For many fans of traditional American heavy metal, Omen are considered legends in the genre. Started in 1983 by guitarist Kenny Powell in Los Angeles and signed to Metal Blade and Enigma Records, Omen was a power metal band without compromise. They endured the rise glam and hair metal through the Eighties by hammering away with their traditional "keep it true" power metal. Now, after a rather lengthy, thirteen year, absence from the studio, Powell and Omen return with Hammer Damage.
Essentially and positively, Omen revisits their roots with this album. This is classic American power metal. Brisk pacing powered by a thundering and rumbling rhythm section. Large crisp riffage and wild leads from Powell's significant guitar skills. If you like lead guitar work, Hammer Damage is certainly a guitar-forward album. This is perhaps the best feature of any Omen album. Actually quite stunning in songs like Knights, Caliluga, Era Of Crisis, and Cry Havoc.
But the weak link here is the vocals. I'll be honest, as I always have been in any review, I don't care for Kevin Goocher's vocal style. Never have. Too much rasp mixed with screamo, then breathing a sneer. Yet, what's worse is that he seems muted in the mix, underneath the music and just barely rising above it at times. A good example is Eulogy For A Warrior. It's one of the least heavy and furious songs here, with gentler moments. But even so, Goocher seems buried in those moments, even as he sways between a cleaner voice and near growling. (The song as a heavy metal arrangement is one of the best here.) An exception may be the song Caligula, where he seems to rise above the metal by the shear self-effort of aggressiveness. Alternatively, by that seventh song, my ears probably simply adjusted to mix. So I guess my conclusion is: enjoy the fine traditional American power metal, endure the vocals.
Essentially and positively, Omen revisits their roots with Hammer Damage. This is classic, very guitar-forward. American power metal. But simply didn't find the vocals all that pleasing.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]