For every 10 bands in Australia who froth over mosh ‘n’ metal core from both mouth and groin over and feel the need to show us their allegiance with their own (slightly altered at best) take on the genre, you’ll come across a hardcore band who strike a chord on the level that bands like Have Heart, Modern Life is War, Break Even and Defeater have/do. These bands are among a few which I really connect with because of their melodies which make you grit your teeth and clench your fists, and their honest and sincere deliver--I guess compelling might be the right word.
The most recent band I’ve heard who look like joining this group of favorites in the future is up-and-comers Surrender. The five-piece hails from Perth but recently relocated to Melbourne and released their debut offering, One Day which boasts production credits from Jay Maas. I’d got my hands on a copy of their demo after seeing an impressive and energetic live show, and while there was promise with flaws there, improved songwriting and superior production have seen the band take a major step up. I don’t know quite who to compare them to, but a friend suggested a hybrid of Darkest Hour and Defeater and that seems as appropriate as anything I can think of.
The album kicks off fast with relatively simple but driving guitars and drums on “Norman S.D.”, a track led by the singer until a sweet hook, tempo change and groove towards the end of the song. Good start. The second track, “Victim” is a cracker, my favorite on the album. The chorus swells brilliantly into fast verses with metallic guitar, before an epic passage halfway through, helped in no small part by some stand-out drumming, leads into the anthemic finish with the lyrics: “Don’t let them take this life from you.”
“Baby Steps” is another good track, with the album’s best guitar moment coming a minute in; as is “We Lived,” a song about living in the moment that definitely resonates with me. “These Anchors” is a slower one, probably placed mid-album to allow us to catch our breath, and while it’s solid, I think these guys are best when they’re playing fast. “Saints” sees the spotlight turned to the bass, which is audible and works well as part of a whole but is rarely prominent throughout the album. “Fly Safe” and “Flog a Dead Gifthorse” follow Surrender’s favored formula of fast songs with slower, melodic endings, which they execute pretty well, while closer “June 19” is mellow and reflective, and suits this album in terms of an ending. “Amends” shows them at their best, though, with an awesome chanted part just past the minute-mark.
I’m really amazed at the improvement of this band. Execution is spot on and their song writing is not far off--they clearly gave it everything they had (including funding everything involved in making the album themselves to my knowledge) and deserve recognition both in and out of this country. I’m not suggesting any revolutionary ideas but the fact no band springs to mind immediately when explaining what they sound like illustrates a fair amount of originality, and they’re playing melodic hardcore convincingly and compellingly with heart, which I love and respect and engage with. Get this, and watch for Surrender in the future.