Review: Omega Point – The Descent
I decided to go into the review of The Descent completely blind because I have been in a sort of musical rut lately. Nothing sounds really interesting; I’m kinda getting bored by music and listening to a lot more podcasts. So this review turned into an exercise for me: to listen to something brand new and review it shortly afterwards, even if it’s something weird like nu-metal wave (if that were a thing). Well fear not, kind folks at Omega Point, the exercise was lots of fun as I ended up greatly enjoying The Descent, and here’s why.
Black metal’s not really my thing, boss. Though I have enjoyed some records by a small handful of black metal bands (Marduk, 1349, and Deathspell Omega are about as black as I get), it’s rarely my go-to and I know very little of its history. Black metal bands that many of you may LOVE — for instance Mgła or Deafheaven — do absolutely nothing for me. Lolz, that was a joke… or was it? When I saw that my review assignment was categorized as containing “influences from Black to Progressive Metal”, it intimidated a little; but not enough to scare me away from it. Well good thing Omega Point incorporates those couple of elements from black metal that I do really enjoy, and none of the parts that make me keep me away from the real trve stuff (Mayhem? Dissection? am I even in the right ballpark?).
All right, so the folks in Omega Point are trying to fool anyone, as best exemplified by the album art itself. All you have to do is take one glance and see that it’s MOSTLY white, with a wee bit of black ink and text. It’s not at all scary or gory, just rather… clean and sparse! This informs us (by clever mind manipulation through art) that we aren’t to expect something as grim and somber as some of the aforementioned artists. If anything we can predict at this point, it’s safe to expect more of a progressive metal project than a black metal project, on the sliding scale of those two genres combined. And if you are a progressive metal or progressive rock fan, it’s really time to perk your ears up and see what they’ve got in store for you here:
That’s the title track and first song on the album, called “The Descent”. It incorporates all the elements that make this unique combination of those two aforementioned sub-genres work. Not only do we have several instances of clean and melodic vocals (which won’t surprise any fan of progressive rock, let’s face it) there are some pretty evil-sounding raspy ones interspersed. Now, I know I just finished telling you how benign this album is, but the traditional black metal cries fit the music incredibly well as the riffing played throughout most of the record also adheres to a black metal template. But overall this journey that we are taken on is triumphant and bright.
Track 2 “At Omega Point” opens with a hard rockin riff and a neo-classical guitar solo that wouldn’t sound out of place if it were located on a Steve Vai song. After that minute and a half of jamming, we get high speed black metal tremolo picking and blast beasts. The transitions between different tempos is one of the biggest selling points of the record, they incorporate several different speeds and allow each composition enough time to breathe and evolve into its next form. (Hence the tag “progressive metal”.) If, like me you consider Dream Theater too cheesy, you’re going to feel like this contains just the right amount of theatricality in the songwriting… with mostly black metal riffs, remember. It sounds odd but they pull it off oh so well.
“Untergang” is a seven minute epic that starts out with a brooding intro that acts as the calming before the storm once it shifts into high gear. Guitars and synths are slowly added, layer by layer, until Omega Point decides we are ready to bang our corpse-painted heads and raise our swords in the wintry forest. I’ve heard bands do this in the “atmospheric black metal” setting, but it’s not as murky here: the production is rather clean (but not too much) and the metronomic drumming keep the whole project on a very well-defined path. I guess what I’m trying to say is that one of the key elements utilized in this progressive black metal project is… focus. Omega Point wants us to feel what they’re feeling, embark on this rich journey with them; and they happen to be very skilled docents. Not a moment of time is abused, never a needless detour taken, and definitely none of the guitar solos overstay their welcome, plentiful though they may be.
Here, they allow early listening of this song too. But if it were up to me, I’d share the final song on the album, it sure is an epic one. The way the guitars employ chord progression is so uplifting, so intrinsically good sounding to my brain, that it makes about as perfect of an album closer as it possibly could. The finality of “Alles Wird Still” is palpable, it’s execution in setting the mood – flawless. If you like what you hear on the embedded tracks and end up investigating the full album (it’s not out just yet, that’ll happen on January 5th of next year), give the last song a listen and that’ll give you a good indication of how fucking excellent The Descent is. My one and only gripe on the entire thing is that hearing it recorded only makes me want to hear it performed live. Perhaps if the recording was just a wee bit warmer and felt more improvised, I would be singing its praise out in the street (that’s a small complaint in the end). I dove into this review completely blind and ended up discovering something excellent that’s an easy 4/5 Flaming Toilet Emojis. Incredibly well done, Omega Point.
Check them out on BandCamp!
*** Bonus content if you want a Gimme Something to Watch recommendation: The Descent (2005) directed by Neil Marshall. It’s rill gud. K, sorry.***