Melodic death metal has turned into a bit of a niche genre over the years and has its clear-cut classic bands. Omnium Gatherum has indisputably become one of those bands. Guitarist Markus Vanhala and his rotating cast have cranked out some seriously solid material over the course of now nine albums in 22 years, with The Burning Cold being among one of their best efforts.
“Solid” is an excellent descriptor of The Burning Cold. Omnium Gatherum isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here or go off on a wildly different artistic path. Omnium Gatherum presents to its fans 11 tracks of uncompromising melodic death metal that is very, very much Omnium Gatherum. As fan of the band for quite a few years, The Burning Cold clocks in with the creativity of 2011’s New World Shadows and 2013’s Beyond, arguably their two best works. The Burning Cold feels mysterious, almost surreal. As if the sky were filled with technicolor clouds lightly coating the forest-covered Earth with a dusting of frost somewhere in deep Finland. It plays with a sense of purpose that the band has only been steadily gaining in the past 10 years.
The Burning Cold has everything melodic death metal fans could possibly want. Keyboard-heavy, battle-ready riffs simultaneously crafted to be played in a stadium? “Gods Go First” has you covered. Massive atmospheric choruses after a long, winding melodic road through the frozen darkness? “Refining Fire.” Borderline death metal obliteration? “Driven By Conflict.” Absolute melo-death beauty? “Rest In Your Heart” or “The Fearless Entity.” Your pick.
The diversity of The Burning Cold is what makes it so enticing. Omnium Gatherum isn’t playing varying shades of gray to paint a subtle picture with this album. The Burning Cold is essentially a “best of” when it comes to the band’s lengthy career, and proves that they know their history well. Even if most of the members haven’t been around for it.
The one interesting choice Omnium Gatherum made on The Burning Cold is forgoing a lot of the clean vocal parts Jukka Pelkonen usually brings to the table. It doesn’t hinder the record in any way, and he contributes some spoken-yet-sung parts to the spaciously melancholic closer “Cold,” but manages to circumvent it the rest of the time. Though on the contrary, Pelkonen’s growls sound stronger than ever on The Burning Cold. So who’s to complain, really?
Instrumentally, Omnium Gatherum shreds, riffs, and acts as a unit flawlessly. Special shoutout to new drummer Tuomo Latvala, whose playing provides an immovable foundation for the rest of the band to play off; and play off they do. The guitar work of duo Joonas Koto and Vanhala himself will make your head spin and hands ache, partially from the dizzying difficulty of it all and maybe a little because you wish those melodies were under your fingers. Though with the former being a part of Malpractice and the latter being a part of Insomnium since 2011, their songwriting and technical proficiency shouldn’t be a surprise.
It’s an odd compliment to pay, but this is Omnium Gatherum sounding the most them that they’ve ever sounded. The Burning Cold fearlessly dives into everything Omnium Gatherum has ever brought to the table and summarizes it perfectly. It’s a textbook on how to write a great melodic death metal album in 2018. The Burning Cold is simply Omnium Gatherum making the best damn Omnium Gatherum record that they can, further propelling them into the pantheon of future greats.