At this point, the trope of the books being better than the movie is a tired one. However, albums inspired by books are often very intriguing, as is the case with Omnibeing’s debut album Polytheria. The project is the brainchild of Vitaly Shemetovets, a guitar virtuoso from Minsk, Belarus. His debut album is an instrumental progressive metal journey that was inspired by sci-fi, particularly the novel Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. The album title was lifted from the book, with the term being defined as “a living planet.”
To take us on our journey into outer space, Shemetovets enlisted Last Chance to Reason drummer Evan Sammons and a slew of guest guitar soloists. The album is truly any guitar nerd’s dream. Shemetovets and friends dish out complex guitar parts, and there are several “holy shit!” moments like 4:41 of “Vortex” and 5:44 of “Aura”. There is an abundance of great riffs here too, like the menacing “Vortex” or the triumphant outro on “Prism”. The album also has tons of odd time signatures for us number junkies to dive into.
It can be easy to write this kind of music off as pretentious and self-indulgent, as much of prog and tech metal is just that. But Polytheria subverts these preconceptions, as Omnibeing puts an emphasis on building atmosphere rather than just being flashy. The songs take you on a journey through the cosmos via Shemetovets’ lush and textured compositions. At times the songs even veer more into jazz fusion, like on “Prism” and the title track. The album’s production is the perfect balance of clean and organic. The more complex chords sound crystal clear, yet nothing feels overproduced.
The only time the album really stumbles into the pitfalls of modern prog is the song “Aura”. This song has some of my favorite ideas, but there’s just too much crammed in to make it a coherent piece. I’m not saying that the song needs a standard verse-chorus structure, but some repetition would have helped. For example, the progression at 2:27 could have been a hook that gets reprised toward the end. Moments like the great transition at 3:16 come as soon as they go and never really get built upon. Also, because of the loose song structure, the tracks that follow blend into it. If you were to casually listen to this album, you may not realize that “Aura” ended until halfway through “Meteor”. As the first real song on the album, it doesn’t fulfill its task of holding the listener’s attention. I would forgive the song structure if this track was an overture, but none of its motifs appear elsewhere in the album. Also, I wish the cinematic intro track transitioned into “Aura” better. It’s a great mood setter, but it drops off at the end and winds up feeling pointless.
On Polytheria, Vitaly Shemetovets and co. not only prove that their musical chops are leagues ahead of everyone else’s (especially this reviewer’s), but they also build living worlds within songs enshrouded by a sci-fi haze. This is a very strong debut from Omnibeing, and I imagine the project will continue to bend minds with releases to come. Shemetovets’ compositions are transcendent, as he has mastered the art of intergalactic ambiance. While I prefer my metal with more fuzz pedals and barbaric yells, I thoroughly enjoy what Omnibeing brings to the table. If you are a fan of instrumental prog, jazz fusion, or any of the bands listed below, it is important that you DO NOT SLEEP ON OMNIBEING.
Omnibeing can be found on:
Best Tracks: Vortex, Azure, Prism
Weakest Tracks: Aura
FFO: Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist
Overall Score: B+