This May saw the release of the fifth album from UK metallers Desert Storm, a band which has continuously forged new aspects to their thunderous sound but reaped the most dramatic essences of their imagination yet for the compelling Omens.
Formed in late 2017, the Oxford hailing band has had us, like so many, persistently licking our lips at their releases. From debut album, Forked Tongue, through the seriously acclaimed Horizontal Life and Omniscient, and the just as welcomed Sentinels of 2018, Desert Storm has persistently breached new plateaus of enterprise and reputation which Omens stretches once again. The quintet’s sludge metal bred sound has nurtured a progressive adventure along the way which was especially fertile within the band’s previous full-length and now makes its successor one fascinating proposal and creative trespass.
Even with its immediate persuasion and striking presence, Omens only reveals greater rewards the longer spent within its perpetually evolving adventure. It challenges and seduces in equal measure; the band’s trademark ravenous riffs and colossal rhythms still a chest crushing trespass and melodic enterprise a searing web of craft and dexterity. Yet their progressive metal imagination is the source of pure captivation, every track an unpredictable and fertile exploration which enthrals as it ravages and where maybe the last album missed out, leaving a lingering imprint on ears and appetite.
Omens opens up with its title track, a spoken word introduction cast by vocalist Matt Ryan within dark atmospheric intimation. It is a portentous poetic lure, an embrace come accusation of darkness which erupts within the following Black Bile. Immediately a patient horde of riffs surround the senses, the cutting swings of drummer Elliot Cole splitting the air as the guitars of Ryan Cole and Chris White spread their esurient web of sound. Ryan’s familiar gruff tones command the air in between their sonic wires as the tenebrific grumble of Christian Benoist’s bass only adds further dark fuel to the temptation. There is also a mercurial breath to the track’s landscape, one which echoes the album’s body as a whole and only fascinates as the sounds it inspires.
It is a great and rousing full start to the release which Vengeful Gods adds to with its feral touch and anthemic stroll. It is a song which is sonically bitter and rhythmically antagonistic, riffs a rabid crawl over the senses yet its vocal union springs a chorus as inviting and rousing as any moment within the release. Again Ryan shares a new depth of diversity and imagination in his presence, a storyteller and protagonist of the sonic spite which erupts in equal measure.
Pain, Grief & Suffering is a beast of venom and grievance but also one glorious groove which immediately wound around the passions between the untamed expulsions of breath and sound, the track recalling the exploits within the band’s early albums but as richly fertile in the progressive and melodic imagination which has increasingly set them apart from the crowd. With the piano caresses of White adding to the tantalising drama, the song is an escalation of temptation while The Path of Most Resistance taking a less invasive journey provided a similarly riveting proposal. Truth be known, it too is a forceful trespasser at times but within a melody crafted landscape with almost shamanic tendencies at certain moments; the song forging itself as our favourite track.
Through the creative contrivance of yet almost bestial presence of The Machine, the band set another keenly devoured mark, riffs and grooves colluding in ravenous intent as bold adventure again steers the imagination in its unpredictable landscape with next up Lockjaw springing its own venomous grooved steeled and riff laded trap upon the senses to match the temptation of its predecessors; Cole and Benoist just as merciless yet manipulative in their invention.
The album concludes with Rebirth, a magnetic folk tinged ballad which took thought and attention away with its words and melodic charm to bring the adventure to a fine close. From start to finish, Omens had ears greedily attentive but certainly the last quartet of tracks had us drooling and alone declares Desert Storm’s latest encounter one no one should simply pass by.
Omens is out now via APF Records; available @ https://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 02/06/2020