EP review: OZAI – Ozai


I don’t customarily review albums older than a couple of months. By that point it’s been out long enough that people have likely already gotten it and made their own decision on what they’re hearing. In fact, it’s really got to be something pretty special and significant for me to wait longer than a month.

Having said that, even I can have a change of heart and stumble across a recording that impresses me so much that I feel like my existence is pointless if I don’t spread the word about an album and band. Despite it being out about a year now Ozai’s s/t debut EP is an incredible piece of work. I only recently acquired it after seeing them live for the first time about a month ago.

A hodge podge mix of Dream Theater meets Devin Townsend meets Animals As Leaders meets Tool, clearly you’re dealing with musical talent and insanity rolled into four individuals. Each member of Ozai offer some of the most riveting and complex music I’ve heard in a long time.

Simply comparing them to the aforementioned musicians doesn’t truly do them proper service as they only have brief instances where you hear their influence, but they take it and create a mesmerizing collection of songs that range from the melodically heavy groove of “Out With A Bang” to the driving chug of “Life the Universe and Everything” to angry intensity of “Mecca” to proggish djent of “The Effervescent Power” to the jazzy/classical feel of “Jormungand” the band seems to go all over the place while remaining true to their vision.

Even with the musical prowess of guitarist James Nelson, bassist Cole Millwood, and drummer Paul Wood, their sound is still accesible to those not entirely enraptured by prog, mostly thanks to the incredibly versatile voice of singer Phillip Rich. Able to leap high ranges and growl with the best of them, his voice is the perfect foil for the brilliant guitar runs, pulsating bass lines, and controled chaos of the drums. Not available on the EP is a more recent remix and remaster of “Out With A Bang” which is such an fantastic song.

I hate that it took me so long to discover this band, but now that I have I’m totally obsessed with them. If this is what they’re capable of on their first outing, Ozai have an incredible future ahead of them. This goes to show that sometimes good things come to those that wait. If we will all remember that it took a year for GNR’s Appetite For Destruction to finally catch on, I guess you can say that sometimes it’s better late than never. If you enjoy some seriously progressive stuff with great hooks and vocals, Ozai is the band for you.  *****

Review by Chris Martin

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