It's been almost five years since the debut release Eyes of the Oracle from progressive metal's Power of Omens. Rooms of Anguish, the bands sophomore recording, and first featuring new bassist Chris Herring, is a heavy and complex affair that is sure to please listeners who have waited for something new from this talented ensemble. Denser and more musical than the debut, this new platter allows the band to show off their musical chops while adding in layers of symphonic arrangements and memorable melodies.
Epic can once again be a word used to describe the music of Power of Omens. Comprised of nine songs, all but one over six minutes long, including a mammoth 20 minute long extravaganze, these guys mix technical progressive metal with majestic art rock quite nicely, much like Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Pain of Salvation. Singer and lyricist Chris Salinas has a powerful, high pitched voice that sounds like a combination of Geoff Tate, John Arch, and Ray Alder. His soaring and tortured wailings rise above the melancholy on "My Best to Be", and provide the lead on the heavy, symphonic metal of "A Toast to Mankind." Guitarist/keyboardist David Gallegos and drummer Alex Arellano play like two men possed; Gallegos' intricate riffing and lead work is just stupendous, and Arellano is all over the place with powerful and complex fills. Gallegos plays most of the keyboard arrangements, while Andrew Sanchez guests on all solos. It will be interesting to see if the band employs a full time keyboard player in the future. Things slow down a bit on the melodic "As Winter Falls", a gorgeous piece featuring emotional vocals from Salinas, as he sings lyrics dealing with one's inner destiny. Check out the neat keyboard orchestrations here, which might remind you a bit of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells." Bassist Herring really shines on the heavy dirge of the awesome title track, a near 11-minute gem that featuring heavy riffing and acrobatic bass lines to go along with the powerful storytelling of Salinas.
The two highlights though are the raging, flamenco driven instrumental "The Calm Before the Storm", and the epic "In the End." The former begins with majestic Spanish guitar from Gallegos and intricate stick work from Arellano, before turning into a churning, crunchy prog-metal workout. "In the End", the 20 -minute prog journey, kicks off with some spooky, classical themed keyboard orchestrations, which leads into an ultra-complex metal extravaganza with wicked vocals, virtuoso guitar work, and symphonic keyboards. Fans of the epic tunes created by the bands mentioned above will be drooling with delight at this piece, one of the heaviest and most complex tunes I have heard in a while.
It's great to hear a prog-metal band that has some originality these days, and Power of Omens definitely fits that bill. While you can hear the obvious influences, there's not many bands that combine sheer technicality with brooding atmosphere like these guys do, not to mention the flamenco guitar work on a few tunes. Give this one a try, you'll be glad you did. My prediction-there's a new player on the block folks, mark my words.