Omen – “Hammer Damage” (Pure Steel Records)
If you’re a hardcore US metal fan of the 80s then this is the one for you! Delayed by almost eight years comes Omen’s latest album and it’s like a 80s time capsule opened. Still with founders guitarist Kenny Powell and drummer Steve Wittig – both ex Savage Grace – Omen was formed in the early 80s and became a stalwart band of upcoming label Metal Blade – indeed, it was Brian Slagel who initially suggested their name!! As can be imagined, a fair number of musicians have passed through the band’s ranks including Coburn Pharr (to Annihilator), not to mention much lamented singer J.D Kimball, whom this album is incidentally dedicated to, given that Hammer Damage was the name of his pre Omen band. Now with Kevin Goocher (Phantom X) on vocals and long time bassist Andy Hass, Omen is back with their 7th album! Heavily guitar driven by Powell, its sound and style very much rooted in late 70s / early 80s licks and melodies, expect plenty of long, drawn out solos to complement its raw, authentic riffs and tones. Goocher for his part, has a matching rough n raw style whether he’s hitting the highs or going for a more darker tone but it all fits in perfectly on classic sounding songs like ‘Cry Havoc’, ‘Era Of Crisis’ and ‘Hellas’. While the production, also by Powell, may sound a little flat especially concerning Wittig’s drum work, that shouldn’t detract on what is essentially an authentic 80s sound, and certainly not when you consider the passion and enthusiasm – not to mention dedication in keeping to the traditions of this still much loved style.