Okay, let’s make one thing clear straight off the bat… there is a huge party happening over here, and I promise that you’ll be kicking yourself hard if you miss out. Australian metalcore strikes again, and this time it’s in the form of Windwaker.
Now, the term metalcore may have been an easy way to describe their sound when they first started out. That well-balanced combination of crushing, technical riffs and soaring melodic choruses that we came to know and love from bands like In Hearts Wake, The Amity Affliction and Architects was recognizable on their 2017 debut release, “Fade”. This energy was employed once again on their 2019 EP “Empire”, but possessed a much more focused and furious delivery, as well as a seriously improved level of production. Now, however, metalcore is a term that would only hold them back. The group has blossomed in terms of creativity and musical direction, with their debut album “Love Language” exploring a much more poppy, electronic mix into metal that also taps into 2000’s alternative pop and rock. Stick around, because we’re diving deep into this album and I promise you’ll experience a couple of moments of nostalgia.
The mentioning of production value, when it comes to this group, is important to say at the very least. Since their inception, writing, production, mixing and mastering has been carried out completely internally. The band writes together, and drummer Chris Lalic has been producing the band’s work, all the way to finished product. With each release, the sound becomes more refined, more polished, and consequently that allows the sound and energy of Windwaker to be put out there on full display. Ultimately, the band has total control over the sound they want to deliver to the listener, meaning every single thing you hear is completely them. It could leave some bands feeling exposed or vulnerable, being responsible for literally everything in the record, but as we’ll see in Windwaker’s latest record, they probably can’t imagine creating a body of work any other way. That segues us quite nicely to their debut LP “Love Language”.
If you’re here for the main verdict, here it is… “Love Language” is an outstanding debut record. This may be their first full-length release, but it powerfully displays their evolution and development as a close group that has been moving along at a strong and steady pace since their first EP. The production is pristine, Lalic’s best endeavour yet, and the songs themselves are worlds beyond what they have previously released. The choruses are guaranteed to hook you in, the verses are conscious compositions, not just fillers to get to the next sequence, and yes, there are still breakdowns and they are painfully heavy.
Are you sticking around? Great, because we’re about to sink our teeth in and dive deep into “Love Language”.
When the band finally met up again after separation due to covid, their interests in music, as well as their approaches to it, were wildly diverse, potentially to the point where middle ground was going to be a hard thing to find. Luckily for us, and probably to their own relief, they quickly reunified and began working towards a musical direction that they all resonated with. More electronic elements, more catchiness, more pop-infused sequences, and most importantly, nothing was off the table. Is this metalcore-y enough? Who cares, it’s a banger. This is the mentality that emanates from “Love Language”, a huge display of being comfortable with where they’re at musically, but also of them truly enjoying what they’re writing. The whole album is nothing short of a huge party, and the party begins with “Beautiful”.
As soon as the track begins, the listener will understand the intentions of the band. Ultimate party time is happening right now. There is an almost tangible exuberance that pours out of your speakers, and vocalist Will King carries that energy with power and confidence, hitting seriously high notes and punching out some solid harsh vocal lines.That reggae-breakdown in the bridge, for lack of a better term, is the first example of Windwaker showing you how out of the box they’re excited to go on this release. It feels like it comes out of nowhere, but on listening a few times, you can hear the electronic layers popping out some little reggae beats through the intro and even in the choruses beforehand. It’s a subtle yet smooth way to help transition from a seemingly straightforward (but catchy) chorus into a unique and entertaining bridge.
Infused with punchy guitars, slapping bass tones and machine-gun vocal deliveries, this is a whole new sound that metalcore is so damn ready for. Metalcore is being morphed as we speak and the beautiful thing about this genre is that it’s so broad that the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity. With that being said, the group doesn’t stray so far that they’re unrecognizable. “Beautiful” ends with a slower, more pummeling breakdown to finish off, and it shows that they’re still very much in touch with their metalcore roots. We won’t be missing out on their prowess in this regard as we move through the record.
“Lucy” backs up the energy after the opening track, but gives the listener a more metalcore style of Windwaker that we know and love. It has this feeling of predictability to it, but in a way that is more than welcomed after the excitement that came from “Beautiful”. Consider it a palette cleanser, a sliver of ginger before we get into the wasabi-filled sushi roll that is “Nighthawk”.
Track number 3 is nothing short of an absolute party track. “Nighthawk” bursts into your brain with a larger-than-life rhythm you could strut down the street to. This track is a one-way trip to nostalgia land, bringing about ideas of Good Charlotte in the late 2000’s or even those college party vibes. It feels like this is where the listener is first properly tested on experiencing Windwaker in their newest form. They’re throwing themselves wholeheartedly into this new sound, but that conviction and resolve in doing so is what makes the energy so contagious. Blending 2000’s pop rock with the Windwaker personality can’t be easy, but it works, and it’s full-on. It’s not as full-on, however, as the breakdown that comes out of nowhere in the bridge of “Nighthawk”. It’s the perfect fit, in that it reminds you that these boys can be damn heavy if they want to be.
In “Dopamine Freestyle”, the change of pace is immense. We’re dropped hard into a high-pace, bad-attitude blast of brutality that’s mixed in with more synth layers and a flurry of rap vocals from King that morph from spoken word to fully fledged screaming. His performance in this is intensely fun. His enunciation is fantastic, especially considering the speed at which he’s rapping through this track. Lalic’s drums are fierce, fiercely pushing the rhythm along underneath the sonic violence, and guitarist Jesse Crofts lays down some groovy-as-hell riffs that provide a stable melody for the listener to bang their head to.
After two minutes, the chaos of “Dopamine Freestyle” subsides, making way for a more sultry performance in the form of “Me + You, But Mostly Me”. A funny title, yet a brooding and serious catchy track that slinks along with a new level of flow that we haven’t heard yet on the album. That’s one thing the listener will appreciate about “Love Language”, it’s eclectic and diverse, and the pacing and placement of the tracks is well thought-out. Each song is different from the last and makes for a super easy listen from front to back.
“Me + You, But Mostly Me” is similar to “Lucy”, but only in the way that it can be seen as another palette cleanser, following the intense and stimulating track that came before it. The chorus to this track is like most of the choruses on this album; exceedingly difficult to remove from your mind. One highlight of “Love Language” is what the choruses actually are for the band. It feels like they’re written with one thing in mind, unity. They stand out more on this album than other releases because during the verses and bridges, the band branches out into new sounds and territories, losing some members and highlighting others, but on coming back to the chorus, it’s a feeling of unification that stands out.
If we’re talking about stand-out moments, then “Glow” is a track that needs to be discussed. King provides delicate vocals mixed with dark and brooding electronic pulses in the dormant sections, channeling feelings of The Weeknd at times, before a huge and easily memorable chorus explodes towards the listener. It’s a stadium-worthy hook that contains lyrics we’ll undoubtedly begin to see tattooed on every fan very soon. I’ll bet on it, I don’t care. Keep an eye on social media and I’ll wait for my 5 bucks.
The use of the synth layers is focused hard on this track, and it’s a great time for listeners to appreciate the amount of effort put into creating these additions to the soundscape.
Quick memory test; do you remember that scene in The Simpson’s when Homer is in the bath, and Bart sneaks up behind him only to slam a wooden chair on his back? Sure you do, it became a meme. In this meme, the listener is Homer, Windwaker is Bart, and the chair is the next track, “Trenches”. This song is so left-of-field, ironic when you consider the wild and entertaining tracks we’ve already experienced so far. The difference with this one is that it truly is bone-crushingly heavy. Crofts is showing us just how technical he is, weaving through a dexterity-demanding melody whilst Lalic and bassist Indey Salvestro create a huge and oppressive sound all around.
This track contains King’s best harsh vocal performance, by far. He goes full shapeshifter, displaying a wide array of vocal styles that we are accustomed to hearing from the likes of Ben Duerr, Dickie Allen, and even a bit of “Sempiternal”-era Oli Sykes. This track may also include the absolute heaviest breakdown they’ve written, and despite the crushing heaviness, it still sounds like they are having the time of their lives. That contagious energy is still there, even during a track that is supposed to be intimidating and dark (which it certainly is).
You okay? Take a breath and let’s move further on. Windwaker take a different turn once again, this time offering you a bit of respite. Just like a new scene in a Tarantino film, a single chord from Crofts’ guitar rings out over an empty atmosphere, almost washing away the intense experience we just had.
This track is certainly a highlight. The chorus is the most sensual and provocative one from a metalcore band I’ve ever heard, and it fits into this album perfectly. If Britney Spears wrote metalcore music, she’d be damn jealous of this chorus. King’s vocals once again move from delicate and trembling notes all the way to the raspy rapping sequences which took me back to some classic tracks from Static-X. Funnily enough, Static-X labelled themselves as disco-metal, and Windwaker could definitely have a toe in that pond.
One incredibly fun thing about this track is Salvestro’s bass performance through the verses. The tone of his guitar is thick as hell, but still gives it a twangy sound when he slaps it mercilessly under King’s rapid vocals.
At first, the listener will be surprised by “Silver Linings”, a brief intermission that comes in the form of a voice message. It requires a couple of listens, but it becomes apparent how this ties into the album. It’s the personification of “Love Language”, the battle and the peace when it comes to intra and interpersonal relationships. It’s funny how simple messages can end up being appropriate true-to-life snapshots of what we want to express through art.
The title track is now upon us, and like “Trenches”, it’s going to take you by complete surprise, but in a much more beautiful and emotional way. In a graceful, almost symphonic waltz, “Love Language” is a unique track that completely stands out on its own in every way, making itself the highlight track on this album. Why is it a highlight, you ask? It’s not even their heaviest track, King doesn’t even scream on it, there isn’t even a single chug! Dear listener, that’s exactly why it could be their best work so far, and perhaps why they chose this track as the album’s flag to bear. It symbolises their progression as a band and as a tight-knit group of friends, as well as zeroes in on the lyrical themes in the album. There is no limit or boundary that can be overstepped when it comes to composition and style for them, and the title track displays that.
Some may not like it all that much, but listener’s will be sure to appreciate that the band has completely laid themselves bare on this record, and this track epitomizes that intention.
Before we move on, we all need to take a moment and give a round of applause to Croft for the beautiful solo on this track. It’s a huge ballad-worthy performance that perfectly compliments King’s melodic theme. Before it ends, it disperses into a shimmering pattern of notes that leads us right into the final big chorus. It’s okay to press repeat, go on, let it happen.
Now, wipe the ‘beautiful song’ tears away and let’s move to the final two tracks.
So, how the hell are they going to follow up “Love Language”? What could they possibly add to this album after that waltz that made me want to go tell my Mum I love her, or message a good friend and thank them for always being there? It’s a tough one, that’s for sure. Don’t worry though, they turn the volume all the way back up, increasing the pace and energy, and it’s like you’ve woken up from a nap, feeling energised and ready to go.
It’s not over-the-top energy, as some of the earlier tracks are, and that’s an important feature. They’re not trying to over-stimulate you after a calm and vulnerable track. They’re inviting you to jump back into the party vibes with them, and it works effectively. Once again, Croft’s guitar work is fantastic in this track, and this perfect palette cleanser ends with a powerful and simple sequence that rings out into silence.
Here we are, all the way at the end, and what a ride it’s been. It feels like we’ve been in a movie; we’ve had story arcs, ups and downs, exciting and emotional moments, and now we’ve arrived at the final scene. In closing track “The Rain”, there’s a feel that the band is just strutting around the arena, doing a victory lap with this song. It vaguely possesses that same rhythm and attitude as the chorus to “Superstitious Fantasy”, except King’s vocals are turned up in every way, from higher pitch and projection all the way to the amount of melismatic variance he’s putting into his performance. The staccato notes from Crofts that jab away at the listener during the verses are a great addition to the sound, as is the sweet little melody during the bridge. Just like that, a final chorus pushes us to the end, and we’re left in the ambience of a percussive synth layer where we’re able to reflect on the 12 tracks we have just traveled through.
It’s quite important to remind listeners that this album is Windwaker’s debut record. It’s fair to say that a release with such well-written tracks, amazing production, and competent performances from all members is something that veteran groups and artists can exhibit. It’s a special thing then, when a close group of friends put their minds together and bring out an LP that is as expansive, varied and bravely transparent as this one is. I didn’t even touch on the lyrics, and this is one component of the album that the listener absolutely needs to take note of. Experience it for yourself, and absorb the messages and themes in your own way.
“Love Language” is nothing short of a triumph for Windwaker, and it’s a huge statement to the world that they are the group to watch. Will you come to see them grow?
Released On: May 6th, 2022
Released By: Fearless Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia
- Will King / Vocals
- Indey Selvastro / Bass
- Jesse Crofts / Guitar
- Chris Lalic / Drums/Production/Mixing/Mastering
“Love Language” Track-list:
- Dopamine Freestyle
- Me + You, But Mostly Me
- Superstitious Fantasy
- Silver Linings
- Love Language
- Hide & Seek
- The Rain
How many times do you hear a debut album that absolutely blows you out of the water? The answer is not very often, but Windwaker have done just that with "Love Language". All members are showing us the best versions of themselves in so many ways, and are doing it with a genuine sense of personality and heart. The tracks themselves are unique, unpredictable and insanely catchy to the point where you're going to annoy your family and friends if you keep singing along for much longer. If this is just their debut album, it's baffling yet intensely exciting to see where they go from here.