Band:Future Corpse Song: Cyber Vegan Genre: Heavy Prog / Progressive Metal / Post-Hardcore Date of Release: 02/10/2016 Location: Melbourne Reviewer: Chemikarl For Fans Of: Between the Buried and Me, SikTh, Protest the Hero
Modern “heavy” prog as a whole has, of late, been an almost depressingly conservative subgenre. Be it the fickle commercial aspect of the music industry in the 2010s or the infamous close-mindedness of fans of heavy music, especially metal, in embracing new ideas or sonic evolution, we’ve been at a dearth of new and interesting ideas for a while now. Dream Theater and their “traditional prog” disciples continue to put out the same power-metal-meets-Yes concept albums, while djent titans like Tesseract choose to build a prison of their own with off-time open chugs and processed atmospheric loops. Put simply, heavy prog needs a saviour.
Enter Future Corpse. I’ll be blunt: they’re not the redemptive leap forward heavy prog so desperately needs. But goddamn it, in five years’ time they just might grow to be, and that gets me excited as fuck. By far the most obvious comparison Future Corpse are going to receive from new fans is to Between The Buried And Me. However, while Between The Buried And Me have the temerity to assume needlessly schizophrenic time and genre changes are tantamount to interesting songwriting, Future Corpse take a much more restrained, structured route, and are all the better for it. That’s not to say there isn’t a metric fuckton of sonic variation – the guitars alone in this track jump back and forth from single-note noodle fests that bring to mind a burlier, more menacing The Fall Of Troy, to clean sections with a jangle almost reminiscent of Siouxsie And The Banshees, to more typical, time-shifting prog metal riffing. Hell, there’s even a section in ‘Cyber Vegan’ that takes more from the Latin-flavoured jazz fusion of Ray Barretto and Chick Corea than any over-driven, empty-headed riff jockey of the last century, and – hint hint – it’s one of the best parts of the track. It’s obvious that, like any progressive-minded band, Future Corpse can get a bit self-indulgent at times, and the nine-minute monolith that is ‘Cyber Vegan’ could’ve lost a minute or so on the cutting room floor without coming to too much harm, but this tendency is only a slight complaint when so much potential shines through their work. What bands like Between The Buried And Me seek do with abruptness and dissonance, Future Corpse manage to much more masterfully achieve, while maintaining the air-punching, cathartic hooks and climaxes that are going to draw people into their craft.
Speaking of hooks, Jarrod Hiney manages to bring them by the bucketload; a feat all the more impressive when you realise he’s handling guitars in addition to vocal duties. Taking more influence from the fast-fading “Wave” of skramz-revival post-hardcore than the predictable tedium of soaring falsetto or monotonous screaming usually dictated by the genre, Future Corpse mostly eschew traditional metal vocals for a sound rooted firmly in the brusquely shouted vocals of hardcore. Sounding simultaneously more self-assured and less whiny than Jordan Dreyer of “Wave” frontrunners La Dispute, but without the grating braggadocio or stunted range of Jeremy Bolm of contemporaries Touche Amore, Hiney’s power, self-awareness, and surprising emotional scope are sure to almost elicit either a standing ovation, or a solemn prayer circle thanking a deity of choice for the absence of typical vocal cliché from listeners.
If there’s one criticism to be had of ‘Cyber Vegan’ though, it’s that the release, at times, tend to sound like a Jarrod Hiney solo project. And look, I get it – when you play a genre this guitar-centric while also pulling vocal duties, you’re going to be in the spotlight a bit more than your other band members. As a rhythm section, Tim Lac and Elliot Sansom are more than adequate – they’re stellar musicians. Far from chugging root notes, the bass on ‘Cyber Vegan’ alternates between holding down a solid foundation for the rest of the band to play off, and elegantly counterpointing some extremely technical guitar lines, while the drums constantly pull unexpected grooves and unconventional accents out where a lesser drummer would’ve taken the more obvious route. But even though the production on ‘Cyber Vegan’ is crystal clear, the rhythm section of this trio just doesn’t have as many stand-out moments they deserve, instead being overshadowed by the obvious fundamentality of the guitars and vocals to the songwriting process.
Future Corpse are definitely a great new talent, bringing a fresh, cathartic, yet accessible impression of traditional prog conventions that hasn’t been seen in a while. If they can iron out the few songwriting issues that still linger in their work, they might actually well be on their way to becoming something unique and special. However, taken as it is, ‘Cyber Vegan’ is quite the banger of a track, and all else aside, and the boys should be proud of what they’ve managed to achieve with it.