The latest from Omenopus is quite different from their previous albums, and I’ll tell you right out of the chute that this is their best and most ambitious effort to date. The Archives is a sci-fi tale based on a story by Sherdian Starr, though much of the album is Lee Potts’ interpretation of Starr’s story (thanks to Lee for providing me with the details). The core trio behind Omenopus is Lee Potts, John Pierpoint and Bridget Wishart, and for The Archives they are joined by Sheriden Starr (who also records as Bangtheory), Sarah Panton on vocals, Gary Sheridan on vocals (who is also in 1912 with Pierpoint), and Jenna Graves and Sonya Lanchbury on spoken word.
I’ll summarize the story: At the end of a war between the Creators and the Controllers, the main character – George 4/7 – discovers five containers that hold a collection of records and information that enable him to piece together what happened. The 22 tracks on the album are segmented into 5 parts, each representing one of the containers. Spoken word narratives throughout the set are recordings George finds, some of which are secret recordings made by the daughter of the Creator, who is actually a sympathizer of the Controllers, and others are propaganda news reels.
The album is an epic in every sense of the word, continually shifting between music, song, spoken word sections, and loads of effects, making for a genuine sci-fi space rock tale. After an introductory segment we launch into I Am, which is like Hawkwind meets Goth-Metal, and this is the style that characterizes much of the music on the album. This is followed by the first of the recordings George discovers, starting with a narrative, but is quickly interrupted by, “shut them down”, and then “brace yourselves!”, and then CRASH! Unreasoning In The Whys rocks hard but also includes beautifully spaced out symphonic dreamy sections, punctuated by high intensity laser blast effects. I like the intense witch-like vocals as they acidly repeat, “Twisting words… into coarse… coloured lies!”. 13 Mirrors is a standout song, being another heavy driving slab of space rocking, Goth infused rock and metal, with great vocals, phasers-on-kill guitar leads, haunting atmospherics and a parade of effects. Watching The Mannequin Lady Through My Window is a swinging rocker that sings about Eloi and Weena, clearly referencing The Time Machine, and indeed a DVD of the 1960 George Pal classic is among George’s findings in the containers. Blind – Part 1 provides the listener with a breather, being a gently dreamy piano and soundscapes driven vocal track, though tension is still in the air as there are threatening alien effects scattered about, slowly building in intensity before launching into the space-Goth-metallic, electro robotic instrumental Blind – Part 2. The spoken word in Commandments 3 are clear references to Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. Stand Still is another highlight song, being a searing, acid-laced, space-metal rocker. And The Physician is Omenopus’ space-metal interpretation of the original Dr Who theme.
Ultimately, the only way to really experience The Archives is to give it an undivided attention, start to finish listen. It would be great for this to be on vinyl because it merits a lock yourself in the bedroom and gaze at the lyrics spin. Like the golden age of radio, the album is an audio sci-fi film for the ears and imagination. Fans of The Higher Craft’s The Quest into the Steppingstoneage album will love this, and Space Mirrors’ thematic albums come to mind as well. Highest recommendation.
For more information visit the Omenopus web site at: http://www.omenopus.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz