With Mindsnare essentially a part-time proposition these days, this leaves a band with the opportunity to step up and fill the enormous crossover/metallic hardcore void left by the Melbourne quartet.
While they might not be quite that band yet, after a handful of years serving their apprenticeship, fellow Melbournians Samsara could eventually assume that mantle, if this album’s quality is an indicator.
Following on from where their 2007 debut full-length The Emptiness left off, the quintet is still intent on pummelling the listener with their bruising fare. There’s little variety (aside from a few instrumental interludes) in the songwriting department, but the band are relentlessly in-your-face throughout the disc’s running time as they channel the likes of Agnostic Front, Madball and occasionally Hatebreed via a series of shout-a-long choruses, caustic vocals, guitar solos, blistering D-Beat overtones and colossal grooves. The likes of the Mindsnare-esque ‘Ritual’, ‘No Peace’ and ‘Skin and Bone’ are about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the groin, but there is an honesty, intensity and integrity about what they do that puts Instinct Over Influence several steps above much of the rest of the Australian hardcore crop, regardless of a complete lack of new ideas. Converge’s Kurt Ballou has also helped afford them a bulldozing mix that makes the songs feel even more immediate. It’s also obvious that his “day job” rubbed off on Samsara a little too – see the ambient touches of ‘Wayfarer’ for proof.
Despite a few lineup changes (including the loss of former drummer Tim Shearman to The Red Shore) Samsara are clearly on the right track here. Instinct over Influence is going to be sure-fire moshpit fodder and gives one a glimmer of hope for the otherwise largely trend-driven tendencies of the Australian hardcore/metalcore scene.
2. No Peace
3. I Tire
4. Steel Trap
7. Skin and Bone
8. The Divide
9. Tiny Souls
11. The Snake