Album Reviews

OMEN – Hammer Damage

  • Release date: 2016-05-27
  • Label: Pure Steel Records
  • Catalog #: PSRCD065
  • Review by: Madhav R

Like most other Omen fans, I too, have endured an excruciating wait for this much anticipated release. So when I finally got the album and the house to myself for a couple of hours, I thought – “perfect – I’ll bake a delicious cottage pie, and spin this bad boy.” With bumcheeks clenched in excitement, I chucked some mince into a hot pan and pressed play. And that’s when the nightmare began.

About thirty seconds in, the disastrous, amateur production of this record had already let it down. After the distinctly average title track, I was almost tempted to turn it off, but the sizzling of my beautifully julienned onions was distracting adequately from the nasty fake drums, and we proceeded to the next couple of tracks. Not bad, it almost sounded like Omen again, even if Kevin Goocher sounded like he’d eaten gravel for breakfast.

And then we hit ‘Eulogy for a Warrior’. Now, I’m a complete sucker for a good power ballad, but this is really quite grim (and not the good kind of grim!). Uninspired lyrics on a theme that has been done to death, and melodies ranging from sublime to ridiculous, the whole thing reeks of Euro-power. ‘Hellas’ has been kicking around for a while, and thankfully that still sounds pretty good, as do the preceding ‘Knights’ and following ‘Caligula’. Some solid riffs, very decent guitar solos, but all the while the ticking of those dreadful drums.

‘Era of Crisis’ is not only the worst song on this album, but probably the worst they’ve ever done. It has one of those annoying choruses that manages to bore its way into your brain in all its hideousness. Catchy and contagious – and utterly undesirable. The sheer rage it incited made me absolutely pulverise the potatoes which made for a really fluffy pie topping – and that’s about the nicest thing I can think to say about it.

Once I’d slapped the pie in the oven, I could sit back and listen to the final song, the instrumental ‘A.F.U’ – which really is the saving grace of this record. Chunky riffs, accompanied by a nice bouncy bassline (that absolutely shreds too, by the way), beautifully crafted solos that blend into the drive of the song.

I’ve listened to the album about twenty times since that first spin, and mostly what I remember is, “man, that was a good pie.” Sure, there are a handful of good songs on there, but the entire thing is tainted by lacklustre, digital drums, watered down guitars, and vocals that are starting to sound past their prime. Pure Steel Records have a lot to answer for.

Review originally by Thumri R