As they put together to say goodbye after 27 years within the trenches of Orange County heavy music, Challenge 86 has pulled no punches with their most formidable undertaking ever. Not solely does the Omni double album observe a richly advised post-apocalyptic sci-fi storyline, but in addition noticed them substitute their laborious rock components with industrial-tinged metalcore. This led to Omni Pt. 1 blessing 2023 with Challenge 86’s absolute heaviest music, with dynamic songwriting besides. Whereas frontman Andrew Schwab hinted at Pt. 2 having a lighter contact than Pt. 1, the distinction between the 2 seems to be extra refined. There’s nonetheless loads of metalcore awesomeness to get pleasure from on Omni Pt. 2, with extra room for digital elaborations.
Whereas a sequel in numerical phrases, the narrative of Omni Pt. 2 reveals itself to be a prequel — bringing the main focus to the occasions main as much as a dystopian future. The place Pt. 1 provides chilling speculations concerning the long-term impact of the ability invested within the Zuckerbergs and Bezoses of the world, the opening reduce “By no means Let a Disaster Go to Waste” presents a world scarily near fashionable instances. Schwab makes unapologetic use of vocoder in the course of the music’s preliminary crescendo, however the association rapidly builds momentum and plunges into jagged rhythms detuned sludge and savage screams. To listen to Challenge 86 dropping music that may stand in keeping with the likes of Haste The Day and Silent Planet says so much, however that’s solely the tip of the iceberg.
Singles “Ultraviolent” and “Pariah” present that the variety of cool concepts Challenge 86 got here up with throughout this album cycle utterly justifies a double album. The previous reduce proves that it’s doable to play fashionable metalcore with out getting too apparent with the djent-verse/Linkin-Park-chorus method. Guitarist Grayson Stewart achieves a fantastic stability between beefy breakdowns and melodious chord progressions, whereas Schwab retains his distinctive vocal cadences inside a well-traveled musical path. Against this, the latter music dispenses with melodic singing for a skull-caving barrage of string-bending Meshuggah worship and chaotic digital hardcore. It doesn’t get fairly as harmful as “Metatropolis” did final yr, however it’s nonetheless superior to listen to Challenge 86 push themselves to such extremes whereas remaining so genuine.
The earth-shattering drops and grating panic chords present in “Full the Circle” or the moody electro-gothic tinges of “Trench Ejector,” Challenge 86 revels in artistic liberty of their audio punishment. Each tracks share a spread of dynamics made doable by layered instrumentation, and a respect for nuance inside chaos. This additionally permits the non-metal flavors to combine seamlessly into the band’s sound with out turning into jarring or disconnected from the loud guitar music portion. Matt Marquez blends his drumming with sequenced beats so naturally that the economic beats really feel like an extension of his personal artistry as a substitute of a producer’s addition.
Past the very fact “The Ex and the Why” brings up-tempo digital rhythms into its verses, the inconspicuous digital underpinnings of its traditional metalcore double-kick patterns present simply how tasteful Challenge 86 can change into with their chosen method. On the very least, it elevates the pretty predictable 2000s chug-a-chug riffs with unpredictable switch-ups of timbre and rhythm. Equally, the winding synth strains of “Taser 5.0” don’t a lot create a distinction with the guitar arpeggios or staccato backside string abuse as they deepen the sonic palette of the observe. It additionally provides Schwab extra room to flex his spectacular vary of spoken world-ish emoting, sing-screaming, and straight-up demise growls.
Certainly, the very fact “Boiling the Ocean” transcends the pitfalls of so many generic djent bands speaks to Challenge 86’s pervasive songwriting chops. When the tropes related to Architects clones don’t seem right here, they’re simply eclipsed by the band’s consideration to element. From the eerie guitar leads and to the bodacious mosh components, there’s at all times an additional push to clean up these concepts and take them to a step above. If the blast beats and unrelenting breakdowns of “Shambolic” are indications, these guys aren’t afraid to go for the jugular with sheer violence. However with the frenetic skronk and chest-beating destruction comes the unsettling atmospheres and sweeping dynamics of a band with extra to supply than riff salad.
Strains like, “Schooling is a weapon whose results rely upon who holds it and at whom it’s aimed,” in “Lonely Code” do so much to contextualize Pt. 2 as a pointy commentary on society at massive. The monstrous guttural vocals, disjointed mathcore assaults, and cavernous bottomed-out beatdowns inform a narrative a few hostile psychological takeover. This illustrious lyricism is becoming for a report imbued with such a cinematic undercurrent. In flip “Medusa” comes via with zingers like “obedience is now your solely sacred doctrine” to finish the album with its most epic choruses blended in with a few of their greatest mosh components.
Because the band devolves into synth drones and brown-note oblivion, they’ve concurrently set listeners as much as circle again and revel in Pt. 1 once more and ended their profession on an impossibly excessive observe. The place lots of their contemporaries have both referred to as it quits or begun to sputter, Challenge 86 has confirmed as soon as and for all their legacy as one of many scene’s most underrated artists. Followers will definitely get the model lastly they by no means knew they wanted, and followers of neatly written metalcore will discover lots to chew on.
Challenge 86’s Omni Pt. 2 is out Jan. 12 by way of the band’s offical web site.