Romanticism can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can create a distorted view of the past, skewing and altering history, recalling good old days that never really ever were. On the other, it can inspire hope and a forward-thinking deconstruction to simpler values. After all, what are the modern struggles of the so-called civilized world in comparison to the threat of the basic needs of humans? We’re seeing now how it still holds resounding jurisprudence in this little world we’ve created for ourselves. Nature has thrown a virile and potent fuel on flames that were already reaching a critical temperature – yet nature remains unaffected, ambivalent to the feeble struggles of mankind and it’s projected sense of self-importance for its own creations. Man verses nature has always been at least a resounding third of most issues: where does humanity fall in the greater scheme of the planet? Is its survival in harmony with nature or pushing against it, in a futile battle upstream in an almost laughable attempt to conquer the very wheel it is merely a single cog in?
Despite all these changes, there was always a theme of darkness and depression to the feel of the albums, which makes Omitir’s shift on Ode all the more jarring. Cotard felt rightfully like a peak point of bleakness for Omitir, a nightmare within a nightmare, which makes the pagan sounds on the latest album feel like a bit of awakening. The opening riff feels like the arrival of dawn amongst the agrarian samples and distant, singular beats of the drum at the intro. The guitar isn’t so much distorted as it is overdriven, drawing to mind the sounds of Swedish and early Eastern European pagan black bands. Being able to hear the individual picking of the tremolo guitar shifts the sound from a wash of an icy blizzard to that of a warm, almost comforting breeze. Simultaneously, it adds to the folkish element: it almost sounds more like a traditional instrument such as a mandolin. The drums are still distinctly black metal, with running kicks and a driving snare on every downbeat, but the feeling of a reserved energy is there. The rhythm section is focused on finding a groove beneath the interplay between the dominant continual rhythm guitar and the more subtle leads, hinting at a more complex melody beneath the repetition. The production is clear and polished without over-producing, adding a warm, organic feel to the sound that can do wonders for breathing life into the more nature-centric style of black metal.
“Nabia” really leans into the aforementioned “mandolin” effect of the lead guitar. The song is slower, and there’s a beauty in the sorrow it exudes. The bass takes a little walk through the wilderness to clear it’s head. Harsh, almost whispered vocals in the verse still add those elements of contention and confrontation and struggle, comforted by the clean, folksy vocals that follow, as though empathizing with the strife. True traditional instrumentation works its way in with the introduction of the accordion, which will make its presence known at key points across the rest of the album. It’s a brilliant addition that adds tremendously to the mournful melancholy of Ode.
“Cear” serves as an interlude number, loosely and effortlessly tying classical guitar around the sounds of a bubbling brook. While a dawn was first beginning to show its rays with “Ceiva,” the true sunlight breaches the soundscape on “Flora.” While the vocals are still harsh, they feel softened by the rays of light from the guitar, as though barking out from the shadows of the trees in the comforting shade away from the shimmering light. There’s a release of energy in the drums as they playfully chime away at the cymbals and color the earth with interesting tom work. One of the peak moments of the album is found in the song, with the harmonized clean vocals over the harsh whispers playing against a syncopated melody that sounds straight from an organ grinder. Anyone else who may have found a particular connection to “Song Of Storms” from Ocarina Of Time will find plenty to love in the hypnotic, mystical qualities of the song as it builds to climax between the contradictions of traditional folk music and a more modern style of black metal. It’s this point that really drives the heart of the album, of taking a view of the more romanticised outlook of the past and working it in tandem with the modern era. The essence of pagan black metal lies in bridging the bygone with the contemporary, and Omitir is hitting the rustic nail on the head.
While “Flora” certainly serves as the album’s climax, the descent that follows is handled well with the slower, epic build of “Vera Busca,” playing off the clean/harsh vocal interaction and just allowing the ecstasy of the music to take hold. The spoken-word bit at the crescendo adds an inspirational element: there is always hope in the struggle found within the music. “Âmago” provides a suiting outro to Ode, contrasting the water sounds of the interlude with improvised distorted strums and tranquil chants of the vocals over a crackling fire, and again, that distant, singular drum from the intro makes an appearance, marking an absence of light in the landscape of Ode. Sunset has arrived, and it’s time to face the darkness of nightfall once again.
Though not without conflict, Ode harkens back to a time of both beauty and struggle, identifying hardship as well as a romanticised vision of the past. Even without comprehending the language, Omitir has a knack for telling a story across the arc of the music. Ode is best experienced as a full work from beginning to end, and further adds to Omitir’s skill of adapting different styles to their emotional state. A band that can shift styles so abruptly, yet accurately, and still convey a through line of emotional resolve and genuine spirit in their music is rare, indeed; it’s a trait to be treasured when so many bands seem defined by a singular style or set of traits as opposed to their skill as composers and musicians, reflecting the shift in outlook and approach that comes with the inevitable change we all face with growth.