Oneida make ferocious, groovy music. Blending old-school garage
rock with unyielding repetition from fuzzy keyboards,
Oneida’s sound is psychedelic in the darkest way possible.
Loud and imposing, there is little reassuring about what one hears
on their records or at their adrenaline-soaked shows.

Amita Madan

Secret Wars might be the Brooklyn-based trio’s most
successful recording yet. Imposing throughout, Secret Wars
grinds, screeches and pounds its way through generally memorable
hook-laden tunes. Repetition is the central theme, a reliable
choice that allows the band to experiment with traces of different
genres including punk and folk.

Album opener “Treasure Plane” is as close to
soothing as Oneida get. After that, the droning — a sound
Oneida has mastered — begins. Both “Caesar’s
Column” and “The Winter Shaker” sound like
acid-soaked Germanic dirges. The latter repeatedly hammers the same
wailing guitar loop home. The fact that one doesn’t realize
this is happening on the first listen may be a testament to the
song’s hook.

Fans of stoner-rock will thoroughly enjoy “Wild
Horses,” a tune with crashing chord resolutions that many a
rock-based jam band would be proud of. The album actually closes
with a 14-minute jam in which one can easily get lost. It starts
cool and quiet before expertly teetering on the brink of cacophony
for its duration. There are no noodling solos here, but new
treasures are revealed on every listen regardless.

Secret Wars suffers from vocals that are often far from
clear. Most of the songs were recorded over a three-day period, and
the flatness and strain which plague the higher notes suggest that
Fat Bobby, Baby Jane and Kid Millions could have used some more
time in the studio. This is a forgettable flaw, however, on a
pretty solid record. The band members aren’t the focus here
anyway … not in the presence of that persistent and sinister
groove.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

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