Surprise! Yeah, look, it’s sick.
Well, well, well… If March 2017 is going to go down for anything in heavy/alternative music, it’ll be the month of the ‘surprise album’. First Northlane dropped ‘Mesmer’ on an unsuspecting public, only for Melbourne hardcore veterans Mindsnare to swoop right in and do the same-goddamn-thing, on the same damn day no less, with the release of their first full-length album in ten years. Not to mention it being only a few months shy of a decade since the release of 2007’s ‘Disturb The Hive’. How wild is that?!
Now, in my earlier review for Mindsnare’s ‘Into Infinity’ & ‘The Holy Bull Rides Fast’ 7-Inches, I concluded by saying (albeit prophetically in hindsight): “Fingers crossed for that new LP before 2022!” And you know what? They fucking did it, five years ahead of schedule and I could not be more stoked.
'Unholy Rush’ provides thirteen tracks of Mindsnare’s trademark aggression and metallic hardcore assault, with some pre-release tracks already seeing the light of day, but also plenty of shiny new bangers to wrap your ears around. As to be expected, the material for ‘Unholy Rush’ was compiled and recorded in the same sessions as those for ‘Into Infinity’ & ‘The Holy Bull Rides Fast,’ with engineering by Jason Fuller at Goat Sound, mixing from Kurt Ballou at God City Studios, mastering from Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, and production by Jason Fuller and guitarist Beltsy.
In looking back at Mindsnare’s legacy as one of the most influential and well-loved bands in Australian hardcore and metal, their success can be narrowed down to three defining attributes: tight, instrumental prowess, a refusal to pander to trends and stylistic flavour, and incendiary performances that literally explode in a live setting. On ‘Unholy Rush,’ the Melbourne four-piece prove this thesis time and time again, and when ‘Intro’ bleeds into some ominous, wailing sirens, you know shit’s about to get real.
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Beltsy’s chainsaw guitar attack rears its ugly head throughout the record, like on the screeching, sliding scale riffs in ‘Winter’ (a dead-ringer for a ‘Hanged, Choked, Wrists Slit’ B-side) or the finger-blazing solo in the mid-section of ‘Lacerate To Exist’. Frontman Matt Maunder’s vocal hysterics once again play centre stage, with his dynamic range sounding as indomitable as ever, effortlessly switching between a hardcore bark, mid-range yell and a downright devilish shriek. Human metronome Gordy Fordman proves his skills as skinsman are second to none on the album’s title track, with tectonic drum fills, manic ride cymbal blasts and pummelling, double-kick finishers. Meanwhile, bassist Nigel Melder keeps the rhythm flowing thick and fast, with clapping bass and stomping verses on tracks like ‘Escape The Fallout’.
Notably mid-way through the album, Mindsnare ease off the throttle for a short interlude with ‘The Inquisition’: an instrumental track that features an audio sample taken from the classic, Italian gothic-horror film Black Sunday (1960). In the film, a 17th-century Russian princess is declared a witch and places a curse upon the family that condemns her shortly before her untimely death. As the instrumental swells to a crescendo, the sample concludes with the princess declaring: “I will continue to live immortal. They will restore to me the life that you now rob from me. I shall return to torment and destroy throughout the nights of time.” It’s haunting, it’s grim, and if you take one look at the bleak and pestilent album cover illustration for ‘Unholy Rush’ (courtesy of artist Daniel Shaw aka Sawblade), it’s a pairing of dark, foreboding imagery that perfectly suits Mindsnare’s unique brand of vehement hardcore.
While tracks like ‘Into Infinity,’ ‘The Holy Bull Rides Fast,’ ‘Nowhere To Run’ and ‘Not A Lot Gets Forgiven’ are included in the track listing for ‘Unholy Rush,’ they’ve already been dissected in length in my previous review for their respective 7-Inches, and the discerning fan/reader can again find these discussed here. Which thankfully, leaves the best for last: pre-release track ‘Gateway To Madness’ and the not-quite closer ‘Witches With Blood’.
The former was released last year as a teaser, and the combination of maddening tempo changes, an epic mid-section chant lead by roaring double-kick, and the massive, sluggish beat-down finisher makes for one of Mindsnare’s best ever tracks — rivalling previous greats like ‘Bulldozed,’ ‘Cold’ and ‘In Reach Of No Man’. The latter represents one of the group’s longest compositions ever, pushing well over the four-minute mark. It features blasts of metallic riffage, which fade out in the middle to isolated bass and guitar that rumble together in a messy, dishevelled midsection before a fantastic, melancholic lead riff soars above it all right to the very end.
In the press material for the record, Beltsy describes the mindset he was in during the writing process for ‘Unholy Rush’: “I just wanted to write something that I feel kind of fits somewhere between ‘Hanged, Choked, Wrists Slit’ & ‘The Death’ but with a darker vibe throughout the songs.” And if like me, you consider Mindsnare’s early to mid-2000’s output of 2004’s ‘The Death’ and 2001’s now-classic ‘Hanged, Choked, Wrists Slit’ to be the band’s peak material, then Beltsy’s words should be getting you all fired up.
‘Unholy Rush’ is a punishing throwback to Mindsnare’s greatest era, and the record fans have been anxiously and desperately salivating for. Do not sleep on this shit, as it will no doubt be one of the best Australian hardcore releases of 2017.
‘Unholy Rush’ is available now through Resist Records, and you can purchase the release here. Good luck trying to get the vinyl, though… But seriously, if you want to flip one, let me know.