Once Awake – Bridgeburner (Self-Released)Sunday, 8th November 2020
Producing an explosive groove metal cocktail of influences that traverses everything from thrash, death, and metalcore, Once Awake from Norway made a stirring impression last year with their second album Inside the Storm. The follow-up Bridgeburner hits the streets eighteen months after that delightful effort, delivering another ten tracks of heaviness. Injecting a modest amount of atmosphere and emotional swings, this is another record that keep the quintet moving along in a style that has crossover appeal to those who love modern breakdowns and crushing riffs, as well as others who want diversity and versatility in their songwriting.
What this means is you can hear a wide swing in action and moods from song to song – leaning commercial in spots with the gruff to clean melodies and calmer guitar sequences for the chorus of “Last Days” (think modern In Flames meets Parkway Drive here) and then amping up the guitar harmonies and solid drum mechanics like a freight train for the follow-up “Becoming Alive” (Arch Enemy and Soilwork would be proud here). Properly using half-time riff/tempo breakdowns in such an organic manner is an asset Once Awake utilizes and other bands need to look into – everything has its place and context but needs to serve the needs of the song. When the band wishes to get into that thrash/death mold with relentless double kick and low-tuned distortion, look no further than “Eyes Shut”, while the Machine Head/Killswitch Engage edges come out on “Carved in Me”. Vocalist Frodo Henroe deserves accolades for his multi-pronged clean and low growl approach – riveting throughout no matter the speed or mood of the song at hand, much like Christian Älvestam (Solution .45, ex-Scar Symmetry) right away on opener “Trespasser” all the way through to the left-field shape shifting aspects of “Hollow Fall”, bookended by calm opening/ending sequences while slamming home into groove/thrash metal oblivion throughout the crux of the arrangement.
These Europeans mince no words in their headbanging quest for supremacy – Once Awake always engages their listeners with thick riffs, hard as nails grooves, and the right amount of separation and melody track to track to ensure adrenaline activities and sweat pouring from head to toe. Bridgeburner keeps the band on the right track for groove metal, metalcore, and even some thrash/death mavens all satisfied.