Review: ONI – The Silver Line

Jake Oni is truly a force to be reckoned with. ONI is both a band and one man’s vision – and what results is a project unlike any other. Pushing the boundaries of both progressive metal and modern-day metalcore, the Canadian band continue to surprise people with every release that they put out, and their upcoming 3rd album The Silver Line is no exception.

When I first laid eyes on the tracklist, I was astonished to see the special guests that ONI have lined up, with features from the likes of (deep breath) Kellin Quinn from Sleeping with Sirens, emo rapper Sueco, YouTuber Jared Dines, Josh Gilbert from Spiritbox, and Howard Jones from Light the Torch (not the ‘Like to Get to Know You Well’ Howard Jones from the 80s, although that would be interesting to hear…) The artwork is a perfect companion to the styling of the album too. A fierce-looking oni demon looking straight at you, backed by a fiery backdrop. There’s also a really cool obi-strip (or, if you’d like, an Oni-strip, ba-dum-tssh) on the left-hand side, portraying the band name, the album name, and the tracklist – a nice Japanese touch.

The album starts with Silhouette, which kicks the record off with a gigantic bang, as it transitions from an electronic-esque intro, into a ‘no punches pulled’ heavy instrumental that forces the listener in and refuses to let go. It demonstrates Jake’s incredible musical ability and agility right from the get-go, with easily one of the best tracks on the album. It then leads into Spark, one of the most surprising tracks on the record, as it has a feature from rising emo rapper Sueco. His section is backed up by a trap beat, which really shouldn’t work given the metalcore context, but really does. Its chorus is anthemic and the synth helps to lift the sound that extra bit more, as it then goes into a breakdown that is both groovy and bouncy at the same time. Keep in mind that at this point, we’re only 2 songs in, and for me, it’s already proving to be an album unlike anything I’ve heard this year so far.

The album’s lead single, Silence In a Room of Lies, is, in one word, insane. Featuring Jared Dines, a YouTuber and member of the bands SION and Daddy Rock, the pair help each other make a song that is unnecessarily heavy and filthy in sound [check out the mini-documentary that Jared shot, documenting flying down to the Cayman Islands to work with Jake]. The guitar divebombs in the intro, for example, are immaculate and very unexpected. There are also very short moments before the choruses come in where the listener gets a rush of electro-infused synth and DnB-style rhythms, that sound very reminiscent of past bands like Crossfaith. Jake gives us, arguably, the most catchy singalong chorus of the album, as he sings “So promise me you’ll give yourself the chance to love, to grow, to bloom, to hold onto your empathy” – you can really picture this being sung back to the band when performed live.

The penultimate track on the record, Armageddon, is definitely the most demonic-sounding song on the entire album, that quite literally lives up to its name. Featuring Michael Lessard from The Contortionist, the 3-minute song is full of evil-sounding low growls and incredible screams, as well as a disturbing synth break that will no doubt unsettle the listener a little. The palm-muted guitar lines in each of the choruses are very emo-centric, creating a throwback sound to the early 2000s post-hardcore scene, even if it is accidental. Oddly enough, it has a fade out at the end of the track, but it works well, as it makes you wish it would come back in, or, alternatively, never end. But as the fade-out prolongs, the last track, Burns My Soul, kicks in. It’s a track that sounds villainous and punishing, yet oddly cheerful at the same time, thanks to it being in the disorienting key of E Major. The bursts of synth that you hear before each chorus kicks in are sort of like the calm before the storm, and the breakdown is one of the biggest and heaviest of the record. “A smokeless fire burns my soul” is the chorus’ poetic tagline, to a track that rightfully deserves to be the album’s finale.

Believe it or not, The Silver Line is not even 30 minutes long in length, yet it most definitely serves its purpose within its short timeframe. It’s an incredible effort that really helps to showcase just how powerful of a unit ONI can be, and one that will no doubt put them on everyone’s radar. When they next play the UK, you best believe I’ll be there, and you better be too.

The Silver Line is available October 13th, pre-save here

Review – Joe Richardson

Photo credit – Travis Shinn

Find ONI online

 

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