Thursday, December 15, 2016

CD Review: OMEN The Curse (Reissue)

The Curse (Reissue)
Metal Blade
Omen from sunny California was an unsung and underrated power/thrash metal band, their origins having lain somewhere between the imaginativeness of Manowar and the campiness of Thor (the Canadian band featuring the talent of John Mikl). Adding Iron Maiden to the formula was a fitting touch, especially the dark mystery of the Killers era. Metal Blade says they are still active; it’s been a while since I heard about them and I wanted to seek them out to see what they’re doing today. Looking them up I saw they did several fest and show appearances, and they have more scheduled in 2017. Their latest full length Hammer Damage was released this past year. I heard one song (the title track) on Youtube with the help of their “topic” feature and in many ways it sounds like classic Omen as you hear on their first three recordings. Metal Blade will be re-releasing those albums in brand new packages shortly. Battle Cry (1984), Warning Of Danger (1985) and The Curse (1986) are their most important releases, having established the band as one of California’s premier power metal bands. Omen was founded in 1983 by guitarist Kenny Powell, formerly of another PM band called Savage Grace; he and founding drummer Steve Wittig are still in the band today; and he has been the driving force of the band up until now. In those days power metal was relatively new and its sword and sorcery themes did much to push the envelope of creativity for heavy metal in general. The repercussions are still felt in classical metal and symphonic metal (for a detailed explanation you may want to check out Sam Dunn’s Metal Evolution series). Powell’s smooth harmonic guitars with Wittig’s primal, in your face mid tempo beats, Jody Henry’s Steve Harris inspired bass and J.D. Kimball’s whiskey-laden, slightly bluesy vocals made for an instantly recognizable sound. The third full length The Curse reached levels of artistic maturity while staying in touch with the band’s origins. While there was some partially commercial fare such as Kill On Sight, The Curse, Eye Of The Storm, Teeth Of The Hydra and especially S.R.B. are perfect examples of how far the band had come musically and lyrically and essential songs to become familiar with if you’re searching for the origins of contemporary symphonic metal. The Curse with their first two albums will be released in runs limited to 500 vinyl copies in the U.S. In Europe they will be released in a few different formats, with different copy runs and colored vinyl. See Metal Blade’s site for more information. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. The Curse
2. Kill on Sight
3. Holy Martyr
4. Eye of the Storm
5. S.R.B.
6. Teeth of the Hydra
7. At All Cost
8. Destiny
9. Bounty Hunter

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