Thursday, January 24, 2013


Omens is a hardcore punk band from Des Moines.  From Metallica to Nine Inch Nails to Cursed, the band takes influence from many bands across the spectrum of heavy and aggressive music to make their own dour and joyless sound.  Luke Rauch is the riffmaster along with his brother Drew Rauch, Aaron Hollander slams the bass, Nick Steinick is responsible for the d-beats and crushing hits, and Mike Watson spouts off at the mouth.

Omens came together in November of 2010 shortly after Mike and Luke both moved to Des Moines from Cedar Rapids and Pella, respectively.  The two had known each other and had been playing shows together in past bands for years and it was only natural that they would talk about playing in a band together now that they were both in the same place.  Mike had talked to Aaron separately about starting up a similiar sounding band, so he was first choice when it came to filling in the bass player roll.  Mike only knew Nick loosely at the time but was hoping to get him to drum for the band based off seeing him drum in bands he was playing in currently and bands he had done in the past, so when Aaron recommended that Nick play drums in the new band it was a total no-brainer.

The members of the band each had a similar mindset when it came to writing music and, after it's inception, Omens wasted no time writing songs.  Within a few months time and after a few shows, the band had enough material written to be able to record and release a demo.  In early 2011, the band headed to Marshalltown, a small town 45 minutes north east of Des Moines, where they had their friend Bo Becker record them in a basement.  Six tracks were recorded showing off the bands dire and pounding sound, and the demo was distributed at local shows.  In keeping with the stark hopelessness aesthetic of the music, the demo was distributed on white CDrs in black sleeves, a logo stamped onto the disc and a simple black label on the corner of the sleeve.

Omens - Demo

1. Deeper
2. Bleak
3. Revelations
4. Drag
5. Disgust
6. Ruin

Click to download.

The demo trudges through a mishmash of slow and fast, wallowing in the sludge and ripping through the nasty punk parts, Mike ripping his throat raw the entire time.  Enough flourishing guitar weirdness in the background keeps it interesting, and hints of black metal poke through the darkness at times.  After the release of this demo, the band stuck to playing mostly local shows in Des Moines and in the towns surrounding the city.  It was around this time that I first saw the band play live at a show my band NERV played with them at All Play in Des Moines in April of 2011.  They started their set off with a weirdly somber and eerie intro with sparse drum hits before blasting off with some headbanging riffage over kick ass d-beats.  It was mean sounding, not in any fake tough way, but more in the way of plodding despair.  It was loud and I loved it.

Omens played more shows throughout the course of 2011 and continued writing more songs.  By the end of the year they were ready to record a new batch of tunes.  In November of 2011 and with the help of Bo Becker once again, the band recorded four tracks in Mike's basement.  These songs are more refined and even more bleak and dismal than the demo, venturing into some weird fucked up almost stoner sound for bits of it.  The second track breaks into some sick thrash and the last track ends it all by sludging it out.  The band dubbed these songs to a tape they called "No Dawn" and embarked on their first and only tour thus far in December, playing basements across the midwest.  I'm glad I got to book them a show and play with them in Iowa City on this tour, it was a good one!

Omens - No Dawn

1. Faithbreak
2. Misery Addict
3. Attention Scars
4. Dark Depths

Click to download.

This idea behind Omens was never to focus on playing out and touring much at all and not to be a full time band, but to write music and to hone in on the product the band was releasing.  After playing a few memorable shows in 2012 including one pro wrestling themed show where someone was hit with a chair and someone else was put in a figure four leglock during the band's set, the band decided it needed to switch a few things up.  After playing their last show for awhile in September, the band ceased playing live for the time being and scrapped practicing and playing any previously written material to focus on writing new songs.  Coming into the fold to help with the writing of these new tracks is a new fifth member, Drew Rauch, on second guitar which will no doubt make the band even meaner sounding than before.

Omens plans to start playing live shows again within the next few months in same direction just with a keener sense of focus.  Coinciding with the return of live shows will be the self release of their as-of-yet untitled LP of brand new and unheard songs with art done by yours truly, me, Joe Milik.  I personally haven't heard any recordings of any new songs yet, but you can expect them to be even more downcast than the songs on the demo and on No Dawn.  This band is good, and I can't wait for them to start playing shows again.  New tunes and a new member, keep an ear down and your eyes peeled.

Contact the band at  Maybe there are some copies of the demo and No Dawn left.

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