Darko Us Merch

Tom Barber and Josh Miller are busy boys. Not content with creating new albums this year with their other bands (CHELSEA GRIN and SPITE respectively), the duo have teamed up once more as DARKO US for Oni. Coming 16 months after the self-titled debut, this sophomore effort has been peddled hard over the past year, with five singles and a slew of social media buzz propping up this 15-track, 45-minute atom bomb of deathcore and trap metal.

Anybody familiar with these artists and indeed with the DARKO US project itself will not be surprised to hear that Oni goes to some incredibly heavy, noisy and brutish realms. After a little bit of set up and tension building, Hyper Kill (featuring ex-CRYSTAL LAKES frontman Ryo Kinoshita) gives listeners their first true heavy taste. Swinging from electronic pulses to djent riffs via a cacophony of effects and vocal delivery styles, the song blusters and bellows like a hurricane, with the destruction to match.

Latest single Evolving is another particularly ruthless number. Folding some FRONTIERER-style guitar work into the mix makes your head spin and it’s impossible to know what’s coming next. Truly a track to keep you on your toes, there are hardcore breakdowns, deathcore vocals, seven string riffs underpinning tech metal lead lines, and even a rapped portion from SHAOLIN G of UNITYTX that gives the track a ‘DEATH GRIPS in their teenage rebellion phase’ feel. One final wall of sound outburst ends the track, but is really just a gateway into the similarly overloading R.G.T.O.B.

However, as much as Oni seems to have been created to blow out your speakers, there are moments of tranquillity and relative calm in the eye of the storm. Infinite Beauty is a LOATHE soundalike track of dreamy vocals and measured heaviness. Delicate piano lines and electronic warbling create atmosphere and lift the track merely from being a palette cleanser to make for a surprisingly solid and creditable moment on the album. It’s nice to see a different side as well to artists who are responsible for some of modern metal’s most abrasive -core releases. One trick ponies they are not, as solidified by the title track and Come Home which are similarly low-key affairs.

But it’s the maxed out madness that is DARKO US’ bread and butter, and the proof is in the pudding that is the trio of Ana, Sand Script and Acid Inject in the back half of the album. Sure, there are times when it feels like DARKO US are being heavy for the sake of being heavy, but boundaries are there to be pushed, and that’s what this duo ultimately do really well, whether that’s shown through the animalistic vocals on Ana, the merciless freneticism heard on Sand Script or the the endurance-testing wall of sound approach of Acid Inject.

Overall, Oni is exactly what you expected, but with the bonus of some unexpected surprises. Considering the promotion for this album hinged entirely on turning the dials to 11 and showing out as an exercise in unabashed, brutal trap-death, the inclusion of a softer side lifts Oni to a higher plane, and signals a more confident, experimental and broad existence for DARKO US.

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