August 02, 2020

Broken Hope - Omen of Disease (2013)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Metal
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© 2013 Century Media
Review by Jeremy Ulrey for Metal
Elder statesmen of the Chicago metal scene, and one of the more seasoned lynchpins in American death metal period, Broken Hope emerged fully formed in 1991 with Swamped in Gore, a well-received (if now dated) monolith of unadulterated Cannibal Corpse worship.
On subsequent records – uniformly released on a rigid two year schedule throughout the 90's – the band experimented with speed, often dabbling in full on grindcore velocities, but always stubbornly maintaining an old school ethos… all the way up until 2002, when the band finally called it quits. With traditional death metal not exactly in vogue right now, what exactly prompted the band to record their first album since 1999's Grotesque Blessings?
For one, it's the band's 25th anniversary, but the pertinent question is not so much why the band is getting back together as why they split up in the first place. According to mainman Jeremy Wagner, Metal Blade – the label which released all of their records with the exception of the first and last – simply didn't offer the band sufficient support during their tenure on the label. Increasingly dispirited by the lack of sales despite consistently excellent reviews and a diehard fan base, Wagner made one last stab with Martyr Music Group (1999's Grotesque Blessings) before finally putting Broken Hope to bed.
Things weren't looking up for a reunion when longtime vocalist Joe Ptacek took his own life in 2010, but with Gorgasm's Damian Leski on board Wagner recruited mid-90's Hope bassist Shaun Glass and a pick up group of Mike Miczek (drums) and Chuck Wepfer (lead guitar) and went out on a well-received tour with ObituaryDecrepit Birth and Jungle Rot.
Of course, reunion tours don't always result in a new studio album materializing, but in this case Wagner likes what he's got and wants to showcase Broken Hope 2.0 to the world. This time around he has label heavyweights Century Media in his corner, so for the first time Broken Hope should get the opportunity to showcase their skills without the albatross of an absentee landlord pimping their wares.
The first thing you notice about Omen of Disease is just how much the production has opened up – particularly the percussion – courtesy of Chris Wisco and Scott Creekmore (ex-drummer for Broken Hope from 1999-2001). The second thing you notice is just how little change there's been in vocal execution. Damian Leski slides right in where Ptacek left off; old fans who pick up Omen of Disease without having done their homework might easily believe that Jeremy Wagner dusted off some old Ptacek demo tracks, the variation that Leski brings to the table being easily masked by the production overhaul.
Otherwise everything is business as usual: Broken Hope were labeled by some as technical death metal back in their day – particularly circa the Grotesque Blessings era – but what passed for technicality in the 90's seems almost quaint by 2013 standards. No matter; there is frankly plenty of death shred out there right now, no need for another entry in the virtuosity sweepstakes.
And so, being neither the most technical nor the most brutal band on the planet, Broken Hope may end up largely playing to a crowd of preexisting converts, aging 90's old school death fans who know all the previous albums by heart, but the problem was never that there weren't enough of those to go around in the first place, it's that Wagner and cohorts were hamstrung in their ability to get that material in front of those fans to begin with.

tags: broken hope, omen of disease, 2013, flac,


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