As has been said many times, there’s a whole universe of Australian rock and pop bands that have never really made a great impact outside of their home country. Obviously, sites like Bandcamp and streaming services – love ’em or hate ’em – have really helped in getting some of the more underground talents into people’s ears, but all too often, so many Aussie bands have had to rely on a domestic fanbase. As it is with rock, there’s an Australian blues scene that’s barely made a blip on the UK and US record buyers’ radar, with performers like Ray Beadle, The Chris Mawer Band and Kara Grainger helping to fly the flag for the most timeless of genre sounds.
Back in March 2021, Aussie metal band LORD released an expansive covers album, ‘Undercovers, Vol. 1′. The project spanned 23 tracks and for those who bought the download, it also came with two hours’ worth of bonus audio where the band discussed the making of the record.
Following a couple of hugely unsubtle singles (the hardcore rant ‘Fuck Cyclists’ and the Rose Tattoo meets Hard-Ons rocker‘It’s Too Late’), Aussie punks The Owen Guns unleashed a furiously angry six track EP in the summer of 2020. It was everything the previous singles suggested it would be: brash, crass and – most importantly – loaded with massive hard rock/hardcore punk crossover riffs. The band’s furious verbal attack on the then US president (‘The Ballad of Cheeto Hitler’) even outdid most of their lyrical assaults. In a little over ten minutes, the relentless haranguing that drove the bulk of ‘Violating Community Standards’ set The Owen Guns in place as a band you just wouldn’t – and probably shouldn’t – argue with.
Covers albums can be a hit and miss prospect. For every band willing to take risks, there are three dozen hacking out uninspired versions of other peoples’ songs in the name of a quick buck. As proven by Jorn Lande, metal based covers albums can be an even trickier thing to pull off successfully, since not everything needs – or even suits – being “heavied up” in the name of entertainment. In fact, the experience of hearing Lande wail his way through Don Henley’s ‘New York Minute’ could be enough to put you off metal oriented covers albums for life…
Over the decades, metal has gone through various changes and spawned a lot of different heavy – and increasingly heavier – subgenres, but sometimes, there’s a genuine pleasure in hearing a band thundering out a riff or six that takes things right back to basics. Australia’s Skyhammer bill themselves as “a traditional metal band” and within the first ten seconds of this self-titled EP, that traditional – and very 80s – aspect of their art is presented rather unapologetically. For lovers of the style, this will be a good thing, especially with the opening track showcasing some fab twin lead guitar sounds inspired by Iron Maiden circa 1984.