CW: child abuse.
We last heard from Sydney’s Arteries in October 2020 by way of the bitter, self-loathing aggression of ‘Fatty Boy,’ where the Australian group turned over a new leaf by incorporating darker ’90s choruses and nu-metal licks into their chaotic, jarring brand of extreme metal. (With some lyrics that recalled ‘Break Stuff‘ and ‘Vietnow‘.) But we aren’t here to talk about Arteries previous single, I just opened with that as I never talked about it upon its release and thought I’d play catch up now. We’re here for ‘Play Nice.’
‘Play Nice‘ is inspired by The Family, an Australian cult from the 1970s that abused, brain-washed and drugged dozens of children, lead by one Anne Hamilton-Byrne who believed herself to be the incarnation of Jesus Christ (religion; not even once), and who died in 2019. A death I’m sure many celebrated. As for the song, its lyrics tell of the fear these children felt, the erasure of their identities while being trapped within the claws of The Family. That cult aspect is a core part of the music video’s greyscale, unsettling religious imagery, the first minute of the film clip containing this mid-20th century, black-and-white horror movie vibe.
“Play Nice is inspired by the new age North Victorian Australian religious cult in the 1970s known as ‘the family’ who was led by a woman who claimed she is Jesus reborn (aren’t they always?) named Ann Hamilton-Byrne. Byrne stole children from other cult members and raised them under the impression they were her own. The children were constantly abused and drugged by LSD and some are still alive to this day and is written from the perspective of the children who escaped.” –Arteries discussing this new single.
The first 60 seconds of ‘Play Nice‘ plays out like some straight-up groovy, djenty Meshuggah worship, but without it ever feeling like a rip-off or being too close for comfort, thankfully. Like ‘Fatty Boy,’ this song is more straight-forward for the band, but it sounds like they’re feeling comfortable in their own skin here. From there, it opens up into this eerie passage with various vocal layers, spacious guitars, and a real emphasis on the band’s rhythm section. Then it ends with vicious, staccato riffage and stop-start metal rhythms with coarse, seething screams of Brendan Dafter leaning over the top.
It’s decent stuff but is on the shorter-side for Arteries, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s them getting right to the punchy point, but it also ends abruptly, before it feels like it can really get going. Though it’s worth mentioning this is taken from their upcoming second LP, which is due out sometime in 2021. So maybe it’ll be more cohesive when heard in context of the full release? Suppose we’ll find out!