Up Late

TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS!
November 5, 2021

Songwriter, producer, visual artist, Max Pasalic can do it all. On the second EP from his project Up Late, the dramatically titled TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS! he does all of that and then some, blurring the lines between metal, punk, hip-hop, electronica and rap in a bold statement of artistic intent.

TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS! sees Up Late arrive as a fully realised force, positioning him as one of the most exciting and forward-thinking voices in the Aussie heavy music scene.

Opening with the sinister soundscapes and unguarded honesty of the recent single ‘Diva’, TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS! kicks off with a bang. Equal parts screamed vocal hooks and emo/rap verses, ‘Diva’ is the perfect introduction into the world of Up Late, with the densely layered and foreboding production creating a vibe that is both dangerous and exciting. With a run time of just over one and a half minutes, ‘Diva’ manages to sink its teeth in with startling immediacy, checking out shortly after a mammoth drop hits, it mixes seamlessly into the defiant, high school hero bating, club-anthem-in-waiting for that is ‘I Know You Peaked In High School’. Featuring heavy blasts of electronica and a chorus that is as catchy as it is dripping with sardonic wit, the track is a collab with Dxrmant and the coming together of their two evolving sounds is a triumph. Home to some seriously funny lyrics (“I hope you know that Metallica is a band and not a shirt”) the interplay between the two is as fun as their deliveries are definitive.

Things take a relatively straightforward hip-hop turn on the titular track, ‘TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS!’ A collab with Wxrmz whose deep voice and deliberate flow sit anchored to a minimalist but ominous musical backdrop. It’s an effective track that’ll likely land genre-specific playlists, but it doesn’t touch the ingenuity and freshness of the rest of EP, and it doesn’t have a hook to match that present on the track that follows it, ‘Dirt Bike’. A fun as fuck jam about wanting to escape the cultural wasteland of small-town life, ‘Dirt Bike’ is a surefire summer beach party hit. Powered by trap beats and a chorus delivery that channels the likes of both Oli Sykes and Post Malone, this track is an earworm that’ll seep inside your mind and have you wanting to ride your metaphorical dirt bike to freedom, whatever that means to you.

Speaking of hook-filled earworms, the pre-release single ‘Heartsick’ is a masterwork in current day melody, with Up Late making good on his intention of creating a song that would “interpret what a band like Saosin might sound like if they were produced by Metro Boomin”.

Hitting you immediately with its addictive and spirited pop-punk hook (which is incorporated in three different ways throughout the first minute of the song), before making way for the type of hip-hop meets rock verses that have dominated triple j airwaves and pop-punk playlists for the last year. What makes Up Late stand out from that mostly derivative pack of Travis Barker aligned artists is what he does after those initial transitions play out, adding elements of both post-hardcore and stadium rock, to fill out the sound in a much more rewarding way. That main hook is omnipresent, yet somehow it doesn’t wear out its welcome. MGK could do worse things than give Max a call, I’m sure he stays…up late.

Affirming gaming anthem ‘Tidal Wave (Fortress House Cup Theme)’ closes out TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS! and its perfectly executed mish-mash of rock, pop and electronica are perfectly suited to the job. It is a grandiose track that is home to a huge chorus that will have you blasting it in your headphones as you blast away your enemies or perhaps even power to a personal best. Originating out of a challenge put to label UNFD to find an anthem for the Fortress House Cup, ‘Tidal Wave (Fortress House Cup Theme)’ was a labour of love for Up Late providing the opportunity to pay respects to three of the biggest current passions in his life, music, video games and connecting with people. It is fitting that it is the track perhaps most likely to connect with people on TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS!

When setting out to make TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS! Up Late has expressed that he wanted to live out his teenage ambitions of being a non-conforming musician, blending sounds from all realms of his musical influence into one release, by that metric TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS! is an unmitigated success, it just so happens that it is by every other metric too. You’ve been put on notice, Australia. This is the future, now stay Up Late trying to catch up.

‘TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS!’ is out today.