Aside from all the great submissions and picks we cover on the site, when a ‘signed’ band puts out something I want to hear I’ll still head to my local shop and throw down some hard earned to grab a physical copy and jam it in the car.
This year has seen some exceptional albums and releases from artists in the scene and whilst I personally tend to ignore the majority of what the bigger labels are doing there’s no denying that Hellions and Storm The Sky have dropped two impressive albums…and yet I never bothered to mention it here because I’m honestly just not interested in that sort of stuff anymore. With all the coverage they got on the airwaves and across the many other outlets, networks and sites..it just seemed redundant to add to all that noise. I mean they’ve got the press, the label, the interviews and write ups all sorted. They’re hardly ground level/indie artists anymore so why would I bother?
So UNFD..I don’t care much for them. They are responsible for some good things though, they came up from a local label, built a roster, grew into a group or collective of professionals, branched out and expanded, split and rebranded. Onward and upward. Now they are well and truly on their way to becoming our version of Artery, Rise Records, Equal Vision (aka American) and there’s very little innovation. They do still seem capable of picking a few gems from the crop though and perhaps even better, sticking with them beyond their first releases and street hype. Hellions and Storm The Sky are my case in point.
Hellions ‘Opera Oblivia’ is just outstanding. Like seriously…just above the rest.
I could not give a shit about this band before hearing the album. I still don’t really care for what they did before this, never cared about ‘The Bride’ either (former band/UNFD) but when I first heard the track ‘Lotus Eater’ on Triple-J I was instantly curious despite. There was an immediate appeal akin to System of a Down’s middle eastern/hard-rock and scattish/screaming and melody. Just wow.
Not so much a derivative take on the SOAD sound, it’s just a bit of flavour and some unique aussie style mashed into a song so interesting I couldn’t help but part with a $20 to hear the rest. The album is loaded with gang vocals and huge anthemic choruses not unlike Four Year Strong’ but leaning towards hardcore and further away from pop punk. There’s a surprising amount of string arrangements on the album and they prove quite effective in supporting the melodies and peeks that some of the tracks reach. On the whole, it’s an ambitious album from an unlikely candidate that has me reconsidering my disposition towards UNFD. Of course full credit to the band though for bringing such an incredible body of work to life. Seriously cant stop listening to it even months later. Special mention goes to Pat Fox for the creative artwork and design that out classes the rest this year with it’s concept, folding, layout and illustrations. Such attention to detail is what will help keep physical sales alive.
The other artist to mention is Storm The Sky. I wont say the kind of things I want to about this latest promo-pic of the band. It just repulses me.
This band has never wowed me either. Never really convinced me that they had anything exceptional or unique about them. They did the heavy thing well enough, breakdowns and ball busters, delivered a solid two-vocal line up with confidence and in most cases with a degree of success. After the EP’s and first album I was assured that my disregard for this outfit was valid and could happily add them to the growing list of bands doing the same old same old. I think if you’re gonna standout in the heavy scene it needs to be because you’re breaking new ground, not just out-djenting your peers, tuning lower, blasting faster or getting more technical. (or taking wankier photo’s)
So imagine my surprise when I discovered the band as it is now…minus a certain vocalist and heaviness. The band might be a little too enthusiastic with the reverb and shimmer but what they’ve added in programmed beats, samples, glitchy vocals and layered sounds is commendable. No…make that remarkable. I recall a similar reaction to the last Bring Me The Horizon album too. But here it’s the artwork, the lyrical content, the sounds and overall shift the band has undertaken. It’s more than just a chameleonic change. It feels as sincere and deliberate as when the Deftones dropped ‘White Pony’. Not for everyone, but if you get it.. you absolutely love it. And in this case I really do. The opening track ‘Second Best’ carries the first of many twists and unexpected delights with its post-rock meets hip-hop vibe and it’s a genuinely gloomy flair. If they’d done a whole album like this I would not have minded at all but I’m also happy to settle with a 50/50 balance throughout ‘Sin Will Find You’. There are a few songs which lean a little too close to the pop-rock side such as the single ‘Medicine’ complete with hooky chorus and ‘whoa whoa whoa oooh’s. Made for radio much? I don’t mind. It’s a light and shade dynamic that works really well because the majority of what I love on this album isn’t going to be heard by casual listeners. Not only are the deep cuts rewarding, the polished songs have shelf-life too.
Both of these albums from the house of UNFD have had me eating my words. The hype train might have missed my stop, but I’m on board now. Maybe I’m just a snob, the legacy of a band shouldn’t necessarily taint the potential value of future works. Maybe the branding shouldn’t be a factor either ..at least not when determining weather an artist will interest me. I’ve let this get in the way of more than a few releases over the years and it’s a challenge to myself (and others) that maybe there’s more to gain from being open minded than being locked in.