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Album Reviews : Omnipresence – Thanatophobia

By on May 2, 2016

Thanatophobia Cover ArtThe mere album title for this band alone intrigued me from the outset. ‘Thanatophobia’ was a word I was unfamiliar with going in, and I was fascinated to discover the phobia deals with an anxiety over one’s own mortality; a very fear of death itself. It made sense to me then given the name, which, having suspected earlier anyway, is related to Thanatos, the Greek god of death. Going into this album with that thought at the back of my mind made the experience all the more surreal and engaging.

Omnipresence is a new band, being only a few months old at most. The brainchild of Zebådee Scott (Myridian) and featuring Ian Mather of Myridian also on guitars, their style is utterly intriguing and not at all what I was expecting. Leaving the doom stylings of Myridian behind, ‘Thanatophobia’ is a lot more experimental in its approach. This is an album that tides you in from the opening notes, ringing softly in your ears with utterances of melancholy and dreariness. It is an all too familiar exercise with extreme metal bands, but with Omnipresence, manages to come off fresh and apart from the norm.

Within the first few songs, Omnipresence manage to effectively achieve a state of unease and disquiet. It continues to beckon you in before it seeps out and then erupts before you; scratching away at your ears and mind with misanthropic lyrics and Gothenburg style melodies. I really enjoy the way this album builds to crescendos. It doesn’t assault you all at once. Rather, it builds gradually, allowing for atmosphere and nihilism to build in the music and distressed vocals. As the album progresses, it grows more frantic and unrelenting.

“Universal Consciousness” really sticks out to me as a highlight of the record. Demonstrating the diverse drum talents of Dean Hulett (also of Iconic Vivisect), I see this guy making some real waves in the local scene over the next couple of years. The blast beats and double bass is perfectly timed to the vocals of Zebådee Scott, and Hulett’s play-style complements the engaging riffs and licks of Ian Mather and the surging bass of Grant Hammono. The last minute of this song is pure aural ecstasy, with the song reaching its creative and musical climax. All the elements flow together in a wonderful and exciting way.

What is interesting to note about the idea behind the record with the notion of a ‘fear of death’, is that the paranoia and unease that would come with a phobia like this is reflected in a way in the music. It’s lucid, but it is also chaotic. Like stained glass, you know what is on the other side of it, but it is still obscured, and at the touch, it is rough and wrinkled.

The heavy melodic death metal elements in ‘Thanatophobia’ contrast well with the underlying black metal elements, which, while usually not stretching themselves beyond a subtle inclusion (aside from a few tracks such as “Finite”; a song which also boasts a haunting, pained screech midway through, that is captivating and effective), add fresh quality and allure to the record. You are frequently met by moments you don’t expect, such as the sound of a life support system in song, “Anesthetised”; that comes across cold and uninviting against samples of swirling winds and far-off laughter. The song closes even more tragically as a sorrowful guitar melody meets it close with the fading of the person’s pulse and the distant slamming shut of a door. The imagery this album conveys is astounding and it adds rich flavour to the overall piece.

You feel as if you are with these condemned souls, waiting helplessly for them to die. “Revelations”, the final track of the album, sounds out ‘Thanatophobia’ in an appropriately disturbing way. You are first met with the murmurs of a demonic voice speaking in a way that is difficult to decipher, whilst the song is overlayed with distant wails and a piano line. Beyond that there is a repeated drumming noise (almost like a war beat), but in the context of the track, comes across as someone trapped inside a box; awaiting what I can only assume is their perdition.

There is so much more you could talk about with this record, but space-permitting, I’ll end this review by saying that ‘Thanatophobia’ is an early standout of 2016 for me. Textured and layered, ‘Thanatophobia’ is an exercise is taking genres and boundaries and pushing them to new and unexplored heights.

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.