REVIEW: Nuclear Summer – Nuclear Summer

Many thanks to Rhys Bufford of Xenosis (Facebook here) for introducing this kickass band to me.

Band: Nuclear Summer
Album: Nuclear Summer
Release: 2011
Label: Self-released
Genre: Post-rock/hardcore

It seems that music always has a way of holding surprises for listeners in the formation or reinvention of genres over the past couple of decades. Post-hardcore has been given a fairly bad rap in recent years, with bands like Funeral For A Friend and Hawthorne Heights being slated on a regular basis by those who look down their nose at the developments of the genre. Well, to those who snub, I offer you a reinvented form of it, taking the name as an amalgamation of post-rock and hardcore punk. The combination sounds fairly jarring on paper, but Nuclear Summer, hailing from Brisbane, execute it almost flawlessly on their début eponymous album.

Holding up the post-rock end, the band blend in the energy of Maybeshewill (“Endless Kickflips Forever”*) and some more Explosions In The Sky-esque melodies (“Perfect Agent”), even moving into the more manipulated notes approach of Godspeed You! Black Emperor (“Nineteen Eighty Seven”). However, they also completely dispel this with frequent bursts and blends of hardcore, particularly of note in “Perfect Agent”. The vocalist is a complete beast, if you’ll forgive the phrase; his screams and shouts are at first a little incongruous and over-the-top but within a song or two start to fall into place, echoing something akin to Frank Carter (ex-Gallows) on occasion, along with his slightly more hoarse singing style reminiscent of Cannonball Ride. Finally, as a little surprise, I was brought back to nostalgia with the penultimate track “See You In Hell”, a mixture of old Grey Lines Of Perfection and some excellent post-rock.

There are some moments in Nuclear Summer that I haven’t quite digested, such as “Nineteen Eighty Seven”’s pseudo-acoustic-hardcore approach, and the odd use of “Pilot Wings” as the closer track when “See You In Hell” would have been more suitable. Some other quirks, however, are very much welcome. The atmospheric synth in “Dreamshaft” is quite cool, and the more imagery-focused lyrics are engaging. They’re a refreshing change from the usual political lyrics of hardcore bands; examples such as “I left her ghost scattered across the coast, barely intertwined, however maligned” invoke a Defeater feel about them. “Taking steps towards reparation, must first begin with forgiveness” from “Do Unto” has become a favorite, a thought-provoking line which works well in the song’s context.

Nuclear Summer have created an astonishing début bringing together two juxtaposed genres and making them agree with each other without a slamdancing fistfight. Those into the hardcore or post-rock bands mentioned could do well with checking this out, either as a gateway to the other’s world or purely for something that sounds completely fresh. The Australian rock and metal scene has provided some excellent material of late, and Nuclear Summer are one of the bands leading the pack, either in their niche genre or on a wider scale. I’m already waiting impatiently for the sophomore release. Find them on Facebook here.

*Already a contender for Best Song Title of 2012

Rating: 8.5/10

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