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Omit : Medusa Truth Part 1

Omit have changed. But the whims of evolution do not always make sense.

Some albums are easy to review. Even when I listen to them for the first time, I already have some ideas what to write, and I quickly form an opinion which I can stand by. And then there are albums like Medusa Truth Part 1 which are considerably more challenging. Even after repeated listens, the sophomore by Norwegian Omit proved elusive. Above all, I had a very hard time trying to actually enjoy this new release. I almost felt obliged to enjoy it, having written a very favourable review of the band’s debut, having interviewed them and all, but eventually I had to give up: the album wouldn’t touch me even if my life depended on it. To make matters worse, nobody except myself seemed to dislike it, so perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of music? But no: re-listening to Repose confirmed that I still hold it in high esteem. Then I asked myself: should I pass the review on to someone else? Finally, I came to the conclusion that it is all the more important for me to write this review, to voice my concerns and state why, in my opinion, it is not on par with its predecessor by a long shot.

Obviously, Medusa Truth Part 1 is different in some respects. Omit have evolved, and usually, change is a good thing. There is little point for bands in repeating the same tried formula over and over again. The thing with this album, however, is that the developments do not seem to make much sense. Let me begin with some hard facts. The previous album featured strings performed by session musicians, and in our 2011 interview, vocalist Cecilie stated that the band hoped to record even more classical instruments for the next album. Contrary to this, however, all additional instruments (including the piano) are programmed now. At the same time, paradoxically, the classical arrangements have become more prominent.

In all, the songwriting is more stripped-down than before: there are no proper dynamic structures, no proper riffs, no proper lead guitar lines; instead, the artificial string textures float along aimlessly against the simplistic backdrop of power chords and mechanical drum patterns. With this approach, the band seems to have had a stronger focus on atmosphere in mind, but everything sounds and feels too synthetic to bring the atmosphere to full fruition. As complex and well-composed as the classical arrangements may be, in this form they sound more contrived than anything else – all the more so in the pizzicato section around 10:30 in the first song.

Then, there is some confusion about the band’s drummer: he was listed in the booklet for Repose even though all the drums on the album were programmed (see the above-mentioned interview for details). I was firmly expecting to hear him play on the new album, then, but no! Again, the drums are programmed, and this time, Bert Nummelin is not listed as part of the band anymore. As puzzling as it is that the band once listed a drummer who, it would appear, has never actually played for them, his absence is, above all, unfortunate both for the band (who have lost a member) and this release. For truth be told, real drums would have been very beneficial to the overall quality of the end result. As it stands, it almost sounds like a well-mixed demo rather than an album. The drum sound has not improved compared to the debut, and since there is little going on musically, you notice its shortcomings more easily.

And there is more: the drums provide repetitive, pounding rhythms most of the time, but every now and then, a fancy drum fill or twisted, almost proggy section (most notably in “Deplore” around 10:40) comes out of nowhere with no connection whatsoever to the musical arrangement. While I do applaud rhythmic experimentation in general, without an actual drummer and in the context of music as devoid of experimentation as this, such caprices sound more contrived than anything else – and it is no coincidence that I have used this expression twice already.

Medusa Truth Part 1 is supposed to be the starting point for a series of concept albums, but even a glance at the lyrics does not shed any light on the concept behind the band’s development. The music does not seem to fit in anywhere: on the one hand, with the guitars in a mere supportive role and the absence of proper heaviness on the production front, it does not sit too well with the Doom label, let alone Metal. On the other hand, the pounding rhythms and mechanical sound make it equally hard to place it in the field of Ethereal and Neoclassical Darkwave which, apparently, has been a major inspiration. Unfortunately, Omit do not succeed in creating something original in between the two styles, either.

Despite all this, those who loved Repose will find themselves on familiar territory, not least due to Cecilie’s vocals – they have not evolved in any audible way, which may actually be a good thing for many listeners. Of course, some (not all, mind you!) of her vocal melodies are good, even memorable to some extent, especially in the first track, but the long-drawn-out arrangements are so devoid of climaxes that you always have to wait many minutes for this silver lining to appear, and even then, the quality of the debut remains unchallenged. Without the vocals, the songs would sound hollow for the most part; consequently, the longer instrumental sections do not exactly work to the music’s advantage. Yes, you will find your typical Omit atmosphere all over the place, but it is not enough to warrant the length of the tracks and to really listen to this actively.

Whether or not, and to what extent, you will enjoy this new output will depend a lot on your expectations and listening habits. Accessible and sugar-coated as it is, it can surely work as pleasant, albeit short-lived background music for a while, but beyond the initial impression of “This sounds quite nice…”, it has little to offer to the more demanding listener. Had this been the band’s debut, I would have written about promise and potential which Repose would have delivered, but as it stands, Medusa Truth Part 1 is a disappointing and mediocre offering which does not make me curious about Part 2 at all. If you are looking for some atmospheric Ethereal music, rather go for classics such as Love Spirals Downwards, and if you are looking for Doom, just browse our reviews section – there are plenty of better releases to be discovered.

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Reviewer's rating: 6/10


Tracklist :
1. Distrust
2. Denial
3. Deplore

Duration : Approx. 49 minutes

Visit the Omit bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-01-26 by Dominik Sonders
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