DØDHEIMSGARD — A Umbra Omega

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DØDHEIMSGARD - A Umbra Omega cover
4.39 | 6 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2015

Tracklist

1. The Love Divine (1:03)
2. Aphelion Void (15:14)
3. God Protocol Axiom (13:13)
4. The Unlocking (11:21)
5. Architect of Darkness (11:59)
6. Blue Moon Duel (14:20)

Total time 67:10

Line-up/Musicians

- Aldrahn / guitars, vocals
- Thunberg / guitars
- L.E. Måløy / bass
- Vicotnik / drums
- Sekaran aka Terghl / drums

About this release

Peaceville Records, March 16th, 2015

A Umbra Omega Digipak
2015 CD Peaceville

Recorded at Supervillain HQ.
Engineered, mixed and produced by Yusaf Parvez.
Mastering by Tom Kvålsvoll at Strype Audio.

Thanks to siLLy puPPy for the addition and UMUR for the updates

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DØDHEIMSGARD A UMBRA OMEGA reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Out of all the black metal bands to emerge from the Norwegian scene in the 90s perhaps none have strayed so far from its roots as has Oslo’s DØDHEIMSGARD and while not exactly the most prolific band having only released a mere five albums and one EP since its 1994 formation, nevertheless continues to sporadically release some of the most challenging and bizarre avant-garde metal releases that still retain the black metal template which launched their existence. The band which has had numerous lineup changes since its formation has had as many stylistic shifts culminating in the innovative industrial / black metal hybrids of “666 International” and “Supervillain Outcast.” The former was released all the way back in 2007 and then the band seemingly fell off the face of the Earth but in reality was slowly conjuring up its biggest surprise of all, namely 2015’s fifth full-length release A UMBRA OMEGA (In The Shadow Of Omega).

This is an entirely new lineup for DØDHEIMSGARD with only founding member Vicotnik still around over twenty years later and the result is truly an entirely new sound that takes black metal into even stranger more challenging extremes. This is an album that i had to wait several years to fully grasp as it eluded me for the first few listens, a feat that is almost non-existent in my reality since as a music nerd i’m fairly quick to latch onto musical challenges but despite the fairly accessible opening hooks that exist on A UMBRA OMEGA, the album delivers a labyrinthine system of alternating between high octane black metal outbursts (usually at the beginning of the six tracks and then revisited) along with a mix of everything from post-metal sounding segments, Floydian space rock, classical piano runs and even trip hop amongst others. While not the first to employ such adventurous tactics of juggling disparate genres, the beauty of A UMBRA OMEGA is how seamlessly integrated all these extra touches are stitched together and add a perfectly polished production job and you will be treated to a perfect avant-garde metal delivery if only you have the patience to allow this near impenetrable fortress of sound to open its gates for your arrival.

Like any album that excels in complexities rarely reached in a musical format, A UMBRA OMEGA is one that requires 100% of your attention being focused on every intricate development of the musical flow. If this music is thrown on willy nilly as background music then this will sound like utter gibberish. The six tracks meander all over the place but the melodic development does provide a stream of consciousness which threads it all together so this album isn’t as impenetrable as some of the most extreme examples of avant-prog or some of the avant-jazz fueled brutal prog out there. This one almost sounds like it was constructed like an electronica album that implements changes in tone clusters and timbres dressed up in musical styles to convey its message. The tracks start out with bombastic black metal fueled tremolo guitar riffs and blastbeats but after a while they dissolve into more surreal passages that generate electronic fueled space rock accompanied by classical piano. Perhaps even stranger yet is the weird shared vocal styles of Vicotnik and Aldrahn’s semi-spoken heartfelt lyrical deliveries that literally sounds like nothing else i’ve ever heard.

This is definitely a case of a band going for the art rock jugular as this is a truly challenging listening experience where every sonic addition is a stroke on a magnanimous musical canvas where no compromise is made for the sake of the non-musical types out there who don’t embrace the pinnacle of artistic evolution and while the whole project may come off a bit self-indulgent and disconnected from the pulse of the commercial metal scene, that’s exactly the point. This is the type of musical project that is targeted for those interested in hearing something hitherto unexperienced. After a few years of letting this one sink in, i can only conclude that this is a work of genius and continues the intermittent legacy of Norway’s weirdest extreme metal band in perfect form. Clearly DØDHEIMSGARD is a musical project that emphasizes quality over quantity and with A UMBRA OMEGA, the band produced its most intricately sophisticated oeuvre to date. Although Aldrahn departed in 2016, a new album has been purported to be in the making. Where will this strange band go next? It is futile to even attempt such a prediction. Simply wait patiently and find out when that day comes.
Warthur
Dødheimsgard had offered up industrialised black metal on 666 International, went dark for a good number of years, and then re-emerged offering blackened industrial metal on Supervillain Outcast. Now, after another long break, the project has offered up A Umbra Omega, which sees Vicotnik and his new lineup taking Dødheimsgard back out of the industrial realm altogether to produce an album which retains a black metal foundation but gets extremely weird with it. With proggy synthesisers, jazzy brass sections, and a vocal performance from Aldrahn with a theatrical, eccentric delivery that puts me in mind of the sort of thing Devil Doll get up to, A Umbra Omega represents an avant-black puzzlebox which will reward patient listeners.
UMUR
"A Umbra Omega" is the 5th full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive extreme metal act Dødheimsgard. The album was released through Peaceville Records in March 2015. It´s the successor to "Supervillain Outcast" from 2007, so there´s been quite gap in time between the two releases. If you look back in the band´s discography that´s not unusual though as there was an 8 year gap between the release of "666 International (1999)" and "Supervillain Outcast (2007)" too. A recording output of 3 albums in 16 years isn´t exactly prolific, but main man behind the project Vicotnik (real name Yusaf Parvez) has been busy with other projects like Code and Naer Mataron, and "A Umbra Omega" also features an almost completely revamped lineup compared to the lineup who recorded "Supervillain Outcast (2007)". Actually the only remaining member from the lineup of the predecessor is Vicotnik. Lead vocalist Kvohst has been replaced by a returning Aldrahn though (Dødheimsgard singer in the period 1994-2004), so there is at least one more familiar face in the lineup on "A Umbra Omega".

Dødheimsgard has been Vicotnik´s project for the last many years though, so while "A Umbra Omega" doesn´t sound like neither "666 International (1999)" nor "Supervillain Outcast (2007)" (or any of their early releases for that matter), it´s still unmistakably the sound of Dødheimsgard. The twisted and abstract take on extreme metal which draws influences from as diverse musical styles as avant garde, progressive rock/metal, black metal, thrash metal, death metal, and industrial metal (and even a touch of goth) is quite unique.

Where "Supervillain Outcast (2007)" typically comprised of "regular" length tracks with recognisable vers/chorus structures (although still quite adventurous), "A Umbra Omega" is a very different kind of beast. 6 tracks and a full playing time of 67:10 minutes means that all tracks, except the short intro track "The Love Divine", are over 10 minutes long and two of them are even close to 15 minutes in length. All tracks disregard regular vers/chorus structures, and almost no sections are repeated twice during any track. So the tracks are long continuous journeys and quite complex in structure. They are not instantly catchy like some tracks on the predecessor, and require many spins before they settle, and even then they are quite hard to tell apart. In fact the whole album feels more like one long track divided into chapters/suites, than seperate tracks.

Stylistically we´re treated to an avant garde/progressive take on black/extreme metal, with quite expressive and paatos filled vocals in front (sometimes black metal raspy and other times howling and deranged). The whole thing comes off as a dark and twisted theater piece. The avant garde approach to singing occasionally sounds a bit constructed to me, and to my ears Aldrahn was a lot more convincing on "666 International (1999)".

"A Umbra Omega" is well produced, and the musicianship is also on a high level, so it´s a high quality release on most parameters. The long tracks with almost no reoccuring sections is an innovative and progressive move by Dødheimsgard, but it´ll probably divide the band´s listeners. Personally I´m a bit biased as I usually praise innovation and boldness in music, but on the other hand there´s little here which makes me feel like I´ve listened to an album that is on par with their two previous releases, and overall "A Umbra Omega" does feel like a step down for the band. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is still deserved, and if you´re able to appreciate the way the material is constructed that rating should probably be slightly higher.

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