Bioplan – Ocular Review

Score9/10
GenreDjent/Synthwave/Progressive Metal (Instrumental)
CountrySweden
Runtime24:55
Release Date19 April 2019
Record LabelIndependent

Ocular is the debut EP of Bioplan: the solo prog project of multi-instrumentalist Andi Kravljača, whom you might know as the vocalist from bands such as Aeon Zen, Seventh Wonder, and Thaurorod. However, his role in Bioplan is basically everything but the vocals since, well, it’s vocalless. Instead, he stands as an axeman/keymaster/bassist combo, and a damn good one at that. Supporting this mostly-one-man effort are guest guitarists Alistair Bell (Aeon Zen) and Emil Pohjalainen (Amberian Dawn) and keyboardists Pekka Laitinen (Nibiru Ordeal) and Andreas Soderin (Seventh Wonder), who all make appearances on the track ‘Invective’.

This is the first album I’ve heard in a long-ass time that actually has a decent intro track. Right out of the gate we’re shown what to expect: sick shreds, heavily syncopated rhythms, and a cyberpunk atmosphere. Rather than just some generic, shitty orchestral number, ‘Astral’ is actually a legitimate mini-song, so bonus points there.

As the album moves forward, each song rips through numerous intricate and destructive grooves, but they peak in the crazy solo backing part in ‘Permeant’, as well as ‘Inclement’, which is the heaviest of the EP’s six tracks. On top of that, the synths create mesmerizing retro atmospheres amidst the surrounding chaos, and there’s even a full-out synth version of ‘Invective’, which is sounds like Vince DiCola decided to go techno (which, in case you can’t figure it out on your own, would sound like a super cheesy video game soundtrack). All of these ups and downs are stuck together with surprising fluency, which allows each song to have a huge dynamic range.

It’s really tough to pinpoint any highlights in Ocular, because everything works really well together. The lead guitar is ridiculously good at pulling off a fluid melody as well as unleashing some devastating facemelters, but a large part of the impact it delivers comes from the support of the keyboards and rhythm section.

The combination of some of the beefiest fucking djent I’ve ever heard, shredtastic fusion, and glowing synthwave that Ocular so easily pulls off is, in my own humble opinion, masterful. While I typically shy away from one-man projects (although, I’ve heard a few lately, strangely enough), this is easily one of the strongest and most honest products I’ve ever seen from one. Andi Kravljača has excellent vision for both metal and synthwave, and I’m excited to hear a followup of Bioplan’s debut!

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Categories: Progressive Metal, Reviews

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