Once Human are the brainchild of Logan Mader, the man many of us remember for being ‘that guy who played guitar’ on the first Machine Head Albums and helped Max Cavalera out with Soulfly in its early days before going on to unleash the horror and stain on music known as Twin Method. All that aside, Mader has assembled a six piece who are based in LA and comprised of ‘lesser known’ musicians, trying to show that this is an actual serious project, not some kind of ‘supergroup’ or ‘side bit’ for the band members. With Melodic Death Metal enjoying a decent presence in the forefront of metal as a whole these days, complete with its many hybrids, Once Human should fit right in and if the success they enjoyed with debut offering “The Life |I Remember” is anything to go by, surely “Evolution”, their sophomore effort should do as its name suggests and allows the band to build and grow from here.
Straight off the bat, this release seems to show promise. Logan Mader’s six piece charge ahead with their death metal with melodic metalcore rumblings, bringing forth a massive sound full of heaviness and groove and with the raw, powerful vocals of Aussie Lauren Hart, it looks like a solid sounding musical endeavour. Sadly, this is where the buck stops for Once Human.
Whilst the tracks on the release sound promising on an individual level, overall, the album just oozes mediocrity, something a few would expect given the elements which constitute the band. The triple Guitar approach gives a massive wall of noise effect, allowing for more crushing riffs, intricate arrangements and multi-layered harmonies and leads tucked in there, and the rhythm section really hammers it down with blasts of death metal fury and metalcore laden grooves but in all honesty, with that musical approach and the vocal styling’s used, it’s not really that special – see ‘The Agonist’ or ‘Arch Enemy’ and think a less prolific version of them.
This isn’t a ‘knock’ on those two bands and their successes, it’s simply the fact that many death metal bands who feature a female on vocals tend to follow in their footsteps, and really, all bands like The Agonist and Arch Enemy are doing is following in the footsteps of Carcass, after all, Arch Enemy is just ‘Carcass for kids’ as some would say. Once Human then by this logic must be ‘Arch Enemy’ for toddlers *shrugs*… Don’t ask, it just makes sense to me and that is what matters!
You would think, given Logan Mader’s resume (Machine Head, Soulfly, Producer, Manager of Twin Method…), he would have a clue about pooling his previous work and creating a new or fresh take on a well copied formula, but instead he simply goes along with it. The Fear Factory like grooves from the ‘Demanufacture’ Era mixed with early 2000’s Arch Enemy works well enough on casual listening, hearing the odd track here and there, but when you have a whole album of it, the songs just blend and only little moments jump out, which if I’m honest, aren’t really worth highlighting. It’s just that dull.