Hack The Mainframe are a fast melodic punk band from the Central Coast area of Australia. The five piece, which features Heath Rowley (vocals), Nick Oberg (guitar), Leroy Markwell (guitar), Paddy Demps (bass) and Zac Thomas drums, formed in 2014. Last December they released their debut full length titled Disorders Of Consciousness on Pee Records in Australia and Disconnect Disconnect Records here in the UK. The Australian punk rock scene is absolutely incredible at the moment so I was looking forward to checking this album out.
Disorders Of Consciousness begins with the song R.E.M Sleep. This track starts how you might expect a fast melodic punk album to begin with some technical guitars that build the song up until the vocals hit. It's always great to hear band's singing in their own accent and that's certainly the case for Heath Rowley with his thick Aussie voice sounding great backed by the rest of the band. The track is about dreaming and the escapism that comes with it, where there are no limits but endless possibilities. The second track, Col, is more of a skate punk song and is absolutely superb. There's a bouncy melody that is infectious and grabs you very quickly. Col is one of those songs that despite its upbeat sound, is actually quite a sad song. This is about the struggles of addiction which sadly lead to the death of a friend of the band. This song serves a couple of purposes, firstly as a message to people about the dangers of drinking too much and getting addicted and second as a tribute to a friend. Up next is the song Anxiety. This hard hitting and fast paced number will quickly lodge it's place in your head. It's about dealing with anxiety and letting it take over your life. As the song goes on it talks about wanting to stay home and not do things to feel safe but as it gets to the end Rowley sings "my anxiety gets the best of me, but my anxiety won't be the end of me." This makes me feel like things will get better for the protagonist in the song.
Next Week Never Came is the rather bleak sounding title of the fourth song. The song is about not being able to see a loved one before they passed away because you were putting off seeing them. The song starts off in a slow and sombre way with some gentle guitar work before things pick up and the vocals come in. The real high point of the song is when some incredible harmonies are sung by the band. They do this amazing job of keep your interest peaked in the song and also add some emotion to proceedings. Hack The Mainframe pick up the mood on the following song, Amy. The song is an ode to a friend of the band who can be difficult but is also just wonderful. It's a bit of a sing-a-long drinking song that will get the best reaction from the crowd. Again the incredible harmonies of the band are on display at the end of the track and I really adore them. It's not the most serious of songs but it's damn good fun! The fun continues on Coriander. This is a simple song about hating the taste of coriander. Amusingly this is one of the hardest and most angry songs on Disorders Of Consciousness. Hack The Mainframe clearly have a passionate dislike of this particular herb. Track number seven is titled Intoxication and is very intense in its sound. Obviously this song is about getting drunk, due to the stresses of the world getting too much for you and using alcohol to escape. Zac Thomas' drums stand out on the song, providing a strong foundation for the song that the band build on brilliantly.
The eighth song on the album is named Baggage. This is a slower and more anthemic side to the Hack The Mainframe sound. The pacing of Baggage is very deliberate and doesn't stray from its slow, methodical style until the very end when the band really let loose. Baggage is about being affected by your past and wanting to run away and forget about it. The penultimate song is Boy With A Gun. To start with the track sounds like an updated version of 80s hardcore punk rock which Hack The Mainframe have brilliantly intertwined with their own melodic punk sound. A very nice mix of the past and the future. Boy With A Gun is about the use of young boys by terrorist extremists. It looks at the loss of young people who have been brainwashed and the effects this has on the boys' families. This is a unique and very interesting topic for a song. This is also very brave songwriting by Hack The Mainframe. The convention of writing about this topic is normally to write about the effects of terrorism by the innocent people who sadly lose their lives dues to attacks, rather than looking at the people who carry out the attacks. Last up we have Save Yourself. After a stop start beginning we have a soaring melodic skate punk track. It's about, you guessed it, saving yourself. This is a great, positive and motivational song to finish a superb album on.
I loved Disorders Of Consciousness from my very first listen. Australian punk rock continues to churn out more and more incredible punk rock. From the genre of melodic punk rock, Aussie bands The Decline and Local Residential Failure have been making names for themselves all over the world. I fully expect Hack The Mainframe to start coming up in conversations about best Australian punk bands very soon.
Stream and download Disorders Of Consciousness here: https://disconnectdisconnectrecords.bandcamp.com/album/disorders-of-consciousness
Like Hack The Mainframe here: https://www.facebook.com/hackthemainframe/
This review was written by Colin Clark.