Omicron

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Live review from Heavy #14:

1. Dreadcore
2. Collision Vector
3. Trial By Li-Bat
4. Nothing Is Everything (Death cover)
5. Mineral (Atheist cover)
6. Loyal Shadow (Soilwork cover)
7. Criticaster
8. Fail
9. Point of Contact
10. Solo Segment
11. Disintegration (Edge of Sanity cover)
Encore:
Mineral (Atheist cover)

For the most part, technicality reigns in progressive metal, and as such it was hard to find a flaw in Omicron’s final show. From the sludgy prelude that wound us into opening track ‘Dreadcore’ to a repeat of Atheist’s ‘Mineral’ as a much demanded encore, the four-piece led Orange Peel through a lengthy set of complex compositions and sparkling covers.

The players’ dexterity became clear within moments of ‘Dreadcore’, but only as it morphed into ‘Collision Vector’ was it felt that Omicron was taking us on a journey. Alex Bedwell’s right foot flitted like a hummingbird against the bass pedal, bass drum burning with friction and the accompaniment of Li Heng Chan’s swift fingers. ‘Collision Vector’ tears between upper registers and grumbling bass riffs, each guitar solo executed more perfectly than the one before. Li Heng’s chaotic, wanting guitar slides are the final element in a fantastically complex composition, which on this night attracted a tsunami of whooping and applause from the audience.

Symbionts at work, Omicron is clearly a band that has learned from, bettered amongst, and thrived off each other. If a bit crowd-shy, there’s something alluring in their stage personae: Adam Robertshaw sways over his headstock-less synth guitar; Li Heng’s nimble fingers seem to teleport; Tyler Yeung sticks to a power stance over his keys; and Bedwell tosses his head in deep concentration. Their capacity to effortlessly render complex time signature changes and polyrhythms is nothing short of virtuosic. Indeed, it is Bedwell who leads the pack in this, playing with jazz cymbals, presque-Pop rim clicks and primitive tom rolls.

Whether or not it was because this was their last show together, parts of the set seemed unquestionably personal. In ‘Fail’, the audience found itself lost in a disjunct guitar riff, finding our feet in the rocky bass and a wilted, saxophonic riff. By far the most introverted track, it felt as though Omicron was jamming; four musicians with very few limitations, inviting us into their creative process.

A highlight was ‘Point of Contact’, which boasts a funky, muted guitar and bass intro, before exploding in full force. This was one of the more optimistic, anthemic sounding tracks as the set reached its climax. Almost like a lovechild of Ratatat and Liquid Tension Experiment, the track plays with elaborate polyrhythms, power 5ths in the guitars, drum and bass interludes, ambient synthscapes and impressive unanimity. An almost comedic bass slide brought the track to a faux ending, before the audience’s dazzled applause was interrupted by a gargantuan, cymbal-clad finale.

A sensitivity to dynamics separates Omicron from many aspiring bands in progressive metal. Ultimately it was in their more restrained moments that we had the chance to process the sheer power of their sound. ‘Criticaster’, grounded on a 4/4 beat that purposefully trips over itself, forms fully when Tyler’s cosmic synth meets Li Heng’s slow and pleading guitar solo. As the performance curve approached full circle, Tyler performed an Eno-esque ‘Solo Segment’, accompanied by a laser-like solo by Li Heng. Here the audience was able to reflect and prepare themselves for the final climb – which came in the form of a stunning rendition of ‘Disintegration’ by Edge of Sanity.

Surely one of the brightest flames in Hong Kong’s metal scene, Omicron will be sorely missed as Bedwell flies home to the UK. While his drumming was certainly a highlight of the performance, there’s no doubt Robertshaw, Yeung and Chan will be highly in demand from this point on. Truly first class players in one of the trickiest genres to master, each moment of Omicron’s set was a privilege to witness.
– Jules O’Brien


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Live Review from The Underground x InterNations:

1. Disintegration (Edge of Sanity cover)
2. Collision Vector
3. Loyal Shadow (Soilwork cover)
4. Trial by Libat
5. Point of Contact
– Keyboard solo + Guitar/Keyboard duet –
6. Overture
7. Fail
8. Nothing is Everything (Death cover)
9. Criticaster
Encore:
– Drum solo –
10. Mineral (Atheist cover)

A nice variety of styles tonight as third and final band Omicron hit the stage looking black and serious to unleash their brand of progressive rock/metal on a crowd that’s been dancing like loons for hours. And doesn’t want to stop clearly – at this stage they’d dance if a troupe of ballerinas came filing in to the strains of Swan Lake.

These are technical players performing seriously progressive metal instrumental tracks and making no bones about it, underpinned by a powerhouse of a drummer who plays like he’s powered by kryptonite especially when he goes crazy on the double kick. They also boast a synth/keyboard player giving them an extra dimension.

With influences including DragonForce, Megadeth, Dream Theater and Mastodon, alongside some Swedish metal outfits, these guys rock pretty hard. And it’s a pleasingly epic sound, with elaborate chord changes, ambitious progressions and overall heaviness.

And are pretty earnest about it as well. At least, until the keyboard player starts playing some classical sounding thing. Pretty! Guitarist Li Heng Chan comes in with some neo-classical riffery Yngwie Malmsteen style from his seven-string though and it all goes crazy again.

Finally it comes to an end. The crowd demands an encore and the drummer goes into a huge solo like it’s 1979 all over again. People are dancing like crazy, screaming, cheering, it’s like a metal mardi gras. Huge cheers when he ends. Omicron finally finish with a great Atheist cover. What a set.

- Dan Creffield


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Live review from Songs Without Words II:

1. Overture
2. Collision Vector
3. Point of Contact
4. Fail
5. Trial by Li-bat
6. Mineral (Atheist cover)

A word used in ancient Greek, mathematics and astronomy, Omicron couldn’t be a better moniker for this instrumental prog rock outfit, which layers intense guitarwork over a solid rhythmic base. No moshpit-stirring indiscriminate riffs here: the HK-based quartet’s music is the kind that makes aspiring metal guitarists jizz and get jealous of.

Without the musical signposting of lyrics, Omicron’s set was lengthy yet transporting, with intricate soundscapes constructed from classic 80s heavy metal, fuzzy riffs, sharp synth-work, and jaw-dropping shredding from guitarist Li Heng Chan.

Covers of Atheist’s “Mineral” and Soilwork’s “Loyal Shadow” completed a seven-song set of otherwise originals sitting at a crossroads somewhere between Slayer and Opeth. Giving the nod to influences from Rush to The Faceless, they delivered an ear-ringing onslaught of precise prog metal, while incorporating elements of thrash and technical death.

Drummer Alex’s meticulous tempo shifts kept the guitarists’ more melodic noodlings tethered with an exacting approach – instinctively knowing when to tear it up and when to reign it in. But this is a new hat for him:  “I’m new to metal, Adam is the boss,” he says after the show, gesturing to the Steinberger-wielding synth guitarist and apparent mastermind.

At this stage, there’s unfortunately little of Omicron’s work to be found online, but if their progression since February’s The Underground x Parsons Music Battle of the Bands is anything to go by, we’ll be seeing a lot more of them on the local circuit.
– El Jay

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