OMEN - BATTLE CRY
Review by Officer Nice
Only one Euro I paid for this LP about 24 years ago. I saw it between the bargains of a regular super market and without knowing the band I bought this gem. The cover is pretty ugly if you ask me but it contains for 100 % what Metal was standing for in those dark years... The first turn on my good old record player was enough to tell me Omen was a true band, playing Metal with the right spirit.
It was especially the unusual timbre of J.D. Kimball's voice that made me love this band. You don't hear me say he was the best singer in the scene but for sure he had one of the most unique vocal sounds and he was passionate for Metal in all his veins. Yes, I wrote 'was' because J.D. passed away in 2003 due to cancer and I'm still feeling sad because of it, it was another black day in Metal's history. Rest in peace my brother and be sure we will keep your legacy alive! The unique melancholic touch in his throat has always given Omen a distinctive image; along with the music these guys are symbolic for the entire Eighties Metal movement.
The opening track 'Death Rider' is a perfect song to start with. Kenny Powell, a man we know from Savage Grace, is lavish with his heavy loaded riffs and great solos. Thanks to his skills he gave Omen an 'epic' touch. The drums are leading all instruments into dark 'straight forwarded' rhythms. The enigmatic mood is created by the raw production and the gloomy lyrics. It became a trademark for Omen, making them eternal because of it. Along with J.D. Kimball's vocals the music sucks you into a mysterious atmosphere, one look to the front cover should make you able to see what I am talking about...
'The Axeman' is my favorite song of this album. The sinister words, announcing the song are followed by the shout 'The Axeman' and after all these years I'm still fond of it. Once again threatening guitar riffs are used and song writer Kenny Powel proved he was full of good ideas in his metallic mind... nevertheless he didn't conquer the world with it. The up tempo rhythms Omen used were pretty original and I'm quite sure they were influencing for a lot of American bands. Another superb song is the faster 'Be My Wench' and I also adore 'Torture Me', a song that was already represented at the ''Metal Massacre V'' compilation.
We also can't deny the title track and 'Die By The Blade' are awesome tracks, all based on the same instrumental elements. Omen used the standard Metal ingredients, let's say what was already invented by Sabbath, Maiden, Priest or Saxon but they 'Americanized' them. In this knowledge it's pretty obvious to see these guys symbolized themselves as a good product for their label and the American 'eighties Metal' circuit. Along with bands like Helstar, Attacker and Liege Lord they still own the image of what the US traditional '80's Metal culture' was standing for. Not adding this masterpiece to the gems of the eighties would be a sacrilege.
Omen worked hard in those days and in a few years three albums and an EP were released, all were very good reviewed. Nonetheless Omen couldn't compete with the other Heavy Metal bands like Manowar. In 1988 J.D. Kimball wasn't present at ''Escape To Nowhere'' and it was the beginning of the end for Omen. They weren't able to hold with the newest trends and it lasted until 1997 to come back again. The release ''Reopening The Gates'' was a good try to come back but the real reunion was dated in 2003 with ''Eternal Black Dawn''. Nowadays Kevin Goocher, singer of Phantom X, is the singer and he is a good replacer for D.J. Kimball. Not that he can bring the magic back, certainly not on CD but on stage Omen is still kicking ass.
My Points: 99 / 100