Classic 80's American heavy metal!
Omen are one of those bands that never was able to break from the pack, but while they were around they gave us some great heavy metal.

Original vocalist J.D. Kimball passed away from cancer on October 3, 2003.

Battle Cry Omen - Battle Cry (Metal Blade Records) 1984

1. "Death Rider" (3:28)
2. "The Axeman" (4:27)
3. "Last Rites" (3:41)
4. "Dragon's Breath" (3:01)
5. "Be My Wench" (4:03)
6. "Battle Cry" (3:44)
7. "Die By The Blade" (3:10)
8. "Prince Of Darkness" (2:46)
9. "Bring Out The Beast" (4:10)
10. "In The Arena" (4:05)

Classic, galloping heavy metal. If ever there was an album the epitomized 1980's traditional American heavy metal, "Battle Cry" would be it. "The Axeman" will forever remain one of the staples of American heavy metal. Early Omen was often compared with Iron Maiden, and indeed the two bands do share some similarities in style. "Last Rites" or the opening moment of "Be My Wench" and "Bring Out The Beast" in particular seem to have that galloping style that Steve Harris and Co. made so popular in the 80's. Where Omen seems to differ from the run of the mill metal band is the well developed guitar riffs. At some points the guitar playing could almost be considered early thrash metal. "Dragon's Breath" for instance has some fast playing that certainly touches on thrash metal. Vocalist J.D. Kimball has a smooth style that fits well with the band's uptempo heavy metal. He's not a very high singer, as many metal bands in the 80's had, but rather he has smooth, clean, mid-range style that is complimented with a bit of vibrato. Omen are just good, quality, heavy metal. Fans of early Fates Warning, Metal Church and Iron Maiden would do themselves well to check this CD out.

Powergod recorded a cover of "Death Rider".

Warning of Danger Omen - Warning Of Danger (Metal Blade Records) 1985

1. "Warning of Danger" (4:25)
2. "March On" (4:04)
3. "Ruby Eyes (of the Serpent)" (3:49)
4. "Don't Fear the Night" (5:04)
5. "V.B.P." [instrumental] (4:54)
6. "Premonition" (1:47)
7. "Termination" (3:33)
8. "Make Me Your King" (3:50)
9. "Red Horizon" (3:38)
10. "Hell's Gates" (5:42)

For those who were part of the metal scene in the mid-1980's, this album is considered a heavy metal classic. Many consider "Warning of Danger" to be the band's best, although many would argue that title belongs to the band's debut. Regardless, "Warning of Danger" is another hold, molten slab of dynamic heavy metal. Anthemic headbangers like "March On" are soundtracks to a generation of rivet-head from the 80's. The instrumental track "V.B.P." recalls that early, galloping, Iron Maiden style. The faster cuts like the speed metal "Red Horizon" and "Ruby Eye (of the Serpent)" are simply outstanding. As well, the mesmerizing and speedy "Termination" is another standout track. "Cyborg lust, programmed to terminate..." I can't actually listen to this CD without getting that song stuck in my head. The album closes out with the melodic "Hell's Gate" that features excellent vocal melodies, heavy guitars and some progressive tempo changes.

Vocalist J.D. Kimball sings with a clean, mid-range voice, but has a slight grittiness to his voice that give him character. Kimball, along with the songwriting of Kenny Powell really set this band apart from the average metal band in the 80's. It's a shame this band didn't generate more interest and popularity.

I have the Metal Blade "Classic Series" edition of this CD, which feature a lame insert. The booklet has a few photos of the band, line-up and credits. There are no lyrics or liner notes included. There is another CD version of this album that included the "Nightmares" EP as bonus tracks.

Omen - The Curse/Nightmares (Metal Blade) 1986/1987/1996

The Curse
1. "The Curse" (5:46)
2. "Kill On Sight" (4:50)
3. "Holy Martyr" (4:02)
4. "Eye Of The Storm" (4:11)
5. "S.R.B." (5:47)
6. "Teeth Of The Hydra" (5:59)
7. "At All Cost" (5:26)
8. "Destiny" (3:24)
9. "Bounty Hunter" (4:25)
10. "The Larch " (1:35)
1. "Nightmares" (2:51)
2. "Shock Treatment" (2:41)
3. "Dragon's Breath" (3:01)
4. "Termination" (3:33)
5. "Bounty Hunter" (4:25)
6. "Whole Lotta Rosie" [live] (3:53)

Metal Blade released so many classic heavy metal platters in the mid-1980's. Albums like Fates Warning "The Spectre Within" and Cirith Ungol's "King of the Dead" are underground classics. Omen fit right in with these classics. "The Curse" was the band's third album in as many years, and they were still flying that Euro-heavy metal flag high. Resisting the urge to follow the thrash trend in the mid-80's, they clung to their denim and leather roots without looking back. The band did seem to embrace a slightly more social ethic in the lyrics, as opposed to their former tales of sorcery, battles and warriors. The entire album is hook-laden, heavy, and raw. Sure, the production leaves a bit to be desired in comparison to the bigger label bands, but this isn't about competition with the majors. Rather, this was underground heavy metal! Galloping, pure, heavy and full of the 80's metal spirit. J.D. Kimball's vocals are raw but also passionate an work well for the band. Comparisons can be made to Di'Anno-era Iron Maiden for sure. The album was reissued on CD in 1996 with the "Nightmares" EP, which is a nice inclusion since it is a pretty rare recording to begin with. The additional songs were all recorded around the same time with the same line-up, so they fit nicely, save for the final track. The live version of "Whole Lotta Rosie" is an oddball track for sure and isn't all that great to begin with. I suppose it would have been fun to hear it and see it live, but on CD it doesn't really do the band, or the original song justice. Otherwise, this CD is a genuine heavy metal classic.

Escape to Nowhere Omen - Escape to Nowhere (Enigma/Metal Blade) 1988

1. "It's Not Easy" (5:12)
2. "Radar Love" (6:08)
3. "Escape to Nowhere" (4:20)
4. "Cry for the Morning"(4:06)
5. "Thorn in Your Flesh" (4:05)
6. "Poisoned" (4:33)
7. "Nomads" (3:17)
8. "King of the Hill" (4:09)
9. "No Way Out" (3:16)

If I am not mistaken, this is the only Omen album that has not yet been re-issued by Metal Blade. "Escape to Nowhere" is old school heavy metal that lacks a bit in hooks. While Omen are an American band, they borrow heavily from the NWOBHM bands of the early 80's. The disc was produced by Paul O'Neil. Paul has become well known in Savatage fan circles as he has written and produced several Savatage classics and is the mastermind behind the Trans Siberian Orchestra. "Radar Love" is a Golden Earring cover. I picked this disc up for $7.99 at a local used CD shop. This disc featured Coburn Pharr on vocals who left to join Annihilator, in which he recorded the "Never Neverland" CD.

Teeth of Hydra Omen - Teeth Of The Hydra (Metal Blade) 1989

1. "Holy Martyr" (4:02)
2. "Termination" (3:33)
3. "Dragon's Breath" (03:01)
4. "Teeth Of The Hydra" (5:59)
5. "Battle Cry" (3:44)
6. "The Curse" (5:46)
7. "Nightmares" (2:51)
8. "Bounty Hunter" (4:25)
9. "Thorn In Your Flesh" (4:05)
10. "Die By The Blade" (3:10)
11. "Hell's Gates" (5:42)

I use to own most of the Omen catalog on vinyl, but have been slow to replace them with CD copies. I picked up this 'best of' collection from for $1.75 and it has re-sparked my interest in this band. Omen was one of the more successful Metal Blade artists of the eighties, employing a classic 80's metal sound that was common for the Metal Blade label. Bands such as Armored Saint, Obsession, Warlord, Tyrant, Leathewolf, etc. all had a similar sound. Early Iron Maiden might be another good comparison. However, I had always thought that the band had a slightly above average sound in comparison to many others. Vocalist J.D. Kimball had an aggressive style that was clean, yet didn't sound overly commercial either. His voice is present on the majority of the tracks here, save for "Thorn in the Flesh", which is off the slightly more commercial "Escape to Nowhere." Musically, the band was studs and leather, working man's heavy metal; upbeat tempos, pounding drums, dirty bass, crunchy, galloping guitar riffs and blazin' guitar solos. They didn't really employ any pop elements, save for "Escape to Nowhere", which was a bit of a departure for them. For the most part, however, there was that classic, 1980's heavy metal vibe that was rugged, heavy and even pushed the elements of speed metal and thrash at times. This compilation was released after the band broke up in 1989 and encompasses their entire 80's catalog, but isn't in any sort of order whatsoever. (Guitarist Kenny Powell has since resurrected Omen). I would have liked it better had the songs been in chronological order by the year they were recorded. However, as it stands, this is still a good overview of the band's early years and a pleasant trip through heavy metal years gone by.

Eternal Black Dawn Omen - Eternal Black Dawn (Crash Music) 2003

1. 1000 Year Reign (4:21)
2. Eternal Black Dawn (4:25)
3. Burning Times (5:52)
4. Blood Feud (3:42)
5. House on Rue Royale (5:25)
6. King of the Seven Seas (4:42)
7. Chains of Delirium (3:54)
8. Chaos in the Cathedral (6:10)
9. The Specter of Battles Past (Medley) (7:30)

Omen originally split-up towards the end of the 1980's. I don't know the whole story on their demise, but I'm sure some of it was based on the frustation of releasing some classic heavy metal that had largely gone unnoticed by the heavy metal world. In 1997 guitarist and band founder Kenny Powell resurrected the Omen name with a completely new lineup and his own son Greg Powell taking over on vocals. The album that resulted was titled "Reopening The Gates", an album that many metal fans rejected as having nothing to do with the classic American heavy metal sound that Omen were known for. The band took a break and some years later came back together with a new vocalist and a new CD

"Eternal Black Dawn" returns the band to a classic American heavy metal style. In fact, had this album been released in 1987 as the follow-up to "The Curse", I doubt most fans would have been the wiser. Of course new vocalist Kevin Goocher gives the band a different sound from the classic J.D. Kimball years. (Unfortunately original Omen singer J.D. Kimball passed away from cancer on Oct. 3, 2003.) While Goocher does have some similarities to Kimball, he is no clone. In fact, Goocher also parallels Ronnie James Dio at times. The music on "Eternal Black Dawn" is old-school, galloping heavy metal with some tasty guitar solos and most fantasy based lyrics. Most of the songs are mid-paced, but there is plenty of distinction between songs so that the album doesn't blend into one long song. Album opener "1000 Year Reign" is a very good song that would fit in perfectly into a set-list with the band's more classic catalog. Other standouts include the title track, the slightly progressive "Burning Times," "House On Rue Royale" and "Spectre of Battles Past". The last cut is a medley past Omen songs such as "Make Me Your King" and "Dragon's Breath". Fans of traditional heavy metal (Wild Dogs, Warlord, Culprit, early Fates Warning, Saint, etc.) will find much to like about this. No, it's not going to rival the band's 80's catalog, but really, could anything they record now do that?

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