(Dog Knights Productions / Protagonist Music)
“Severe weather” can mean a multitude of rugged weather patterns, ranging anywhere from sheets of drenching rain to high-speed winds that will knock you off of your feet. We often characterize such storms as heavy rain paired with a combination of hail and huge gusts of wind. In addition to flash-flooding, these storms can quickly turn violent, knocking down telecommunication poles, ripping trees from the ground and shingles from our roofs, and sometimes conjuring tornadoes. Lights flicker as power grids fail, plunging us into darkness as the harrowing storm rages on. We erect warning sirens and establish emergency broadcast systems in a desperate attempt to warn people of the oncoming storm. Despite all sophisticated warning signals, nothing can properly prepare you for the severity of the raging storm that is No Omega. Their third release, Occupants, is a looming black cloud that unleashes a powerful torrential downpour of breathtaking emotional instrumentation and melancholic lyricism that will sweep you away.
The album opens with “Passing”, a stunning track that will drown you in emotional riffs and verses. A quick drum fill breaks into fast-paced riffs, grooving bass, and driving percussive solos. Guitarist Daniel crafts slightly reverberated and sustained melodic notes that fly over the hail of emotive riffage to create an urgent and haunting ambient effect that will make the hair on your nape stand on end. Bassist Joakim’s grooving, energetic, pounding bass licks are guaranteed to puncture a hole in your eardrum as percussive solos, fills, and a brilliant execution of cymbal play rip and tear at your skin like bullets. Vocalist Oscar delivers a masterful display of raw, throat-tearing mid screams that add a lo-fi layer of intensity and urgency in his vocals. Intermittent interludes of gentle, eerie notes sail overtop the whirlwind of melancholic and energetic instrumentals to add a further layer of depth to the already tantalizing instrumentation and will leave you breathless and shaking.
Up next is “Staying”, another excellent track that will tear at your ears and heartstrings. Rising instrumentals instantly fade in to a powerful amalgamation of energetic riffs and licks, commanding lyricism, and stellar, blaring percussion. Daniel’s riffs take a more aggressive, albeit still emotive, form as he masterfully weaves distorted punk-reminiscent chords with reverberated, emotionally-drenched strumming. Insanity-inducing percussive rolls, fills, and solos frequent this track as each hit, kick, and crash slams your ears like an aural hailstorm. Oscar’s screams retain his energetic, emotive style and utilizes echoed, faded effects to add an extra layer of intensity to his already potent lyricism and vocal display.
The album closes with “Comfort”, a track that will decimate whatever is left of you with a tantalizing display of instrumental and vocal prowess. An angry, grooving bass line paves the way for an explosive display of heavier, emotional riffage, and fierce, pounding percussion. Vengeful riffs bursting with energy and flecks of discordant licks greet your ears with the intensity of a freight train. Oscar tears his throat apart in a mesmerizing and urgent vocal display of mid screams that will ravage your ears. Mind-blowing percussive elements comprised of quick footwork, multiple fills, and an insanely masterful display of cymbal play adds an extra ear-popping force to the already devastating instrumentals. The entire grooving, seemingly unstoppable force of heavy instrumentation comes to a screeching halt for an intense spoken word interlude that breaks into a heart-wrenching display of ambiance in the form of gentle, emotionally drenched chords, faded screams, and a haunting display of high-flying, sustained, melodic overlays. The result is a transfixing, intense moment in which you are floating in aural suspension as each emotive instrumental element ravages your ears, your mind, and your soul. You will be left shaking, bereft of breath, of sense, and of sanity as the undulating storm of instrumentation gently fades and ceases.
Overall, No Omega has created arguably one of the most emotive and thought-provoking hardcore albums to date. It is absolutely impossible to name a singular standout track on this album, as every track can clearly and easily stand on its own. The unrelenting amount of care, technicality, raw energy, emotion, and musicianship that is poured into every track is so audibly clear that it almost becomes tangible. Every soaring note, melancholic riff, scream, hit, and kick, is expertly crafted to send shivers down your spine as your ears are savagely torn apart by the amassing stellar musicality. The sky is black, the sirens are wailing, and No Omega’s Occupants is the vicious, devastating storm that’s looming in the distance. (Katt Hass)