Digital Natives make a sound that I would link directly to a band like Helmet. There are riffs galore, complex rhythms, intensity and punk rock skills along with massive nods to heavy metal and art rock. All in all it is more at the alternative end of the metal world.
Digital Natives debut EP “Future Reflections” does a good job at paying tribute to bands like Helmet who take up a unique place in the heavy metal genre. While I know that Digital Natives themselves wouldn’t class or identify themselves as a Heavy Metal band it does indeed come across in the way their music is presented in this debut EP.
The EP starts with “Permanent Record” which is a busy rush of post-hardcore riffage shaped by modern surf rock vocal dynamics. It stands as the perfect introduction to what you can expect from the rest of the EP. Second track “Acid Wash” sees the band in palm mute overdrive and the song itself hints at early Grinspoon. When the song takes off it has a modern buzz buried inside of it with a slacked out stoner rock chorus. There are bizarre sprinkles of Kings of Leon in the way the chorus of this song is delivered, although it is only fleeting as the song is framed quite nicely by harder riffage. The band takes the pace down for third track “Reality Blues” which has a “freakshow” era Silverchair vibe in that “Pop Songs for Us Rejects” kind of way. There are lots of Siamese Dream big muff cream riff wise with this song. Only downfall of this song is the way the track goes fast for no real reason at the end. It doesn’t lift the song at all dynamically and it feels very lazy from a songwriting standpoint like the band ran out of ideas in terms of finding some kind of creative resolve or endpoint with the song itself. The final track “An Endless Drone” feels like a song the band spent a lot of time on to make the “epic” of the EP. The song itself is a beautiful blend of Shihad, Mark of Cain, Grinspoon and Helmet providing the perfect ending to what has been a very tight sounding movement of music.
As a debut EP the band have done their job and delivered a selection of songs that give context to the bands beginnings and also what they are like in the live arena. The main bummer of the EP is the songwriting itself. While I enjoyed the EP I did feel like there were not a lot of memorable hooks or experimentation to really set the music apart from anything happening at the moment and at times the production and the songs had the capacity to sound dated. The songs need more space in order for the drama and the riff to truly make an impact. Its okay to slam riffs together but there still needs to be a solid pop skill bringing it all together melodically in order to avoid it sounding like wankery. All the instruments, vocals included, are coming at you at once and you don’t have time to soak it all in. It’s an incredibly busy movement of music that needs more spook in order to sell the drama of it all. It can start to sound incredibly cold after a while which is a bummer because the EP is a great bunch of songs, but they just need some more tender love and care before they are amazing and life changing songs. If the band is serious when they list artists like Queens of the Stone Age, ISIS, Sonic Youth and The Stooges as influences then I reckon they need to listen a bit harder and a bit deeper to those bands in order to unleash the one thing that “Future Reflections” lacks, simplicity and emotion. All of the above bands use simplicity and emotion over science when it comes to crafting their music and aren’t afraid to build music off simple chord and vocal movements. What makes their music sound complex to us as listeners is the way these bands ride that simplicity and use different dynamics to tell the emotional story. It is these dynamics that are missing in “Future Reflections” and that is what lets it down overall.
The future is bright for a band as enthusiastic as Digital Natives but they have to dig deeper and understand how the songwriting process works best when it adheres to the less is more theory. I enjoyed listening to this EP but I’m hoping for something more from the band as they continue to evolve.
7 Cassette Tapes Out of 10
By: Dan Newton