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Omen's 1984 effort Battle Cry was and is considered a pretty seminal release for USPM, both early and influential, as well as consistently excellent, with a relentlessly manic energy, seamless guitar harmonies, and a superior performance from vocalist J.D. Kimball that would put most other bands to shame. The interesting thing about Omen's first three albums is that there was a slight shift towards a simpler, catchier, and yet in some ways more progressive approach throughout their duration. There is a marked, if subtle, difference between both the first and second albums and second and third albums, respectively. Warning of Danger began to introduce some variety and more progressive elements with the semi-ballad "Don't Fear the Night" and the ambitious "Hell's Gates". They continued to follow this pattern with The Curse, particularly with the song "Holy Martyr" which, like "Hell's Gates" was more progressive musically and lyrically than the standard Omen material.
Kimball sounds excellent as usual here, and the album is pretty varied, with slower, darker songs like the title track and "Eye of the Storm", classic Omen songs like "Destiny" and "Bounty Hunter", and one of my personal favorites, the mid-paced epic "Teeth of the Hydra". The album manages to be pretty successful with the exception of the two instrumentals and "At All Cost", which builds up some pretty complex riffs but ultimately fails to deliver. Highlights are the aforementioned "Teeth of the Hydra", the vicious yet supremely catchy title track, and the relentlessly manic "Bounty Hunter".
While it can hardly be called Omen's crowning achievement, it still kicks the shit out of most of its competition, and is also the last stand of Kimball and co. before the frontman left and the band released the dismal Escape to Nowhere, from which they've never really recovered. While they released a pretty promising song last year, the fact that there's no current release date for a new album is troubling, and fans are left to wonder if Omen will ever manage any semblance of a return to form. One thing's certain, at least - the first three albums will always be available to enjoy, and that puts them above pretty much every other USPM band out there, barring Manilla Road and Virgin Steele. The Curse remains a continual staple of my regular playlist, and I highly recommend it to any fan of USPM or classic metal in general.
“…from the teeth of the hydra come the children of the damned…”
My favorite post-heyday Maiden, dragon-spearing quartet keep the Euro-flame crackling with their third in as many years, still warmly produced and performed by the four original axemen who by now have shed their studded leather armor for t-shirts and denim, cranking out a message more for the times than when indoor plumbing was all the rage.
With The Curse, Kenny Powell (mainman and only member with a former band history) and Omen stick to their pre-thrash IQ so reverently engraved on Battle Cry and Warning of Danger, fighting the fight against classic metal extinction like some gladiator in one of their stories, though this time around are less concerned about tales of arena sorcery, swaying more toward topics relative to a world a tad more sophisticated and, well, worldly without forward-pedaling near the hi-tech save the final red button-fearing “Destiny”. Despite the fact that I’ve always found the band’s medieval words of wonderment enjoyable, I realize that times change, interests dissolve, and really, how many battlefield exploits can you write or expect people to care about? Yeah, they saw the ‘ol spray paint on the wall, but they kept a close ear on what was working for them.
Courageously communicated and traditionally hook-laden as usual, the warnings of danger ring falsely on the snake’s forked tongue as the band offer up tunes heady and ancestral, feet cemented firmly in time-honored direction that leads great “Kill on Sight”, smooth and epically chorused “Holy Martyr”, two-toned velocity of “Bounty Hunter”, and lycanthropic title tune in from the early ‘80s. J.D. Kimball, a baron’s call of regal spirit and soul, maintains the atmosphere the band has been soaring with since day one, embroiled in closed-eye ardor, woefully beckoning the start of “Holy Martyr” like the debut’s “Last Rites”, single-handedly bringing the simmering “Teeth of the Hydra”, a song that hardly ever deviates from a methodical, semi-slow taskmaster’s beat, to a fiery pyre of emotive resolve. Rhythmically, the band sails its ships to new lands of inspiration as “Eye of the Storm” draws from a melancholic and distressed source, more b-side Queensryche than Maiden, meanwhile the band’s second instrumental, “S.R.B.”, a dedication to the Space Shuttle Challenger, is a volley of moods with acoustical misery a sizable part of it, unwittingly hinting at doomy, nearly pre-Candlemass-like heartache, and on top of that some yet unborn Dream Theater theatrics, aurally actualizing the tale of those who flew up and went boom. And for good measure, infectious metal anthem “Kill on Sight” pulses with a lifeforce not unlike Warning of Danger’s “March On”.
Oddly enough, this was recorded in portions at four different studios with four engineers. Oddly enough, you’d never know it.
As strong as the second and a fine wingman for the debut, The Curse fails to thwart my adoration for this band, catapulting “Teeth of the Hydra” and “Holy Martyr” into my own personal Omen best-of that will grow with the act’s short-on-originals, forthcoming ep Nightmares.
This album opens up with the self title The Curse, which quickly displays nice riffs and licks that resemble Iron Maidens style. The singing is pretty good. I would say it sounds like Di'Anno, but that wouldn't be quite acurate. The vocals are very low and growly at times, rarely going high. The riffs are very 80's sounding, definetly baked by some Iron Maiden influence. Throughout the songs, there are harmonized licks that are very similiar to Maiden. For example some songs with this style are S.R.B. and Destiny. They use a lot of cool effects in these songs, like the thunder sound on Eye of the Storm. Also the demon sound on The Curse and Bounty Hunter. I think the sinnger forgot to change back into his regular voice cause the first line is sung in this demon voice! The last song is worthless, it is called The Larch, a minute and some of clean acroustics and a solo, which you can only hear perfectly unless you crank your sound all the way up. It probably would have made a good intro, but it ends the album!! There isn't that much you can say about this album; just an overall nice solid typical heavy metal album. Like they say in the song Kill On Sight, "Metal mongers to the very end/Metal music the power we defend." This album has a lot of cool guitar and bass riffs, nice songs, decent vocals, and overall great production (of course it is Metal Blade!!). Classic Heavy Metal at it's best!