Formed by a trio of public servants in 2018, Melbourne stoner metal jammers The State System have been sticking it to the man and changing the system from within one politically-charged, cosmic riff at a time.
Their latest weapon; the debut self-titled album released mid-November this year. Described as a “sonic riff highway” by the band, The State System is full of heavy fuzz, penetrating socio-political commentary and, just as it says on the box, some real killer riffs. They attest to drawing significant inspiration from the OG Californian stoner rock pioneers Kyuss and Fu Manchu, yet the band is distinctive in its broodier, doom-metal vibe.
For anybody who just so happens to be an aficionado of both heavy stoner rock and contemporary Australian art, the album cover is graced by the artwork of prolific Melbournian painter Rick Amor – known for his desolate, poetically brooding landscapes and solitary, pensive figures. Clearly also a large influence for the band, Amor’s melancholy can be heard in the dragging tempos, gloomy chord progressions and despairing lyrics of tracks like ‘The Sea’, ‘Breath’ and ‘Horizon’. ‘Breath’ has a sound almost reminiscent of a Smashing Pumpkins ballad – definitely save this one for a rainy day. But before you walk away with the assumption that these boys are all doom and gloom, hold your horses!
While they do have some serious messages to convey about the harsh Australian political climate, make no mistake they’re definitely down to jam and have a good time too. ‘Follow the Sun’, ‘Look So Good’ and ‘One Step’ are solid mid-tempo, classic stoner rock headbanging material, great for a bad-ass highway cruising playlist. ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Riff Highway’ bring the heat with Fu Manchu-rian high energy, fast and fun riff shredding. ‘Riff Highway’ absolutely takes the cake for me from this album, perfectly blending heavy stoner fuzz goodness with a constantly winding, hard-hitting pace – it’s a solid head-banging trip along a hyperspace highway. Suss the album and enjoy the ride, folks!
Reviewed by Jess Sercombe