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2010 and up has seen a huge streak of old school bands reuniting and trying their hands at crafting a new album, Broken Hope is one of the newer additions in this streak and they almost managed to outdo some of their classic efforts on this, their "debut" reunion album. Omen of Disease is one beast of an album, the revamped Line-up featuring original member Jeremy Wagner and returning bass player Shawn Glass, which is cool, especially seeing how Shawn had some really intense moments on "Loathing", their 1997 album (which I feel is criminally underrated).
The new vocalist Damian Leski (ex-Gorgasm) is a pretty decent replacement for Joe Ptacek (RIP), although he does bring a more modernized, conventional brutal sound to the band. It's certainly not a bad thing, but it can be a bit jarring for anyone who was seriously expecting a return to their first two albums musically. New guitarist Chuck Wepfer has some really cool solos throughout Omen, like the ones you can find in "The Flesh Mechanic", "Give Me The Bottom Half", "Ghastly" and "Predacious Poltergeist", just to name a few, but in my personal opinion I don't really think he matches old guitarist Brian Griffin as far as technicality goes, although it's not a major issue since Chuck can shred pretty damn well too. I do also have to mention the new drummer Mike Miczek, who blasts his way through this album. While that's certainly not a bad thing, it also means that he's not terribly flashy with his playing, opting for a more brutal combination of blast beats, double bass and some "almost but not quite" bland drum fills sprinkled throughout. Don't get me wrong, he's a better drummer than myself but he's just not terribly original or anything like that. Also his blast beats seem kind of on the slow side in parts like in sections of "The Flesh Mechanic" and the title track "Omen Of Disease".
I did notice that track 5, "Rendered Into Lard" features Trevor Strnad doing backing vocals on a few parts, and I thought that was pretty cool, I'm not overly fond of The Black Dahlia Murder but i've always enjoyed the vocals to some extent, so it was a cool surprise. The vocals from Leski can get a bit repetitive after multiple listens, his vocals never really leave the guttural side of the spectrum. It's not really a downside unless you plan on spinning the album multiple times in one day, in which case you might find yourself turning it off around track 8 due to the minorly monotonous vocal performance. Another issue people who were hoping for a return to their earlier sound might have an issue with is the production. It's a very sleek and modern sounding album, with a rather clean feel throughout. Now I don't mind this because I feel like most bands from the early 90's would've killed for one of these sleek modern productions back then, but I can see how it could be considered a turnoff for those seeking a more dirty, gritty vibe like they had featured on their first two albums.
Overall I do enjoy the new Broken Hope record, although I do hope the drummer picks up the pace a bit and the vocals venture out into the higher range every now and again. These seem to be pretty minor flaws when taking in the entire production however, It's honestly great to see that Broken Hope still has what it takes to put out a solid brutal death metal record. It may not be the most technical or the absolute pinnacle of brutality, but it's a damn fine piece of work overall. I appreciate that original guitarist Jeremy Wagner deemed it fit to bring back this monolith of death metal and brought the fans a admirable new album to showcase their potential, Ultimately it could've used a little bit more tweaking, but it's a refreshing listen, and worthy of your time, especially if you find yourself listening to the more brutal side of death metal regularly,
With their gore/horror imagery and particularly brutal brand of death metal during the 90s, Broken Hope remained more or less in the shadow of Cannibal Corpse with which they shared the same label, the mighty Metal Blade Records, even if they were not treated quite the same. The Metal Blade era led to a reissue followed by three albums, The Bowels of Repugnance and Loathing which in my opinion are the most memorable. Dumped by their record label, the Chicago-based group released a last, rather good, album in 1999 that went relatively unnoticed, before throwing in the towel following the split between the group's two heavyweights Brian Griffin and Jeremy Wagner, not to mention the death of the formidable growler Joe Ptacek in 2010 which crushed all hope of the group possibly getting back together.
Without Brian Griffin who has definitively left the group to this day, Jeremy Wagner nonetheless put Broken Hope back together in 2012 with the help of former bassist Shaun Glass. The two formed a quintet with frontman Tom Leski, the former guitarist/vocalist for the incredible Gorgasm, a staple of the post-2000 American brutal death metal scene. After signing a spanking new deal with Century Media, and releasing an album mainly written by Jeremy and devilishly illustrated by Wes Benscoter (Sinister, Mortician), the group undertook a lengthy tour with Deicide and became one of the big hits of the fall of 2013.
Wickedly dubbed Omen of Disease, Broken Hope's sixth offering blasts out of the gates with the powerful Womb of Horrors followed by the excellent track Ghastly, which is without a doubt one of the best of the group's career. The rest of the album is perhaps a bit less noteworthy after those openers, but it goes the distance thanks to the quality of the songwriting and the interpretation as well as the violence of tracks such as Rendered into Lard, with its murderous riffs and head-spinning accelerations, not to mention carefully crafted guitar solos. The good re-recording of Incinerated, from the first album Swamped in Gore, points to the extent of the group's progress since 1991. Moreover, while one of the line-up's ultimate weapons was once Joe 'Eusophagus' Ptacek with one of the deepest voices in the business along with Mortician's Will Rahmer, Tom Leski perfectly picked up the torch with his thick guttural singing style that works well without being exaggerated and jibes ideally with Jeremy Wagner's shredding compositions.
In the fall of 2013, Broken Hope made a successful return on the scene with a good compromise between an old school sound coupled with more modern parameters that placed them solidly within the current American brutal death metal landscape while avoiding overly technical twists and putting the accent on full frontal riffs. Omen of Disease is one of the best of the year and one of the most accomplished along with The Bowels of Repugnance and Loathing. Let's hope that the tour that followed, which was particularly heated due to Deicide frontman Glen Benton's tantrums, did not wear down our group from Chicago.
It can be said Broken Hope were always a crappy band that offered brief glimmers of hope in the form of their instrumentals (Drinking the Ichor was pretty cool). Their boring and monotonous debut was succeeded by a sophomore album which had a couple instrumentals that were better than the NYDM with extra brain damage that was the bulk of their music. They then proceeded to defecate all over whatever little they had to offer by signing to Metal Blade and incorporating mid 90s influences such as trailer park riffs (Pantera) and wigger stomp parts. On this album, Broken Hope return sans the technical pretension of their Loathing and Grotesque Blessings LPs with an album that is more representative of what they always sought to be: the NYDM version of the Wu-Tang Clan.
The first track being just an ambient intro is disappointing enough, considering their acoustic guitar interludes were better than the actual metal content. Womb of Horrors then kicks things off with the disposable Unique Leader riffs that any other death metal band after 1998 would play and goes into a wiggerish "swagger" riff soon after. It's everything that made Repulsive Conception awful but now all those hip-hop derived rhythm based groove riffs are sandwiched between riffs that are even more hopelessly generic. None of the songs match their themes of disease, with the "swaggering", "down with the streets" riffs being more suggestive of fat guys tired of waiting in line for their donuts and Olde English. The song structures are more of what made the existence of deafkore a terrible certainty by 1995: random blasting part, annoying hip-hop on guitars groove/mosh part, random trem stupidity, and then another hip-hop on guitars groove riff to end the song. Random solos that don't have any of the musicality of what was attempted during their "after some guitar lessons" mid 90s era is another step down. It's all organized in a meaningless fashion. Some songs even go from wigger "slamz" parts to a doomy dirge riff for no reason at all. This kind of music is the reason people don't want to listen to death metal after 1995. It's like trendy Roadrunner Records MTV garbage dressed up to appear as "rebellious bad guy" underground music for people with no discerning taste (explains the Century Media deal). Angry pickup truck driver noise.
How many more of these albums need to exist? A lot of dumb bands have come up during the years (Lividity, Stabwound, Mortal Decay) that arguably contribute as much as Broken Hope have during their career (not much). The only difference is Broken Hope were around since death metal's heyday, but they never reached the level of musicality of their peers. So they came up with this wiggerfied groove abomination that is dressed up to appear as death metal to the uncritical listener. If you need "beatdownz" parts in music that won't give you brain damage (or as much), get Pierced from Within and leave this behind. Everything that's bad about death metal after 1993 is on this album. Avoid it.