THE BOMBER JACKET recently received an album release Email from the Spanish band OHIOS–a group that is part of the Famèlic collective that TBJ has covered in the past. This article serves as a brief introduction to the band’s debut album that the group is striving to share and promote internationally (according to the Email we received).
With their first full-length album, Faceless (Famèlic, February 24), Barcelona’s OHIOS is following the tradition of early ‘90s emo rock, with as much noise and passion as they can squeeze out of themselves. The record is equal parts dynamic, energetic and loud, as the band straddles a line between noise-rock acts like Japandroids and Superchunk, with the post-punk arrangements of Fugazi or Wire. While the lyrics might be a slightly hard to decipher, musicians Claudi Dosta and Pau Cristòful have a sincere desperation through their thick Catalan accents.
The band opens Faceless with the song “Aunt,” and releases a monstrous punk-rock riff. Instead of heading off into a straightforward four-chord classic guitar progression, OHIOS takes a right turn and plays with a chunkier and funkier groove. The lyrics tell a very personal story of a family member’s mental or emotional breakdown, with references to alienation, doctors and medication: “Hidden by the collective, you don’t belong / Counting backwards, ignoring that strange world / Stimulated by a mix of pills / Feeling miserable.”
Track three’s “Weekend” is the hardest-rocking song on the album. The guitars and rhythm section are sonically tight, with some compelling shifts in rhythm. Lyrically, the song’s a bleak tale of loneliness, always being on the move, going from party to party, but never looking at the destruction in your wake: “You wake up with a hangover / You realize there is blood on the couch/…Everything I care/ is trying not to care.”
As a whole, the album’s ten tracks can be difficult to listen to in one sitting, which is demonstrated around the fifth song, “Running Away,” when the arrangements and the playing become less dynamic, and sound closer to a jam session. The instrumental that follows, “15 IPS” feels more like an experimental filler than it does as an essential part of the album.
But the momentum returns with the eighth and ninth tracks, “Lawful Delusion” and “Stung,” which bring out some of the band’s unorthodox songwriting. “Stung,” for example, uses such an off-kilter loud/quiet dynamic, reminiscent of At-The Drive In’s work. In this song the group implements wide melodic movement before reaching an audio tidal wave of noise and then settling into quiet grooves.
Faceless makes a positive first impression. The band throws a lot of energy into this record, and while not all of the tracks may stick, it’s a strong debut. OHIOS has upcoming concerts throughout Spain. Hopefully they’ll cross their native land’s borders and consider a European tour as well.