Sam Locke - Era (EP) (2011)



Sitting quietly, half a world away, is the continent of Australia. And while we Americans may only know them as the land of kangaroos, koalas and Foster's beer, there is a low rumble that can't be ignored. Bands like Vyrion and Astral Winter opened our eyes to the heavier side of a nation. And Sam Locke, an instrumental wizard from Launceston, will make our eye lids, and yours, rise a lighter higher. On his new EP, titled "Era," are five tracks of progressive metal that can be heard over 10,000 miles away.

The loud burst of drums and guitars shakes you to life. "Epoch" is exactly what an opening track should be, catching your attention with a well crafted hook, but pounding your brain with an intense battery of percussion. The numerous tempo shifts keep things rolling along, even allowing clean guitars to shine through. The pulsing double kicks, programmed or not, are devastating, leaving a sonic void in your rib cage. A distorted chord fades away, and leads, conveniently into the second track, titled "Momentum." The layering of instruments is incredible, particularly when you think of the logistics of recording each piece individually. The guitars are crisp, both alone and together. It can not be overstated just how intoxicating these melodies are, drawing you in with a display of skill and technical prowess. Whether it be the darting single notes, or the expansive resonating chords, each piece fits into a tiny space.

The longest track on the EP comes in the form of "Inconsequential," a song that is anything but. With the emergence of an added keyboard element, Sam takes his sound into a different realm. You can hear all of the elements of progressive, thrash, black and death tackled without ever uttering a single word. He rips through dynamic signature changes, powerful guitar work, and a never ending tornado of kicks, snares and cymbals. He succeeds where so many have failed before, choosing to rely on top notch writing, rather than unrefined brutality. The short interlude, "Reminisce," is not a throwaway like so many tracks of the under two minute ilk. Rather, it is a one round pummeling, welcoming you to the more lasting "End Of An Era." By now, you think he has used his entire bag of tricks. But, as before, you end up surprised at how well composed the entire track remains. A guitar lead that would make any classic metal axeman proud leads the way, screaming over the top of a bed of distortion and dirty chords. And, before your lungs have regained their capacity of air, it is all over.

There are two distinct kinds of debuts. There are the safe ones, where a band plays to their strengths, stays between the lines, and tries not to screw up. Then there are those that are dangerous. High risk, high reward. Sam Locke's "Era" fits into the latter, with five tracks of self produced, completely self performed metal, finding the bulls-eye every step of the way. If this is evidence of what Australia brings to the table, time to pack my bags, book my flight, and relocate. Sorrow Eternal, down under.

9/10

Official Site - http://samlocke.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/samlockeproject