With the whole world thrown into chaos following the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not difficult to understand why so many bands have taken to exploring apocalyptic themes in their music releases during the past two years. At first glance, this seems to be the catalyst fueling the fire for Brisbane-based hardcore heavyweights Wildheart’s latest album release, aptly named ‘Global Crisis.’ Yet this deceptively straightforward title belies the depths to which the roots of rage and passion run in this incendiary record. At the heart of ‘Global Crisis’ lies a raw fury at the systemic injustices faced by our Indigenous peoples and the lasting impact this has wrought upon the land on which we live. This powerful message is thrown into even sharper focus with the timely reminder that now, more than ever, the human race must stop and consider the overall impact of our way of life – what do we owe to ourselves, and to each other?
The album opens with an ominous, creeping intro, its sole lonely lead guitar voice giving way as The Lucky Country crashes in with the full force of the five-piece’s fury. Tight, groovy drums and aggressive breakdowns are interspersed with rays of light in melodic choruses, where frontman Axel Best sets the tone for the album with the empowering line “Be the ones to stand up and make the change”. However, it’s album single Backburner that really kicks the record into a higher gear. This is a band that is simply not messing around anymore – between the compelling spoken word intro of Bruce Shillingsworth’s iconic Q&A appearance, intricate guitar riffs and anthemic chorus in this track, it’s clear that Wildheart will be heard, come hell or high water.
The righteous rage and deep feelings of betrayal and disenfranchisement are further explored in Heartbreaker, a catchy and assertive track that offers a polished hardcore sound reminiscent of Polaris. The chant of “Fuck the abusers, fuck the oppressors” towards the end of the track, underscored by a militantly tight rhythm section, is particularly striking. The overall chaos of Know Justice is brought back down to earth by its poignant choruses, where the juxtaposition of a melancholy lead guitar melody against aching harsh vocals pulls at the heartstrings. Frenzied guitar riff passages contrast with bass-driven verses in The Long Slow Whisper, and I must commend the lightning guitar work of Adam Finlay and Jaya Shinn here. The stunning addition of Danielle O’Grady of All Hours’ sparkling mezzo soprano vocals lends this tormented track a startling sweetness and adds further gravitas to the moving repeated line “I’m falling so far into the unknown”.
Brief instrumental Oblivion gives us a refreshing reprieve, soon to be taken over by the fast-paced No Peace, which offers possibly the most unflinchingly truthful portrait yet of pain and anger of oppressed peoples in our so-called “lucky country” with its particularly disturbing spoken word account of Indigenous suffering – “say their fucking names”. But it’s the brutal Rising Tide that really gets the blood heating right up with an absolutely filthy chugging guitar riff and the feral guest vocals from Nerve Damage’s Shaun Allen. Bravo to the masterful bass lines here by Nathaniel Patterson, and then when the breakdown drops, it’s a jaw-dropping moment too – the sheer power, defiance and rage that bleeds through every single note is as all-consuming and oppressive as the generational trauma it conveys.
Like A Dragon opens with a seriously catchy guitar riff that injects a djenty flavour into the groovy track reminiscent of Monuments, and it’s repeated throughout until the track ends in a satisfying climax, setting the scene for the audacious attitude in Out For Blood. This furious track stands out with the most ferociously downtuned breakdown we’ve heard yet that is contrasted with passages featuring a strangely optimistic lead guitar melody and serene choirs soaring in the background. The penultimate track, False Hope False Happiness, another album single, provides us with the anthemic chorus melody that legions of crowds will undoubtedly be singing along with in future shows.
Finally, the album closes on a somewhat sombre and reflective note with the most recent single Show Me What It’s Like To Be Worthless, and it’s at once deeply heartbreaking and intensely empowering. All the hallmarks of Wildheart’s distinctive take on a classic hardcore sound are here – effortless yet not overly florid drums, punchy breakdowns, beautifully melodic guitars, and passionate harsh vocals. At one point in the track, frontman Best’s scream continues on and on in one long, agonizing stream that sends chills down my spine. It’s a fitting way to end a moving, powerful album from these talented stars on the rise.
If there’s one thing Australian metal does well, it’s metal of the core variety, and Wildheart are a welcome new jewel in the crown of quality homegrown hardcore. It’s easy to see why they’ve been going from strength to strength since bursting onto the scene through their showcase at BIGSOUND 2018 – this dynamic five-piece delivers the mosh with a whole lot of meaning. With ‘Global Crisis,’ Wildheart provides us with a salient reminder not to ignore the crises laying right at our doorstep, in our communities and embedded in our land. For while universal crises may divide and isolate us, it’s our shared compassion and dignity that unites us all.
‘Global Crisis’ releases through Collision Course and MGM Distribution on November 5th, 2021.
Catch Wildheart at their upcoming shows:
20-23/01/22 – UNIFY Gathering, Tarwin Lower, South Gippsland – tickets
02/04/21 – Halloween Hysteria, Mansfield Tavern – tickets
Pre-order the album here: https://wearewildheart.com.au/store
With thanks to Collision Course + MGM