From Australia, With Love
Australian Melodic Hardcore Band Northlane Crosses the Equator to Play Montreal
If you’re at all familiar with the melodic hardcore music scene, Northlane have surely come under your radar by now.
Rapidly gaining momentum to join the likes of greats such as Volumes and The Ghost Inside, Northlane fuse choppy breakdowns and vicious screams with resounding melodic guitar riffs and tidal waves of clean vocals, often overlapping them to create cinematic soundscapes that have been wowing hardcore fans for five years.
The five-piece band out of Blacktown, New South Wales, Australia, released its latest album, Singularity, in North America on Nov. 5, but the album has been out since March on the band’s native continent, reaching no. 1 on the Australian iTunes album chart.
Its popularity in the land down under isn’t a coincidence: The Amity Affliction, Parkway Drive and I Killed the Prom Queen are just a few of the many Australian bands you can find on metalheads’ iPods.
Unlike his own band, Northlane guitarist Josh Smith says there are lots of Australian hardcore and metal bands in the scene that never make it off the continent.
“[It] comes down to just how hard Australian bands have to work to get anywhere,” he said. “There really aren’t very many opportunities going around, and touring is very expensive.
“The scene is isolated but this means all the bands are really tight friends and we support each other as much as we can,” he continued.
For those not familiar with their genre, the lead vocals are often screamed, but the content of the lyrics is usually far from angry, and is often inspiring and positive.
The music video for Northlane’s debut Singularity single, “Quantum Flux,” jumpstarted the band’s exposure with over 1 million YouTube views to date, and it contains a moving message.
“The song is about beauty in everyday life that people tend to dismiss or overlook, and that difference can really make a change to a person’s happiness,” Smith said.
Another noteworthy song off the album that defies the uninitiated’s expectations of hardcore is “Singularity,” an ethereal slow-building instrumental song with echoing post-rock vibes. It features a staticky excerpt from a moving speech by the late American philosopher Terence McKenna.
With no lyrics throughout other than McKenna’s urges for us to create our own culture and to “reclaim your mind,” the song surges into a finale like a rocket ship breaking through the atmosphere, leaving chills in its wake for the listener. Smith credits the uplifting song to fellow bandmate Jon Deiley.
“The song was written almost entirely by our guitarist Jon,” Smith said. “He seems to visualize songs and then write them in a way I’ve never seen anybody do.”
Rushing to Success
Despite forming in only 2009, Northlane’s first full-length studio album, Discoveries, earned them a tour across Australia, and they’re now touring across the U.S. and briefly hopping the border into Canada to play Montreal and Toronto alongside bands such as Structures, Veil of Maya and Here Comes the Kraken.
When asked how his band reached such rapid international success, Smith remained modest.
“I guess we’ve just worked as hard as we possibly could, dedicated as much as we can to this band and made sure we’re always having fun doing this,” he said.
Their dedication was clear considering how little time the band had to record Singularity.
“‘Discoveries’ was written over the course of about nine months, while Singularity had to be written in three, and some tracks were even written in the recording studio,” Smith said. “Despite the rush, we were still happy with Singularity, but it did really put us under the pump.”
The rush continues for Northlane, set to play Montreal just a day after a show in Massachusetts. But it’s all part of the grind for Smith, who says the tour has been “relentless but very rewarding” and that the band is looking forward to its third time visiting the City of Saints.
“We couldn’t be more excited. Montreal is a gorgeous place with a real unique blend of classic French and North American culture,” said Smith.
“We are always treated well by the people of this city and it’s a pleasure to be coming back.”
Northlane + Veil of Maya + Structures // Dec. 11 // La Tulipe (4530 Papineau Ave.) // 6 p.m. // $20 + fees advance, $25 + fees door