POWER OF OMENS – Rooms Of Anguish

POWER OF OMENS - Rooms Of Anguish


Metal Ages Records
Release Date: 2002

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There are a lot of metalheads pining for the old days of Queensryche. To hear the non pareil vocals and ominous music on songs like “Take Hold of the Flame,” “Roads to Madness,” and even “London,” and measuring that against what is produced today, you realize that Queensryche wasn’t just ahead of their time — they WERE their time. Today’s popular metal is about disharmony, faux-anger and for the most part, a complete lack of talent on vocals. For some reason, bands pick up singers that anyone can sing along with. So, for everyone lamenting for a band with a vocalist who has honed his craft to perfection, and anguishing for a band that is part Dream Theater, part Queensryche, but 100 percent their own entity, it’s time to welcome in Power of Omens.

Rooms of Anguish is actually the band’s second release. Their debut, Eyes of the Oracle somehow flew under the radar and the band never jumped to the forefront of cutting-edge progressive metal, but now with Metal Ages on their side, they have a chance. And for all of you who have never heard the 12-minute masterpiece called “The Fall,” you’d do well to check out their first release. It is amazing.

But on to Rooms of Anguish. The CD begins with an atmospheric piece with a female chorus and male chorus singing to each other. This is a heavily laden keyboard construction, and a mellow intro to the second song, “With These Words.” You are going to get a Dream Theater feel to many of their songs, mainly because there are times when you’ll only hear music for long periods of time. And like Dream Theater, they’d be a better band if they had more vocals, but that whole saying “less is more” is definitely followed here.

If you read the lyrics to the song, they are a spiritual band. Vocalist Chris Salinas has a personal note on the liner notes saying, “… allow yourself to express your own beliefs in your own way without allowing anyone else to tell you how to think or act.” And when you read lyrics like in “With These Words” like “Bow your head, and ask forgiveness, with these words, I save my soul …” you’ll understand that they are a little deeper than your average metal band. They actually have something to say.

Power of Omens is adept at tempo changes. Take the song, “A Toast to Mankind” and just listen to the keyboards, the heavy riffs, powerful drumming and enjoy. They will one moment be mellifluous and the next, raging. This song is fairly experimental, with its varied sounds and vocals that go from almost talking, to singing, to chanting to screaming. It shows all of their strengths, and again, when Salinas croons “bring me your finest wine,” and then bellows “and let’s give a toast to mankind,” you’ll begin to understand why the buzz is beginning — it sounds original. That’s a rare compliment today.

The beautiful dirge “As Winter Falls,” is one of their strongest moments on Rooms of Anguish. It encapsulates all of their strongest attributes: melodic and mournful vocals, intelligent lyrics, and very progressive and skilled musical composition.

If there are any complaints here, it is that their songs are longish, and not something you can just easily toss in the CD player and groove to. The title track itself is 11 minutes long, and you won’t hear any vocals until almost 2 minutes into the song. For some, that might be annoying. But for all you fans who appreciate intelligent writing that is not repetitive musically and obviously, difficult to play, then you won’t have any complaints.

In the end, it is not fair to compare Power of Omens to a band like Queensryche (although they did show up with the best cover of “Screaming in Digital” ever on the Queensryche tribute Minds of Raging Empires.) They aren’t going to fill that void, because while they have the same spirit of innovation Queensryche had back in the day, they are not a clone. But they are one of the most interesting bands out there today, and if you want to check out something new and original, pick up their CD.

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