Broken Hope - Omen of Disease

Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013

I’ve read some extremely negative reviews of this album, which I find puzzling. What else could anyone expect from Broken Hope other than brutal Death Metal? And of course this is exactly what is delivered here, on the band’s return after a 14 year absence. Maybe I’m biased. I’ve always liked these sick bastards (and possibly every other Death Metal band in Chicago). I’ve got their demo tapes, my old band Adversary played some shows with them nearly two decades ago (never forget The Thirsty Whale!), and I’ve otherwise seen Broken Hope perform countless times. Not recently, obviously. Over the years, their 1991 debut, Swamped in Gore (supposedly the first-ever all-digitally recorded/mixed Death Metal record!), has emerged as my favorite of their albums, because although not the most brutal, it is hands-down the most memorable, especially the amazing title track and “Bag of Parts.” I had hoped that Omen of Disease would somehow combine the intensity and extremity of the band’s other albums with the slightly more straightforward approach of Swamped…, and that’s more or less what they did, wrapped in a clear-yet-thick production. And, when I say “they,” I mean mastermind Jeremy Wager, who reunited with bassist Shaun Glass (who was only around for two albums back in the old days: 1995’s Repulsive Conception and 1997’s Loathing), and recruited some unknowns (to me, at least), Chuck Wepfer and Mike Miczek, to fill out the guitar and drum spots respectively. Maybe Jeremy has spent the last decade-and-a-half training these new guys (when he’s not writing books), because they sound like old pros. No one could ever replace the late Joe Ptacek (rest in peace, brother) and his legendary bestial esophagus, but Gorgasm’s Damian Leski does his memory proud with monstrous bellows, roars, and growls. While not quite flawless, Omen… never goes too long without impressing. Check out the awesomeness about 2:20 into “Ghastly,” the opening riff of “Rendered Into Lard,” every second of the show-stealing “Give Me the Bottom Half,” and really most of the rest of the album. There are a few misfires, however. Maybe a riff here and there that doesn’t make 100% sense to me. And the hammy spoken-word final minute of “Rendered Into Lard,” which I assume is supposed to be creepy, but goes on far too long and is almost instantly eye-rollingly goofy. Anything else is just nitpicking, but that’s what keeps great albums from being perfect, and this is a great album. The “limited edition” digipak comes with two bonus live tracks (only about four-and-a-half minutes combined, and hopefully a live CD/DVD is coming next, anyway), and a “history of Broken Hope” DVD, which unfortunately I haven’t seen. It might be interesting, but it’s almost certainly a once-ever viewing even for me, so I don’t know if it’s really worth much extra money.

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