Drown This City - Alpha // Survivor - (8.5/10)
Published on October 5, 2019
Well this was a great find! “Drown This City” is a post-hardcore band from Melbourne Australia and they just released a six track banger of an EP titled “Alpha // Survivor” (yes, the slashes are part of the title). Well it’s actually more of a five track EP given that the first song “Don’t forget to” is actually a half a minute electronic build-up towards the first proper song “Stay Broken” (love how those titles match). But honestly, five songs is actually way more than you need to know that these guys are killing it. Post-Hardcore doesn’t necessarily sound like something I’d go for but lately I’ve been getting more and more into the whole metalcore, deathcore, hardcore style. For a while I thought these genres really aren’t my thing but bands like Drown This City get me thinking I just wasn’t looking where I should.
In many ways, “Alpha // Survivor” sounds a lot like what you’d expect from a core band: heavy down tuned guitars, low prominent bass sound, electronic effects and fantastic break-neck headbanging groove. It sticks to the recipe for a lot of the run time but it does it in a good way. However, it doesn’t feel like they just follow the pattern and that’s because of the fantastic sense of bipolarity in their music. Yes, it’s core. And yes, it is downright explosive but it’s also got a good amount of inspired, soaring melody on the guitar, which contrasts very well with the low-end vibrations creating a really full and complete soundscape. Enter vocalist Alex Reade’s fantastic alternation of harsh fry screams and beautiful clean vocals and you’ve got yourself a real winner! When that first riff hits you really don’t expect that the songs would actually evolve towards something like that but this music actually has a lot of emotion and in the end, it was the melodies and clean vocals that stayed in my head. This thing is so catchy that you will not need more than one spin to get into it. Particularly that chorus in “Stay Broken” is sooooo spot on that you can’t get it out of your head. Instant gratification: check! But this is not all easy and predictable either. Though generally quite straightforward, sometimes it gets properly djenty and it also has a progressive tinge, plus a little blasting, some juicy double kicks and really quick tempos turn a bit into deathcore territory (see “In Your Image”). So it has a decent amount of creativity as well. And another surprising thing is that despite the highly processed, modern electronic sound, the clean vocals actually sound very natural and organic and give it a very vivid energy. Also those moments when the vocals are far in the mix, sounding distant and echoing add a great deal of atmosphere. Then bassist Matthew Bean’s lower growl complementing on the clean singing adds the final cherry on the contrasts cake.
But the biggest thing about this EP is that it’s honest. These guys have something to say and they’re for real! If the title didn’t hint you on this, they’re dead set on some empowering stuff. The lyrics and the vocal delivery really convey this sense of a struggle in order to push through and overcome something. And that also reflects in the way the songs vibe, sounding sick and badass but also giving that sense of pure emotion and sometimes actually feeling sad. These are just moments and brief changes that fit in really well and make it a lot more artistic, giving it more musical meaning than just getting a neck injury, which in hardcore music is pretty much the general consensus. It sounds like it could get a little cheesy but it’s actually very believable and if you really dig into it, it will certainly have a positive influence on your vibe and state of mind. This whole thing is under 20 minutes in length and there is no song over the 4 minute mark which means you have no excuse to say you didn’t have time to check it out. So I suggest you do that. My best guess is, it will be good for you.