Clowns- Endless (Album Review)

Oct. 19, 2023


Share This Review


Connect with Clowns


Listen to Clowns

Melbourne, Australia’s Clowns has been putting their own spin on hardcore punk since 2009, slowly bringing in more and more stylistic influences with each release.  What started as more straight up punk and hardcore with some hints of rock ‘n roll has transformed into a wild ride of punk, heavy metal, thrash, and everything in between on their latest effort Endless.  With striking cover art that would fit in more on an 80s thrash or crossover full length, it’s clear that Clowns has spent the time since 2019’s Nature/Nurture trying new things and going for even more aggression and speed than before.  There are a few lulls, but the strength of the hooks and diversity of the material makes this one worth checking out.

The title track hits you with a short burst of piano before the guitars take over for what can best be described as a cross between a heavy metal and power metal intro.  It’s clear that despite being branded as hardcore punk, Clowns pulls from a wider range of influences than the norm and a lot of that 80s heavy metal spirit is evident throughout Endless.  “Formaldehyde” and “Scared to Die” absolutely rip, balancing the scorching tonality and speed of crossover thrash with some catchier hooks that will get stuck in your head.  But as you make your way through the material, it becomes evident just how much variety Clowns is capable of.  Tracks like “Thanks 4 Nothing” and “Sarah” ease off the heaviness in favor of bouncier, melodic hooks that fall somewhere between traditional punk rock and pop punk, while “Quicksand” even goes a little emo early on.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Bisexual Awakening” has angular riffing and swagger similar to Every Time I Die.  It feels like there’s a little bit of something for everyone that likes heavier music, as the punk, heavy metal, and thrash elements are all equally represented, and the energy level remains at a high for eleven out of the twelve tracks.  Closer “A Widow’s Son” is where things get even more experimental and a bit weirder, as Clowns layers slower rock ‘n roll and heavy metal over top of narration from the Australian true crime podcast Casefile.  At some points this approach takes on more of a western feel, but at just under nine minutes it stretches on for too long and deflates some of the overall impact of Endless.  It’s not bad, but I’ve found myself returning to the other heavy hitters more often and skipping over “A Widow’s Son” during some listens.

Vocals on Endless are split between Stevie Williams and Haney J, and there’s easily just as much diversity to the vocal work as the instrumentation.  I really like the type of back-and-forth Stevie and Williams use on many of the songs, as they play off each other to take the energy level through the roof and it works well.  “Formaldehyde” starts things off on the harsher end of the spectrum, with screaming and yelling that has more of a hardcore slant with the chorus injecting some cleaner punk singing.  On the softer pop punk leaning tracks the singing takes over and mellows out quite a bit, keeping an infectious quality to it, but then you’ve got sometime like “Bisexual Awakening” where Stevie screams his lungs out from beginning to end.  As mentioned earlier, “A Widow’s Son” strips away the vocals in favor of a sprawling instrumental piece played over narration from the Casefile podcast, and this is where I think Clowns could have done more.  The approach isn’t bad, but I kept waiting for an appearance of the singing or screaming from the rest of the album to pop up and really put things over the top.

Clowns has pulled in a lot more metal this time around, which works well with their high energy hardcore and punk.  The added variety grabs your attention from one song to the next as the tone moves from aggressive to melodic, but there are also some real hooks to keep listeners coming back for more.  I also appreciate the experimentation and narrated soundscape approach of the closer, even if it does deflate the impact a bit and could’ve used some additional vocals or shorter length to stand out more.  But even with that flaw, this band has a lot to offer and fans of punk, crossover thrash, or anything in between will want to check them out.  Endless is available from Fat Wreck Chords and Damaged Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg