Omnium Gatherum | Interview with Jukka Pelkonen and Markus Vanhala

Omnium Gatherum are on the verge of releasing the successor to their highly acclaimed album “Stuck Here on Snakes Way” via Candlelight Records. Entitled “The Redshift”, the fourth full-length work of the Finns was mixed by underground legend Dan Swäno (Edge of Sanity, Moontower, Bloodbath, etc) in his resurrected Unisound studios and shows Omnium Gatherum on top form delivering a sonority full of contrasts, it’s gracious and yet brutal, sorrowful yet reinvigorating and byzantine yet surprisingly memorable. Scratch the Surface had the chance to know more details of “The Redshift” from vocalist Jukka Pelkonen and lead-guitarist Markus Vanhala. Read on…

With underground legend Dan Swäno sitting behind the control knobs of a soundboard at his infamous Unisound Studios, Finland’s Omnium Gatherum have produced their strongest work to date entitled “The Redshift”. The successor of "Stuck Here on Snakes Way" continues to display their fine blend of Progressive melodies and Death-Metal aggression, yet in a more refined and extremely graceful way.

The Swedish producer was so enthusiastic about the songs the sextet so marvellously crafted that he even pronounced that a better record won’t be found in the following years.
So how does it feel to have the seal of approval of one the most influential names of the underground?

Markus - Sick things happen, like I wouldn’t never guessed this to happen when I was 13 years old and listening to “Spectral Sorrows” and “Unorthodox” by Edge Of Sanity and thought that this vocalist dude on those records are the coolest bad-ass on earth. But Dan is right, “The Redshift” is damn good record also in my opinion and I hope it gives some teenagers same kind of influential kicks to the ass than Swanö´s stuff have gave me.

Jukka - Well, of course it feels wonderful to be praised by one of our influences, and it was good working with Dan too.

So what was like working with Dan Swäno, a musician and producer that Omnium Gatherum have previously mentioned to nurture a profound admiration for his work with Edge of Sanity and Nightingale between others?

Markus - I noticed about year ago from internet that he has re-activated his famous Unisound studio and are back in track on mixing bands again, so I just tried my luck whether Dan would be interested to work with us, and for my surprise he was really interested about this. It was really cool to get him behind our forces and it was also really nice experience to work with him as he’s a really warm, down to earth guy even if he really is a living legend in this scene! We really shared same views since from the beginning and he did with the sound production just like what we were after on this one. Little bit some good old, little bit some modern, a bit borrowed and little bit blues on top of it!

I take it the band is happy with the end results, right? What were your expectations towards the album in the first place?

Jukka- Yes we are, extremely pleased with the end result! We really did not have any expectations or at least I didn’t expect anything concerning the album. We just had a good vibration and the chemistry between the band members was good, so the album turned out OK.

Markus- We’re very pleased on this one, the best OG songs, best entire wholeness, great production and cool cover. The whole packet really rocks and rolls and works for the really first time for the goddamn broadside 666%!! My expectation with this album was to make the most honest and fresh OG album for ourselves and to knock down the previous albums and that we really did. I’m proud of it and that’s enough for me, so others can only follow heh!

“The Redshift” sees a slight shift in direction towards a more progressive scope, specially the guitar leads, which have a very crystal clear and warm tone. Do you agree? In our previous conversation you suggested a return-to-the-roots approach.

Markus- Well I dunno, most journalists have again said to me that “The Redshift” is heading away from the progressive side of OG to a more straight-forward and melodic direction. I think that this album is more to our debut album direction in a way, but in a fresh way, it’s really not any “Spirits And August Light” part 2… Though, my own musical taste has slipped much more towards the dark side of the 70´s and 80´s progressive bands like Yes, Rush, Marillion, Genesis etc...

In your perspective what are the main differences between “The Redshift” and "Stuck Here on Snakes Way"?

Jukka - Well I think the main differences between the two newest albums are the fact that we as a band we know each other a lot better than we did two years ago. Also we composed these songs in a very fast but peaceful pace. And they turned out just the way we wanted.

Markus- “The Redshift” is much more melodic and sophisticated album again than the “Snakes Way”, and like I said, the new album is much more better in its entire wholeness and it sticks greatly together from the first riffs to the last notes and it still keeps fresh and interesting!

As a guitar player do you have any personal favourite track on the new album? I admire the progressive leanings and laidback mood of “Chameleon Skin”.

Markus- This time I’m proud of them all and there are no bad moments on the album where I should need to cough on top of the songs and riffs when I’m playing the album to my best friends, so I guess it’s a good thing, haha! Well, maybe “The Shadowkey” is my today’s favourite with the instrumental “Song For December...”, if I should say some songs here... “Chameleon Skin” is also really cool song and a blast to play live, some really fast down-stroke picking that gives you the really true and evil metal face look as it’s technically hard to pick!

This album was written in less than a year, does it means that the writing of new songs is an easy task for the band or you are just passing through a very inspirational period?

Markus- At the moment it was really an easy task as we had a really good vibe on the band and going thru a very inspirational period. I think you can really hear this rocking positive energy flow and freshness on the album!

What’s up with Omnium Gatherum and bass players, with every new album the band seems to be losing a new bassist and this time it was Eerik Purdon to exit?

Markus- Well, “The Redshift” was in fact the first album where our previous long-time bassist Janne wasn’t playing anymore as he had lost his interest towards playing metal music, which is sad as he is a great pal of us... So it’s not the same thing with every record, even though it now seems that on our next fifth album, coming somewhere in time in the future there’s again a new bassist then.

Jukka- Eerik had so many things going on in his life so he decided that he doesn’t have enough time for OG. There is a new guy on the bass, who will go with us to the European tour, but no final decisions are made.

In cosmology a redshift results from galaxies moving away from each other.
Is the title of the new album some type of metaphor for change or a need to evolve and get away from something?

Jukka - It can be understood like that, but the “main” concept of ‘The Redshift” is about inner and outer confidence and the absurdity of good and evil. But movement, very fast movement, is one of the things I like to present in these lyrics.

The cover artwork of the album was once again created by Olli Lappalainen, does it possess an association to the lyrics and the album title like it suggests?

Jukka- Yes, the artwork is connected to the lyrics, but everyone can figure out themselves what is the link between them…

Omnium Gatherum have been confirmed to play a portion of the Ithyphallic Europe Tour with Nile, Grave and Belphegor. What’s your opinion about the other bands on the bill and what are your expectations from the tour itself?

Markus- Looking really forward to start touring with this new album and see you all friends out there! Cool bands on this trek really, even though we’re a lot more melodic stuff than the other ones on the bill. Hopefully true European death-metal fans won’t kill us when we play this keyboard-spiced melodic pussy death metal there, haha. You’re going to see that we really have a much attitude towards this thing and we’ll be raising some hell with our live set! But should be a really good promotion for us to play these audiences that haven’t maybe heard us yet at all…

What other plans have the band stored for the following months?

Jukka - A lot of promotion and a lot of gigs! Nothing else matters!

Markus – Spending time on the road and seeing lots of crazy fans out there, a total domination!

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