Sound — 8
A lot of people name me a "metal hipster" of sorts, banging on about bands they've never heard about (because apparently for them, a bands worth is measured by how popular they are, just goes to show) so to counter this, I literally smother them with music, info and connections to all this great underground music yet to be heard (it's the decent thing to do). But I don't want you to think this isn't a review; I just have to mention that this band is very very unheard of. Omega Centauri describe themselves as "avant-garde cosmic black metal" or something silly like that, but they've got the "cosmic" bit right on the money. "Universum Infinitum" is a great example of atmosphere done right. The feelings are of isolation, subtle fear, bleakness, but also a sense of wonder and amazement as you gaze into the darkness of space. Despite the black metal tag, this isn't some chromatic toilet recording filled with the clichs. Instead, the melodies and harmonies are much more progressive, putting me in mind of bands like Opeth, Lost Soul and Enslaved: dark, but with a balance between dissonance and well-constructed melody, my favourite being the opening to "Ad Infinitum". This is very deep, complex music. The production isn't the finest, but you'll be hard pressed to make it sound better and keep the atmosphere (it also might sound inconsistent over bits of the album; this is because it was recorded over 6 years from Jan 06 to Jan 12). The drumming is repetitive (as expected) but when you're perpetuating this dense atmosphere, it needs to be constant. The bass is not ignored as much as most BM recordings and the subtle harmony lines underneath are pretty tasty. The ambience is more implied than apparent, the dynamic range on the recordings fluctuates quite a bit, so you'd be hard pressed to tell between ambience and silence, although the heavy reverbed lead guitars make the top end/high frequencies sound massive.
Lyrics — 7
Vocals are done by Rob Polon, exclusively using a mid-high growl (it's not quite high enough to be a scream) that definitely makes it feel like black metal, and certain songs like "I Am", feature a rapidfire performance to add to a swirling mass of blast beats and full on sound. The lyrics deal with the human condition, existentialism, our place in the universe, philosophy, theology, psychology, big black holes etc. Very interesting subject matter, and although the vocalist losses clarity with all the 'verb on his vocals, you could probably guess what the songs were about just from the feel of listening to them.
Overall Impression — 7
It takes a bit of a while to understand the whole album, and it's fairly long, with lots of movement and transitions, but offers a wide showcase of sound. I don't want to exclude people who don't like black metal, so it's for fans of the more progressive side of things, or just fans of music, without any of the expectations or requirements of genres. Songs to look out for: "Ad Infinitum", "Illusive", "I Am", "Fallen", "May Whatever Cleanses Me Take Form", "A Mirror Of Life". Check out them at Facebook page. YouTube video to "Fallen":