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Album review: Thread of Omen – Confined Reality

Melodic death metal, groove metal and thrash metal have been a constant thread through many South African bands over the past couple of decades – the power of the riff and ultimate headbangery being totally at the forefront of the SA sound. Some have pulled it off, some haven’t, and the precious few have made it all their own. Cape Town’s Thread of Omen have had their grubby hand all over it since their inception in 2013; their take on vicious melodic death metal: precise and HEAVY.

The band’s first two full-length albums were both totally guitar-driven with explosive drums and a mighty vocal roar and proved to be some of the best music in the local scene. That said, there was always something not necessarily missing, but that could have been hit harder, highlighted more, and pushed the band onto the next level.

With their new EP, ‘Confined Reality’, Thread Of Omen have come into their own. The volley of technical, blistering riffs are extremely tight, and there’s no denying the fact that the strings rule the band. The sound here is a ballsy mix of modern At The Gates with a fair amount of melodic influence from the New Wave Of American Thrash Metal stable, something that has been seen before, but not with this spin. The death metal crunch and pace are right up in your face with leads and solos that shred hard and fast, but the thrashy melody lines create all the emotion and keep the music moving without pause. It is this combination that keeps the adrenalin going all the way through and, without it, the effect would not nearly be the same (especially on the epic album closer, Na Vervalle Grafkelders; a huge piece of music).

The rhythm section is dense and unyielding; the merger of Marius Vercuiel’s bass work and Jonathan Burgers’ action on the skins a taut marriage of power. But it is the roaring vocal supplied by Victor van den Heever that stops the heart – the cat is violent without being abrasive and manages to lead the band from one battle to another. He has a magic combo of Tompa Lindberg and Trevor Strnad in his lungs but manages to let it all out with his own creative roar that lifts each verse to a different space, and it just works so well. 

The production is on the money, all high in the mix with crunchy guitars and clarity in all areas which allows the steady stream of galloping brutality to ease its way into your skull. If it wasn’t for such meticulous sound dissection, the songs would fall prey to a mushy, cacophonous mess, and it can never be discounted in the melodic death metal realm. And to top it all off, the album artwork is stark and striking (a skull with its top ripped off, revealing the hot rot within – that’s bloody metal, that is), and manages to perfectly convey the controlled chaos within.

Thread Of Omen can only go up from here – their chemistry as a band is set in stone, their chops and writing are tasty, and they have gusto for miles. This is metal made for metalheads, and it resonates far and wide.

★★★★✩

Confined Reality is out now on all streaming services.


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