Seeking to further develop their hybrid of dark-rock/goth-metal, Greek quartet Sorrowful Angels have released an sophomore which although adhering to a familiar formula, has also left room for a couple of innovations. One of these manifests itself in the form of guitarist Christodoulatos, who stepped up to the mic after previous vocalist Katikos departed and has added a new style to the music, with mixed effect. Still in keeping with a Paradise Lost (circa Symbol Of Life – Paradise Lost) vibe, the band also mix in some Katatonia and Poisonblack, with a pinch of Jean-Michel Jarre’s electronica tendencies.
The band choose their opening salvo wisely; “Mistress Of Desire” is a catchy mid-paced number that describes the style well, including a lower Nick Holmes vocal mixed with a more hard rock style midrange, and a well-crafted solo from Siakandaris to top it off. There is a rigid structure to which the songs adhere, which works in their favor on some songs (“Wrath”), but can quickly become predictable (“Shores Of Capture”). Mountaneas’ bass is mostly absent except for “Mystical Momentum”, but Statigos provides a steady rhythm along with occasional double-bass fills to augment the final choruses.
When not singing à la Holmes, Christodoulatos also engages in a menacing spoken-word, unfortunately not an enjoyable kind, which permeates 7 of the 11 tracks, and ends up rendering “Unspeakable Cult” as unlistenable except for the chorus. Lyrically, Omens seems to have shifted from the gloom and heartbreak of Ship In Your Trip, branching out into other topics such as matricide (“Mystical Momentum”), cults (“Unspeakable Cult”) and literary references (“Seven”).
The band have noticeably kicked the electronic influence up a notch, resulting in pleasant Jarre-like intros like “Right Of Way”, although they haven’t forgotten the SIYT-style piano-based ones like “Shores Of Capture”. Following in Paradise Lost’s footsteps, they also cover a synth-pop tune* which results in one of the best songs on the album, a cover of Apoptygma Berzerk‘s “Mourn”. This song also introduces a rare use of harsh vocals, which also appear on closer “Stars Collide”, and makes me wonder why they weren’t used instead of the spoken word sections. This latter track is of particular note, marking a departure from the rest of the album into doom metal, despite the complete Holmesian spoken-word. An interesting conclusion to Omens.
It has often been said that mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery, but in some cases it can end up undermining the result rather than aiding it. With this in mind, Omens leaves a rather mixed aftertaste between the stronger, more enjoyable tracks and those which fall short of their goal. It’s not going to rewrite the gothic textbooks, but fans of the genre will surely get a kick or two out of this, despite its slightly commercial overtones.
*Paradise Lost covered “Smalltown Boy” from Bronski Beat.
1. Mistress Of Desire
2. Unspeakable Cult
5. Shores Of Capture
6. Right Of Way
7. Mystical Momentum
9. Nous Undue
10. Mourn (Apoptygma Berzerk Cover)
11. Stars Collide
Sorrowful Angels are:
Dion Christodoulatos – Vocals/Guitars
Apollo Siakandaris – Guitars/Back Vocals
George Mountaneas – Bass
Chris Stratigos– Drums