Adelaide metalcore band To Hell With Paradise have released their debut EP Subconscious on 21st January. The six tracks follow on from the singles the band have released since forming in 2017. To Hell With Paradise are Luke Taylor (vocals), Fraser Stiles (guitar), Dylan Manly (bass), and Darren Butson (drums). At the band’s invitation, we were keen to check Subconscious out, and have gone track-by-track.
The title track opens the EP, with low piano notes and a slow melody introducing the tracks to come. This short instrumental track feels ominous and as if it’s observing things from a distance as they’re happening.
That sense of distance is swiftly closed as the second track “Nightmare” begins. With ‘Wake me up!’ intensity, aggressive riffs and screams that fill the space that existed in the previous track. A vibe of something dark and looming persists, even when the track shifts into a driving pace with punching riffs. In “Nightmare” we’re hearing the low and hopeless state of someone who is struggling without any helping hand in reach.
Looped riffs on “Nightmare” echo the sense of stuckness. It’s at the more expansive yet still ominous choruses that freedom exists, giving the impression is that they can be ‘woken up’ out of this; broken free of the cage created out of their fears. It’s a fight though, and hammering drums take us into a mentally pressured state of impossibility. A brilliant shift of pace and feel at the end of the track feeling like a last gasp of effort to help themselves before they sink down.
Sunken down and buried is where the next track “Forged” begins. With a distorted sound and a sense of doom, it’s with relentless drums and impressive guitar that they are broken free, ‘to rise from the ash’. The track takes on the feel of someone buried alive painstakingly clawing their way back to the surface, acknowledging the neglect inflicted upon them by another. Djent heavy, the track again opens up at the choruses with clean vocals feeling like hope existing where there was nothing. “Forged” acknowledges the growth that came from the fight they’ve been under; feeling like a satisfying form of revenge.
“I was forged in fire and you lit the flame
I rose from the ash into a brand new age”
The following track “The Difference” hits from its roaring introduction and takes a pointed view of the world, observing those in poverty and struggle and demanding answers. It’s an aggressive stance, demanding responsibility and has satisfyingly dark pre-chorus moments reflecting struggle. Musically solid by way of song structure, the track stretches into a low and slow sense of doom at the bridge. To me, the matter-of-fact and emotionally subdued clean choruses felt out of place in amongst the intensity of confrontation that exists in the rest of the track.
“Dreamer” offers up a sense of suspended existence, backed by pummelling drums and impressive riffs. The track confronts those who play it safe, seeming to shove them into riskier places. I have similar thoughts on the clean vocals of this track to “The Difference”, finding that it is seeming to only break free of constraints and feel more emotionally real late in the track. While the breakdown section was strong, it didn’t feel connected to the rest of the track at all.
The spoken word of the closing track “The Comes a Time” was an unexpected yet welcome feature. The track importantly sheds light on mental health and is introspective on what goes on within oneself, and feels like encouragement to keep going. It progressively builds and is determined optimism. It’s a calm and positive finish to the EP.
“Find your light and make it shine brighter”
Subconscious is a good start for this young band. Across the whole of the EP I would have loved to have felt more emotions coming through the clean vocals. I believe the band have just the one vocalist, thus having the range that they demonstrated is impressive. But the darker unclean vocals felt far more accessible in terms of their emotional expression, with the clean vocals feeling newer and more subdued.
As To Hell With Paradise continue to grow from this solid footing, I’m looking forward to seeing them direct their talents toward more emotive subject matter to give their songs more richness as well as connective focus amongst the band members. As the band share in “Dreamer”, I acknowledge that they may have already fought their own battles with the subconscious in the process of creating the EP, and I hope they go headfirst toward any creative limitations to achieve all they’re wanting to.
I kept waiting to hear more depth of emotion in the clean vocals. They were too nice, as opposed to expressing distaste, passion, etc. Some instrumental sections felt out of place in terms of what the song was sharing, even if they were played very well.
The EP demonstrates THWP's skill and is a solid start for this new band. I loved their stance of encouragement and sense of overcoming challenges by not giving up.