For reasons that are not unknown, but best left to explain in greater depth at a later date, it’s not often I mention Australian bands here. Though, to be more accurate, it’s less common when compared to the origin of the majority of other artists I write about. Also, unless you count artists on the more garage/punk/thrash side of things, like Massappeal (who, in all reality, are still pretty old school anyway), the last Australian metal band I had a yen for was Mortal Sin and the album Mayhemic Destruction (1985, but it was @1990 I wore out my vinyl copy – also more on that sometime later. Probably).
Consider that, however, a testament to the fairly narrow scope of what actually appeals to me in the relam of all things metal, and not necessarily that Australia doesn’t have talent worth exploring – as mentioned previously, I rarely ‘get’ black metal, I often lose patience with drone, and the slightest hint of a cliché makes me run a mile (eg silly aesthetic details like names that misspell words such as apocalypse, or other doom-inferring words, so they can put a big X in it – apparently that’s still cool). Add to that the fact that I now have a serious aversion to full-on screamo type vocals and it automatically excludes a surprisingly large amount of music in the genre.
Believe it or not, having such, shall we say, discriminating taste can actually be quite frustrating, and while the above is ultimately fairly extraneous, it’s also a way of explaining the little extra awesome it is to find something that pretty much exemplifies everything I look for in heavier music – that something being the above album by Sydney-siders Adrift For Days. As they’re on home soil, it also means – finally – I actually stand a chance of seeing them live (unlike every other artist that’s made my favourites list recently).
Just to be clear, this isn’t just a decent album I’m mentioning because the band are fellow citizens of my country (really, that’s just not my style), but as it happens to stand, the Lunar Maria is already my favourite Australian album of the last 5 years, probably more. There will likely be someone that suggests I must have missed out on a bunch of stuff, and they may well be right, but at this point in time they’re going to stay missed as this album had me right from the start and I can’t see it letting go anytime soon.
After a brief tribal incantation, opener Bury All That’s Chosen kinda lopes on in with an almost creepingly indulgent, downtempo bluesy feel. I was pretty content just with that, but at about 4 minutes the song kicks into a dense wall of heavy, sludgey, melt-your-face psychedelic stoner doom, accompanied by vocals that could well be just as at home in gothic post-punk as they are here. More to the point, vocals by someone that has a good voice and primarily uses it to sing. Praise be for that.
It doesn’t let up after the first track, either – Messages Through Sleep, the third track after a brief outro, similarly blends a chilled blues mood, post-rock ambience and the hefty weight of doom-laden metal to become some of the most effective 12 minutes out of the 71 minute duration. The blues gets a little low-down and gritty for the stoner jam The Leech, while Along the Moon River gives up 18 minutes of some seriously leaden-limbed, melatonin*-inducing stuff.
By the time Waveform Collapse dissolves, if you weren’t smart enough to do it in the first place, you’ll have to peel yourself off from whatever surface the Lunar Maria stuck you to (wall, floor, possibly the ceiling depending on your original disposition) so you can whack it on repeat and sink back in. There’s nothing here that feels contrived, out of place or superfluous; for a debut album it’s impressively paced, brings a bunch of the best elements from various styles to the table (really digging the blues vibe) and does it all in an uncompromising, inspired and intuitive manner.
Hear what I mean by taking a listen to the first track:
You can check out Adrift For Days at MySpace, better yet, click the following link and download the album from Bandcamp. But even better still, you can also buy the Lunar Maria in a CD/Digipak version directly from the band.
(*AKA “Hormone of Darkness“)