Once Human – Evolution (earMUSIC)

Monday, 13th February 2017
Rating: 9/10

Once Human jumped right into the fray with their first release, The Life I Remember. With the pedigree of Logan Mader on guitar (ex-Machine Head, ex-Soulfly), it was an impressive debut that straddled the melodic death/modern metal line quite well, showcasing a sound that was as catchy as needed with some solid vocal contributions from Lauren Hart. With the justly titled second album, Evolution, the band further propels themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Once Human spreads their wings into less traveled waters on Evolution than its predecessor. Gone are any formulaic clean/harsh vocal patterns, with Hart utilizing her harsh screams (which have developed nicely with more brutality) much more frequently than singing. They do appear in several tracks, but aren’t meant to be the centerpiece – instead adding mood and atmosphere to songs like “Drain,” “Eye of Chaos,” and “Passenger.” This shifts more of the melodic weight over to the rest of the band, where more intricate riffing appears with a surprisingly catchy undertone. There are some interesting melodies at hand in “Killers for the Cure” and “Gravity” that have a more haunting and eerie approach that counters effectively with the driving grooves and thrashy riffs when the band picks up momentum (see “Flock of Flesh”). The best weapon Once Human displays on Evolution is that of groove, which sometimes creates a massive wall of sound that feels like a headbangable trance (“Paragon”) or a visceral throttling (“Mass Murder Frenzy”). If it seems like most of the tracks have been name-checked at this point, it’s because they all have a cohesive feel but bring some interesting elements to the table with each venture, and you’ll undoubtedly find yourself favoring a different track with each listen as you move through them. The true sign of an album that’s a keeper.

A pummeling yet occasionally haunting album, Evolution wipes the slate clean for Once Human. They’ve effectively enhanced and advanced their sound into something that feels more distinctive. Not to mention it’s more abrasive yet strikingly memorable tone. Fans of groovy modern metal or melodic death should find plenty that Evolution brings to the table.

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