Amanaki – Tempest (EP Review)

Amanaki Tempest EP

AmanakiTempest EP
Released: November 4th 2022

Line Up:

Jared Kerr // Vocals
April Haines // Guitar
Jethro Wall // Drums
Ethan Downey-Parish // Bass

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The NZ hardcore scene has been slowly growing and growing over the last decade-plus, with acts like Antagonist A.D and Xile bursting out onto the world stage. Melodic hardcore/metalcore group Amanaki – featuring both scene veterans and fresh blood – are one the New Zealand’s hottest heavy bands. While their sound is steeped in modern hardcore, the quartet’s latest EP Tempest shows that they have enough groove and fresh ideas to separate them from the rest of the pack.

Firing up the EP we’re immediately greeted with a great track, with ’Reset’ a classic record opener. Its slow, dynamic intro builds up and up before it reaches its climax with a big soaring chorus. Frontman Jared Kerr is particularly strong, with great clean singing sitting neatly with an army of guitars and drums. Following number ‘Tumor’ is aggressive, with more of a straight-forward hardcore, almost nu-metal edge, especially with Kerr‘s flowing vocals. While the bridge and ending beatdown are strong, its deeply personal lyrics make for an obvious high point.

Amanaki’s positive stance is definitely one of the band’s best aspects – the hardcore/metalcore scene can sometimes get a little too testosterone-driven, so ‘Tumor’, and its follower ‘Leech’, make for a nice change. Their only real weakness is perhaps being too literal and can fall into cliche at times. While ‘Tumor’ is a big song, its energy is dulled slightly by the Tempest’s production. While not as obvious during ‘Reset’, the more direct heaviness of ‘Tumor‘ shows off the fairly flat mix. The drums sound small and the gang vocals are distant, both of which don’t sound as powerful as their performances exhibit, while the EP is definitely missing some low end as a whole.

Stand For Something’ is powerful, if not a little underwhelming – until its last minute absolutely explodes with a thick, octave-driven riff. The seven tracks are short and to the point – nothing runs for over three minutes, which makes for to-the-point songwriting. Although efforts like ‘Stay’ and ‘Scars’ kind of fly by, the latter packs Tempest’s biggest breakdown. Amanaki’s MVP has to be guitarist April Haines’. A mix of Tom Morello, Architects and The Fall of Troy, her riff-orientated playing and guitar-centric writing is a breath of fresh air. The closing title tune is a powerful way to wrap up the EP. The instrumental is really another great excuse to show off Haine’s playing – with chiming, delay-affected clean guitars building into a big, half-time post-rock style wall of noise. A great way to close Tempest – and hopefully a style the group implements into the sound more frequently going forward.

Fun Fact: We’ve also been told that each of Amanaki’s releases rolls straight into the next in succession. So we highly recommend going back to the band’s initial release of Immutable (2018), followed by Engrafted (2019) then straight into Tempest to get a full experience of this band’s forward-thinking mentality surrounding their releases and tracklisting.

Tempest is an extremely solid release from one of New Zealand’s fastest-rising talents. There is a mountain of potential on show from Amanaki – great guitar work, strong vocals and some great songwriting chops. Tempest is let down by its average production, and admittedly there is certainly room for growth. However, there are some truly great moments that hopefully become more of a focal point of the band’s sound moving forward, and puts them amongst their finest countrymen – and beyond.

Amanaki Tempest EP

AmanakiTempest EP tracklisting

  1. Reset
  2. Tumor
  3. Leech (feat. Luke Manson of Xile)
  4. Stand For Something
  5. Stay
  6. Scars (feat. Josh Smith)
  7. Tempest

Rating: 8/10
Tempest EP is out November 4th on North Supply Co. Order here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper

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