Released: August 29th 2014
Buy Album: https://www.reverbnation.com/store/store/artist_683976
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/octainium
1. The Writing’s on the Wall
3. Holier Than Thou
4. Grist to the Mill ft. Scott Wareham
5. Suffer the Clock
6. Skeletons ft. Alicia van Wyk
7. Another Day, Another Death
9. What’s Your Poison?
10. The Devil Take the Hindmost ft. Andrew Duggan
11. If the Shoe Fits
12. Vs. the World
Maritz Booysen: vocals
Gerhard Booysen: drums
Kyle ‘Sykes’ van Wyk: guitar
Sven Anderson: guitar
Arno Grundling: bass
The ‘core’ offshoots of metal (deathcore, metalcore etc) are often derided and not taken entirely seriously by the heavy metal community at large. When one considers some of the contenders (Pierce the Veil, Asking Alexandria) it isn’t hard to see why. But every now and then a band steps out from the shadows and demands to be taken very seriously indeed.
Step forth brooding metalcore act Octainium. The band originally formed in Wales back in 2006, releasing an EP and performing several gigs before their debut album ‘The Prophecy’ in 2011. Vocalist Maritz Booysen then presumably felt homesick and returned to his native South Africa, reforming Octainium with four local musicians. Naming themselves after a combustible fluid of the highest octane and citing influences as diverse as “anything from as mellow as Enya to as loud and heavy as Gojira”, the band have certainly set the bar high for themselves. (They also apparently perform accoustic gigs! Hornswoggling).
‘Suffer the Clock’ is their second album release, and what a bruiser it is, too. Opening with ‘Writing’s On the Wall’, they hit the ground running with a racing beat and some impressively deep growled vocals combined with clean vocals later in the track. The lyrics are…well my goodness, they’re angry. This particular diatribe is aimed at the “self-righteousness, greed and opulence” of their country’s politicians and people in power. This is metalcore with a message; politicised yet deeply personal. It makes for a challenging listen.
This becomes the standard throughout the album, with the lyrics taking pot shots at South Africa’s police (‘Dethrone’ – containing the heavy line “Welcome to the rape and murder capital of the earth”. Wow.), religious hypocrisy (‘Holier Than Thou’), drug abuse (‘What’s Your Poison?’) and state corruption in the fantastically titled ‘Ineptocracy’, with its anguished roars of “God bless South Africa!” fading out the end of the song.
Octainium are definitely the more metal end of metalcore, often incorporating quite death metal-like deep growls and piledriving riffs. The songs themselves are often rather unstructured affairs, coming across almost like modern poetry, or a stream of consciousness, set to heavy music. There are of course the obligatory blastbeats and breakdowns, as well as the clean/scream vocal combo, but don’t be fooled by all that: this is heavy, punishing stuff, both aurally and lyrically.
There are a few guest vocalists in the shape of Hokum’s Scott Wareham on the rather FFDP-esque ‘Grist to the Mill’, guitarist Kyle van Wyk’s sibling Alicia on the ‘odd man out’-sounding but beautifully harmonised ‘Skeletons’, and Cutting Jade’s David Draiman-sounding vocalist Andrew Duggan, who lends his pipes to the Killswitch Engage influenced ‘The Devil Takes the Hindmost’.
Vocalist Booysen then takes centre stage again for the last time on final track ‘Vs. the World’. This blastbeat-heavy, ‘fuck the doubters’ song is a welcome positive and defiant note to end on, after some really quite desolate and bitter numbers. Again, a tough listen, but completely worth it.
Octainium are stepping into a ring that is already crowded with a lot of other metalcore bands. Listening to this album it is clear that, should the men be separated from the boys in this particular genre, this lot definitely belong in the former. Harrowing, gritty and melodic, this band – and indeed, this album – are patently not a teenage girl squeal-inducing bit of fluff. This is serious stuff, man. And well worth a listen!