Album Review: BAD OMENS Bad Omens
For over a year now it seems that the name has lurked in the shadows. With sporadic music videos hitting view counts high as established acts and tour opening spots for well-known performers, one could tell Sumerian Records was brewing big plans for Bad Omens.
The group didn't have much to prove with their self-titled debut as singles "Glass Houses," "Exit Wounds," and "The Worst in Me" had already garnered a decent fanbase. And to my surprise, the creativity within the remainder of the album maintained its stride. While yes, the majority of these tracks lack the "stuck-in-your-head" factor contained in the previous three, the industrial and metalcore exploration provide a surprising and tasteful touch. Most of all, these later songs prove that Bad Omens are not simply just a radio-friendly one trick pony. Their range of musical styles is an impressive addition for a band's first impression.
Certainly, amongst these twelve compositions there are a couple duds scattered around. I can't imagine myself seeking out a relisten of "Enough, Enough Now" or "The Letdown." The emo vocals and blatant anthemic atmosphere seems to be regressive traits of the genre rather than the fascinating stylistic experimentation shown on further songs such as "Crawl" where the piano work held a Trent Reznor quality. For fans of Whitechapel or Periphery, check out "Malice" and "Hedonist." Furthermore, I'm unsure why "The Fountain" needed the push of a music video. The serene attributes were the opposite of the excitement built up in the previous videos, however the overall tone allowed for relief following the Warped Tour pandering piece "Reprise (The Sound of the End)."
Since every damn music video is crawling with Bring Me the Horizon comments and comparisons, I'll quickly address my opinion on the matter. When comparing the choruses of these two bands, tracks like "Thrones" and "The Worst in Me" are delivered quite similarly. Yet, if you focus more on the music, BMTH extracts more of the post-hardcore side from their metalcore genre where Bad Omens borrows more from nu-metal and modern melodic metalcore. So in contrast, although both groups share the metalcore genre tropes closely, their foundations are built on different ground. If anything, I would label Bad Omens as the missing gap in between Bring Me the Horizon's There is a Hell… and their recent more hard rock based releases.
Many readers are going to curse this score and review and I totally understand why. The current metal community immediately rejects anything that resembles or contains pop elements with Babymetal, I See Stars, and Periphery as prime examples. And with that exclusion comes the exact opposite reaction as well. There appears to be an equal amount of animosity for these types of musical groups as there is success, dedication, and fandom. As a music reviewer, I try to stand in between these clashing sides. I'll agree in that this metal style dilutes the extreme and intelligent reputation that musicians from the progressive or technical death persuasion have been attempting to establish for the metal genre. On the other hand, I understand that many of these 'pop-metal' bands are subject to much unnecessary criticism because of their association with catchy hooks and choruses.
Whether you like it or not, you can't deny this is gonna sell big. Even months ago, I could already sense the hype with this debut album, so I'm fairly certain these guys are to be a main stage act around LP three. They have the looks, the hooks, and the mainstream/heavy duality to appeal to a wide range. However, their simplistic approach to songwriting and reliance on arena-sized choruses allows for vulnerability to inevitable and inexcusable "not real metal" or "where's the risks?" criticisms. In response to such an assessment, I would argue the songwriting is equal to the quality releases from After the Burial and Erra of this year. Although the comparisons to other mainstream metalcore acts are mostly justified, Bad Omens possess a wider palette to execute their own melting pot identity. In the end, these songs are pretty solid and ultimately will be a personal guilty pleasure.