Shock Octopus is an Australian alt-rock duo who, according to their Facebook page, have been described as “Nirvana meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Okay, I’ll bite. The band’s latest EP, roam in silence, is a gloomy, piano-driven collection of songs with a few theatrical snippets mixed throughout.
The EP kicks off with the song “Fantasia” which, unfortunately, exemplifies many of the issues I have with roam in silence. The song is really lacking both in dynamics and in an outstanding melody. The next track, “Into the Darkness,” has a lot more of an interesting structure to it, with Scott Andrews’ guitar work helping to build the song up and bring it back down intermittently. “Fantasia” would have benefitted from being structured as well as this song was.
Despite the shortcomings I found with roam in silence, the EP contains some truly standout moments. In “Just Not There,” the vocals hold off and allow for the guitar and vocals to take over the melody in the beginning. “The Target” picks up the pace and helps to break up the EP quite nicely. The electric guitar that can be heard in the background of “This Land Will Change” really fills the space in the song, and makes sure that the EP closes with a bit of a bang.
My favourite moments on roam in silence come when Michael Bayliss ditches his low, somber vocals for higher and more theatrical melodies. The tail end of “Die Young” is a perfect example of this; Bayliss still maintains a gloomy vibe, but does so in a much more interesting way. The vocals on this EP come across as shaky most of the time, but really shine with some harmonies behind them. If roam in silence had more harmonies like in “Just Not There,” I would have found the EP a lot more enjoyable.
I think Shock Octopus are on to something, but roam in silence isn’t quite it. My hope is that the band is more open to additional instrumentation and vocal harmonies in future releases. Bayliss and Andrews have their song-writing fundamentals down, but would benefit from stepping outside their comfort zone.
Written by Justin Bruce
*edited by Kate Erickson