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Back in 2017, I was pretty dang harsh on Meliorist’s second EP, ‘ii.‘ As it was a contrived release from a band that was trying way too hard to ape their influences; bands like Fallujah, Veil Of Maya, Between The Buried & Me, Periphery, and so forth. However, the difference between that EP and their newest release, the severely solid step-up that is ‘Patterns,’ is night and day. See, ‘Patterns‘ isn’t as “metal” as their other material, but that’s a move for the better. You can still see the heavy inspiration that bands like Periphery and Veil Of Maya have on the group in terms of their guitar playing and vocal melodies, but unlike their last release, the key difference now is that things don’t just end there. In fact, ‘Patterns‘ sees Meliorist’s sound expanding much further.
Firstly, new vocalist Andrew Corfield brings heaps to the table, namely in how his vocals have a larger range on all fronts. Both the screaming feels and sounds real, passionate, and earnest (‘Oblivion‘ is specifically compelling) and the clean vocals gracefully bolster the warmth and soul of these new songs too. There’s not just the same ol’ dreary mid-range growl repeated over and over here like beforehand. Themes and feelings of fleeting youth (‘Wanderer‘), uncertainty (‘Illusion)’ isolation (‘Oblivion‘), moving on from the past (‘Memories‘), and mental health struggles (‘Symptoms‘, ‘Blackout‘) abound on this record. And Andrew’s vocals, on all accounts, reflect the necessary heart to make these lyrics – and thus the songs themselves – hit home, singing when it’s called for, screaming when the song fully requires it.
More than that, the guitar work from Andrew Apte and Max Lullfitz is brighter and way more colourful in tone – the beautiful chord voicing here is to die for. There’s more effects used but in nice and tasteful ways, the solos are actual solos now and are also finally interesting (no longer just lame licks repeated for a few lazy measures), and the riffs are not only frequent, they’re bloody tasty as well. Some may find the guitar melodies and licks cheesy, and maybe they are a little bit, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t downright fuckin’ hooky and enjoyable. Seriously, this is Tone-City and the melodic and harmonic output is far richer.
All of these things imbue ‘Patterns‘, and Meliorist’s sound as a whole, with so much more character. The vocal performances and instrumental songwriting here on ‘Patterns‘ contain a synchronicity that was sorely missing up until now. The style and song-writing approach here places the Aussie band in this interesting spectrum between the post-hardcore of Dance Gavin Dance or Circa Survive and the guitar-prog vibes of later-day CHON. However, it still feels like them, it still feels like Meliorist, and that’s so important. As there’s actual life and energy in their music now, goddamnit. There’s an actual dynamic at play, one that’s clear to see Meliorist worked hard away at, and it oozes from every pour of this release. It’s also just a lot of fun to listen to, quite simply! I feel that this is what the group have always been aiming but have only just realised now. It was a work in progress, but progression has occurred; this sounds like the bands’ vision becoming realised, and these eight new songs prove that.
Just like the record’s neon-inspired artwork gelling with the door-opening theme of their previous artworks, a dark 80’s synth arpeggio starts ‘Homeward‘, before kicking off with a chirpy clean guitar figure as a fresh, layered post-hardcore iteration of this Queensland act erupts into full bloom. All with busy, proggy drumming, super-charged screams and even some weirder, zorby synths coming in during the bridge. It’s a whole new other world than when compared with ‘ii.‘, and that’s awesome to see. ‘Homeward‘, and what follows on the rest of ‘Patterns,’ is the wonderfully real sonic evolution of a young but also talented band unfolding right before your very eyes.
Case in point, ‘Blackout.’ Here, things get bubblier, a little jazzier, more contrasting in timbre, and more jagged in percussive and guitar rhythm too. This song jumps through different genres and moods, and even shows-off a slick guest feature solo section from Mark Lettieri, the guitarist/leader from modern jazz-fusion lords, Snarky Puppy. And it’s fucking great! This whole track is just one big example of just how far Meliorist have come in the span of two short years. The songwriting and musicality is on a whole new level, and it’s seriously impressive. Now, it doesn’t change how I feel about their previous EP, and it never will, but I’m absolutely picking up what is being put down here with ‘Patterns.’
The hand claps, big-ass leads, and solid dual-vocal style of ‘Illusion‘ all give way to an awesome little jazz solo section that’s all kinds of sweet and sugary. But I’ll happily eat that shit right up! ‘Blossoms‘ is a short synth interlude, but one that feels in-keeping with the tone and sound of the wider record, leading perfectly into the delay-heavy, cavernous intro of my personal favourite, ‘Oblivion.’ Finally, closer ‘Memories‘ explodes with a major-key, yearning post-hardcore sound that’s contrasted by raw screams and some sick, well-timed delay’s too. ‘Memories‘, keeping the record down to a succinct eight tracks, highlights just how infectiously happy and catchy the entire release is with it’s dizzying pick and fret-work, making a real splash of wholesome vibes.
People often misconstrue that reviewers like myself want original, cutting-edge music from every single artist on each new release. Which is complete and utter bullshit, honestly. I just want to see a band be themselves, do their own thing, and (hopefully) make it work. And Meliorist’s ‘Patterns’ is a damn fine example of a band doing just that. ‘Patterns’ ain’t completely original but it doesn’t need to be: it’s still breaking new-ground for them as a band, and it shows real growth, with a now in-sync line-up, cool tones, and great songwriting ideas to boot. There’s so much colour and richness to the guitars here, so much more dynamic in the vocals, and that makes for blossoming life to fully swarm up and over the neon gates of ‘Patterns.’ Hell, it’s like a whole new band has stepped forward between the release of ‘ii.’ and now. And that growth is astonishing. Is this my favourite Australian release of 2019? Nah, not quite, but this is one solid, hooky record that has it’s own vibrancy and character. Could the band have maybe added another song or two? Yeah, perhaps, but as it, things don’t go on for any longer than they need to, and that brevity is for the better. And should you even listen to ‘Patterns’? You’re goddamn right you should!
03. Blackout (feat. Mark Lettieri)
‘Patterns’ is out now.