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Interview with Omnium Gatherum

Melodic Death Metal masters Omnium Gatherum are ready to conquer the world with their new studio album “Origin”, out on Nov 5th via Century Media Records. It is furious and cold and it doesn't take prisoners! The amazing Death Metal mark of this band is now blended with outstanding 80s synthesizers which makes this album fresh and original! 
Metal Imperium caught up with lead guitarist Markus Vanhala, who told us more about their 9th album.

M.I. - Your label has stated “These Melodic Death Metal masters are ready to conquer the world with their new studio album “Origin”, which will be out on Nov 5th via Century Media Records”. Why do they think you’ll conquer the world? What’s so special about “Origin”?

That’s so nice from Century Media if they believe us to conquer the world with an album, (laughts). ”Origin” is a damn good album, so why not? It’s a perfect piece of modern melodic death metal with catchy tunes and a good spirit.

M.I. - You are about to release the 9th album of the band. Why have you chosen “Origin” for title? It’s the origin of what?

It’s the Origin of many things. Jukka’s lyrical world is again dealing with a concept about the mysteries of life and human mind, and what lies there. The origin of all things inside the human mind. As also on some parts we returned to our origins, roots as a band. Because of covid lockdown and the world stopping, we suddenly had all the time in the world and we started to rehearse more as a band again. Have band rehearsals often, that haven’t been happening lately as all of us have been so busy with all touring et all things. We also returned to the Sonic Pump Studios, studio where we recorded our first three releases, so it’s also one origin of things in the path of OG…

M.I. - The band is known for keeping its essence and your core sound is always present. How do you manage to create great album after great album?

We do this from the honest heart, and the band is also old enough to have its own heart and life. So we know exactly how an Omnium Gatherum album feels inside and what elements there should be. We have a pretty individual sound for a melodeath band; very melodic still very cookie monster brutal vocals, some really AOR’ish clean Vox and lot of keyboards. That’s it, I guess. Balancing on the edge of melodic and aggressive.

M.I. - The band already released three singles taken from this new opus: “Fortitude”, “Paragon” and “Reckoning”... are these songs the best representation of the album? Why have you opted to show these off first?

“Paragon” and ”Reckoning” are pretty easy catchy hit songs from the album, as ”Fortitude” then is more epic and deeper song which shows another shades of this album.

M.I. - How have people been reacting to the new tracks so far? Will more tracks be released before the 5th November?

Feedback has been awesome, and seems fans have loved our “new direction”. Which isn’t that far away from the distinct OG sound. (laughts). There’ll be still another video, more like a rehersal playthru video from our rehearsal place, from a song called ”Unity”. It’ll be released on the album release day exactly, so it’s a celebration day.

M.I. - All the tracks include only one word in the title... is there a specific reason for this?

That was Jukka’s way of doing the album concept this time, one worded names. I think it’s cool. Nothing too long like Bal Sagoth did back in the days. ”Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne OF Ultima Thule. Which was cool also!

M.I. - Jukka Pelkonen has said that “Basically PARAGON is about overcoming obstacles and hard situations. Anything that comes to the way may be intense and malign, but it will not shatter the diamond of resolve, that is the paragon!” 
This is a great message these days because many are struggling with several issues (either professional, healthy, mental) due to the pandemic... were you also personally affected by the virus?

I think everyone in this planet was affected by the virus somehow. Global shitstorm that changed all. Luckily no one from the band nor inner circle and families have got the covid. But the overall mental mood has been pretty down and people have been more and more miserable. That’s why we wanted to do an uplifting song with ”Paragon”. Never surrender and never give up!

M.I. - The video for “Paragon” is a bit confusing... what are the cheerleaders doing in there? Is it to attract more views?

That was also for the same uplifting mood, that people need during these times. More awesome, less that melancholy in this deep melancholic situation. Cool cars, uplifting cheerleaders, summertime, racing, band playing in a garage. Why not? We love it all!

M.I. - “Fortitude” was filmed at Munapirtti, an island in Southeast Finland, near Kotka, where the cabin, where you have rehearsed many times before entering the studios to record new albums since ‘New World Shadows’ is located. Do you work best if you isolate yourselves from the world?

Isolation helps to dive inside the deep projects, so the covid actually helped on this case with all lockdowns et all antisocial mood. No distractions there in the woods. It’s a beautiful and important sanctuary for us. We have got many many band camps there and rehearse songs and discuss the album themes and arrangements in the sauna. Very, very Finnish,right?

M.I. - Who designed the cover for “Origin”? It is an usual mixture of old style metal cover with the skulls and a futuristic cover with the red and the symbol. What’s its connection to the album?

Olli Lappalainen, the visual artist member of the band. He has designed ALL our cover artworx since the first demo, so he is an important part of OG family. There’s a cave inside the mountain where is an OG altar, origin of all things, and the dead skulls are the people who have failed and tried to hurt this sacred logo (laughts). Back cover there’s also long stairs and the door which leads inside. To the origin. Whatever it’ll be.

M.I. - Markus mentioned the band has had some weird lineup changes. Why weird? Have these lineup changes affected the band somehow?

Well, the first two Erkki and Joonas weren’t weird. They just got enough of their share about traveling and touring, and didn’t want to do this anymore. That happens to some when you’re growing older, and I definitely get that. People start to search new things and re-thinking their lives. But the last lineup change with the old drummer, that was THE weird. We actually had a band camp and rehearsed new songs in this sanctuary of ours and had a great time and no black clouds in sight, then week after this Tuomo sent us an EMAIL, that he was leaving the band and he never told us exactly why and what happened. Still haven’t answered to this enigma. Of course, lineup changes affect the band a lot, but change isn’t always a bad thing. We were lucky enough to find great guys as Mikko Kivistö and Atte Pesonen, and recovered quickly. That was the positive side of covid, that we had all this time to hang out and rehearse together with the new guys and grow together as a BAND. Now we’re stronger than ever. To conquer the world like Century Media wants.

M.I. - Omnium Gatherum will finally be playing a lot live again just like in the days before covid. You have already played live... how did you feel before entering the stage? Nervous as if it was your first show?

We were the lucky few who got to play a few festivals last summer, in Finland and even abroad in central Europe. That was great, as we live and breathe for this. Of course the routine was gone, but the excitement and the adrenaline rush helped. This week we’ll finally are able to return to clubs and we have an album release, the Finnish tour is starting, that’s gonna be rad and we’re hungry! Then there’s gonna be a headliner tour in North America and later next year a long European tour, so hopefully it’s all starting to get back to usual business. That’s what all we need.

M.I. - Do you have any idea when the Portuguese fans might be able to see Omnium Gatherum playing live in our stages again?

On the European tour I mentioned that’s happening next September, October and November, I think there’s gonna be Lisboa and Porto, so we will meet all you beautiful metalheads there! Last time we played there at Riverstone festival in Porto and had an awesome time. That was a wild festival - people throwing haystacks to each other and finally on stage. We had a helluva parties there together with the Portuguese audience!

M.I. - Is there a difference in Omnium Gatherum’s way of thinking and doing things pre covid and pos-covid? We’re not rid of the virus yet but…

At least this situation is making you think more and respect what you have and had. Things aren’t as obvious as they used to be… Albumwise thinking this shitstorm lockdown gave us more time to concentrate into this album without distractions and deadline pressures about touring, etc.

M.I. - Some consider Omnium Gatherum to be an underrated band. Do you agree? Do you think you deserve more attention?

It would be stupid to think things like that, it might make us bitter or so. We’ve been lucky to get this far, there are bigger bands but also tons of bands that are smaller. Our road has been long and rocky, but it has always lead forward and step up with every album, even if it’s baby steps.  Some bands grow overnight big, and then for example the biggest bands of the scene nowadays like Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, Behemoth, it took a loooong time for them to make the big breakthrough but they survived the test of time with working mentality. We try to be also humble workers for metal.

M.I. - If you had to choose the top 10 tracks of OG to play live, according to your personal tastes, which tracks would you choose?

All the 9 new tracks from the “Origin” as they’re my newest favorite babies at the moment. And maybe “White Palace” on top of it, as we haven’t played that a lot at all, and it’s one of my all-time favorites.

M.I. - Is there a song you initially didn’t think too much of and it turned out to be a crowd pleaser? 

Some songs surprise every now and then. For example when I wrote “New World Shadows” song, I didn’t think it would be one of those songs we’re playing every gig as people love it...

M.I. - You have been musicians for so many years... would you say your passion for music is as intense as when you first started? For how many more years do you think you’ll be as passionate as you are now?

We still are. With every new OG album it still honestly feels it’s my best work so far, and that’s a feeling I don’t wanna lose. That might be the end of the road to do the album that doesn’t feel like your best work. So I could say the passion is highly still there and beyond. At the moment I’m waiting this week’s Finnish club tour to start like never before. Good times coming!

M.I. - Do you have a final message to our readers and Omnium Gatherum’s fans?

Hope you like “Origin”, check it out. It’s good. We’ll see next year with all you great people and fans, take care ’til then!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca