Two decades after Australian instrumental post-rock gods, Dirty Three, commenced their trail blazing career, it seems as if instrumental music is finally gaining some momentum in this country as audiences re-awaken to the fact that vocals are not an essential gateway to musical accessibility and emotional engagement. In 2012, there were a number of interesting Australian instrumental releases, including from Kettlespider, Dumbsaint, and the Dirty Three themselves. However, of all the Australian bands now trying their hand at instrumental music, the one with the greatest resonance appears to be post-rockers sleepmakeswaves, who in 2012 issued a United States release of their Australian Record Industry Association Awards nominated debut album, …and so we destroyed everything. Consisting of four members only, sleepmakeswaves create surprisingly dense and layered soundscapes that are padded with electronics and suggestive of a larger complement of instruments, and evoke brightly vivid imagery such that the music has, at times, somewhat of a cinematic soundtrack quality…in a very good way! Furthermore, like most post-rock albums, …and so we destroyed everything relies heavily on build ups and starkly varied dynamics as a means by which to stimulate interest within the listener. However, the reasons, perhaps, why this album has such broad appeal are firstly that there is a noticeable Australian heavy progressive rock influence on the sleepmakeswaves sound, and secondly, that unlike many of the post-rock bands out there, sleepmakeswaves produce music that is wholly unpretentious. To the contrary, it is generally upbeat, rarely repetitive, produced well, and feels like a genuine attempt to create emotionally involving music, rather than an exercise in demonstrating how much more musically enlightened and intellectual the band is than everyone else. Have no doubt, sleepmakeswaves are a band on the move, and are a shining example of just how rocking and engaging instrumental music can be. – GS
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.
2012 has been a standout year for Australian metal, with the release of stellar albums from the likes of Melbourne bands Ne Obliviscaris, Be’lakor, Elysian and Okera, and the emergence of, amongst others, Sydney’s Gods of Eden, whose EP was praised here at Heavy Blog by Nayon just a few weeks ago. As if that wasn’t feast enough, another band that is starting to make its presence known is Melbourne tech-death metellers Hadal Maw, who have recently released a promotional film clip to their song, ‘Shadow Caste’, and a guitar play through video to their song ‘Merchant of Aeonian Pulse’, both of which you can take a look at below. Featuring members of a number of other well established bands, including Alarum‘s drummer Rob Brens, and guitarist Ben Boyle from A Million Dead Birds Laughing, it’s obvious from these two tracks that despite not yet playing a live show, Hadal Maw are poised to make some massive waves, what with their polished mix of Gojira-like groove, a riffing style reminiscent of the great Vogg, and tastefully technical flourishes, all performed with a supreme level of confidence and skill. Certainly, a band to keep an eye on for the future, but in the mean time, satiate your appetite by downloading ‘Shadow Caste’ and ‘Merchant of Aeonian Pulse’ from Bandcamp, and heading over to ‘like’ them on Facebook.