Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Omens - The Seventh Chalice (Belief Mower Records)

Omens is a project of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jonathan Nicosia through which he performs an interesting mixture of everything from post-punk to doom metal, deathrock to black metal, and at times a bit of ethereal wave thrown in. This is the only release from the project and sadly it has come to an end, luckily he has left us with an amazing, gloomy piece of work released on cassette by Belief Mower Records last year.

Jagged chords are struck chiming the beginning of the tape. Soon joined by plodding drums and droning vocals that instantly remind me of Michael Gira, full of apathy and loathing. This first track "The Unclean Distance" slowly moves forward, driven by a gloomy bassline. Suddenly the track collapses into mid pace blasting covered in swirling atmospherics. Noise elements are used heavily on this tape to create a dense, immersive experience. The second track "Seven Chimes" is rooted in the gloom created by post-punk and deathrock. The throbbing bass keeps a steady tempo while creeping guitar lines weave themselves over the music. The track is not free from metallic tendencies, still containing sinister melodies and a doom-like portion where the original composition is shifted to a slow malevolent pace. The many genres the tape straddles are mixed perfectly into something cohesive and enthralling. 

The second half of the tape starts with "Flames At Dawn" a nearly ambient piece consisting of piano and various noise components. The piano is played seemingly randomly with keys being hit in an atonal and repetitive manner, there is still a haunting melody that seeps through as the notes are hit and the background noise seethes. The last track on this tape is a cover, and a spectacular one. A rendition of the Cocteau Twins song "Blind Dumb Deaf". This cover is as beautiful as the original with an added layer of melancholy and hopelessness. I strongly suggest listening to the two in succession to see how he takes the original and changes it into something wholly new. I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I first heard it, the track is given a whole new depth. Taking Cocteau Twins and creating something dark and depressive out of their ethereal music is a rather ambitious idea, especially given their legacy. Through brilliant execution Omens makes it a complete success and ends this tape perfectly.

Omens is really unlike anything I have heard, the closest comparison I could come to would be Lurker of Chalice but even that does not really come close to describing the mood created by this album. Unfortunately this will be the only release by the project but it is still available from Belief Mower Records and the opening track can be heard on bandcamp. I cannot recommend this tape enough especially for fans of any of the various genres mentioned above.

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