“Meh” pretty much sums up my feelings about this latest album by Finns AZAGHAL – an album that is neither here nor there. Albums like these are frustrating to review since I feel neither the need nor the will to either bash of praise it – it is quite simply a very stale, middle-of-the-road effort by a band that obviously has more talent and experience than this set of listless songs will have you believe. “Omega” provides nothing in the way of interesting or moving material – it’s the kind of cold shower album that a reviewer dreads.
Look, these guys are good at what they do. The production is strong (being neither too polished nor too primitive), and the vocalist belches out some very solid croaky screams that fit the material very well, but when it comes to slapping together a totally brilliant riff or melody line they come up short. Very short actually. The majority of these songs are rooted in the guitar heavy, mid-paced traditional BM fare that is so characteristic of Finnish bands, but where bands like SARGEIST and BEHEXEN are able to craft eerily cold and grimly beautiful songs from very basic elements AZAGHAL just seems to go through the motions, never drawing the listener in with a totally killer song or riff. It’s all well played and sufficiently heavy but it has no soul. Opener “Taman Maailman Prinssi” and “Tuhkaan Kinoitettu” are enjoyable slabs of Finnish Black Metal – the former relying on a very energetic main riff section and grin-inducing grooves later on, while the latter is one of the more melodic songs on offer here with a killer main riff and a real evil vibe that just about floored me the first time I heard it. “Quetzacoatl” has this very middle eastern-flavored riff that reminded me of DIO’s “Egypt”, but it gets repetitive after a few minutes. And that’s really the main problem of “Omega” – its inability to hold my attention for more than a few minutes per song. There simply isn’t enough interesting riffs or melodies here to write home about. They had the ideas, just not the skill to expand upon them in order to create a cohesive and wholly enjoyable album.
I’ll rather stick to my trusty ol’ HORNA, as AZAGHAL certainly isn’t one of the more interesting Finnish bands out there. This album is OK for the odd listen but is ultimately of no lasting value.
So to reiterate: meh.
(Online April 29, 2008)