epic tracks like “Majesty and Silence” on Grey Heavens or “Deep Cold” on 2011's New World Shadows. The result is a more accessible and better flowing record.
As to the lyrical arc of the album, Vanhala explains: “There are two major lyrical concepts on the new album: firstly, it touches on the great human tragedies and misfortunes that are all around us. Tragedies such as war and the engulfing darkness that follows; fortunes which are tangled in experiences that we all share despite this seemingly burning world. Secondly, the lyrics speak loudly about the human emotional condition. How do we love? Why do we hate? Why are some things easier to leave behind than others? Why does death terrify us, and if it does why do people act like it does not exist?”
There's not a weak track on the album, with some of the catchiest and most memorable moments coming on the second half, on songs such as “Be The Sky” and the thrashy “Driven By Conflict.” Closer “Cold” is a somber, mid-paced song that perks up toward the latter part before a quiet, peaceful ending.
By signing with Century Media for this album, Omnium Gatherum should get some additional exposure for The Burning Cold, so more people are able to hear one of metal's more underrated bands who have built a consistent and consistently good body of work.