OMEGA CROM is a Canadian Power/Thrash Metal band, formed in 2002, according to Metal-Archives.com. And apparently Stu Block (ex-INTO ETERNITY, ICED EARTH) used to be part of the band. It took them a while to release a first album, which occurred in 2009 (or 2010) under the title “Blood, Steel & Fire”. Prior to that, a 4-track demo was put out, titled “To Arms!”. Since August 2014, the band’s sophomore album is available: “Beyond Control”.
“Beyond Control” contains ten tracks and promises powerful, shredding and twisting tunes from start to finish. It begins with “Sundering Blades”. Slow Heavy Metal to start with. Gradually the whole becomes more powerful, bigger. Flashy solo, thundering drums… it all adds to the unsheathing of the blades, in a manner of speaking. Verses are pounded out of the speakers, the Metal backing growling vocals. There’s even room for blastbeats. The bridge (or pre-chorus) has clean vocals and the music also flows better in its Power Metal form, whereas in the verses it was almost like Melodic Death. With the (melodic) Power Metal, I had the impression that Johnny’s voice sounded similar to Damian Wilson’s (of British Progressive masters THRESHOLD). Musically, there’s enough change between the verses, bridge, chorus and the instrumental talk à la solos, blasting drums, etc. The vocals are overall high in the mix and Johnny desires to throw in high-pitched screams whenever he deems them necessary. In a lot of cases, they aren’t, in my humble opinion. Still, this first song is a pretty good one.
Next stop: “Power Soul”. Since Megadeth is mentioned as influence, it’s hard not to think of this band’s classic hit “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due”. OMEGA CROM took the liberty to take the classic riff and rhythm and use it in their own song. Well, I don’t know if they really copy-pasted the parts, but one can’t deny the sonic similarity, especially in the verses. Later on, the band added their own Heavy Metal touch, a.o. with group vocals in the chorus, which is melodic, but doesn’t fail to rock! Tension is added – with the unnecessary high-pitched shrieks – to make the link with the (pounding) solo moment, again in a flashy manner. You get easily transported back to the 80s. 😉 Afterwards it’s back to business. But as a surprise, there’s a headbang-friendly moment (groovy, growl-laden, and very rhythmic) to take the song to its end.
Drums set in “Unwanted Hell” with a nice groove, after which it’s ballad time: a clean guitar and dual vocals, male and female. Female voice by Céline Derval from the French Folk Metal band SCYTHIA. When the Metal breaks out, the guitar grooves mightily and Johnny’s singing changes to fit the new direction. Contrast is created in the chorus: blasting music, almost like Heavy meets Thrash, and clean vocals. However, this combination sounded a bit messy, to be honest. In addition – again – I’m not fond at all of the high-pitched shrieks. Whereas MEGADETH was used previously as influence, this time it’s NEVERMORE’s typical groove sound. Or should I say Jeff Loomis’s? This part is fully instrumental and is followed by full-on Heavy Metal and clean singing. Another ADHD trip is taken soon enough, but here the vocals aren’t the most attractive element, mainly in how it’s done (singing in a talking way). Oh yes, I forgot the blastbeats. Not that the band doesn’t have good musicians, but this song just sounds too messy, too chaotic.
“Chaos Theory” tales a calm, clean start. Céline shows her vocal skills a little later; Johnny joins her in the second round, or rather, he takes over. Both vocalists join forces in the chorus of this ballad. But as the ballad music was not really changing, one option was the hard way: METAL! The clean singing is more passionate at this point, but those shrieks seriously harm the listening experience. Maybe it’s a matter of taste, and yes, Stu Block also used to shriek when in INTO ETERNITY, and Rob Halford did the same in JUDAS PRIEST, but certainly not as much as Johnny here in OMEGA CROM? The obligatory solo moment is also added, after which the clean theme of before returns to round it all off. All in all, not bad, but not super either.
“Infiltrate The System” offers fierce, powerful and speedy Heavy/Power Metal, the kind OMEGA CROM has set itself as trademark. Extreme vocals in the verses, clean in the chorus. The Thrash influence is high in this song. And of course the flashy solos are the obligatory spice. “Blood Red Moon” begins with a bit of building, before unleashing its power. Then it’s Power Metal time, reminiscent of e.g. ARMORY. Flashy guitarwork, firing drums, clean vocals; key ingredients and as expected. The speed is reduced in the chorus. In the solo part that follows, influences from IRON MAIDEN and foremost JUDAS PRIEST (and similar) can be detected. As the fast Power Metal is key for this band, so are the solos. Later on the clean vocals are replaced by a screamy version, as the music also becomes heavier again. All ends like it started, to head and tail are the same. But still… the song is too long (almost 9 minutes) to be really enjoyable.
Another long song, as most of them are, is “Halteres Illusions Of Reality”. This one commences with midtempo, grooving Heavy Metal in an almost marching way. Hymnic Heavy Metal is at play, leading into catchy melodic Power Metal. Layered vocals in the verses: clean leading the charge, growls in the back. The pre-chorus contains the aforementioned shrieks, which low clean singing is done in the chorus. The music is good, though. But as good as it all may sound or be played, the song is too long, feels too stretched. “Of Past And Present” consists of two parts: one being very accessible with clean verses and soft singing, even if this then contrasts with the power of the chorus (and the high-pitched shrieks that really are redundant), the other part being wilder and heavier.
“Brains All Over The Floor” starts calm, has both vocalists again. But when the behemoth of Metal sets in… stand back. Full power, violent attack! Also direct is the last song, “Land Of Never Was”, and its Power Metal, combined with the attack and passion of previous songs.
When I first heard and let play “Beyond Control” in the background, I was quite enthousiastic about this band’s album. It offered a fresh take on the mix of Power and Thrash Metal. But upon more concentrated listening, the sunshine and “happy happy, joy joy” moments started to fade, rather quickly. I like how OMEGA CROM took influences from several styles: Heavy, Power, Groove, Thrash, Melodic Death Metal, … However, most songs are just too long, too stretched; then it’s not “beyond control”, rather “out of control”. Giving them (incl. the overused high-pitched shrieks) a metaphorical haircut or damming them in would improve the listening experience. In fact, this could have been a good EP instead of a mediocre album. But if you like JUDAS PRIEST’s “Painkiller” mixed with old MEGADETH and some similar stuff, with a progressive twist, then OMEGA CROM might be something for you.
- Sundering Blades
- Power Soul
- Unwanted Hell
- Chaos Theory
- Infiltrate The System
- Blood Red Moon
- Halteres Illusions Of Reality
- Of Past And Present
- Brains All Over The Floor
- Land Of Never Was
Johnny Ketlo – vocals, guitar
Céline Derval – guest vocals
Sylvain Maltais – bass
Colin Furness – drums