4 out of 5 Stars!
This Hungarian band’s self-titled album from 1973, thanks to the fuzzy/distorted tone of the guitars and the use of Hammond organ and early synths, often reminds me of other Heavy Prog bands from the same period, such as Lucifer’s Friend, Birth Control, Eloy, Deep Purple, Warhorse, and most especially, Uriah Heep.
Indeed, the Heep influences here are quite numerous. In general, on tunes such as “After A Hard Year,” the grandiose vocal harmonies are definitely “Heep-esque,” and on one track in particular, “Parting Song,” Omega even adds an instrumental passage taken almost exactly note-for-note/chord-by-chord from Uriah Heep’s classic “Circle Of Hands” fade-out/main melody. The instrumentation on the songs “Delicate Sweep” and “The Bird” are in the same class as that displayed on Heep’s Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble album (or even Lucifer’s Friend’s debut release), and on the lengthier closing tune, “White Magic Stone,” an instrumental riff/passage seems almost like a reworking of Heep’s famous “July Morning.”
Yet, despite all the obvious Uriah Heep flourishes, the band is not a direct clone. The English group had a fuller, grander sound overall, often considered Heavy Metal, not to mention a highly recognizable and flamboyant vocalist in the form of Dave Byron, whereas Omega did not. Overall, the guitars lack Mick Box’s fierce, raw power, and the keyboards don’t have nearly as much force as Ken Hensley’s mighty Hammond, and while the vocals are certainly passable, they are hardly delivered with the fiery gusto as Byron possessed. Plus Omega’s vocalist lacks that identifiable stamp when it comes to his tone, range, timbre, and vibrato. And as far as the music goes, in the periodic softer portions of songs when the band adds Mellotron, influences from other acts such as Procol Harum and the Moody Blues rush to the fore. Moreover, two tracks on the album, “Everytime She Steps In” and “The Lying Girl,” are fairly standard and catchy rock ‘n’ roll ditties, sounding almost like tunes by Kiss, Silverhead, or Mott the Hoople, believe it or not, only with Heavy Prog/Heavy Psych influences—and Heep-like keyboards/synths, of course.
Anyway, several reviewers at various music-related websites have called Omega “The Hungarian Uriah Heep,” and for good reason, as detailed above. Regardless, this eponymous album is a classic of underappreciated and obscure Heavy Prog/Heavy Psych, one I continue to enjoy to this day, and any fans of the aforementioned groups seeking additional music from the early ’70s are likely to appreciate the band.