I am always excited to find local bands that are progressive. It’s fairly rare, but I have come across a few, such as If These Trees Could Talk and Maid Myriad. I have never, however, come across a progressive metal band from my hometown of Akron, Ohio; at least until just recently. I received a message through my website from Omniverity a couple weeks ago about their new EP. When I got on the bandcamp page, I realized that these guys live only minutes away from me. Of course I had to hear it, and I’m happy to say that Omniverity have done Akron proud with their new EP “Eclipse”.
Omniverity, I assume, is a variation of “omnivore”, which is defined as “an animal or person that eats food of both plant and animal origin”. Take that as you will, but the emotional lyrics lend a hand to that name. The band is made up five members: Andrew Bittner on vocals, Mac Guarnieri on bass, Tim McWilliams and Vince Hardman on guitar, and Brian McWilliams on drums. They began all the way back in 2008 as a death metal band that focused on brutal arrangements. They have changed quite a bit, though.
The band now plays a wonderful mix of alternative prog metal and modern progressive rock. Their style includes heavily distorted guitars, fantastic clean soloing, harsh and clean vox, and evocative and more ambient portions. They tend to have the raw lyrics and passion of the alt scene while maintaining the virtuosity of prog rock.
Like any new band, they list their influences on their Facebook page, and it’s definitely indicative of their locale. Akron, being near Cleveland, has always been a center of alternative rock, especially the raw and angry kind. From Mushroomhead to Marilyn Manson to even Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Maynard of Tool and A Perfect Circle, this area has been the source of many of the minds behind the angrier, more distorted alt rock bands. I’m not sure what is in the water or why we are so angry here. Omniverity brilliantly combines this legacy with prog musings akin to Porcupine Tree or even Pink Floyd to wonderful effect.
Thus, the performances here are very passionate, if still being developed. Tim and Vince sound great on guitars, especially with their ability to craft some memorable hooks, such as on “Solstice”. Mac’s bass is nice and full and really is the foundation for all of their music. I’m actually very impressed with Brian’s drumming, though he does seem a little uncomfortable during the softer portions. During the heavier parts, Brian is pretty incredible with writhing bass beats. Finally, Andrew’s vocals are quite different than most metal, being lower key and not so in your face. The vocals are, however, very well performed with some great and passionate technique, especially on “Comfortless Peace”.
“Eclipse” is made up of three tracks, all of which are quite different. It’s almost like they are experimenting here; as one track is heavy, one is soft, and one progresses from soft to heavy. “Swimming Upstream” is heavy with lots of growls and distorted technical playing, and it’s definitely rooted in the local sound. It’s a great song, but, ironically, I feel like the last two tracks show the most promise and showcase the bands abilities more.
“Solistice” is a gentle sound, rooted more in progressive and even psychedelic rock. It floats on by with great effect and brilliant composition. I feel that the spacey artwork comes from this track. The final track, however, is my favorite. “Comfortless Peace” features a transition from the musings of the previous track into a heavier sound again at the end. This track, though, seems very composed and inspired; with great vocals, brilliant drumming, and very tight technical portions. The EP overall seems to be rooted in the heavy-to-soft-to-heavy idea, like an eclipse where the black moments are the soft musings and the lack of peace is represented by the heavy and raw metal.
Omniverity have really excited me about the progressive scene in Akron. These guys have made a concise, well-composed EP that is honestly better than much of the metal I’ve heard this year. It strikes me deeply due to the local sound that is so obvious to me, but it impresses me further with the variety and progression that they have achieved. With this EP, I’m very excited to see a full release someday.