In Hobbsy’s debut EP “Risen From the Dead”, front man Ben Hobbs departs from the stereotypical power rock of his 90s band Smokin’ Joker, and creates a dark, dynamic, grunge-metal sound that rattles with both energy and lament. The EP is subterranean at times, soaring at others, riddled with guitar solos, tonal shifts, and well-written lyrics. It almost seems mix and match, with different songs wavering between Rage Against the Machine and Metallica and Rise Against and Alice in Chains, but Hobbsy pulls it together as they wind their way mercilessly through this EP.
The second track, ‘The Few and the Many’, is a straightforward hard rock song about the end of days and how only those truly loyal to God will survive to see it through. “There are the few and the many / Who will be counted with the few at His side / We face this ending, face this together” sounds like it’s coming from a pulpit somewhere in middle America, but the track has a hypnotic hammering to it which makes it intriguing and head-bobbing.
Next up, ‘The Awakening’ features driving guitar and drums, part Rage Against the Machine, part Alice in Chains, wrapped around a screaming, growling poem urging us towards enlightenment and emancipation from fear, distrust and ignorance. The vocals descend from a Metallica-esque call to action into a growling, hissing howl of inevitable decay, and ascend back again. Lines like,
“Open your mind, invite
Ramifications and sensations inside your mind
Fused to an idealist dream of contagions
Through all nations together merged deeply with love”
are driven home with precision and clarity, while lines like,
“Individuals with a schedule policed by fear
of your neighbour
No need for reflection, with a fostered suspicion
on those who live their own lives
Faith in the saviour, its too late to save ya
its too late for us, the time has come”
sink into a dark, climactic, cavernous refrain of horrors. In the end, these two opposing ideals and voices blend together and leave the listener in musical and existential limbo.
The fifth track, “Your Silence”, begins with a Rage Against the Machine type guitar riff, but the band quickly sheds that comparison as they embark on a multi-layered epic of a song about finding meaning in life. Again, Biblical references abound, but the poetry is unavoidable and powerful. The chorus of “I don’t understand / But in this sinking there’s meaning / I don’t understand / And in this meaning those nails are piercing me” pretty much encapsulates the essence of the EP.
It’s an EP that grapples with themes of decay and rebirth, enlightenment and disillusionment, darkness and light. The title “Risen From the Dead” not only gives a nod to Ben Hobbs’ return from his musical hiatus, it prefaces these religious and existential themes that flow through the EP—themes that are hammered home behind an earthquake-inducing combination of vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Check the Melbourne band out; “Risen From the Dead” is definitely worth a listen or three.