Review: Once Human: Scar Weaver

Chances are that had the worldwide lockdown not happened, then ‘Scar Weaver’ might not have taken close to five years to land. But the flip side to that is that had it been business as normal for the live entertainment industry then LA-based five-piece Once Human might have found itself in the endless cycle of studio-tour-festivals-studio-tour-festivals and ‘Scar Weaver’ could have ended up sounding different to the album that is garnering great acclaim from fans and critics alike. Deprive musicians of what they were put on this earth to do – perform music to a live audience – and it’s going to make them strain at the leash until they are finally let loose. Pain, anger, and the need to vent: all perfect ingredients for making music and the last few years have given musicians and lyricists plenty to vent about…and plenty of time to cook up something special – enter Once Human with their staggering third album ‘Scar Weaver’.

Overflowing with wave upon wave of killer riffs from Logan Mader and Max Karon, ‘Scar Weaver’ is everything that a modern metal album in 2022 needs to be: guitar-centric. Not only guitar-centric but strong, memorable, melodious, guitar parts. Nothing cookie-cutter or by-the-numbers here. From the early melodies of opening track ‘Eidolon’ through to the final, proggy, strains of album-closer ‘Only In Death’; the guitar work slaps. And slaps hard. The mid-section of ‘Eidolon’ where the tones drop down a scale or two is towering, and the higher tones towards the end of the track impress in every way. Throw in some pounding kick-drum work from Dillon Trollope and other-worldly vocals from Lauren Hart and the end result is indeed something special. Hart is a revelation. Two road-free years have strengthened what was already a powerful voice, and her screams are thrilling, while her clean vocals (especially on the closing stages of ‘Erasure’) should have Kamelot fans weeping with joy (always a special part of any Kamelot show when Lauren appeared). When she goes toe-to-toe with Machine Head’s Robb Flynn on the attitude-filled ‘Deadlock’ she not only holds her own but whisper it, kinda steals the show. Mind you, Dillon Trollope and bassist Damien Rainaud don’t exactly hide in the shadows either, and both combine with such force that the dental work in your mouth might just start rattling free. What are they feeding Dillon Trollope? Christ, his playing is explosive to say the very least.

So much to admire about ‘Scar Weaver’: the neck-straining title track where Hart’s schizophrenic vocals alternate between screams and high-pitched, gnarly, threatening vocals, the head-swimming atmospheric tones of various stages of ‘Bottom Feeder’ (Alice In Chains-meets-death metal) and the crushing mixture of brutal kick-drums and savage riffage which includes some noodling towards the end of the track, the afore-mentioned ‘Erasure’ where the clean vocals from Hart help bring the song to life, the weight and brutality of ‘Deserted’ that suddenly takes a turn to the left with the introduction of clean vocals and sharp, angular riffs, the sheer speed of the pit-inducing ‘We Ride’ (again, what are they feeding Dillon Trollope?), Rainaud’s bass lines on ‘Only In Death’ (and just about every other track for that matter)…the list is endless.

A perfect 10/10 album is often as mythical as getting a straight answer out of a politician simply because the very nature of a 10/10 album suggests that there is no need or room for improvement. Even after multiple spins of ‘Scar Weaver’ there is scant evidence that Once Human could have improved on any aspect of the album, so in that sense, it is a 10/10 album. Some live dates are required now, for this is an album born to be played live.

‘Scar Weaver’ is available now via earMUSIC, more information here.

Review – Dave

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