In a dystopian cyberpunk sci-fi future full of robots and angry clones, one girl-band steps up to save the world. VARIOUS by all girl punk-metal band FIESTER is a hard-edged single, tightly written and performed; clean and yet incredibly violent. The song begins with a low guitar riff going immediately into a guttural yell “不同! 不同!”(Different! Different!) as the drums come in banging alongside creating a tight but chaotic layered cacophony of multiple singers yelling, drums, grungy guitars riffs and computerized beeps flying around.
Across their social media, FIESTER said they wanted VARIOUS to question the idea of the “I” – the “ego” – and what it means in a technological age. And this idea is clear from the beginning, not only in the thinly veiled political lyrics but in the soundscape which builds a futuristic atmosphere through skilful use of autotune, background synths and vocoding. This is most obvious in the Middle 8, a much slower lyrical ballad section with an angelic voice that suddenly breaks out from the deep edgy chaos of the verses. The voice is autotuned just slightly too sharp and slightly too high, creating a mildly robotic voice. It’s human, it’s ‘right’ but it’s ‘different’.
As with other high-end Asian punk bands, VARIOUS isn’t settled on just having one vibe throughout the whole song, even though all the sections tie together well. The chaos of the introduction is quickly overtaken by a trimmed-down chorus – forward melody on the lead vox, drums and rhythm; quite a traditional punk chorus. This is followed by another cacophonic pre-chorus before landing on the futuristic Middle 8. A bit more build-up cycling through verse and chorus before a very dramatic ending where everything plays chorus together a la orchestra hits but much punkier.
Honestly, the writing of the Middle 8 and the final five chords are enough to carry the song.
The song really shines when watched with the music video. The anti-establishment lyrics, as is oft in punk, become much more interesting with the astounding world-building produced by The Sumerian Studio. In the fully rendered CGI video, a revolutionary group of clones who are ‘not the same’ fight off hordes of police-bots to in a dystopian cyberpunk universe (clearly Hong Kong inspired, just look at the staircases) where surveillance is everywhere. The banging of the drums become gunshots; the angelic Middle 8 becomes a serenade as beautiful 3D clones are assembled and have their ‘same’ minds installed. The ‘orchestra’ hits become a cliff-hanger as the one surviving “different” robot presses a button inside of a room full of screens and the screen turns to black.
A little cliché? Perhaps. But now I want a full Netflix series with an EP.
– Cyril Ma