Omen - Battle Cry
MetalBlade Records
Epic True Metal
10 songs (36'39)
Release year: 1984
MetalBlade Records
Reviewed by Ben

Omen. For some unknown and horrendous reason this band is not heralded as one of the finest in True Epic Heavy Metal like they should be. Battle Cry was released in 1984 and in this reviewer’s opinion it absolutely destroys the first two Manowar albums in terms of scope and overall “trueness”. Battle Hymns is child’s play compared to this and Into Glory Ride is lacking after hearing the title track, Last Rites, or Die by the Blade. The riffs, the melodies, and the structures are all of the finest degree, even the production, while to some listeners ears (those raised on Pro Tools and digital engineering) might seem “old” and “dated” comes across to me as raw, powerful, and charismatic. The creation of guitarist Kenny Powell, Omen stormed into the metal scene with Battle Cry and left their indelible stamp onto impressionable listeners minds forever. The late J.D. Kimball had a voice that fit this music so smoothly and perfectly, his rough gritty charm drives the songs as much as Kenny’s NWOBHM inspired solos and licks do.

Right from the beginning strains of Deathrider you know that this is true metal at its best. The thick galloping riff that kicks your ass then goes into a furious headbanging romp that gets my blood flowing and my hair flying every single time I pop this classic in. I would even go so far as to say that this particular riff is in fact one of the best created in our beloved genre. The Axeman, a particularly sinister tune, follows the lyrical vein of Deathrider, which is one of a non absurd fantasy. You won’t find any magical pink ponies here nor will you find swords of emerald fluorescent light, instead you will hear tales of battle and stories of vengeance. The third song, Last Rites ups the ante for the album as this is one hell of a number. If Deathrider wasn’t epic enough for you then here we are greeted by a wall of layered Kimball’s telling us the tale of his final hours in life and the sights he sees and the sounds he hears on his long walk to the gallows pole. His vocals here are spine chilling and Kenny lays done amazing solos one after the other following each chorus. Coinciding with the hood placed over the protagonist’s head right before his inevitable death, the song climaxes in the last verse with J.D. singing his heart out and transfixing the listener with his rough roar.

Before Manowar’s Pleasure Slave, there was Omen’s Be My Wench. Unlike the plodding and dreadful Pleasure Slave, Be My Wench is a fast and headbanging anthem that is a pleasure (pun alert) to hear. A tale of underage lust never sounded better than this. I really am amazed at the number of memorable and powerful riffs that Kenny just seems to yank out of his pocket with each and every song. One would think that he would run out of ideas and just get lazy and throw some filler at us but he never does, at least not on Battle Cry. Now as we come to the second half of this album, I challenge anyone out there to listen to the following two songs, the title track and Die by the Blade and not be filled with the pride that comes from being a metalhead. When I listen to the title track I can actually envision in my mind a field of broken bodies and shattered armament and can see a lone warrior raising his bloodied hand into the air while howling his victory into the sky, that is how powerful this is without the use of strings, without overly saturated keys and certainly without any detracting and derivative sugary melodies. I like to think of Die by the Blade as Deathrider’s younger brother as both of these start off in a similar manner, a glorious riff that breaks off into a steady gallop and makes you want to throw your horns in the hair and scream METAL until you’re hoarse and exhausted from the exertion. As with Deathrider the main riff here is one of the top three on the album (along with Deathrider and Last Rites) and is also one of the better ones I have heard in my long stay in the land of metal. Now, at this point I was expecting the album to just fizzle out silently and without a hitch because I believed that the standards set up to now were simply too high, they were too lofty to be maintained for the duration of an entire longplayer. I’m glad to say that I was quite wrong, Bring Out the Beast is just as strong as Be My Wench and the concluding number In the Arena is the perfect way to close out this classic album with its speedy guitars, more rousing “woa’s” from Kimball and a lengthy soaring guitar solo.

I am still in awe of how great Battle Cry is. I remember when I saw Omen with Helloween in January and when they opened with Deathrider me and my friend both looked at each other shouting “Holy shit!” and immediately began to throw horns and headbang like our lives depended on it. The strength and the integrity of the songs that they played that night (many of which were culled from this album) were a testament to the metalheads that showed up that night that they had come to see one of the best True Metal bands ever. Despite the album’s brevity (less than forty minutes) there is not a single second that I think could be improved upon or used in another manner than what is on this particular piece of plastic, and you know me, I am one analytical bastard in which the phrase “what if…” goes through my head with almost every single cd that I hear. Before the flood of third rate Power Metal bands saturated the market with their limp wristed attempts of trying to impress with songs about dragons and having every third band throw on a track called Warriors, there was Omen. Remember that. You owe it to yourself to run, not walk to your nearest metal establishment and purchase this classic right now. Your cd collection will be that much greater after Battle Cry graces it’s hallowed shelves.

Killing Songs :
Deathrider, Last Rites, Be My Wench, Battle Cry, Die by the Blade
Ben quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Omen that we have reviewed:
Omen - Eternal Black Dawn reviewed by Jay and quoted 55 / 100
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