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Mars Era – Oniro Award winner

Mars Era
by Leanne Evans at 14 March 2021, 6:10 PM

Imagine the great Seattle’s grunge era meeting the alternative metal scene of the 2000’s, place them straight into the Californian desert, and you’ll get the sound and vision of Italy’s stoner rock overloads MARS ERA. In 2013, MARS ERA was in its infancy; at the time, Michelangelo was studying architecture in Florence and met Tommaso. Their mutual passion for music led to the inception of MARS ERA and a few months later, Leonardo joined the band. The trio penned an online ad to find the missing puzzle piece, “searching frontman for original rock project. BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPP, SOUNDGARDEN and PEARL JAM compulsory”. Dave was that missing link and the rest, as they say, is history. The four-piece collective burst into the heavy rock scene in 2014, with their critically acclaimed debut “Dharmanaut” released in 2017. Following the success of their debut album, MARS ERA has released their sophomore full-length titled “Oniro”, where heavy and psychedelic sounds are combined. The result? A flawless composition that expresses the band’s ability to showcase their own unique style of music to aural perfection.

Opening track, “OBE”, certainly plays on MARS ERA’s mantra, “We like humans, but we love martians”, with a distinctly out-of-space experience ensuing. The build-up to the groove is infectious and feels very much like the atmospheric iconic “Spacegrass” from CLUTCH. Leonardo’s bass line is captivatingly heavy and playful tinkering sound effects integrate and aurally delight. The deliberate dissonance in the key creates an enchanting endearment in Dave’s vocals, whilst the sonic distortion is bewitching, with whines in the background that tear through, but pull the track together perfectly. The notable playful shifts in tempo adds depth and layers to the record and a pleasing piece of guitar work is mesmerising; 6.12 kicks in for a ripping guitar piece for almost a minute. In fact, there’s a lot of groovy riffs and murky guitars to enjoy throughout “Oniro”.

“Into the Pyramid” has a WITCHCRAFT “Moroccan Honey” vibe by sonically setting the tone of the thematic, playing on a sultry heavy bass line combined with the Ancient Egyptian tones in the riff. MARS ERA continues to push their ability to create a one-of-a-kind aural experience, as seen in “Brighter Than the Sun”, which screams KYUSS and SOUNDGARDEN as a pleasurable fusion. In fact, a lot of MARS ERA’s influence pulls through from grunge legend CHRIS CORNELL, with an additional healthy fistful of PEARL JAM throughout “Oniro” to boot. The amalgamation of muddied grunge and fuzzed stoner works perfectly; Dave’s vocals are even reminiscent of JOHN GARCIA. The SOUNDGARDEN vibe carries through to “The Chicken’s Wardrobe”, serving up a crisper sound than the pleasingly untidy fashion of the sonics we’ve previously enjoyed in “Oniro”. The track still offers a ponderous bass line, the drums and percussion are noticeably looser which offers a more sultry feel (bravo, Tommaso!)

“Cyclone” whirls in with infectious grunge grooves straight from the catalogue of ALICE IN CHAINS, with a leaning towards “Them Bones”. The haunting aural crescendo delights with a sonic fusion of chugs of the bass, crunches of the guitar, Dave’s sweeping crisp clean vocals, making for a melting pot of sound. From the mellow sections with little bass that then drive through to bass-heavy sonics that whirr, MARS ERA knows how to create an atmospheric piece. Collectively, the bass and guitar work SO well to create impact; the notable shifts in tempo and elaboration produce wonderful sound, something showcased perfectly in “The Last Breath to Wake Up”. The track pulls back to the mellowed stoner vibe with a WITCHRIDER appeal about it. With the subtle vibrato at the outset, the simplistic and sweet riffs and chord progression that Michelangelo produces, makes for a truly divine piece. There’s something pretty haunting about the track, especially with the syncopated rhythm of the drum beat, until over halfway when the consonant tone kicks in and lilts. Dave’s impassioned vocals shine in this piece. A fantastic finale for what is has been a captivating aural exploration, courtesy of super-talented MARS ERA.

If KYUSS and ALICE IN CHAINS had a lovechild, MARS ERA would be their musical baby. Their ability to serve up psychodelic stoner tones with a grunge vibe sets them apart and really makes them stand out in the contemporary scene. MARS ERA’s appeal will surely stretch to diverse musical tastes, and rightly so. Their fearless experimentation with sound throughout “Oniro” is unparalleled and lends itself to producing a uniqueness that’s unrivalled and head and shoulders above the rest. With so many nuances in one album, as a listener, you’re psychedelically pulled from pillar to post, while safely challenging your comfort zone and expanding your mind.

MARS ERA is truly one of the best bands within this genre that I’ve heard in A LONG TIME and their masterpiece “Oniro” comes with a firm 10/10 recommendation from me. Bellissimo!

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. OBE
2. Into the Pyramid
3. Brighter Than the Sun
4. The Chicken’s Wardrobe
5. Cyclone
6. The Last Breath to Wake Up
Dave Ferrara – Vocals
Michelangelo Verdelli – Guitars
Leonardo Storai – Bass
Tommaso Tassi – Drums and Percussions
Record Label: Argonauta Records


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