Sound: OneSideZero initiates attack mode with the opening track, entitled Carry Your Gun. This band sounds like System of a Down jamming with a gruffer Malakian singing. That works as well, considering the guitar-work is arguably more complex, involving tapping and Killswitch Engage-esque pinched harmonics in the riffs and of course solos. OneSideZero also have their more melodic moments, making use of Levon Sultanian's Armenian heritage, particularly on tracks such as Whatever Happened. Songs such as Levitation emphasise the band's more emotional, ballad style, while highlighting Sultanian's refreshing usage of natural harmonics in the arpeggiated sequence; the track culminating with a 'feel' orientated guitar solo. The other highlight, guitar solo wise is the wah-soaked solo on the last track, Trickass Hoe.
OneSideZero's predicament is defining an original sound. This album contains similar riffs and structures in the heavier songs, while one feels that they have drawn much from System of a Down's stylistic approach. One would go as far as saying that this album is a vitiated re-release of Hypnotize, with the transitions from heavy to light being far less accentuated. The issue here is stamina; OneSideZero lack it. Systems of a Down's frenetic albums keep the listener on edge until the very last second, whereas by the seventh track of OneSideZero, the disappointment begins to rise. In terms of production, this is generic and sadly reflective of the genre. The group employed famed producer, Ulrich Wild (Static-X, Taproot) to polish this up. He is up to the task, but does he really capture the band as vividly as Rick Rubin captures System Of A Down? // 7
Lyrics: The lyrics are the low point of this album. Clichs are prevalent in abundance, exceeding the barrels of oil produced by OPEC per annum. 'Has it really been so long, that we forget what it meant to be young as life goes on' epitomizes the ultimate echelon of mediocrity on Whatever Happened. On a high note, Who Will Stop the Rain? includes some ebullient female backing vocals in the revitalizing climatic chorus; raising views within the fan base that a female voice would help the band take the next step of their creative capacity by complementing Jasan Radford's voice. The next complaint is that as well as the clichd lyrics, tracks including, but not limited to Carry Us Away contain obviously out of key and out of tune vocal delivery. It is embarrassing, and severely undermines the band's credibility as a serious musical act in the 21st century. However, it must be noted that despite his deficiencies in the above noted fields, he does have a truculent, rasping scream, which he breaks into at, will. // 6
Overall Impression: Six years after OneSideZero's debut album, they have released a self-titled step backwards. The guitar work is precise, but not innovative. The lyrics are pseudo-deep and there is little variation or distinctive elements to the album. Use it as poor quality medication to satisfy your fix in the aftermath of System Of A Down's hiatus, but do not expect this album to be listened to a decade from now. Music needs a revolution and it is disappointing that after a six-year lapse between the release of their debut and sophomore, OneSideZero cannot even spark up a revolt. // 6