Friday, June 26, 2015

MACABRE OMEN

Macabre Omen (Greece/U.K.): Gods of War – at War (Van Records)
“The best album of 2015!”
“Album of the year!”
“A masterpiece”
These and other such accolades continue to be showered upon Macabre Omen’s new 2015 album.
But why?
Does it have anything special going on?
Recently I told you about the band Sarpanitum and why its 2015 album, in my opinion, was so unique—as metal music, “unique” here doesn’t mean postrock or weirdo/experimental/ambient rock; I mean real metal music—that I have listened to it a lot this year because I liked it that much.
Now, I would like to tell you about another album that I have come across that is in that same category—that I listen to it many times because it is very interesting to me as metal music. This is Macabre Omen.
Macabre Omen started in Greece and the band’s first demo is from 1994. Today only Alexandros is left from those days, and Alexandros has worked with various people to create this album. Apparently, Alexandros plays guitars, keyboards and does vocals, but the drums are by Tom Vallely, who has several projects, too. The album has other instruments, but it’s not clear who plays what on it. According to Metal Archives, the previous album is from 2005, and there was a split release in 2006 and another one in 2007. Basically, Alexandros works and records music at his own pace and he has other musical projects that he has worked on, too.
Let’s get the genre out of the way. Macabre Omen is “epic black metal”; that’s what people seem to agree on, but let me tell you what this is not. This is not “epic” in the sense keyboard/ambient/symphonic sounds; it’s not a long-song album, either; it’s not folky music; it is black metal proper, but it’s not demo-like sound quality, nor is it simple-song black metal. I have noticed that for some people, Macabre Omen seems to be the epic metal of Bathory’s “Blood Fire Death” and the spirits of old Greek black metal’s dark melancholy, like old Rotting Christ. It is fast, tight and grim; it sounds ambitious; it has melody, but it’s melancholic-dark melody; it has room for slower moments, variety and moods, it’s multidimensional; it shows that Alexandros has possibly spent a long time thinking about how to construct these songs, and how to make them sound right and big.
In terms of sound, the album seems great to my ears. I observe that the drums do not sound like that awful, lifeless plastic sound that dominates in metal. I don’t know how the drums were recorded and how computerized they are, but they don’t sound overly processed. The guitar work gives the listener many things to absorb and to think about. The album sounds like it was a lot of work, not because it sounds super technical, but because it sounds like only the best ideas and riffs were used, while lots of other lesser ideas have been rejected. The vocals, too, demonstrate a lot of work; there’s a variety of extreme metal vocals, but also some clean voices, but it’s all done so well in the dark vibe that it makes me think about how much Alexandros has thought about the different types of vocals needed in the various segments of each song. It sounds like Alexandros put on himself no limits on the imagination; and it all works, in my opinion.
Finally, one last thing: I have to finish this review and I remind you that I highly recommend this album, but I am not done listening to it. The review is finished because at some point it is time to get done with the review, but this album has so much in it that I will be coming to it to understand it more. Macabre Omen does not put out new music often, and it seems that now we know why. From the sounds of it, it takes a long time to implement the musical ideas and make them sound this way.
Listen to the complete album here: www.macabreomen.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/macabreomen.rhodes
www.van-gbr.de

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