Words by Glen Thomas
Although new to the scene, Sydney based hardcore metal act Sugar Spine is already achieving recognition amongst critics and fans alike, paving the way to be considered one of the finest metal acts to come out of Australia.
If their 2021 single Go Outside didn’t already have you involuntarily banging your head, then their latest EP Mirror Talk certainly will. An amalgamation of talents led by its founding, and only member Josh Muncke, plus a sneaky cameo by Born of Osiris bassist Nick Rossi, Mirror Talk poses a kind of raw metal that, for all you oldies but goodies out there, might have started your love for shredding guitar riffs, thumping drum work and shrieking vocals. Showcasing influences from the likes of Slipknot, All That Remains, The Devil Wears Prada and even fellow Aussies Parkway Drive, Sugar Spine pays tribute to the nuances of old and nu- metal with a sound that truly has you running for the closest mosh pit.
You might already have some love for the album’s single, Gutter Paint, but just in case you’re popping this particular cherry, this rapid, fast-paced, head cruncher deliciously sets the hardcore tone of this EP. Sporting some heavy-hearted gutturals and a thumping double kick that would knock even Putin’s socks off. Bear in mind, some of its production elements leave the listener much to be desired; you just can’t help but listen on to hear what wickedness the rest of this EP has to offer.
83 is a little untamed, introducing more of a hardcore punk feel to the mix. Seamlessly boasting a chaotic but somehow melodic vocal riff halfway through the track, this almost 80s metal thrash up, will undoubtedly have you stretching some of those neck muscles.
The EP’s title track Mirror Talk succinctly personifies the title, giving you the ability to digest exactly what
Muncke might have been feeling when he wrote this. The song draws you in with an almost Amazing Grace style intro, opening with the lyrics “Don’t worry, you look just fine from here”, poetically upholding the vein of the EP. You can feel that this album, being bred from internment, Muncke is painting reference to his time in isolation and potential self-deprecation, but don’t be fooled, this sweet disposition is quickly uprooted by a guitar crunching behemoth. You can almost feel the frustration, through shattering symbol work and a stampede of drums, this Thrasher-esque track will have you on the edge of your seat.
In the same fashion, The Black Stag delivers a sound that is metal to its core, with a grungy temperament
that absolutely screams Parkway Drive, this track is beautifully anarchic with a certain disparity to its
predecessors that breaks up the EP nicely whilst maintaining power and fluidity. With an encore from the
double kicks in full force, Crusader is a thundering, yet organised mess. With some embellished shifts in
rhythm and a pandemonium of guitar plucking and symbol crashing to outro the track, this is just another
prime example of how versatile this EP is. As we slowly come to the culmination of this very filthy EP, enter Sensation, aggrandizing Sugar Spine’s hardcore punk melodies, Muncke, takes his project to another level by embodying an even dirtier sound.
We’re close, but no cigar, just yet. Pen and Sword really is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the
heavy on the metal…that’s an idiom, right? With Nick Rossi slapping that bass from beginning to end, there is a clear Born of Osiris influence here. Sugar Spine’s dark side really shines through, giving an already impressive sound, something a little more experimental. This satisfying mix showcases an eclectic side of Sugar Spine’s already unique sound. The ominous intro sets the tone for a gritty conclusion, with the first two minutes of the song consisting of mostly instrumentals, you get a chance to sit back and just take it all in. An anthem of emotion, something you’d want to hear at the end of a gory action movie maybe.
Needless to say, this EP does not disappoint. Sugar Spine manages to successfully tap into the roots of hardcore metal and if this is what is being produced now, then I can’t wait to see what comes next.