Caligula’s Horse – Bloom (2015)

caligulashorsebloom

Brisbane lads Caligula’s Horse dropped their 3rd album in October, loaded with ambitious progressive rock moments, heavier metal inspired riffs and super impressive vocal work. Then…they hit the road with TesseracT. What a month!

If you don’t know the band prior to hearing ‘Bloom’ (like myself) you’ll likely experience a body of work purely as it is and not in comparison to past material. The only pretence is that the record is a) Aussie b) Proggy and c) Heavy.

So…as with any new release it’s in our nature to listen out for influences and familiarities. In this case it’s: Opeth, Jeff Buckley (yes that’s right!) and Karnivool. The song writing is at times rather lengthy and a bit of a marathon (typical of bands in this genre) however front man Jim Grey’s stunning vocal work takes the chore out of the long arrangements and give’s the material a more accessible angle.

What you’re getting is 8 tracks that range from melancholy, tense and heavy moods with each turn showcasing a different shade of the band. Guitars tones change throughout the songs, drums build and explode with a sense of dynamics and taste. Bass punches to the front tastefully for some really cool feature moments and finds the background just at the right times.

The opening track ‘Bloom’ is a soft start that seamlessly transitions into ‘Marigold’ (also the lead track of the album) as if they were one long piece merely broken up by track numbers. The latter really takes the listener on a journey that rewards you with some great off-time signatures, creative guitar work and busy drums. It’s hard not to smile!

Album highlight though was the third track ‘Firelight’ which may be the biggest sucker punch on ‘Bloom’ where the band takes an almost commercial/pop rock approach at the start of the song bringing in some lighter chimey guitar tones and a more emotional feel that left me thinking ‘wait..what..the..hell..is this?’ Before long the guitars open up and the chorus springs forward and the whole thing feels like it deserves a round of applause for its cunning and tact.

Production is modern and punchy but less polished and ‘perfect’ than other colleagues in the genre (looking at you DLC, Twelve Foot Ninja etc). There were a few moments which involved some double kick and palm muted chugging that sent an awful frequency ‘woofing’ through my speakers which wasn’t too great. Mastering is an art sure..but I was a bit surprised this made it through the process.

Overall I’m pretty impressed and a firm believer that repeated listens will yield new discoveries from this album. It is both accessible and deep enough to retain my interest. Get on it.

http://www.caligulashorse.com

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Majora – Iridescent (2015)

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Newcastle 4 piece ‘Majora’ released a powerful collection of 6 songs back in August in the form of an impressive debut EP entitled ‘Iridescent’.

Gaining some early radio exposure through Triple J and Unearthed (plus favourable reviews on the web site), they drew listeners attention to the bands dynamic prog/post-rock sounds.

Initial comparisons with Sydneysiders ‘Sleepmakeswaves’ would be forgiven (if not welcomed given their success this year) as the two bands subscribe to the same idea of crafting high energy rock with the intricacies of progressive metal and ambience of post-rock.

Interestingly, the band worked on the material and recorded the entirety of this EP before even stepping foot on stage together as a group. In fact the bands live debut coincided with the release of the EP which stands as a testament to patience and preparedness! Since then Majora has been eagerly trekking up and down the east coast on tours and road trips spreading the name and building a national profile which I feel is going to benefit them quite a great deal when it comes time to drop EP #2 should the love from Triple J not be there a second time around.

What you get with ‘Iridescent’ is essentially a very engaging and sometimes heavy riff-driven instrumental record that boats tight clean production, big drum sounds and thick guitars. Tracks are sprinkled with blips and clicks courtesy of samples and synths for added colour. There’s melody a plenty and a more than a few moments of well executed tension building up to satisfying crescendos. All this suggests it isn’t their first rodeo (so to speak) but rather just our first time hearing them under this banner.

The record is available via usual digital outlets..

Free download from here:

https://majoraofficial.bandcamp.com/releases

Go stalk them here:

https://www.facebook.com/MajoraTheBand/

Fourteen Nights At Sea – Minor Light (2015)

3rd album from Fourteen Nights At Sea
Minor Light

Melbourne’s 5 piece post-rock outfit  Fourteen Nights At Sea release their amazing third album ‘Minor Light’ on Adelaide based indie label Hobbledehoy Records.

Fourteen Nights at Sea have followed up their brilliant 2013 full length ‘Great North’ with five new tracks of sombre, emotional and epic instrumental post rock that relies heavily on layers of sound created by guitars, effects, synths and drums.

It took the band some time getting this release out to the world. It’s been roughly a year since the majority of the material was completed for ‘Minor Light’ to getting it all wrapped up and packaged for people to take home. Wether you opt for the digital grab or the gorgeous vinyl option (available to pre-order now) the end result will truly reward.

Opening track ‘Teeth Marks’ makes a big entrance. First impressions include noticeably more polished production than previous works, big guitar sounds and volume. Many of the bands other songs take the slow climb to a huge moment… this one starts right up there and slowly winds down. Instant favourite.

‘Them Colonies’ is a slow burner with layers of ambient tones and ringing guitars that suggest just enough melody to suit a film score or soundtrack. Only in the last 1 and a ½ minutes does the track start to swell, drums enter, gain on the guitars goes up and it’s all fans of this genre could want.

Following on almost seamlessly is the title track ‘Minor Light’ and once again shows how this group has mastered their approach to building a wall of sound from so little without loosing its integrity or relevance. Suitable listening for meditation, cleaning up after the apocalypse or star gazing. Totally up to you.

‘Vale’ was the first track shared in the lead up to the albums release. (http://digital.hobbledehoyrecords.com/album/minor-light)It’s a familiar offering which could have fit in easily amongst the bands other releases. Drums enter right at the beginning and the band plays out in a restrained manner until around the 5 minute mark. Then gears switch and it dwells on this progression of chords supported by the synth/ambience layers that provokes images of cold winters, empty houses and sad goodbye’s. Not a happy summer jam.

The closer ‘Chiltern Justice’ has a depth and darkness to it that will really appeal to fans of GS!YBW and This Will Destroy You. The slow climb reaches its crescendo at around the 4 minute mark and from then on it’s a dark and moody ride out to a close.

‘Minor Light’ is about 40 minutes of ethereal gloomy music that wont disappoint fans of the bands earlier work and will serve as a solid introduction to new listeners. The band plays gigs pretty regularly and are well worth catching at a show to witness their craft in a live setting. The energy you can’t capture on a recording that can only come from thrashing about on stage and coercing guitars to wailing and drone is needed to round out the experience of this bands music. But until then.. buy the record.

 

Sincerely Grizzly – Halves (2014)

grrrrrrr
grrrrrrr

Adelaide outfit ‘Sincerely Grizzly’ have put together an outstanding full length debut titled ‘Halves’. Seriously…it’s really impressive! The band (a three piece) incorporate twinkly-emo guitar parts and big melodic instrumental passages (a-la-post rock) but in-between all this musical noodling is a punchy little pissed-off emo/indie/rock whatever band bashing away for good measure!

It is quite impressive on the first listen through as the bold tempo changes and sing/scream delivery hit all the right marks. Fans of Piano’s Become the Teeth & Touche Amore will get down with this right away ..however.. this band does not sound like they are merely mirroring their influences. This is quite unique and indeed creative enough within the genre to be something honestly worth giving your attention.

The songs each vary in length (from 3-9mins) but there’s a lot on offer within each song. At times the track appears to have ended only to return after a moments silence whereas at other times the tempo/style changes are drastic enough that it’s hard to tell if it’s even the same song! These twists and turns are just as fun as the instantly and familiar heavy/screamy bits.

Released in December 2014, possibly the worst time in the year to put out a record, many may have overlooked this gem or not even heard about it all.. well now is your chance to make up for that!

Get it here:

http://sincerelygrizzly.bandcamp.com/

http://blacknightcrash.com/shop/sincerelygrizzly/halves/

Surrender – Waste & Wisdom (2014)

surrender-waste-and-wisdom

This album from Melbourne based melodic hardcore/punk crew ‘Surrender’ hits all the right notes, reaches some high points  and remains consistant throught its duration which is more than i can say for some  bands releases of late. Production is really good and a huge improvement over the bands first album. The songs are punchy, concise and show some clear progression and refinement from the bands earlier work. It’s a digital release, pay what you want for it.. but do not miss it..regardless of the plethora of music available right now.. this one is a real gem!

FFO: Trophy Eyes,  Anchors, A Death in the Family, melodic punk hardcore stuff with husky & hoarse vocalists!!!!

https://surrender.bandcamp.com/

I contributed a review of this with a bit more details on dyingscene.com supporting the aussies! Read that if you want here:
http://dyingscene.com/news/album-review-surrender-waste-wisdom/

Sidelines / Lowlight Split (2014)

split cover..
split cover..

Sidelines (Melbourne) play slick, fast and melodic pop punk that has reminded me of SuchGold/StorySoFar since I first heard them. The live set from these lads is a great thing to watch, lots of energy, moves and showcases the bands control of their instruments. The band is incrementally moving away from the US-melodic-punk thing and finding their own unique groove but producing top notch jams along the way.

The debut EP (Progression / 2013) was hella tight, punchy and loaded with riffs and good vibes.. but the newest release and subject of this write up is a split between Sidelines and Perth’s ‘Lowlight’ with both bands bringing 2 new songs to the offering. Sidelines contribution has everything that stood out on the ‘Progression EP’ but perhaps with a little more maturity, better production and a healthy dosing of ‘gimme more-ness’.

Hooking up split’s between bands always serves both parties well and in this case Sidelines have paired up with a band from one of the most remote and isolates communities in Australia..Perth. Such a beautiful place, such good bands..so damn far away. Check out the split and turn it up loud!

I really look forward to more from these guys, they incorporate lead breaks/solos, double time, memorable choruses and group vocals, big break downs…what more could you want!

FFO: Story So Far, New Found Glory, Such Gold, Four Year Strong

Get on it here: http://sidelinesau.bandcamp.com/

Little Brother – Terrace EP (2014)

cool art work..
cool art work..

Accoustic side project from awesome pop punk band anyone?

Following in the tradition of unique pop-punk vocalists before him, John Floreani has taken time away from fronting the ever popular Trophy Eyes to release a solo acoustic EP titled ‘Terrace’ under the moniker of ‘Little Brother’. Now..Trophy Eyes are a damn good band and bring a great energy to the stage but when you listen to their recordings its John’s voice that really sells it. This release is showcasing that element 100% and stripping away all the cool riffs, drums and punk energy give’s a really contrasting view to what’s unique about both John and Trophy Eyes. His story telling and honesty are full frontal and you can not deny that this guy wears his heart on his sleeve.

This is a one guy – one guitar kind of recording, not unlike Chuck Ragan’s (Hot Water Music) or even Matt Kerek’s (Citizen) solo stuff. It comes across authentic and sincere and for that fact alone you should give this 15 minutes of your time. Such things are a rarity these days.

Grab it for a dollar ..or pay what you want via bandcamp:

http://littlebrotherau.bandcamp.com/releases

FFO: Trophy Eyes (duh), Chuck Ragan, Citizen, Make Do and Mend, Pentimento

Intimate Apparel – The Teaser EP (2014)

arrrgh...my eyeballs..
i cant un-see this…and i wish i could..

Based in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne 4 piece pop punk band ‘Intimate Apparel’ have nailed the early 2000’s pop punk sound by channelling the spirits of Sum 41/Guttermouth/Unwritten Law and adding a healthy dose of Aussie accents and attitude.

What works: the mix and production is spot on for the sound they’re going for. It’s all clear and present, the guitars sound suitably big, panned nice and wide. The vocals are right up front and accompanied by some nice harmonies and backings. The songs don’t go for too long, they have a few fun bits and it’s easy to see they arn’t taking themselves too seriously.

Dopey Villain’ has a great weezer-geek-rock vibe to it and a big halftime breakdown at the end. The band released a video for the song on YouTube so go look that up for a bit of fun. It’s an easy standout amongst this batch of songs and id like to hear more like it.

Fairer Moans’ has a quirky and playful sound to it thanks largely to the guitar parts and up tempo pace. There’s a catchy chorus and some neat gang vox at the end to add to the charm.

Sling King’ makes use of some double time and palm muted guitars …very pop punk. The vocal duties are shared on this one and the addition of extra voices helps to break things up from the hoarse/shouted delivery that leads the band.

Criticisms: the same generic sounds all the way through leave me wanting to hear some diversity. The sound is appropriate but not inventive. The band is emulating their influences..but yeh yeh we’ve all done that. Id prefer to hear more Vines/Weezer than Blink/Frenzal though to be honest.

I think these guys could be contenders if they stay on the path, work out the kinks and play with the sound a bit while avoiding the sad-boy phase as much as possible. Well done lads : )

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/intimate-apparel

Void Of Vision – Broken Bones EP (2014)

blergh...
blergh…

This EP has some high expectations to live up to. I am happy to report it lives up to mine. Production is very tight/clean and no doubt this is a recording with all the computer trickery in full employ but the balance and clarity they have achieved makes it well worth it. (*Kudos to Beau McKee) Having seen this band a number of times live I have expected them to make concessions for the lack of effects and technical wizardry behind the djent-sound however I am always impressed by the technical prowess and efficiency of the members pulling it off on stage …especially the drummer George whose work is a major feature at shows and Jack: the bands enigmatic front man. They have clearly gigged this material and refined it all down to the best possible versions before tracking and releasing it. In the end, the results speak for themselves.

‘Purge’ kicks things off with an ambient little intro that explodes into a powerful groove filled with clever little staccato bits and discordant droning over the top, something that you’ll hear quite a few times across the EP (ala Structures/Northlane et al.) Jack’s vocals enter at the 1 minute mark and the energy instantly kicks up a notch. He is a vocalist whose voice sounds equal parts unique and dynamic. There’s an immediate connection between the passionate feeling behind Jack’s delivery and the music’s aggression and never comes across feigned or half-arsed.

‘Dead Eye’ is a strong but slower track featuring Ryan Bowles, vocalist from Prepared Like A Bride. PLAB have been a supporters of the Void of Vision boys since their early days and have shared the stage plenty of times and clearly have been an influence. The ending of this song gets a little more melodic and really helps to make Jack’s emotional cry of ‘I will remember you’ all the more convincing.

Lifeblood – was the lead single released in advance of this EP’s arrival a few months back and is a high energy and fast paced jam that immediately makes an impact. The riffs have a particularly metallic vibe to them and it’s easily a highlight track. The drums are busy and brilliant here utilising blasts, huge fills and machine gun tight double kick.

Nightmare – is another fun jam, the djent-as-fuck section at the 2 minute mark just kills. Seriously. The later half of the song leans more towards the bands earlier work using a bit more guitar tapping and ambient lead tones when there’s a bit more space. Rhythmically though..this is on point.

Persist // Perceive closes out the EP with more of the established melodic post-hardcore stylings and up tempo drumming. They keep your foot tapping and head moving and then at the 1 minute mark it all shifts gear to break back down into another solid groove, ambient droning and a few bendy riffs. It’s quite easy to imagine this material setting up crowds for some big pit-action.

Fans of Northlane, Prepared Like A Bride (and all the rest) will immediately understand and anticipate all the tricks and tactics the band engages across these 5 songs so there’s no re-inventing the wheel here. It’s a great sounding recording and style wise it is a perfect entry point for any one not yet familiar with the band. I really hope this helps to establish the group beyond Victoria and out to the wider east-coast and beyond. Personally I look forward the day when they get bored of this style and start to experiment and try different things ..so in that respect I still think the best is yet to come from these lads, but for now.. they needed to get a firm release out, hop on some tours and build momentum. Job well done lads.

Pay what you want…but make it good!

http://voidofvision.bandcamp.com/

 

Surrender – Dark Wings, Dark Words (single) 2014

welcome back to the game boys..
Dark Wings, Dark Words

Surrender have unleashed the first taste of their upcoming sophomore album with this blast called ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’.

For those new to the band the story goes like this: they independently recorded and released a brilliant melodic/hc punk album a few years back titled ‘One Day’ which turned out to be a very rewarding slow burner! They relocated from one side of the continent to the other..and more or less started over. From there the story goes much like the others…gigs, more gigs, plug the album..go quiet.

Present day: they’re back and armed with new music to stir up floors and pits with, the aggression and energy is present and most noticeably the production is a big step up on this!

David’s vocals are hoarse and scratchy like Chuck Ragan on a bad day, very well suited to the melodic and driving punk/rock angle at work here. I think the time is right for stuff like this with the international spotlight on bands like Trophy Eyes, Paper Arms, Smith Street Band. Hopefully we can add Surrender to that list!!

https://surrender.bandcamp.com/track/dark-wings-dark-words

f/b -> http://www.facebook.com/surrenderaus

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