Modality – Fatal Empire EP
Released: September 16th, 2022
Nigel Jackson // Vocals
Alicia Richards // Bass
Modality sprang from the ashes of Melbourne/Naarm heavy prog act, Branch Arterial, another highly promising band that met its demise way too early, well before they showed us their full potential. Branch released an EP and an album before disbanding, the EP pursuing the prevailing Aussie prog sound and vibe of the time, with longer, more sprawling songs, while the album sharpened, honed and streamlined things. Now Modality carries on with the latter approach.
Without a single track of the six on offer here over five minutes, the tunes on this, their sophomore EP, are sharp, direct and to the point. In fact, they have upped the heaviness ante on this release, compared to both their previous EP and the former band, and in doing so have increased the aural impact. These songs slap. They get in, hit you hard, make a compelling statement in a musical and lyrical sense, and then get out.
At the same time, the band have not skimped on within-song content in the slightest. The tunes are choc-full of ideas, sounds and influences. While the overriding tone of the piece is that of explosive heavy prog rock, while jagged and angry riffs and nuclear-strength grooves abound, there are also clean female vocals (check out ‘The Void’ for example), moments of ethereal ambience, electronic/synthwavey/dubsteppy (see: ‘Filth’) flourishes and plenty more besides. All delivered with a level of exuberance that is truly exhilarating and infectious, especially in the percussive department and in the clean/aggressive trade-off vocals of co-founding member and frontman Nigel Jackson.
As stated in Wall of Sound‘s recent interview, the band tackle some pretty harsh and heavy topics, lyrically, on this EP. It’s particularly good to find a band boldly and bravely shining a light on the often ‘swept under the carpet’ topic of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, as they do on second single ‘Hope is for the Hopeless’, the pain and anger experienced by the victims coming across beautifully in Jackson’s voice and words.
*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*
As is so often the case with bands like this, six tracks isn’t enough for them to fully spread their wings, musically, and let the full gamut of their creativity shine. A full album would allow a little more track-to-track variety to come across. Hopefully that’s what’s on the cards for this band in the not-too-distant future.
In the meantime, Fatal Empire is a very sweet taster.
Modality – Fatal Empire EP tracklisting
2. Death Party
3. Hope is for the Hopeless
4. Glass House
5. The Void
Catch the band on tour throughout October/November up the East Coast – tickets here
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