There has been quite some "fuss" about OMNIUM GATHERUM, about them being a new Finnish Melodic Death Metal sensation and all. Now those praises in advance only too often turn out to be little more than hot air, so I did not take them all too seriously yet. But when I received "Spirits And August Light", I still was anxious to finally hear for myself.
And during my first listen, the first songs I really asked myself what the hell people were finding in OMNIUM GATHERUM, it did not sound outstanding or anything, but of course one listen never can give you a full impression of a CD, so let's start all over again and see there, the whole thing starts to take shape. And what shape it is taking!
Yes, Melodic Death Metal is not really a genre that is overflowing with originality and in many cases also not really talent, but in the case of OMNIUM GATHERUM it all seems to be at least a bit different. First proof for that is the artwork, which is very artsy compared to many other Death Metal bands that rather rely on the shock effect or the by now quite common artworks of the likes of Sundin or Del Olmo. Instead we get a booklet mostly held in white and grey, with the photos and all rather misleading, as you would not guess the style there. But still a nice change to the usual.
Musically OMNIUM GATHERUM are very melodic, but at the same time also more technical than your average Melodic Death band, the riffing and the song structures hold quite a bit more complexity than we normally get without getting progressive or overtaxing for the listener. Instead it spices up the compositions, making them just more intriguing and interesting, so definite thumbs up for that. But in all of this they never lose the accessibility and the melodies.
The choice of "Writhen" as opener maybe has not been the wisest choice as it is not as accessible as a first track should be, but in the course of the album it shows that these young folks from the land of the thousand lakes have what it takes to make a difference in this genre, as the brilliant "The Perfumed Garden", "The Emptiness Of Spirit" or "Wastrel" quite impressively prove with their variability and their great melodies, with all heaviness still included, where the used keyboards do not detract from in the least.
So in the end you might have to give "Spirits And August Light" a few spins before being able to fully evaluate the content and depth, but once it has opened up, it makes a refreshing difference to the often generic bands of this style that any fan of this style should be able to appreciate and like, maybe even love! (Online May 30, 2003)