ONCE THEM EDENS is a newly formed band residing in Athens, Greece on the verge of their very first album, significantly and symbolistically titled ‘The Year Is One’. The brainchild of mainman 'Omega’ who is sharing this absurd tale of struggling events, a modern travesty caricaturing a personae collapse that seems to happen everyday, to every man. Although the band has just flourished it has managed to gather quite an assembly of loyal fans, a fact that comes as no surprise as these, little over than 45 minutes of music are totally worth it.
Let’s quickly dive into ‘The Year Is One’ now, which sets the tone with ‘All Flawed’, a tenuous and delicate introduction that immediately forces us to submerge into the mindset of the album. The music itself is modest and progresses slowly in the background allowing Jean Baptiste to take control with an expressive, orotund performance, uttering every word with emotion and strife. Jean Baptiste’s confessions though are suddenly interrupted by the riffing menace of Omega’s guitar, a relatively up-tempo instrumental section that follows and lets the progressive element of the album shine. This song is no other than ‘On Par With I’ and its perplexing rhythmic changes that occur without cessation, tied with an astounding bass guitar and a conclusion that features some of the first black metal(-inspired) signs, that are spread thoughout the record. This time the vocals are harsh and raw, as the second singer, ‘Dead Fart’ takes the lead, continuously on rotation with Jean Baptiste’s vocals, shaping a paranoid, intense give and take of screams, growls and actual singing. Such vocal transitions are balanced and always to the point with a rather theatrical approach. ‘Penance Concrete’ is up next, with a title that ironically reflects a hallowed proclamation that any man has certainly thought of, leaving the lyrics to complete this unholy matter. The upbeat intensity in the beginning of the song soon decreases as a mysterious and powerful part takes over, evoking emotions of resentment and despair. The blastbeats on the second half of the song are endless, as both singers are desperately questioning God’s existence, presumably screaming directly at God’s face, so to speak.
Structurally, the whole albums offers a wide variety, a mix of everything, the guitar riffs are clever and technical, with dark and extremely heavy sections that often climax the songs at certain points. The solos have been crafted with finesse, consisting of the highly melodic and impassioned playing of Omega on one side and the ultra technical contribution of Sinnik (first solo on ‘…And Yet, He Gazes) on the other. The virtuosity does not stop here though, as George Constantinou clearly knows how to use the bass guitar as well, offering some standout, dark jazz outbursts that supplement the music greatly, as well.
Of course this album is not full of complexity, every song set’s a certain atmosphere that floats until the very end. Ambience is also present to a great extent, the interlude of ‘The Gospel Grotesque’ being a great example of that, filled with bass guitar harmonics , and some clean guitar soloing between Omega and Dead Fart (who plays the last solo of this very interlude), on top of that. The word grotesque is cleverly used to describe this weird, distorted figure, the lyrics portray invoking this strange feeling of discomfort and bizarreness as well as empathic pity. ‘All Shed’ is up next. This ambitious song circles around the whole philoshophy of ONCE THEM EDENS, a strange, fantastic, incongruous, unpleasant and ugly yet beautiful piece of art that exceeds the eight minute mark without even one noticing, an amalgamation of ferocity and innocence combined. As the song gradually comes to an end, Dead Fart relentlessly screams as the puppets are silently trying to interfere but make no mistake for it is not him who is the puppet but the listener and noone else. ‘Postlude in B Minor, Op.7, Allegro Moderato’ is the epilogue of the album, a tranquil end to this disconsolate journey, an atmospheric, slow and moody kind of post-rock/ambient piece, that makes for a perfect closer.
In general, ‘The Year Is One’ is an illuminating album which is certainly great by its songs, which are interesting and intriguing. These seven pieces are thematically connected together in sequence but still outstanding in their own, different and unique way. A very well and hard worked album that asks for the listener’s interpretation in order to unfold as everything is in question until the very end. Are you ready to explore it...?
01 - All Flawed
02 - On Par With I
03 - Penance Concrete
04 - ...And Yet, He Gazes
05 - The Gospel Grotesque
06 - All Shed
07 - Postlude In B Minor, Op.7, Allegro Moderato