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At last the wait is over. After reuniting in 200, Forbidden finally release their comeback album, Omega Wave. Was it worth the wait? The answer is a resounding YES!
With Omega Wave, the band have created what can only be described as a classic metal album. Opening with the almost progressive instrumental and ominous opener Alpha Century, it gives way into the manic thrash of Forsaken at the Gates and the listener is taken on a raucous headbanging roller coaster of a ride.
The guitars of Craig Locicero and new guy Steve Smyth are razor sharp, yet maintain an element of melody throughout whether they are riffing, weaving frantic harmonies together, or when they ease off a little to take the pace down on a track like Swine. Nailing everything down is the rhythm section of original bassist Matt Camacho and new drummer Mark Hernandez whose performance is equal to that of original sticksman Paul Bostaph.
Special mention must go to vocalist Russ Anderson. Both screaming and singing with passion, the guy has never sounded better. His vocal melodies add a familiar texture, never more so than on the monumental Dragging My Casket, a track that just reeks of classic Forbidden.
Omega Wave is proof that the old bay area guard still stand head and shoulders above all the young bands jumping on the thrash bandwagon. Never creating just a wall of sound per se, Forbidden's strength lies in their ability to mix melody with all out thrash, and the songwriting maintains a high standard throughout. In my opinion, Omega Wave is destined to be a future heavy metal classic!
Forbidden is just another of the litany of 1980's thrash metal bands that have recently reformed and released a new album. Due mostly to the retro-thrash trend, many old school bands have decided to give it another shot, regardless of their success the first time around. Forbidden was always relegated to second or third tier status in the Bay Area thrash metal scene. Though they had a fantastic vocalist, their music was not received as well as other groups, so they languished with the likes of Laaz Rockit, Vio-Lence, and Death Angel.
This is the band's first album since 1997 and features a return of most of the members who made up the band's core during their best years. The only real exception is behind the drum kit where Mark Hernandez, who played with Vio-Lence, Defiance, and Heathen, among others takes over instead of Paul Bostaph.
This album is a fairly impressive return to form for the band. The album does feature the same sort of high octane thrash that the band was known for on their earlier albums. It also includes the same melodic sensibility that Forbidden always had. Forbidden has always been more of a melodic thrash metal band than some of their more famous brethren, and this fact is borne out on this reunion album. The band does slow down at times and produce more of a mid-paced or even slower track. This ability to change pace keeps the album interesting.
Russ Anderson still possesses a powerful voice, but he does not hit the same high notes that he once did and he does not hold them for quite as long either. Despite this, the vocals still remain a strength for the band and a defining characteristic separating them from other Bay Area bands.
The only real complaint that I have about this album is its length. The album is over an hour long. It does tend to drag at times. If it could have been tightened up and shortened a little bit, it would be a much more enjoyable listening experience.
Despite the issue with the length of this album, this is a very good reunion album. A lot of reunion albums fall flat and are either too different from the band's original sound or not different enough. This album falls into a happy medium, proving that the band did progress, but did not lose their original sound.
In the past four to five years, the metal community has seen a rebirth of so called "classic" thrash metal. Be it from newer bands who are replicating the old bay area sound with their own flourishes (Warbringer, Evile) or older bands reuniting and putting out newer material (Heathen, Defiance). Among the many bands that are part of this new "classic" thrash metal movement are Forbidden, who after splitting up in the late 1990s reunited three years ago and are now revving their creative engines to show the world once again what kind of twisted thrash metal product they're capable of creating. It took awhile, but Forbidden have finally released a new piece of newly recorded material, in 2010's Omega Wave.
Of all the return albums by former bands of the '80s thrash scene, Omega Wave makes a strong argument to be considered the best of them all. Combining the ferociousness and Speed of Forbidden Evil with the progressive and compositional prowess of Twisted Into Form, this album hits you right from the beginning with a pummeling wave (pun intended) of greatly composed thrash metal and it never lets up.
Right from the intro track, Alpha Century, you can get the feeling that your ears are about to be graced with thrash that you've probably never heard anything like before. Forsaken at the Gates immediately lets you know what you're in for. Wicked guitar performances by Craig Lociero and newcomer Steve Smyth, pummeling rhythms on the part of bassist Matt Camancho and new drummer Mark Hernandez, and an amazing vocal performance by Russ Anderson. Each song shows all of these aspects to an exacting degree, with all of them equaling each other out and making sure that one isn't overpowering the other. It's this sense of balance and restraint that you can hear in the composition of Omega Wave's individual tracks that make this album stand out from any other "classic" thrash metal revival album out there. You won't find this anywhere else.
While most metal vocalists can lose their range and sometimes their vocal ability all together with age, Russ Anderson has not lost anything when it comes to his singing. Russ's vocals invoke a sense of fury, anger, and disgust as he sings about a variety of thrash conductive topics. Vocal patterns are extremely catchy and his voice is completely crystal clear, using falsetto shrills and pushing his voice to the limit when the moment calls for it as opposed to constantly belting his entire lungs out into your face through the tracks. No vocal distortion whatsoever (as seen on Forbidden's last album Green) was used on Omega Wave, and it helps that there wasn't any to begin with.
The majority of the lyrical content deals with the overall themes of negativity and misanthropy. The concept essentially is that humans are out to destroy each other and will destroy each other with deliberate knowledge of what they're doing, propelled forward by (as Russ Anderson puts it) a mysterious, self created, negative energy known as the "Omega Wave". The songs show this in a variety of ways; songs such as Forsaken at the Gates and Adapt or Die are direct depictions of man going against man in a variety of ways from a third person perspective. Songs such as Overthrow and Inhuman Race are general negative critiques of human nature. Other tracks such as Swine and Hopenosis are showings of this through first person perspective. It's all wrapped up lyrically in the title track, which states that humanity has created said negativity and now cannot stop it in the face of it's growing insurmountably. A unique approach that is not only brutal and seething, but not in the least bland or corny. Definitely a standout as far as thrash lyrics go.
Guitar wise, Omega Wave is one of the best thrash albums you'll ever hear. Riffs upon riffs contrast themselves in glorious harmonies and ripping leads. Never once are the riffs over technical or pretentious, but skill wise they're way above the average thrash riff in terms of tempo and rhythm change. Guitarists Craig Lociero and Steve Smyth jump between about three or four riffs a song, changing when the moment is right and not randomly or spontaneous. Smyth's knowledge of crafting progressive metal thanks to his experience in Nevermore clearly shows on Omega Wave, as the progressions flow into one another with absolute ease. Lead wise, the two take up the blueprint established by Megadeth. Lociero is clearly above average, but his technique trumps his overall theory ability. Smyth really shows himself off here, but his solos are never pretentious shred fests and are the kind that are so technical and fast yet succinct enough to blow you away. Along with his riffs, Smyth shows on Omega Wave that he is the complete package in terms of a metal guitarist. Great job by these two.
Rhythm wise, the album is top notch. Mostly because of drummer Mark Hernandez. Never in a thrash album have I heard so much variations with the double bass as Mark has on Omega Wave. Between rolls that are way faster then your average thrash metal speed, typical thrash bursts of double kick, and slow plodding, it never gets old and it's always used properly. There are plenty of well used fills and blast beats on Omega Wave, and Mark never uses them out of time or overdoes them. You never really hear too much of bassist Matt Camancho, but I appreciate his job maintaining the low end and staying in perfect time with Hernandez, Lociero, and Smyth.
Omega Wave is also one of the best produced thrash metal albums I've ever heard, and easily the best produced in Forbiddens's catalog. Forbidden have always had their albums have a unique, twisted sound in terms of the production. While it's pleasant to hear and makes the music stand out, it did make it nonetheless a bit difficult to listen to. Omega Wave has this production, but beefs it up. The drums sound more punchy then they did on earlier Forbidden releases, and the guitars have the same biting tone and lead emphasis in the mix as they did before. The bass is more then just frequencies but not really clear among the guitars. Russ's vocals sound crystal clear. Nothing overpowers anything else. Just a top notch mix all in all.
Omega Wave stands tall as probably the best thrash metal comeback album yet, and will probably be that way for a very long time. With expert compositional craftsmanship, top not performances, and a great concept helped along by a great mix, Omega Wave will be an album that thrash metal fans will enjoy for years to come. So crank up your speakers, because you're about to get hit by a tsunami of thrash.
Hi all, it's been a while. 'Busy' would fail to describe how my life has been recently and with a review sack bulging greater than Santa's right now I am particularly keen to begin making some inroads once again, especially with a yearly round-up due and some potential contender albums still in the offing. I start with the return of another group of old thrashers, Forbidden and their work "Omega Wave", marking a first recorded appearance since 1997's "Green". While "Omega Wave" is not destined to become one of my 'album of the year' contenders I can declare at this early juncture however that does not stop it still being one of the best thrash albums I've heard in a bit, especially when compared against the lacklustre efforts of many of their 80's colleagues.
Breaking the ice with an instrumental/build-up piece that is worth listening to rather than skipping through for a change, "Forsaken At The Gates" as a first track proper is a humdinger telling all there is to know about Forbidden, past and present. In their 80s heyday Forbidden always a retained a more 'intelligent' feel to their thrashing than many contemporaries and this technically developed know-how feels strongly akin to latter day Nevermore (a band world renowned for their technical accomplishments) through Craig Locicero/Steve Smyth's ambitious soloing and riff construction and Russ Anderson's Warrel Dane-esque vocal protestations in highlight tracks "Adapt Or Die" and "Dragging My Casket" (replete with built-for-live vocal melodies).
Given Forbidden's willingness to sail apart of the congested middle zone of absent-minded thrash-by-numbers the beefy modern production afforded them here works better than the countless acts supposedly high on anger yet similarly polished all the same. The political overtones in "Chatter" and "Immortal Wounds" mark Forbidden as every bit the conscientious thrashers, a fact alone that garners them extra merit in my severely thrash-addled brain, and while songs like "Inhuman Race" and "Behind The Mask" have lost some of the impetus of early on Forbidden's return to action is one I am pleasantly surprised about to acclaim. Perhaps it was that they never truly made it back in the day and thus have more to prove to the next generation but "Omega Wave" is a worthy addition to the Bay Area cannon and that I believe it to be one of the best thrash records of the last 2 or 3 years speaks as much as to the quality of all else released and it does Forbidden circa 2010.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
Soon there are no 80s thrash bands of note who haven't made a comeback. Sure, Forbidden did a live gig back in 2001 and officially re-formed in 2007, but as far as any new studio material, the news have been scarce. Until Fall 2010 when songs finally started to surface. As with a lot of bands from that era, Forbidden's claim to fame is fairly marginal: Two 'classic' albums, one of which - the debut - holds an epic thrash song of stellar quality, Through Eyes of Glass, and a bunch of other songs with good verses and awkward choruses. The sophomore effort showed a lot more mature band with much refined songwriting though no song of equal level as the aforementioned Through Eyes of Glass. Also, Tim Calvert wasn't as flashy on the lead as Glen Alvelais. This album was in 1990 though and soon after thrash was dropped off like a hot potato and Forbidden pretty much disappeared. Oh, they did record two more albums in the 90s before disbanding, but the total number of people who have heard those albums can be counted with just one hand.
As has been the case with Forbidden before, the albums starts off - after the obligatory, instrumental throwaway that passes as an intro of course - with something frantic, fast-paced and as thrashy as the band goes. Chalice of Blood was like that, Infinite was like that and not that surprisingly Forsaken at the Gates is like that. The song fires off with a flashy solo that soon morphs into a frantic riff with a faint melody played over it. It showcases one of the strengths of the band effectively: While the band aren't the most superb technical players, they are tight and play very well together. All the instruments accentuate and support each other like they should. Sure, Mark Hernandez is no Paul Bostaph and Steve Smyth is no Tim Calvert - let alone Glen Alvelais - but they aren't slouches either. Of course, in this department the strong and well thought out songwriting helps a lot as well. Everything flows smoothly with no awkwardness that was noticeable with some of the section shifts on earlier albums. The songs are more or less divided into two different categories: Fast thrashers and slower, more melodic pieces. Though a certain melodicity is always present, it is much more prevalent on the slower half of the songs. It is too bad that often these songs also tend to get stuck in a mire with all the chugging. The focus on these parts is of course on the melody and Russ's vocals, but they really hamper the material down, which is too bad since Russ only uses his signature melodic wail mostly just on this part of the album. He is clearly able to do it since it is utilized, but there is none of it on the ragers. Mostly it is his gravely mid-range that he utilizes or a vicious snarl that is rather off-sounding, not really fitting with the band's material.
A highlight and turning point on the album is the song, Hopenosis. Though marred with an all-round dumb verse and naively imbecile lyrics about being fooled and let down by a certain contemporary politician, the song features a catchy, slightly melodic riff that smartly comes with a lot of little variations making for a very memorable listen. The melancholic mix of melodies by an acoustic guitar and Russ's vocals in the beginning of the chorus juxtaposed with the crashing, powerful riff and the transformation of the vocals into a snarl at the very end of it capture the smashed hopes and disappointment turned rage and anger much better than the childish words that the band utilizes. It is not exactly Through Eyes of Glass, but it'll do. However, afterwards the album takes a nosedive. Well, that is not exactly true, but when Hopenosis finishes, Omega Wave has already run 37 minutes, which is more or less the average length of a thrash album so it would be about time for the band to start winding it down, bringing the album to a finish. However, that they won't do. They go on for about 24 more minutes clocking in at a bit over an hour, which is way too long. The last four songs don't leave an impression of any kind on the listener. There are good riffs here and there, but all in all they are mostly leftovers that should have been left on the studio floor or maybe cut into the pieces and used for the finisher of the album.
Let me start by saying that the last 1 1/2 to 2 years have been thrash metal glory for a lot of fans, myself included, and this is part 5 of the saga, parts 1 through 4 are Megadeth 'Endgame' Slayer 'World Painted Blood' Overkill 'Ironbound' and Heathen 'The Evolution of Chaos', so Forbidden make their stand with this, and I'll explain why.
The album kicks off with 'Alpha Century' which is more or less an intro, which is basically a marching theme letting everyone know that Forbidden is marching onto your speakers, the first real song on the album is 'Forsaken at the Gates' and it is the first song Forbidden has done in about 13 years, and right off when I heard those thrashing leads and double bass, I knew this album would not disappoint, Russ Anderson is STILL one of the best vocalists in metal to me, this guy can still get it done, awesome lyrics as well, this song just sounds pissed off as ever!
Next is 'Overthrow' which is one of the albums slower mid-paced songs, but it CRUSHES, with an excellent chorus that features Chuck Billy of Testament and Steve 'Zetro' Souza formally of Exodus guest vocals, and these guys made a great edition to this song, giving it lots of energy, you also find a nice solo and very melodic section which flows really nice, 'Adapt or Die' is next, and picks the pace back up, this was actually the first song I heard from this album, since it was on their MySpace ages before the album came out, and a great song it is, fast thrashy catchy riffs, more double bass, and Russ Anderson really wails on this one, oh and the chorus is nice and catchy as well.
The next song slows things down a bit again 'Swine' starts with some nice acoustics which sounds really good, moving it's way into a mid-paced stomper, this is another track in which Russ Anderson proves that old men can still wail on the mic, awesome heavy as fuck riffs about here too, this song would not sound out of place on 'Twisted into Form' actually, most of this album would not sound out of place on that album, this song speeds up quite a bit in the middle, making it more interesting.
I'll skip down to 'Hopenosis' which is the second song I heard from this on their MySpace and it is one of my favorites on the album, not so much at first, but it grew on me, opening with an awesome riff and drumming, the pre-chorus is catchy as hell featuring some more nice acoustics, nice touch, excellent chorus following, and great vocals as well, another winner!
'Immortal Wounds' is next, which a nice mid-paced thrasher with some interesting vocals, some sections of this song you would swear that Ozzy was singing it, which is no problem with me, 'Behind the Mask' is next and picks things up a notch in the speed department again, starting with another killer speedy riff that works it's way into the song, very catchy chorus here as well, slows it down a bit to make for nice variety, add in a shredding solo, and again, another winner for this album!
'Inhuman Race' is an interesting one, it really doesn't sound like the rest of the album until the chorus, very melodic sounding, but it's another winner here, besides, we don't want all the songs sounding the same, and this one sure as hell doesn't, next is the albums closer which is the title track 'Omega Wave' and Forbidden go out in a Metal Thrashing Mad way, no pun intended Anthrax, starting with a catchy leads working it's way into a stomper of a riff which carries until the speed kicks in, and once it does, WHOA, this song rips and tears and shreds anything that dares get in it's path, for sure the fastest and most aggressive song on the album, and an awesome chorus as well, with some absolute shredding solos!
So, in the end, this IS part 5 of the thrash comebacks, they have made their mark, and they do not disappoint, I've been a fan of this band for years, and after 'Twisted into Form' I felt they lost a little something, although I did like 'Distortion', but what they lost, they surely got it back here, this album beckons the thrash comeback!
Forbidden were an exciting prospect for the Bay Area thrash scene of the late 80s, a skilled band that could incite vicious pits through a carefully coordinated vortex of riff-work, mild technicality and a charismatic vocalist, Russ Anderson, who was pretty unique among his peers, capable of both melodic overture and threatening venom. Their legacy was inaugurated with the memorable debut Forbidden Evil, an appearance on the fabled Ultimate Revenge 2 VHS and then refined to the more accessible but no less competent Twisted Into Form, which saw them cap out their success with MTV videos and good tours. Despite this initial burst of tangible potential, the band did not carry on into greater things. The 90s brought a pair of more modern efforts in Distortion and Green, but both were very disappointing when compared with the band's great legacy "Step By Step", "Rest in Piece", "Chalice of Blood", or "Forbidden Evil" itself, and it's not a stretch to envision how these diminishing returns lapsed Forbidden into a career coma.
One decade post-Green, Forbidden reformed in step with the re-emergence of thrash metal as a potent, sweeping sub-genre polluted with wannabes and old timers honoring themselves, and thus the fifth studio album was inevitable. I was not looking forward to this, as one of those initial fans let down by their 90s output, but I am very pleased to eat crow here, because Omega Wave is certainly the band's best material since 1990, even if a few of its modern flourishes do not spur on the expected level of impact. Russ Anderson, Craig Locicero and Matt Camacho have reunited here with the addition of two more California thrash veterans, guitarist Steve Smyth of Dragonlord, Testament, etc and skin basher Mark Hernandez who has served in Vio-lence, Heathen, Torque and Defiance among others. Together, the five lay waste to any subdued expectations of their ability to write memorable, progressive thrash, and this is probably the album that should have arrived in the early to mid-90s, cementing their momentum into one of California's finest in the genre. Alas, we've yet to master temporal displacement...
I'd actually liken the evolution of this band to that of Germany's Paradox. They too produced some great work earlier in their career, and then upon reforming were able to chip the rust off their joints and bones and come up with something even more complex and aggressive. Omega Wave is a storm of impressive guitar wizardry that never abandons its thrashing core, and thus "Forsaken at the Gates" and the amusingly titled "Adapt or Die" deliver thrill upon thrill of well written riffs to which Anderson's soaring sneers do naught but justice. Often times the band will incorporate a little of their 90s groove ("Overthrow") or slower, plodding tracks that focus more centrally on the vocal lines ("Swine"), but even these incorporate enough riffing fortitude that they become swiftly irresistible, like the unforgettable, eerie glinting of the melodies in the bridge of the latter. "Dragging My Casket" is even more interesting, a moving, melodic lattice with a highly accessible verse sequence, and "Inhuman Race" feels like what might have happened if Soundgarden or Alice in Chains had become a tech thrash outfit.
Once in a great while, there will be an overly aggressive vocal or a grooving ploy that distracts one from the overall experience, but considering that there are 12 tracks and over an hour of new music, these are mere minutia. Omega Wave is like an 'Odyssey' for Forbidden, an epic that the band must have conceived only through many hours of trial and error, taking the elements that were so charming 20 years ago and ramping them up to enthrall the younger generations of thrash novelty. Russ Anderson sounds as if he hasn't missed a step, capable of his prior range and more, acidic and wondrous, with effects used only to accent his native tones. The song dynamics are thriving with essential energy, bustling with dynamics, never boring, and this is by far one of the better technical thrash offerings of 2010, the screaming red and blue skulls colliding once more in triumph. Welcome home, my friends. Welcome home.
Forbidden is a classic thrash band from the 80's. They're most known for putting out the two classic's Forbidden Evil and Twisted Into Form. These two albums are golden gems in thrash metal, and everyone who likes thrash has probably listened to them. In the 90's, Forbidden chose to steer in the groove direction. They are actually one of the bands that can pull it off, although I'm not a big fan of it. I just couldn't get into their two last albums, Distortion and Green. The guitars are just too tuned down, and it all sounds very muddy. Russ Anderson was the only really positive point of those albums, due to his strange vocal lines and still incredible voice. So, what the fuck has happened now? Forbidden's back, and has just released Omega Wave! What a big surprise, considering that a lot of 80's bands have done the same thing in these last few years! Don't get me wrong here, because I love so to speak every record that the 80's bands have put together. Agent Steel did just fine, Helstar did an amazing job, and of course, Forbidden's rival band, Heathen did a fantastic job too. So, how does Forbidden pull it off?
The albums kicks off with a pretty epic intro called Alpha Century. The first time I listened to this intro, I could just feel the excitement start to build up in me, and I was waiting for the second track, Forsaken At The Gates. I had already heard that song though, since they had already released it on their myspace a while before the album came out. However, it was still a blast to hear the transition between the intro and the second track. Forsaken At The Gates must be one of the best songs on the album. There's no doubt about that, because of the amazing thrash riffs, and Russ Anderson's screams and yells. That's all there is to say about Forsaken. It's a true thrasher!
However, Forbidden is not afraid of experimenting a little here and there. We can hear that on tracks like Overthrow, Swine, Dragging My Casket, Immortal Wounds and Inhuman Race. Some of these songs are really thrashy, and has slow sections in them too. Let's take Swine for an example. Swine starts out really slow, and after the second chorus is finished, the song goes up to maximum speed, and the solo comes! In my opinion, this shows that Forbidden is not hypnotized to go straight back to their 80's days, which other bands have really tried to do. You could call this album a mix between their 80's and 90's work too. It's just that, this album is much better than their 90's albums. There are no distorted vocals, and the melodies are far more interesting.
Let's talk a little about Russ Anderson's vocals. I think that his vocals on this album is pretty damn awesome. You can hear that he's not the young dude he was on the first two albums. Now, he's got a much deeper voice, which is kind of cool. He shows that he can still pull off his falsettos, although he's not quite as good as he was in the 80's. Just listen to the beginning of Adapt Or Die, and the part around 2:00 in Overthrow, to hear his falsettos come into play. Like many older vocalists, Russ is going for the lower notes on this album. He can really sound like Eric A.K. from Flotsam And Jetsam on this album. Actually, he could always remind me of Eric A.K. due to the fact that both men did sick falsettos in the 80's, and now their both going for lower notes, and the same kind of screams. So all in all, Russ did a good job here!
The guitar work is pretty awesome too! They are really tuned down, like their last album Green, but there is a BIG difference between these two albums. Here, we get a lot more fast riffs, and amazing solos. Take Adapt Or Die as a good example. This song is filled with fast, and very tuned down riffs, but it's still awesome as hell! Overthrow has got some riffs that I was not very happy with though. The riff in the start of that song just sounds too groovy for my taste. But don't worry, cause you won't hear riffs like that often on this record. It's filled with awesome, fast and energy-filled riffs!
The drumming is brilliant too. I got to realize that this is the same drummer that played on Demonica's one and only album. Now that I know it's him, I can hear that it's the same drum style on both albums, although the drumming is a little faster on this record. Adapt Or Die has a pretty fast upbeat through the whole song. The title track has got that too. The drums were a big part of what made this record so special. Really keeps me headbanging for sure!
The bass guitar is also a good part of holding the songs tight and together. The bassist doesn't really get any of his own moments, and it's not the easiest thing to hear the bass on this album. But even though, it still keeps the song together, and that's all that really matters.
I'm sure you all will like this album if you were a fan of the two first Forbidden albums. They have really become a thrash band again, with a taste of experimenting a little here and there. So go straight to amazon or ebay, and get your hands on this new gem! It's like they say, Adapt or fucking die!