REVIEW: Once Human – Evolution

once-human

Los Angeles melodic death metal outfit Once Human are set to release their second album, Evolution, this month and it’s safe to say it’s a brutally heavy one!

Once Human formed in 2014 when multi-instrumentalist Lauren Hart was introduced to Logan Mader for a production deal, which lead to the two joining forces for a new creation that would become Once Human.

The name Logan Mader may ring a few bells within the metal community as one of the original members of Machine Head in the ’90s, a member of Soulfly in the late ’90s, as well spending time with Medication and Stereo Black. He has also been heavily involved with the production of a number of albums over the past decade, working with the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Gojira and Devil You Know.

Admittedly, this reviewer had not come across Once Human. Not knowing quite what to expect, a little background research was carried out and after learning that Mader was involved with both the writing and production of the album it was clear it wasn’t going to disappoint. Having recently seen first-hand the care, knowledge and experience Mader puts into his production work during a recent Nail The Mix live-stream, it was clear this record was going to be presented with great attention to detail.

‘Flock of Flesh’ kicks things off with a menacing, melodic passage with small choral textures before kicking in with the vocal fury of Hart. The mind jumps to the likes of Arch Enemy, but it’s soon clear that Once Human are carving out their own space. Within the first track, there are lots of intricacies that develop the song beyond just a selection of riffs. With each listen of the track you can pick out extra details, different layers and, just to make sure the listener is paying attention, the song switches from a blast beat heavy passage to a groove-driven idea, a fusion between the southern groove of Pantera layered over the synths of Children of Bodom.

Eye of Chaos’ introduces some new textures and ideas to the mix, with some clean melodic lines and a scattering of electronic elements. The ferocity of the music rarely lets up, but when it does it allows some breathing space to lull the listener into a sense of calm before hitting back with full force in another blast of furious vocals. The general flow of the album of is good, building and releasing tension and not letting musical ideas outstay their welcome.

For example, the song ‘Gravity’ has multiple tempos changes throughout, going from a stripped -back melodic section to a syncopated rhythmic section, closely followed by a passage with complex time signature. But even with all these sometimes sharp changes within the songs, they still feel connected with the same overarching tonality throughout the album.

Paragon’ is slower, allowing a sinister feeling to penetrate through the music with its minor melodies and dissonant riffs. Around halfway through the track is stripped down to clean guitars and vocals which, again, provides a brief release from the heavier sounds. The clean idea is returned to later with slight variations and details added, a sign of good, well thought out composition.

‘Passenger’ closes out the record to combine all previously heard elements. There’s the heavy riffs, passionate vocals, syncopated riffs, haunting melodies and the outro has what can be describe as an epic feel, with it’s constant slow blast beats driving the record to it’s end as Hart provides with one last taste of clean vocals, providing a sense of calm and completion.

There’s a lot more that can be said about Evolution and it is one that takes multiple listens to really start processing some of the complexities of the music. While there can be similarities drawn between other bands there’s enough of a personal stamp on the music to create a distinction, which has lead to a great second release from Once Human.

Evolution by Once Human is released on February 10th 2017 via earMUSIC.

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