Tanned Christ- Antipodean Sickness

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, November 2, 2015

Australian grind band Tanned Christ released their newest album Antipodean Sickness a little earlier in the year, and it’s eighteen minutes of aggression and concentrated chaos. While the promotional material that came with the record compares them to a whole slew of different grind bands, after listening to this one for the better half of the day the vibe I’ve been getting is Jane Doe era Converge ran through a grind filter and the odd dose of experimental influences. Considering how influential of an album that remains on me, that certainly made Tanned Christ catch my attention right from the start but they’re able to head off in some different directions on Antipodean Sickness that keep them from feeling like they fall too closely into one particular formula.

The guitar tonality and quick changing, calculated nature of the songs is what gave me that Converge vibe early on. Songs like “Global Priest” have that lower, squealing guitar tone that switch riffs from one second to the next and culminate in blasts of noise, while the drums move at a blistering pace and go for a stop/start pattern where the tempo and beat attempts to change faster than the listener can keep up with it. Tanned Christ keeps this up for the majority of the record, and while there are certain songs where the guitar tone sounds like it could have been ripped right out of Jane Doe or You Fail Me, there are other moments that give off more of a traditional grind aesthetic and some more experimental flair. During the longer songs the instrumentalists take a break from the technical riffing and spread things out a bit with denser melodies that hover ever so briefly before things head right back into absolute chaos. There are a lot of ideas packed into these eighteen minutes, and what’s most impressive is the level of control and technical ability on display. Despite the sheer speed and amount of times the tempos and riffs change within fifteen to twenty seconds, Tanned Christ never sounds sloppy and display the same type of rock solid songwriting that usually takes grind and hardcore bands a couple of albums to achieve. They have left themselves with room for further experimentation and chances to branch out even more, but Antipodean Sickness’s eighteen minutes of complete chaos still has plenty to offer those that want to let themselves get swept away by it.

Tanned Christ hits a lot of different vocal ranges throughout the course of the album, with the majority of the songs featuring a regular tradeoff between raspier screaming and low pitched growling. It’s the type of versatile performance that keeps the intensity at a maximum but remains unpredictable, as the two pitches work off of each other perfectly but don’t feel exactly the same on each track. What I was pleasantly surprised about on Antipodean Sickness is how much clarity is provided to the vocals, as a lot of grind has a tendency to up the noise level so much that they bury their screams and shrieks in the overall mix. But this group has put them front and center, allowing both the high and low pitches to hit the listener like a series of quick jabs to the face. Overall, there are almost just as many changes between the vocal ranges as there are instrumental switch ups, and that’s an impressive element of the group’s material.

Antipodean Sickness falls somewhere between mid-period Converge and the off-kilter nature of Brutal Truth or Pig Destroyer, with some slight experimental elements thrown in for good measure. But despite all of the comparisons I’ve made in this review, I didn’t find that Tanned Christ ever seemed to feel like a mere retread of any of these bands and had plenty of substantive ideas to offer within this quick burst of a record. There remains space for these guys to push further off on their own path and really define what makes their take on this style stand out, but their debut still makes an impressive statement with its blistering riffs and the band’s technical ability to control the chaos that isn’t always so common on a group’s first few releases.


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