Finnish electronic metalcore maestros ONE MORNING LEFT are back with their fourth album, “Hyperactive,” out on May 21st, 2021, via Arising Empire. It has been five years since the group’s last studio offering and the hiatus has brought along some changes in the bands line-up, as well as some tweaks to their tried and true electronicore sound.
ONE MORNING LEFT has always sat somewhere between early ASKING ALEXANDRIA and modern ESKIMO CALLBOY, both in terms of sound and general tongue-in-cheek-ness. If you are at all familiar with the scene, you know what’s on offer here: chugging riffs, pummeling drums, screamed verses, sung choruses, breakdowns, and plenty of synth melodies to boot. However, on “Hyperactive,” ONE MORNING LEFT has gotten a retro paintjob on their modern metalcore vehicle. There is something very ‘80s about the whole project, as influences from hair metal and videogame music are heard throughout the album.
The album opens with the one-two-three punch of the singles, “Ruby Dragon,” “Neon Highway,” and “Sinners are Winners.” The band has stated that “Ruby Dragon” is the perfect example of what they want their new sound to be and I would say that this track encapsulates the whole album rather well. The riffs are groovy and the synths have a decidedly 16-bit retro flavor to them. The MACHINAE SUPREMACY-esque chorus goes well with the overall videogame vibe of the song. The first single, “Neon Highway,” picks right where the last track left off and cranks up the intensity even higher with a combination of cheery synths and heavy breakdowns. This is an absolute whopper of a track and the chorus that will remain in your cranium for days to follow. On “Sinners are Winners,” OML channels their inner SKID ROW by delivering a hair-metalcore (a term I just coined) party rocker.
“Drowned God” tones down the hijinks a bit. This one is a straightforward modern metalcore belter with soaring melodies and crushing guitars. There’s even a “BLEGH!” to warm the hearts of those, who feel like genre frontrunners ARCHITECTS lost the plot in their quest for radioplay on their latest effort. The ‘80s influence rears its hairspray-laden head again with the power ballad-like “Creatures,” where clean singer Leevi Luoto gets to display his impressive pipes on the chorus. It’ll be interesting to see whether the fanbase embraces this change of pace, but considering the album as a whole, the breather provided by this track is a welcome one. Just when you’ve calmed down a little, the album hits you with “Live, Laugh, Love,” a fast and brutal cut that should absolutely kill live with it’s “Live, laugh, love – fuck you!” pre-chorus. If the previous track was a showcase for the cleans, this one is definitely carried by Mika Lahti’s demonic growls and ripping shrieks.
The last third of the album is solid, but perhaps not quite as memorable as what came before. “Ruthless Resistance” has the catchy melodies and groovy chugs, but there’s nothing here that wasn’t done better on other tracks on the album. “Downfall” has some LIMP BIZKIT-levels of chest-thumping going on with the bouncy riffs and rap-like verses. The song features DJ Massimo and rapper OG Ulla-Maija. I applaud the band for experimenting, but the execution of this style could have been better. Your mileage on the rapping especially will undoubtedly vary.
The penultimate track, “Worry Less, Dance More,” could as well be the mantra for OML as a whole and rightfully so, as this one has some throwback to vibes in the band’s earlier material. It’s just a criminally catchy song where the interplay between the frantic riffing and the hammering drums is guaranteed to get your head bobbing. The album closes with the title track, “Hyperactive,” which is probably the weakest song on the album. This is indicative of the quality of the rest of the album, as the song is by no means bad, just more of the same. The track ends with some chillwave-y synths and a soothing beat, like drifting in neon-colored space.
“Hyperactive” is a strong project with multiple standout tracks. The retro stylings of the album are somehow simultaneously unexpected and 100% par for the course for the band. The biggest outliers are the glam ballad “Creatures” and the nu-metallic “Downfall,” which will probably evoke some split opinions. The album can’t quite maintain the momentum its opening salvo, but the band’s ability to craft catchy and groovy metalcore keeps shining through on each track. If there’s one word to describe “Hyperactive,” it’s fun, and I think we could all use some fun after the past year. To quote the lyrics of “Worry Less, Dance More,” “the world is going insane, but you should dance your troubles away.”
Written by Harri Finer
- Ruby Dragon
- Neon Highway
- Sinners are Winners
- Drowned God
- Live, Laugh, Love
- Ruthless Resistance
- Worry Less, Dance More
Mika Lahti – lead vocals
Tuukka Ojansivu – guitar
Niko Hyttinen – drums
Leevi Luoto – guitar, clean vocals
Touko Keippilä – keyboards
Miska Sipiläinen- bass guitar