The Thunder From Down Under: Queensland
Welcome to the Thunder from Down Under – a subjective guide to all things bloody great in Australian heavy music in 2014. You may think we are all convicts, that we hitch a ride to work/school in the pouch of kangaroos, that we brush our teeth with Fosters and that we all talk like Steve Irwin (RIP legend!), and well by crikey we do most of the time.
What you may not be aware of is that Australia undoubtedly produces some of the most kick-ass heavy bands on the planet. To prove this to all the non-believers we present to you the first installment of Thunder from Down Under – featuring 8 awesomely ocker bands from Queensland, the sunshine state.
World class deathcore legends Aversions Crown have been on the rise now for the past two years. After a massive European tour with Thy Art Is Murder, they have just returned from a jaunt around Australia supporting The Acacia Strain. One of the only bands in their style that don’t have me reaching for the skip button, they are immense live and are great at what they do. Guitarist Chris Cougan gave me his thoughts on their European tour and what we can expect from AC in the near future:
“Over the past six months we have been working hard writing and recording our second album which is now in its final stages and very close to completion. We are all extremely happy with how it’s sounding and can’t wait to release it. In our opinion, it’s definitely a step up from Servitude. The new album is certainly not a regurgitated version of the last release. While we aimed to keep our sound we also tried to be as diverse as possible, especially with drums and vocals.
The songs have had much more thought put into them. We wanted to write songs that would be interesting to listen to yet we also wanted them to translate well to a live show. We can guarantee that those who enjoyed Overseer and Hollow Planet will get into this album. During this time we also had our first overseas tour. We played 24 shows across Mainland Europe and the UK. It was definitely a life-changing experience and has motivated the band to push even harder. It was mind blowing when we played our first show in Stuttgart, Germany. We didn’t know whether people would even turn up to watch us or if those who did happen to be there early would even like us. Surprisingly the second our intro sample started the floor opened up and people started to go crazy, they even knew most of our lyrics. Throughout the tour we played some crazy shows, most of them being bigger than any show we have played at home. The craziest show we played was definitely Manchester. It was a war zone.
It would be safe to say that our band learnt a lot from this tour and we are all extremely happy that we were given the opportunity to do it. For now, we are focused on releasing the album and planning to get back overseas.”
Suss Aversions Crown’s most recent single “Hollow Plant“:
Bitter Lungs frontman Toby Mitchell is possibly one of the funniest men in Australian music right now. If he ever gives up the band he could definitely give stand up comedy a red-hot go. Bitter Lungs play fast, loud, abrasive hardcore with a bit of rock, punk and metal thrown in for good measure. Their live show is super-tight, massively fun and always awesome. Toby waxes lyrical about the band and what they have coming up:
“In between taking calls at my call centre job the people I work with ask me what I got up to on the weekend. I often get really weird looks when I say I drank too much, and spent 30-40 minutes screaming into a microphone and taking the piss out of peoples religious beliefs and people in general. “you mean your thirty, balding, 110kg and a bit of a ranga and you play in a band, and people actually pay to watch that??!?” is the general feeling I get from that look they give me and the usual response of “oh…..” The conversation gets more awkward when they ask what we sound like and I reply “like an elephant on a meth binge”… “Well what do you mean by that?” they say. I mean that we are heavy, aggressive, unpredictable and faster than you expect us to be. I mean that I could very well have a heart attack mid set, and that there is the potential that things will get out of hand, words will be said that can’t be taken back, and glassings will occur. I play in Bitter Lungs, my name is Toby but some people call me Spud.
We have a vinyl due out at some point this year on Old School Cartel Records titled “powered by Nine Volt Batteries and Atheism”. It covers themes such as insomnia, fist-fights, the atheist/iconoclastic point of view, and the untrustworthiness of the human race. Old School Cartel is run by Choppaz from Rust Proof/Tenth Dan and Scott Mac from Toe to Toe. I am stoked with this as TTT are probably my favourite band, and have been since I was about 15 or 16. We will be playing a whole shit-load of shows up and down the East Coast in support of the record when it gets out to the general population. Not just your typical Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle shows, but places like Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Lismore, Sunny Coast, Toowoomba, Bundaberg and maybe even Tamworth. This is mostly cause the people who tend to really “get us” are skinheads with their braces tattooed onto them, or older sketchy looking guys with dreadlocks, missing teeth, jail tattoos and an unhealthy obsession with “getting rowdy”
You should come to a show and buy me a Jack Daniels, as I am a delight to be around with a skin-full of piss.”
Indeed! Here’s Bitter Lungs’ 2012 debut What Doesn’t Kill You Only Makes You Bitter…
Fresh from playing Soundwave Festival with the likes of Mastodon, The Black Dahlia Murder and Baroness, and just back from a run of shows with Dead Letter Circus, things don’t seem to be slowing down for Gold Coast’s Helm in 2014. They are about to head out on the road again in May with Sydonia, and guitarist and front man Lucas Stone was kind enough to chew the fat with me:
Have you begun writing for the follow up to Panthalassa and how has the response been since it’s release?
Yeah mate! Pumped on the new structures we’re toying with right now. Well on the way. The response to V3 has been so much more than we expected. I mean, we planned on pulling out all the stops but we had no idea that it would connect the way it has and still seems to be. Hopefully it continues for a while yet!
So yeah, big thanks to anyone who has championed, supported or invested their ears & wallets in Panthalassa.
What plans do you have for 2014 in terms of shows/tours?
Just smart placement I think mate. We’ve definitely overplayed kinda aimlessly over the last few years – not necessarily a bad thing – but yeah, a little more focus on quality as opposed to quantity if we can. Has been a great start to the year though!
What is it about SE Qld at the moment – so many amazing bands coming out of the Brisbane/Gold Coast?
SEQLD is just full of fucking ass-cracking legends, mate. It’s that simple. Seriously though, my favourite bands in the world reside right here. And it’s not to say that other Australian cities/regions don’t have quality bands. I believe there’s just something very ‘forward thinking’ about the level of art produced here, and sooo untapped. Which is weird, because the Gold Coast, for example, is ‘apparently’ the most shallow, artistically un-cultured city in Australia, isn’t it?
Haha. Whatever. Bullshit surf, sunshine & big boobs has definitely gotta produce some goods though, yeah?
Check out Helm’s video for “Bermuda“, from their 3rd album Panthalassa.
The words “post-black metal apocalypse” come to mind when witnessing Hope Drone do their thing live. It’s eerie, it’s bleak, it’s mesmerising and best of all, it’s loud! Their 2013 self-titled release is a definite must-listen, a cacophony of blasts, noisey rhythms and grandiose riffs. Guitarist/vocalist Chris Rowden explains what HD are up to at the moment:
“Hope Drone just finished mixing our second LP at Wavelength studios in Brisbane. It will be a double LP that runs for roughly 75 minutes in length.
Christopher Brownbill (of next level band Idylls) mixed it for us. He wore his akubra for the whole session, so you know it will be good.
It is being mastered at the end of April by Brad Boatright from Audiosiege, recently of Dopesmoker remaster acclaim.
Aside from that, we are speaking to some international labels about a release abroad at the moment.
The album is a bit more expansive, a bit less loud, and a lot more raw. Live recording with Brownbill followed by mixing the album with him ensured that the vision was kept intact, so what you’re hearing is a much more accurate representation of what HD sounds like if you opened the wrong door and stumbled into the jam room at Sun Distortion.”
In Ashes We Lie
Melodic hardcore meets Deftones with a bit of mathy goodness chucked in. An intense live experience, In Ashes We Lie leave nothing in the tank when they play a live show. Vocalist Nate Rose was legendary enough to pull an all-nighter to help out my band The Matador’s latest film clip, so much so that we leant IAWL our drummer for their promo clip for forthcoming single “Daydreamer“. Nate had this to say regarding IAWL’s plans for 2014, and also addressed my opinion on South East Queensland producing some of the best bands in Australia at the moment:
“We have just finished up tracking a single with Troy Brady (The Amity Affliction) called Daydreamer which will be out in June. We will also be releasing a video clip for the song which we recenty filmed with Director David Blackley from Her Name is Murder Productions. The single is just a bit of a taste of what is to come with the album which we start tracking at the end of the year. We are really stoked with the direction the songs we have been writing are going in.
We are supporting Misery Signals in May at their All Ages show in Brisbane. We will also be hitting the road in support of our single Daydreamer once it’s released. We will do all the major cities but also want to go to the regional areas as those shows are always awesome.
I don’t think South East Queensland is producing the best bands at the moment because most of the best bands bar a couple have been around a good while or the members have been apart of the scene a long time already so in other words the Gold Coast has always produced some of the best bands in Australia, I also think it’s just more that people are starting to take notice of Gold Coast bands a lot more now for some reason. The variety of styles coming out of the Goldy is ridiculous and everyone plays their respective styles so well and it gives the punter something different with each band at a show instead of the same old boring bands playing the same shit at the same show you seen last week. The Goldy scene is very strong; every band is so supportive of each other and it is only going to get stronger.”
No-nonsense hardcore from the 617. Promises come correct when it comes to getting it done live. After kicking myself for having missed their album launch show a few months back, I’m certainly keen to catch these guys live next weekend to get my bucket hat and crocs fix. Vocalist and dead-set legend Zaca laid down the law to me just recently:
“We started out this year with grand plans to hit the road with Evergreen after it dropped in January and we’ve slowly come to realise that we’re older than we think – we can’t tour like we used to be able to. We’ve all got jobs digging holes and swinging hammers and shit. Regardless, we’re still gunna make it down the East Coast a couple times and over to the West at least once by the end of the year. It’s such a Gold Coast thing for a band not to tour and I don’t know why but we fit the stereotype. Some say it’s because we’re lazy but that’s bullshit. We just can’t be bothered.
We’ve just started writing again but on a small scale. It took a while to put Evergreen together and we really don’t want to take that long to do another release again ’cause Beeje will probably be dead by then. The response to Evergreen has been really good. People who listen have got into it in a pretty big way. People who don’t listen still don’t give a fuck but that’s cool. The enemy is supposed to hate it. Just like my crocs and bucket hat.
QLD has never really received a lot of praise for its hardcore scene in general and I think we’re all used to it. The bands I rate from this area all seem to have taken that on board (subconsciously at least) and have then just decided to do whatever they want to do. I really think that’s a recent development. A handful of years ago QLD bands would pop up every few months chasing the new ‘hardcore’ sound and then fade away just as quick because they were just a bunch of dick suckers attaching themselves to the ‘scene’. These days, we know no-one is gunna give us praise because of where we’re from so we just make what we want to, and that has resulted in a bunch of world-class hardcore and metal bands coming out of this section of QLD. We’ve stopped caring about what matters to everyone else and that’s why it’s 617 vs. everyone.”
Promises – “Signet” (2014)
The Schoenberg Automaton
If you are a fan of technical death metal, then look no further as Brisbane’s The Schoenberg Automaton are up there with the best the world has to offer. Bringing to mind the dexterity of Between The Buried And Me, who they have supported in the past, their 2013 album Vela raised the bar considerably for Australian metal. Their upcoming tour with Psycroptic and Aborted is going to leave in its wake sore necks all over the country. They are also playing the Brisbane leg of Northlane’s Free Your Mind tour with Thy Art is Murder, Veil of Maya, Volumes and Make Them Suffer and have just returned from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory where they played Blacken the Globe Festival. Guitarist Damien Boorman gave me the lowdown on what 2014 has in store for the band:
“TSA will be recording our sophomore album this year for a 2014 release. The artwork will again be handled by Ty Dunitz who did our first album and some shirt designs. After Blacken The Globe, a festival held in the centre of Australia that was streamed online all around the world, we have some really exciting shows and tours coming up including supporting Septic Flesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse on May 14th in Brisbane, playing the Brisbane Open Your Mind festival with Northlane, Thy Art Is Murder, Veil of Maya and Make Them Suffer on Thursday 22 May and a national Australian tour with Aborted and Psycroptic from 13 June – 22 June.”
A busy couple of months ahead for the boys then. Check out “Ultimatewhirringendmachine” from 2013’s Vela.
Widow The Sea
Death metal played the way it should be. Fast, furious, and uncompromising. Blasting their way into 2014 with lead single ‘Cinerary Casket’ from the upcoming album Aphelion, the boys are looking to get back into the swing of things after a quiet year in 2013. Man-mountain and male-model Mick Jeffrey, Widow’s lead shredder, had this to say in between rounds of Mr Flap;
Recording Aphelion has been a big project, it’s in the final stages now. We’ve sent the tracks off to Jason Suecof @ Audiohammer Studios for mixing. Looking forward to hearing him work his magic on them.
The response to Cinerary Casket has been really positive so far, we just had Channel V approach us to play the clip on their Loud program.
We’re really looking forward to getting the rest of the album out there and hitting the road. It’s a mix of traditional and modern death metal without following the current trends that are saturating the scene at the moment.
It just so happens that I will be catching Aversions Crown, Widow The Sea and Promises this coming weekend, so keep an eye out for a live review in the very near future. Until next time, may your snakes and spiders be deadly and your beer icy cold!