Monday 15 July 2019

Omen - Halálfogytiglan (2019)

Country: Hungary
Style: Power Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 12 Jul 2019
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Omen's The Curse was one of those albums that was everywhere in the eighties but my first surprise here was that this Omen isn't that Omen. Maybe the title of this album should have given me a hint but I'd forgotten that the other Omen were from Los Angeles. This particular Omen, who also play power metal, are from Budapest. They've been around since 1990 and they've been busy too, as I'm seeing eleven studio albums to their name, plus a live and a best of.

I dug this immediately, though I was a little worried at how Most kezdödik, appropriately the opening track given that the title apparently translates to It's Starting Now, was reminiscent of Symphony of Destruction. It's not unfair to think of Megadeth here, as Omen are certainly the heaviest power metal band I've heard in a long time. They're always upbeat but never lose their crushing heaviness even when they speed up, which they don't do as often as I might have expected, given that they're often tagged with speed and thrash too.

They're at their best, I think, when they're chugging along because they're so damn tight and the production does a fantastic job of highlighting that. It may be partly because the longest standing members include Zoltán Nagyfi, the band's patient but powerful drummer. He's been with Omen since 1990 and so has guitarist László Nagyfi, who I presume is related. I was expecting a long standing bassist, but József Mezöfi didn't join until 2017.

If the band is rock steady in the rhythm department, rumbling along like a neverending earthquake, they're also elevated by the vocals of Péter Molnár, which are tough but clean. He resists any urge to descend into growls but he has a powerful guttural voice nonetheless. He's the new fish, having become the band's fifth vocalist only this year, but I'd have guessed that he had years with the band. I'd be surprised if those other four singers matched the band's style so well; three of them had multiple albums to do so and two had a full decade. I'll have to listen backwards to see.

Oddly, and unlike that other Omen, this band don't really sound like anyone that I can conjure up in comparison. I do hear elements of other bands: the patient power of a Metal Church, the melodic chugging of a Megadeth and the riffs and solos of an Accept, but the complete songs rarely sound like any of those bands. The closest is the title track, which is very reminiscent of Metal Church's style. It's done very well too, but I guess they have enough years and albums behind them to be able to sound like themselves.

Like the Black Pistol album I reviewed this morning, this is very consistent stuff and choosing favourite tracks really comes down to favourite riffs as much as anything. I'd call out Lehunyt szemmel, or With Eyes Closed, as one highlight, except that it gets smoked by the next song, Egy jobb pokol, or A Better Hell, with an effortless riff worthy of Accept and a grungy chorus. I like its solo too, though it ends too quickly; the twin guitars are courtesy of László Nagyfi and Matt Nagy. They deserve more attention.

And so do Omen. I've listened through this album a few times and it's still as heavy as ever, even when finding memorable melodies for voice and guitar like Az lesz, ami volt, or It Will Be What It Was. I have no understanding of Hungarian but I was trying to sing along with this one on my first time. Trying and failing, of course, but it really made me want to try and that's what counts!

I think I need to come back to this in a week or two and see if it holds up. I may need to up my rating.

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