Narrow cobbled stone streets rise and fall passing by vendors outside their homes, and cafes bustling with life—leading to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean or the Douro River. This hillside city of Porto, Portugal holds so much history and many natural treasures. OMITIR transports listeners to this historical, robust city and on a tour of Portugal in their newest album Ode.
The album opens with the thud of a deep drum, jingling cowbells, a soft gentle stream trickling, faint voices chattering, and a concertina playing an upbeat folk song. The ominous drum continues to beat—reverberating, warning. Just as quickly as the jubilant tune begins, it ends, fading out as the smattering of bells continue and the feedback of a guitar begins and quickly transforms into tremolo picking. The bells continue, the thudding drum persists, a dog barks, the scene darkens. The guitar melody soon welcomes bass and drumming then low almost whisper-like growls.
Ode is described by OMITIR as “Old School Black Metal with Ambient and Folk influences with 6 conceptual tracks about paganism, rural portuguese tales and nature.” Black metal is the presiding genre, with moments of peaceful folk acoustics and use of traditional instruments sprinkled throughout, and at times interwoven into the thickness of guitar and growls. The use of ambient sound is beautifully done and brings the listener right to the historic land.
My favorite of the six is “Flora.” The music here builds quickly with tremolo picked guitar and continues to gain energy from there—the tempo quickens and adds furious drumming with growled vocals. As the song evolves, the energy stays high. Vocals later turn into a growl/chant hybrid. Concertina/accordion is mixed in and gradually becomes more present along the now passionate chants. All of this comes to a sudden stop making way for a quick killer guitar solo before starting back up with drumming, bass, guitar and one cathartic scream. This is one more moment of rage before halting again to feature the concertina/accordion and the ambient countryside sounds of various farm birds clucking and chirping.
The album closes with a crackling fire, that same ominous deep drum that was heard in the opening track, and low haunting chants, perfectly ending the journey. Ode brings you from day to night, gracefully.
The variety of instrumentation and all the elements of this detailed album are created by one man—Gróvio—the sole member of OMITIR who hails from Porto, Portugal. I am in awe of his talent and the amount of work that went into creating Ode. Porto has a very robust history that is strongly present in each track. Porto is one of the oldest European centres and has a long history of fighting for/defending civil rights. That turmoil is heard in these songs. While the lyrics are in Portuguese and I do not speak the language, I can feel the passion behind each growled/spoken/sung word. Even the album cover—painting by Portuguese artist José Malhoa—is a perfect homage and beautifully suits the album. The various use of aerophones and the sound of water trickling—these meaningful sounds heard throughout are nods to the historic city that sits along the Douro river. Ode transported me to Portugal and stirred my ever-present wanderlust. If you are looking to discover a new place while in quarantine, this album is perfect and satisfying. Wander through nature, throw on some headphones, explore and enjoy.