Belgian metal band Omicron make the most of their name


When Philippe Delhaute and Ignace Casier were working on the guitar parts for new songs last week, they weren’t expecting their band’s name to raise so many eyebrows.

“I went to the store with our band’s t-shirt and people looked at me really weird,” recalls Mr. Delhaute. “But we’ve been here six years now and have nothing to do with Covid.”

Discover Omicron. Not the coronavirus variant but the Belgian death metal band, who say the only contagious thing about them is their music.

The four-piece band have already started making a name for themselves in their home country, pounding their guitars and singing about alien invasions and the mysteries of human evolution, their favorite themes. Soon they will start recording their new album, “Entropic Entity”, and, if the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, will play a few shows.

But first, they need to figure out how to handle the unexpected flurry of publicity that occurred when the World Health Organization decided to name the new virus strain after the same letter of the Greek alphabet they have chosen for the name of their group, bypassing Nu and Xi.

Finding the right balance was difficult. At first, the group apologized.

“While we can’t help ourselves that the WHO has decided to skip two letters to get to the omicron letter, we want to once again express our support for all the victims, the people working in the medical sector and all the sacrifices what everyone is doing continuously to fight this virus. Stay safe everyone! the group wrote on its Facebook page.

It might not have been metallic enough, though.

A beat later, they struck a more provocative note: “For the record, our band name is based on the Omicron Galaxy System and not the current Omicron Covid strain.”

MM. Delhaute and Casier said that while they were pleased with the increase in traffic to their YouTube page, they recognized that it was a difficult situation to manage.

“It’s like, OK guys, let’s be careful. We don’t want to take advantage of anyone who’s hurting, you know,” said Mr. Delhaute, who ties his long hair in a ponytail. “But if people go on our sites because they’re looking for Omicron and they’re thinking, ‘Hey, the music is cool, we’re subscribing’, so that’s cool.”

Philippe Delhaute, guitarist of Omicron.



Some large companies were also caught off guard by the pandemic, at least initially.

Corona beer sales were widely expected to plummet when the coronavirus hit the United States early last year. But at the end of 2020, its owner, Constellation Brands Inc.,

found that sales had held up. He even launched a Corona-branded hard seltzer drink which he said was a hit.

Delta Air Lines got something of a scare when it ended up sharing its name with a highly transmissible strain linked to a deadly new outbreak. “We just call it the variant,” the company’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, said at the time.

Originally named after a crop dusting operation in the Mississippi Delta, the airline has not experienced a significant drop in bookings relative to competitors and has since posted two consecutive quarters of profit, its first since the start of the pandemic.

Some companies adopted advertising when their name appeared among the variants.

Omicron Repro, a print shop in a small town in Canterbury, England, sees this as a chance for free publicity, or at least an opportunity to trick customers into remembering how to spell its name.

Owner Mark Fawcett-Jones and director Dave Loveridge ordered a pair of bright yellow hazmat suits from Amazon to wear to the store and make the most of the situation.

“They were supposed to be for a networking event, but we thought we might as well take a picture of ourselves wearing them at the store and it took off,” Mr Fawcett-Jones said.

“It’s really a bit ironic,” he added. “But it’s easier to read our email address on the phone now. People know how to spell it. We’ve had all kinds of problems before.

Omicron, the group, whose name Mr. Delhaute chose five years ago, is considering how it could turn unexpected fame into lasting success.

Ignace Casier, guitarist of Omicron.



Local metal publications in Belgium have already written about the band’s name coincidence, as have Vice and international music sites such as Metal Injection. There was a mention on CBSit is

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

The band are hoping to get more attention after recording a track next week for Face Your Underground, an annual compilation of Belgian metal bands. The CD runs the gamut of death metal styles, from down-tuned chugging to the faster beating of black metal and the chaotic breakdowns that characterize symphonic deathcore.

Omicron, however, is wary of being treated as a novelty. Mr. Casier says the members are working hard to make sure their new album is as good as possible.

“We don’t want to rush,” he said. “The idea, basically, is to do a concept album about an alien invasion. Like how ancient civilizations, for example, the Sumerians or the Egyptians, worshiped gods like Isis or whatever, and there’s a theory that these gods were actually extraterrestrials who came to Earth.

Sean Meert, bassist of Omicron.



“With metal, you can go into this fantasy world and make it kind of rough and dark,” Mr. Casier said.

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“We’re still designing a new logo, still discussing what we’re going to do for an album cover, stuff like that,” Delhaute said. “We have to be a little careful.”

If all goes well, they expect to have around nine songs in the box soon, enough for a 50-minute live set – assuming Omicron, the virus, will let them play.

“Yeah, we’re really looking forward to it, we’re really itchy, you know?” said M. Delhaute. “I haven’t touched my guitar for a week because of all this, but now I have to practice.”

Write to James Hookway at [email protected]

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