Artist: The Oneira
Album Title: Injection
Label: Rockshots Records
Date of Release: 13 March 2020
I have been listening to an awful lot of dark, heavy and aggressive music over the last month or so. Not for any particular reason, just as a slave to the recent release schedule that has dictated my listening habits of late. So it is a pleasant change of pace to be able to review something quite different. And that ‘something different’ is The Oneira, and their latest record ‘Injection’.
I’m new to this band but I have really loved listening to their third full-length album. What drew me to this release initially was one thing and one thing only: the music. As always before deciding whether to add a record I know nothing about to a review pile, I check out a track or two via the usual Internet outlets. The track in this case was ‘Still Free To Choose’ and after one listen, I was convinced.
The song is a really lovely composition. And that’s not me damning it with faint praise, because that’s exactly what it is. It is bright, breezy, melodic, full of upbeat energy and simply, very lovely. I enjoy the way that it bounces along the crest of a melodic rock/prog rock wave, where the smoothness belies the subtle intricacies beneath the surface. The more I listen, the more the central chorus really gets under my skin, as much because of Manuel Ruscigno’s vocal lines as the music itself. But the opening, with quirky synth tones, big open guitar chords and some flamboyant drumming is the perfect way to catch my attention and ensure I keep listening. In general, Ruscigno’s vocals are smooth and engaging too, more than a match for both the softer and heavier sides of the song.
I’ve already mentioned vocalist Manuel Ruscigno, but there are three other musicians to reference at this point. Chief among them is multi-instrumentalist and primary songwriter Filippos Gougoumis, who handles all guitar duties as well as the bass and backing vocals. The band is then rounded out by talented keyboardist Gianpaolo “Banjo” Begnoni and drummer Danilo “Sakko” Saccotelli who also offers some backing vocals when required.
Back to the music and ‘Know That Feeling’ is equally as compelling as the preceding opener thanks once again to the winning blend of melody and complexity that seems to come to the band so effortlessly. The track is longer, allowing more in the way of progressive tendencies to break through, and so there are a few more sections of instrumental musicianship, before the song is pulled back by another irresistible chorus. It is at this point where I sense an Everon vibe to the music and it is no surprise to note that ‘Injection’ was co-produced by Everon’s very own Oliver Philipps. As a fan of the German prog rock band, I’m in no doubt that this influence is a thoroughly welcome one. As far as the production goes, it is wonderful, allowing all the warmth into the music whilst retaining clarity and separation for each instrument. It’s so smooth, it’s like a bubble bath for the ears.
‘Edipsos’ offers a slight change in direction with something more introspective and almost dreamlike in places thanks to the delicate synths of Begnoni, that bathe portions of the song, and indeed every song on this album to a greater or lesser extent. Apparently ‘Oneira’ means ‘dream’ in Greek and based on this sumptuous song, it fits the band and their output perfectly.
Elsewhere, ‘Make My Day’ is a cracking song, full of urgency one moment, then happy to bask in a warm glow of AOR beauty the next. The lead guitars that duet with swathes of synths are beautiful and then, out of nowhere, the aforementioned Mr Philipps makes an appearance as a guest vocalist, just to put the icing on the cake for me.
If I had a slight niggle with ‘Injection’, it would be that the latter stages of the album are perhaps not quite as immediately strong and essential as the earlier tracks. For my money, the music takes a marginally darker path, definitely more overtly progressive and the sumptuous choruses and melodies don’t appear quite as regularly.
Nevertheless, to The Oneira’s credit, the music remains equally engaging, just in a different way. The lyrics within ‘Trust No One’ are sombre and a little sobering, principally in the way that Ruscigno conveys a distinct sadness as he sings atop some lush musicianship that grows as the listens rack up. The final section offers a little hope but the song fades away before the listener can be sure.
And then, to conclude, there’s the seven-minute-plus closing title track. It’s a breathless, often fast-paced instrumental that allows each member of the band to offer their final hurrah, in a flurry of excellent musicianship from all corners. There are heavier, more abrasive riffs to be heard, more exuberant synth flourishes and leads, the drums really let rip at points, backed up and enhanced by the bass. That sense of warmth comes through in the melodic leads and the melodies are there to enjoy. But it’s like the guys wanted to shamelessly rock out at the end of the album. Nothing wrong with that, I say, and it produces a powerful ending to ‘Injection’.
Overall, I have to really hand it to The Oneira. They have put together a thoroughly engaging, compelling and delightful album of melodic progressive rock. The music very occasionally veers into metal territory but for the most part, the quartet are content to bathe the listener in some beautifully deft and entertaining music that I enjoy from start to heady finish. I may be the Man of Much Metal, but when the result is as excellent as this, I’m happy to unreservedly recommend it, whatever the genre. ‘Injection’ by The Oneira is a no-brainer for melodic prog fans and it must be heard.
The Score of Much Metal: 88%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: