Review Summary: Impressive but familiar.
To say that Bad Omens bear an uncanny resemblance to Bring Me the Horizon circa their Semptiternal
days is an understatement. The way that they toe the line between raw screaming and accessible melodies bears the mark of BMTH in just about every comparable way, which at the end of the day really just means that they’re doing something right. But whatever points they lose for originality they easily gain back by amping up the intensity and keeping a firm grasp on the type of memorable verses and choruses that will, in time, carve them out a permanent niche. Sure, it may not be the most admirable bid to fame – mastering a sound that’s already been thoroughly explored – but sometimes an album doesn’t need to be a trailblazer in order to excel at its goals; case-in-point here. Bad Omens
sounds like, and is, a finished product. It’s the result of a band that has known exactly how it wants to sound for even longer than it’s actually been making music. When you combine the solidity of the group’s identity with the advanced level of production, Bad Omens
ends up sounding more like something a band would release ten years into its career than it does an untested debut. To put it plainly, Bad Omens
doesn’t pull any punches. It simply chugs away at what it does best and ends up marking a debut that should have the likes of Bring Me the Horizon, Asking Alexandria – and all other other genre peers who have recently surged in popularity – keeping a close eye over their respective shoulders.
Opener ‘Glass Houses’ makes an immediate splash with its mosh-worthy riffs, percussively heavy breakdowns, and an absolutely addicting chorus (I’ve seen the devil more than I’ve seen God
). It’s easily one of the best songs on the entire record, and it is wisely positioned not only to draw listeners in, but also to give them a sample of what they can expect to experience for roughly the next forty minutes. Bad Omens
is overflowing with energy, piling riff upon riff while allowing the momentum to bubble up so high that it has no choice but to explode. While this usually comes in the form of Noah Sebastian’s all-out screams, there are still some artsy moments on display that prove Bad Omens are more mature than your average metalcore outfit. ‘Enough, Enough Now’ is a primary example, stripping away all instrumental backing save for a lonely classical piano, while Sebastian screams from the bottom of his soul, “I’m just all fucked up and I really need your help.” It’s more sincere than it reads on paper because you can hear the pain in his voice and taste the devastation. It’s the kind of moment that saves would-be everyday metalcore
, and while Bad Omens aren’t chock-full of these gems, they sprinkle enough of them throughout the album to elevate it from an artistic standpoint. That isn’t to say that they don’t succumb to any of the angsty, teen-bait clichés that are prominent in the genre (crowd chants and embarrassingly emo passages aren’t difficult to come by), but for the most part Bad Omens make a solid pitch for being a cut above their peers – and they succeed.
Bad Omens’ self-titled debut is impressive not only because it finds solid footing halfway between genre expectations and personal creativity, but also because it manages to bring forth an impressive blend of frothing-at-the-mouth rockers and vulnerable ballads. The former obviously dominates the majority of the runtime, but like other top-tier bands in the accessible alt-metal scene, they have mastered the art of balance. There aren’t many tracks on Bad Omens
that are heavier or more intimidating in vocal stature than ‘Broken Youth’, yet the band showcases its versatility by following up that behemoth of a song with the gentle and atmospheric ‘Crawl’ – a haunting piano ballad that paints an image of a hellish nightmare (ghosts of soldiers will greet you and point the way…if this dreamshould last forever I pray to die
). The most successful combination of styles and cadences comes via the album closer ‘The Fountain’, a hopeful mid-tempo rocker that simultaneously illustrates utter hopelessness (I had the whole damn world and I gave it all away
) as well as personal triumph (I’m not afraid anymore / we will live forever
). It makes for a gorgeous curtain-call, and it’s the kind of track that less seasoned bands would not be able to pull off – once again pointing to the band’s unprecedented maturity. Bad Omens
feels a bit like a snapshot of the genre in which it resides, absorbing its greatest strengths while minimizing its inherent flaws. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s a more than enjoyable outing for casual and diehard metal fans alike.
By the time Bad Omens
has reached its end, there are a couple vastly different conclusions to draw. The first is that this is an impressively heavy and simultaneously diverse debut for a band that appears to be destined for a future in the limelight alongside metalcore’s most popular and accessible outfits. Second, the band does very little to escape the tiny box that defines their genre. If anything, they embrace those boundaries and use them as a means for mastering the content inside rather than exploring the territory around it – an outlook that has its benefits but also limits the overall scope of the band’s sound. In other words, it is unlikely that we will ever see Bad Omens release anything groundbreaking; they will only ever continue to release albums with a high floor and a low ceiling. As for their debut, it accomplishes precisely what it sets out to. It’s loud, raucous, emotional, and familiar. It’s a damned good start, but it also leaves one wondering where they can go from here without being forced to immediately retrace their steps. Then again though, maybe that’s of no concern for a band that seems to have it all together from the start.