Omniataxia is a two-brain, experimental metal guitar-drum duo from Boston, Mass. The highly proficient East Coast transplants Ed Longo (Billings, Mont., and frequent subject of this blog) and Aaron Ramsey (Las Vegas) display an impressively variant catalog of influences in their work. Ranging from prog-rock, to tech-metal to thrash, and even ambient soundscapes, they meld a cauldron of steaming avant-garde food for thought with nuanced metal sensibilities. This is not an EP for the faint of heart; it will challenge, intrigue, provoke.
The most immediate aural comparison, if just for the drum-guitar duo format, is Hella, the manic, prolific two-piece of Zach Hill and Spencer Seim. Mr. Longo’s spindly, frenetic, and often urgently melodic guitar technique is reminiscent of Seim, while Ramsey’s brutally precise drumming and positively primal strength evoke Hill’s. But Omniataxia represents a more holistic, worldly eclecticism. Where the boys from Cali might have inserted a lean Nintendo quote, these East Coast transplants are alluding to jazz, shoegaze, drone, and harsher, more metal-minded sounds.
It’s inherently dense stuff: If architecture is music in space, then the Omniataxia EP is like the blueprint for John Cage’s cathedral.
The opening track, “Xodoxobox,” is a clue to the song’s palindromic structure — in fact, I’m going to reverse it and listen to some parts sometime just to make sure. (Editor’s note: I spoke with Mr. Longo about this song, and he assures me this feat is much, much harder than it sounds, especially with these riffs and drum patterns. And, like Mr. Ray, I, too, would like to see if it’s a true palindrome, though, for now, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and huge musician’s points for attempting.)
Next up is “Ophiocordyceps” which starts off with soothing soundscapes before interrupting your insouciant leisure with a frantic series of complex, fractured riffs. The effect of this first sequence is exhilarating, and more than a bit psychedelic. If you get scared, don’t worry; just wait for the blissful drone and you’ll be able to slow your roll, at least for a brief moment. Omniataxia wants present shades of many a color rather than a single hue; the compositions quickly twirl and wind their way through freaked-out ups and downs, ever active and always changing.
The bizarre, sprawling “Scatterwhite” elaborates on the group’s adventures in texture. It’s their most ambiguously styled piece, and Mr. Longo’s manic guitar playing here is spatial, methodic. There’s a superbly rattling drum break by Mr. Ramsey that channels jazz and metal. His playing is hip, controlled, and if you’re not ready, quite jarring.
Omniataxia have clearly made no compromises. This is 25.4 minutes of thoughtful, demanding music. At first, some may not be up to the task — and that’s too bad (some didn’t like Picasso initially, to put it in perspective . More clued-in listeners, however, will recognize the skill and taste with which Omniataxia wield their technical ability. Play this for your cooler friends. They’ll be impressed.
Omniataxia EP is available for purchase on their Bandcamp page, or you can stream the album below.
Editor’s note: Charlie Ray is a good friend and longtime collaborator. He attends Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., where he studies composition and production. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.