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Formed in 2005 featuring members of Within Blood, Shotpointblank and Mindsnare, Samsara established themselves as one of the countries heaviest and best hardcore bands in recent times. Within two years of the band’s existence, they had unleashed their crushing debut album “The Empitness”, toured the country numerous times, as well as landing support slots with the likes of Terror, Madball and Hatebreed.
In 2009 the band faced uncertainty after suffering the loss of front man Luke Bainbridge and drummer Tim Shearman, but instead of deciding to hang up the gloves, the band added Face Eater vocalist Nick Vine and drummer Mat Woodhouse to the line up and recorded what could essentially be considered as the band’s comeback album, their new album “Instinct Over Influence”, once again recorded with Converge’s Kurt Ballou.
The album’s opening track “Ritual” is the first introduction to the post-Baina Samsara, presenting how the band sounds with Nick Vine taking over the vocal duties. The song presents everything you can come to expect when listening to Samsara, from the speedy drumwork, heavy riffing and for the first time, Vine’s raw and relentless vocals. The riffing in the intro to “I Tire” is some of the band’s heaviest work to date, “Steel Trap” shows the band leaning towards some thrash tendencies, with the band hitting some serious speed at times.
“Existence” sees the band experimenting with a slower melodic intro before leaping into the song’s body and not looking back. The following two tracks in “Logic” and “Skin And Bone” don’t stray too far from the blueprint the band has developed, but the one thing they do is highlight the fact that Samsara have two of the best guitarists in Australian hardcore right now, and their ability to produce a quality riff is second to none.
The instrumental track “The Divide” is basically the older brother of “Emily” (the intrumental track on the band’s previous album), the songs share a similar structure and sound that many could consider to be boring, but the track does a perfect job of creating a divide between the tracks that have passed, and the remaining four to follow.
The album’s strongest track comes in the form of “Wayfarer”. If you can’t bang your head to this song then I suggest you have terrible taste in heavy music, and that you may need to go and get your ears checked some time soon. The track is one of the best Samsara have ever produced, and definitely a highlight of the album.
The album’s closing track “The Snake” is three minutes of fury, pushing out more riffs you lift weights and punch things to. Ending the album is the instrumental “Breathe”, finishing off the album in relaxed state, allowing you to reflect on the punishment delivered during previous 11 tracks.
While for the majority, the album isn’t too different musically to “The Emptiness”; the production has been stepped up on this effort, giving the album a cleaner, bigger sound when compared with the rawness of the band’s previous effort.
It was always going to be a tough job for Vine to replace a vocalist and front man as good as Baina, but he has passed the job with flying colours, proving that he has what it takes to be up their with some of the best vocalists in the scene right now.
Unfortunately for Samsara, “Instinct Over Influence” is always going to be compared to “The Emptiness”, and Vine’s vocals will always be compared to Baina’s. If you can look past the change of vocals, “Instinct Over Influence” is a great second album for the band.
2. No Peace
3. I Tire
4. Steel Trap
7. Skin And Bone
8. The Divide
9. Tiny Souls
11. The Snake