This is an instrumental/ambient post rock band from Melbourne. They have released two LP’s through the awesome Hobbeldehoy Records (Adelaide) and this one titled ‘Great North’ is the latter of the two. I’ve never seen or heard of them before as I am only just getting my bearings around the instrumental scene in Melbourne..but upon being rewarded with a free d/l of the album I thought I’d give it a spin.
This is hauntingly beautiful music. Some bits feel hopeful and uplifting. Other bits feel downright heavy and dark..but not at all in a metal/post metal way. More like the chords are sad and the weight of the emotion makes it feel heavy. The guitar tones are drenched in reverb/delay and more delay. It’s a wall of noise when it all builds up to the peak moments but still it’s very soft and easy to listen to at the same time. When both guitars go full scale in the big bits and the stereo effects sway from left to right, it creates a bit of a spacey/ethereal kind of feeling. Very cool but easy to get a little bit emo and sad along with it.
Drums are thankfully dead centre and sound just roomy enough to be live and clear enough to have been well recorded…and sounds perfect for this. The cymbals particularly carry well with the guitars at their peak and the bass drum sits spot on with the bass guitar helping the ears to follow along with the timing.
It’s not complicated music to follow though, it’s just that I get distracted and carried away and without the presence of drums/bass I’d have no idea where we were!
The tracks are pretty lengthy..around the 8 minute mark for some and they use every bit of that time well. The hightlight for me was last song on the album. It opens with the loudest and biggest stuff on the release. It’s a massive minute and a half! Then the distortion fades out and the gorgeous clean guitars start and delays feedback and resonate into ambience with the boomy drums pulsing slowly and brushes tapping on the rims. It’s incredible to say the least.
These Melbourne lads do the intense and furious modern hardcore blend pretty bloody well. Note: this genre is getting tired, so I’m only lifting the bands that really grab me at this point and I’m adding these cats to the list after catching them at a recent local show.
The EP opens with it’s title track and this song has like..so many different twists and bits that it’s really quite impressive. It’s pretty up tempo for the first minute before finding familiar ground in the half time grooves and build ups and it’s from there that the surprises start. There’s a great spoken word/almost slam passage in the middle, keys and breakdowns, build ups and double kick..snare rolls and holy flat packs Batman…I can hear the bass! Dirty low end is present throughout the whole release and he even does stuff!! Hell he even closes out the EP. Rad.
Highlight track #3 ‘Resolve’ gets really busy with loads of double kick and syncopated guitars. Has a nice big chorus that incorporates some melody, great catch lines and is instantly recognisable. This one stood out above the rest..just for its instant appeal.
After that..it’s all just gravy 🙂
Guitars on this release are really clear and not too over the top. NB: there’s also some crazy good leads/delay trickery and ambient tones that add depth and variety. Drums are crisp and punchy in exactly the way I’d expect but feel very centred…not over playing.There’s quite a few cool little stereo effects and what I assume are samples in parts which stand out with headphones on..(track #4 Harbinger has these swirly swooshy flanger sort of sounds in the middle that tripped me right out!)
Vocals have a fair few different things going on too. Most of it is screamed and that balances well between high’s and lows especially during breakdowns and more metal moments and then at other points (usually choruses) during the EP there’s really solid cleans as well. I really like the added spoken word/urgent yells in sections on this EP too. It’s not something I’d expect in a typically metal core outfit. Overall it’s a great example of a band not settling for one idea as a style but messing with it and coming up with some clever and engaging music.
In closing there’s some really good material in here, a few fresh ideas and it’s well worth seeing live as with a number of the newer heavy acts i’ve featured here (Void of Vision, Dead Poets, Love Alone, Left to the Wolves etc)
RIYL: melodic hardcore..seriously..im not listing all the bands you already listen to, get clicking on the link.. >
Void Of Vision are a very exciting new Melbourne band at the moment, practically clawing their way to the attention of everyone in the local hardcore/heavy scene across Melbourne and the broader east coast.
This track is the first taste of the bands next release, set to drop later in the year with tours which will be followed by more tours I’m sure. Before this release was let loose, they had a growing collection of songs all put up for free via bandcamp. Each subsequent track/demo released allowed us to hear the band progressively honing in on what they’d eventually nail down as ‘the sound’. It’s been enough so far just for the kids to learn the words, time their kicks and windmills to the grooves and breakdowns..you know how it goes. But only now is this group starting to sound like something NEW and with that maturity builds momentum. The more you hear, the more you want. It’s as simple as that.
The opening to Life//Blood begins with a screamed ‘..welcome to my dreams..’ and double-time drums setting up a great start to a really energetic and instantly likeable song. The tempo drops back a bit..then even moreso into a heavy groove, then back up…and back down. Essentially working to build up to these peak moments of huge riffs/syncopated rhythm patterns and just yeh..solid br00ts and heavy bits. It’s smart song writing for a style that is essentially aimed at hardcore & metal audiences.
The vocal layering and backing vox are all spot on, Jack does a great job of balancing the urgent screams, guttural lows and trademark ‘blergh’ amongst clearly executed vocals. The guitars are immense, the multiple layers here are effective and tough as nails but the tone of the melodic lead that reappears over the top of these huge chuggah/dun dun moments really cuts through. It’s awesome.
As is sadly the case quite often… the bass may as we’ll be played via guitar hero controller for all the good it does. The guitars are tuned so low..sometimes it must be hard for a bass guitar to retain any clarity or definition at that pitch. Time to get inventive or face being replaced by baritones Matt!
It has to be said that having the songs on your phone doesn’t get you close to what goes on live. Nowhere near it. BUT regardless, this song is sick and over too soon! Don’t take my word for it though, go see em live.
‘Braves’ are a 5 piece alt/pop punk group from over the pond in New Zealand who’ll be visiting our shores really soon. They recently released a new single online that caught my attention through a few mutual band-friends posting about it and it’s turned into one of those awkward song-obsessions for me!
‘Surgery’ makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I get chills and it stirs up memories and all kinds of things. When the guitars open up..it’s like a late 90’s grunge flashback…the gravelly vocals that start it off compliment this perfectly. The backing vox/shouts and harmonies are pure gold and early indicators that these lads have listened to a lot of Citizen/B&C etc. Drums are well placed in the mix (sounding great too) and the drummer does quite a good job of shifting the momentum up and down when the guitars are pretty much just doing the same thing for awhile in some sections. It winds down to a vocal/guitar section mid way…builds back up to huge half time chorus…with amazing vocals and a melody that’ll stick with you…it sounds huuuuge..guitars are massive..and then it winds down again. Dynamics like this are highly effective in keeping a listener engaged and the ears fresh..rather than adjust to 3mins of the same thing. Surprise guitar noodling with guitars take it out to a close..and once it’s over..I hit repeat.
But seriously. I’ve jammed this…76 times accordingly to the ‘most played’ playlist on my phone. Love. It. How this band isn’t signed yet…I don’t know. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from Topshelf/No Sleep/Runforcover or one of those other US indie punk labels.
If you follow the links below you’ll find your self directed to their bandcamp where you can get up to speed and grab their 2013 demo too which even though it isn’t the focus of my write up here ..is heaps worth a spin.
Instrumental bands have a niche scene but it’s a growing one too. A lot of alternative/indie, post-rock and progressive bands are dabbling, sharing the stage, touring together and often signed to the same labels as instrumental bands. Largely thanks to some serious ground breaking by the infamous ‘explosions in the sky’ to name one such band (go google it later) this stuff is gaining exposure and earning new followers!
So here’s one such artist from Melbourne who have just dropped their first full length titled ‘Yamadori’. (Japanese word for a small wild tree like a bonsai)
Here’s my breakdown from the first listen through. It’s 6 tracks but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a short trip. Nup.
Track #1 ‘Cloverlea’ is an ambient intro that feels sort of spacey..until you hear the guitar slide up and down shifting in-and-out of its sustained note/feedback. Then I realised it was a guitar and not some keyboard/synth thing..very clever.
Drums come in and it’s track #2 ‘What’s Yours Was Mine Is Never Leaving’ and it’s more of that roomy/reverby guitar stuff until the bass comes in all dirty and carrying rhythm and melody with it. I’m hooked at this point. At around the 3 minute mark things turn sort of dark and the guitars start strumming instead of picking and the drumming gets a little Tool-ish. Not in complexity..but in feel. Rhythms continue, band follows, pattern builds momentum and this is getting all kinds of wonderful!
Now an interesting thing occurs at about the 5 minute mark. It seems the band has stopped and then there’s a 4-count on the hi hats and they start up again but with what sounds like a whole different song. A proggy one. A nearly 8 minute journey ends with a high and a bit of a surprise. Did not see that coming.
Track #3 ‘The Bonding Leech’ plays with some nice delays on the guitar to start. Great with headphones btw. Drums and Bass enter the fray and it’s tight syncopated stuff, very cool and rhythmic. This track has a much more immediate and instantly likeable feeling to it. Could easily find it’s way onto a sound track for an indie film…that sort of thing. It winds back the energy at the 4 minute mark and begins the build up all again. Towards the end the guitars find the spotlight and the focus is on this cool lead-part that plays with delays and finds very emotive ground. Plus the gain is up a bit, the bass and drums are in full swing and it’s solid. Favourite track by a mile.
By this point in listening I’m feeling reminded of artists like ‘Because of Ghosts’, ‘Sleep Makes Waves’ and the obvious ‘Explosions in the Sky’ with all these beautiful guitar tones and effect laden notes ringing out in the background against interesting rhythms.
Track #4 ‘Glycine’ is back with familiar ambient tones and occasional booming blows from the drums. Very relaxed but honestly a bit boring…I was about to skip it..but at the half way point the snare rolls and bass juts back and it starts moving with a brooding kind of feel. I swear it’s the bass and drums that hold all this together and my attention along with it. So patience yields rewards..cos the next 3 1/2 minutes are freeking rad. Just…so good. Reminiscent of ‘Russian Circles’…super fun times. (You know you need to go google them after reading this right? Ok good.)
#5 ‘Heironymos Bosch’ is another straight into it track, thankfully leaving the ambient noodling for a while. This gets a little mathy and proggy again and I’m beginning to understand that they don’t go for the big heavy/loud dynamic but rather the busy riffing and contrasting sounds. Ironically this track gets about as heavy as you’ll hear on the album..and even then it’s just dramatic rather then heavy. Another standout track for me.
#6 ‘Molly’ is a 9 minute epic. It’s more of the same..beautiful music and melody played out over big build ups, slower quieter bits and a great wind down. Each wave or..I dunno..section gets it’s time and it’s got to be said once again..it’s really well written music.
Summing it all up…
It’s a beautiful album with dynamic characteristics that reappear across the course of the 6 epic tracks. It all feels connected and like it belongs together. The mix lets it down a little at times when I really wanted the guitars up front and in my face…but they stayed buried or just too peripheral and never really come up out of the mix. But that’s about it for complaints. The sounds are all great, the performances are all brilliant. Muso’s will lap this up. If you have the patience then this will reward you big time
RIYL: Explosions In The Sky, Russian Circles, Lights and Motion, beautiful music, proggy music, guitars, delay pedals, reverb, music…feelings ha ha!
Bad Girls Of The Bible – 88 Keys/Simple Mistakes 7″ (2005)
So this band broke up back in 2005 and hailed from Adelaide. They played a really great style of angular/rock with post-punk tinges and sometimes mathy elements. Sounds too good to be true even as I write it now! They released this ridiculously more-ish two track 7″ which was tracked at one of the band members studio and hit the road for more shows before sadly calling it a day a little while later.
I was lucky enough to get a hold of this bands first demo and lost my shit when I heard it. It had this raw Jawbox/Fugazi/Shellac essence just oozing from it…the guitars had this harsh sound to them which I still struggle to explain…kind of gritty but super clean…the drums were crisp and roomy and the bass was hella dirty and locked in with the drums 100%. Vocally the tone is largely a mash of yelling and tasteful harmonies, all of this just has me weak at the knees.
All of it is thankfully well and truly present on the 7″ that followed that demo.
The band offer it for free download via bandcamp and the vinyl is only $8 (comes with a cd copy as well) which I didn’t hesitate to order upon discovering the defunct bands page. I missed getting a copy when it was retailing through local record stores way back when..so I can’t express the joy of finally getting a copy all this time later! Ermagerd it sounds so good too!
Seriously worth a look in.
I want to begin this review with: Favourite local release of 2014?
Still got 6 months to go before that title can be given..but this is a contender.
Two bands.. Hindsight (from Adelaide) and Love Along (Melbourne) have paired together to create a formidable collection of melodic hardcore, punk and even post-rock that straight away has my interest spiked. It’s fast and melodic and passionately intense.
‘Love Alone’ kick of their bracket with #1 ‘Iron Eyes’ > a very post-rock-ambient intro .. kind of lulling you into a false start..cos moments later it completely switches into a break neck punk section and settles in mid paced melodic screamo territory. It ends with snare rolls, distant shouting and reverb laden guitars and all the time i’m thinking.. this is next level stuff..wow.
#2 ‘Opaque’ has more vocals and a higher energy that than the previous track. It’s tempo races and the palm muted guitars find the groove. There’s more of a Touche Amore/Pianos feel going on here in that it isn’t straight/tight rock and has more openness and variety in guitars/vocals are busier and there’s more noise in play.
#3 ‘A Rainless Storm Pt1’ carries seamlessly from the last track..i had to check the screen to see if it was even the same song. It’s all ambience and post-rock reverb and the drums sound like they’re in a cathedral with all the room sound! Its a surprise instrumental that closes out ‘Love Alones’ portion of this and i’m beyond impressed. Seriously. What the hell was that?
‘Hindsight’ play a type of fast, melodic hardcore in the vein of Anchors/Stolen Youth/Irrelevant/Mary Jane Kelly to name a few of the older aussies in the pool. But..maybe with a few more twists and suprises than their contemporaries. This is a new generation of players after all.
There’s an intro track..drums sound off..toms rolling along with clean guitars picking the notes from the chord progression that will become #2 ‘Heidi Ho’. The vocals carry a distinct feeling of emotion in them.. it sounds like this dude is about to Loose. His. Shit. It’s possibly the most impacting thing about this band at first. There’s other members of the band adding vocals, singing and group vox too so it’s a big sound!
#3 W.I.N.G.S. is a different beast. The song starts sounding as though it should be all full and heavy but the guitars remain clean and bright. The vocals and drums are all going at it 100%, but there’s a feeling of restraint to it and this helps to enhance the vocals in this song and build up tension..cos.. you know the heavy is going to drop. And you wait. I really like how this band is teasing at the idea of what you expect to happen and instead..just not doing it. The track ends after a few build ups and smoothed out passages and it never does that big heavy bit.
Then the closer #4 ‘Inner Beauty’ comes and it’s like the drop you were waiting for!! The guitars are just attacking and huge, drums are fast tights and it’s aggressive! There’s a very cool spoken word part in the middle of this one that’s really worth listening to.. ‘I am not worthless/I am fucking worthy/I am myself/And i will never change/I can never change’. Let it all hit you in the guts.
Powerful stuff from two relatively new names to the scene. I seriously hope they can both outlive the new-band life expectancy and grow to make more music in this vein. I’m genuinely floored by this release and think it’d be a right shame for it to go unheard!
The opening track with it’s gang vox/big half time break down.. demonstrates the production values are high on this release and it sounds rrrrreal good. Turn it up. Worth noting is that you can hear every instrument INCLUDING BASS. Bravo boys! It’s obviously just a set up/intro track for the next song ‘Overflow’ which is where the band gets properly into it..but for a kick-off to the EP..it actually sold me on giving the next 5 songs my time.
The band has all the trade mark moments of a serious modern hardcore act..snare rolls over guitars building up into halftime grooves, melodic second guitar parts over the chord’s.. then descending back into a mid paced tough as-nails passage. Neat little guitar trade offs where it goes left/right/left bit grabbed my attention..i like synchronicity like that.
Vocally it’s more or less one deep/grainy hardcore vocal enhanced by occasional gang vox which reminds me heaps of Turmoil/The Haunted/Shadows Fall.. so late nineties US-metal/hardcore. It fits really well actually.
The 3rd and title track to the EP ‘Real Life’ starts with a cool melodic lead over half time chugs.. but shifts gear to a sweet double time punk/core passage and then settles back into a bouncy/groove break. It’s formulaic but damn it works. They’ve obviously spent time on all these transitions and tempos..changes and riffs because it just flows and moves without getting tedious or boring.
These are the trends that repeat throughout the rest of the EP. ‘Build and Release’ as a principle in song writing still works in heavy stuff like this. When the intensity is high all the time you have to implement different dynamics and elements to the mix in order to achieve anything interesting anymore and it seems that Left For Wolves have achieved that across the 6 tracks. They aren’t re-inventing the wheel of course.. there’s honestly nothing new to be done in this genre anyway..and maybe one of the selling points would be that it’ll feel immediately familiar to fans of the genre.
The EP ends with a big slow breakdown ..much like it started with and brings about a kind of closure to it all. In the absence of djenty/proggy/ambient elements…this is great hardcore for right now. I think it sounds tough as balls, the performances are spot on and vocally it’s consistent with anything you’ve heard before and balances out really well. I’d usually only lend my ears to stuff that’s getting some buzz..and i hadn’t heard these guys before listening so this was definitely a buzz-free review..and now..im rather glad i gave it the time!