ONKOS — Onkos

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ONKOS - Onkos cover
3.17 | 2 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2019

Filed under Metal Related
By ONKOS

Tracklist

1. Hepatic (4:52)
2. Drugs Going In (2:27)
3. Sarcoma (2:23)
4. Charred (1:48)
5. Adens (7:19)
6. Stromal (3:52)
7. Doomed (2:58)
8. East (3:02)
9. Stagnation (3:34)
10. Legko (2:04)
11. Idaru (5:30)

Total Time 39:49

Line-up/Musicians

- Robert Woods-LaDue / Everything

About this release

Release date: May 24th, 2019
Format: CD (200 copies), Digital
Label: I, Voidhanger Records

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siLLy puPPy
Now here’s a true example of genre bending dynamics. ONKOS is the one-man project of Robert Woods-LaDue of San Francisco, CA who juxtaposes an interesting mix of psychedelic folk acoustic guitar performances with the extreme bizarre tempo changes, time signature weirdness and chromatic chord progressions of death metal not to mention the growly vocals. Perhaps the first of this unplugged version of death metal, this style of music always leaves me wondering what exactly is metal. What are the underpinning elements of what makes metal music? If you believe that it is dependent on electric guitar, bass and drums then this will surely not be a metal album in your world however if the mere presence of a vocal style that has primarily if not uniformly been attributed to extreme metal is all you need to lump music into the metal world then perhaps this will qualify. Personally i say that vocals alone do not make a said style of music metal nor do bizarre time signatures that have been applied all across the board.

ONKOS is however without doubt a strange musical entity that delivers a bizarre assault of alternative tunings delivered in acoustic guitars with only the percussive shaking sounds of the African instrument known as the shekere as well as an acoustic bass it seems. The music is noticeably missing the sounds any rock drumming but does incorporate an atmospheric delivery of keyboards that often adds a backdrop of melodic delivery while the jittery avant-garde guitar riffs create ritualistic and even otherworldly tapestries of acoustic demented madness. This self-titled debut album only came out in 2019 and while not exactly existing in the metal universe sure does its best job to insinuate that is some sort of version of Morbid Angel in a world where electricity is not even remotely part of the master plan. It’s almost like a death metal band travelled back into the distant past and jammed with an ethnic tribe in Africa or something.

This ONKOS debut consists of eleven tracks and all are unplugged and relatively short with most hovering around the three minute mark. If you ask me this music is very similar to the early freak folk scene of the 70s with the Comus debut “First Utterance” or the weirdness of the Bahamas based Exuma coming to mind but only in psychedelic relevancy. This music truly exists in its own world with a barrage of acoustic avant-garde guitar weirdness and bass and shekere accompaniment. In the vein of more modern death metal constructs, the tempos, harmonies and time signatures are in constant flux and is always in danger of total chaos and of course the growly death metal vocals are right out of the extreme metal playbook however despite the metal elements, this one doesn’t resonate as metal in my world as it lacks the immediacy of a constant distorted din of feedback that permeates any given metal release no matter which subgenre you happen to fancy.

This is truly a bizarre experimental type of Frankenstein music that borrows as much from avant-folk and even freeform jazz as it does from metal. Interesting indeed but unfortunately ONKOS tends to be a bit of a one-trick pony as the entirely of the album becomes rather monotonous after the half-way mark and the tracks all start to resonate on the same frequency. Part of the problem with this one results from the limitations of the instruments involved. The shaking drums just don’t cut it and although the guitar parts offer a dazzling alternative universe sort of eeriness unfortunately the avant-guitar strumming too becomes a little bit of a repetitive frenzy of weirdness that doesn’t really resolve itself in any way, shape or form. While i’m one of the biggest proponents of experimental approaches in music and have one of the most open minds about such things as one can get, i just wish this one would venture past that first step into the water where ONKOS basically repeats the same song format and shuffles things only slightly. There are a few deviation such as on “Legko” but when this happen it sounds more like a second rate attempt at creating a modern day Comus classic. This is an interesting album but misses the mark in too many ways.

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