EP Review: Perth’s Onslow release an operatic, anthemic and dynamic self-titled debut

The Breakdown

Onslow is an operatic, anthemic and dynamic self-titled debut
Greyscale Records 8.0

Rising Perth debutantes Onslow (duo Sean Harmanis and Scott Kay) have a remarkable breadth in their music: songs that range from jingle jangle melodic delicacy to full-throated metal screaming within seconds, and within one song. The result is something that is quite extraordinary: a hard to define genre that has an anthemic infrastructure with thundering accoutrements. I guess you could identify elements of Linkin Park and their oeuvre, but there are also threads of an indie pop sensibility replete with scorching melodies.

Lead singer Sean Harmanis talks about the process behind the EP:

After having an opportunity to sing on the most recent Make them Suffer album it ignited a flame and a desire for me to channel and hone that more. After trying to write songs for a few months at the beginning of Covid, I decided to show them to Scott, a long-time friend and guitarist that I have always admired and respected. I needed to hear honest feedback on the songs, riffs and ideas. Scott vibed with them and had some ideas of his own to bring to the table. From that point on we decided to see where it would take us. The songs are mostly about general life, although overall I actually gave very little thought to the lyrics. The lyric writing process was more about what words came naturally or sounded good, rather than the meaning of the songs. To me the release was more for me about proving to myself that I could write songs rather than trying to make the songs too personal. Scott was such a guiding light through the process, both bringing amazing ideas to the table and also giving me a lot of confidence in my guitar writing.

Opening track ‘Saving Face’ contrasts a heavy metal smash with angelic vocals and melodies that are operatic, dramatic, theatrical, before throaty screaming vocals intercede. it’s an extremely satisfying dichotomy. it leads out with an electro dream pop hum.

‘Let Me Rust’ opens with scaling celestial walls of guitars before Harmanis’s sweet vocals glide over muted, restrained instrumentation – almost falsetto, angelic. The guitar attack and bass fuzz is explosive, cathartic.

‘Gauze’ is an atmospheric, driving track that contrasts sweet melodies and delivery with passages of heavy metallic roars. It’s a stark contrast that works really well – a sort of dual personality that expresses two sides of an emotion:

Final track ‘Freddie Mercury’ straps on a restraining belt for a few moments: it is a reflective and sparkling piece that launches into something stratospheric.

’Freddie Mercury’ is about holding onto something that you know deep down isn’t there anymore. Our approach to the songwriting probably stemmed from our appreciation of post-rock. We’ve both always loved how well bands from that genre are able to build up to these giant walls of sound from nothing, and instrumentally we really wanted to incorporate some of that influence in the song.

The result is something that is a wave that crashes and recedes:

Ultimately, ‘Onslow’ is a refreshing and successful amalgam of some very distinct genres – a blend of indie pop with heavy metal that coalesces nicely into something dramtaic and cathartic.

Out through Greyscale Records, you can download/stream the EP here or through the link below:

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