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Oni – Alone

by Will Travers at 04 February 2020, 8:51 AM

Now many bands have a bit of fun with their names, just trying to create a memorable one that is easy to roll of one’s lips after a few pints and chasers. But ONI have given considerable thought to the name of their six-piece band. “In Japanese folklore, the Oni is a malevolent shapeshifting demon, able to take on many guises as it spreads pain and misery. The constantly shifting, ever-evolving sound of Ontario, Canada’s Oni is no less elusive”. This quote, stolen shamelessly from their Facebook page biography section, shows a band that put so much thought into their name and the historical context surrounding it, this gives me high hopes for the music that they produce. Let’s get going.

Firstly, we come across the artwork. Simple and minimalistic, the bands name against storm clouds, a hat tip with their choice of font to the Japanese origin to their name. It is so simple, so bare that it is striking, others attempt this effect and fail, however ONI hit the nail on the head.

The EP opens with the namesake, “Alone”, and we are instantly treated to a clean guitar run that eases us into a complete false sense of security. When the track kicks in in earnest we are subjected to a full-on sensory assault from all angles as ONI achieve their self-proclaimed accolade of being “Constantly shifting, ever-evolving”. At each section we encounter a new approach to delivering the music, and the absolute craftsmanship that each member shows is just astounding. I was absolutely blown away.

“Rift” does not offer us the same gentle ease in during their introduction. I’m not complaining. We are introduced to a new part of Jake Oni’s obviously large vocal skills. Ranging from low growls, up to some more traditional screams and roars, it is clear that he is an incredibly talented individual. The music is again absolutely incredible, fast paced energetic riffs and rhythms, accented by heavy and open-ended breakdowns that allow a welcome break.

Again, “Dead Inside” is a straight up assault from the get go. But it plays into ONI’s hands as the transition between “Rift” and “Dead Inside” is absolutely seamless. The energy that this group produce, even via records is incredible and I feel that they would be an amazing live show to attend.

“Breathe Again” is an excellent example of a Progressive Metal track. A special mention here has to be put out to Joe Greulich for his relentless energy and tenacity sat behind his kit. He really adds the meat to the bones of this song. Again, we are subjected to high energy, electrical riffs and brutal breakdowns that really would allow the crowd at their shows a breather, I know that I would need one in the pit!

Finally, we come to “Faceless Portrait”. With an introduction full of dissonant chords to create a disturbing sound, we are battered by blast beats, a relentless double bass, and Jake giving everything that he has on the vocal track. This really is an excellent way to close out the EP and is again a great example to the skill of the group as a whole.

In conclusion this is a must have EP. As many Prog fans will appreciate, there is starting to become a formula to churn out “Prog”. If you go against the formulae and try to create something new, as ONI have done, then it can go one of two ways. But they have achieved an amazing EP, created a very distinctive sound of their own (personally I can hear likenesses at times to the of the likes of TOOL, GOJIRA, PERIPHERY and, prepare the torches and pitchforks people, BREAKING BENJAMIN… Sue me). I have to give one final special mention, John DeAngelis… I had no idea what a Xylosynth was until I started this review and I have to be honest; it adds an entirely different dimension to the songs that they just wouldn’t sound right had it been missing!

In an age where many up and coming bands want to emulate those already established and successful it is refreshing to come across a group dedicated to being themselves. I look forward to seeing ONI develop and I hope to see them in the UK soon!

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

5 Star Rating

1. Alone
2. Rift
3. Dead Inside
4. Breathe Again
5. Faceless Portrait
Jake Oni - Vocals
Brandon White - Guitar
Chase Bryant - Bass
Martin Andres - Guitar
John DeAngelis - Xylosynth
Joe Greulich – Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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Edited 20 September 2020

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