In Trenches – Sol Obscura (EP)
With the demise in 2012 of Thrice, Alexisonfire and Underoath, it would be understandable to conclude that the post-hardcore movement has finally run its course, these being, along with Thursday, the best and most ambitious latter day exponents of a genre that had otherwise deteriorated during the 2000s into a rut of rampant commercialism, and something wholly unrecognisable from its raw and dissonant origins. However, by stripping away its excesses, Melbourne outfit In Trenches, which comprises, amongst others, guitarist Kevin Cameron of I Killed The Prom Queen fame and vocalist Ben Coyte from the now defunct Day of Contempt, have, with their second EP Sol Obscura, offered a challenging and insightful reinterpretation of the way this style of music can be played. Released in March 2012, and roughly translated as meaning ‘hidden sun’, Sol Obscura is as dark as its name suggests, and contains five tracks of virulent and uncompromising post-hardcore that is aesthetically gritty, oppressively discordant and utterly devoid of vocal melody. Beginning with the slow and sludgy ‘Beneath‘ before unleashing the fury of ‘Hollow Heart‘ and ‘An Impending Collapse‘, the EP is also peppered with post rock/metal build-ups and rhythmically complex riffs, the best of which can be heard on the eight minute closer, ‘Silhouettes‘. Furthermore, the production is imprecise and grimy, which enhances the EP’s overall rawness, as does the decision to hold Coyte’s harsh vocals back in the mix. Musically dense and pessimistic in outlook, Sol Obscura is, despite its relatively brief length, a fatiguing listening experience, but one that is well worth the effort. Hopefully it is also a sign of longer things to come!
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As I have mentioned previously, you’d be hard pressed to find a more tireless advocate for Australian metal and heavy music than the Welkin Entertainment Group, which is headed by Ne Obliviscaris‘ violinist, Tim Charles. In 2012, one of their many initiatives was to produce three compilation albums which featured up and coming Australian bands and were handed out for free at various festivals and gigs. The the first of these albums was the Progfest 2012 Compilation, which included tracks from Branch Arterial, Glass Empire, Breaking Orbit and a host of other progressive rock and metal bands, while the second compilation was the metal-focused Euphony Fusion VI , which included tracks by, amongst others Be’lakor, Gods of Eden and, of course, Ne Obliviscaris. As if giving away free CDs wasn’t enough, Welkin now has both compilations available for free download at the following Facebook pages:
Progfest 2012 Compilation
Euphony Fusion VI
According to Welkin, the download link for Euphony Fusion VI will be disappearing on Friday, so you’ll need to act quickly should you be interested in acquiring this feast of up and coming Australian metal. While you’re at it, why not ‘like’ the Welkin Facebook page, and keep your eyes peeled for The Time Is Now, a compilation of Australian hardcore that Welkin should also have available for free download shortly.
The first thing I want to say, as the newest addition to the Heavy Blog team, is what a privilege it has been to write with these guys over the past few months and to have the opportunity to perhaps expose more great Australian progressive rock and metal to the world.
Gushing aside, though, two things have struck me about 2012, the first of which has been the breadth and the quality of the releases by Australian bands, some of which appear on my list below. Of those releases that didn’t quite make the cut, I was particularly impressed with, amongst others, Elysian‘s Wires of Creation, Okera‘s A Beautiful Dystopia, and Avadante by Kettlespider. Promising EPs were also released by Gods of Eden and In Trenches, all of which bodes well for the future of music in this country.
The other thing that stands out to me, as I look down the list of albums that really captured my interest this year, is that 2012 has been a year dominated by mood, atmosphere and emotion. Now, to be fair, I am generally drawn to vibe heavy music, but never before have I listened to so many doom influenced bands!
At the end of the day, however, I was in no doubt as to which three albums would vie for top spot, each one stylistically, technically and structurally progressive, yet still emotionally accessible, and I am sure that all three will remain stalwarts of my collection for many years to come.
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