Monday, July 7, 2014
34 minutes after I had pressed play, my consciousness returned and I took in the destruction to my home. My furniture was smashed to bits. Electronics lay in broken piles. On the other side of the apartment wall I could hear the neighbour's kids crying. Someone had called the cops; the sirens got louder, signalling their imminent arrival. As I prepared to set fire to my worldly belongings and go out in a hail of gunfire, I decided to hit play one last time.
The album I've been waiting for all year has finally arrived: Mighty Origin has unleashed Omnipresent, and god damn, is it something.
After the somewhat experimental Entity, I was wondering where Origin would go next. How far would they push their newfound love of groove and melody? Would the results still be death metal? The answer to that second question is an emphatic "yes". There's nothing as gonzo as the skronking midsection in "Committed"; and any hope of the band topping the best death metal album of the last decade were unrealistic. Antithesis is, and probably will always remain, the band's high water mark.
But taken on its own, Omnipresent is a work of remarkable craftsmanship. Though on occasion the band retreads past glories, there are enough moments that show Origin isn't afraid of tampering with their formula: "Redistribution of Filth" is three minutes of moshpit bait that may be the result of touring with Misery Index. And a black metal influence makes itself known with "Source of Icon O" being a fairly obvious (smart-ass) shout out to Emperor, as well as closer "The Indiscriminate" recalling the epic melodicism of the dearly departed Dawn.
Anyone who's seen Origin in the last few years knows what an entertaining presence frontman Jason Keyser is on stage; but in his first studio outing with Origin, he delivers some of the best vocals that the band has ever had on record. Alternating in classic grind fashion between a low bark and a high pitched scream, he's the vocalist that Origin has always needed.
Guitarist Paul Ryan, of course, is the heart of the band. Origin are often painted with the "technical death metal" brush, but while Ryan is a fret burner of the highest order -and the number of bands biting his style seems to be multiplying exponentially - it is his prowess as a songwriter that makes Omnipresent such a delight. The album is filled with memorable moments; nothing is overly complicated for its own sake and songs never outstay their welcome. Indeed, one of the great joys of the album is its brevity. Minus the occasional interlude and instrumental, it's barely half an hour long. [Reign in Blood anyone?]
On top of it all, behind it all, in front of it all, around it all: John fucking Longstreth, blasting away. There may be more inventive drummers in death metal right now (Ulcerate's Jamie Saint Merat comes to mind), but there are few who drive the music forward with such ease. One of my major regrets is that I didn't get to see Origin tour with Gorguts, when Longstreth play two sets per night.
I listened Omnipresent four times just the Friday I downloaded this; by the time the week-end had finished, the number of plays had probably tripled. I can't wait to load this up on my running playlist and take it out for a spin. I have a feeling I'm going to need a new pair of shoes by the end of the month.
2014 has been a banner year for death metal, but Omnipresent makes all the rest redundant. I don't want another death metal album for the rest of the year. I don't need one.