For Fans Of
If you’re a frequent Melbourne gig goer, then chances are that you’ve at one point been approached by an enthusiastic member of local metal outfit, Copia. Whether it be lining up outside The Corner Hotel, 170 Russell or another venue around Melbourne, just walking out from a sweaty gig, or while even wandering around the festival grounds of something like Soundwave (when that was still a thing.)
I mention this because while at Atreyu’s ‘A Death-Grip On Yesterday’ headline show at the Corner Hotel last year, I recall having one such encounter with a Copia member. See, I was waiting outside in line along with a few dozen other punters for doors to open because I’d be damned if I was going to miss Dregg’s opening set. While standing in line, one such member from Copia was walking down the line, asking people if they knew or had heard of his band before. If not, he’d ask if they would like a listen, and if you answered ‘yes’ to this musical gatekeeper, he’d hand you some basic-bitch consumer headphones and hit play, exposing you to their music.
Now, I do really respect their hustle in trying to get their music out there in old fashioned ways – something they’re obviously quite proud of by how much they show off it in their recent ‘Never Forget‘ music video. So, anyway, when this band member came down to me, I said, “Yeah, fuck it, why not?” The dude gave me a listen to one of their songs (don’t remember which one exactly) and my first thought about this particular mid-2000’s sounding metal track, which I also voiced to him, was “Man… you guys love really love bands like Parkway Drive and All That Remains, aye?”
“You don’t really like it, do you?” he asked me, looking sort of cut up about my comment. I responded honestly with “No, I don’t mate, it’s far too generic, sorry.” He said “cheers”, took his headphones off me and on he went down the line, asking more people if they’d like to listen. True story, too.
From here, we now move from the dystopian hellscape that is real world Melbourne to the opinionated shitstorm that is the digital realm. As not even six months down the line from that encounter outside of the historic Richmond venue, I still describe Copia as generic and derivative. It was woefully cookie-cutter metalcore back when I heard their music on the corner of Swan Street eagerly, and it’s still exactly the same now after hearing the band’s new album, ‘Epoch‘.
As the follow-up to 2013’s okayish full-length, ‘Eleven:Eleven‘, ‘Epoch‘ and the 11-songs housed within it worship at the altars of bands like Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Five Finger Death Punch, and Australian acts like Parkway Drive, Feed Her To The Sharks, and Northlane – namely the latter’s much earlier material. The general sound, style and vibe of Copia’s music lands far too close for comfort towards those aforementioned artists. Of course, not every single band needs their own genre or an “individual sound” – Parkway Drive sure as shit got away without having one – but sweet Stalin’s moustache, Copia went all in here with their influences. So much so that that’s now the only thing you’ll find on this record; influence and not individuality.
A deep void of anything resembling originality aside, there’s little conviction held in these 11 songs, a result of the solid but far from amazing vocal deliveries and lyrics that could easily be swapped out for any number of other contemporary metal bands. That further hurts the already pitiful staying power this record has. See, after each run through of ‘Epoch‘, recalling exact moments from it – moments that weren’t the ‘Broken Bones‘ or ‘Watching‘ intros nor the interlude track as those weren’t the boring metalcore parts – was fuckin’ difficult. For every chorus felt so interchangeable with the rest, every riff felt like it belonged in the previous songs riffage bank, and the handful of chug-laden breakdowns this album features just felt recycled at best. So, while Copia is nothing if not consistent, they’re also consistently dull and repetitive, sadly. I mean, why should I talk about the individual songs here when they’re all so bloody similar and they all merely land the same beats (no pun intended) structurally and instrumentally? It’d serve little purpose and would just waste my time and yours.
I also cannot help but think that if they’d expand and develop their cleaner, melodic shades and outright ditch the generic metalcore sound and phoned-in heavy sections, then Copia could very well be worthy of your time in, well, time. But as it stands currently, the musical conventions Copia employ just feel like a band ticking the boxes off on a checklist. If I had to guess, that checklist would probably look something like this:
1. Each song having the same heavily gated, low-tuned, Axe-FX guitar riffs with your tpical tones and rhythms for the “djent” crowd out there
2. A tight yet heavily sampled drum kit with all the expected double kick patterns and breakdowns in place
3. Dual vocals that shift between actually solid clean vocal melodies yet weak, muted growls and grating screams
4. A little too boomy low-end yet decent chugging bass (that’s actually quite present at times, thankfully)
5. A brief mid-album interlude track with a voice sample cause sure, why the hell not?
6. Lyrics about overcoming humanity’s destructive nature and the usual freeing your mind wank that a million other bands have jumped on before and will continue to long into this genre’s future
7. Overused filter sections and the occasional reverse effects
8. A chopped-up vocal edit that would make The Amity Affliction’s Joel Birch envious. (Though, that vocoder vocal effect on ‘Disconnected‘ was a nice touch.)
9. And finally, obligatory synths and virtual strings on various songs. (See: ‘Broken Bones‘ and ‘Watching‘.)
Check, check, double check and wait, you guessed it – motherfucking check!
Now, all of those trite elements aren’t necessarily the core issue here. Yes, they don’t help, but they aren’t the real root of the problem. The key issue with this particular record is the lack of imaginative and engaging songwriting with those above tools, for too often does ‘Epoch‘ feel like the Melbourne quartet is merely going through the motions of the absolute most standard metalcore release.
Again, it all just feels like a checklist of cliché ideas being ticked off because that’s what the band thought was expected of them. Of course, it could also just be because this is the music that this four-piece enjoys hearing and loves playing, in which case, fair enough! But that sure as shit ain’t getting them out of dodge!
What makes matters worse for the derivative nature of their music is the absence of sorely needed dynamic and musical variation, which only exacerbates what a sheer slog this record is. I mean, good god, ‘Epoch‘ is just too fucking long for its own good! (*In before comments about this review also being too long*.)
All up, the release is just short of the 50-minute mark; a potential eternity in metalcore years. Once you hit the forgettable mid-section pair of ‘No Time’ and ‘Haunted’ – that’s tracks six and seven respectively – there is still around 20 minutes left on the clock, and even more depressing, there’s little to write home about in that final stretch. Which is actually how’d I sum up this album – nothing to write home about.
No, I assure you my attention span is fine, thank you very much. After all, I do really quite enjoy Godspeed You! Black Emperor. No, it’s not simply because listeners nowadays are numbed by Apple Music or Spotify and want instantly satisfying music. No, it’s not solely because we live in a ‘singles generation’. No, it is because that kind of length for such a generic, monotonous record is just unnecessary; it’s overkill, really.
Because for all of the quantity, it needs to be backed up by quality, and Copia just have not provided the quality here.
Look, if this album had been cut down to an EP, then maybe things would have been a lot better. As an EP, if it had started with the one-minute interlude, followed by ‘Broken Bones’, ‘Disconnected’, ‘Never Forget’ and then ended with the actually decent closer of ‘Watching’ – by far the album’s “best” songs, which I guess isn’t saying a whole lot, either – then this review would’ve been a very different story. But unless Copia has somehow developed time-travelling technology in their spare time, that will forever remain wishful thinking.
Okay, if you enjoy derivative melodic metalcore of the previous decade that follows in the very same vein of bands such as Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Parkway Drive and Trivium, then Copia’s ‘Epoch’ should do… something for you. But if you’ve had your absolute fill of this style then for the love of almighty fuck, look elsewhere in search of good, fulfilling heavy music.
May I suggest ‘The Fall Of Ideals’ by All That Remains or Killswitch Engage’s ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’? I’ve heard that their both great albums.
1. Broken Bones
3. Resist Resonate
6. No Time
8. Never Forget
‘Epoch’ is out March 31st. Pre-order it here. You know, I’m quite sure I still have one of the band’s old CD’s they gave me at Soundwave one year. Probably won’t listen to it after this, though. Because while I respect their hustle, I do not respect the utterly bland music that this band has churned out.