Bad Omens on transcending rock with new album ‘THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND’
Bad Omens’ third album is a defining moment in their career. Having spent the last seven years shrugging off comparisons to Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon, this is the moment we learn exactly who Bad Omens are, what they stand for and where they’re headed.
On THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND, Bad Omens mix up the metalcore formula that they followed stringently on their 2016 self-titled debut and 2019’s Finding God Before God Finds Me. “It’s very electronic and musically progressive to a degree that I don’t identify as a rock band anymore,” vocalist, songwriter and band producer Noah Sebastian explains. The result is a diverse album indebted as much to Billie Eilish and the Weeknd or Lil Peep as their metal peers. “We still love rock and metal,” he continues. “I still use heavy drop-tuned guitars, real drums and distortion, but when I listen to rock bands, it doesn’t feel anything like what I’m doing. That’s always been the goal, to do something that isn’t the same as everything else on the rock playlist.”
It’s not just sonically where the band have come into their own. Sebastian describes the album’s creation as transformative, not least in terms of finding his own voice. “I just wasn’t confident as a singer,” he says, admitting in the past that he’d hidden his vocal by “producing the heck out of it and hiding it behind the music or vocal layers.” Eschewing the gritty melodicism that’s caused endless Oli Sykes comparisons, he’s pushed his clean vocals to new heights, allowing the band to experiment with their sound. “I’ve always loved the Weeknd. His voice isn’t hidden by tons of instruments,” Sebastian continues. “I’ve never had the confidence as a singer to put those influences into our music, but there are songs [on this LP] that have no real drums or guitars, just beat production and vocals.”
THROWING OUT THE RULEBOOK
Music can be most thrilling when you remove the boundaries, an understanding that ripples throughout THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND, where some of the band’s heaviest songs to date hang next to feather-light pop and bare-bones R&B. “The last two records were genuine,” Sebastian says. “But there were a lot of insecure moments where I wasn’t confident, and I just did what I felt would be expected. With this record, I was like, ‘I want to do exactly what I want.’ At one point, I thought about releasing the songs that were more beat-focused on a solo project. Then I thought, ‘Why would I do that?’ People reinvent the wheel by taking those kinds of risks. I realized I don’t have anything to prove anymore, not just to the world, but to myself.”
Single and title track “THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND” was the first to be written for the record, and sprang from unusual beginnings. “I went around my house and recorded pots and pans and slamming the microwave,” Sebastian reveals. “I took a vacuum and recorded that. One sound I recorded was my roommate’s dog. I patted him on the back and made a kick drum out of it.” Before he knew it, he’d written the framework for the track, passing it to co-songwriter and producer, guitarist Jolly Karlsson. “He made a new production, combining the sounds I’d made with better quality samples,” Sebastian explains. “That turned into what I consider my secret weapon for keeping things from getting stale — writing vocals around instrumentals that don’t really sound like a band at all.”
While the band have played boldly with light and color on this record, there’s no doubt that, lyrically and sonically, there’s a grimy, dystopian darkness at play that threatens to swallow it whole. “The reason I wanted to name the album THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND is because each of the songs touch on that in some degree,” Sebastian says. These tracks explore the turbulence of modern life, from anxiety to the pressures of social media, personal relationships and volatile political landscapes. It’s also his most personal record to date. “I’ve experienced a lot of death close to me in my life growing up, and even to this day, I feel like I never really processed it in the healthiest way,” he says. “At this point, I’ve accepted that, as an artist, it’s my role to reflect on dark times, and hopefully people get something out of it.”
This interview first appeared in issue #403 with cover star Dominic Fike, available here.