By Sofia Shutenko
I didn’t know this before Googling it, but Omerta, the name of one of Ottawa’s newest and heaviest hardcore bands, means “a code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to authorities (as practiced by the mafia.)”
Pyromania is an obsessive desire to burn things. Thematically this E.P. is off to a good start without hearing a single lyric. Omerta means don’t talk to cops, but for the mafia it’s a code of silence used to maintain a legacy of organized crime that is in many ways a mirror of the hierarchy and brutality of government organizations like the police academy. Omerta (the band) don’t fuck with cops, but they don’t have a system to maintain. They just want to watch things burn.
This first release, which came out after Omerta’s first show in early October 2016 at Funeral Home, is a blistery, thrashed out, raging 13 minutes of metal-tinged hardcore put together by great folks who love, and are good at, what they do. Three veteran musicians with membership in two or more other killer Ottawa bands including Durs Coeurs, Aube, and Occult Burial, and one newcomer to the stage who appears to be a natural.
It’s hard to believe that this is vocalist Sierra Pruno’s first band, partly because if you’ve met her or seen her at shows it’s clear that her energy and enthusiasm for punk and life in general is at maximum intensity, and partly because she’s such a damn good vocalist. Her unrelenting snarls framed by dizzying guitar licks and precise percussion build a spiralling sense of urgency in every track on Pyromania.
There’s a diverse set of influences playing together here that make Omerta something special. The halting slow-burner start of “Everyday” is reminiscent of Rohnert Park era Ceremony interludes, but builds to include some distinctly metal riffs amid spitfire vocals. Post-punky guitar stretches are scattered throughout the E.P.
Omerta is one of a batch of fresh new hardcore and punk bands out of Ottawa in recent months and Pyromania is one of the local album releases making me truly excited and proud to be part of this little city’s music community. The prevalence of femme and queer voices in these new bands, especially those featuring folks on stage for the first time, is a hopeful indication of how the scene might be opening up to many who’ve felt pushed to the margins in the past. Omerta’s first release rips, their first live show was killer, and I am so excited to see what they do next.
Check them out at omertapunk.bandcamp.com/releases •