Doom metal rockers Penance got their start in 1990, when the freshly formed group released their first underground demo. It floated around tape-trading circles until the members of Cathedral finally heard it. They were so impressed that they asked Mike Smail, the only permanent member of the group, to play the drums on their first album. Penance stayed together and put together their debut, The Road Less Traveled, on Cathedral frontman Lee Dorrian's Rise Above Records in 1992. They created a buzz in the metal underworld, leading to a contract with Century Media in 1994. Parallel Corners was released the same year, but the band was plagued by lineup changes and were eventually dropped from the label. Frontman Briant Balich joined in 1997, and the group continued to play live and release demos until signing with Martyr Music Group in 2001. The resulting album, Alpha and Omega, was released in the spring of the following year.