Alpha and Omega

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Black Sabbath may be the most influential rock band in existence behind the Beatles. It is incredible how many bands have taken not just ideas, but virtually whole careers based on the music they made in the early to mid-'70s. Penance is one of these bands, churning out thick riffs and slow songs that would make Tony Iommi proud. Where this genre, known as doom metal, tends to fail is when they have to write songs instead of just heavy riffs. Few bands realize that Ozzy Osbourne's catchy vocal lines and Geezer Butler's simple lyrics helped make them as good as they were. Sabbath imitators from Saint Vitus to Candlemass to Earth have all been guilty of just writing riffs before, and Penance falls into the same trap. Songs like "See the Light" have pounding, heavy guitar parts that drive the band along into a droning frenzy. But what Penance cannot do is lay down a memorable, catchy vocal line the way that Osbourne could. Without something like that to grasp onto, it is hard to sit through the long, doom-laden songs. To be fair, Penance is very good at making these type of tracks, they just need to reign in their tendencies to jam and come up with some better hooks. This may be an unusual request of a ten-year-old band, but it is never too late to shape up into a unique and powerful act. This is not the album where that happens, making this something that only dedicated genre fans will probably enjoy.

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