Amyl and The Sniffers’ 2019 self-titled debut was a 30 minute crash course in the relentless nature of Australian punk rock, with powerful riffs and to-the-point lyrics, it encapsulated the intense maniacal nature of the live shows they had been playing in and around Melbourne since 2016.
With old school riffs from guitarist, Dec Martens, the thundering rhythm section of Bryce Wilson and Fergus Romer, and the frantic energy of lead singer Amy Taylor, blasting through sets like a machine gun.
They quickly gained a passionate and loyal following, and fans were eager to hear what would come next, and could they keep up the pace with their first offering?
Comfort to Me was written and recorded during the COVID pandemic, with the band all living together for the duration of the first wave of lockdowns. A decision that resulted in an even tighter unit than we had heard before.
As a band that earned their stripes early on the road, the frustration of not being able to connect with a live audience results in a frustration and almost pent-up rage that bleeds through many of the tracks on the album.
The album opens with the booming bass and drum rhythm of Guided by Angels, Taylor spits a war-like chant over one of the more subtle guitar riffs of the album. You can feel the aggravation in the vocals as they get more intense with each verse. The track builds to a final exclamation and seems to collapse in exhaustion, only to be followed immediately by the one-and-a-half minute call to arms, Freaks to the Front; a visceral declaration of self love and self governance.
Themes of self love recur throughout, with tracks Laughing and Don’t Need a Cunt (Like You to Love Me) offering up lyrics that ooze empowerment and self sufficiency. Taylor says it best with the line, “I don’t need to kiss ass / My success speaks for me.”
It’s not all braggadocio; we see glimpses of vulnerability on the track Knifey, a slower, almost post-punk, bass driven denouncement of male violence, with an emotional desire to be able to walk home at night without fear, and the repeated fragile lament, “Please, because I ain’t so tough” cutting through the noise with an emotional intensity that we haven’t seen from the band before.
Amyl and The Sniffers are not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, with Martens’ guitar style the unruly child of classic rock giants and Aussie pub rock legends like the Cosmic Psychos. The band have noted acts as diverse as punk icons, Minor Threat, to early Lynyrd Skynyrd as influences.
We get a Powertrip-inspired thrash metal double time chorus on songs Choices and Don’t Need a Cunt (Like You to Love Me), and even some Iron Maiden esque galloping bass and soloing on Capital.
Despite this, Amyl and The Sniffers deliver something entirely unique, entirely them. The personality and soul of each member bleeds into each track, you can feel the frustration, you can hear the pent up energy in the vocals, like a bomb about to go off at any moment. They offer up a wholly exclusive blend of punk rock to come from the Australian scene, with the aggression and energy of bands such like C.O.F.F.I.N and Dumb Punts, while bringing the disparate stylistic influences of Blonde Revolver and Camp Cope.
Comfort to Me is Amyl and The Sniffers’ unrelenting, unapologetic and uncovered selves. They put their all into the album and you can hear it. With the band getting more comfortable exploring new sonic avenues, and the seemingly endless stamina of their ferocious frontwoman, the possibilities for where they could go are plentiful, and all of them equally intriguing.