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Jazz and metalcore combine within the framework of the new album by Meliorist, who were determined to continue with their recording plans even when faced with the departure of their singer.
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Coming together around the hub of guitarist Andrew Apte and drummer James Ollis in 2015, Brisbane band Meliorist have developed a singular style of melodic metalcore built on some technically creative, jazz-influenced guitar work. Introducing themselves with a self-titled demo, the group released the EP ii in late 2017, which made some waves for them locally. Encouraged by the reception to the EP, and perhaps also driven by Apte’s voluminous creativity, Meliorist began work on Patterns almost immediately.
“We said to ourselves, ‘Let’s get serious about this. If we’re going to write music, let’s do it the best we can’. So we got in contact with, and managed to get, Nick Sampson, the record producer. We booked that in for September last year, so in January we said ‘Let’s go crazy!’. I started writing after work every day, just in the studio writing.”
Nick Sampson has been behind albums by Asking Alexandria, Miss May I and Of Mice and Men among a long list of others, so landing him as a producer was a strong step for Meliorist. But their plans were almost derailed when they parted ways with their vocalist just as initial writing got underway. With a recording deadline only a few months away, the band decided to push on, while also turning to social media in their search for the missing piece of the puzzle.
“We’d booked this and paid deposits and stuff, so this was going ahead regardless! That was the attitude, we’re going to record this album. We ran an ad on Facebook looking for a vocalist. We did a short clip of a song and said that we were a band from Brisbane looking for a vocalist. We’re taking this seriously and we just want to hear you.”
I was obsessed with jazz music. This style of playing … people have been playing like this for a hell of a long time outside of metal. That’s where I learnt everything and I applied it to metal. I try not to be ever influenced by metal.
[ Andrew Apte ]
In order to stop “just randoms rocking up” and wasting their time, Meliorist asked for candidates to send a clip of themselves performing the band’s music. The search led them to Andrew Corfield, who then flew out with them as they settled in to Sampson’s studio in Michigan to record the eight tracks on Patterns.
“He was really nervous,” Apte recalls, “and said, ‘I almost didn’t come!’” Sampson’s reaction to Corfield’s work was overwhelmingly positive. “He said ‘This is one of the best vocalists I’ve ever recorded’. And this guy’s recorded some of the biggest names in metal today. So we got really lucky.”
At the core of Meliorist’s sound is Apte’s idiosyncratic guitar playing. Starting out, as many do, under the influence of Parkway Drive and “graduating” to August Burns Red, he was soon enamoured by All That Remains. As his playing developed, Apte followed a course that led to studying music theory and then an “obsession” with jazz. It went so far, he even got Snarky Puppy guitarist Mark Lettieri to do a guest slot on Patterns.
“I started learning theory,” he explains, “learned the basics, got into jazz theory and then I ended up going to the Conservatorium for jazz for a while. I was obsessed with jazz music. This style of playing … people have been playing like this for a hell of a long time outside of metal. That’s where I learnt everything and I applied it to metal. I try not to be ever influenced by metal.”
With the album now out, the next step for Meliorist is to develop a profile as a live band. A solid new line-up brought together in the pressure-cooker environment of the recording studio and a world-class sounding release should go a long way to help them achieve that goal, even in a landscape increasingly more crowded by heavy bands.
“We’re definitely trying to move the band forward in a way that we can play some quality shows,” Apte says. “After you’ve been around for a while and you’ve taken the time to make good music and you’ve got the artwork and you have a look that’s a little bit more professional, that’s when people who are a little bit more professional start to look at you.”
In the meantime, Andrew Apte is just going to keep working on songs and being a guitar player. It’s what he does.
“I can’t stop writing music. Right now I’m writing! I’m not writing for the band, but I’m practising a lot trying to recreate and learn a whole bunch of stuff so that when I sit down and write again, I want to know that I’ve changed as a guitarist.”