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In The Woods... - Omnio CD (album) cover

OMNIO

In The Woods...

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.05 | 103 ratings

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sleeper
Prog Reviewer
4 stars If the 1980's saw the pioneering of Progressive Metal then the 1990's was the decade it solidified and spread out, exploring and sometimes breaking the bounderies of what was considered part of the mesh between prog rock and metal. Legendary band In the Woods... was one of the main groups leading the way from the extreme metal side of things in Norway and its here on their second album, Omnio, that the band really hit their stride, whilst moving beyond their Black Metal roots at the same time.

The biggest change anyone who is familier with the bands first album, HEart of the Ages, is that the Balck Metal influence has been largely reduced to nothing, with the fast paced riffing charecteristic of this band being the only nod left to the genre that birthed them. In practice, that means that the screaching vocals of Jan Transith ( formerly going by the name of Ovl. Svithjod) are gone completely leaving him to sing solely in his clean vocal range. Also of notice is a huge improvement in the production of this album, the mudyness of the guitars and vocals has been sharpened up. The effect is to leave Omnio as an album more in the vain of Doom/Prog Metal cross.

As a whole this album is underpined by the composing of X Botteri, who by all accounts seemed to have been the main driving force behind the bands music, along with his brother and bassist C:M Botteri. These two take the listener on an almost spiritual, and certainly emotional, voyage by the sweepeing passages, driving riffs and drawn out, mournful guitar counterpoint through the epics of 299.798 KM/s, I am Your Flesh, Weeping Willow and the grand force that is the title track, the 26 minute Omnio?. With the help of drummer Anders Kobro, guitarists Advar a:m and Bjorn "Berserk" Harstad (Bjorn H as he was credited on this album) the band exerts their skill in developing songs from slow mournful and ponderous through gritty, shifting melodies and driving riffs to powerful climaxes.

In many ways the structuring of the music on Omnio is very similar to what was presented on the first album, HEart of the Ages, but the big difference has come in their ability to execute the ideas that build the album and the level of musicianship they employ. They succed far better at creating atmospher here and I think that can be put down to a growing maturity in the Botteri brothers in their composition skills, noticibly taking more time to fully develop an idea or theme to its fullest before advancing the song through the next idea and/or theme. The tasteful use of a string quartet in the opening and title tracks shows them willing to use the space available in the music without it feeling cluttered and the same applies to the sparse but excellently well placed vocals of Synne D (also known as Sopranna) who would latter join the band as a full time member.

If anything Omio is a good case to prove the addage that technicality is a tool to create emotion in music, as this album has an undeniably greater emotional effect whilst the band displays a greater aptitude on their respective instruments, particularly in the guitar solo's. The member of the band that hs made the biggest improvement, in my opinion, is singer Jan K Transeth. On the first album I wasnt all that enamoured with his distinctive Black Metal screams and his clean voice was slightly on the flat and dull side of things, but in the two years between the two albums he has developed his vocals style, particularly the dynamics of delivery. Now his voice rises in command of the listeners attention and it doesnt take much too see why he's considered a legend amongst metal singers. I'm also impressed with his style of writting lyrics, which completely does away with the need for choruses in the same manner that many of Prog Rock's early classics did as well, something that doesnt happen very often these days with bands of any genre.

Of the songs themselves there is no weak tracks. Everything from the majestic flow of Weeping Willow to etherial expanse of Kairos and the experimental soundscapes of Omnio? is fantastic. So, why dont I give this album the full 5 stars then? The answer is that this isnt the best version of Omnio available, that belongs to the live album Liveathecaledonianhall where this albums is performed in its entirety and there's something about the live settin that just gives this music a lift above almost anything else I've ever heard. An absolut must for any fan of Progressive Metal with enough to interest people who dont normally like metal bands. 4.5 well deserved stars.

sleeper | 4/5 |

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