There seems to be a small movement within progressive metal that is eschewing the traditional trappings of the genre, and this dedication by a small but growing list of bands intent to “go their own way” is both inspiring and refreshing. Instead of simply rehashing now commonplace genre archetypes from the big two (Dream Theater and Meshuggah), many bands are bringing more contemporary influences to the fold, and blending disparate sounds together to create something a bit different, in an effort to pique the interest of the jaded modern prog listener. Although not without its flaws, Omniverity’s Eclipse is a promising statement from a band that very well may join the pantheon of this modern explorer’s club.
The most exciting aspect of the 3 song EP is the diversity on display. Much like contemporaries Pressure Points and Perihelion Ship, Omniverity values dynamics over flash, and I think that this is a good songwriting decision that benefits the music. A heavy, driving death metal inflected section may segue into an acoustic interlude, or a Riverside-esque chord driven clean guitar break. The individual elements present in each song transition well, and seem well though out and put together. Themes and ideas are allowed to develop, and this approach really lets the music breath. When it is locking in, which it is over most of this EP’s run time, “Eclipse” is an example of some pretty interesting, varied modern progressive metal.
First track “Swimming Upstream” charges with a mix of airy, atmospheric single note lines and crunchy time signature workouts. Second is “Solstice”, which is probably my highlight due to the cool laid-back vibe on display. Closer “Comfortless Peace” maintains a chilled out vibe early on, with some tasty bluesy lead guitar work and then switches gears to a more hard driving section to end the song and EP as a whole. I enjoyed the songwriting, and the flow feels finely tuned between calm and heaviness, a balance that not many bands seem to get right.
On the other hand, there are a few elements that stuck out in a less positive light, and two main gripes took me out of the songs whenever they appeared. The production sounds generally good, with each instrument operating where it needs to in the mix. However, the drum production can sound a stiff at times, which based on my own experience behind a studio console is more of a choice or consequence of production techniques than a failing on the band’s part. The balance between a punchy, lively drum tone and a dynamic performance is a thin, razor’s edge, especially with sampling and replacement all too common in the digital recording space these days, and while this element didn’t make or break the record, it didn’t quite sit well with me. It isn’t always an issue, but when I noticed it, it became something I couldn’t help but focus on.
Finally, although the vocalist has a good mid range singing voice, there are times when the melody seems strained in the attempt to take it to the stratosphere. High vocals are a staple of prog metal, and so this attempt at gravitas is understandable, but ultimately some of these lines are a bit outside of the vocalists comfort zone and don’t always land as a result. The vast majority of the vocals parts, guttural and clean alike, sound really great and I think if these sounds are focused on in the future the vocal performance will only improve.
Overall, Omniverity are a band to watch, and I would definitely recommend checking out this EP. There are some issues here, but there is nothing that cannot be improved upon and expanded in a future release. The sound blends enough diverse influences to cater to fans of more mellow prog and heavier prog alike, and this dynamic range is one of their biggest strengths. This trend is refreshing to see, and hopefully this new wave of bands continues to evolve and not simply iterate. The band builds upon a solid foundation, and with a few tweaks their brand of prog metal could reach the sublime in short order.
- Swimming Upstream
- Comfortless Peace