Marvellous Melbourne Metalcore, Mate.
God, remember when those Verb The Noun and I, The X or I, The Y band names were all the rage? I sure do and I’m quite thankful that the trend has more or less started to die out over the past couple years (#neverforget). Except, now we're left with all these plural band monikers. Vices, Reactions, Reflections, Volumes, Statues, Surroundings, Anchors, Adventures, Counterparts, Architects, Castles; the list just goes on and on and fucking on. Adding to this seemingly never ending list are the strapping young lads in Incentives, a band whose music is far better than their run of the mill name, thank Christ.
The Melbourne-based band announced their debut six-track EP, ‘Dusk’, last month and it’s nigh upon us (Thursday, June 30th. Save the date). It's so close that I'm sure you can almost taste the riffs.
Before I go any further, however, full disclosure here. I went to university with one of the bands guitarist, Rory Hynan. I say that because I genuinely like this band, and not just because I know a couple of its members personally. I'm sure that many of you know how it is with friends in bands. Sometimes it's like pretending you're okay with a friend's new girlfriend or boyfriend, even though you'd just wish that this new partner of theirs would get hit by a fucking bus. Yet you power on with the charade like a champion because friendship and other such nonsense. Well, that isn't the case here, because as I said above, I genuinely dig Incentives, friend or not. Now that that's out of the way, let's move on!
Musically, if you heard their previous single, 'Self-Decay', this EP is quite similar in its sound and its production. But again, just like said single, this release has got the quality to back it up. First up, there's the tight metalcore sound of bands like Volumes, In Hearts Wake (minus the excessive clean vocals) and Prepared Like A Bride (minus the failed crowdfunding). The band are also working off the popular melodic hardcore template, with influences stemming from bands like Perth's Surroundings and the almighty Counterparts. So yes, let's not beat around the bush here; Incentives are not original in their sound. Not in the fucking slightest. But just like Architects and Hatebreed, they deliver the real goods within a tried and test framework that many will know and love.
Mixed and mastered by Ocean Grove’s Sam Bassal, this Ep is a solid, high-end product in terms of sonic quality. Now, that's something that many younger bands should strive for. Of course, it's fine to have your music out the door and in people's ears but if the mixes ain't up to scratch, some bands can find themselves doing more harm than good. Okay, okay. Enough of all this fluff, let's get to songs!
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Unlike this review, the band doesn't fuck around, as they waste no time getting right in your face with 'Dawn'. It kicks in your ears from the word 'go'. No drawn out filter swell. No orchestral instrumentation that's written with solely virtual instruments. Just a hard-hitting tune right off the bat. But the real heavy-hitter here is 'Better Off', with a more rapid tempo and a far groovier rhythm overall. The song also gives off some massive Counterparts vibes, and that is never a bad thing. Plus, the gnarly as fuck breakdown that hits at 2:39 is just so well executed that you can't help but bang your head to it!
Actually, that's one thing the band nails - execution. They not only write good songs, but they also know how to follow it up by executing those songs just right. I really believe that the right execution can often make all the difference between greatness and amateur mediocrity. But I digress.
'Place Holder', despite its name, is a great song and a superb example of how the band blends their heavy and brutal with the clean and melodic. Likewise, 'Foreign' is a pure banger, despite having one of those goddamn drawn out filter swells I mentioned earlier. Even so, it is by far my favourite song off the EP and probably my favourite cut from the band so far. It is songs like these that show the band's come a long fucking way since that rather average 2013 two-track, that's for sure!
Finally, Max Chapman of Imprisoned guest features towards the end of 'Corrode', and his vocals really compliment the screams of Kyle Adams . So much so that I wish he had a much longer part in this song. Also on guest appearances, Tory Robertson of Harbours lends his voice to the eponymous track. His cleans work really well here as Incentives don't use a huge amount of clean vocals in their music. In fact, the only other track off the EP that features clean vocals is 'Dawn', courtesy of bassist Jeremy Rouch. As such, this section really stands out and it not only grabs your attention, but it holds it perfectly as well.
I always find that the truest sign of a great EP is that it makes you want more from the band. Such is the case with Incentives debut EP, 'Dusk', a release that many a band would be proud to have under their belts. With that being said, I don't think that this is some perfect, be-all end-all release, but that doesn't mean that it's not a fucking solid release. Cause it is! If you've never heard of Incentives before, now is the best time to educate yourself so you can forever look like you know your shit in Facebook comment sections years down the line.
2. Better Off
3. Corrode (Ft. Max Chapman of Imprisoned)
4. Place Holder
6. Dusk (Ft. Tory Robertson of Harbours)