Power of Omens - Rooms of Anguish

Metal Ages Records


Personally, this is my first experience with Power of Omens.  Apparently, I've had my head in the sand when it has come to this band.  The group began way back in 1994.  They recorded a demo back in 1996 and another back in 1997.  Then they released their debut full length in 1998 called, Eyes of the Oracle.  They then appeared on a Queensryche tribute album in 2000.  Then in 2001, the band recorded this current album, Rooms of Anguish.  Unfortunately, the band's label folded and the album seemed to be doomed.  However in late 2002, Metal Ages Records came to the rescue and in 2003, this album was finally released.
Musically, Power of Omens plays an interesting style of technical progressive metal.  Fans of bands like Dream Theater, Balance of Power, Queensryche, and maybe even Symphony X should find a lot to get into here.  For those who get bored with all the wandering around that progressive bands get into, you will not like Power of Omens.  At times it makes one wonder where they are going with their songs.  However, there are many good hooks here and the musicianship is excellent.  The band displays a myriad of good guitar work, great atmosphere created by well-placed keyboards, some solid bass playing, and a drummer that is all over the place.  Vocally, Chris Salinas' vocals were VERY hard to get into.  Actually, the first few listens through I didn't care for them at all.  Only upon multiple listens did I finally start to get used to them.  He sounds very similar to ex-Jacob's Dream vocalist David Taylor and Geoff Tate of Queensryche.  But he gets a little bit higher on the scale at times and also a little more aggressive.  Overall, he puts in a solid, passionate performance, but nothing I would consider as great.  While I'm getting used to the vocals, I still think it's the band's weak point.  Like most of the songs, he does seem to get better as the album progresses.
The band is like many other progressive bands in that they have no fear of the long song.  With song times of 6, 7, 7, 8, 6, 20, 6, and 11, you know that patience is going to be key at times.  They do keep you locked in for the most part though.  The band will be going along with some very heavy guitars and screaming vocals only to screech to a halt with a soft piano and bass guitar.  The meander around for a while with maybe some acoustic guitar and softer vocals before the guitars rip back in and the aggressive vocals return to the front. 
My favorite songs on the album are actually all from the mid-point on.  This disc seems to get better as it goes.  Tracks like "As Winter Falls", "The Calm Before the Storm", and the marathon, "In the End" are all excellent tracks.  "In the End" utilizes some sweet female vocals that sound very haunting.  In fact, that track is so full of great stuff that it impossible to digest in just one listen.
Packaging and production are both extremely well done.  And lyrically, the band does a fairly good job.  The lyrics are mainly based on personal experiences of the lead vocalist.  There are hints of faith sprinkled throughout with some fairly stong indications at times of the lyrics pointing to a relationship with Christ...especially in the title track.
In the end, I can't say that Power of Omens is my favorite progressive metal band.  They do however put on a very stong performance that should appeal to many of the genre's fans and one that seems to get stronger with each additional listen.  (Review by Matt)