For Fans Of
It took me a long time to realise that metal wasn’t just about playing as fast as you possibly could. Having been blooded on a diet of Metallica, Slayer and Evile, for a long time I thought that pure heavy metal was for the real Thrashers and that breakdowns were for mere posers. Oh, if only I had discovered Adelaide outfit Reactions when I was that narrow-minded 17-year-old (I know, I know – much older than you probably thought) “metal warrior”, maybe I would have embraced the beauty of variety in heavy music far sooner. As for Reactions, this Adelaide hardcore outfit’s furious debut ‘Soul Witness’ still contained the speed and thrash spirit that would have indeed caught my attention back then. However, the heavier, darker listen that is this year’s ‘March of Dissolution’ would’ve fallen under the dreaded ‘core’ banner. Thank the heavens that both myself, and this SA band, have both changed.
Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t like this band’s debut. It was aggressive, loud and fun, bringing a far more traditional flavour of sounds to the diluted Australian hardcore circuit. However, there is a kind of immense power in a slow, evil groove that no amount of speed could ever hope to match, and these local boys have really caught on to that idea.
Album opener ‘Confirmation Bias’ wastes no time making this idea clear, with slow, heavy riffs a refreshing new addition to the speed that once made up so much of their early sound. First single ‘Heavy Chains’ follows suit, throwing up one hell of a strong chorus by mixing the anthemic nature of Aussie hardcore with early 90’s Machine Head heaviness to produce a dissonant yet tasty slab of metal. The techniques explored here aren’t necessarily new by any stretch of the human imagination, but the aggression with which Reactions deliver their latest product gives it all a unique spin. Case in point is the sure-to-be live staple of ‘Wrong Direction‘, mixing the band’s trademark heavy guitars and pounding drums with a leering, melodic chorus that adds a real sense of atmosphere to the proceedings.
What makes this new LP so entertaining is that it builds on all the ingredients that make up the Reactions dish; rather than taking an abrupt turn away from the standard recipe that’s worked well for the band. ‘Follow The Leader’ and the suspiciously 80’s sounding ‘Toxic Waste’ all tread the line between beatdown and thrash metal, but with smoother transitions, more intricate guitar leads and a greater variety of rhythmical feel overall. ‘The Prophecy’ sets off in a swung feel before somehow transitioning to a thundering breakdown, picking right up again for its solid finale. The very same can be said for ‘Colourblind’, what with its doom-laden march turning into a hurricane of thrashing fury, as well as the industrial effects that screech over the thunderous titular track.
In fact, that’s actually my core issue with ‘March of Dissolution’: it’s simply a bunch of heavy moments transitioning to more heavy moments, and then back again.
The only thing preventing this record from being one of the best releases this year from the Aussie heavy community is the lack of dynamic variety. It’s understandable that Reactions primary goal is to produce a collection of in-your-face tunes designed to hit with the force of multiple speeding trucks, yet 11 tracks of outright assault does grow wearisome at times. To be fair, the quintet shows glimpses of a more measured, melodic beast throughout the record, most obviously on ‘Complacency’; a track that somehow makes an acoustic guitar intro and blast-beat outro work on the same track. And then there’s the smattering of newer melodic shades and passages that sneak their way into these 12 tunes. However, for the most part, Reactions is all systems go from the very first beat, and by the end of this new record, the effect of the power shown by the band begins to wears off slightly.
Ultimately, the way that ‘March of Dissolution’ is digested will depend on what you personally seek in a hardcore record. For fans of sheer balls to the wall aggression, Reactions have well and truly got you covered here. For those who want to see a bit more variety throughout the course of a record, things begin to run out of puff towards the end. However, even if you do fall into the latter category, this LP will still undeniably be the strongest record that this band has to their name thus far, with immense promise and potential clearly on display.
‘March of Dissolution’ is a record that might overcook the broth at times, but it still produces a fine feast of quality heavy music. The way this Adelaide band have incorporated melodic elements to their hardcore sound is exciting and is something that Reactions should definitely continue down the road; more than likely producing some incredible results. Of course, things are also still fast and loud here when they need to be, but a bit of change – even of the loud kind – makes this record far more enjoyable.
1. Confirmation Bias (The Storm)
2. Heavy Chains
3. Wrong Direction
4. Follow The Leader
5. Toxic Waste
6. The Prophecy
8. March Of Dissolution
10. Side Effects
12. Victims Of Discipline