What makes Aussies so good at churning out top-notch heavy music? Is it hatred created by the heat, hatred created by the idea that many creatures there could kill them at any moment or hate created by the fact that Tony Abbot is their prime minister? Perhaps it could be all three! Today we’re going to take a look at three releases from a few groups that represent just three sides of the Australian metal spectrum. We have In Hearts Wake with Skydancer, Breaking Orbit with Transcension and Dead River Runs Dry with Hierophants of the Storm.
In Hearts Wake – Skydancer
A metalcore outfit hailing from Byron Bay, New South Wales, In Hearts Wake recorded two albums at the same time and staggered the release dates by a year. They were to be conceptually linked together. The first album Earthwalker came out on May 2nd of 2014 while the second album Skydancer came out in 2015. Earthwalker was plagued by the fact that it got interesting way too late into the album, but this album manages to spread the interest across the duration of the recording, even though that isn’t to say that there’s too much to be interested in. This is pretty standard metalcore fare cloaked in a light, creatively packaged message about the planet. Most of these songs feel pretty lifeless, with the exception of a few tracks. Northlane‘s new vocalist is featured on the best song on the album, “Intrepid,” which is funny because honestly this band seems like Diet Northlane. Most of these songs tend to blend together into an acceptable pile of musical mush that won’t keep your attention for the runtime of the record, but may keep you entertained within the the moment when you’re hearing it. Aside from a few curve ball features, such as the ones from the vocal duo of Hacktivist on the track “Erase“, there isn’t much here to talk about. A few fun breakdowns here and there maybe, but after that, you’re left with a record that you’ll have to listen to three times just to remember a a few semi-interesting things about it.
In Hearts Wake’s Skydancer gets…
Breaking Orbit – Transcension
A progressive rock band from Sydney, Australia, Breaking Orbit broke through with their debut record The Time Traveller in 2012. We praised it heavily, actually. The record was a great, hearty slab of prog goodness that had a bit of tribal influence for flavor, although, even if the record was only five minutes longer than Transcension it seemed like it was a little much to take in during one listen. This new album is much easier on the ears and has plenty of great tracks to keep you interested. The velvet crooning of vocalist Matt Quayle sound much more natural this time around, and having the aforementioned crooning layered over such well-composed/well-executed compositions is an undeniable formula for success. “The Glitch” is one of the best examples of this formula being put into use with stunning results that make sure all of the right spots are hit with incredible precision. Everything has its place and builds off everything else, just as great songs should. Other standout tracks are “Namaskar,” “When Isis Starts to Cry” and “Eternity.” The album also houses excellent highlights, such as the percussion breakdown on “Another Race” and the copious grooves scattered throughout “Song of the Sea.” With this latest offering, the band have tightened their focus and without a doubt have put themselves one step closer to being mentioned in the same breath as progressive titans far and wide.
Breaking Orbit’s Ascension gets…
Dead River Runs Dry – Hierophants of the Storm
A blackened death metal unit from Brisbane/Sydney, Australia, Dead River Runs Dry are a band that care about two things: sick riffs and your imminent demise. This is one of those albums where the cover sets high expectations for the content and the content absolutely delivers on all the promises the cover made plus some. The content is definitely not afraid to be rooted in black metal through and through, but it’s also not afraid to hit you with abundant and catchy thrash-soaked guitar parts coupled with brutal death/black metal vocals. They even throw some psychedelia, albeit sparingly. Songs like “Stormreaper,” “Skull of the Wind,” “Hyperic Vortex” and “For the Fallen” all effortlessly demonstrate how to write not just riffs, but songs that keep the listener’s jaw on the floor and their mind on the music. You can’t push this album into the background, as it will claw its way back into the foreground and spit in your face for even trying to diminish its presence. This is a band that has lovingly crafted a captivatingly sinister and at times beautiful atmosphere that you can get lost in because it’s presented so effectively. This is a debut full-length that impresses with ease and frequency and it truly deserves to be recognized for accomplishing such a daunting task.
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Dead River Runs Dry’s Hierophants of the Storm gets…