When OMNIUM GATHERUM burst onto the scene in 2003 with their debut “Spirits And August Light”, they were a very fresh breath in the oft stale realm of Melodic Death Metal by being a bit more technical than the majority of their genre colleagues, while “Years In Waste” continued down the same aisle (which I did not manage to hear for myself, though). Three years after their second effort, the Karhula-based Finns are back with “Stuck Here On Snake’s Way” and my hopes were high for their third album, now with ELENIUM's Jukka Pelkonen at the mic instead of departed Antti Filppu.
And what can I say? The first listen was an absolute and utter disappointment to me! Many of the songs miss the spark that the debut had contained, which can be mostly attributed to one factor (which probably is anyway what the fans are going to ask about most): The new vocalist. Where Filppu managed to sound inspired, Pelkonen lacks variety and expression, dragging the songs down by just barking over the details, not a good plan, if you ask me... But Pelkonen is not alone at fault here, for some of the songs also fail to impress, mostly when they try to get more aggressive ("Dysnomia" or "Truth") and the almost Hardcore-like shouts of "The Third Flame" are not OMNIUM GATHERUM either.
It almost seems as if the band tried to break out of the niche within Melodic Death Metal they had found for themselves, but were not sure where exactly to go, which in the end heavily rains on their parade. Not taking the vocals into consideration, the driving rhythm and melodies of "Into Sea" are good, the tight "A-Part Of God" reminds me of past hits, the variety of "Just Signs" or "Drudgery" show what these guys are capable of and closing "Spiritual" is the definitely best song of the CD, with more atmosphere and brilliant melodies, so not all hope is lost.
"Stuck Here On Snake's Way" might be a make-it-or-break-it album for OMNIUM GATHERUM, as many of their old fans probably will have their problems with more than a few of the songs at hand, while listeners, who might rather be inclined to bid the CD welcome might be put off by the memory of what they used to sound like. Despite the flashes of brilliance, still a solid album, yet still a disappointment to me.
(Online July 4, 2007)