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Having a monopoly on Australian hardcore could potentially be seen as something of an issue for Resist Records, if it weren’t for the fertile ground that they’ve helped to cultivate over their many years.
In 2015 alone, they’ve put out another supreme edition to the Miles Away back catalogue, and picked up Relentless, who put out their best material to date and killed it on tours at home and abroad. Not to mention Parkway deciding to infuse their recipe for 11 secret herbs and mosh with some stadium-ready riffs, hefty RATM worship and consequently drop-kicking their newest monster record through the ceiling of the Aussie music charts and teasing some poor chick named ARIA. Australian hardcore seems stronger now more than ever, and groups like Vigilante, Survival, Warbrain and Vices have all got a leg up from Graham & Co, so it seems only fitting that Melbournians Born Free are next in line.
On ‘Sorrow’, their début full-length release, this young quintet offers up slabs of dense, metallic hardcore, and foregoes any kind of wild experimentation, in favour of a more straightforward direction. This type of approach could be painfully boring in the wrong hands, but at only two years into their career as a band, Born Free showcase a remarkably deft touch when it comes to playing with the essence of the now revered New York hardcore sound, by avoiding the derivative pitfalls and clichés, and instead delivering catchy and consistent tunes that may be short in length, but big on good ideas.
On tracks like ‘Succmb’, ‘X-files’ and ‘Nothing’ (which features a ripping guest spot from Iron Mind vocalist ‘Cold Neil’), the influences of hardcore punk staples both old & new like Cro-Mags, Bitter End and Alpha & Omega can be heard, with gruff yet distinct vocal delivery, delicate hints of early thrash in the guitar leads, along with the obligatory, head-banging riffs and pummelling drum sections of a modern, heavy hardcore record. Thankfully, Born Free also recognise the need to shift gears and briefly spice things up with some different moods and textures mid-way through ‘Sorrow’, in the form of the slow, solemn dirge ‘Human’, which features some surprising clean/spoken-word hybrid vocals over a refrain of “I’m only human…”, which gives the track a pleasing Twitching Tongues vibe, albeit without any of the less flattering comparisons to Creed that band may have garnered for themselves. And after this sonic reprieve, the record picks right back up and gets down to brass tacks with the rollicking sing-along and crew vocals of the title track, the furious stomp of ‘Swinging Hammer’ and the epic closer ‘Fear’ to round out the 12 track record.
This is an exciting time for Australian hardcore. Young bands are taking up the charge from coast to coast, and groups like Imprisoned, Reactions, Ill Natured, Outright and more, are serving up world-class releases, that help to keep things fresh and alive for the next generation. Born Free have cemented their place in this new wave of Australian hardcore flag bearers, and with ‘Sorrow’ they should be able to confidently carry that torch into the bright future ahead of them.
1. Trust No One
6. X Files
10. Swinging Hammer