Words by Rangi White.
Few bands have seen the line-up changes and experienced the tumultuous nature of an ever-evolving musical group as Melbourne nu-metal kings Superheist. After a long period of time disassembled, the group has reformed around the determination of ‘DW Norton’ (Guitar/backing vocals) who’s been the driving force behind the longevity of this nu-metal/groove style Superheist mastered in their earlier days. And now after re-engaging their songwriting prowess once again by reforming after their hiatus in 2016, Superheist stands strong with members Simon Durant (Bass guitar), Keir Gotcher (Guitar) John Sankey (Drums) and Mammal vocalist Ezekiel Ox taking the reins and pushing the formidable Hip Hop/Heavy beast they created ever onward with their next album, ‘Sidewinder’.
First track off the record is The Riot, the single/music video released in April that proved to be a comprehensive sneak peek at what is the be experienced in ‘Sidewinder’. Instantly Ox’s vocals are there to be appreciated, and to say his vocal tone suits this particular flavour of heavy music is an understatement. With anthemic tones resulting from repetitive, easy-to-remember lyrics and esoteric-sounding guitar harmonies in the intro, and the heavily driven drum beat throughout, this song makes a big statement for the beginning of an album.
Drop tuning is always the heavy guitarists most effective tool when it comes to creating the biggest possible hard hitting aural experience and the second track Crush the Crisis exhibits this truth admirably. Heavily effected vocals and compressed drums and guitar during the verses make the atmosphere of each verse distinctively different to that of the chorus’s; from which the chorus/bridge sections can be introduced with greater emphasis, and I thought the resulting instrumental dynamic helped paved the way for Ox’s lyrical content to be highlighted really well. Great second course.
Overlord takes on a completely different timbre to the prior two songs on this record, with a larger focus on slower off-beat grooves and a more contemporary ballad-y style vocal approach. Again, Superhiest prove their efficiency when it comes to utilising musical conventions from multiple different sub-genres ranging from heavy and contemporary and putting them together in a comprehensive arrangement of sound. Though music such as this is mandatorily dependent on post production and varying effects, I thought there may have been a bit too much meddling done with the vocals throughout the chorus, it seemed to me as if it took away from the value of Ox’s natural vocal tone.
Female vocals are utilised repetitively throughout the next track Shockwaves, and in comparison to the rest of the vocal work on this album, creates an interesting back-and-forth in vocal tonality that juxtaposed nicely. The skeletal format of this song seemed to be more of a dance song structure than a hard-core song structure so again it stands out from the rest of the album – and resultantly made the softer sections featuring piano/synth in this track far more engaging. The song kind of seemed like a bit of an intermission between the two sections of this album, leading onto the latter half which starts to feature some more atmospheric rap/hip hop flavoured tracks like Breathe, And so We Burn and One of A Kind that all share the similar trait of beginning on a softer melancholic note and eventually building in intensity to stadium-style anthem finishes. Comparatively different to the first half of the album, these few songs I thought worked together in succession to provide a difference in feel to the first half, and in a way, it makes listening to the album all the way through a more dynamic experience.
Without any doubt whatsoever, I can say this track is my favourite off the album…God Knows is a throwback to Superheist’s older content, and the ensuing thrash/grindcore introduction is a refreshing blast of heaviness. With more pace and energy on this track than any of the others, I think Sankey’s work on the skins is commendable, primarily due to his ability to tie together the faster paced thrash- groove style sections and the slower, more contemporary style chorus beats with cohesiveness. You can feel the aggression in this track, palpable in Ox’s voice, and rife within the blistering instrumental…”You’re done fuck you scum done.” As an afterword, I quite liked it…
‘Sidewinder’ was an experience for me, it took me on a journey and I think after hearing it, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for this style of music as a whole. I thought it was a great album, and the vast amount of different musical stylistic conventions that were employed are a testament to the writing ability of Superheist as a whole, and they should be proud of their work. Out on May 3 through Black Mountain Music, all fans of metal, hip hop, and electro should be quivering with excitement and anticipation of ‘Sidewinder’s’ release. In a recent interview with ‘HEAR2ZEN MAGAZINE, DW said “Sidewinder, I feel, is the record we needed to do, to show the results of when a band goes through tumultuous times, line-up changes, and then finally finds itself in a better position that it has ever been.” I believe his statement has merit, and it excites me to think of what more Superheist will conjure in the future.
‘Sidewinder’ is out now via Black Mountain Music and is available to view or purchase on all digital download and streaming platforms here https://superheist.lnk.to/Sidewinder .