As far as band-comebacks go, there is no exception to the rule that anything done from here on in will be judged against the older material which is inevitably going to the coloured by your memory of it. How you rate a band in any new incarnation will also be affected by wether you even knew the old stuff at all or you’re just hearing it for the first time. Superheist are saying ‘don’t call it a combeack’ but Id say change your name..otherwise that’s exactly what this is ya gooses.
The Heist were one of the cornerstones for Melbourne’s heavy music scene rising up to prominence during the Nu-Metal (read: aussie rap/singing/metal) wave of the late 90’s. For the majority of that time they received the support and attention deserving of the hard work they put in and it’s fair to say that the material aged quite quickly. The lasting value of music forged in the midst of a trend rather than a culture is always going to have a short shelf life. So how is this new version of Superheist any different? Well for the first half of this album id say it isnt.
The underwhelming impact of nearly every heavy/groove riff may be a result of having been spoilt by the djent-wave of the past few years. Bands like Hacktivist and Enter Shikari have taken that angle of rap/metal and taken the concept to new places. The riffs these days are way harder, busier, trippier and just superior. I would have thought that after all these years and advances in the sounds that heavy artists use that it would have influenced DW in some way? But apparently not. It’s the same old grind for a lot of the time sadly.
What worked back in the day just doesn’t cut it today. I’m sorry guys, it just doesn’t. Luckily they don’t stay there for too long as the best stuff on ‘Ghosts…’ is in the later tracks.
So what DOES work is Ezekiel Ox. The new vocalist stepping up to the plate. He has a set of pipes that really cut through and a control of tone and attack that really keep this whole album from falling apart. I find my self sitting through generic heavy rap verses to hear the awesome choruses and melodies that he brings.
The highlight moment is on the single ‘Fearing Nothing’. Verses are more subdued and melodic adopting an almost spoken word vibe before exploding into an up-tempo chorus with a huge lift. The line ‘yeh it’s a shame you ran out of backs to scratch/so just sit there attacking me’ is full of accusation and disdain. The whole song really kills.
Track #4 ‘Running Away’ is similarly strong with its Rage-esque verse and soaring chorus ‘So are you running away?/I’ll be the one who is chasing you’. You’ll have a hard time not enjoying these big hooks and might be enough for some to look past the tired and stale rap/rock missteps.
The band has a crack at a slower acoustic-turned rock-anthem on ‘This Truth’ which is a brave move. It’s not really like anything else on the album and remains focussed on a mid tempo ballad sort of thing. Ox’s vocals carry this one through and through but it’s worth also mentioning that the guitar tones and over all space given in the songs arrangement was a refreshing change. Probably the most likely to get airplay on mainstream radio too.
‘Hang Your Head’ is further evidence of the bands strength as they break new ground (for them) into big melodic rock passages. The energy and momentum aren’t lost when making tunes like this and the unforced lyrical delivery of Ox combined with the prettier and more spacious guitar work of DW make for a bloody good pairing. I can only hope to hear more of this in the future.
The closer ‘Sweat Swing’ probably brings together the best elements of the whole album into a single song. Some great lyrics, anger and energy matched well with the aforementioned melodic guitar work and all round stability of the band bring it all to a head rather neatly.
Production is a million bucks. Seriously this thing sounds huge. The crisp, clear and tight mix is just primo. Hats off to the engineers who handled this (DW included). The bass is really thick and punchy, the guitars..well..they’re hit and miss but everything is done to a high standard. The drums sound fantastic too, especially up loud the kick and the snare break through the mix really well but there isn’t much invention or creativity happening in the parts. Mostly he just plays and gives the band the backbone it needs without much flare or show.
So all up.. it’s a great sounding album that is one half forgettable/one half promising. It’s not a knockout return to form but it isn’t a walk down memory lane either. What I’m saying is that it’s ok…but not enough for the time they took to prepare. Have a listen and judge for yourself.