Omnium Gatherum

author MY date 27/04/07

The Eighties was a great time for many who remember it, with it's booming economy, garish clothing and dubious hairstyles. Being born in this decade, by default, makes me a fully paid-up member of the McDonalds generation which means I grew up watching alot of TV. For our European (and beyond) readers, there was one particular Eighties commercial that I will never forget.

It was an advert for 'Werther's Original' (a caramel flavour boiled sweet). This classic Ad featured an Grandfather with his young Grandson sitting astride his knee reminiscing about how he still "remembers his first Werther's Original", and how he "will never forget the shiny wrapper!". It was almost like a rite of passage for this old guy, a memory he fondly recalls. In a funny kind of way this can be related to my first experience of hearing Omnium Gatherum: A band I will never forget hearing for the first time, and will always believe should be bigger. I actually heard them for the first time at an ex-girlfriends house. She had just purchased 2003's 'Spirits and Autumn Light' because it was enthusiastically recommended to her by a fellow Metal Maniac. Safe to say, and carnal urges I had that evening were relegated to the back of my mind and I basically ignored her from the start to the end of the record. It really was that good (I was soon dumped after a few too many episodes like this).

Anywayz, enough of my jaded ramblings. Here's why you should check Omnium Gatherum out! As Finnish as Finnish things go, this band for me have certain facets fellow countrymen like Children Of Bodom probably lie in bed at night wishing they muster: Brutal, clever riffing? Check! Enigmatic Frostbitten Keyboards? Check! Highbrow but yet accesible progressive tendancies? Check! There really is something incredibly unique and vital about much of this bands material, despite the new record recieving a slightly less-than-enthusiastic review by me. The fact of the matter still remains, though, that their past output is so strong one would be inclined to forgive them for this hopefully minor blip on the radar.

However, history has not always been kind to them. It has been a stumbling career for this band so far; Internal politics and constant record company changes (first Rage Of Achilles, then Nuclear Blast and now Candlelight - all in the space of three albums) have blighted them mightily and made it hard for them to capitalise on any momentum they could have created. How on Gods Green Earth did this come to pass? I interviewed lead guitarist Markus Vanhala to find out more.

RF.Net: So Markus, gotta ask you straight up. You've had three label changes in as many albums? How did this come to pass, exactly, and do you believe your new home Candlelight is the best place you could be right now?
Markus: We have just had bad luck with labels. Our first label Rage Of Achilles folded after releasing our debut album “Spirits And August Light” and the “Steal The Light” MCD, so we switched to Nuclear Blast to release our second album “Years In Waste”. This partnership didn't really work out as Nuclear Blast was really too big a label for us. Candlelight is a better sized label; not too big that they could think only money, but neither too small so they have the capability to push the band and promote the album forward.

RF.Net: That's refreshing news to hear, indeed! You have also had a few vocalist re-shuffles now. Three, to be exact (Olli Lappalainen, Antti Filppu and Jukka Pelkonen). So what does Jukka now bring to the table?
Markus: Better and more versatile vocals, for sure. His versatile growling sound really kicks ass, he does really good and interestingly different vocal arrangements and he is also able to do some clean vocals, if needed.

RF.Net: So are the label moves due in any small part to the vocalist changes?
Markus: No, this isn't related to vocalist change. Infact our first singer can be heard only on the demos, so the two albums + E.P both had the same vocalist. By the way, our first singer Olli Lappalainen is still a member of the OG family as he has been the cover artist on every release.

RF.Net: So let's delve into a pot of OG history, Markus. I would regard your current line-up as one of the most impressive bunch of musicians I have heard come out of Finland, so how did you guys hook up? Was it through rival bands or childhood friendship etc.
Markus: Thanks for your nice words! After some line-up changes it's now really sure that this is the best and most lethal OG line-up so far and hopefully this will stay until the end! In fact I'm the only member from the first demo line-up, so this line-up has grown together and hooked up during OG's 11-years of existance. The newest members are our new vocalist Jukka (from the band Elenium) who joined the crew at spring 2006 and synth player Aapo Koivisto (from the band Breeding Chamber) who joined us in spring 2005, both do their OG album debut on this new third release “Stuck Here On Snakes Way”. We other four members have been together about 10-years already, so we've had time to play and rehearse our abilities together for quite a long time. So, this line-up has been thrown together via rival bands and teenage friends...

RF.Net: So what were the bands original influences? What made you guys sit up and go "We must form a band"?
Markus: Back ten years when OG was formed, our biggest influences came from Death, Edge Of Sanity, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis and so on. When I and our former vocalist Olli first heard the albums like Subterranean by In Flames, Gallery by Dark Tranquillity, Purgatory Afterglow by Edge Of Sanity, In the Nightside Eclipse by Emperor, Slaughter of the Soul by At The Gates and Tales From The 1000 Lakes by Amorphis our souls were sold! There were no other things possible than to form a band playing this style. Of course these influences are haunting somewhere deep between the lines of our music still.

RF.Net: So from these beginnings, what is the grand plan? Do you guys dream of world domination, or are your intentions more low-key and 'Underground'?
Markus: Of course world domination would be fine for us, heh! Just to play as many gigs as possible abroad is next in line as also doing one hell of a killer new OG album!

RF.Net: So what's in the Pipeline tour-wise? Do you have any intentions of touring further afield than Europe like hitting the U.S.A for example? Any festival appearances in the works?
Markus: At this moment we have only Finnish gigs and festivals confirmed and one festival in Germany. There's many things going on and we have got few offers to tour abroad from Finland but we'll see what happens. Touring the USA would be really cool but I'm quite sure it won't happen this year. These things are not always dependant on us, though.

RF.Net: You have also played supports with a few well-known bands in the genre: Napalm Death, Entombed, Cannibal Corpse etc. Who was your favourite band to tour with, and why?
Markus: For bigger bands, maybe the nicest to party with was Dismember from Sweden, we did a Finnish tour with them and they were really cool and easy-going dudes. UK-tour with Black River Project was also a really nice one, great lads indeed! In Finland there's too many nice bands to mention.

RF.Net: You have also played with fellow countrymen Children Of Bodom. Is there a close-knit musical community in Finland and do bands support each other and get along?
Markus: In some ways yeah, the bands are supporting each other and are good friends. Here it is like there are many different metal scenes if you could say so, I mean friend circles. We just played with CoB but don't know those dudes well, though. But in most gigs and festivals it's nice to party backstage as you know almost everybody from the Finnish metal bands and almost everybody is cool and friendly. Of course, as always, there's also some assholes there but only a few that I can remember.

RF.Net: It interests me that Finland has such a booming Metal Scene that has seemingly sprung out of nowhere. I was chatting to a Swedish friend about this, and he said the big reason for Sweden having so many successful musical exports was because the Government used to fund and encourage musical equipment in Youth Clubs and Schools etc., hence so many people discovering a love of music and forming bands. Was there ever a similar incentive in Finland, or is there just an inherent musical culture?
Markus: Finnish Metal or the general musical invasion didn't have anything to do with Government funding or anything like that. In our city the community hasn't helped young bands or musical development at all, so I guess music is in peoples nature in Finland. Nowadays almost every youngster is playing something because it's cool and playing metal is a big trend here at the moment because of Lordi's Eurovision song contest winning and a metal singer winning the Idols competition. Children Of Bodom et al are Number 1 on the Finnish charts and even the new album of OMNIUM GATHERUM was on the Finnish album chart at Number 31! That was really strange, heh! All we can say is that we aren't so commercial at all.

RF.Net: Fantastic news, Markus! So, to wind this down... Describe what makes Omnium Gatherum great in one sentence!
Markus: Omnium Gatherum is one of the few bands that really have their own thing going on in the over-crowded metal scene!

RF.Net: Thanks for your time, Markus. Any last words to end this piece?
Markus: Thank you, it was a pleasure! Check out Omnium Gatherum if you like to support honest and sincere deathly Metal. Clips and videos can be checked out at Myspace and www.omniumgatherum.org

So, there you go, loyal readers. Go forth and spread the good word about one of the most exciting bands to poke their heads out of a busy little Finnish scene. Hopefully, like me, you'll get to piss off a few ex-girlfriends too!

Written by Dan Turner

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