Artist: Miles Away
Things change—towers that stood proudly centuries ago have been erased by time, and men and women pass away every day, replaced by the birth of infants around the world. The world is in a state of dynamic flux, an equilibrium that ebbs and flows, giving and taking like the wondrous whims of the sea. Change is one of very few constants we can count on, as it is solely responsible for the events that allow the world to keep on turning. On their latest full length, Australian melodic hardcore band Miles Away enrapture the listener with churning, emotional and energetic hardcore that ebbs and flows between fury and subtle, serene ethereality as poetically and punctually as the waves on a beach. This passionate Perth powerhouse have created a punchy testament to hardcore that plants one foot in quick, pulsing power and another in harrowing, heart-rending emotion that stands tall, no matter how fiercely the Tide pulls at it.
Miles Away’s instrumental dynamic borrows from quick, punk patterns that harken back to hardcore’s roots and smashes them head-on with almost post-rock moments of serene stillness and calm. “Entitlement” is an excellent example, defined by bouncy, punchy percussion that keeps the track roaring along like a train teetering off its rails—until the song hits the breaks and snappy snare hits soften to subtle taps, and pounding kick drums turn to bold, bass-boosting accents. Much in keeping with the majority of Tide’s instrumentation, “Entitlement” showcases the band oscillating back and forth as the song carries on, quickly reaching an equilibrium that displays the band’s ability to transition from devilish speed to distant, deep ethereality. The album’s brief interlude, “Whitewash,” is an excellent example of the band’s softer side, as quick percussion takes a backseat to slow, ambient drumming, allowing Miles Away’s often understated bass guitar to roam alongside the band’s soaring guitars. Tide is home to immensely varied fretwork that does justice to the ebbing and flowing nature of the album’s title. Some tracks, like the rip-roaring “Balance” and the frenzied “Terra Incognita” favor sporadic dissonance and disorder over carefully patterned structure—where “Entitlement” sees the band’s riffsmiths roaming back and forth between boldness and beauty—just as the short-but-serene interlude “Whitewash” sees the band taking a deep breath and calming themselves, steeping the listener in temperate, practiced atmosphere.
Where Tide is a broad musical canvas with a great variety of musical influences and stylings, the band’s vocalist is a stalwart—an unchanging, ferocious set of lungs giving meaning to the sprawling soundscapes Miles Away paint with their instrumental prowess. Switching from a gruff, lower-register shout to a soaring, almost-shrill scream and resting at a meaty, mostly-talked chant, Miles Away’s vocals rely on simple, effective patterns and intelligible screaming techniques to convey passionate, powerful lyrics to the listener. “Undertow” is an excellent example—with emotional, entrancing lyrics delivered across every style of the vocalist’s relatively narrow range, this track is an example of Miles Away using their vocal element as a means to amplify and add depth to the song’s moving musical compliment. “Terra Incognita” is similar, even as the track is a complete one-eighty. With much more “hardcore” than “melodic,” in the track’s music, the vocalist flows suit, adapting his screaming—and even his clean singing—to fit the song’s jittery, energetic atmosphere. These two tracks are excellent examples of Miles Away using the vocals in an immersive and intelligent away, as they add feeling, fury and power to the band’s churning, twisting and turning instrumental dialectic.
With all of Tide’s tumultuous energy and immersive emotion, segments of Miles Away’s latest release come across as unfocused and thrown together. Where “Terra Incognita” and “Grateful” are incredible testaments to the band’s ability to compose creative and catchy melodic hardcore anthems, “Ex Voto” and “Let the Words Roll By” are less than memorable, rolling by without leaving much (if any) impact on the listener. However, when all of Miles Away’s magnificent elements come together, the listener is simply drowned by their deep, dense and powerful emotional onslaught. “Entitlement” and “Undertow” are perfect standalone examples of this—and the transition from the peaceful “Whitewash” into the blinding brightness of “Balance” further showcases this, illustrating the band’s proclivity towards intelligent songwriting on a larger scale than on a track-at-a-time basis. On the whole, Tideis an example of a hit-or-miss melodic hardcore album that is much more “hit” than miss, marvelously exemplifying the band’s veteran status in a crowded and tedious genre.
For Fans Of: Defeater, Modern Life is War, Defeater, Until We Are Ghosts
By: Connor Welsh