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Overoth | ‘The Forgotten Tome’


It’s ambitious, I’ll give them that.

But the question I have about Overoth’s second album is this.

Why does an undoubtedly great death metal band seek to bulk out their sound with enough orchestration for a computer game, when the net result that it sounds less, rather than more, individual?

It’s confusing.

The band made their name on the honed, classics-worshipping death metal that gained its atmosphere precisely because of its back to basics authenticity.

Dark riffs, a brutal vocal, solos that sounded like cries of the fallen and double kick that rumbled the floor – those were the essential ingredients. And with Overoth, they sounded fresh and current.

So the addition of Behemoth levels of additional instrumentation is a conundrum. It leaves them sounding like a load of other continental bands with no real gain in mood or atmosphere.

No doubt huge effort has been put into those layers upon layers. As they say themselves, they basically tore it apart and rebuilt it track by track.

But what for, when the result sounds like a synthesis of true atmosphere – a Therion-esque Dimmusound of stabbing violins and generic bombast?

I find such studio generated walls of sound hard to get past.

But lets try, because the band’s sharp death metal is of course still the mainstay of this record.

Transformation

And yet I find it hard not to continue to be an eey-ore.

The snare and drum sound is no longer natural: it’s an over treated plastic.

Those rumbles from that double kick though remain a fantastic weight throughout.

And the guitar solos are a real step up.

Opener ‘Sigil Of The Empty Throne’ showcases one of the best on the album, as the song hammers home. But why it needs an absolutely insipid piano and strings outro stealing all that heaviness away is just beyond me.

Speed isn’t really a thing on this album, but two tracks do ramp it up.

‘God Of Delusion’ and more especially ‘Harbinger Of The End Times’ show that the old attack hasn’t been entirely left behind in this transformation.

The title track hints to Behemoth or Hate, but the Enigma-style monk singing in the background just seems an unnecessarily frilly addition because they’re neither sustained nor a core part of the music.

It’s hard for this all not to come across as a mammoth bitching session. Believe me it isn’t.

I was disgusted when, on releasing the first admittedly too teasy by half promo-video for this album, a load of people jumped straight down the band’s neck without even hearing a note.

I felt that such knee jerk reactions were appalling for a band who had so clearly paid more than their dues.

My criticism is different.

It’s that in a concerted move toward scale and ambition, they have sandblasted out the danger, mood, feeling and attack once so characteristic of their offering.

They’ve replaced those virtues with stock movie-ish sounds that despite the hours of labour and craft that have gone into their construction, sound utterly off the shelf.

I’m not saying bands shouldn’t develop. Far from it.

But they should develop more toward themselves.

I regret to say it, (and greatly), but what Overoth have done here is move toward a sound that while accomplished, is depressingly like loads of other bands, with keyboard pads and swathes in all the predictable positions, doing the predictable things.

The point of underground music is deviation, not conformity, and Overoth’s offering is now as generic sounding as they come.

Can’t really believe I’m writing that, as they’re a fantastic band. But such accoutrements don’t sound ‘big’, they just sound bland, and the songs suffer.

Might I just say that I respect the effort hugely. But it has been misplaced, in my opinion.

Because at the end of it – who will truly remember ‘The Forgotten Tome’?

2.7 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 23/10/17



14 Comments
  1. i think the synths and orchestration sound great on this,. they dont sound like they just slapped them on there and they fit into the songs well.
    a question to the reviewer.
    would you have marked this higher if they had left those parts out?

  2. This band have been shite since day one and this is no different.

  3. The ambience/synth orchestration on the new stuff takes some getting used to. It’s a strange brew for a Norn Iron band though it’s done well and should do very well when they get it out on the road. New album. New sound. Big deal. Love it.

  4. Anto Nugent Says:

    Yeah, a tough one this. The lads are at a crossroads really, they’ve mined the style on their early releases as much as they could have in my opinion so there was no way to go other than to expand on their sound and try something different.

    I think the results are very mixed, we’ll take the sound for granted as the work has gone in and it sounds amazing, same goes for the musicianship. The synths and samples are a major problem occasionally they work but some of the intros especially sound like something from a Lord of the Rings movie – incredibly silly. Some of the parts within the tracks themselves make it sound like something off a terrible latter day Cradle of Filth record – some toe curling stuff in there chaps.

    There’s some great songs in there for sure, but I can’t escape the feeling that on the whole, they have dumbed their sound down – it sounds very “European” – I could see festival crowds really warming to it.

    Either way, hope it does well for the lads and brings them new opportunities. It’s tough for a band like this who’ve been round the block a few times and we can’t really knock them because they didn’t go in the direction maybe some of us would’ve like to seen them go.

    And just to address this

    “I was disgusted when, on releasing the first admittedly too teasy by half promo-video for this album, a load of people jumped straight down the band’s neck without even hearing a note.”

    The initial promo was a bit ridiculous mate, considering the band have been in the game long enough a 20 second clip of sound effects was a dick move.

  5. Blessed1 you’re right on the money. I asked myself that over and over when listening.

    I think my conclusion was that the riffs sounded a tad more simplistic than before, and I wonder if this was to allow more space for the orchestration. Perhaps not. Perhaps that’s how they were written.

    Seems there are maybe fewer harmonies and the chord choices are a bit more straightforward. It’s hard to say cause the orchestration is so prominent.

  6. Been listening to it for a couple of weeks now and what I am hearing is the sound refined, less busy and casting the net to a wider audience. The production is superb on it, the songs bed in very quickly. It is very much a here and now record, its current, its heavy, its a solid fix of modern death metal which will appeal to a Euro festival crowd and will pick up new fans along the way here.

    I find it a very easy listen and am enjoying it, in terms of shelf life though it may not travel through time as well due to the orchestrations.

    It is highly recommended if you want a good solid dose of death metal with wider appeal.

  7. Chris Polin Says:

    I haven’t stopped listening to it since it was released. I absolutely can’t stand the ‘euro-metal’ trend of massive orchestration and axe-fx/plastic drums production that has become so ubiquitous these days, and I was a bit disappointed that Overoth had appeared to go down that hole when listening to the teasers. I must say though, the album has enough orchestration to add texture without becoming the central focus of the music (although the two wanky non-tracks could have been dropped, they’re just an inconvenience to skip): it’s still all about the four guys and their instruments. The vocals are monstrous, production is a joy (although that snare could use a bit more life) and the songwriting is a huge leap in maturity from the first record. Guitar solos have been very carefully crafted (and less of that same harmonic minor phrase!), notably in the first song.

    I think it’s a really fantastic album. I will say however, the orchestration is _just_ on the right side of tasteful, I hope they don’t lose the run of it on the third album.

  8. They’re definitely gunning for the big-time with this – sounds massive and as you say, Euro-fest friendly. Not really for me (even though there are some great riffs dotted around the place) and it’s a VERY cluttered space these days but they may well take off significantly if it reaches the right ears on the continent. And good luck to ’em, frankly.

  9. earl grey thats a fair assessment i guess.
    i honestly hated their last album and im a big fan of synths and the like over metal so i have to say they have found a new fan with this newish sound they have.

  10. Agree with Chris, I don’t find the orchestration overwhelming for the majority of the listen – Maybe it’s because I mainly listen to this type of stuff that I don’t see the issue with it.

    In most of the songs the verse riffs and lead sections don’t have any synth layering whatsoever and I only heard the stabbing strings twice throughout the whole album so the Dimmu Borgir comparison is a tad too harsh.

    But I would cull stuff like the opener and the weird choir thing at the end of The Keeper and the other instrumental in the middle that sounds like a mashup of Willow and The Terminator soundtracks. End of Harbinger too, don’t leave the strings end looping like that – very unnatural going into the next song.

    The guitar solos are brilliant as is most of the lead work – a strength they should take more advantage of next time. This stuff will go down well around Europe and should get them noticed at festivals. Best of luck to them!

  11. I’m still making my way through first listen but compelled to say Sigil of the Empty Throne is gobsmackingly good. The clarity and aggression in the vocals, the prominent and clever high end bass line, drum work and satisfying non cliche harmonic minor solo as per Chris’s comment. Overall rivals output of many of their more illustrious peers. I also quite like the outro piano though it cuts slightly abruptly before leading into Winter of Iniquity.

    I’m not sure what other choice the lads had really, there’s only so many variations of the cocktail dress that is traditional death metal and the orchestration adds a depth to these ears.

    For evolution I’d love to see them take it into the more atmospheric/ ethereal soundscapes that the likes of Fallujah use so well while retaining their more old school death stylings.

    Minor complaint, I think the artwork lets them down (someone had to say it)

    Really hope this release brings the, success and bigger audiences, they deserve it.

  12. slit your guts Says:

    Saw these guys play in Slovenia last year and they were killer!!
    Great band and great release.

  13. Seems a bit unfair to label it generic and like a load of other bands, they were hardly anything unique before

  14. Production seems far more polished than a lot of material I’ve heard lately from local acts, but:

    Don’t add orchestration if you don’t know how to do it, or if still wishing to, pay someone. The samples used stand out as samples, their treatment is a bit dry, and don’t sound as natural as some packs do these days.

    It does sound reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir and their ilk. Maybe better luck with this played live?

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