Once Human – Evolution

If you slept on Once Human’s The Life I Remember, you need to wake up. Right now. Evolution (both earMUSIC) is exactly as the name states; an evolution of extreme music blended into one glorious molten mold of metal. It takes a bit of Soilwork, seasons it with some Arch Enemy, and serves it up with a hearty side of Strapping Young Lad and Meshuggah. But to say Once Human sounds like any of these bands is to do them a disservice.

Because it’s also an evolution of the band’s own sound. With this release, Once Human has found themselves. The Life I Remember, while exciting, may have suffered in that, like many debuts, it just didn’t know exactly what it wanted to be.

Evolution knows.

It is focused and furious.

It is majestic and massive.

It is a sniper that will take you down before you even realize you’ve been set in its crosshairs.

In short, Evolution will kick the teeth out of your mouth, then ever-so-kindly pick those bloody chiclets up one by one, help you set them into beautiful new dentures, and then place said dentures gently into your face just so they can kick them right the fuck out again.

Sophomore blues? Forget it. There are more Oh my God! How fucking sick is that riff moments in a single song here than many bands will write in an entire career.

You know Logan Mader. Machine Head guitarist on their first two—and undeniably classic—albums, producer and hired gun extraordinaire, and now mastermind behind Once Human. But you may not be familiar with Australia’s Lauren Hart. Get acquainted. The vocalist hits her stride on Evolution, plunging into guttural depths she only toyed with on The Life I Remember. While many metal bands these days flirt with clean vocals, and in some cases bypass the flirt completely and head straight to marriage proposals, Evolution’s mission statement is defined by brutality. This is not to say Hart’s clean vocals aren’t fantastic; they are. But they have little to no place on Evolution, save for an atmospheric bit here or there that strengthens rather than distracts.

From the off-kilter chug in ‘Drain’, to the delightfully evil and dynamic ‘Eye of Chaos’, the head-smashing ‘Dark Matter’ to the groovy and thought-provoking ‘Passenger’, Evolution quite simply crushes in a complex and complete way. The album exudes a sense of wholeness; that is, it sounds like more than just a bunch of great songs slapped together. Each track weaves perfectly into the next, occasionally revisiting previous melodies or passages, with the closing ‘Passenger’ finally devolving into a fade and forcing you to hit repeat, loop it, and start the madness all over again.

Before listening to this album, you were once human. What are you now?

You are evolved.