Novocastrian hardcore maven’s Boudicca are back with a brand new EP, and with it several rare and important moments to stop, listen and learn.
Just like it’s older sibling, 2022’s Tapestry, Boudicca have taken the time to craft an anthology of not just songs, but stories inspired by historic events and re-told through a modern lens.
But Uncouth is far from a copy+paste job from the 5 piece. Straight off the rip, Uncouth brings forth the face-melting heavy metal beast within Boudicca, that previously only reared it’s head sparringly. This time, they wear their solos and stadium beats on their sleeves. Pacing and energy also seem to have been experimented on with a sugical level of intriacy. The down and dirty groove of ‘Broad Arrow’ feels worlds away from the The cyclonic drama of ‘Niamh’, just one track later.
However by the closing track ‘The Year Without Summer’, it’s clear that Boudicca erred on the side of thrilling, and while Uncouth has moments of relative serenity, most are simply a moment of calm before the storm.
We can speak to the music of Boudicca, and trust us, we will do so all the live long day, but to get a better understanding of the pointgant tales told within Uncouth, we thought we’d call up the band themselves.
‘Let Them’ alludes to the French Revolutionary period, and to Marie Antionette’s death by guillotine in 1793. It also references the intriguing eating habits of Victorians. William Buckland, a highly eccentric theologian and paleontologist in the Victorian Era, allegedly ate the mummified heart of King Louis XIV at a dinner party. The story goes that he proclaimed “I have eaten many strange things, but I have never eaten the heart of a king before.”
‘Let Them’ is written as a tribute to the revolutionaries and workers of the past and present, as well as the contemporary climate activists who continue to fight for our future in the face of apathetic leaders and bloody-handed mining and gas companies who continue to decimate Aboriginal land.
Like many people in Australia, I am the descendant of convicts who were transported to the colony of New South Wales in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I wrote ‘Broad Arrow’ as a tribute to “Mary”, who was convicted in Dublin for political involvement and transported in 1791. Upon arriving in Australia, there were interesting escape attempts, heartbreaking child losses, suspicious fires, and trials in court. Mary’s demise came due to murder at the hands of her son-in-law (according to witnesses,) though, he was acquitted.
Alludes to the Irish mythological figure, Niamh, in regards to the story of Niamh of Tír na nÓg. This iteration of Niamh was first described in a poem written in 1750 by Mícheál Coimín. In continuing paying tribute to some of history’s radical women ‘Niamh’ also references the Anarchist writer Voltairine De Cleyre and her poem, ‘The Toast of Despair’ (1892.) ‘Niamh’ is full of personal existential frustration, whilst also embodying the frustration felt when advocating for brilliant young people being let down by systemic injustices and failures.
‘The Witch of Kings Cross’
Rosaleen Norton or ‘Thorn’ was the infamous occultist of Sydney’s Kings Cross. Born in Dunedin, Aotearoa, Rosaleen is appreciated as a brilliant artist and devotee of Pan who stood defiant in the face of significant scandals regarding ‘sex magic,’ and ‘satanic worship’ that defined her brilliant body of painting works. Rosaleen was also a strong writer, and her poetic work has been referenced in this song. I have had a long held fascination with the occult, and Rosaleen’s story, art, and writing has captivated me for a long time, it felt fitting to pay homage to such an intriguing, misunderstood woman who played an important part in an evolving, urban Australia.
‘She Turned Me Into A Newt’
First and foremost, this song references one of my favourite movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the scene where the townspeople are accusing a woman of being a witch. It is my understanding that witch trials are not known to have occurred in England during the period referenced by Monty Python’s setting. However, witch trials are understood to have taken place during the middle ages, through to The Witchcraft Act of 1735. Nobody is recorded to have been burned at the stake in England solely due to an accusation of witchcraft. The few people burned at the stake between the 15th and 18th century were the subject of multiple charges. ‘Scold’s bridle’ refers to the humiliating device of punishment for women and was court-ordered during the 16th and 17th Centuries in England and Scotland. Women and marginalised people are slowly becoming more empowered with the increase in access to communication, and a greater ability to express ourselves and our stories on our terms. Speaking the truth, or raising a concern, is often considered an affront, and there are plenty of people who would still relish the opportunity to put us all in scold’s bridles.
‘The Year Without A Summer’
In April 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted and the global temperature decreased 0.4–0.7 °C in its wake. Mary Shelley (then Mary Godwin), in the face of the dismal weather whilst away at Lake Geneva, was inspired to compose her revolutionary genre-defining novel ‘Frankenstein (The Modern Prometheus)’ after a night of telling scary stories. Mary Shelley also composed the novel, ‘The Last Man’ in 1826, one of the first dystopian texts and set in the 21st Century, following a plague that threatens the survival of humanity.
This song redirects the anger of ‘Let Them’ and the confusion of ‘Niamh’ into a sense of hope that something good can happen. I have met a lot of brilliant people through activism, and there are some incredibly driven and passionate young people who want the best for our world that make me feel a slither of hope that times will change for the better, we can’t resign ourselves completely just yet.
Uncouth by Boudicca is out now.
Main image credit: Katelyn Slyer