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The Sydney heavy music scene is littered with run-of-the-mill metalcore bands trying desperately to cash in on the success of Parkway Drive, spewing forth cheap imitations of the autotuned vocals and tacky, synth-laden sound championed by Rise Records stalwarts like Sleeping With Sirens. Against this backdrop, a band like Clipped Wings is a very refreshing breath of air indeed. Despite never having played an official show before, the band has recorded and self-released a demo EP that reflects a youthful, exuberant and musically accomplished take on melodic hardcore, displaying an exhilarating and intense sound that is bound to please more accustomed ears.
The music of Clipped Wings lies at the approximate halfway mark between 50 Lions’ bare-stripped, driving throwback to a classic hardcore sound and the raw, melodic emotionality purveyed by forward-thinkers of the genre like Melbourne’s Hopeless, with each of the EP’s four tracks traversing varying points of this musical spectrum. On opening track ‘Let’s Talk’, the band introduces themselves with thrashy, low-end powerchords laced with dissonant phrases that foreshadow the breakneck energy that is to come, layering the instrumentation with a jangly, overdriven riff that harkens back to the early days of the hardcore punk genre. The track builds rapidly to a musical crescendo before segueing into a rapid-fire, minimalist punk drumbeat, climaxing with a rough-handed beatdown section that gives the EP a fun, mosh-friendly atmosphere.
The EP follows a similar stylistic path to bands like Refrain, deriving many of its sensibilities from the classic 80s hardcore sound developed by genre veterans like Gorilla Biscuits and Youth Of Today. The entire demo is threadbare, emphasising pared-down, D.I.Y. production values that exacerbate the raw intensity of the tracks. Songs like ‘Closed Curtains’ are firmly anchored by grainy, distorted guitar chords and bass notes that pulse through the mix with a deep, resonating crunch, set against pounding, washed-down punk beats that utilise the most minimal of drum setups. Melodic phrasings on the EP appear in the form of the occasional hard riff on songs like ‘Let’s Talk’, expanding to a full-blown guitar solo reminiscent of ‘Nowhere To Run’-era 50 Lions on standout track ‘Home’.
Despite the demo’s heavy-handed influence from Youth Crew-era 80s hardcore, the band manages to avoid sounding derivative by interweaving their songs with a melodic poignancy that is strongly reflected in their instrumentation. At varying points in the demo, their guitar work moves away from the low-end powerchord cliché in favour of dynamic progressions that are laced deeply with intense emotionality. These well-placed nods to the conventions of post-hardcore bands like Touché Amoré are reinforced by the vocal technique of frontman Michael. Michael exudes a powerful, gruff scream with an unwavering, mid-range pitch that is heavily accented by his Australian drawl. His voice provides a definitive personality to the demo, propelled by an impassioned, forceful tone that lends an affecting immediacy to the band’s music.
Clipped Wings have emerged from the cesspool of the Sydney music scene with a sound that provides a pleasing take on the tried and tested clichés of the melodic hardcore-punk genre. Blending the sensibilities of Youth Crew-era 80s hardcore bands like Gorilla Biscuits with the progressive musicality and affecting poignancy of modern post-hardcore bands like Touché Amoré, the band display a raw, rough-edged intensity, firmly anchored by accomplished musicianship and commendable songwriting prowess.
1. Let’s Talk
2. Closed Curtains
4. Clipped Wings