Words by Sam Wolstenholme
Naarm/Melbourne’s progressive metalcore wunderkinds Future Static have become one of Australia’s most exciting heavy exports after seemingly materialising out of nowhere. After battling through Melbourne’s series of relentless lockdowns, the band has broken out into the limelight, blinding the Australian heavy scene with a commanding light of their own. The unshakeable power of their explosive sound has seen them support heavy titans such as Jinjer, Voyager and RedHook, jet set off to tour the European festival circuit, and jump on board the Electric Callboy Australian tour no less, all in the space of just a couple of years.
So the title of their hotly anticipated debut album strikes me as entirely fitting – ‘Liminality’, the curiously ephemeral state found somewhere in the inexplicable gap between being and nothingness. It’s no secret that being a musician has been a tough gig in every sense of the word these past few years; the pandemic tested the commitment to art like nothing else. During times when nothing makes sense, and we can barely see beyond the next moment, we question everything we believe ourselves to be. Yet maybe this is a calling to redefine ourselves as we shapeshift and embrace who we are in this new unknown.
The album takes off at breakneck speed with the high-octane pop-core Chemical Lobotomy, and the impeccable crispness of the production allows for each layer of the complex instrumentation to shine through. Amidst the driving drums and riffs emerges the crowning glory of frontwoman Amariah Cook’s breathtaking clean vocals. Melding a powerhouse rock belt reminiscent of ex-The Agonist’s Vicky Psarakis with the impressive range of pop sensations like Ariana Grande, Cook’s vocal performance throughout this record has established her as one of the strongest and most versatile voices in metal today. If her cleans weren’t enough to marvel at, the pop-punk of the verse and chorus in Chemical Lobotomy quickly gives way to her feral screams atop breakdown chugs, and it’s here that the dual guitar shreds of Ryan Qualizza and Jack Smith bleed through to inject proggy flavour into the track.
Crushing single Venenosa follows, flinging crazed sonic surges of blast beats, blistering riffs and battling clean/harsh vocals like tentacles wrapping around you, smothering you slowly – “I am so toxic, I feel sadistic” – and it’s like Jinjer meets Psycroptic.
Roach Queen kicks in with a punishing riff, then flirts with spoken word, building up to the cathartic chorus chants of “Get it out, get it out, I’m sick and nobody will help me” – but what begins as a frenzied, desperate cry for help quickly takes a dark turn into blind, chaotic rage as fury is unleashed in the blistering double-kick driven climax of the track. If The Beautiful Monument, In This Moment and Arch Enemy created a demonic love child, this track is what it would sound like.
Icarus assaults us with Revocation-esque riffs and some truly mean harshes from Cook, but the anthemic choruses are key anchoring points in the composition, and the track ends at such an overwhelming apex of power that the ambient intro for …And The Walls That Were Built almost feels jarring. However, soon we’re back into the intricate lead guitars underscoring soaring vocals, and the track crescendos dramatically, driven by all those layers of sound and flawless drums. Honestly, the musicianship demonstrated by every member of this band is astonishing.
Waves begins innocently enough with melodic guitar licks, but is quickly interrupted by flashes of brutal harshes and down-to-the-floor chugs, and the frequent interchanging between heavy sections and pop-punk verses is a distinctive feature in this particular track.
The two-minute long maelstrom Iliad is so fast and furious, dirty and heavy that it catapults so far into death metal territory it’s almost approaching grindcore. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sonic assault is so packed full of relentless noise that Luke Taylor’s guest growls almost get lost in the haze. By this point in the album, the ear is in need of relief, which comes in the form of Will I?, an experimental number that opens with heartfelt, sweet pop tones from Cook and gentle synths. The spoken word passages in this track evoke nu-metal vibes dancing with electro and trap, in the same way that Aussie compadres Banks Arcade tend to do. The final chorus in this track is an absolute standout – huge vocal performance from Cook and luscious instrumental layers, not to mention a polished guitar solo.
The Hourglass is the most progressive track yet – powerful harshes and bright punky verses once again battle for dominance, with breakdowns and and vocal belts galore – but then a half-time section crashes in with colossal impact, and a subdued bridge allows for the final chorus, complete with vocal rounds behind the main melody, to shine. Think ERRA or Architects with a Paramore edge. Then we take an unexpected breath with Halfway Across The World, a little ballad with angelic vocals and light acoustic guitar strums that leads smoothly right back into the metalcore chaos of Plated Gold, in which Sean Harmanis’ (Make Them Suffer) ferocious guest harshes wake us the fuck up in a startling contrast to the catchy, pop-laden choruses. This track seems to represent a turning point thematically; we have found our way out of the darkness, wised up a fair bit, and are empowering ourselves: “I see what you don’t expect me to know, I see that your soul is plated gold”.
That sense of resolve and inner strength is solidified in the stately closer The Embers, which delivers the most searing breakdown section yet in between heroic, compelling choruses.
This belter of an album would be a monumental achievement for a band who are already a few albums into their career. But the fact that ‘Liminality’ is Future Static’s debut full-length release demonstrates just how ahead of the game this unbelievably talented band is. This stunning anthology may have been borne from a time when Future Static felt they had lost their way, but they sure as hell have found it with this release. Bands like this, and releases like this, ignite my fervent excitement for the future of heavy music.
With thanks to Good Intent