Broken Hope - _Omen of Disease_
(Century Media, 2013)
by: Aaron McKay (10 out of 10)
It took a little while, but I have made an executive decision pertaining to this review. This piece could be written from the fifty-thousand foot level with grand overtures detailing far and wide the vast accomplishments from these influential Chicago-based aficionados of brutality or I can openly, feely and willing divulge this will be a review completely devoid of impartiality whatsoever or in any way shape or form. Although atypical for me, I have prudently decided upon favoring the latter course of action. For some perspective on my rationale moving forward with this review, I might suggest brushing up on my piece for Hate Eternal's _Phoenix Amongst the Ashes_.

My connection to Broken Hope stretches back two decades. Consummate purveyors of gore-soaked riffs and uncompromising conviction by way of brutality even then, through the years this band developed, improved and successfully strived to sharpen their incontrovertible signature style. Today those efforts culminate in Broken Hope's newest magnum opus, _Omen of Disease_. In full disclosure, the last studio effort, 1999's­_Grotesque Blessings_ stumbled along the (left-hand) path in reaching the stellar heights of achievement Broken Hope laid bare on previous recordings. If that and a ten year hiatus are what it took to unchain the communicably virulent _Omen of Disease_, well, then so be it! Upon learning in later 2012 of the distinct possibility of a Broken Hope reformation and new album, I had highly guarded, yet anticipative hopes that another _Loathing_ or _The Bowels of Repugnance_ might materialize. _Omen of Disease_ proved me wrong, for so much more laid in wait.

When discussing _Omen of Disease_ not all that long ago, I was candidly reminded that Joe "Esophagus" Ptacek has shuffled off this mortal coil -- to whom the new release is dedicated. I was and continue to be a fan of his guttural vocal contributions to the metal genre as a whole. Furthermore, amid some additional personnel changes, Brian Griffin (guitar) has not returned. All this being duly noted and acknowledged, Broken Hope has indeed assembled a first-rate, top-tier current line-up for _Omen of Disease_.

_Omen of Disease_ now proudly boasts Chuck Wepfer from Dirge Within on lead guitar, the inconspicuous, but inexhaustible drum proficiency of Mike Miczek, and Damian Leski of Gorgasm commanding the uber-low vocal lacerations for the album. Enter the returning industrious gore-iff generating "flesh mechanics" Shaun Glass on bass and founding member, Jeremy Wagner, on guitar. Fans may recall Shaun's notable participation and contribution to Broken Hope stretching back to the mid 1990s on _Repulsive Conception_ and _Loathing_ before going on to form Soil and Dirge Within (now called The Bloodline).

As has long been the standing rule, Jeremy Wagner is the primary lyricist and songwriter. Shaun Glass also contributes musically on "Womb of Horrors", the initial track released for the album, "The Flesh Mechanic", the title track as well as "The Docking Dead". Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder supplies highly exotic, yet balancing special guest vocals on the fifth song, "Rendered Into Lard". If the hauntingly beautiful wickedness of track three, "Ghastly", doesn't convulse and churn your festering inner core with its cadaverous effervesce and monster-esque riffs, then you are listening to the wrong genre of music, my friend. Better throw on your worn-out, overplayed copy of Zamfir or Kenny G on the ol' Victrola gramophone ‘cause you aren't goin' to make it through the rest of this album -- that's for damn certain.

_Omen of Disease_ was mixed and mastered by James Murphy to his usual standards of the highest quality. This release also comes with an incredibly insightful, originally well-done and illumining DVD, "25 Years of Sickness: The Broken Hope Story". Was there ever a question about the band that you've wondered silently to yourself? Believe me, this DVD answers all that and then some.

_Omen of Disease_ is undeniably the most complementary effort to both reacquaint the band with longtime fans and cultivate new devotees into the fold. _Omen of Disease_ will forever mark in time Broken Hope's illustrious return to the death metal scene. Definitely one of the best releases 2013 has had to offer! On a separate, but related note, if you haven't seen Broken Hope live in a concert setting, you owe that experience to yourself. Unforgettable!


(article published 10/11/2013)

8/12/2000 A McKay Broken Hope: Broken But Not Subdued
3/5/2000 A Bromley 7 Broken Hope - Grotesque Blessings
4/9/1997 A Bromley 6 Broken Hope - Loathing
1/17/1996 G Filicetti 5 Broken Hope - Repulsive Conception
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