I didn’t quite know what to expect from Ommatidia’s debut album “In This Life, Or The Next,” but I knew it was going to be good. Nicolas Chevrollier and Vincent Danhier of the now defunct French progressive/doom metal outfit The Old Dead Tree are at the helm of this new project. Season of Mist just added them to their roster, one of the most impressive rosters any label could boast about. Obviously, I had high expectations when I first gave this a listen, and Ommatidia kicked my expectations in the throat while laughing and jeering at me. I was prepared for something mildly decent, and they blew any preconceptions I had out of the water.
The first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice is how similar the vocals are to Anathema in certain songs. Is this a bad thing? Absofuckinglutely not! Anathema set the doom metal bar extremely high, and sounding like them is more of a compliment than a hindrance. Take the second track, ‘Starspeed God’ , for example. The vocal range of Guillaume Richard is very reminiscent of Vincent Cavanagh’s work in ‘The Silent Enigma,’ where he goes back and forth between low growls and heart wrenching croons. It doesn’t take long for a listener to figure out that this is no Anathema rip-off. There is something much darker at the root of this band. The music is more downtrodden, and creates an effect that is cold, gray, and distant, yet very melodic. The guitar sequence at 2:53 is proof, and showcases the creativity of this group as well. I’m a sucker for melodies that veer into a direction that you didn’t anticipate, and it seems that Ommatidia have mastered such a concept.
Every instrument adds a new element to the song; what starts out as a speedy riff gets punctuated by drums and grows a groovy rhythm. I hate to sound cliché and describe it as having an almost painted-like quality, with the instruments being brushes and all of that bullshit, but this is a band with which the metaphor applies. Each musical element of this album is purposely used to build on each other and create a “piece.” It is masterfully crafted, and anything I disliked about it was nothing in the face of the insurmountable evidence proving how much it rules. Even the throwaway track (‘Senses Commotion’, in my opinion), which was the most generic and “textbook doom” of the songs, was more than bearable and still ended up winning me over in the end. This is because each has song has so much going into it that its hard to not notice something that would please a listener. Or maybe it’s because this band is a fucking gem!
This all sounds decent, so why am I not all that enthused? Hint: I haven’t mentioned the first track yet…
The first track absolutely floored me. This album is definitely good, but by comparison to the first song, it just doesn’t add up. And it’s not Ommatidia’s fault in any way; they are talented, proficient musicians, and I find them to be extremely enjoyable. It’s because ANYTHING compared to this song just doesn’t measure up. I’d like to think that I’m an “hard to impress” elitist with a discernible taste that would prevent me from fucking crying when I hear a song for the first time, but nope, I guess I’m a pussy. I heard Track 1, ‘Only Found By Those Who Seek,’ and I wept like an infant. This is one of those gems that comes into your life and makes you wonder how the fuck you’ve managed to survive this long without knowing about it. IT IS THAT GOOD. It’s a relatively short song, yet so much is packed into those epic two minutes and 47 seconds. The synth on this track kicks in first and sets the most atmospheric tone I’ve ever heard, it literally sounds like it’s electrifying the air around you as your ears pick it up. Add some indecipherable and subtle vocals, and a crescendo effect that explodes into a guitar solo and you have the most forlorn, haunting, gorgeous track you have ever heard. It’s beautifully solemn, and in my opinion, might be an example of some of the greatest doom metal in creation. Do whatever it takes to get this album immediately. Sell your soul, sell your body, I don’t give a fuck what you do, just buy it. This band deserves your money. And if you have good taste, you deserve this album!