The 90s were a bizarre time for metal. The heady days of metal’s formative decade had come to an end. Young people’s musical tastes had shifted, and heavy metal appeared to haphazardly scramble to reinvent itself. While most senior members of metal fandom (read: old fuckers like me) concur that the 90s represented a dark age in extreme music’s history, this same decade saw Pantera cast off their glam / power metal origins (and thankfully ditch the spandex pants) and record Cowboys From Hell, the album that many consider to be the birth of groove metal. For the uninitiated, groove metal takes traditional thrash metal riffs and slows them down to a medium pace while down tuning the guitars a few steps. Also, no solos. The result is catchy, straight forward, accessible headbang fuel. Now, while this formula did give birth to nu-metal and would eventually be responsible for the cruel, cosmic injustice that was Fred Durst’s musical career, there are a multitude of contemporary metal acts that wield groove metal in a responsible and enjoyable fashion. Hungary’s Omega Diatribe is one such group, and while their new record Abstract Ritual certainly isn’t shifting any paradigms, it delivers a satisfying dose of groove without entertaining the sub-genre’s penchant for self-indulgent silliness.
The opening riff of first track “Subsequent Phase” is sufficiently epic and acts as a proper, powerful introduction to Omega Diatribe’s sound. The guitar tone is dense and tight, perfect for a style that spends a fair amount of time hammering on the low end. The rhythm section, comprised of drummer Kevin Talley and bassist Ákos Szathmáry, competently navigate the angular rhythmic patterns while being mindful to keep things sufficiently spartan in order to deliver ample grooviness.
Vocalist Gergely Komáromi’s growl is intense and plenty vitriolic, bringing to mind A Perfect Murder‘s Frank Pellerin. While Komáromi maintains a judicious intensity throughout the majority of the EP, there are moments in both “Extrinsic” and the title track where he employs a softer, grim singing/talking style. While attempts at dynamic modulation within a sub-genre that tends to be fairly uniform are to be applauded, this particular voicing is far too reminiscent of Korn‘s Jonathan Davis, and therefore comes off a bit schmaltzy.
The EP also includes a remix of “Unshadowed Days,” a track from Omega Diatribe’s previous full length IAPETUS, as well as a remix of a song from Abstract Ritual titled “Hydrozoan Periods.” While the latter remix is far too overwrought with electronic elements for my taste, the remix of “Unshadowed Days” seems to feature a slower, heavier version of the original riff, and as such is a marked improvement over the first version.
Abstract Ritual truly shines when it comes to the EP’s tone, a critical element for a style of music so purposely restrained in both range and intricacy. In other words, if you’re going to play that same low-end chord over and over again, it fucking better sound good! Thankfully, the band has put the necessary focus into this aspect of the recording, and thus the overall production sounds equally weighty and razor sharp.
While Groove metal enthusiasts won’t necessarily find anything novel in Abstract Ritual, Omega Diatribe have crafted a solid EP that focuses on proper execution of the fundamentals.
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Kate Erickson