REVIEW: The Omega Experiment – The Omega Experiment
Band: The Omega Experiment
Album: The Omega Experiment
Genre: Ambient/progressive metal
Writing memoirs about a personal experience is certainly nothing new in the literary world, but when someone decides to take an autobiographical approach in the form of a metal album, you know you’re in for something extraordinary. The Omega Experiment, masterminded by multi-instrumentalist Dan Wieten with aid from Ryan Aldridge on keyboard and samples, definitely covers the term ‘extraordinary’. A journey through both light and dark phases while blending multiple influences (Devin Townsend being most prominent, although others emerge along the way), it takes a while to wrap your head around the layers woven into the music of this self-titled début.
First impressions when “Gift” kicks in are ‘set to stun mode’, as a swirling mixture of triumphant choral synths and guitar noodling takes center stage, backed up by Cloudkicker-inspired drums which sound remarkably realistic, and piano tinkling around the edges. The solo that enters nods towards Petrucci, then there’s a brief poppy interlude before the next track kicks in. “Stimulus” can only be described as ‘zany’ in an Unexpect fashion, kicking off with Wieten’s unique vocal style (a slight reminder of Coheed & Cambria) mixed in with guest appearances from several other vocalists, providing a gamut of vocal styles including harsh screams, Devin-like cleans and spoken-word sections later on in the album. There are some reprieves from the madness in the form of ambient interludes (aptly titled “Tranquillity” and “Bliss”).
So what’s the album about, I hear you ask? Wieten’s been fairly thorough in explaining each of the tracks, but a brief rundown describes tracks like “Gift” which is referring to discovering his music-making ability in his teen years, and the album moves through each period of his life til now. The album’s fulcrum coming with the Fear Factory-heaviness of “Furor” with a catchy chorus (“Rage, mania, my own silhouettes and I”) which descends into a drug psychosis, before a slow fade-out to one of the most surprising elements of the album. The use of interview samples, some of which appear to be Wieten himself talking about drug addiction, are powerful soundbites if occasionally overpowering the music such as in closer “Paramount”, which in itself turns out to be a bizarre track. More in keeping with animé theme tunes than progressive metal, despite a small flavor of Eumeria creeps in, it makes for an off-kilter closer to a mentally unstable album, but brilliant in its insanity.
Wieten really knows how to mix things up, in both senses of the word, resulting in a boundary-stretching album created ‘à la bedroom’ without label backing. The album’s hour length encompasses many styles, from late-Floydian and Ayreon-esque prog to Tesseract and Periphery, and many others that are to be experience rather than described. The Omega Experiment is one of the most fascinating releases and projects I have come across, particularly when doing further reading into the genesis of it, and anyone who enjoys progressive metal (particularly Devin Townsend’s work) will get more than a kick out of this. Album’s streaming on Bandcamp.
Song to try: