As we’re just days out from Unify Gathering 2019, here are our most anticipated acts on the festival’s 2019 bill. Don’t miss these picks if you’re making that Tarwin Lower trip this week!
Underoath are no doubt one of the best live bands around – period. We caught them back in 2017 during their last Australian run, performing both 2004’s ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety‘ and 2006’s ‘Define The Great Line‘ in full. And it was utterly bonkers, to say the very least. To say a little bit more, though, both sets were an incredible back-to-back showing of a band at their returned peak with recharged batteries. But now, armed with songs from 2018’s solid comeback effort, the authentic ‘Erase Me‘, and classic jams like ‘In Regards To Myself’, there’ll be something for all Underoath fans during their massive headlining set come Friday night.
For me personally, I’m both equally excited and anxious about the fact that Underoath has brought back a couple ‘Lost In The Sound Of Separation‘ cuts recently too. Namely the crunchy, feedback-riddled and nightmarish ‘Desperate Times, Desperate Measures‘, as well as ‘A Fault Line, A Fault Of Mine‘ – a powerful song that just leaves me completely speechless. That particular 2008 LP was where they became even more immense musically, writing heavier, darker, and artsier material. In the process, creating one of their best records too. An album defined by churning low-end, honest performances, sonically raw characteristics, and emotionally harrowing conversations about Spencer Chamberlain’s dire drug habits and deteriorating health. Bleak lyrical topics that then came full circle within the themes openly discussed on ‘Erase Me‘. Either way, expect hit after fan-fave hit to flow in hard come the end of Unify 2019’s first day.
Then, to round out the Saturday and final night of this year’s Unify, Taking Back Sunday will bring everyone back to 2002 as they race through their debut album, ‘Tell All Your Friends‘. That means all the crowd favourites like ‘There’s No ‘I’ In ‘Team’‘, ‘You’re So Last Summer‘, ‘Timberwolves At New Jersey‘, and of course, the era-defining ‘Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)‘ will get belted out. But this also means that awesome deep cuts like the album’s opener ‘You Know How I Do‘, ‘Great Romances of the 20th Century‘, and ‘The Blue Channel‘ will be performed as well, and that’s a rare occurrence for TBS nowadays. Of course, it’d be foolish to not expect some bangers come an encore set once their 2002 throwback session is completed. In that regard, check out the huge live video of ‘MakeDamnSure‘ below. As if that shit doesn’t make you the least bit keen!
The Saturday local warriors:
For my money, there are some wicked local acts storming Unify this year. In particular, this includes the strong likes of Pagan, Endless Heights, WAAX, Gravemind and Falcifer.
We caught WAAX at both the Brisbane and Melbourne Good Things festival in December, and they blew us away on all occasions. Driven by engaging vocalist Maz DeVita, and armed with bangers like ‘Labrador‘, ‘Same Same‘ and ‘Wild & Weak‘, the five-piece pack in so much energy and honesty, making for an enthralling punk rock experience. I think you should safely assume the very same to happen during their Unify set too. Getting darker and more blackened, we have the cultish rock’n’roll of Pagan. 2018’s killer debut LP, ‘Black Wash‘, was a grim and quite personal affair; a brooding, raging blackened symbol of hate and relationship’s messily imploding, all surrounded by religious imagery, sick riffs and skin-crawling themes. It’s a kind of ferocity and venom that’ll no doubt be brilliantly expunged live for all to see. And then there’s Endless Heights, who are on an absolute Cloud 9 high lately, due to the love and success of 2018’s wonderful second LP, ‘Vicious Pleasure‘.
Over on the core front, there’s Melbourne deathcore purveyors, Gravemind, who continually gain new traction and bigger attention with each subsequent release. They’re truly one of the better deathcore acts in Australia right now, harbouring so much potential. If they play their cards right on the day and play their instruments and songs even better, this could be a momentous stepping stone performance for the group moving forward into their debut album (which they just wrapped up recording). As for Adelaide’s Falcifer, they’re a welcome last-minute addition to Unify. The up-and-coming heavy hardcore act is leading the local pack out in South Australia, pulling off this style of aggro, breakdown-laden music better than many of their peers right now. Bang your motherfuckin’ heads.
“Tear my last lights out”:
Hand Of Mercy were one of Australia’s best, no-bullshit hardcore mosh acts during their existence – the chest-beating mosh-anthem of ‘Chump‘ is proof they were more or less the Australian answer to Bury Your Dead. And these guys did it better than most in that regard, imbuing a heavier sense of dreading gloom and depressive emotions into their biting chugs and tectonic breakdowns. As one can see clearly defined by their masterful second album, ‘Last Lights‘. For Unify’s 2019 iteration, the Sydney outfit will be getting the ol’ band back together with original frontman Scott Bird for a one-off reunion set, one that I’m so fucking stoked for.
Expect all the usual cuts: ‘Dexter‘, ‘Last Lights‘, ‘Absence Makes The Heart Go Wander‘, the aforementioned ‘Chump‘, ‘Mr Nasty Time‘ and maybe even a sneaky ‘Rag on a Stick‘ mention too. (Hopefully, there’s another surprise or two in-store as well). On top of that, with the band having just re-released 2014’s solid ‘Resolve‘ LP with Scott’s vocals replacing Nick Bellringer’s original takes, expect said material to get a look-in too. Yet no matter how you spin it or which particular era of HOM you’re the most pumped for, it’ll just be great to see a once-dead Aussie hardcore reviving and giving it a red hot go. Even if it is just a one-off.
The end of an Odd World era:
In surprising news last month, Ocean Grove revealed that following their Unify 2019 show, vocalist Luke Holmes and guitarist Jimmy Hall will no longer be performing with the band. While there’s no word on whether the pair will work with the band when writing or when in the studio, Ocean Grove did drop what is the foreseeable final cut featuring said band members last month, ‘Glass Gloss‘; a decent enough continuation of their varied, bouncy, 90’s flavoured sound that feels like a fine homage of 2017’s ‘The Rhapsody Tapes‘. Given the success OG has cultivated from previous Unify appearances, as well as their ever-rising trajectory, I honestly can’t think of a better way for them to send off Luke and James and this current chapter than a set like the one that’s about to go down. All before moving forward onto new music and new heights, with maybe some new faces too.
Haha, nah, just kidding.
Maximum Human Carrying Capacity Reached:
One of the best heavy draw-cards for the 2019 event is the monstrous Chicago hardcore outfit, Harm’s Way. Last year’s ‘Post Human‘ was stupidly heavy; a striking, misanthropic beast written about the darkest epoch of humankind – the now. Of course, everyone loves to label bands like Harm’s Way as being “crushing”, but these dudes legitimately nail that description more than most other groups right now. For an air-tight unit that embodies hefty muscles, mosh pits, strict workout routines, and thick protein shakes, Harm’s Way actually have a lot to share in their music, with plenty of weighty emotion and bleak discussions about our species’ current predicament buried deep amongst the earth-shattering riffs and indomitable vocals. Come 4pm on Saturday, expect existential dread, hectic moshing and plenty of violent fun.
It (Still) Remembers:
Every Time I Die. They’re one of the all-time greats when it comes to hardcore and alternative music. That’s been true for quite some years now and it was also true when the band dropped 2016’s universally acclaimed album, ‘Low Teens‘. The last time we caught the Buffalo hardcore act live was when they were here last, catching both their 2017 Unify set and their all-ages Melbourne headline stopover, and we were left gobsmacked by both performances. With being another last-minute addition to the line-up following I Killed The Prom Queen’s swift exit, the always-ferocious Every Time I Die will inject pure energy and riffy chaos into proceedings. If hardcore was a religion, ETID’s upcoming set, as they no doubt shoot through old gems and ‘Low Teens‘ material alike, will be a true hymn; searing throats and lungs and serenading ears across the grounds. And when the earth becomes weighed down come the end with the spine-chilling ‘Map Change‘, it’ll be a beautiful sight to behold.