The alternative music scene in Melbourne, Australia in the 2010’s was dominated by two major genres: Old-school hard rocking Acca-Dacca Aussie rock, and the new kid on the block: Progressive Rock. Thanks in the latter to the major success of Aussie-prog aficionados Karnivool, a horde of local bands was unleashed, seeking to build on the magic, forge their own scene and saturate it. Out of this new breed of local musos arose the wayward souls who would soon find each other and become Figures.
The newly formed quintet’s musical barometer quickly shifted towards a heavier and happier time in their collective music history, the Alternative metal scene of the glorious 90’s, where band-favourites Deftones, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine were King. From Parkway Drive to Northlane, Twelve Foot Ninja, Voyager and beyond, the Australian metal scene has consistently produced a plethora of stand-out modern metal acts for fans to enjoy.
With the forthcoming release of their debut album Operating in Unsafe Mode, Figures step up to join the fun, and fans of UK bands ranging from Bring Me The Horizon, Asking Alexandria to InME will love it!
After six years, two EPs, one single and a sustained and commanding presence in the Melbourne live music scene, it’s quite strange that the release of their freshman album, Operating In Unsafe Mode, has taken so long. The band’s distinctive take on melodic alternative metal is familiar, but OIUM is more intense than anything they’ve previously created, with equal parts soaring melodies, blistering riffs and rage. Their Alt-Rock and metal influences are all unabashedly on display with a subtle but noticeable peppering of prog to keep the more refined local gig-going connoisseurs coming back for seconds!
The band’s debut album explores very contemporary themes of dehumanisation, isolation and oppression, all through the idea of mass media influence and manipulation. Vocalist Mark Tronson explains how this came about: “I never thought of us as a political band, I always try to write personally and introspectively as I never thought I’d have the confidence or the gusto to have something to say on a much grander scheme. There are mild glimpses of it in our previous EPs, like in our first single Filter, but not to this degree. But sometimes things just bubble to the surface. We are living in some truly frustrating times, and our anger and frustration at the world has really come out in this album. We talked about themes of artificial intelligence and weird technology as an aesthetic basis for the music, but over time the idea warped into a malfunctioning, broken version of that, which then came through both lyrically and in the vocal performance. We wanted it to sound powerful and yet unhinged, even broken – to have a big polished sound suited to the music of today, but to maintain that visceral and uncomfortable intensity of the very early works of Deftones’ Around The Fur and Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile.”
The first single drawn from the album, Underpaid Machinery, premiered in the UK on the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show with Daniel P Carter, and was subsequently featured on Triple J’s The Racket in Australia, as well as receiving airplay from Kerrang! Radio’s Alex Baker, who stated that the track was “a blend of heavy rage that means their music hits you instantly and accomplished musicianship that makes you come back for more” (see video below)
Metal Hammer UK’s description sums them up perfectly: “One of the most promising bands leading the Alt-Metal charge, boasting a sound that’s a muscular prog amalgamation of churning, drop-tuned riffs, scintillating melodies and multi-layered density” – I would echo that, the album is packed with crushing guitars, venomous bass, rage-infused vocals and a freight-train of heavy drumming, but the whole is still melodic enough for non-MetalHeads like me to enjoy it!
On the Live front, the band has distinguished themselves within the new wave of heavy Aussie exports. They’ve showcased in LA, opened for international acts Hed (p.e.) and Pop Evil, not to mention Aussie legends Mammal, Voyager and Twelve Foot Ninja, as well as being PROGFEST regulars and headlining 2018’s AMPED Festival. You too will be able to experience the new sound of the Melbourne underground together with Figures on stage, as the band plans to tour the UK and beyond in 2021 in promotion of the album.