Man, there’s been some incredible music released this year! To wrap up 2019 for Depth, I wanted to look back over the year and talk about some of my favourites as editor and writer, as well as a music lover. More personal than critical, this is a reflection to look back on what we’ve experienced as much as it is about what we observed happening in the music world.
January saw us hit the paddocks of South Gippsland for Unify Gathering! This is typically how we kick off a year of music. Though it’s full-on as a reviewer or photographer to capture four days of music, it’s still such a good time and I look forward to this festival every year. Thinking about January this year, I can still feel the goosebump-inducing stillness that washed over the crowd when Citizen were on stage and starting their set with “Sleep” on day two. Pure bliss. I also remember my shock and then amusement when After Touch‘s vocalist Max Pasalic dedicated “Use Me” to me (WHAT?!). Another stand out moment was John Floreani at the Sunday acoustic session referring to those who drink out of shoes as “uncultured swines”. Preach!
January kept our love for Sydney’s Bloom going with hosting the premiere for their “Home Felt Better With You” music video.
Casey had shared their news about no longer continuing as a band and we interviewed frontman Tom Weaver about the decision.
We were disappointed with the Hottest 100 results as heavy music lovers and used that as inspiration to share alternatives to backing our favourite bands.
Also noteworthy in January was that the Mentally In Tune series began with the kind assistance of Make Them Suffer‘s Booka Nile.
We were well and truly in the swing of things in February and new music got a whole lot of love. Holding Absence, Reside, Sleep Talk, Mat Kerekes, and more were sharing singles ahead of full releases.
Hellions‘ guitarist Matt Gravolin was enthusiastic about the Mentally In Tune series, even from its idea phase, and so we sat down together at his place and talked about musician life and its challenges to mental health and more.
Hands Like Houses put on a massive show at The Forum along with Ocean Grove, Endless Heights, and Redhook. Before the show, I sat down in one of the green rooms with Endless Heights’ vocalist Joel Martorana and did my first ever musician interview on camera, with Liam Davidson behind the lens. This was another instance of the Mentally In Tune series! Though new and nervewracking for me, I was motivated to go ahead with it due to the importance of the topic. Add to that, Joel is always easy to talk to and it was great hearing what works for him personally and how he’s overcome challenges.
Speaking of Ocean Grove, the band had announced the changes to their line-up before Unify, which saw the departure of Luke Holmes and Jimmy Hall, and the arrival of Twiggy Hunter. We interviewed bassist-but-now-vocalist Dale Tanner about the change when “Ask For The Anthem” released.
Dear Seattle had the crazy idea of doing a show on a boat, and we were there to take in the party experience! And still on the subject of Sydney, in February there were protests about changes to laws which would see festivals and other events priced out of being able to occur. Ivan Souriyavong went along and snapped photos of the protest rally in Hyde Park.
I remember feeling like I’d spent the entirety of this month immersed in She Cries Wolf. I’d reviewed their album Liar and been impressed at how good it was. So of course I jumped at the chance to interview the band. I spoke with Luke Harriss and Daniel Belic about the album over the phone while they were drinking together at a pub on the other end of the phone, so the mood was relaxed and happy and it was a good time.
My birthday month was made better with the release (and review) of Holding Absence‘s self-titled debut album! Vocalist Lucas Woodland also kindly shared some insight into the songs of the album with Depth, passing time while on tour. Their fellow Welsh-kin Dream State started releasing new music with “Hand in Hand” and building hype for more to come.
The fourth Mentally In Tune interview was with The Comfort‘s Liam Holmes. I loved that this interview happened when I felt like complete emotional garbage. Instead of cancelling, we just got on the phone and talked about pressures on creative people, doing things in your own way, and a lot about Liam’s journey of championing his mental health.
Download Festival 2019 hit Melbourne and Sydney and we had the pleasure to review and photograph both. Reviewing a festival is mostly finding a sweet spot between enjoying and taking it all in and not running from stage to stage so much that you want to pass out before the headliners hit the stage. I remember the mysterious stage presence of Ghost on the day.
Dealer arrived with the release of “Crooked” in February, and backed it up with “Grotesque” in March. It was an interesting time to be an Alpha Wolf fan as well as a Dealer fan, given that both were putting out new music. Some people were pitting the songs against one another and creating a musical beef, not really appreciating that the process of creating music takes many months.
Reviewing Windwaker‘s Empire EP was another stand-out moment of March for me. From first song “Reject” onward, I was like “Damn, these guys are onto something great”. It was a treat to hear some of the new songs at Download ahead of release too.
In April Thornhill released “Coven”, the first of something new since Butterfly. It would be much later in the year when I’d fully appreciate how great the song was and subsequently play it on repeat. Deadlights‘ follow up to Mesma, “Bathed In Venom”, was love at first listen, and I still play it regularly.
The Dealer EP Soul Burn released and I loved the experience of reviewing it and all of its surprises. I called it “creatively unbound”, because that’s how I felt it was in terms of a metalcore release. Dealer’s first shows were also held in April, and there was a whole lot of crowd love beaming toward the stage at the Workers Club show in Melbourne! It was great to see this ‘welcome back’ of sorts.
Knocked Loose had kicked off a new chapter with the release of single “Mistakes Like Fractures”, and Cursed Earth were sharing singles off their upcoming EP, uniquely created with a collective of vocalists from the scene. DREGG mispronounced “Hyperbole” but it was great anyway!
One of the best things of April was Northlane‘s “Bloodline”. Amazing song, amazing video, and we learned that the Sydney band’s fifth studio album, Alien, was on the way.
So many new music releases and reviews happened in May! I won’t detail them all but there were some stunners. I reviewed Sleep Talk‘s Everything In Colour album and am still not fully sure I understood what was being shared. Same with Mat Kerekes‘ songs of Ruby. Music, tell me your secrets, please. Or don’t. I’ll try to respect your privacy. 🙂
Gravemind set ears aflame with “Volgin”, and Bloom ripped at hearts with “Cold”. The Gloom In The Corner shared a sequel of sorts with the release of “Peace”; a pair to their earlier release “War”, a favourite of mine. Also French metalcore act Resolve released “Of Silk And Straw”. I do wonder when people will stop sleeping on this band…
We somehow got approved to photograph Groovin The Moo festival in Bendigo in June! Liam Davidson got to sidestep from shooting our typical heavy music fare to capturing other sounds and artists on behalf of Depth. I believe this is where he fell in love with the music of Aurora (his photos of her set are magical).
After enjoying Liar so much, it was great to see She Cries Wolf on tour for their album. I met all the band and we even had a cheesy photo together out front of Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar. <3
John Floreani was on a roll with continuing to release singles from his upcoming EP Sin. Daybreak‘s “Godfather” was a stunner of a song too. And similar to Windwaker in March, I was blown away by Diamond Construct‘s debut self-titled album in the process of reviewing that. What I heard was far beyond what I was expecting!
Hellions were on their album tour, with the shows being the last for them with Matt Gravolin on guitar. Though the shows were bittersweet, we had the pleasure of catching them in both Brisbane and Melbourne.
June was unofficially John Floreani month! The release of Sin, gave us gems like “Cocaine” and “Ugly Love”. John also featured on Boston Manor‘s single “Liquid” as another memorable treat in June. We hit the Workers Club for the “Celebration of Sin” show (aka The John Floreani Stand-Up Comedy Hour), which also gave us another opportunity to see Ruby Gill in action!
June seems like a bit of a blur, to be honest, but my chat with The Beautiful Monument‘s vocalist Lizi Blanco was a stand-out moment. I don’t think we’d met before this, so it was great to bond over our respective cats and other like-minded things while talking about their album (I’m The Reaper) which released at the end of that month.
As Cities Burn‘s Scream Through The Walls was a noteworthy review I did in June. This is a band that I’m surprised isn’t being talked about more often. “Maybe” is just perfect and something that I’ve listened to all year.
It was great to hear from A Somerset Parade again after they’ve been working hard behind the scenes on their music. I also fell heavily in love with Slowly Slowly‘s vocalist Ben Stewart’s project Congrats and the song “Cut Down The Middle”.
Bad/Love revealed more music before releasing their SIOIS EP, coming across with the vibe of a long-established band despite their newness! It’ll be interesting to see how they progress.
I dove into the meanings behind Conduit with Gravemind‘s vocalist Dylan Gillies-Parsons, who was so lovely and generous with his time and kindly tackled all of my weird and wonderful ideas as to what the album was saying!
I was pleasantly surprised during my review of Thy Art Is Murder‘s Human Target album this month, finding a lot of meaning wrapped up in these songs. It was the same with Fit For An Autopsy‘s single “Mirrors”, which was kind of beautiful and tragic all at once.
Ahead of my review of Northlane‘s Alien, I was a little nervous about the hype that was already surrounding it before it was even released. I was cautious not to get swept away by that and have my opinions swayed by other things I’d heard. So I was really happy to see that it truly delivered throughout its entire 43 minute duration (and my 3000+ words of reviewing it).
August was chock full of great new music. Am I repeating myself by saying that? We loved new tunes from The Comfort, Vermont, Shangrila, Enter Shikari, Void Of Vision, Endless Heights, Waxflower, Dream State, We Lost The Sea, Above, Below, Slowly Slowly, Thornhill and so many more.
As well as bands we already knew and loved, we got to know Paledusk after seeing Alpha Wolf‘s Sabian Lynch talk about them on Facebook. I love discovering new music in organic ways like that.
I reviewed Knocked Loose‘s A Different Shade Of Blue with lyrics in hand and I loved it. Specifically, I loved that their instrumentation ‘spoke’ as much as the lyrics, and as in my review, “There’s so much more nuance and meaning that Knocked Loose have to offer beyond being good to mosh to.”
Lastly, Andrew Cauchi interviewed Caged Existence‘s Jake Zammit on video with the video work of Ivan Souriyavong. I feel lucky to have these two on my team!
September saw us hear more from Weighbridge, who released “Gaunt” with a hand from Void Of Vision‘s Jack Bergin. I also got to know UK act China Moon through their impressive debut single “Nebula”. With the release of “Still Life”, it was great to hear something new from Ambleside too!
It was a month of heavy heavy tunes, with the release of Kublai Khan‘s single “Self-Destruct” and Gideon‘s “Bite Down” ahead of their respective albums. I was going through some challenging emotional stuff at the time and “Bite Down” was a welcome and refreshing kick to just. keep. going.
Brisbane’s Riverstage saw a stacked line-up with the Heaven and Hell festival, with The Amity Affliction as headline act.
I waded through the very detailed and dense story of Above, Below‘s album The Lotus Chapters, hoping I was correctly understanding what they were clearly working very hard to say. I also reviewed Void Of Vision‘s Hyperdaze album.
October was a quiet month for content for us. Aside from one article published in October, it was all written by me alone and I was wrestling with some physical health issues. I was also being virtually stalked by the monster that is insecurity. It attacked me at every turn, it seemed, and I just wanted to hide/hibernate! This is why I only reviewed one gig in October; Endless Heights at Stay Gold on their tour for “Cold Hard Kiss”.
In some ways it was the worst month but also the best! I could finally reveal that Depth Magazine was branching out into publishing books! And that the first of this adventure of Depth Publishing was Hellions‘ former guitarist Matt Gravolin’s poetry book, Permanent Swim. <party_popper_emoji!>
Having had worked gradually and diligently on turning an idea and a digital document into a holdable (and sniffable) book over much of 2019, it was very rewarding as well as challenging. To help Matt’s dream of being a published author come true was such a great feeling. And even more great was that we sold out of all 100 copies within two and a half days or something. Amazing! Cheeky plug: We had a bunch of requests for copies from people who missed out, so we did a second print run and there’s still some available HERE.
Of the articles that were published in October, there were some beauties. Weighbridge‘s Limbic Resonance EP blew my mind and sparked a love for this band and a determination to see them succeed. Dream State‘s album Primrose Path was as amazing as I’d hoped, and Thornhill decided to release the incredible “Where We Go When We Die” single and video!
Also on Thornhill, I also had the opportunity to review their album ahead of release and GOOD GOD it was very hard falling in love with The Dark Pool and not having anyone to talk to about it. I opted to spam guitarist Ethan McCann’s messages with praise and joy and “Red Summer” worship. Later in the month, I chatted with vocalist Jacob Charlton about the album’s lyrical themes and that was a lot of fun. This good band are also good people, I hope everyone knows that.
It was a pleasure to see Introvert back at it, releasing the catchy as hell “Somewhere Else”, and Ocean Grove released “Junkie$” too! I really dug The Last Martyr‘s new single “Like A Ghost”, and was stoked that Greyhaven had something new too after having thrashed Empty Black. As a song title, “A Match Where Great Fire Should Be” immediately conjures up so much.
Northlane celebrated Alien with a world tour and Andrew Cauchi reviewed them in Sydney.
November finally saw a return of the Mentally In Tune series after a big gap of time. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tonight Alive‘s vocalist Jenna McDougall about her healing journey that she’s been immersed in on a year away from music.
November was a bit of an interview-heavy month actually, as I shared an interview I had done with Matt Gravolin about Permanent Swim, and also had the opportunity for a chat with drummer extraordinaire Luke Holland ahead of his Australian tour. Andrew Cauchi also finally got to speak with Tiny Moving Parts‘ vocalist Dylan Mattheisen.
There were a couple of surprise releases this month! Polaris released their first new song since The Mortal Coil with “Masochist”, Bring Me The Horizon wowed with “Ludens” (part of the Death Stranding video game soundtrack), and Holding Absence revealed a deluxe version of their album that included new song “Here Forever”. Similarly Stepson and 生 Conform 死 had some new music for us in November.
November was a great chance to celebrate Thornhill‘s The Dark Pool in the flesh. I swear there was magic in the Stay Gold bandroom that night. It was also a no-brainer to catch Adelaide-based Ambleside on their run for the release of “Still Life”. Their great support bands were icing on top!
December is unofficial wind-down month for us. Even the best made plans can end up being cancelled due to the risk of burning out. It would be kind of dumb to talk about mental health openly and then ignore it for ourselves as creators. So I think I’m a-okay with December being a time to start relaxing more, preparing for a decent break before diving back into the depths of music in 2020. It seems to work for me for now anyway!
Music still gets released in December though, and we took time with yet another great song from Introvert (“Dreamers”), as well as a fresh newbie from Ocean Grove (“SUNNY”). Antagonist A.D announced they have a series of 7″ releases on the way, and shared single “Pure Fear” from the first (Through Fire).
We got to see Enter Shikari live! Ivan Souriyavong is more of a die-hard Shikari fan than I am, and he came from Sydney specifically to shoot this show. Dedication!
This month I was also randomly inspired to think about songs that touched on the topic of anxiety, and shared a short list of some in a feature article: Anxiety in Music: 2019. Thank you for the love for this article, it was a pleasant surprise how much this random idea resonated. 🙂 I’m definitely open to creating more just like this.
December is also a time for choosing an Album Of The Year, and we put it to our readers to vote for their favourite album and EPs of 2019. This voting closes tomorrow! Make sure you’ve voted!
It seems like a good way to end this article to reveal my own picks, after much deliberation:
Album Of The Year 2019 – Holding Absence – Holding Absence
EP Of The Year 2019 – Weighbridge – Limbic Resonance
I want to thank you for the time you’ve taken in 2019 to read what we mere music lovers have to say, and for all the love of music we’ve exchanged over the year. The music is what keeps us going and why we do this, but having people enjoying it along with us makes us want to keep going! For small publications, the support of people hitting ‘like’ or sharing something, or simply encouraging any of our team of creatives, goes a very long way.
We’ve a few more articles to 2019 yet, so stay tuned for them. 🙂[Photos in this article were taken by Liam Davidson, Ivan Souriyavong, Rowan Donohue, and Nico Ford]