As big fans of November 2016’s Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Gojira) produced and armor-plated debut album “Ironshore” from Canadian Progressive Metallers Oni and having witnessed their full on onslaught at Tech-Fest the following summer, the future looked incredibly bright and beautiful for them. There has however been a hiatus of sorts before this near 25 minute 5 cut EP “Alone” has appeared which left many thinking that the band were done. Not so. Frontman Jake Oni co-wrote “Cross Off” with the sadly departed Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington for Lamb Of God guitarist Mark Morton’s solo album “Anesthetic” which signaled a return might happen and so clearly we were wrong. Martin Andres (Guitar), Chase Bryant (Bass), Johnny D (Xylosynth), Joe Greulich (Drums) and of course Jake Oni (Vocals) have been squirrelling away.
Artwork depicting storm heavy skies sets an atmospheric in mind and looking through the track titles of “Alone” it appears that Jake Oni has been doing some soul searching of late. Having a beautiful melodic acoustic introduction to the title track wipes down the beer stain splashed table that is your mind before some powerful Progressive Metal riffs intertwined with punchy bursts of Metalcore takes hold. Clean vocals from off set from Jake Oni give a sense of a Hard Rock influence and come as a pleasant surprise, working well against the stunning soundtrack. Coming in with a Slipknot esq frenetic energy and some unclean roars “Rift” has a heavier vibe without being all out. Instead the clean vocals and catchy hooks are fine headbanging material with plenty of polish and following their tale of the shape shifting demon from Japanese folklore that they take their name from, it appears that Oni have morphed their sound. Lyrically, the EP doesn’t have the Nu-Metal intropection it could have done, instead being a very wordy and brighter more thoughtful concept.
Continuing the gradual increase in unclean ferocity, “Dead Inside” features far more vocal range than any previous song that Oni have produced and we should stress that the clean vocals aren’t at the cost of the music in any way shape or form. It’s punchy, heavy end Progressive Metalcore with DJent grooves and zero slow downs for big chruses. It’s as razor sharp as we hoped. “Breathe Again” starts off brutally heavy before switching to a driven gallop and there is a certain amount of The Human Abstract or even Protest The Hero influence on show as it plays out. The music is absorbing and complex, so as with the best of the Progressive world it has an ocean of little things in the mix to appreciate over multiple listens. Confirming that extremes push out, “Alone” closes on by far it’s heaviest note with “Faceless Portrait”, a swinging baseball bat of a track that brings the blood and thunder of the storm to the plate. It’s heavy, angry, aggresive and sees Jake Oni at his ugly best as he spits fire from the very start. The tempo shifts on this one are well executed and by the final cymbal crash, it’s head long adrenaline rush is a fine way to take things. If this had been anywhere else on the EP it would have been a stand out for the wrong reasons but as a closer on a record that gets progressively heavier as it plays out, it’s a perfect fit [8/10]
“Alone” by Oni is out now via Metal Blade Records and available over at bandcamp