What do you do when you have dreams and ambitions about what you want to do as a musician, and yet are still constricted by your place in the world and the judgement of others?
You do it anyway.
Australian band Epitomes have found themselves in such a situation. From the southern coast of New South Wales, the members of the band are teenagers surrounded by a cultureless pit that couldn’t care less about a music scene at all, let alone one that would support their decidedly user-unfriendly approach to music. Regardless, the band self-funded and self released their five-track Demo.
EP in November of last year. And if this audacious, slightly scary and undoubtedly impressive first serving is anything to go by, then this was indeed a risk worth taking.
Across the five tracks here (which were recorded in “various loungerooms, bedrooms and sheds” according to the liner notes), the band present the listener with a sound heavily reliant on more traditional “emo” hardcore ideals with hints of indie and metal thrown in for good measure. The music thrives on sudden changes, chaotic, primal screams and relentless energy and confidence. Opener “The Doom Tree” sets the scene for Epitomes perfectly: a ferocious, versatile guitar line leads an ensuing musical stampede of a perfectly interwoven rhythm section and vocalist Vance Nebauer’s heavily anguished shrieks and roars. For a band that are relative newcomers to the band experience, per se, it’s a remarkable thing to see just how tight they are, working through a variety of musical and emotional stages in each track in a near seamless fashion.
Possibly the most notable aspect of the Epitomes sound is the vocal interplay between Nebauer and guitarist Cameron Smith. When he’s not busy shredding, riffing or going through the motions on his trusty six-string, Smith serves as the vocal yang to Nebauer’s yin; providing soaring clean vocals that make the perfect fit in the most unexpected of places. His personal shining moment comes in the form of the outro to “Lies”. The band slows to a crawl as the lyrics “Lies, lies/You falter every time” repeat unremittingly, each time scaling new emotional heights as the song’s intensity builds. It’s an almost shockingly poignant moment, rich in sentiment and a genuine notion to the band’s complete musical potential.
In the midst of this, drummer Joel Kingston is practically an unstoppable force on the EP, showing his kit no mercy as it crashes, slams and drives through the music’s rhythm. EP highlight “Raise the Jolly Roger” is notable for the flailing tom fill that leads into the song’s main structure- technical, distinctive and very well executed. His rhythm section counterpart, bassist Bradley Nielson, holds his own as the musical backbone, shifting his precise and sharp patterns in accordance to Kingston’s. Combining the leading forces of vocals and guitar with the rhythm section, the overall sound is a well-established lattice, and one that definitely belies age, location and convention.
Of course, even with all the positive appraisal that is appropriate for such a release, the band are still searching the nooks and crannies of their musical identity, and the mixes of each track are far from perfect. Still, all things considered, let’s consider this DIY operation a successful one and see what happens next.