Australasia – Vertebra

Australasia - Vertebra - Cover

Lifting the listener’s thoughts and imagination into an expansive and emotional almost visual flight through an ever evolving soundscape broken up into smaller evocative sceneries, Vertebra the new album from Italian band Australasia is one of those absorbing emprises you just cannot pull away. Ten tracks of predominantly instrumental merging of post rock, shoegaze, classic electronica, and enthralling ambience, the release is a masterful and compelling adventure. There is though much more substance than that description suggests, flavours and styles bred elsewhere seamlessly employed in the melodic web cast, and when vocals are rarely used they are more another texture to the creative narrative than any lyrical storytelling. The album as skilful and magnetic as it is equally suggests this is a project still in evolution with greater glories waiting on its horizon, something which just adds to the pleasure bred by Australasia.

The band is the creation of multi-instrumentalist Gian Spalluto who has linked up with Mina Carlucci and Giuseppe Argentiero of fellow Italian band Vostok. Touched by influences which include the likes of Red Sparowes, At the Gates, Joy Division, This Will Destroy You, Angelo Badalamenti, Mogwai, Pelican, Ennio Morricone, Cult of Luna and more, the band provides emotive landscapes and mesmeric incites which never restrain themselves musically or imaginatively to any singular intent or limiting frame. Australasia’s debut release, the Sin4tr4 EP of 2012, opened up the gateway to the band and its invention which the Immortal Frost Productions released Vertebra continues with striking strides into the awakening imagination and aural world of the band.

The journey opens with Aorta and a guitar cast melody which as the album progresses is a regular protagonist if in varying guises and intent. It is a mellow coaxing of a start to the song which gathers intensity in its breath as it opens up its creatively sinewed arms and melodic armoury. Hitting full stride early there is a tempestuous union of post rock provocation and metallic sculpting which flows and moves towards a stretch of sonic beauty and evocative reserve. Impressive rhythms and drums steer the enterprising exploration superbly and the guitar play is quite riveting across the body of the song. In its final thirty seconds or so the track unveils a union of male and female vocal harmonies which provides a last wash of warmth and elegance to the impressively crafted flight.

The following Vostok immediately offers a vintage electronica sound to thoughts though it is soon smothered by a strong cloud of sonic shadows and blackened emotion. The song undulates thrillingly as it progresses, big mountainous rhythms and textures mingled fluidly with tender elegance and those returning electronic caresses before dissipating for a lone acoustic guitar to wave the dark climes away. It is a track which seems to pass so quickly in time and though almost four minutes in length its successor Zero is soon feeding the senses and providing another heady structure of melodic imagination and rhythmic incitement. Not for the first or last time, the music reminds a little of The Cure around the time of the Seventeen Seconds /Faith albums, a shadowed energy coating the air of the song but speared by a melodic beauty which only raises the spirit and light.

Next up Aura roams through a more electro pop /shoegaze realm with eighties synth pop flavouring, though yet again there are intimidating resonances and dark clad tempting which tempers the radiance enough to add wonderful doubt and menace to the calm. The track also sees the captivating voice of Carlucci swarm siren like over the senses. Lyrically the track is uncluttered with effective repetition whilst gentle soaring harmonies make the prime successful persuasion. Like all the tracks, the song seems simple but holds a real deception as everything is so precisely and imaginatively woven together. The closing vocal scat does not quite work for personal tastes but it does not deflect from the smouldering piece of enjoyment.

Both the melodically flamed but intensively blackened Antenna, one of two tracks on the album taken from the earlier EP, and the excellent towering bulgingly muscular Volume continue the impressive height and stature of the album whilst the title track provides a pleasing short Spring respite with expressive tones and soft weaves, even if it feels a little like an anti-climax from the immense and lofty force and heights carved previously.

The second track from Sin4tr4 steps forward next. Apnea provides a reflective blend of imposing density and melancholic beauty wrapped in another bewitching vocal wash from Carlucci and an electro courting which pokes light through the cloudier ambience. It is a delicious embrace which makes way for the bordering on corrosive presence of Deficit. Scuzzy and thickly bonded to the ears, the track thrillingly riles up the senses but then before they can accept the intimidation the piece twists in on itself to lay a beauteous glaze of melodic endeavour on the incitement. It is a short but scintillating piece of composing and realisation waking up the appetite even further for the closing seven minute plus epic of Cinema. Arguably the track is a shade too long but it is a mere quibble when it makes such a compelling temptation across its emotionally clad presence.

Vertebra is a spellbinding release though to temper that slightly maybe it does not ignite a fire in the belly of the passions as often as it arguably could or should have, though again to put that into context, it is fair and easy to say that Australasia has created an adventure which is impossible to resist or stay away from. The band has the potential to create their own legacy you feel as their album permeates through thoughts and emotions, Vertebra a very striking start.


RingMaster 08/01/2014

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When Icarus Falls – Aegean


    Aegean, the latest album from Swiss post hardcore band When Icarus Falls is not for the faint hearted, the release an intensive and provoking confrontation in spirit, intent, and sound. The seven track encounter is an extensive search and provocation for the senses and thoughts, its potent and at times brutal challenge testing and stretching limits but with a skill and enterprising invention which leaves lingering emotions in its wake, whether doubt or passion depending how it seizes you, for its imaginative narrative and emotive incitation.

Formed in 2007, the Lausanne quintet released their debut EP, Over The Frozen Seas in 2009 via Get a Life! Records. The release and their powerful and intimidating sound drew strong responses, as did their live shows which included stage sharing with the likes of Red Sparowes, Zatokrev, and Impure Wilhelmina as well as a debut tour across Europe. 2011 saw the band begin to write their debut album, taking the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a famous psychiatrist who described the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; as inspiration. Released through Swiss label Headstrong Music, the album is an enveloping tempest of heavy at times burdensome atmospheres veined by thunderous riffs and classically sculpted melodic seduction.

      A Step Further arrives from an opening toll of resonating haunting keys and brewing distrustful ambience, its shadow driven 1872080700-1breath building into a towering wash of tight rhythms, prowling bass, and caustic sonic persuasion. The vocals of Diego Mediano offer a squalling abrasion to the intrusive yet relatively restrained confrontation, with the union of temperament bringing a captivating and intimidating storm to bear on the ear and thoughts. It is not an easy listen but that adds to the rewarding results at its conclusion and the evoked thoughts advancing in its wake.

The following title track lays a gentle persuasive hand on the ear with beckoning beats from Xavier Gigandet leading into the melodic heart of the track with further strong temptation. As the intensity strengthens and stretches out its caustic spite with the vocals the provocateur, the melodic mastery of guitarists Luis Cordeiro and Yann Cottier paint an inspiring evocative scene which is impossible not to find imagery within whilst the bass of Claude Humbert-Droz snarls with a tempered breath from the encroaching shadows. Arguably less dramatic than its predecessor but no less potent, the song even at its immense length ignites full captivation for its incisive emotional invasion.

The likes of Acheron – Eumenides with its sludge gaited course and incendiary rhythms and the excellent What We Know Thus Far (An Inner Journey), a track which exhausts every atom and passion of its body for a mountainous excursion for the listener through ravenous and inspiring emotion, both deepen the impressive hold the release breeds. At times the album certainly pushes limits in its intensity and the listener’s endurance but rewards with an imaginative fire to the sound and songwriting which leaves the richest pleasure.

Completed by the shadowed beauty and startling atmospheric soundscape of Tears Of Daedalus and the ten minute intoxicating epic Hades, the album will easily thrill fans of the likes of Cult Of Luna, Amenra, and Neurosis but it also offers so much more for all extreme and melodically emotive metal fans. Whilst Icarus Falls have not exactly crafted a classic in Aegean it is undoubtedly an album which is a major step towards one.


RingMaster 25/04/2013

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