Metalcore done right.
Week in, week out, day in, day out, I get sent a near-endless stream of new releases from bands the world over in what is my ever-growing email inbox.
Not that I wish to complain too much, but I've heard more bands than I'd probably ever need for a fucking lifetime since taking over as the (let's face it, shitty) editor for KYS. So much so that I only now become truly giddy when I find a band that's actually fucking good for their genre. This happened recently when Perth's Illyria dropped their epic track, 'Swansong'; a terrific example of what modern black metal could achieve. This excitement also applies to other styles of music when a good band comes along; whether they be pop-punk, psychedelic rock, grindcore, death metal, or as the case here is, metalcore.
Now enter Melbourne trio, Windwaker, and their debut EP, 'Fade'.
I was first made aware of Windwaker when we premiered their kickass single, 'Castaway', last November. Ever since then, I've been excitedly but curiously waiting to see what these dudes would push out next, as they're one of the few local Aussie acts that are doing metalcore justice right now.
With the band's very first demo, 'Knock Down, Rebuild' (which has been rightfully removed offline) and their so-so 2015 single, 'The Charade', one could see that work was really needed but that Windwaker definitely had a greater potential locked away within themselves; those growing pains just needed to be experienced first. As such, with their new five-track EP, and despite some growing pains still being present, Windwaker has excavated and then utilised a large amount of that potential to make 'Fade' a solid release.
To put it bluntly, 'Fade' sounds like if Pierce The Veil suddenly grew a pair and if Memphis May Fire's post-2009 material wasn't utter mediocre shite.
[caption id="attachment_1092610" align="alignnone" width="760"] Windwaker: Chris Lalic (drums), Will King (vocals), Indey Salvestro (bass). PC: Lord Media.[/caption]
Kicking things off is the aforementioned 'Castaway', which is for my money, the band's best work thus far. This wicked three minute and twenty-five-second introduction to 'Fade' sets the scene very well. As 'Castaway' really encapsulates Windwaker's sound; the emotional lyrics, the soothing cleans and strong harsh screams, their knack for well-used melodic textures (guitar layers, atmospheric keys, a real sense of space), the band's love of catchy, soaring choruses, slick guitars and solid but thankfully never monotonous breakdowns. Whether it's the Architects-like rager 'The Destroyer' being the EP's heaviest cut, the best-of-both-worlds ground that the catchy 'Awake' and the emotional, mental health inclined 'Your Own War' achieve, or even the more melodic and eerily BMTH-sounding closer that is 'Take Me With You'; this is a consistent EP whose opening track fully embodies what follows sonically and structurally.
In saying that, and while 'Fade' is indeed consistent in its delivery, tone and style, don't expect anything else genre-wise here nor any sonic curveballs to hit you during this 18-minute listen because you will be left utterly wanting in that regard. For 'Fade' doesn't present any further variation outside of the group's somewhat generic metalcore framework. However, that's not a cardinal sin here as this is, after all, a five-track EP and not a full-length album so there was never any risk of the band overstaying their welcome with long songs or a lack of variation. Hopefully, that's something Windwaker will be mindful of when the time for their next EP or even their debut full-length arrives.
Now, unlike some of their peers who rely on two vocalists, both of Windwaker's vocal styles comes from the same pair of lungs - frontman Will King. His vocal timbre on both the heavy and clean fronts sits somewhere between the screaming of old mate foot-in-his-mouth Matty Mullins and the high-register singing of snapback wearing, teenage heartthrob Vic Fuentes. Yet what stands out here is that King's vocals show a strong range and a real sense of character too; both of which don't get lost in dual-tracked layers, excessive reverb, and needless, overdone pitch-correction. (Although, I can't say I'm all that surprised of King's vocal strength here, considering his truly awesome vocal covers of Childish Gambino and I, Valiance).
But while King and his bandmates (including studio guitarists Jesse Holt and Chris Moohan) delivered solid performances here, the EP's mix that lets them down a bit. It's definitely not a bad production job, it just isn't as punchy, as impactful nor as crisp in the high-end as I would've initially expected from a band with Windwaker's sound. I'm not a stickler for lower dynamic range as if it's not loud enough, you just fucking turn it up and stop being a scrub. But even then, the sonics here kinda fall flat when compared with more recent Aussie releases, like Deadlights' 'Mesma', for instance. For 'Fade', Windwaker worked with Australian producer/engineer Sonny Truelove. While I'm sure he helped the band out in the songwriting department and while I have yet to hear a bad mix from Truelove (his work on Young Lions' 'Blue Isla' and The Comfort's 'Love' EP are easy standouts of his), here the mix fits more of a 'rock' approach rather than a 'metal' one. Meaning this isn't the absolute strongest crux that Windwaker's music could stand upon.
I don't know, maybe I've been listening to too much of Blood Command's hectic new album and I just expect too much now.
Look, 'Fade' isn't a perfect or amazing EP. I think that we – Windwaker, themselves included - can all agree on that. However, what 'Fade' is, is a solid release from a young and talented local band with vast potential; hinting at what may come next. Just like any good EP should do, really.
Like a breath of uplifting fresh air sweeping through a dreary, depressing metalcore landscape that features such garbage heaps like In Hearts Wake's new album, 'Fade' is a solid pick-me-up for those feeling disenfranchised with this genre. While not ground-breaking or original by any means, Windwaker pull it all off very well, signalling that their future is a bright one. I know that I'm very excited about their future.
3. The Destroyer
4. Your Own War
5. Take Me With You
'Fade' is out Thursday, May 31st. Pre-order it here. Listen to it while you play through the fourth best Zelda game of all time.