For Fans Of
After years toiling within Australia’s hardcore underground, Newcastle outfit Ill Natured have decided to put a firm stamp on 2018, with the recent release of their debut full-length album, ‘Twisted Visions’. Since the release of their demo in 2014, the group really has gone from strength to strength, releasing the well-received six-track ‘Depth of Despair’ EP in 2015 on Brisbane’s own Death’s Grip Records, followed by a short but solid while-you-wait teaser tape, featuring album cuts ‘The Hammer’ and ‘Faced With Death,’ released through current label Last Ride Records.
With the first album typically being the make-or-break point for most young bands in hardcore and metal, it’s safe to say that Ill Natured – sporting Sam Allen-Smith on vocals, Daniel Gibson and Charlie Henderson on guitar duties, Tom Maddocks manning the bass, and Ricky Gibson on the tubes – have a lot to prove with this record, and thankfully, the quintet steps up to the plate. Recorded and mixed by Elliott Gallart at Chameleon Sound, and mastered by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Trapped Under Ice, Sumerlands) at Solomon’s Gate, ‘Twisted Visions’ is a solid, cohesive and well-rounded slab of slamming, mid-tempo metallic hardcore. Think what their peers in Reactions and Relentless do, only slower.
Fans of Ill Natured will likely have already perceived the mission statement of ‘Twisted Visions’ by paying close attention to the ‘The Hammer’/‘Faced With Death’ tape from last year. Both tracks slot in back-to-back early on this album: the former acting as a crushing hardcore sermon, with swirling, cement-mixer riffs, squealing guitar heroics, and a vocal break in the bridge which rocks a guest spot from Downside vocalist Ryan Pond; the latter opening with a foreboding sample from seminal 1971 Aussie psychological thriller, Wake In Fright, before screeching guitars and Maddock’s rumbling bottom end provide a sonic background for lyrics which lament the utter horror of one’s everyday existence.
Across a large portion of ‘Twisted Visions,’ Ill Natured successfully strike a balance between lumbering heaviness and emotional intensity. Intro track ‘Crawl’ does exactly what the title suggests, with Gibson’s pounding drums and Allen-Smith’s vocals patched in straight from hell, with distorted and tonal hints of pain and anguish slowly seeping into the listener’s ears over three and a half agonising minutes. ‘Seal Your Fate’ ups the stakes, with palm-muted chugs from Gibson and Henderson, married against a mid-section beat-down and angular riffs which dart back and forth like menacing warning shots. (Riff city, this record often is). Relentless guitarist Dennis ‘DCold’ Vichidvongsa pops up on the title track for another cheeky guest spot, while ‘Beneath The Smoke’ and ‘Unholy Desire’ make the most of atmospheric layerings to darken the album’s mood more so, perfectly matching the visual aesthetic of Paolo Girardi’s (Craven Idol, Black Breath, Power Trip) downright sinister album artwork.
However, if there was any criticism to be levelled at ‘Twisted Visions,’ it’s certainly that the pacing and sequencing of the record occasionally gets stuck in gear, with tracks like ‘The Web’ and instrumental ‘Buried’ passing by without any real differentiation from their surroundings. Allen-Smith’s vocal performance is certainly consistent, yet the phrasing and delivery does become slightly ‘one-note’ by the time the listener hits Side B of the record. Album closer ‘Skeletons’ does hint at some variation, with drone and industrial undertones, clean vocal passages and a welcome injection of melody, which is a positive sign of future experimentation for Ill Natured down the road. Because God knows that the band might need such moments in higher frequency come future releases.
Ultimately, hardcore as a genre is one that allows for plenty of room for new ideas, but never outright demands them. Passion, dedication and integrity have always been at the core of the genre’s ethos, and Ill Natured certainly have all three of those aspects in spades. With their debut album, the Aussie band has successfully built upon their already solid foundation and produced a record that stays true to their musical style and overall visual aesthetic. What ‘Twisted Visions’ may lack in variation, it makes up in ruthless execution, with terse song-writing, thick riffs, tight rhythms and unwavering vocals. If you like your hardcore heavy, meaty, raw, full of riffs, and slower than a sloth in quicksand, then this one’s for you.
- Seal Your Fate
- The Hammer
- Faced With Death
- Unholy Desire
- Twisted Visions
- The Web
- Beneath The Smoke
‘Twisted Visions’ is out now via Last Ride Records (AUS) and Grim Reality Records (EU). Stream and purchase copies of the record here. And if watching dudes in Dad hats chucking a mosh is more your speed, here’s a video of the band’s set at Lairapalooza in Footscray last year: