When you hear ferociously heavy music, chances are there’s a backstory that’s inspired the sheer brutality that goes through your ears and the end result, for some, can be cathartic as fuck – especially when you hear it on the same level as the songwriters and story-tellers you’re listening to.
Melbourne’s In Vanity have today unleashed their new Identity EP upon the world and on top of its absolute deathcore heaviness, there’s hard-hitting and through-provoking themes throughout each track that’ll make you listen to what’s going on in a different light. When I spotted drummer/songwriter Ollie Midson talking about the inspiration for the music, I had to ask him to take us deep into this release, and his mind, to further explain his pain and experiences that lead to its coneption.
Ollie, alongside guitarists Forest Stevens and Markus Sharpe, bassist/clean vocalist Stephen Latocha and the screaming force that is Ralph Brown have crafted a fantastic EP that shouldn’t go unheard. But as you dive into this new offering, read along with Olli’s track-by-track explaination and story behind each track – it may just make you appreciate the music more than just digging it for the breakdowns and bellowing screams.
This is In Vanity‘s Identity EP in his words…
*TRIGGER WARNING* – This article contains discussions about sexual assault, suicidal ideation, homophobia and mental illness.
Forest (guitar) wanted us to have a short, succinct track to kick off the record with a bang – in his words – a “trailer” for the whole EP. So that meant summing up the tone of the EP in four lines, and mortality was a theme I kept coming back to when brainstorming ideas for Identity. With the looming threat of climate change becoming a bigger problem, I just had this image of a field of people lying on their backs in a desert, staring into the sun as the world was being engulfed in the fire.
The title itself is a reference to the Jennifer Kent film of the same name, which is about an Irish convict in 19th century Tasmania who seeks bloody revenge against a group of British officers who sexually assaulted her and murdered her husband and baby. As truly devastating as it was to experience this film, I found inspiration in the story in the sense that survivors can and are capable of persevering through a traumatic event, and perpetrators need to be held accountable for their actions. It encouraged me to write about my own experience of assault, which happened a few years ago. Thankfully I’ve been able to carry on living my life without it having too much of a lasting effect on my mental health, but if it ever comes up and I need to calm myself, I always think of the line “I don’t belong to anybody but myself” which was lifted right from the Nightingale film, which is what Clara says to her abuser when she finally tracks him down. This song is also dedicated to one of my best friends who unfortunately was assaulted at what they and I thought was a safe place.
I came out as bisexual when I was seventeen, but more recently I came to identify as queer after having a beautifully enlightening conversation with Nyx Calder, a trans and non-binary actor who is currently playing Scorpius Malfoy in the Melbourne production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. In this new chapter of my life I felt it incumbent for me to learn about watershed moments in queer history, one of them being learning about Garrard Conley’s experience in a Conversion Therapy Program, as depicted in his memoir Boy Erased, which was made into a film starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. Upon completing Garrard’s story, I started to look further into conversion therapy and just how barbaric the practices are within the programs.
Thankfully the Victorian Government passed a bill earlier this year banning conversion therapy in our state. But, the Opposition’s promise to amend this law and the recent passing of the Religious Discrimination Bill in Parliament are a threat to the lives of LGBTQI+ individuals, particularly in faith based communities. The title ‘False Image‘ comes from Garrard’s experience in “Love-In-Action”’s program, in which the counsellors and facilitators of the program would deprive Garrard and his fellow “participants” of anything that was deemed to be a false reflection of their true selves in the eyes of God. For Garrard, this meant he wasn’t allowed to write in his journal, dress the way he wanted, walk the way he wanted, talk the way he wanted. The program went through everyone with a fine tooth comb and tried to drill into their bodies what they thought a human being “should” be.
‘Mariana‘ continues on from the subject matter of ‘Burn‘ from our last release, but shifts the tone and perspective from angry and relentless to more reflective and optimistic. ‘Burn‘ was originally a group effort about ex-partners/people we loved and how hurt we were by what happened between ourselves. In my case, it was about a horrible falling out between two people whom I loved, and as a result of that I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. ‘Burn‘ was a good way for us to get the anger out of our system but ‘Mariana‘ revisits my side of the story and tries to reconcile with what happened. When I became depressed I unfortunately developed a drinking problem and on one occasion considered taking my own life, but thankfully I was able to look past that ideation and seek help. ‘Mariana‘ is my way of saying no matter what you’ve been through, help is always available to you, and there’s always something or someone to live for.
When I was presented with the demo for ‘Epitome‘, I was immediately taken with how cinematic and grand in scale the song sounded. I was immediately presented with an image of a gargantuan monster towering over a small human, and I thought “this is what it can feel like to live with anxiety.” The lyrics reflect my thought process whenever I have experienced a depressive episode or panic attack, and despite the fact I know what’s happening to my body, it feels like that towering monster has taken over yourself and controls everything you do. You carry on trying the best you can to live with it but there will always be days where you just want to scream and say “GET OUT OF ME!”
The closing track is more or less a summation of all the themes we’ve covered so far across the EP with a heavier focus on what our purpose is in life and questions whether or not our existence has any meaning, within the framework of severing ties with someone we thought we could trust. We were lucky to receive guest vocals from our vocal engineer, Bailey Schembri, and his contribution to this track is nothing short of remarkable. ‘Avernus‘ itself refers to a lake in Israel which is said to be the entrance to hell, and we wanted that reflected in the overwhelming soundscape and bitter, despairing tone of the lyrics that lends a nihilistic approach to existence and humanity.
If you or anyone you know needs help with their own mental well-being call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or find your closest Suicide Prevention/Crisis Support Organisation on Google…
Stream the Idenity EP here
In Vanity – Idenity EP tracklisting
3. False Image