Alex Hill & Josh Taafe – Mélancolia ‘Undo The Déjà Vu.’

With the exception of being an outstanding comedy film released in 1993 featuring the enigmatic Bill Murray, Groundhog Day or its premise, is actually recognised to a degree on a psychological level. As per psychologist and best selling author Susan Albers: “From a psychological perspective, at the root of this phenomenon is ‘habituation’. Habituation is a decreased response to repeated exposure to stimuli. In other words, when you get used to things, you stop focusing on them. The benefit is that it gives your mind a break and so you can filter out unimportant things. The downside is that you don’t notice things like you used to, which makes the world dull and mundane. This leads to mindlessness or doing activities in routine ways, like a robot.”

As can be observed both in the movie and in our day-to-day lives, this existence can become torturous. Primary songwriter and vocalist Alex Hill of Melbourne’s goth-industrial deathcore outfit Mélancolia explored this torment utilising a narrative of his own making. As he describes from his home, the employment of a concept to bring to light “emotional distress” is an act of self-liberation and the story is exceptionally engrossing.

Essentially, the story is about an undisclosed deity from an undisclosed religion that doesn’t exist. This all powerful deity has been cast down from its realm and forced into human form. It still has the wealth of knowledge of being a deity, but completely stripped of its power. What then unfolds is its whole course of life is taking observation of what it is to be a human. But all that comes from it is the negativity of being a human.

So is the focus on the agony of habituation? Or is it more profound than that?

Basically, it’s just the tale of life and death and how we get no say in being born, yet we have to deal with the repercussions of that. That’s what it is; in short, that’s what its sort of meaning is, I mean, each song sort of travels through different points in this deity’s life until it gets to the point where it sort of snaps and decides that: ‘You know what, I would be doing humanity a favour by killing them’.” Alex discloses with a breath of affliction before continuing – “It is not necessarily the idea of creating this big war or anything like that. It only really touches on someone dying maybe once in the whole tale. But in basic form, start to finish: Birth, experiencing human life, deciding humans suck, killing humans, losing touch with emotion, discovering it can only feel when inflicting self harm or inflicting pain on others. Then, the end of it I guess, is taking the darkest route out of life, but only to discover that it can’t actually die, being that it is a deity.

He continues – “So the whole idea is, if you listen to the album with repeat on and you go from start to finish, by the time you get to the end of ‘…a cold static eulogy’, it drops perfectly back into ‘Horror_Ethereal’ and loops again, so it’s in an infinite loop.

The latter song mentioned by the front-man is in actual fact the first single released from the quartet’s debut album HissThroughRottenTeeth and one of the catalysts for their signing to the great Greyscale Records nationally (including New Zealand) and remarkably, metal heavyweight label Nuclear Blast for the rest of the world. The platform? Their spine-chilling film clip that echoes the Saw film franchise mixed with the industrial horror of Combichrist and the great gothic ghastliness of extreme metal dignitaries Cradle Of Filth.

As guitarist Joshua Taafe divulges – “The ‘Horror_Ethereal’ film clip was horrendous. It was like 45 degrees celsius or something like that. Our drummer at the time passed out after doing too many takes. It was a small room which made it even worse, it was pretty nuts.
Alex then elaborates – “Big shot out to Rush Escape Rooms, they are so sick! That’s where we shot a lot of the footage for ‘Horror_Ethereal’ and ‘[Inure]’ – in multiple locations that they are affiliated with. We were at one location for about 13 to 14 hours which was insane, I was living on sugar free red bulls as was Karl Steller (Gravemind), our director.

It is so crazy to walk in there and see that we were able to shoot a music video in that space. Especially since we didn’t ask them to shut down the venue; so it was business as usual and people were coming in, doing the escape rooms and seeing four goth dudes just there in the waiting room (laughs).

Although imagery of Richmond Avenal from The IT Crowd may become very apparent at this point in the interview, but with understandably less wittiness and more wretchedness; the punishment has come to the ultimate prize. Each clip has attained over 100,000 views – however, with Mélancolia it is apparent the four-piece are aiming for the Evermore Darkly. With Alex Hill as the spearhead of this blackened goth industrial deathcore, a rather obscure yet amazing amalgamation, it dawned on this writer to ask how his creative intellect manifests?

Literally I ask myself: How does this song feel and what does this song make me picture in my head? And I think that’s usually the way I can tell if I like a song. If I can’t picture anything in my head then I don’t like the song. So everything written is always intended with a visual counterpart, at least in my mind.

Josh then chimes in: “I feel exactly the same; I don’t really feel like I need to do or tell him what to do. Everything he brings to everyone, we’re all just like: That’s pretty much it!” He states with exuberance before carrying on – “Everyone’s feeling and taste is almost exactly the same. It’s actually crazy how four people can feel and act the same way.

With this immeasurable chemistry, it becomes rather obvious that Mélancolia are moving in leaps and bounds since their first show supporting Australian deathcore heavyweights Thy Art Is Murder. Although, it must be conveyed that they are no overnight phenomenon (“We finished tracking the LP in May 2021” Mr Taafe illustrates), their abstract conceptual approach is one radiating with originality. As author and famed professor Adam Grant says: “Creativity is generating ideas that are novel and useful. I define originals as people who go beyond dreaming up the ideas and take initiative to make their visions a reality.”

I mean, all the songs make sense in context of the album. And they all have their purpose and use to tell the story of the album. I’ll never write personally 100% from my perspective, but it’s always inspired by ways I’ve felt, or just times in my life. There’s definitely a few lines in there that you can pull out which directly relate to things I’ve thought about regarding my state of mental health. All of us in the band have had their rough patches through existentialism and depression and stuff like that.” Mr Hill admits with dignity – “I’m not trying to send a message out. It is just catharsis. It’s definitely still coming from a place in me. But I’m trying to remove me from it if that makes sense? That’s why I write through the lens of characters in a story.

In essence, wouldn’t creativity be the opposite of mindlessness?

Interview by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill

HissThroughRottenTeeth is out now – stream here

Mélancolia – HissThroughRottenTeeth tracklisting:

1. Horror_Ethereal
2. Dread Will Follow
4. When Shovels Drag On Concrete
5. The Hands That Tied The Noose
6. [Inure]
7. HissThroughRottenTeeth
8. …a cold static eulogy

About Will Oakeshott (65 Articles)
Funny bloke, writer, Journalist, Vocalist, bit of acting, music, comedy and dad joke lover. Love: music, beer, bodyboarding, movies, books.