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Released: 2016, Pure Steel Records
After 13 years of relative silence (2003 – 2016), long-running USPM heroes Omen have finally returned. The band’s last album as 2003’s ETERNAL BLACK DAWN, which I recall being well-received by the metal community. I don’t know why the band has been away so long, but they’re back in 2016 with three of the four members that created that 2003 opus. Only drummer Steve Wittig was missing on that one, but he’s the band’s original drummer so the line up is quite stable. On to the music.
HAMMER DAMAGE opens with the title track and it’s a typically thunderous, galloping heavy metal song. Omen fans will be right at home with this one immediately. “Chaco Canyon (Sun Dagger)” is melodic and mid-paced, giving band leader Kenny Powell plenty of room to show off his Maiden-inspired guitar work. Kevin Goocher’s vocals remain rough ‘n raspy; he fits the music well but can honestly be a bit grating on the ears at times. After another high-speed assault in “Cry Havoc”, “Eulogy for a Warrior” slows things down to a dirge. It’s an OK tune but it isn’t interesting enough to warrant being the longest song on the album. “Knights” is another slower cut that is melodic and has some intriguing ideas, but is ultimately forgettable, despite picking up the pace in the last quarter of the song. The two tracks crush the album’s forward momentum that built steadily through the first three cuts.
That’s the album’s theme in a nutshell; a number of fist-pumping anthems (“Hellas”), watered down by less engaging cuts. The band’s performance of all the songs is impeccable, particularly Powell’s guitar work, so long-time Omen fans will love it. All told, HAMMER DAMAGE is both a solid return from metal veterans and a strong addition to Omen’s catalogue.
1. Hammer Damage
2. Chaco Canyon (Sun Dagger)
3. Cry Havoc
4. Eulogy for a Warrior
8. Era of Crisis
Kevin Goocher: Vocals
Kenny Powell: Guitar
Andy Haas: Bass
Steve Wittig: Drums
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