Review: Arkham for Omnisphere by Sonic Underworld

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Inspired by the work of composers like Hildur Guðnadóttir, Ben Frost, Hans Zimmer and Steven Price. Arkham features sinister soundscapes, dark, distorted atmosphere, pulsing industrial rhythms and haunted bowed and human voice textures, ideally suited for drama, sci-fi and horror projects. Dark, distorted and full of demons both seen and unseen.

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Review: Arkham for Omnisphere by Sonic Underworld

Arkham is a collection of 300 patches for Omnisphere 2.6 (note that you must have 2.6 installed to take advantage of the additional layers) inspired by the work of composers like Hildur Guðnadóttir, Ben Frost, Hans Zimmer, Steven Price. Arkham features sinister soundscapes, dark, distorted atmosphere, pulsing industrial rhythms and haunted bowed and human voice textures, ideally suited for drama, sci-fi and horror projects.

Arkham for Omnisphere sells for 59.99 from Sonic Underworld

Thoughts

Patches are broken down into the following categories: ARP+BPM, Bells and Vibes, Bowed Colors, Distortion, Guitars, Hits and Bits, Human Voices, Hybrid Instruments, Keyboards, Noisescapes, Pads + Strings, Synth Bass, Synth Mono, Synth Poly, Synth Sweep, Textures Playable, Textures Soundscapes, and Transition Effects.

You have individual control over layers within each patch (so it’s very important to have Omnisphere 2.6), which gives you meticulous and exhaustive customization of this library. You know you’re in for a fun adventure when there’s instructions like “Modwheel removes toxic gas.”

ARP + BPM
These come in all shapes and sizes ranging from slow, muted pulses to add a little tension up to intense, driving percussion suitable for a high action or chase sequence. Many patches include layers of varying envelope and effect, and some incorporate random elements–such as a random setting on a reverb or fragmented elements sparkling through the texture at unexpected moments. Some of my favorite patches include Angel of Angst, Chem Trails, Crash Coils, Electric Fragments and Onim.

Bells + Vibes
Everything in this category is gentle, ethereal and just a little creepy. Some neat aspects include pitch distortion, lo-fi (which creates an almost whispering quality to the bells), and fading and swelling. I particularly like Copper Arcade and Dead Spirits.

Bowed Colors
Many of these are more “breathy” than the usual bowed metal kind of effect, which makes them great for very subtle moments. The ones derived from cello strings are gritty and fantastically suggestive of something alive about to pounce–check out Stone Drag. Some other notable patches in this group are Divide, Erupting and Wilted.

Distortion
This group contains a variety of distorted textures, some suitable for drones, some suitable for stings. There are a few that work for a sort of “Bowser’s Castle” vibe when used as a lead. My favorites here are Acheron and Melt.

Guitars
Distorted, de-tuned and sometimes altered beyond recognition that the source material was a guitar, this group has some neat surprises. Check out Chranium, Permafrost, Swollen Ground and Unsound.

Hits and Bits
I literally love everything in this category. Some are pretty out there, like Larvae and Monolord. Most have high usability no matter what other sounds you have going on in the textures. Some are great for creating repeated patterns such as Breeder and Brood, and some include pitch, like Electric Mist.

Human Voice
There’s only a few in this category and only one where the voices are really obvious. To the Death is my favorite patch here–just enough suggestion of voices to send a chill down your spine.

Hybrid Instruments
This category includes some punchy things that work great for hammering, relentless ostinato type of pursuit cues (Bernard Herrmann would be thrilled). It also includes some shimmery bits; Shimmer Reveal stood out to me because it behaves very differently when played staccato vs. legato. Varonot is also very interesting especially when modulating the amount of “wind”.

Keyboards
A few sound like colorful, soft, piano such as A Deal with Chaos and Trauma Theory. Some focus on a particular part of the piano-like spectrum. For example, Entropy in Black (a bit of glock and out of tune piano). Still others are shadows of a piano like Cycles around the Core (distant piano with “swirling aura”) and Sanvean (de-tuned impact).

Noisescapes
Most of these focus on electrical artifacts like static and whirring. Some standouts here included Venomix and One Blacktree.

Pads + Strings
This group again is about range of expression. You’ve got everything here from peace like Karkas to intense disturbed paranoia like Not Our Destiny.

Synth (Bass, Mono, Poly and Sweep)
There are some interesting treats in this group. I like A Screaming Sky, which has a sort of building effect to it. There’s a very good selection including stabbing bass and slow evolving ones. Some of the patches modulate quite a lot which makes for an interesting range within one keystroke. Patches I particularly like include Scare the Crow, Deaf, Dissonance, Oxalate, Radioactive Clouds, and We Fade Away.

Textures Playable
This is a group of mostly subtle textures. I really like Solemn Ending and Gnarl.

Textures Soundscapes.
Most of these are dark, and slowly evolving. Highly evocative of creepy locations and moods. Some standouts here include Cell Block 82, Pripyat, Get Them Out of Me, Underground Level 4 and Zektor. These textures are complex and interesting and very effective on their own or in combination with other patches. Control of the individual layers can lead to long spells of experimentation particularly in this group.

Transition Effects
These mostly consist of swells, and there are a few that sound like engine revving kind of risers. This was honestly the only group I didn’t have something that I gravitated toward.

Overall, this is a very satisfying library as a starting place for disturbing settings and adaptable to a range of situations, including sci-fi, drama, horror and thriller. It is very effective at creating just a hint of an uneasy feeling up to sheer terror as you flee your demons. Once you hear it, you’ll be committed.

Facts

Requires Omnisphere 2.6
Downloads at 1.6 MB zip file

Arkham for Omnisphere sells for 59.99 from Sonic Underworld

 

Demos of Arkham for Omnisphere by Sonic Underworld

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Contributor Alex Mueller reviews Arkham for Omnisphere by Sonic Underworld
“Dark, distorted and full of demons both seen and unseen.”