Forbidden

Omega Wave

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So now it's Forbidden's turn to file their reunion album, joining, well, almost all of the biggest names involved in the 1980s San Francisco Bay Area thrash scene, including Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, Heathen…are we missing anyone? Oh yeah, Vio-Lence, but then half the band is still around, only now it is known as Machine Head. Anyway, we digress, for the subject at hand -- 2010's Omega Wave -- is Forbidden's fifth album overall, their first in 13 years, and yet it successfully reconnects with the band's original technical thrash identity following the alternative dalliances of their former swan song, 1997's Green. However, this return to twisted form (sorry, couldn't resist) also means that the new Forbidden perpetuates many of the same qualities that made the old Forbidden widespread critical favorites, but only selectively popular with the thrash-buying public the first time around, thereby offering little hope of broadening the group's audience this time around. Nevertheless, preaching to the choir -- an older, generally wealthier choir with nostalgia to burn, at that -- is really what these reunions are all about, and there'll certainly be plenty of crusty old headbangers shedding a tear over authentically rendered new Forbidden thrashings such as "Forsaken at the Gates," "Hopenosis," and the raging title track, all of which run a little long in the tooth, but feature stunning guitar work by founding member Craig Locicero and former Nevermore guitarist Steve Smyth alike. Notably, singer Russ Anderson's remarkable Halford-esque range also remains intact despite the years of disuse, allowing him to alternate clean notes and forceful screams throughout the likes of "Adapt or Die," "Immortal Wounds," and "Inhuman Race" (one of several more deliberate, classic metal-flavored cuts found here, along with "Swine" and "Dragging My Casket"). But a minor identity crisis does emerge now and then, leaving "Overthrow" sounding like Slayer, "Behind the Mask" like Dark Angel, and the aging fan scratching his memory banks in an attempt to recall whether these personality issues meshed with Forbidden's lack of success back in the day. Maybe that difficulty in remembering actually says it all, but kudos to Forbidden for returning to action with at least as much talent and inspiration going for them as was there at the very start.

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