Once Human – Scar Weaver

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: [February 2022]
Released [2022 earMUSIC]
Rating [4/5]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Looks like the third time may indeed be the charm for L.A. quintet Once Human as they eye a Jinjer-like breakout with Scar Weaver. The band, and particularly frontwoman Lauren Hart and guitarist Logan Mader, have enjoyed some relative good fortune of late – or at least pre-COVID – that has raised the overall profile of Once Human since 2017’s Evolution.

Hart toured with power metallers Kamelot and Mader reunited with Machine Head for a tour to mark the 25th anniversary of their debut Burn My Eyes. And even after the pandemic had settled in for the long haul, Once Human were able to sneak in a U.S. tour opening for Cradle of Filth during a post-Delta/pre-Omicron trough last fall – though they and fellow openers 3Teeth were forced to miss some shows because of, well, COVID!

All this has given Scar Weaver the sort of slow-build, pre-release momentum that neither of its predecessors could muster. Indeed, Evolution and 2015’s The Life I Remember were fairly under-the-radar affairs, allowing Once Human to hone their chops and build their bona fides as a largely underground act. That would seem likely to change with Scar Weaver, both because of the better name recognition for the band this time around and the more seasoned, confident and just plain better music they have conjured up.

“Eidolon” and “Deadlock” get Scar Wearver off to a crunching, but almost funky, start with their dense riffs and buoyant grooves as Damien Rainaud bounces his bass licks off the wall of Mader and Max Karon’s guitars. Machine Head’s Robb Flynn adds some rap-like guest vocals on “Deadlock,” but delivers them with less cringe-worthy results than his earlier attempts with his own band. “Where The Bones Lie” and a spirited cover of Strapping Young Lad’s “We Ride” circle back to this approach later – sans the rapping – for some of what are already a very heavy album’s weightier moments.

But Once Human contrast their more assaultive side with plenty of depth and atmosphere elsewhere, while still retaining much of the thunder. “Deserted,” “Cold Arrival” and “Only In Death” showcase Hart’s clean vocals in their towering choruses. The natural huskiness of her voice ensures some rough edges remain so things never get “too clean,” which again lends to the overall heaviness here.

And speaking of heavy, the shrill, shuddering title track has an epic doom feel to it with a bit of Meshuggah-like skronkiness at the end, something that carries over to “Bottom Feeder,” even with its clean choruses. “Erasure,” meanwhile recalls Alice In Chains, Korn and Pantera all in one and is probably the album’s least distinctive track, but it still boasts plenty of beefiness. So there’s that.

Even with that one misfire, Once Human’s mix of modern/nu metal with thrash, death and occasional power metal and even djenty flourishes has really coalesced on Scar Weaver. More resonant songs, nicely balanced vocals from Hart and a resounding performance by her bandmates take what could have been an awkward mish-mash and turn it into something powerful and rewarding.


Once Human

Track List
1. Eidolon
2. Deadlock
3. Scar Weaver
4. Bottom Feeder
5. Where The Bones Lie
6. Erasure
7. Deserted
8. We Ride
9. Cold Arrival
10. Only In Death

Lauren Hart – vocals
Logan Mader – guitar
Max Karon – guitar
Damien Rainaud – bass
Dillon Trollope – drums