Meet Oni, probably the only metal band ever to use a xylosynth

A press shot of Oni

The stunning, sun-kissed shores of the Cayman Islands may not seem the most likely breeding ground for blistering, synapse-frying extreme metal with a broad progressive streak… but then, Oni are not exactly a standard, cookie-cutter metal band either. Listen to the Canadian expats’ extraordinary debut album, Ironshore, and it seems that sunshine and solitude are as effective inspirations as any.

“One huge benefit to recording [the album] in the Caymans was that we were basically isolated,” says vocalist Jake Oni. “There was little to distract us so all we could do was write and play music. There isn’t much of a scene there. We’re all Canadian, but we don’t really identify with the scene there either.”

With a sound that owes as much to death and black metal as it does to the post-djent aesthetic, Oni are clearly virtuosos, but with an intuitive grasp of how to make people bang their heads. As a result, Ironshore is no straightforward exercise in nimble-fingered showmanship – instead, it’s a blur of genres and razor-sharp ideas that promises to translate extremely well to the live arena.

“It’s louder and heavier live, but we still attempt to execute the technical prowess you hear on the recordings as best we can,” says Jake. “We opened up the shows with [ex-Killswitch man Howard Jones’] Devil You Know, so we know how to go as hard as we can to really get the energy going in the room, to get the crowed pumped for the rest of the show. We’re just hoping to reach as many people as we can.”

One thing that fans of musical eccentricity will definitely want to see onstage with Oni will be their secret weapon: the xylosynth. An electric upgrade for the humble xylophone, it’s an instrument that brings yet another layer of oddness and originality to the Cayman Islands’ first major metal phenomenon.

“Aesthetically, the xylosynth makes us stand out a lot!” laughs Jake. “Most people in the metal community haven’t seen that before. We try to push the limits of what it means to be a typical metal band, crossing genres and experimenting with fusing different types of metal. We just want to make music as friends and, hopefully, find success someday.”

IRONSHORE IS OUT NOW VIA METAL BLADE