Single reviews of the latest tracks from Press Club, Inertia, Deathbeds, Bloom, Shangrila, To Octavia, ATLVS, & Ebonivory.
Press Club – ‘Insecurities’
Originally a German exclusive for a B-side and rarities compilation from Visions Magazine, Press Club have very kindly made this melodic punk single available for everyone around the world this past week. In many ways, ‘Insecurities‘ is pure, honest Press Club, though never drab or tired-sounding. Dirty chain-sawing riffs howl, lively punk rock dynamics are king here, hazy but hooky vocal and guitar melodies rule the way, and Natalie Foster’s authentic singing and lyricism is as good as ever, bleeding in obligatory references to 2018’s ‘Late Teens‘ LP and more recent tracks like ‘Get Better‘ in terms of personal growth, dreams, and battling insecurities as the band gets bigger and bigger. Is it a cop-out to include Press Club on this list when they’ve already been smashing goals overseas in the last 12 months and have clearly broken beyond the “local” ceiling? Maybe, but I just really wanted a good excuse to talk about the newest ripper from one of Australia’s best current bands.
Inertia – ‘Heavy Eyes’
Sydney’s Inertia are a local Aussie band whose best-defining merit isn’t that they’re a local heavy band. They’re actually good! With a music video that calls back to the style of Belle Haven’s ‘You.‘ or Polaris‘ ‘The Remedy,’ heavy fans will be in familiar waters with the visuals of Inertia’s latest. Yet it’s all fitting for their new impassioned, well-written track: the spacey, high-reaching alternative post-hardcore sounds of ‘Heavy Eyes,’ taken from their next EP, ‘Connexion‘ (out Friday, April 17th.)
‘Heavy Eyes‘ places this newcomer band in line with nationals like Belle Haven, Meliorist, Young Lions, or like a less “metal” Northlane. At first, it’s direct and layered, but never lacking; melodic and even a little artsy. But then suddenly, with violently chugging riffs and feedbacking guitars, a heavier breakdown passage surprisingly slams down, as vocalist Julian Latouche screams with real heart, flipping the script with a borderline nu-metal vocal phrase near the end of this wicked little hardcore section. Changing back to where the song was prior, the simple but sky-rocketing hook of “No, I don’t want to watch you fade away” leads this radiant song on home, through resonating pitched-screams, tremolo guitars, and crunchy half-time grooves.
It’s tough watching someone you care about repeatedly make the same mistakes over again, and this is the view-point of ‘Heavy Eyes.’ It’s the frustration of seeing a loved one succumb to the same thoughts, with weight bearing down on their shoulders to a clearly crippling degree, yet refusing to give up on them; not complacent to just stand by and not say or do something to aid a person that you care for. It’s a wholesome sentiment and a theme that encompasses the sonics of Inertia’s latest tune very well.
Deathbeds – ‘Enough Isn’t Enough’
If there’s one thing that the metal community drools over, it’s a good piano rendition of well-known death metal, metalcore or deathcore tracks. Artists like Sean Townsend and Misstiq have made good names for themselves doing just that: re-working new or old heavy tunes and giving them an emotive, melancholic new sheen with their interesting piano arrangements. In the case of the latter artist, Misstiq actually lends her contemporary melodic finger-work to the bruising deathcore/metalcore sounds of ‘Enough Isn’t Enough‘ by Canberra’s Deathbeds, being perhaps one of the only positives going for this sextet’s latest single.
As the title suggests, it’s all about greed and gluttony; of never having enough and of constant consumption, in a variety of forms. Their upcoming EP, ‘Sinner‘ (out March 13th) is based around an extremely unoriginal thematic idea: a collection of songs centered on the Seven Deadly Sins relating to this new EP’s Priest antagonist. And in many ways, ‘Enough Isn’t Enough‘ sure sounds like pure gluttony. As it’s a band utterly gorging themselves on some of the most uninspired metal going around right now – from the fast but insipid blast beats, the song’s meh-tier breakdowns, the Make Them Suffer-aping dual-vocal style that’s bereft of thought or chemistry, and the boring low-tuned chugging sections – all with a disturbingly flat mix job that’d make Daniel Shenton giddy.
ATLVS – ‘Sorrow’
With tempo changes, two-step parts, dissonant guitars, squealing pinch harmonics, heavy grooves that the guitarists can punch the air to at shows, a questionably placed low growl section where new vocalist Mitchell James sounds out of breath, before finishing off with a slow grumbling breakdown, ‘Sorrow‘ sounds like any other song that could’ve been written by any other “new-age” metalcore band. Because that’s the over-crowded style that Gippsland’s ATLVS are trying to squeeze themselves into here, with nothing of note to separate them from their bigger and, quite frankly, better peers, especially that of Alpha Wolf. I’m not kidding: ‘Sorrow‘ truly sounds like ATLVS wished that they had dropped 2017’s ‘Mono‘ instead. Look, this is just milquetoast metalcore. Core kids will eat it right up, but as I literally have nothing else to say or add, I’m just going to move on.
Ebonivory – ‘Explosions After Dark’
Ballarat born-and-bred prog-metal outfit Ebonivory are one of Australia’s more promising progressive metal young stars. Learning well from the likes of TesseracT and Between The Buried & Me, I honestly believe that these guys are destined for greatness. Following previous solid tracks like ‘Patting The Black Dog‘ and ‘Tales Of Termina,’ I think we’re seeing even more of that potential take form with their bold new piece, ‘Explosions After Dark,’ one of their strongest cuts thus far.
Gliding between cool, stripped-back rhythmic phrases, head-banging grooves, a sweet techy solo, high-achieving prog melodies, and some seriously powerful displays of brutality, ‘Explosions After Dark‘ is another detailed, meticulous track from a band who deserve many more eyes and ears focused on their intricate art. Alongside the supportive strides of guitarist/backing vocalist Louis Edwards, frontman Charlie Powlett soars and roars over interesting prog-metal transitions, Connor McMillan’s percussive bass slaps combined with Dave Parkes‘ exceptional snare and hi-hat work, and atmospherics layered on thick over djenty, hard-hitting passages. A dynamic that the young band makes great use of in under six minutes. There’s a lot to like here!
Bloom – ‘The Service’
Written about the passing and subsequent funeral service of a family member, Bloom’s latest is an emotionally-draining and heartfelt portrayal of grief, bereavements, and the marks that our loved ones leave upon us after they’re gone. ‘The Service‘ sounds exactly like where everything in Australian melodic hardcore has been sitting comfortably at since 2012-2014, when bands like Hindsight, Sierra, Vices, Love Alone, The Evercold and such were local faves, consistently putting heads in venues from Rad Bar to Wrangler Studios. Here, ‘The Service‘ is a heavy yet melodic head-rush of feelings, built around Jono Hawkey’s evocative screams, riffs sliding between tough palm-mutes and loud power chords, moving sentiments of loss, with plenty of heart and sorrow.
Expect to see and hear much more from this young Sydney band in 2020, and to see them appearing on the one and only Hate5six in the near future. And remember: “Death be not proud.”
To Octavia – ‘They Tell Me They’re With Me’
With a blend of catchy pop, heavy metalcore, and alt-rock, Melbourne-based melodic hardcore act, To Octavia, will more than likely have a bright future within Australian music because of songs like ‘They Tell Me They’re With Me.’ Mixing sweet hooks, synths, simple grooves, easy riffs, To Octavia sit at one of the most approachable, digestible mid-points for alternative and heavy music I’ve heard in quite some time. This is just heavy enough for the hardcore/metalcore fans, but also just catchy enough for those people who lean towards rockier and poppier realms, too. It’s perfectly harmless and pretty inoffensive stuff.
‘They Tell Me They’re With Me‘ shares a universal theme: the heavy brunt of loneliness that hits when you realize that maybe those closest to you – your friends, your family, your co-workers, etc. – might not know the real you. It’s a theme of isolation, of hiding away one’s true self to save face, fit in, or avoid backlash; one that I’d assume most people reading this have felt at some point or another. I’ve felt those same feelings before, and I bet you have too. It’s this central idea of being relatable that’ll make To Octavia a big name as time goes on. Ya heard it here first. I’m not personally that stoked on what they do, but your own mileage may vary.
Shangrila – ‘Happy’
‘Happy‘ shows off a whole other intimate side to Perth’s Shangrila. Unlike their usual alt-rock/post-hardcore style, ‘Happy‘ is a much more chilled out and subdued song, yet it definitely isn’t worse off for it. If anything, it’s better! Cleaner guitars soaked in glittering reverb and engrossing delays, straight-forward but highly effective soft-then-loud dynamics, simpler but propulsive percussion, inviting crooning vocals, and a wondrous “you feel into my arms last night” chorus melody make this a fuckin’ lovely track. And that “I’ll stop the sunrise‘ crescendo is just pure magic. This is a beautiful, romantic piece about the intoxicating love and budding companionship that’s felt as a relationship first begins to excitedly form. And I have to award bonus points for that adorable Bernese dog seen in the songs video clip as well. So go and get lost in the moody, dulcet soul-crushing waves of ‘Happy‘: