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Once Human - The Life I Remember

Once Human - CD Review
The Life I Remember

Once Human



CD Info
2015 EarMUSIC
12 Tracks
English Lyrics

There is a big buzz surrounding the debut album of the band, Once Human, based in Los Angeles, California. That buzz is centered on the return of Logan Mader to the stage as a performer after twelve years as a producer. This album is a mixture of both Scream and Symphonic Metal. The vocals, both scream and clean, are fairly clear, even though some of the lyrics are quite salty. There is an abundance of energy and multi-dimensions throughout this album and the fact that the members have been in other bands, or touring adds to the maturity of their playing. Additionally, there seems to be a back and forth dialogue between the sometimes brutal screams and the nice, light symphonic sound. A nice touch to the album includes the use of acoustic guitar in some of the songs.

The history of Logan Mader (Ex-MachineHead, ex-Soulfly) is well documented, both as a guitarist in the bands and as a producer. Now with Once Human, he is back playing guitar in a band. Add Lauren Hart, vocalist, (both screams and clean voice), and the duo make up the writing team. Rounding out the band are Damian Rainaud on bass and Ralph Alexander on drums. Two recent changes are Ralph Alexander being replaced by Dillon Trollope on drums and the addition of Skyler Howren on guitar. The beginnings of the band started in the spring of 2014 with a meeting between Logan and Lauren. Logan describes it this way:

"We met up and discovered that our artistic visions had so much in common,” recalls Mader from that fateful first encounter. “Most of the productions I’m offered are subject to commercial aspects. But her vision was so pure, so unusual and passionate, I was immediately inspired. After a couple months and a few songs in, I was compelled to play again and join the band.”

Vocalist and songwriter Lauren, who spent half of her life in Australia, has this to say about Logan:

To be honest, I’d never heard of Logan, but we hit it off straight away. Working at the studio has been the most exciting experience of my life. Logan and I write all the music and lyrics together. You can hear a perfect blend of his musical soul and mine. The contrast of styles created something very unique. I love that I am allowed complete creative freedom to write what I feel, musically and lyrically. He pushes me to take risks that help me grow as a musician, such as clean singing. I wasn’t sure whether I could do it, but certain sections of the music suited clean singing better. Logan encouraged me to dive in and try."

The Life I remember opens with “Trail of Tears,” which is almost entirely symphonic in nature with synthesized keys, etc. The melody played by the piano, descends like tears falling. It sounds like an orchestra playing with the strings taking up the melody. This short instrumental song is opposite of what follows in the first half of the album.

The next song, “Ground Zero” is hard driving metal that includes hints of some symphonic keys throughout. This is the first that we hear Lauren’s screams which are pretty clear. Anger abounds in the lyrics like the vocalist is trying to get something out of their system. There are plenty of guitar riffs and driving drums. Halfway through the song there is an interesting, disjointed piano countermelody. Suddenly, the pace changes and we have a light acoustic guitar playing over a lighter, rock drum beat. Before the song changes back to the driving metal sound, there is a soaring guitar solo over the acoustic guitar. As the heavy metal sound kicks in, the guitar solo takes on the metal sound as well. The ending is a mixture of heavy metal and symphonic orchestra sound.

The most interesting song, which also has a video directed and produced by Lauren, is “You Cunt.” The language is salty at times. There is definite anger here in the presentation as well as the lyrics. A guitar sounds sort of mournful is part of the opening before the screaming vocals enter. The vocals are definitely punctuating as to drive a point home. An interesting short riff played by the guitar and keys bring in the chorus. Another interesting guitar solo occurs toward the end. The interesting video can be viewed here.

The angry tone, both vocally and lyrically, continue with the next several songs on the album. “Pick Your Poison” opens with a sound that one might hear in an asylum before kicking into the driving metal beat and screams. In the song, there is a back and forth movement, where the screams are alone followed by the driving instrumental part. A nice guitar duet occurs toward the end of the song. The song, “Terminal,” opens with the same symphonic keys sound heard in “Trail of Tears.” Then the screams and metal sound kick in. There is a lot of energy throughout this song, both vocally and instrumentally. There is a slight guitar lick and then vocals rise along with the instruments. The official lyric video of “Terminal” is available here. Interestingly enough, the song “Demoneyes,” opens with a very nice arpeggiated, acoustic guitar part that follows a cymbal roll. There are some symphonic keys as well. Then the screams and metal sound kick in. The lyrics are salty at times in this song. Two thirds of the way into the song, there is a change to a rock like sound similar to what we heard in “Ground Zero,” before reverting back to metal.

The rest of the songs in the album represent a mixture of vocals with screams and clean. It almost like there is a split personality. Also, Lauren has a very lovely voice and I am glad that Logan realized it. I have to say that the songs which employ this technique seem to flow easier than some of the other songs. “Devil Can Have You” is interesting in the opening because there is a slight lilt to the beat and the drum emphasizes the off-beat. It employs a symphonic sound and then the guitars and drum continue the pattern before the screams enter. The chorus is pleasant and features Lauren clean vocals. The clean part adds a mournful feel to the song. “Time of Disease,” musically is more like the songs in the beginning of the album, with one exception. After the opening metal part, there is a part with acoustic guitar and symphonic instruments under a choral part of “ahs” and “oohs” before the screams come back in. The choral part continues for the next verse. A fast guitar solo leads in the second half of the song. In the back ground one can hear a light symphonic key sound. The screams and choral part continues before the song ends with the acoustic guitar and choral part. The song, “I Am War,” even though it short, features all clean vocals. There is a call and response in part of the song. This song is so different that it is very effective. The instrumental part is very light and drum part is similar to marching to a war beat. Another short song that comes before the last song on the album is “The Siren.” This song reminds me of being on a boat and a group of women trying to lure me to their island. The sound is very symphonic and features the piano playing broken arpeggios. The neat part of the piano is the descending bass line followed by the broken chords. There is a nice chorus that serenades the listener. Before the very end, the piano line ascends and ends with the parts in unison.

“The Life I Remember,” which is also the title track, was almost my choice for favorite. It follows the format of alternating screaming for the verse and clean vocals for the chorus. The song opens with the guitar taking up the melody from the previous song. A unique twist to the opening is that we hear a fast, staccato bass part along with the drums. This continues after the scream vocals enter. The instrumental part is quite as driving when the clean chorus is performed. There is a light vocal part played as an interlude and the drums and guitars are more subdued. Toward the end we hear a nicely played guitar solo. There is a slight alternating of clean and screams in the chorus as well sort of representing the person remembering the past. As I said before, this song was almost my favorite. The official lyric video can be viewed at this link.

It is a difficult decision for me to choose a favorite song because there are two that fit the category. Both are similar in their structure and style. After much consideration, I would have to say that “Growing Colder,” which is the last song on the album is my favorite. This song was chosen over the title song. What intrigued me about the song was the use of the synthesized keys or possibly guitar to bring out the emotional aspect of the song. It opens the song giving us the mournful melody over the heavy guitar and driving drums. The vocals go back and forth between the screaming while the chorus use clean. The melody is disjointed, yet Laura makes it sound quite easy to perform. The guitar and drums perform a staccato, driving beat underneath. Another neat aspect to the song is the counter melody instrumentally which moves opposite of the melody. The song ends with the same synthesized keys or guitar playing that mournful melody.

Overall, The Life I Remember is a pretty good for their debut album. The instrumentalists are well trained and the vocals, both the screaming and the clean, are clear and at times expressive. Throughout the album, Logan’s qualities as a producer show as well as his instrumental expertise. There is plenty of energy apparent and at times there is some salty language. Language aside, this would be a good choice for those looking to add to their library or followers of Scream Metal. Personally, I enjoyed the clean vocals more, but I also understand how the scream vocals fit into the overall effect of the album. It will be interesting to see what the band produces in their future endeavors. For additional information on the band, please check out the following links:

A Sonic Cathedral Interview with Lauren Hart