Review: Omega Massif – Karpatia

Omega Massif take their place alongside the likes of Lento and Ufomammut as forerunners in the sludge/post-metal/doom hybrid movement, and Karpatia sufficiently asserts their right to be there. It’s not a “novelty” style of music anymore – gritting up post-rock a bit will no longer guarantee a fanbase, and the three aforementioned have successfully disguised a subtle reinvention as the next logical step on the path.

But it’s difficult to avoid the fact that musical reference points are aplenty in 2011, and parallels can certainly be made during Karpatia: a jangling momentum reminiscent of Heirs gets “Aura” out of the blocks, with the album’s first distorted riff possessing a dirty intensity as seen in early Neurosis records (Through Silver In Blood in particular). Elsewhere, the clean break of “In Karst” is dotted with gaping, toneless spaces between guitar strums, bringing to mind those extended periods of doom relief during Ocean’s Pantheon of the Lesser.

That said, Omega Massif are more than a cobbled together sum of influences. The intent that drives the band through each dynamic turn is all their own, and unlike so many bands attempting to crack the sludge/post-metal crossover today, they often subvert the expectations that now accompany your average “post-metal listener”: quiet sections suddenly erupt rather than patiently ascending, while track finales often avoid the allure of an all-out eruption in favour of premature, tension-ridden conclusions (the predictable climax of “Aura” is an unfortunate exception).

The most impressive aspect of the record is that, even during those moments where Karpatia resorts to the more blistering velocity explosions, there’s a sense that absolute climax is still being withheld. Omega Massif may move in weighty, consequential strides, but these take place within something much bigger – the music prophesises of greater ferocity to come, and Karpatia is like a planetary explosion signifying the imminent collapse of the galaxy that encompasses it.