Excision’s ‘Onyx’ is Unapologetic Headbanger Music [Album Review]

Onyx, the latest album by dubstep legend Excision, features 17 tracks ready for the Lost Lands main stage.

Excision is the undisputed king of mainstream bass music. Onyx, his first full-length album since 2018, is more proof that Excision – and his massive EDM empire – are here to stay.

One of the few bass music artists that has stayed true to his style since pre-2010, Excision is the leader of the modern dubstep scene. Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, he has paved the way for dubstep’s success in North America.

As a big fan of his older sound, I kept getting distracted and exploring his old releases instead of listening to ‘Onyx’ in its entirety.

Getting into 17 tracks of Excision-style dubstep seemed like an intimidating task. Honestly, I can’t say I’ve really listened to his solo albums since X Rated in 2012 and Codename X in 2015. I’ve followed his music since then, but like most electronic music nowadays, sometimes there’s just too much to keep up with. And when it comes to dubstep, it’s all about the live experience.

That’s exactly what Onyx is made for – the massive amount of shows and festivals that Excision performs at every year. Its full of loud, heavy, headbanging music that will undoubtedly go off in his sets at Ubbi Dubbi and Lost Lands Music Festival 2022.

Excision’s set at EDC Orlando this year was full of IDs and unreleased tracks, and that music is now seeing an official release on ‘Onyx’.

I was absolutely blown away by Excision’s set at EDC Orlando 2021. As opposed to hearing the same stuff he always plays, the energy and the IDs in that set were on a different level. It was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen from him, and it all makes sense why now that Onyx is released.

There isn’t really anything groundbreaking on this album, but it delivers in terms of hard-hitting festival dubstep. And that’s honestly the kind of dubstep I prefer. I can appreciate intricate sound design or some complex experimental bass, but I really just want to have fun when I listen to electronic music.

“Decimate” starts with a classic Excision-style intro followed by a quarter-note dubstep drop, a common theme on ‘Onyx’.

It’s a formula that definitely works for Excision, with songs like “The Last Elder” and “Run This” having a similar vibe. On other tracks like “Plague Doctor” and “Osiris“, he explores more unique and cinematic styles. Based on the feedback on Reddit r/dubstep, a lot of fans would’ve preferred more tracks like these.

But the album isn’t lacking when it comes to heavy, straightforward festival bass music. Songs like “Cough Drop“, “Reborn“, and “Crusher” are really impressive to me.

Onyx’ features several collaborations: Hairitage, Sullivan King, Kai Wachi, Kompany, and three appearances from Dion Timmer.

Hairitage brings a trappy dubstep vibe to “Hypnosis“, while Sullivan King slows things down on “Our Fire“. Two of the hardest tracks on the album are collaborations with Kompany and Kai Wachi: “Clockwork” and “Demisaur“.

Excision also features several vocalists on Onyx: Sarah de Warren (“Back to Life“), Alexis Donn (“Salvation“), and Natalie Major (“Temporary Blue“). These tracks showcase a different side of Excision, with all three having a more melodic dubstep feel.

‘Onyx’ is Excision’s first album in over three years, and it features some seriously impressive production and energy.

The production quality just sounds more full when compared to dubstep from a few years ago. With his first track coming back in 2006, Excision is a master when it comes to making dubstep, and I’m sure he’s always at the forefront of new production techniques. I think bass music as a whole has significantly improved over the last couple of years, and this album is a good example of that.

I honestly skipped Excision’s sets at Lost Lands last year. While most of the crowd was at the main stage, there was always something interesting going on at the Forest and Subsidia stages. But after hearing this album, I’ll definitely be catching Excision’s headlining slot at Lost Lands 2022.

Tickets to Excision’s headlining shows in Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, and more are available now, and Lost Lands tickets go on sale January 21.

Excision has one of the most loyal fanbases in the electronic music scene, and he has another busy year of live shows ahead of him. Expect to hear Onyx and more tracks from his Subsidia Records label throughout festival season. The first Excision set I ever saw was in 2012, and I can’t wait for my first Excision set in 2022.

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