Every once and awhile, just for fun, I’m going to listen to some music I enjoyed when I was a teenager and and post about what I think of it now.
Today’s entry is Omen: “Battle Cry”
Like Helloween, Omen was recommended to me by the Metalhead Who Lived Across The Street®. His exact words were: “You love Iron Maiden , so you’ll probably like Omen”.
I gave Battle Cry a listen and he was right: I liked Omen – Not as much as Iron Maiden, but what they were doing jived with me. Some of it, the vocals mostly, reminded me of pre-Dickenson Maiden, and the rest sounded like Number of the Beast era Maiden to the point that any of the tunes on Battle Cry could have been an NOTB, B-side throwaway that didn’t make the final track listing.
Also, because I’m me, I loved that cover. After I copied the music onto cassette, I recreated the entire cover using water colours and pencil crayons as a multi fold inlay card.
I spent a lot of time in grade eight listening to this album. Eventually I got copies of Omen’s next two albums, Warning of Danger (which I didn’t like as much) and The Curse (which I liked about as much as Battle Cry), but by this time I’d discovered Metallica and Master of Puppets had already been out for 6 months. Eventually, Omen faded into a small footnote of my history.
Listening to this album today, I can hear what I enjoyed about it as a twelve/thirteen year old. The music has that slight, NWOBHM bounce to it and the Maiden influence is very obvious .
For early fifties me, however, there is just something not quite there about it.
One thing I notice now is the near complete lack of dynamics in the songs. They’re just… flat. The choruses don’t really “pop”, they just blend right into the verses on both sides. The drumming is steady, yet unvaried. While I don’t have anything against four on the floor beats, the drumming on Battle cry is uninteresting. It doesn’t even have the swagger of something super basic like AC/DC.
The guitar work is more than passable for the time; I don’t have anything good or bad to say about the performance, but the guitar is rather buried in the mix and the bass, when you can hear it, is just following the guitar note for note.
The vocals are ok but, again, lack dynamics. Dude doesn’t have a huge range, but doesn’t really know how to compensate. He’s like a Tom Araya trying to be Rob Halford.
While individual musicianship is good, the overall feel of the songs as a whole is stale.
You also have to consider that Battle Cry came out a month after Maiden’s Powerslave, which is the album that not only solidified my love for heavy music but, nearly forty years later, is a veritable masterclass in songwriting across any genre.
While Battle Cry isn’t anywhere as cringey as Keeper Of The Seven Keys is, I don’t think I’ll be listening to it outside of those parties where you have some drinks and start the old “Hey! Remmber this band?” conversations.