Once Human are an interesting prospect. On one hand a daring female-fronted metal band. They are not a group defined by the gender of their vocalist by any stretch, although vocalist Lauren Hart is easily capable of matching any male in the genre. On the other hand they could be a seen as the band that Logan Madder (Ex-Machine Head) formed when he wanted to start playing metal again, which would be a naive and ill informed assumption. In reality, Once Human are band ready to make their own dent in the metal landscape, bringing together a line up of musicians ready to birth music that borrows from sounds old and new in an attempt to add some much needed light and shade to world of heavy music. Latest offering Evolution is hailed by the band as a new chapter, with Madder saying of the record ” We really found our sound and our identity”.
Evolution, upon first listen shows defiant promise with Flock of Flesh leading the way. Soaring guitars make way for tightknit grooves ala Lamb of God, Hart’s vocals fitting deftly atop the crushing melodeath backdrop. The interesting thing about Evolution, is that it doesn’t do a whole lot to set itself apart from the melodic death pack, but unlike the band’s fairly cookie-cutter debut, the sophomore effort plays to the band’s strengths. Gatling-like riffs mixed with subtle grandiosity are showcased on tracks like the forceful Eye of Chaos and the sublime lead guitars of Paragon.
As mentioned previously, Lauren Hart is a huge asset to the band’s overall sound, combining the vocal styling of Randy Blythe with fellow female growler Angela Gossow to provide a savage focal point for the band. Tracks like the Meshuggah-esque Drain display Hart’s ability to slot her vocal punch inside of cavernous grooves with ease.
Undoubtedly, the real merit of Evolution is Madder’s slick production. His many years at the desk pay off here and really help lock the low rhythms together with gorgeous effect laden leads, in turn making the record sound as if it had been recorded during a glacial apocalypse. Final track Passenger is as good an example as any for this, moving between mammoth deathcore chug and Tool-like rumbling before building to a progressive climax reminiscent of later day In Flames.
As a follow up to 2015’s The Life I Remember, the band’s second time around shows them taking hold of the basic template used on their debut and injecting it with passion and brute force. It admittedly, won’t change metal as we know it, but it will provide fans of the melodic death metal style with something fresh to sink their teeth into. This time around for Once Human, it’s not quite an Evolution, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.