Virginia based metalcore act Bad Omens have returned with their third full-length studio album ‘THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND’, a staggering 15 track record that seeks to redefine the band’s identity with a newfound focus on creative direction and a fresh electronic-infused sound. After amassing over one million monthly listeners on Spotify and quickly becoming one of the fastest rising metalcore acts following their 2019 sophomore release ‘Finding God Before God Finds Me”, the pressure was real to do something different and unique to stand out in the sea of their metalcore peers, and on ‘TDOPOM’, Bad Omens has done exactly that. Written primarily during the 2020 lockdowns, the band found themselves growing as musicians and songwriters and finally being on the cusp of finding their own unique identity as a band, and the growth is very evident and prevalent on every inch of the record.
“CONCRETE JUNGLE” puts this sonic shift on full display, being led by ominous synthesizers and a cinematic feel before exploding in its final moments into a nu-metal esque breakdown complete with the first screams on the record and record scratching. The song is a solid opener that gives a great taste of what is to come on it’s following tracks, and making a bold statement that this is an entirely new era of Bad Omens unlike anything we’ve heard from them previously.
“Nowhere To Go” kicks things into full gear on the record, with an incredible performance from drummer Nick Folio whose pop-punk flair drives the track with its fast-pacing and consistent groove. The song has a mysterious edge to it during the verses, growing anticipation before exploding to life with soaring chorus hooks and a headbangable bridge, hitting the listener like a truck and instantly getting stuck in the listener’s heads. Frontman Noah Sebastian delivers a fantastic vocal performance that elevates the track to new heights. The song also contains one of the bounciest riffs on the record from guitarist Joakim Karlsson during it’s breakdown and is overall my personal favorite on the record.
Despite the constantly shifting tone and genre bending of the record, there is one thing that is incredibly consistent throughout ‘TDOPOM’s runtime: It’s penchant for radio-ready anthemic choruses and massive hooks over charging hard rock guitars. It’s a proven successful formula for a good song when done right and Bad Omens does it insanely well. Following the band’s first taste of crossover commercial success with ‘Limits’ in 2020, this direction was to be expected, with the album’s main single “Like A Villian” being prime example of this. Having premiered earlier this year on Sirius XM’s active rock channel ‘Octane’, the track features all the makings of an active rock hit, full of catchy phrasing and hooks and an easily accessible guitar tone. The synth-laden “Take Me First” is arguably an even better version of this formula, crafting a melodic two-part chorus showcasing Sebastian’s impressive vocal range and full of emotion as he sings of regret over decisions he wishes he never made. The track’s hook is incredibly addictive despite its repetitiveness, making it perfect for replayability.
Initially shocking fans when it dropped last November, the album’s moody title track is perhaps the most creative and experimental cut on the album. Based primarily around atmospheric electronics and a strong chorus melody, “THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND” has a noticeable lack of guitars until it’s menacing breakdown that carries to track satisfyingly till the end of it’s four minute runtime, allowing other instruments in the band to take the spotlight and provide a change of pace from its predecessors on the record.
The atmospheric post-hardcore track “Just Pretend” is one of the fullest sounding songs of the record, with a massive-sounding chorus and incredibly powerful vocal delivery. It’s calmer ambient moments with reverb soaked clean guitars make the track’s devastating climax hit even harder, with passion from every lyric sung and an emotionally heavy performance from every member of the band complimented by an intense orchestral backing. Despite it sounding a bit too much like “Feel Nothing” by The Plot In You at times, that doesn’t take away from the track’s weighty feel and unmistakable passion and remains one of the best of the album after repeated listens. “The Grey” feels similarly emotional with many of the same elements with a slightly poppier feel and a larger focus on its guitar riffs and Noah’s higher vocal register. It’s a great close to the first half of the album, before it switches musical direction entirely for its final 7 tracks.
In a move that might be bolder than the band’s 2018 decision to drop off of a tour because their logo was too small on the tour poster, the next several songs on ‘TDOPOM’ feature almost no physical instruments, relying heavily on dark electronic loops and sampled beats underlying digitally altered vocal tracks. It’s a sound that wouldn’t be out of place to hear from The Weeknd or Justin Bieber, but feels rather unexpected and out of place compared to the rest of the album, especially on back to back tracks like “Who Are You” and “Somebody Else”. It’s a sound that was previously flirted with on the record with “bad decisions”, but becomes a focal point of the record way too late in the album and ends up making the second half feel extremely sluggish, especially with the fact that none of these songs truly go anywhere and just meander around for three minutes, slowing down the pacing of an already long album. With the album being 15 tracks long, it’s a little head scratching that these ended up making the final cut, especially when you hear the tracks that follow them.
The album’s final four tracks take another entirely new direction, with the first two of the group going full out industrial rock a la Nine Inch Nails worship. While their influences are clearly on their sleeve with “IDWT$” and “What do you want from me”, it’s a refreshing change from the previous tracks and features interesting and intriguing usage of guitars and soft vocals over the looping drum machines and analog synths. The latter ends with a chunky low-tuned breakdown, providing a satisfying conclusion to the track’s gradual builds and prepares the listener for the absolute chaos that ensues on “ARTIFICAL SUICIDE”, the album’s only true” metalcore song throughout its 53-minute runtime.
The industrial nu-metalcore “ARTIFICAL SUICIDE” is by far the heaviest track on the album, a full out assault on the ear drums with ferocious screams from Sebastian and pummeling guitar riffs as the song seethes with rage and growing in intensity thanks to loud synths that compliment the track’s brutally low guitar and bass tones. The song is very much the “Dethrone” of the record, following the band’s tendency to channel all of their frustrations into one disgustingly heavy track. Noah’s aggressive vocal cadence brings to mind the likes of Slipknot’s Corey Taylor during it’s chorus and showcases his screaming range for the first and only time on the record. It’s a track that is destined to start mosh pits everytime and bound to be a staple of the band’s live shows for years to come.
Overall, ‘THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND’ is a solid effort that is certainly a step in the right direction and much needed change from the status quo for the band.
While this sonic departure from their mid 2010s metalcore sound is for the most part very welcome from the band, it still does fall into the same issue that many have had with the band from the start. They wear too much of their influences on their sleeve. While they have certainly distanced themselves from the “Bring Me The Horizon copycat” complaint many of their detractors throw at them, many of the songs on the record, especially during moments of genuine sonic exploration, feel eerily similar to that of the bands that influenced those genre directions, whether it is the grimy industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails, or the ambient electronic-laced post hardcore of The Plot In You, there’s traces of that element that still exist in their sound, just taking after different artists. However, despite all of this, the band has taken these influences and began to craft their own unique identity from them, being the only band to throw all of these specific influences and sounds on the same album, creating a diverse- but not always cohesive- record that is their best to date and feels like the final step before they reach their full potential and distinct identity as a band, with each member showcasing massive growth and maturity from their previous efforts in major ways.
Bad Omens’ third full length studio album ‘THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND’ is available now on all streaming platforms via Sumerian Records. Watch the official music video for “ARTIFICIAL SUICIDE” below.