Review Summary: And hallowed be their song...
Perth is a funny city, boasting a population of less than two million, the sheer amount of musical talent coming out of the place is astounding for such a small place. In saying that, Perth is also the world’s most isolated city; therefore to unearth some of the more amazing bands at work requires a little digging. Such is how this reviewer came across five piece Eleventh He Reaches London, a band that combines a huge number of influences to sit somewhere between post-rock and emo. Their debut album, 2005’s The Good Fight for Harmony
hinted at the band’s immense talent for writing songs, but it is on Hollow Be My Name
where this potential is truly realised.
Taking on the concept of colonial Australia, Hollow Be My Name
gives the band vessel to express their loathing for systemized Australia and figures of authority in general. The seething vocals of Ian Lenton in the brilliant title track and first single, "I'm allowed to curse him, If he's the one that built me, I'm allowed to use his ***ing name in vein"
are some of the most hateful lines put to CD this side of the equator, producing an album highlight. ‘I Am the Bearer, I stand In Need’ is another astounding track, traversing a large amount of genres in its nine minutes. Beginning with the now familiar rasping of Lenton’s vocals and a laidback guitar line, however this is just the calm before the storm. All three heavily distorted guitars come in for the second half of the track, backed by the thunderous rhythm section (Luke Pollard – bass and Mark Donaldson – Drums), further emphasising Lenton’s screams. The result is a work of art that manages to channel Modest Mouse, Neurosis and Johnny Cash, while at the same time remain entirely unique.
The instrumentation on Hollow Be My Name
is quite diverse, with the three axe-men (Lenton, Jayden Warts and Jeremy Martin) utilising everything from banjos to acoustic guitars to metal riffs, creating a huge wall of sound that fits perfectly with the misery and loathing in the lyrics. The band draw on a range of influences, however the closest comparisons come in the form of mewithoutYou, Isis and Modest Mouse. Through the guise of convict Australia, Eleventh explore their resentment of God, government and father figures, suggesting that neglect is at the root of all evil in humanity. Such weighty issues would normally seem too much for a band to cover, but in fact it fits perfectly with the five piece’s equally dark and brooding arrangements.
Unafraid to experiment with genres, Eleventh also touch on country music throughout the album, particularly on ‘Son, You’re Almost an Orphan,’ which is the closest thing you’ll find to a ballad on Hollow Be My Name
. Second single ‘Oh, Brother’ follows suit, which at times pushes towards being a quasi-hardcore campfire jam. This comes to a head on ‘Toorali’ where the band reworks an Australian folk classic into a much, much darker song, such that only the chorus is recognisable. In fact, the verses have a life of their own with Lenton proclaiming ‘I know I shouldn't repeat this, but I'd love to take my Queen's neck and then shout "OFF WITH HER HEAD!" and paint a cross with her blood’
over post-rock influenced guitar lines.
‘Girt By Piss’ and ‘Death Is My Holiday’ continue the trend, attacking the Commonwealth through the eyes of an English convict in Australia. However ‘Girt By Piss’ does so in a much more chaotic, hardcore fashion, while the latter explores a more folk-ish sound and still manages to convey Lenton’s loathing for institution with ease.
Hollow Be My Name
is brought to a head by the eleven minute closer ‘For the Commonwealth and the Queen,’ a purely genius song that exhibits everything that Eleventh is on the album. Possessing a number of dynamic shifts, the track moves from half spoken verses to angst filled screams with ease. The triple guitar attack also works especially well here, giving the softer moments some atmosphere while pushing the heavy moments to a quite intense sound. Paired with Lenton’s brilliant lyrics, the song gives no hope for humanity and in turn, no sympathy for authority, proclaiming;
While the men fight like lions, for the Commonwealth and the Queen
I know no men who are lions
Boasting or showing symptoms of life
Live for themselves but die not for the Queen
Men are not lions
The system got the best of us
and that system tore the rhythm from our hearts
Such that the chaotic nature of the track gives rise to one of the more exceptional, albeit ridiculously bleak pieces of the year.
Over the course of an hour, Hollow Be My Name
cements itself as one of the best albums to have come out of Australia in recent times, being both lyrically and musically brilliant throughout. Given more exposure, this will go down as one of the most original and daring alternative records in Australian music, it is beyond epic.
Hollow Be My Name
is avaliable for legal download here: http://postrockcommunity.blogspot.com/2009/11/eleventh-he-reaches-london-hollow-be-my.html