The only thing Aussies love to do more than make fun of New Zealanders for having sex with sheep is make fun of Tasmanians for having sex with their cousins. That’s right, we’re a proud nation of people with utterly depraved senses of humour. Tell us something we don’t know. For those who don’t know, Tasmanian is the often-forgotten seventh state of Australia. It’s that little triangle-shape with the Bass Strait between it and the mainland. It’s a gorgeous place; every corner on the highway presents you with a post card-worthy image. There’s history in the place, too, and not all of it good. The old convict settlements near Strahan are a poignant reminder of the country’s grim European history, while Port Arthur remains as the defining moment in Australia’s gun control policies. Seriously, America, get your shit together. How many more people have to die before you realise that widespread gun usage causes more problems than it solves?
Ahem. Lost myself for a bit. Anyway, the point is that it’s a great place and it’s spawned a bunch of quality metal bands over the years. Psycroptic, for example, and today’s subject, Save the Clock Tower. I’d never heard of these guys before, but I guess that comes with the territory of being from Tasmania. Still, Wastelands is a quality album. Blending post-hardcore, djent and audio samples that are equal parts haunting and quirky, they hone an incisive edge to slice right through the armour of the listener and appeal to the heavy fans, while maintaining an accessibility that gives the pop-punk/hardcore kids cause to dance like it’s the Endless Summer (I’ve been reading Game of Thrones. R+L=J; am i right, folks?).
Songs like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Isolate; Recreate’ perfectly demonstrate these attributes. The keys, the glockenspiel, the vocals intertwining with each other, then one taking the lead before the other races ahead. It’s a rare thing where soaring choruses don’t sound out of place atop a tech-djent breakdown, but STCT have done it here, time and again. ‘These Diseases’, as well, made me think immediately of Pressure the Hinges-era Haste the Day, and that’s most definitely a compliment. That song’s awesome. It stops doing that Haste the Day thing after a while and finishes up with a soaring whammy guitar lick while a creepy piano melody and haunting chorus of children sees the song out.
It’s not all sunshine and lollipops, though. The songs do start to run together after a while, and they seem to have limited ways to start songs: it’s either a breakdown, a rapid double-time beat or a rock ‘n’ roll intro with clean singing. the exception is ‘At the Bottom of a Bottle’, but only because it sounds like Launceston Pub on a Wednesday afternoon, otherwise it’d just be that rock ‘n’ roll style intro again. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but it signals a problem with the overwhelming majority of metalcore bands currently on the market, and it’s a lot like the donuts in Woolworths; you still enjoy it, but everything about it has been done by someone else, and better.
In short, it’s a good album, but you’ve probably heard it all before. In fact, if you heard Caulfield‘s Vanity album from last year, then you’ve definitely heard it all before, because Wastelands and Vanity are basically identical, albeit with differing levels of djent. There you go, then. If you like the idea of Caulfield with some more djent, this is the record for you.