Album Title: 
The Pale Horseman
Release Date: 
Friday, May 1, 2020
Review Type: 

Because this release was the most captivating, overwhelming surprise from 2020 – at least for me – I couldn’t but ignore it; I just have to write down something to express my wonder. Also, this band have recently finished a next opus, so as a prequel to that upcoming full album, foist some thoughts on this one-track mini-album.

But let’s start with a short biography. To be honest, I did not know this band. Apparently, Omination started as a one-man project, created in 2016 by Tunisian multi-instrumentalist Fedor Kovalevsky (a typical Tunisian name???), also known from his activities in Death Metal act Vielikan (and several others, yet lesser known, bands or solo-outfits). As Omination, Fedor recorded and independently released (at least) two full lengths before, the extremely lengthy Followers Of The Apocalypse (including the long song from the …Whose Name Is Worthlessness demo (re-released shortly after as DCD via Endless Winter, by the way), and The Whirlpool Of Ignorance (which also included a limited physical release, i.e. a tape edition via Depressive Illusions Records).

Then a new chapter began, when the superb Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records entered Omination’s world. A first result was the digital EP The New Golgotha Repvbliq in 2019 (once again one tall composition, which I unfortunately only discovered after the one this review will deal with; but which I do adore enormously!). That track will be part as well from the upcoming full length NGR, to be released in a couple of weeks, once again via Hypnotic Dirge Records! I do look forward to it, dear Nic

But in the meantime, Omination created another piece, and since I do not have the impression that it will be part of NGR, I just feel like to support and promote this overwhelming sonic adventure individually. Being ‘inspired’ by the current corona pandemic, it stands somehow ‘apart’. “And I looked, and behold a pale [green - Ivan] horse; and his name [or: it’s rider’s name - Ivan] that sat on him was Death, and Hell [Hades - Ivan] followed with him” (Revelation 6:8; the opening of the fourth seal by the Lamb; here used: the King James’ version, for the purists amongst us).

Oh yes, the beautiful black-and-white cover artwork, by the way, is taken from a famous work by the French illustrator / painter Gustave Doré, called “Vision Of Death”. The man with the scythe, seated on his pale horse, is like the visual representation of what this EP will define sonically.

Characterizing for Omination is the protracted duration of most ‘songs’, and when it comes to The Pale Horseman, we’re talking about almost twenty-seven minutes of aural pleasure. The result is a very varying yet, at the same time, extremely cohesive – a symbiosis a different angles and aspects, organically gathered into one huge funereal epos. This project’s approach is called ‘Apocalyptic Funeral Doom’ by their label, and their own Bandcamp page describes it as ‘Funeral Doom Death Metal act defined as post-apocalyptic […] derived from the last cathedral, preached by the prophesying wanderer’. I think these descriptions do fit for sure…

It starts with a truly beautiful, but deeply sad piano introduction, integer and icy, very soon taken over by a monumental instrumentation: a wall of string supremacy as foundation (great rhythm and bass guitars indeed), thunderous and quite extreme drum patterns (I will come back to them immediately), and hypnotizing, dreamlike guitar leads. Soon also warm, semi-narrative male voices join, somewhat bewitching, preaching, spell-casting, join, with angelic female chants at the background (done by a certain Camilia Daoulette). Well, about those, percussions: throughout the whole ‘track’, these drums are so unique: sometimes supportive, then again devastating, psychopathic, whatever. To be honest, I have no idea whether they’re performed live of programmed, but in any case, it is one of these details that goes way beyond normality. Also the mesmerizing, even transcendental and trans-dimensional (yeah, what’s in a word) synths drench this whole recital in a mist so suffocative, so impenetrably harsh, yet at the same time, so enchanting and somehow sacral too.

But let’s go on. Suddenly things turn much darker, with an intensified power but, especially, when the main male vocals get harsh, nasty, brutal. It does sound brutish, but with a specific tongue – no ‘traditional’ death grunts, blackened screams, deep growls, whatever, yet powerful, malicious, and frustrated. These rugged voices eventually lead us (we’re at about four and a half minute) to a next chapter, where the orchestral keyboards and devastating percussions create a next level of doom and morbidity (and in a sense, for what it’s worth, acts like early Void Of Silence, Woods Of Belial or Urna might have been of accidental influence?). Anyway, the journey thunders forth, getting stronger and stronger, getting deeper into mysticism and wonder, growing darker and more intolerant (despite the semi-acoustic attitude). And those drum patterns, wow, they just remain that incredibly poignant and evincive.

Nine minutes… As if a semi-acoustic intermezzo seems to bring relief, you just feel that there is an imminent outburst growing within the putrid belly of existence. Slowly, yet convincingly, things turn fiercer and more malicious, faster and faster it goes, erupting in some ultra-doomed event (even though this sounds like a contradictio in terminis, but it does!). At twelve minutes, the choking menace gets translated into utter slowness, psychedelic and even psychotropic in nature, yet overall oh so grievous and arduous. After entering an enlightened passage (with ominous whispers and opiating semi-acoustic strings) (we’re at about fifteen minutes), pyroclastic eruptions suddenly destroy any existing formats of hope, tranquility, or prospective. This sequence, with blasting drums, violent vocals, low-tuned strings, and additional piano melodies, create a next level of frenzy existence, subtly evolving into some astral passage of resignation and, at the same time, revolt and resistance.

And the, at about nineteen minutes, we’re back into the floaty dimension, build around melancholic melodies and introspective atmospheres. It all started here, it will go this very same way once more. Those captivating guitar leads, eccentric drum patterns, hypnotizing synths, pounding rhythm sting section, and muttering voices, reappear, joined by the female voices and more clean harmonious chants, before opening the mighty portals, once more, to the oppressive dimension of direful and inauspicious reality.

Ah, what a beautiful jewel, what an incredible peregrination through untrodden mental states of mind. The Pale Horseman is a deepened report, a reputed rumor (you better believe me!) through consciousness – and the subconscious as well. This album is like a sonic voyage through scarifying, unknown dimensions. Throughout the whole album, you feel the presence of the rider of Death, the cavalier of Hades guiding the innocent (or not that innocent) ones to their next, and last, un-physical universe. This album guides us through the fourth seal. …for the great day of wrath is coming, and who is able to withstand it?…