Aussie industrial metal outfit Our Last Enemy fully delivered on their promise with 2021’s As Above So Below. The album received international and national acclaim and earned the band a number of high profile international support slots including Combichrist, Perturbator, Static X, Dope, Prong and Powerman 5000.
The question since has been whether or not Our Last Enemy could maintain their upward trajectory, with the answer to that lying in the freshly released new EP As Within So Without which also serves as the final piece of their epic story arc.
Opening with Hex Design and a cool blues-type slide guitar intro, Our Last Enemy throw a wicked curveball right from the start that soon pitches into familiar hard rock/industrial territory.
Vocalist Oliver Fogwell sets the bar high from the outset, a flourish of rage and aggression forcing a headbanging response that is as subconscious as it is infectious.
John Sankey returns on drums and his presence is immense from the moment he strikes his first skin with an unrelenting pace that many bands would find it difficult to keep up with.
But not Our Last Enemy who seem to thrive in response to the challenge.
This track is about as anthemic as a metal song could ever be and is so good I have to listen to it again…
Bless The Fall rises next and it instantly strikes a chord. Deep industrial sounds set the tone before Sankey steps in amid a wall of guitar and intent.
The whole band is on point so far and set about their task of dismantling our aural cavities with riotous glee.
This is a fast-paced and relentless slab of metal complete with gang vocals and malevolent intent. Fogwell breaks into almost spoken word territory in the back third of the song but is swept back to prominence by a dangerously chaotic rush of drums and guitar that reinforces that feeling of suppressed aggravation.
A cool breakdown towards the end may slow things up a touch, but it is still brutally heavy, a feat difficult to produce but tasty as fuck when it is.
The next song is Still Breathing which features guest vocals from CJ McMahon. The track explodes in a fit of rage, instantly exposing a more sinister underbelly to Our Last Enemy.
It traverses through a myriad of emotions and sub-plots, one moment screaming and snarling and in your face, and the next pulled back with a subdued restraint that you can just tell won’t last.
McMahon and Fogwell trade blows to great effect, their vocal stylings intertwining with each other almost too easily.
Slay For Me sees Fogwell start with a clean vocal intro which merely serves as an introduction to the next journey into sonic oblivion.
Patches of swirling intricacies combine with more rock-influenced moments of grandeur which in turn spiral into aggression and back without ever breaking momentum.
A cool breakdown midway through complete with screams and sounds of confusion are almost poignant moments, reminding us that buried beneath the layers of contempt lies a story fighting to be heard and one which is adamant won’t go down without a fight.
AD Undas brings the five-track EP to a close, an ominous wave of static and foreboding painting a desolate and threatening landscape. It builds nicely before Sankey gets to work, igniting a distant struggle between varying forces of metal.
It is a beautifully restrained track in comparison to what has come before it, but has an underlying menace that threatens to descend into a blanket of darkness at any moment.
Which it invariably does about halfway through. But not too much at first.
The steady descent into despair continues to tease an ulterior motive which, to their credit, Our Last Enemy resist.
Instead, they allow their musical craftsmanship to act as judge, jury and executioner, creating a smoldering and delicate atmosphere of cinematic proportions.
Credit must also be sent the way of DW Norton who produced As Within So Without. The subtle nuances and aural landscapes which feature heavily on this EP are worthy of note on their own, but when combined with the epic and destructive nature of each track combined take on a life of their own.
An absolute gem.