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Review: Owed To Damnation – The Great Australian Dream

The Great Australian Dream EP has an illustration which speaks volumes about Australia. Apart from a culture that many like to simplify as bogan, there are many little Easter eggs only an Australian can understand. For instance, there is an explosion with a sunk boat to represent the debate on illegal immigration, a pair of thongs near some snags and an eskie, and just to be funny, this EP was released on the 26th of January, which is Australia Day – a controversial date debated every year on account of also being referred to as Invasion Day. Now before I get into the tracks, I must first start at the beginning.

The first time I had heard Owed To Damnation was three years ago at a venue called The Civic Hotel. Set to share the stage with bands like Drown The Faith, Dawn of Leviathan, and Tusk, Owed To Damnation was an exciting up-and-comer in the Perth, Western Australian Deathcore scene. As they began their opening song, the vocals came in and I remembered thinking, “Fuck Off! There’s no way this can be real”. You see, the highs of vocalist Cameron Narva were easily comparable to Alex Koehler in Sonnet of The Wretched or the late Mitch Lucker in Disengage… Typically, a Deathcore high should approximate the sound one would make if they are being skinned alive and then showered with vodka, so you can imagine that Narva’s crispy high would have stolen many hearts within seconds. At the time, these guys only had one single under their belts – a bare minimum for Perth bands wanting to be taken seriously. Now here they are three singles and an EP later, scheduled to perform with A Night In Texas on the 30th of September.

The biblically titled intro track “Genesis” sums up the theme of the entire duration in just a few lyrics backed by down-tempo chugs before leading into the first song “Crown of Thorns”, and what a first song indeed. Naturally, we can expect a big Iconoclast influence, considering guitarist Cody Brooks was on recording duties, but what is surprising is just how many other influential varieties they managed to squeeze into this one song. You see, early on in the track, I get the feeling that fans of Boris The Blade’s Human Hive album will take an instant liking, but as the breakdowns come in, I considered this a great listen for Signs of The Swarm followers, only to then also be reminded of And Hell Followed With. While I doubt any of these reminders are intentional on the band’s part, I can’t help but just tick boxes at the various potential fan bases.

“The track ‘The Behemoth’ refers to religion as basically a monster that is set out to destroy the world” Matt Lucas explains. This would the track that they released as a video clip late last year. For me, it has two distinctive features, and they are, the indie rock strumming which occurs before the chorus, and the blast beats which can be rivalled to the ones frequently used on Lorna Shore’s Flesh Coffin album. This is not to say however that this is another fast track, for there is great care placed to make sure there are no repetitions or otherwise boring segments in the song. It is quite unpredictable in fact and more than likely to keep listeners tuned in till the end. Overall, I’m pleased to see that the track durations on this EP so far have proven to be unique sounding. As of late, too many releases in the last two years have been long ass songs masquerading as full length albums.

Halfway through, “The Abyss” is not a song which had won me over 100%… maybe 85% though. The metalcore/hardcore intro is a great start, and the second half of the song has a bridge and a series of breakdowns on top of even bigger breakdowns. But the part which just didn’t work for me is the chorus and that is because I just don’t feel that it really fitted in there. Other than that though, I could easily place this song among one of my favourites as I was not for one moment exaggerating about the breakdowns.

In this age of Deathcore and Slamming Brutal Death dominating the death metal scene, it is no surprise that the bastardized (yet loveable) sub genre known as Slamming Deathcore has become so popular. “The Preacher” is not a Slamming Deathcore song at all, but we can still appreciate the slams, or (chromatic chugs if you will), that shine through. Furthermore, this is a track that makes one hold a whole new appreciation for the knuckle dragging style that is downtempo.

The final track “Viscious Cycle” is through great subtlety, a rather melodic song, for there are some tasty guitar leads and harmonies, which is very surprising for this rather purist-seeming Deathcore band. Nevertheless, as we near the downtempo end of the song, I can’t help but feel that the song had gone by quickly despite being the longest track on the EP.

This has been a great ride. I honestly expected nothing less. An easy 9.5/10. True Deathcore from Western Australia.

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