Outright – Keep You Warm
Released: July 15, 2022
Jelena Goluza – Vox
Brett Eitzen – Bass, Backing Vox
Nick Hauser – Guitar, Backing Vox
Joel Cairns – Guitar
Rory Kelaart – Drums
I’ll be honest straight up – I am not a huge hardcore guy. So when Browny threw me the new Outright and asked for my thoughts I was a little sceptical. I mean if you’ve heard a hardcore band you know what you’re getting from them all. But f**k, Outright have some serious shit to say, armed with the riffs to amplify their message. As you’d expect there is zero compromise musically – but it’s the lyrics that got me. Socially conscious lyrics are par for the course in hardcore but they are writing what they know, which brings a uniquely Australian perspective to the genre.
One of the things that has been missing from the Australian hardcore music scene has been an outspoken Indigenous voice. Outright tackle colonisation and the resulting centuries of pain with a raw honesty and uncompromising barrage of noise. Opener ‘Truth Teller’ is a kickass proclamation for the process of “truth telling”, in which colonisers hear from aboriginal voices to recognise the pain they caused through displacement by “thieves” and “murderers”. As a former history teacher, a line like “Is it erasing history, If you never wrote or taught it truthfully?” is immensely powerful in helping heavy music fans, particularly those descended from Europeans, recognise the privilege they have. Combined with the ‘Tied Through Time’, a declaration of survival by the Stolen Generation, there’s a steely resolve that might just convince listeners that they can join Outright in calling for change. The call comes in earnest on ‘Breathless’, a full on riot that ends with the scream: “Now we are breathing fire”. There is an emotional weight to the anger and the specificity of frontwoman Jelena Goluza’s targets moves these songs beyond the usual ‘society is bad’ mantra common amongst hardcore bands.
Jelena’s position as a hardcore frontwoman also adds authenticity to songs like ‘The Hammer’, a breakneck call to smash the patriarchy. There’s actually a pretty sick lead break to open too, moving this closer to my beloved thrash subgenre. It’s flat out brutal too, evoking the witches of Salem to call for the heads of abusers. ‘Linchpin’ is more traditional hardcore with a set of punk riffs and a fat bassline as Jelena faces abusers via Greek and Roman mythology. The backing vocals take on a demonic growl, adding a different vibe to the raspy screams. ‘Fortify’ explores similar themes with a furious tempo and a lyrical intensity to match. It actually cuts out for a slower section highlighted by some killer drumming from Rory Kelaart before it roars back to heaviness with Jelena declaring “I will not be minimised, To fortify your place on thin ice”. It’s a brilliant lyric designed to empower women.
OK, so the lyrics have drawn me in but there hasn’t been a ton going on musically. But, is that a bass solo? Holy shit it is. ‘The Call’ runs for more than 7 minutes and is a prog-core delight. The bass remains prominent even as guitars join in, as a distorted Jelena whispers the first two lines. It builds to a heavy stoner rock riff with Jelena screaming over the top. It’s a vague by haunting depiction of domestic violence that standouts amongst the pure hardcore tracks on either side of it. Quite frankly, the patience and deliberateness of the song are remarkable. No doubt the band wants to go hard all the time but ‘The Call’ shows a whole different sort of heaviness. The guitar solos are just awesome, echoing grungier bands like Soundgarden.
From there it is back to business as usual with the second single ‘Burn’ metaphorically relighting the hardcore pyre. It’s lightning fast, done in under 90 seconds, a great contrast to the previous track. ‘Tyrants & Vultures’ is also more traditionally hardcore, with that punk melody and some thick breakdowns. The highlight is an awesome lyric, “The ballot or the bullet”, which is as frank as it gets when considering the disinformation age and absurdity of modern politics. ‘Silent Spring’ builds on the theme to include environmental degradation, which sees the band slow down, throw in some bird chirping samples, and call out fossil fuel companies and the governments that protect them. Again, the specificity of the approach leaves no doubt about where Outright stands on the issue, and the prolonged mid-tempo section just builds tension to a ferocious finish. It’s pretty epic, not something I have experienced in hardcore before, and really caps the album with something a little different but entirely consistent with the songs preceding it.
Browny, you’ve done it again and found me a band I wouldn’t have discovered on my own. Keep You Warm is unreal. The hardcore elements are well done but Outright have a lot of other things they can do to grab your attention so you can hear what they have to say. And they have a lot to say, a lot of it critical to the national conversation we need to have about our most vulnerable and their experience of power.
Outright – Keep You Warm Tracklisting:
- Truth Teller
- The Hammer
- Tied Through Time
- The Call
- Tyrants & Vultures
- Silent Spring
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