Just about every day, Angry Metal Guy pushes out a review of an upcoming or recently released album, producing press for the album whether we love it or hate it. It exposes readers to a lot of material, but disadvantages artists who aren’t putting out music at any given time. Given a small temporal window, this creates a very biased sample of the music scene. I love reviewing albums, but a lot of great and criminally overlooked bands are in between releases right now, and it kills me to see their hard work go unseen. So in order to rectify their invisibility, they’re being talked about here, where my shitty opinions have the outsized soapbox needed to fling themselves out onto the populace like fetid water from a fire sprinkler.
For this seminal edition of Sampling Bias, we travel to the lost continent of Australia, a desolate land ruled by the strangest and most basal beings mammalia has to offer, and home to some of the most incredibly dark, desolate and hopeless music I’ve ever heard. A surprising number of brilliant Australian bands have come out of the woodwork in recent years, delivering not just thrills, but quite often genuine chills. Maybe it’s something in the water – or lack thereof.
These are the best Australian bands you’ve never heard of:
Now that Altar of Plagues has called it quits, despite the chuckleheads in Deafheaven still going strong, there’s a huge gap in post-black metal where the leaders of the genre should be. One of the bands vying for the spot, hopefully the eventual inheritors of the
altar throne, is Brisbane’s Hope Drone. Though their approach is more straightforward, the effect is in full force. The band’s 2013 self-titled debut is possibly the most devastatingly nihilistic recording I’ve ever heard, both instrumentally and lyrically. The band channels both the sickness of Ulcerate and the beauty and atmosphere of Isis while atomizing any shreds of meaning you find in life. Powerful tracks “Finite” and “Ash” peel away the constructs of meaning and progress layer by layer to lay bare fundamental truth- that there is, as their repeated motif screams, “No future but nothing.”
Fourteen Nights at Sea
If you left the genre of post rock nailed to a cliff face for a decade, you would return to find this. Sun-scorched, pummeled by storms, torn by winds, frayed and threadbare – its colors faded, its textures alien. This music begs for the abyss but sleeps under starry skies. Fourteen Nights at Sea‘s aesthetic is so incredibly unified in both decay and beauty that even their album covers are a movingly dismal experience. Gazing at their untitled 2011 album is almost as chilling as hearing its simplistic and morose finale, “We Have Reason to be Afraid, this is a Terrible Place.”
The Schoenberg Automaton
In the interest of full disclosure: yes, I’m a total fanboy. But who could resist going gaga over the Brisbane quintet’s mathy, atonal and abstract death metal experiments? Combining unsettling sub-melodies with crushing riffs and extreme technicality, their debut album Vela made my top ten list last year and has continued to please with repeated listens. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign which raised over $10,000, their sophomore release Apus is due out this fall and I’m quivering with excitement to get both the promo the band promised me and my hard copy. In a fall chock full of big technical death metal releases (Revocation, Beyond Creation, Rings of Saturn, and [maybe?] Gorod) this is an album that you should watch out for. Whet your appetite with “Pineapple Juice and the Tough Stuffed Olive.”
Despite my relative indifference towards the whole of metalcore/deathcore/djent and their scene/genre group/teenager shitfest, I realize there are a lot of people out there who genuinely like the music and it would be remiss of me to skip over the group out of personal preference. It turns out, after some digging, you can find pretty cool stuff in the genre, and believe it or not, there’s still core out there that tickles my fancy. Polaris follows the tropes, belting out pristine cleans and chugging with the chuggiest, but their progressive flair and consistently inventive songwriting packs in enough interest to warrant a few listens from even hardened cynics like myself. It’s hard not to be wooed by their amalgam of subtle atmosphere, soaring melodies and tastefully written breakdowns. While they’re by no means reinventing the genre, I’m more than happy to see a young band making tired tropes usable and effective again.