Since forming in 2007, the UK’s Desert Storm have made quite a name for themselves with support slots for a veritable who’s who of the doom/sludge scene – COC, Crowbar and Weedeater amongst others – giving Desert Storm a well-deserved chance to reach their target audience. Which brings us neatly to Omens (album number 5, incidentally) and the follow-up to 2018’s well-received, sludge metal extravaganza that was Sentinels.
However, to classify Omens as simply ‘another’ sludge album would be to do Desert Storm a great disservice as there is so much going on here to make standard genre classification virtually moot. Surprisingly, opening number “Omens” is a spoken word piece set to a solemn musical accompaniment and acts as a great contrast to the tsunami of earth-shattering riffage, jagged melodies and experimentation that follows.
As maybe expected, the likes of “Vengeful God” are full of raw energy with riffs dredged from a primordial swamp, filth encrusted and dripping with atmosphere. However, Desert Storm’s innate sense of melody – and another surprising spoken word segment – easily avoids a feeling of one-dimensionality and predictability.
Fortunately, the rest of Omens carries on in this stellar fashion, ably taking recognised sludge metal sounds and contorting them into ever-surprising, semi-progressive, shapes.”Pain, Grief and Suffering” finds Desert Storm at their most brutal for the most part, before a multitude of twists and turns throw melody and subtlety into the mix! While “The Machine” then brings to mind Neurosis at their most metallic – via a tale of switching off the corporate machine and embracing humanity – and is full of gargantuan reverb-drenched riffs and caustic belched vocals courtesy of Matthew Ryan. In comparison, album closer, “Rebirth”, has an almost pastoral, progressive feel and wouldn’t sound out of place on an album such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Lofty comparisons perhaps but well earned!
A gritty, heavy release both musically and lyrically – with plenty of references to illness and society’s often ill-judged disenfranchised conformity, a concept which is quite apt considering the worlds current predicament – this genre-defying release takes in elements of doom, sludge, stoner metal and post metal in order to convey its message…..and convey it Desert Storm most certainly do!
With so much promise already fulfilled, it’s left to Omens to push Desert Storm to the next level. After all, it is the finest album they’ve released to date. 8/10.
Desert Storm‘s new album, Omens, is due for release via APF Records on 1st May 2020.