For those who don’t know Omnia, Omnia is a “PaganFolk” band, a genre which is relatively knew (Omnia was the first that coined the name) but is growing. It’s usually played unplugged, with medieval, celtic or other ethnic instruments. Most bands add guitar and drums, and some even electronics (though Omnia isn’t one of the latter). The result is dark, fast and fun folkrock.
The new CD would also feature a DVD-recording of CF’09, so whatever the new songs, the DVD alone would be, in my opinion worth buying. The new album itself was announced to be quite different from their old albums, or as they put it themselves, “OMNIA has finally dared to reveal more of the musical spectrum available to them by exploring an even larger variety of different very diverse musical styles making WOLF LOVE an
extremely captivating and enigmatic album.” Obviously every band with a new album will claim it’s better, more varied than anything before, so at first I didn’t take this warning very seriously. However, the new website forwarned that the change in omnia might be deeper than suspected.
Though I must admit the new website is quite smooth, there’s one thing I missed immedeately. Their previous website was decorated with the slogan “Green is the new black”. Apperantly, black now is the new black? Surfing through the rest of the site, it seemed like a whole new Omnia indeed. Although they fired their managers less then a year ago for ‘wanting them to change’, their old image is thrown out the door. Nowhere on the site you can find the word ‘Paganfolk’, the bandphotographs are redone in steampunk style, without the iconic feathers and tribal facepaint, the much beloved forum is gone, the cute forest sound-effects stay silent.
I bought the CD at Castlefest, but obviously first heard their show before I got a chance to listen to their complete CD at home. The new imagery of the site was clearly visible on stage. The generally simple lights were replaced by a vivid lightshow, the costumes were some sort of ‘steampunk-tribal’ (perhaps a transitory phase?). Perhaps meaningfull, Joe Hennon, their guitar player with a background in Irish/Scottish ‘Trad’ music, was the onlyone who, as allways, wore a black celtic shirt and torque.
Although over all the show was very enjoyable, there seemed to hang an atmosphere as if the band was not just trying to grow and devellop further, but rather as if they were trying to break with their paganfolk past quite radically. An example was how the said they wrote a certain song so they ´could play a sad song without having to play The Raven`
Wolflove, the album’s title track, is a dark fairytale. Combining ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ with both vampire and wherewolf mythos, it succeeds at telling a captivating story. It’s actually one of the ‘new-style’ tracks I enjoy most, although it does have trouble standing out between the various songs on the album.
Dance Untill We Die was allready infamous before it appeared on the album: it’s a rapsong by Omnia. Rap? Yes, Rap. It’s well known Steve Sic holds some political opinions, wich I can agree with, though he has never literally put them to song. We heard this song for the first time at CF’09, and since then they have made quite some changes to it. For one thing, the unfinished version was partly rap but with folk throughout the whole song, providing a refreshing and original combination. This time however, it has become a complete rap song beginning to end, with just a small instrumental part at the end. The lyrics have also been majorly expanded: although the core verse of the old version is still the core of the final version, the addition make clear that apperantly according to “Doctor Sic” the most important aspect about anti-capitalism is owning large bags of marihuana.
Salvatio Vita according to frontman Steve shows how a satyr would play the flute. It’s great song for dancing, and in sharp contrast with the rest of the album this song seems to be the epithome of ‘old-style-omnia’. It’s also a song that has been played live and been loved by the public for a very long time before appearing on an album. Perhaps this is why it so much resembles Omnia’s hit album World of Omnia, rather than this new album.
Cornwall is an ode to the place that Steve apperantly grew up, though he left there at an early age and never returned. It’s quite sentimental, though in the tradition of ‘Caledonia’ this isn´t a problem in itself. In the tradition of ´Caledonia´ though, it would´ve been better if preformed by the rough voiced of Rapalje. It is however a song that is nice in itself, but accompanied by other sugarcoated songs like Sing For Love and Sister Sunshine it´s just to much.
Toys in the Attic seems to be the pride of the band. A song written apperantly about the dispute with their managers a year ago, in the same mood as Wolflove. It contains a lot of dark giggles and soundeffects. The piano is pretty dominating. I would have loved this song, if it wasn´t accompanied by what seems to be the intention to make only this kind of songs from now on.
This last bit seems to go for a large part of the CD. Although Love in the Forest, Sing for Love, and Sister Sunshine are in any way you look at them sugarcoated, dripping concoctions of cheesyness, I could have loved all of the songs I described above, and perhaps some more like Taranis Jupiter as well. However, the whole intentional move away from their paganfolk roots ruins the atmosphere.Plus, if the old Omnia was a bit centered around Steve and Jenny, on this album everybody except possible Luka seem to be devaluated to guestmusicians, even their first guitarplayer Joe Hennon, who only appears on four numbers on this album.
Omnia will probably not be surprised by the fact that many old-timer fans will dislike the album. The booklet that comes with the album starts off with a quote by Alan Moore, wich seems to directly refer to those fans:
“It is not the job of the Artist to give the audience what they want. It’s the job of the Artist to give the Audience what they need. If the audience knew what they needed, they wouldn’t be the audience, they would be the Artist.”
Apperantly, it’s not that I liked listening and dancing to World of Omnia more than I enjoy Wolflove, it’s rather that I lack the taste to appreciate what being an artist is. I am not sure if I can agree with this quote, but if this is the path Omnia choses, I wish them all the luck. I’ll still play their other songs a lot, and will most probably regularly check their site for the next CD, although the main-attraction on festivals like Castlefest, Keltfest or the like will probably now be the ‘little ones’ like Nuraghi, AlianA and Harmony Glen rather than Omnia.
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