Friday, March 11, 2011

Dire Omen - Promo EP (2011)

Dire Omen is a Canadian hopeful performing a concoction of death and black metal which heavily favors the former. I'd liken their direct style to a mix of mid-period Morbid Angel with the layered snarl and growl vocals that characterized Deicide's early albums; some sparser black metal dissonance thrown into some of the riffing on a few of the songs here. As they're an unsigned band, production values cannot be expected to be soaring through the roof, but the quartet has done well enough to create something vibrant and evil, even if a few of the levels leave something to be desired. The bass is thick and creates an eerie substrate to the drumming, and I found my ears drawn to it quite often through the three tracks here, but often at the expense of the guitars.

Of the three songs here, it was "Your Chosen Hell", the opener that I enjoyed the least, a pretty straight charge of old school death with blast beats and lyrics that are percussively fused to the rhythms much like they were on Deicide or Legion back in the early 90s. The bridge aims for a creepier atmosphere that foreshadows the next track, "Serpent's Child", which is far more desolate and appealing, beginning with a simple drum march alongside the more vapid, bleak notations and then slowly gathering force before a nice, spacious break in its final third. The band's namesake, "Dire Omen" closes out the promo, returning to the blast work and frenetic pacing of the first track, but more successful at fusing its shadowy, black miasma to the double bass work. Most of the riffs are pretty basic, and not wholly compelling, but at around 2:20 it hits this Godflesh-like ringing that immediately draws the ear.

There are a number of other Canadian bands performing a similar mesh of extremity, for example Adversarial and Begrime Exemious who are both quite promising. Dire Omen doesn't yet dwell on that same precipice of intensity when they attempt higher velocities, but there a few good moments of grim, spirit leeching atmosphere here that hint at some potential. If you're a fan of old school USDM like Immolation, Incantation or Morbid Angel which casts an opaque ichor to its rhythmic hostility through the charnel choices in chords and timing, then this is well within your sphere, and blissfully untethered to the Swedish and cavernous sounds that are currently trending in the underground. There are some clear improvements to be made here, like a more powerful guitar tone or more ear striking riffs for the speedier segments, but its not a bad stab at the style.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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