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The Australian pop punk scene is a cold and desolate place, characterised by small handfuls of bands nestled in sparsely populated venues across each capital city. Western Sydney mainstays Wake The Giants have realised that the key to longevity in such a fruitless market is to diversify their listening appeal across a variety of genres and demographics. On their self-titled double EP, the band achieves this by interweaving punchy, hook-laden vocal melodies and blisteringly catchy riffs with very large nods to a heavier sound, channelling influences from hardcore and metalcore with their use of chugging, dissonant chords, metallic lead guitar phrases and vocal lines littered with guttural, screamed sections. This is a pop punk band with considerable bite.
The EP is a documentation of the band’s transition following the death of their original vocalist Josh Morris, with its first half consisting of five demo tracks that were recorded while he was still alive. From the moment opening track ‘3 AM Never Felt So Good’ kicks in with a dynamic, upbeat guitar riff set against a pounding, punctuating drumbeat, it’s clear to see where the band derives the greater majority of their inspiration from. Their music is largely a reiteration of the conventions formulated by bands like Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals, who pioneered the hardcore/pop punk crossover genre that has come to be known as easycore. This ‘happy hardcore’ sound is exemplified across most of the EP, with explosive, major-key breakdowns providing tracks like the adorable ‘What It Takes’ with an intense, mosh-friendly atmosphere that lends the band considerable appeal to a heavier audience.
Despite firmly embracing a heavier sound, the band’s songwriting is built around a formula anchored by highly accessible pop punk sensibilities that rarely become compromised by the hardcore influences that interject them. On the EP’s first half, Morris exercises a vocal technique that channels the style of Chunk! No, Captain Chunk’s frontman Bertrand Poncet (who features briefly in the EP’s second half) both lyrically and musically. His melodies are extremely tuneful and reliant on skilfully executed hooks that make the choruses of songs like EP highlight ‘Smashed Crabs’ highly memorable. The band’s music is drenched in an intensely fun and exhilarating vibe that is propelled by Morris’ highly positive and extremely catchy lyrics, laced with references to the Western Sydney lifestyle and loving testaments to his family and friends that gives the EP considerable personality.
The EP’s second half marks a considerable stylistic shift for the band, increasing their reliance on the aesthetics of metalcore and exuding a strikingly heavier iteration of the easycore genre. This is largely the result of the band’s second vocalist Colby McQueen, who introduces himself on ‘If You Don’t Stand For Something…’ with impassioned, spoken-word vocals before segueing into a deep, resonating growl set against chugging, palm-muted open powerchords and a massive, beatdown drumbeat. Despite this change, the smile-inducing atmosphere that characterised their earlier work is still very much present, with tracks like ‘Burning Bridges’ featuring soaring, sing-along choruses that proudly display McQueen’s singing prowess. Standout track ‘YSF’ assaults the listener with grab-by-the-balls catchiness and a frenzied, breakneck pace, featuring a guest appearance from I Am Villain’s frontman Andrew Power, whose deep, gruff and strained singing style contrasts wonderfully with McQueen’s more contained vocal technique.
On their debut release, Western Sydney pop punkers Wake The Giants have displayed their penchant for irresistibly catchy melodies and memorable guitar riffs peppered with explosive, hard-hitting breakdowns and considerably large nods to the sensibilities of hardcore and metalcore. The EP reflects an infectiously upbeat and positive vibe, exuded from a band who have refused to be overcome by tragedy and adversity and are poised to take the national scene by storm.
1. 3 AM Never Felt So Good
2. What It Takes
3. Excuse Me, But You’re Stepping On My Neck
4. Smashed Crabs
6. If You Don’t Stand For Something…
7. We Don’t Wanna Mess With Vin Diesel
9. Burning Bridges
10. …You’ll Fall For Anything