Omen – “Escape To Nowhere” (1988)

OmenHaving already heard Omen’s first three full-length albums and finding myself fairly unimpressed, I was never in a hurry to dive into their fourth album Escape To Nowhere (Metal Blade Records).  But when I found out that Escape To Nowhere featured two key changes for Omen, I was a bit titillated.  The first change was a switch in vocalists from J.D. Kimball to Coburn Pharr.  I am a fan of Coburn Pharr’s work with Annihilator on the great Never, Neverland album (1990) and also his hilariously out-of-tune performance on Prisoner’s Rip It Up (1986).  The second change was the addition of producer/collaborator Paul O’Neill to the equation.  I really like the stuff O’Neill did with Savatage on great albums like Hall Of The Mountain King (1987) and Streets: A Rock Opera (1991).  Of course O’Neill is best known for being the mastermind behind the uber-successful Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Needless to say, I was excited to hear what Pharr and O’Neill could do for Omen, so I finally gave Escape To Nowhere a try…

Unfortunately, I came away from the Escape To Nowhere experience greatly underwhelmed.  The chemistry that Paul O’Neill had with Savatage was clearly not present with Omen.  In fact, O’Neill is pretty much a non-factor here.  His production is skeletal and weak, and his collaborations (he co-writes a few songs) are disappointments.  Coburn Pharr also fails to deliver on Escape To Nowhere.  His voice sounds strained and his vocals lack melody.  The songs themselves are lethargic — most of them are just too damn slow!  While it’s clear Omen were trying for something a bit different here, it’s unclear what the hell it was.  In fact, there isn’t anything resembling a hook on this entire album save for Radar Love — but that’s a Golden Earring cover so it doesn’t even count.  Overall, it’s hard to call Escape To Nowhere anything but a complete misfire by Omen.  My score: C-

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