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BILLIE-JADE: ‘XI:XI’

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19/04/24

Described as Australia’s first heavy metal diva, Melbourne’s Billie-Jade is readying herself for the release of her debut EP XI:XI this Friday, April 19.

Having only released the one track – Horror Haus – previously, there isn’t a great deal of research to be had into Billie-Jade so the best thing to do is hit the play button and listen for myself!

XI:XI is a collection of four songs Billie-Jade wrote with producer Mitchell Marlow (New Year’s Day, In This Moment, Stitched Up Heart) in L.A, starting with the recently released single Scream.

The track smashes you right between the eyes straight up with a vicious intro that could go anywhere, before Billie-Jade pulls things back a little with a sultry yet menacing opening salvo that is given added starch by the heavy as fuck guitar and drums simmering underneath.

The first thing that stands out is Billie-Jade’s dominant vocals that almost reach through the speakers and grab you in a headlock tight enough so as to not let you go, but with enough slack to still allow for the involuntary headbanging that follows.

Her voice draws on the sonic intensity of the instruments, shouting with purpose intermittently and dripping with venom at others.

Stuttering effects swirl haphazardly around the halfway mark before Billie-Jade pulls the reigns even tighter to expose a softer, more controlled breakdown of sorts that lasts only long enough for her to refill her lungs for another round of ferocity.

Already I can tell Billie-Jade has many demons to purge and find myself wondering if only four songs is enough to do so.

Next up is a surprising cover as Billie-Jade turns her talents to the James Brown penned It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World. I must admit I wouldn’t really have much of an idea how the original goes, but from the hazy pieces of music filtering through I’m pretty certain it wasn’t a metal song. Not even a rock song from memory.

Heavily distorted guitars introduce the song, and it has a haunting and desolate vibe from the outset that is accentuated as the blues-drenched vocals of Billie-Jade ease over the top.

The angst and gut-wrenching emotion of the song is beautifully captured as Billie-Jade introduces thunderous drums and loud guitars to drench the landscape, gathering intensity as her voice breathes renewed fire.

Then just as quickly as the storm clouds gathered, they subside, retreating back into the blues and soul world from whence it came.

The fire returns towards the end as Billie-Jade pours every ounce of pain she can muster into her vocals before the song draws to a close, leaving a sense of unrequited passion lingering in the silence.

DGAFAY is next, and if my memory serves me right, stands for Don’t Give A Fuck About You. Which, I’m pretty sure could be either a break-up love song or the start of a new football war cry.

Suddenly guitars fill the silence with a purposeful bout of drumming before changing tact completely into a techno sort of number complete with dance-type samples and blast beats.

It’s completely unexpected and different from the first couple of songs, and despite my known aversion to disco and/or techno I find myself intrigued enough to keep listening.

The chunky guitars throughout are definitely a badge of honour – especially for us metalheads who can use them as an excuse to be interested – but it’s the division and differing vocal techniques of Billie-Jade that make this track almost compelling listening.

Despite the flirtation with techno music, this is essentially a rock song, albeit one with a unique difference.
If anything it shows Billie-Jade refuses to be stuck in or conformed by genres, instead setting her own rules and limitations, which is refreshing in a genre that can often become convoluted in its own sense of worth.

No Way Out closes the EP as a soft and tempered vocal intro gives off the impression that this could be Billie-Jade’s moment of reflection.

Again, she displays yet more of her vocal disparity here as she lays down a measured and emotion-charged layer of subtlety that sets the platform for a beautifully delivered track armed with lashings of loss, sorrow and despair.

The guitar and drums never stray too far from each other, providing a solid and meaty background from which Billie-Jade can express her despair. It is an interesting contrast of heavier delivery with softer vocals that works well.

Until they seem to get the shits with the calm nearing the three-minute mark as they launch into a brutally heavy breakdown of sorts. Billie-Jade lets them have their fun before bringing things back to Earth again, as she drags the anger back into herself and repels it with her soothing cleans that carry the track through to a balanced conclusion.

But I must say the final snap of a menacing guitar riff was the perfect end to a love song.

With XI:XI you feel Billie-Jade is only just scratching the surface of what she is destined to do. Each track is like a separate side of her musical psyche, with each delivered sporting an irresistible charm that bears all the trademarks of a long and successful career.

As far as debuts go, this is an absolute corker. My only gripe is that it wasn’t long enough…

Pre-save or buy XI:XI here: https://ffm.to/xi-xi

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