Vanden & Repeat Offender – Black Hearts and Poison Girls

What makes the Australian independent music community so unique is its ability to adapt and innovate in a relatively small market. Bands form alliances and friendships which reap mutual benefits both on the live scene and in the recording studio. It’s also within the Australian music community that independent bands opt for financially effective pathways when exposing their craft to the masses. For Vanden and Repeat Offender, the decision to record a split EP was a natural one.

Black Hearts and Poison Girls is not only indicative of Australia’s tight-knit independent community, it is a release that documents a bond between two bands spanning across two states. Melbourne’s Vanden are no strangers to the local live scene; a reincarnation of nu-metal/hardcore band Down.To.Size. Vanden has taken a more melodic approach to their craft yet still retains a crunching edge which has seen the band win hearts in their hometown. And likewise for Repeat Offender – Brisbane’s own, armed with heavy melodies and a thirst for down-tuned orchestrations.

Soaring guitars and melodically charged vocals ring out through –  “Black Heart Street’, a track which compliments Repeat Offender’s heavy pop-like aesthetics well, as found in –  “Poison Girl’. Yet, this is where this split may be scrutinised. The parallels between each band are revealed and it’s dangerously easy to suggest that both bands are little too similar in style for a split release. However, the energy that is synonymous with each band exceeds expectations, exemplified in Vanden’s approach with staggered guitar-work in –  “Just Take The Ride’ and Repeat Offender’s hard-edged, harmonious offering –  “I’m Yours’.

The hard-working ethic exuded by both bands also comes into play on this spilt record. Both bands also exhibit an Aussie rock-esque element to their craft, fundamental to tracks –  “Side Streets’ and –  “Have Your Lies Begun?’ And it’s at the conclusion of this release where both bands prove that they can also switch from slicing strings to plucking out evocative tunes in an acoustic setting – –  “Amphetamine’ and Dirty Sneakers’. Both songs were written by each band and arranged by the other. This is an adventurous decision pursued by both bands, but not exactly a new concept ( Trial Kennedy and Horsell Common chose this same approach for their split The Birds and The Bees from last year).

Overall, Black Hearts and Poison Girls is a mature and fresh offering that allows two bands to attract prominent attention from the one recording. It’s a bold sonic statement that captures the essence of Australia’s independent movement and allows many other bands to consider a similar path in Australia’s small-scale music community.

Black Hearts and Poison Girls is an independent release, available through MGM.