Outright – Keep You Warm

Is there anything more overpowering than metallic hardcore music with a purpose? Australian quintet, Outright, are the definition of confrontational punks who live the DIY ethic and practice what they preach. They formed their own record label in 2012 and recorded their latest album on the lands of the Wurundjeri people, who saw their nation dispossessed in 1835 by Melbourne founder, John Batman. In singer, Jelena Goluza, Outright have an iconic frontwoman and political agitator who makes the vegan militancy of Earth Crisis look tame in comparison. It would take a brave man to call her band’s music dogmatic, but there’s no doubt metalheads and anti-establishment punks alike can enjoy the listening experience.

Those of you that roll your eyes at protest music will find plenty to surprise you here. Outright avoid the disappointment of subordinating competent musicianship to the totality of their political message. Opener, ‘Truth Teller’, will remind you of the latest album by Comeback Kid. The riffs are crunchy and aimed at a slam pit; the bass is louder than the fracking drills of Colorado; Jelena Goluza’s scream vocals throb with fervent intensity in a husky high-range register. Those chugging metallic guitars are worthy of the latest Terror album, and they’re just as heavy. Say hello to vintage Slayer on ‘The Hammer’. This one is thrash metal with righteous hardcore belting techniques vibrating through the microphone. You’ll have no time to gather your thoughts during the whirlwind of violence in the first two songs. This is hardcore as it should be.

The guitarwork of Joel Cairns and Nick Hauser is just as intriguing as the lyrical manifesto of Outright’s charismatic singer. Listen to the distorted guitar melodies of ‘Linchpin’ and ‘Tied Through Time’. The post-hardcore greats of At the Drive In and Refused would appreciate the ethereal chord choices among the aggressive onslaught. Those of you in favour of the boneheaded metallic riffs will find satiation here as well. ‘Fortify’ reminds you that punk can be just as heavy as metal. Imagine how vitriolic modern thrash bands would sound if they had the soaring aggression of Jelena Goluza’s pipes at the forefront of their music. The neo-grindcore blast of ‘Burn’ should warrant a thumbs-up from Napalm Death and might even grab their attention next time they tour Australia. Can you think of a more suitable band to join them in the Antipodes when they visit for a headline run?

Of course, we cannot ignore the burning-hot rage of this record. Outright’s anti-imperial diatribes are confident that they will always be on the right side of history in the age of white self-flagellation and post-colonial guilt. Would anyone dare to defend the civilising mission of the white man in Australia? “We were never young and free/ The oldest lasting culture we know/ Persists despite the “salvation” – you bestow,” roars Jelena on ‘Tied Through Time’. The opening stanza is even more poignant: “Displaced and detached/ From her mother’s arms she’s dragged/ Bloodlines corrupted through rape/ To colonise her mind and whiten her skin.” It’s easy for the victors to offer their apologies and offer protection to the First Nations Peoples one hundred and seventy years after the irreversible event. Outright know this, and they want their white listeners to remember that their forefathers built modern Australia on ethnic cleansing and exploitation. Whether their majority audience will wave their fists in solidarity or ignore the lyrical content will be interesting to observe.

It’s true that Outright achieve their aim to make the listener feel guilty for the sins of the past, but they also deserve respect for their willingness to experiment with different styles and tempos. ‘The Call’ starts like a stoner metal contemplation and alternates between ghostly harmonies and roaring vocals for seven minutes without losing your attention. Closing track, ‘Silent Spring’, touches upon the brilliance of Turnstile in its melody and dynamic purpose. “We’ve asked the question/ How can we stop climate change?/ But contradictory voices/ Drown out a dying cry,” muses Jelena. It’s a fitting way to end the album, but the thirty-six minutes of Keep You Warm feel like twelve rounds in the ring with Floyd Mayweather.

You need to think of Outright’s music as confrontational art – you’ll always be on the losing side. Nothing can stop the onslaught of Jelena Goluza when you intrude on her manor. Sometimes, you must hold your hand up and surrender to a superior moral force.



Release Date: 15/07/2022

Record Label: Reason and Rage Records

Standout tracks: Truth Teller, The Hammer, The Call

Suggested Further Listening: Comeback Kid – Heavy Steps (2022), Earth Crisis – Bleed the Killers (1998), Burn in Hell – Disavowal of the Creator God (2021)