Møl – Jord

Label: Holy Roar Records. Release date: 13 April 2018.


I’ve already said it once this year, but I’m going to say it again – Denmark sure has its finger on the pulse of metal at the moment, and their latest export MØL can be added to the list of hottest bands to watch. MØL are blistering yet charming in equal measures. Their brand of ‘black shoegaze’ is nothing short of mesmerising. At times it sounds like the torture of a soul, but other times it sounds oddly soothing; you’re swept up in a whirlwind of dark emotion, then you’re set down in an array of screams and twinkly instrumentation. On paper it shouldn’t work, but it does. MØL have a winning formula with debut album Jord and hopefully they’ll stick to it.

The word ‘jord’ means land/earth and this nicely translates to the sprawling mass of heaviness MØL supply. Shoegaze provides the foundations while black metal influences are firmly rooted in, but the blooms are the spellbinding cascades of feeling MØL conjure. A perfect example of this is opening track Storm. Easing in with a scattering of bold notes, the song soon blooms into a huge wall of sound. The amazing blackened screams of frontman Kim Song Sternkopf are mixed brilliantly with the triumphant guitars. It oddly sounds like black metal indie but it’s far more ambitious than that. The ‘calmer’ moments of the song sound a tad KVELERTAK but the ending rings and resonates in a glorious haze.

The surreal and beautiful Penumbra is a standout track, with its fast riffing and drumming and soaring instrumentation. It sounds like the lovechild of EASTERN FRONT and EDITORS; an unusual but winning combination for sure. The middle eight showcases the band’s ability to pen a tranquil metal tune, before bursting with that black shoegaze sound you’re already falling in love with. For me, the vocals and riffs create an overwhelming atmosphere of feeling, they just hit an emotional nerve. This feeling continues with Bruma, an absolutely spectacular tune of massive proportions. Yes, the heavy breaks are impressive, but the quieter moments provide a mesmerising depth. MØL only need to strike one note and they have filled the mind and soul with an glowing warmth.

Vakuum starts as a straight-up metal track, with the extreme influences coming to the fore, but beautiful guitars interrupt the beastly ruckus to stamp that fantastic shoegaze sound all over it. This steps up a notch with Lambda, a beautiful instrumental piece that fans of MAYBESHEWILL and PELICAN will adore. This post-rock masterpiece enables you to reflect for a moment; it is quite quite a neutral song but has such a strong ‘colour’ you still find yourself swooning along.

The instrumental interlude is soon shattered by the WINTERFYLLETH-esque Ligament. The relentless pace and gut-wrenching screams gets the heart pumping but your pulse is allowed to slow down a bit when the melodic riffs sneak their way in. MØL both ignite and soothe the soul, it’s a wonderful combination. Ligament is the longest song on Jord but it is in no way a slog to get through. It is not easy to predict what shape the song will form, but there is an unexpected, yet nicely executed element towards the end. I won’t spoil it for you, it is one song you will have to indulge in yourself.

It’s tricky to describe Virga without using an oxymoron, but this song is morbidly upbeat. The screams aren’t the most optimistic yet the riffs are so uplifting your spirits can’t help but be raised. The drumming at the end reminds me of One Time For All Time-era 65DAYSOFSTATIC, providing a sense of warming familiarity. MØL do not follow a routine, unlike your typical metal form of screams/clean/sceams/clean. There is no soft/heavy/soft/heavy and this unpredictability of it makes it exciting. This also stands true for the title track, which is also the finale of Jord. The beginning has quite a techy start with its heavy riffs and dark groove. The first half has a menacing ambiance whereas the second consists of surreal melodies and a spellbinding climax. Before you know it, Jord has come to an end and you’re left awestruck and eager for more. Eight tracks might not seem enough for such an impressive release, but it works in MØL’s favour as they don’t out-welcome their stay. Jord is is a spectacular debut album and you can’t help but feel curious about what the band have up their sleeves for album number two.

INTERVIEW: Dreamshade

An interview with the Swiss metallers about their music loves, touring the UK and the Swiss scene.

Interview 26 March 2017.

Nestled in a cosy corner of an Irish pub in Tufnell Park, DREAMSHADE members Kevin Calì (vocals), Fernando ‘Fella’ Di Cicco (guitar) and Gian-Andrea Costa (bass) are relaxed with pints of Guinness and are excited for their first ever London show. Conversing with friends and their old vocalist (who later provided guest vocals during their set), the guys were in high spirits and excitedly chatting about their European shows and their world tour for latest album Vibrant.

First UK tour, first time in London, what has taken you so long to come over here?!

Fella: It’s actually not really easy to come to the UK for a Swiss band. Actually nothing is easy for a Swiss band. We never really had a good proposal from the UK before, so this is the first time we’ve had a nice tour set for this part of the world.

Gian: For us it’s very good because much of the music we listen to comes from England, it’s a special country for music, especially rock and metal music. So it is a good place to be invited for a Swiss band who come from a very small city like Lugano which is where we come from, so it is a great pleasure to be here.

Yeah I was going to ask, because over here we’re not familiar with many Swiss bands, is there a scene over there and where do you fit in that?

Fella: There is one. But first of all Switzerland is a special country because it’s kinda divided in the middle, it’s not really united. Mostly because the language changes along the way. The northern part is really influenced by the Germans, they speak German. The western part is influenced by the French. We are from the south, we’re influenced by and speak Italian. So we live in the same country but we don’t really share the same music scene. We’re kinda divided but there is a music scene. It’s quite good, not really big obviously because it’s a small country but there are cities like Zurich which is in the centre of Switzerland which is pretty good. The clubs are also small, it’s a small country so you can’t expect 10,000 people for a show.

Gian: We get a lot of Summer festivals and open airs, it’s kinda a tradition. I think it’s the country in Europe with the most open airs during the summer.


Gian: Yeah it’s crazy, you can believe that! Every weekend during the summer and even during the week there are some open airs at the same time as other countries. It’s crazy for us Swiss people, it is usual for us to do an open air in the summer.

So how many are you playing this summer?

All: We don’t know yet!

Gian: We don’t know but we will have some festivals of course. And bands from all over the world come to Switzerland to play a festival. The biggest ones always come to Switzerland.

I did not know that!

Fella: The summer is actually really good.

Kevin: Also with the weather it’s usually pretty good which is good for festivals.

Gian: Traditionally you have the Montreux Jazz Festival which is the biggest in the world. So yeah, it is a special country for festivals.

Fella: For festivals yeah. [laughs]

So you were saying about the British bands that you’re into. Are there any British bands in particular that are your favourites or influences?

Fella: Yeah, from the classic ones like GENESIS and er…


Fella: THE POLICE definitely. STING.

Gian: ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, we’re big fans of British music in general.

Fella: Yeah we’re big fans of the rock style. But also the newer bands, even more heavy like ARCHITECTS, or LOWER THAN ATLANTIS, DON BROCO…

Kevin: BRING ME THE HORIZON. They’re really, really good. I mean, I could name like, a thousand groups.

Gian: Yeah, we like many! Many good bands here.

Fella: Especially for rock, but also for rap. I like some rap artists, there’s this guy called P MONEY. I don’t know where he’s from [London], but he’s really good. And also some female rap artists.

I remember you saying when you brought out Vibrant you wanted to get your rap and hip-hop love into that.

Fella: Yeah we’re really into that, especially the three of us.

Gian: I used to listen to Italian rap because it’s easy for the words and language you know.

Fella: It sounds good actually, the Italian language fits really well.

Gian: That’s why personally, I don’t listen to a lot of British hip-hop, or British rap…

Kevin: Or American.

Gian: Yeah we’re big fans of Italian rap and it’s come out in our music.

Would you add more into later records?

Fella: We can’t really tell. When it happened we did it with some songs like You Don’t Wanna Go and Sleep Alone, but we were just like, fucking around.

And it works!

Fella: [laughs] Yes, exactly! It was like I cannot think of anything else that fits on this particular piece. It’s just small pieces, here and there and it sounded good to us.

Gian: Because we love hip-hop music, also the hip-hop culture, but we are quite far away from that being in a rock band. But for Vibrant we asked a friend of ours to dj and do real scratches on the album because I was thinking if we were doing something with hip-hop then we’d do it in the real way. We wanted a real dj with real turntables to do the scratch sounds.

It does work on Vibrant! So, how are you enjoying the UK then?

Fella: I love it, I’ve already been here a few times before.

Kevin: It’s really, really good.

Are you enjoying the breakfasts? (The band had been uploading photos of their English breakfasts on social media during their tour)

Gian: Absolutely yes!

Fella: I’ve actually had too much so I really need to stop, because otherwise my cholesterol levels will go… [laughs]

Gian: Each morning since the beginning of tour we have been eating just English breakfasts…

Fella: It’s too many eggs, it’s too much!

You can never have too many eggs!

Fella: [laughs] Oh you can! When your heart stops beating…[Gian laughs]…that’s when you know!

Gian: But you know, we love beers, we love music, we love pubs, so the UK is perfect for us.

And we’re here in an Irish pub! You’re going to have to come back soon.

Kevin: We hope so.

So, you have quite a strong presence on social media and you’re in touch with fans. The DREAMSHADE community is so tight knit, how much does that fan community mean to you as a band?

Fella: I think we build that up, because we had a hard time in the beginning to come out and reach people. Actually the audience has always been the most important part of the project, because we really felt that everyone we could reach, even playing at smaller shows , like with five people in the front row, that was really good because we could actually get to them and they were so happy to see us and meet us, to talk with us, to say what they think about the music. That’s what really matters to us, when someone else can recognise what you’re doing is actually good and you’re doing the right thing. We may not be the most famous band in the world , but it’s really good because they feel like us when we play. So we’re really into this community style, social media managing and it’s working really good.

As it’s your first UK tour, how has the turn out been for each show?

Fella: It depends on the night, depends on the city. The last show we did in Derby…

Kevin: Last night in Derby was really good.

Yeah? Was that the best one so far?

Fella: Yeah because of the quality of the people.

Gian: Yeah everybody knew all the songs, a lot of sing alongs…

Fella: It’s really good for us, especially for the Vibrant songs because they’re new. It was surprising to see some of the songs we didn’t really push, actually people knew and were singing.

Gian: It’s really interesting because the song Sleep Alone…it’s quite strange for us because we don’t understand how important it is for people yet, but yesterday we saw many of the crowd singing it. It’s interesting because we love that song, it’s one of my favourites.

Fella: Also You Don’t Wanna Go was really surprising.

Gian: It was a nice place to test songs yesterday.

Fella: That’s so true, that’s so true. Manchester was really good too.

That’s always a really good city for music.

Fella: Yeah it was on a Tuesday so we didn’t really expect a lot of people, but the quality of the people like for Derby, everyone knew all the songs we played and that’s what really matters to us because we don’t want to have singles here and there and everyone knows the singles but for the whole set they’re not really having fun. But most of the people yesterday who we met [in Derby] told us they’re really into the albums. They’re in love with the albums, not just the songs and that’s what really matters to us because we really put a lot of effort in each song and they’re really different from each other, and the album shapes…that’s what’s really important to us.

Yeah, when you released a couple of tracks off Vibrant early, there was a lot of people like “are there gonna be any heavy songs”…

Gian: Yeah it’s a very different album, to listen to it and we also had some fun looking through the comments…

Kevin: It was funny…

Gian: For the people saying “oh no, where’s the heavy parts” on Youtube, and we’d think, wait, next week we’ll release another song and this will be heavy enough. So for us it was quite fun.

Fella: It was even funnier that most of the people that were commenting like “ah, this sucks, it’s too soft, it’s too rock, it’s too pop”…it is really pop actually haha. It was really funny to see those people commenting on the first song releases like You Don’t Wanna Go, which is really pop…they fell in love with the album. After they were like “ah, this is shit I’m never listening to DREAMSHADE again”. Then the album drops. You’ve got to see the album as a piece of art, not just the song. That’s our way. Maybe we’re doing everything wrong, whatever…[laughs]. We like it that way, so…

Gian: We love dynamics, we don’t believe in a kind of music where the beginning is the same as the end…

Fella: Same bpm, same notes…

Gian: This is also because the lyrics are quite different. There are different moods on the album, there are songs that are really positive in a certain way, there are personal stories about our families, and you can’t see all the songs in the same way…

Kevin: Yes [claps] makes no sense.

Fella: Just to be metal. It makes no sense.

I mean, even on The Gift Of Life [previous album] and Vibrant, each song does have its own sound. I get that. Maybe Vibrant is a bit heavier emotionally?

All: Yes.

Fella: That’s nice that you’ve noticed that. You know, the average metal listener is maybe looking for something, so then they find the bands that they like. But if you’re giving yourself through music, then you just need the right people to get it. It’s very difficult. But when they do, they’re hooked because they really enjoy what they’re listening to and they can see themselves through the lyrics and the mood of the songs and the ambiance, whatever. That makes sense for us.

So, after the UK tour, is there anywhere you haven’t played yet that you want to play?

Fella: Australia…United States…

Haven’t you played the United States yet?!

Fella: Ah actually yes, we’ve played there before, but never toured…not even Canada, Brazil or South America. South America would be really good…

Kevin: Mexico…

Every band, their fans are like “come to Brazil!”…

Fella: It’s a really big audience!

It’s a big country!

Fella: It’s a big country, a lot of people, but especially a lot of rock, a lot of punk rock. And metal. A lot. A lot of festivals like Rock In Rio.

Gian: We also know we have fans down there, we continue to receive proposals for gigs there. We just have to arrange the right time, the right moment, it’s all organisation with all the tours. But we just wait for that. We’re almost ready to do that.

Guys, thank you for you time, enjoy the rest of the tour and your breakfasts!

Vexes – Ancient Geometry

Release date: 23 February 2018.

There seems to be a trend of nostalgic sounding metal as of late, with the likes of GOOD TIGER and their new proggy post-hardcore – and now VEXES and their spectacular DEFTONES-tinged metal. From the ashes of several established bands, a phoenix formed with the name VEXES and they have just released their beautiful debut album Ancient Geometry.

Smashing in with Helion, you’d probably think you were hearing the warblings of Chino Moreno, but you’d be mistaken. They are in the fact the luscious vocals of Charlie Berezansky, former member of VESSL. Helion boasts a wealth of influences. After the initial comparison to DEFTONES, elements of late FINCH and THRICE can also be recognised through the emotive attitude and subtle technicality wrapped under huge dollops of melodies. The ending takes an interesting turn with the heavy riffs sounding not too dissimilar to  A LIFE ONCE LOST, the former band of drummer Justin Graves. A subtle hint to past lives?

Second track Lift is sugar-soaked with Mesmer-era NORTHLANE vibes and the spacey chorus has CIRCA SURVIVE stamped all over it. The glorious and deep feelings VEXES have already stirred with the fist two songs is impressive stuff. It’s beginning to give the impression this is an album to fully immerse yourself in. This is a great feat by frontman Berezansky who engineered and mixed the album, the tones are spot on and it’s all helped along by the mastering of Mike Kalajian (THE DEER HUNTER, SAOSIN, EMMURE).

Decisions Are Death Here is a brooding track that erupts into a heart wrenching chorus. Drenched in dark emotion, it would sit quite happily an album such as Saturday Night wrist. A similar formula is used for Plasticine, a song which has some hints of grunge, but is very unashamedly DEFTONES in its melodies.

The impressive and ambitious No Color features guest vocalist Mikey Carvajal, from ISLANDER. Carvajal gives this punchy song a hard, nu-metal edge. Having said that, this track still sounds as fresh as ever, giving dated styles a modern crunch. The riffs are reminiscent of MATCHBOOK ROMANCE in places which drives the song home. Sometimes VEXES also remind me of CAVE IN, most likely because of the clean, slick sound and the old school riffs and melodies. VEXES chuck it all into their melting pot and serve their own hybrid. A nod to CIRCA SURVIVE is once again heard in Terra; another impressive slab of metal.

While listening to Ancient Geometry, one word keeps springing to mind. Coincidentally this word is also the title of the next song – Lush.  The instrumentation shifts and shines and makes this song a very enjoyable listen. With a heavy crunch from the middle onwards, it has a hint of TESSERACT with its melodic twinklings and heavy accompaniment.

A short interlude titled Meridian Response clears the mind and cleans the palette before the storming Photochrom smashes your senses. Screaming through the first chorus, the song continues with FINCH-esque melodies and catchy choruses. You can’t help but hope the song will take another heavy turn again, but VEXES remain melodic with irresistible riffs.

The title track is also the finale of Ancient Geometry. A chilled out affair, the blissful melodies provide the perfect setting to close this spellbinding album. The track is chock-full of delights, ensuring you finish Ancient Geometry with goosebumps. I don’t know how VEXES have done it, but they have achieved something special with their debut album. Not every band could accomplish wearing their influences on their sleeves so openly, yet still produce an album that sounds fresh and innovative. It will be interesting to see what direction VEXES will progress with album number two, but for the moment let’s enjoy the triumph that is Ancient Geometry.

Cabal – Mark Of Rot

Label: Long Branch Records. Release date: 23 February 2018.

The Danes sure have their finger on the pulse of metal these days, with the likes of GHOST IRIS and VOLA, but now an expulsion of the darkest matter is spreading from Copenhagen. This darkness goes by the name of CABAL, a band who sap all the doom and evil from black metal, death metal, djent and hardcore and mutilates it further to forge its own hybrid of brutality. CABAL will unleash this brutality in the form of their debut album, Mark Of Rot, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed EP Purge.

The rot begins with False Light, a raw and chuggy dark mass of metal. CABAL start as they mean to go on. Expelling the evilest of filth, it snuffs the flame of any hope or optimism you may possess. A blackened masterpiece ensues with Nothingness; an organ from Hell resonates before blastbeats and black metal riffs rip the breath from you. Featuring the vocals of THY ART IS MURDER’s CJ McMahon, you can guage the putrid violence this track belches. Much like the title of the song, you feel the spiralling void of nothingness threatening to consume you.

Blackened Soil is a bit of a ballsier affair. Throwing a myriad of styles in the air and constructing a song with the order of whatever plummets to the ground first, is the best way to describe this track. Beginning on the techier end of the spectrum, an eruption of hardcore occurs before a theatrical black metal break. All the while, blackened deathcore and the heaviest djent lurks round every corner, a morbid delight for the ears. This can also be said for the next offering, Rah’Ru. Starting like an opus by FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, the atmosphere builds and endures during these four minutes of intensity.

Halfway through Mark Of Rot we are exposed to the devastating Empty. Two and a half minutes of terrifying ambience and the doomiest and blackest riffs, the brooding darkness is stifling. It demonstrates how CABAL can carry the weight of its menace in an instrumental. The vocals spit venom with avengence in Unworthy however, commanding your attention and willingness to obey.

The pace quickens with Blinded, a suffocating track of constant assault. Relentless in its attack, when you think you can make a break for it, you’re dragged back to the depths by its monstrous breakdown. The song seems to merge into the next track, Whispers; a curious mixture of tech, black metal, hardcore, all cut up and meshed together like some sort of Frankenstein’s monster.

Birds crow at the start of The Darkest Embrace; an unsettling yet groovy effort. The crowning glory is the guest vocals of Filip Danielsson from HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH. Much like Danielsson’s band, this song is spine-crushingly heavy. With its whirring riffs and atmospheric flourishes, it’s an absolutely massive beast. It has an air of SHOKRAN halfway through but it once again burrows into the depths of djent. An absolutely colossal track, Danielsson brings an extra layer of darkness to CABAL’s gloom.

This all leads up to the spectacular climax of Mark Of Rot – its title track. This is an epic finale of disturbing layers of sound and punishing vocals. It deceives you with its simplicity but it once again catches you off guard with its unnerving instrumentation. Fading out with an eerie shroud of doom, you may find yourself turning on all the lights once CABAL’s ritual is complete. This album is not for the faint hearted.

Despised Icon + Malevolence + Archspire + Vulvodynia

The Dome, London. 11 February 2018.

We’re only two months into 2018 and we’re already being spoilt with what could be the line-up of the year. A night of brutal metal awaits. Filled with slam fans, technical metalheads, hardcore lads and old school deathcore lovers, The Dome at Tufnell Park welcomes all punters and tonight it does feel like the perfect venue to host these stellar bands.

The room was almost full for opening band VULVODYNIA; ultimately one of the biggest crowds for an opening band seen for a long while. This is reassuring to see as the up-and-coming slamming brutal death metal group (and super nice chaps too) rightly deserve a large crowd, especially as they’ve travelled all the way from South Africa and we don’t see them enough! Circle pits immediately erupt as the band perform in front of the gory backdrop of the album cover for Psychosadistic Design. The eerie stage and lighting set the mood for their unforgiving show. Headbanging and windmilling while the drums and guitars threaten to pummel us into the ground, frontman Duncan Bentley is a mass of hair and underworldly vocals. VULVODYNIA had a lot of fans in the crowd tonight as Bentley only needed to say the last song was the first song the band ever wrote together, for the crowd to start chanting “DROWNED. IN. VOMIT!” Needless to say no one actually drowned in vomit, but we were at risk of drowning in other people’s sweat, and it was only the first band of the night! A fantastically chaotic start to the evening.

Metalmance has always been curious to see how ARCHSPIRE’s impressive technical death metal translates live. Opening with Calamus Will Animate, the machine-gun vocals unfortunately weren’t phased in fast enough, denying the crowd of the sudden brutal impact the band is well known for. Nevertheless, the Canadians proved to be an impressive force, expertly delivering their technical tunes with an irresistible flair. It is clear each member of the band is an extremely talented musician; almost to the point you become concerned the complexity would detract from their joy of performing, but no need to worry as they all look absolutely thrilled. None more so than frontman Oliver Rae Aleron, whose unique vocals are shot out of a mischievous grin. The diction could be a little clearer but this is to be expected in a live setting. The mix gradually improves during the set and by the time ARCHSPIRE close with Remote Tumour Seeker, the sound is spot on and the riff grooves harder than ever. Don’t be surprised if the next time ARCHSPIRE play the UK they’re headlining a whole tour.

Up next are Sheffield bruisers MALEVOLENCE. Last time Metalmance had the pleasure of witnessing the group tearing up a stage was last June when they headlined this very venue. And now they are supporting their heroes; “We’ve been fans of DESPISED ICON since we were *this* high!” claims frontman Alex Taylor. The band seem more relaxed at this show than last time, they were in good spirits and seemed to be buzzing about playing in this line-up tonight. They completely owned the stage and their fans owned the pit. Playing a lot of songs from last year’s blistering Self Supremacy, MALEVOLENCE are an untouchable team of brutality. If you’re not stomping along to their grooves, then you’re shouting along with guitarist Konan Hall to Slave to Satisfaction, Wasted Breath and Serpents Chokehold. With stage divers and fists in the air, this is exactly where you want to be on a cold and dreary Sunday night. MALEVOLENCE are a family and they always make their fans feels as much too. This, coupled with their monstrous anthems make the band truly unstoppable and it still only feels like the beginning.

Finally, the pioneers of deathcore grace the stage; DESPISED ICON are here to show the young ‘uns how it’s really done. The mix for the band was incredible with the vocals of dual vocalists Alex Erian and Steve Marois sounding crystal clear and resonating to devastating effect. Listening to classics such as Day of Mourning, Furtive Monologues and Retina, it’s easy to hear how DESPISED ICON have influenced countless of bands including tonight’s supports. They oozed professionalism and confidence, yet remained humbled by the crowd’s response and participation. A great band with a sickeningly impressive back catalogue, DESPISED ICON reminded everyone tonight of why they are still well respected in the scene. Smashing through songs from latest album Beast, including the punishing Inner Demons, the group prove they are still relevant and pack a greater punch than the majority of their peers. One thing’s for sure, tonight has set the bar high for the rest of the gigs in 2018.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Earl.

The Faceless + Osiah + Sworn Amongst + Jonestown

The Underworld Camden. 2 February 2018.

No one was really certain if tonight would ever happen. After several tour and show cancellations, every notification by the promoter in the Facebook event dropped a feeling of dread. But, no. THE FACELESS were here and were playing tonight. It seems despite the recent negativity surrounding THE FACELESS, they are held high in esteem amongst their peers and wider metal community.

Considering the early show start, there was a decent sized crowd to witness Brighton group JONESTOWN. This groovy lot got a few heads nodding along, with frontman Harley Anderson having a commanding presence. In a live setting the band don’t completely gel on stage, but nonetheless they each confidently perform. The band get a good response from the crowd when they play their single Borderline, but JONESTOWN top this with their crushing offering Mass Extinction Six; a brutal end to a solid set.

SWORN AMONGST swarm the stage next and show Camden how it’s done. The cowboys from Hull fill the room with their metallic brutality. They really are gaining momentum in the live scene and it’s probably partly due to their captivating stage presence; they capture the crowd’s attention and maintain it. Frontman Darryl Jones is an impressive force; his vocals and moves being on point as well as his interaction with the crowd. There’s something special about this band and it will be exciting to see how SWORN AMONGST have evolved the next time Metalmance sees them.

Nothing ever quite prepares you for the devastation that OSIAH bring to the table. The heaviest band of the night threaten to tear the venue down with their obliterating set. Backlit by strobes and emitting sounds from Hell itself, OSIAH prove exactly why they deserve to be main support tonight. They most certainly converted new fans, playing corkers from their debut album Terror Firma, such as Humanimals, the band received a terrific response. Beware, OSIAH might just become the new kings of deathcore.

Well, the time has finally come for Michael Keene and co to grace the stage and blow us away. After several years wait, it’s almost too much for some. It was well worth the wait though; the sound and atmosphere were spot on as well as the banter between vocalist Ken Sorceron (also of ABIGAIL WILLIAMS) and the crowd.

THE FACELESS delighted fans when they played Autotheist Movement I to III, along with Xenochrist, Ancient Covenant and Son of Belial. Only one song off latest album In Becoming A Ghost was played, which was The Spiraling Void. Unfortunately there were some technical issues with the backing track, but it was still a pleasure to see it live. The nicest surprise of the night was seeing the band afterwards, chatting to fans and signing cds at the merch table. After a blistering night of quality metal, this was the cherry on the cake. Hopefully with this tour THE FACELESS will prove their doubters wrong.

Good Tiger – We Will All Be Gone

Release date: 9 February 2018. Label: Blacklight Media/Metal Blade.

It’s not easy to pigeonhole GOOD TIGER, and that’s part of their appeal. While listening to second album We Will All Be Gone, one word does spring to mind – nostalgia. With its emotive melodies, lyrics and riffs, you just can’t help but be reminded of bands like CIRCA SURVIVE. GOOD TIGER no doubt would appeal to the teenagers of a decade ago, but they also have a progressive factor, thanks to featuring ex-members of TESSERACT, THE FACELESS and THE SAFETY FIRE amongst others. If SAOSIN had a love child with SKYHARBOR, then it would probably sound like GOOD TIGER. Dripping in blissful melodies and warm, fuzzy feels We Will All Be Gone is is a beautiful follow-up to 2015’s stunning debut A Head Full Of Moonlight.

Things blast off with an energetic start with The Devil Thinks I’m Sinking with Coleman expertly executing THOSE highs. Like the last album, there is a hint of HE IS LEGEND with those edgy grooves. One of the best tracks on We Will All Be Gone, this is an absolute killer of an opener. This is followed by the mesmerising Float On which is one of those songs that reminds you of simpler times. There is something about the chorus…something very warm and comfortable…that…sound. This sound shouldn’t work in 2018, but it does and it sounds as fresh as ever.

Such A Kind Stranger has a bit of an old school pop punk vibe, but with an intelligent approach in the same vein as THE AUDITION, or the slow tempo moments of EMANUEL. The twinkling guitars make GOOD TIGER sound so damn shiny, along with the organic feeling of the production completing their irresistible compositions. This shiny, organic goodness continues in Blueshift, an exciting track of slow burning verses with intense choruses (think PVRIS). It would be deceiving to say GOOD TIGER are upbeat, as there are a lot of brooding moments on the album, but there is a strong pulse of strength and positivity running throughout.

Halfway through We Will All Be Gone we are rewarded with two of the strongest tracks of the record; Salt Of The Earth and Grip Shoes. The former is already a contender for best chorus of 2018. You can see it now, everyone trying to sing along but either ending up shouting or going massively out of tune. Further proof Elliot Coleman needs to be recognised as one of rock’s most talented vocalists. Grip Shoes is an absolute shimmering stunner of a track. It’s what you would imagine a proggy TAKING BACK SUNDAY would sound like – bloody wonderful. The glorious and spine-tingling middle eight once again will remind you of the heart-wrenching melodies of CIRCA SURVIVE, but GOOD TIGER collapse into such a melodically heavy state, they’re well on their way to being the King’s of progressive-post-hardcore-rock-emo-metal-whateveryouwannacallit.

The prog shines through on Just Shy; the verses could easily fit on a CALIGULA’S HORSE track. Chilled vibes with vibrant bass charms the listener before another killer chorus storms in. This song is anything but shy. The same goes for Nineteen Grams, which is another delight for the ears. The pop-rock sound is strong with this song, giving an indication that GOOD TIGER could easily smash into the mainstream. The band calm down a bit in the short but sweet Cherry Lemon, a shoegazey wonder which the likes of MY VITRIOL would be proud of. With this track GOOD TIGER prove that it is not just Coleman who is the most talented member. Drummer Alex Rüdinger demonstrates his technical ability with his tight beats, and guitarists Derya Nagle and Joaquin Ardiles remind fans of when they first fell in love with them in THE SAFETY FIRE. The ending of the track fizzles out in an OPEN HAND-esque haze. Blissful and mesmerising.

This bliss sees us through until the end, with album closer I’ll Finish This Book Later. The hushed beginning sounds very JONAH MATRANGA; wonderful and mature like your favourite cave-aged cheese. The epic finale brings We Will All Be Gone to a soaring close. A suitable ending for a pretty spectacular album. GOOD TIGER might boast some of progressive metal’s brightest talents, but this second album should hopefully mark the beginning of recognising the band as an important influence on modern metal. 2018 could very well be the year of the tiger.

Mechromorph – Self-titled EP

Release date: 22 January 2018. Self-release.

When you hear the name Clacton-on-Sea you’ll probably think of old people, chavs and underage sex under the pier. With Clacton lads MECHROMORPH, it’s more sun, sea and SLAM. Raising the banner for extreme metal from the sunshine coast, they bring the darkness and sickness with their blistering infestation in the form of their self-titled debut EP.

The nightmare begins with Existential Echo, an unnerving introduction to the INGESTED-inspired terror beyond. MECHROMORPH get straight to business with Welcome To The Sprawl, a messy delight of disgusting riffs, ferocious drumming and the guttural prowess of vocalist Mac Mills. All the slam influences are here, but other influences can be heard such as similar beats to Sheffield bruisers MALEVOLENCE. Hints of deathcore also threaten to unleash themselves; they may be no SIGNS OF THE SWARM, but MECHROMORPH are definitely showing some symptoms of something promising.

The impressive beast that is the delightfully titled Vaginal Ventriloquist, is a truly brutal affair. Sounding a bit more bdm than the last track, it has an air of DISENTOMB about it, as well as some BERZERKER-esque flourishes. However, MECHROMORPH do throw all sorts of styles into the pot; a bit of MAGGOT COLONY here, a bit of CRYPTOPSY there.

High Hrothgar Slam Squad lures you into a false sense of security with its slower-paced beginning, but it soon erupts into blastbeat central with Mac Mills spitting venom at a hundred miles per hour. It slows down again but some standout moments ensue, such as the blackened rush towards the end, followed by the filthy solo and chugs into the fade.

When the first riff of Lord Of The Harvest is heard, you know it’s going to result in a hammering assault of the senses. Everything gels disgustingly well in this song; the guitars and terrific drumming of Louis Marson create a truly solid track of sickening triumph. An unforgiving slice of slam with the vocal assistance of Kurt Donahue (of GUTTERAL PAWNBROKEN RICKHARRISONECTOMY) you might think Lord Of The Harvest could be the best track of the EP.

This thought is obliterated when the EP’s finale Rupture Farms invades its way into your consciousness. Mac Mills is once again on fine form here, with his screams being just as impressive as his gutterals. The song feels bigger somehow, their talent oozes out and spills into your ears. The first breakdown surprisingly has an ANAAL NATHRAKH tinge to it, making Rupture Farms the evilest sound to come out of Clacton.

You can’t help but wonder what malice MECHROMORPH could achieve with a bigger budget and a bigger production. It would be interesting to see what elements they include in their next release; a bit of deathcore? More bdm? A blackened stance? One thing’s for sure, I haven’t been this excited about a band emerging from Essex in a long, long time.

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Label: Century Media. Release date: Jan 26th 2018.

Metalmance has always admired Israel’s metal masters ORPHANED LAND, and it’s been a long five years since 2013’s All Is One. One of the most politically vocal bands around, there is a comforting sense of belonging and optimism when ORPHANED LAND is experienced. The combination of metal and oriental elements is utterly irresistible; but it is their message that we are all equal, no matter what religion, race or creed you are, which is the most poignant.

All Is One would always be a hard album to top, but my word ORPHANED LAND manage to surpass themselves with the very first track alone – The Cave. An absolutely stunning opener for Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, this song features everything you’d expect from ORPAHNED LAND and more; haunting vocals, a rapturous chorus with a theatrical touch, an impressive and heavy breakdown, a diverse array of instruments and of course, thought-provoking lyrics. The metal elements of the songs have really ramped up with this album; the riffs are crunchier, the solos are sharper, the breakdowns are heavier… However, ORAPHANED LAND combine everything so flawlessly, you shake your head in wonderment at how they actually pull it off.

This thought continues with the next track, the stomping We Do Not Resist. It kicks in with a thrashy bang and erupts into a storming chorus, accompanied by those irresistible Oriental strings. ORPHAND LAND’s material has always had a rich depth to it, and Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs also has that organic, wholesome sound from its instrumentation and production. Every part has its place and moment in the spotlight, it is a glorious feat of song writing and production. The use of the ‘beep’ in this song is also a powerful addition, a reference to censorship perhaps and the denial of information. One way to make sure your listeners are listening.

Third track In Propaganda has quite a nostalgic feel as a lot of the main ‘riff’ is reminiscent of the title track of All Is One; a possible indication that in those five years not much has changed or improved so their message needs to be reiterated. The verses are some of the most melodic on the album and this is when the prog shines through, reminding you of other contemporary melodic prog bands such as CALIGULA’S HORSE, because of the delicate and carefully considered approach to vocal delivery.

Yedidi is a relatively short, yet charming track entirely in Hebrew, with the songs either side, All Knowing Eye and Chains Fall To Gravity both being unashamedly dramatic and atmospheric. ORPHANED LAND always manage to capture the essence of the climax of a musical with aplomb.

Lead single Like Orpheus is a powerful and an extremely passionate song, featuring the magnificent vocals of BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kürsch. The track begins with an awesome riff that AVENGED SEVENFOLD would be proud of, but we’re soon greeted with that classic eastern ORPHANED LAND sound. The lyrics once again heighten the notion of equality and humanity with great effect. If you’ve already seen the video for Like Orpheus, you will know how incredibly moving this song is.

Things calm down a notch with the mellow Poets of Prophetic Messianism. With the instrumentation and moving vocal performances, it’s truly an amazing alternative-prog triumph. It merges delightfully into the storming Left Behind. If you’re a fan of fellow Israeli prog-metallers DISTORTED HARMONY, then this will be up your street. My Brother’s Keeper wouldn’t sound out of place on All Is One; there is something about the spoken words of vocalist Kobi Farhi that really stir the soul, but his growls also stir the sleeping beast within. It is his cleans though which resonate the most and it is no different on Take My Hand which is an absolute anthem. The riffs are very rock n roll but they meld seamlessly with all other aspects of the song.

I won’t spoil the penultimate track for you – Only The Dead Have Seen The End; but it is most certainly one of the standout tracks on Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, for numerous reasons. After this blistering track, you wonder how ORPHANED LAND could top it, let alone compose a fitting finale for this absolute masterpiece of an album. The band achieve this with the unexpectedly reserved The Manifest – Epilogue. For the first couple of minutes you are able to reflect on and process the album and its message. The sombre conclusion brings Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs to a sudden and chilling end. After the comfort and feeling of belonging felt during the course of the album, it makes the ending that much more unnerving – like the sudden snap back to reality.

I’ve always felt ORPHANED LAND have never had their chance to shine in the wider metal community, but with Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs hopefully this will all change and more people can be united under the banner of love and hope. In such troubled times full of war and hate, we need ORPAHNED LAND more than ever – a beacon of hope in the darkness. With Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs they have achieved an album of progressive excellence, a masterpiece in the age of disposable nonsense.


Garganjua – Through The Void

Blistering doom, for fans of Pallbearer, Warning and RIFFS

GARGANJUA just might be one of Britain’s brightest doom hopes (oxymoron much?). With Through The Void, the Leicestershire troupe are hoping to cement their place in the metal scene, but after a few listens it’s evident GARGANJUA don’t just play slow, riffy metal. No, no, the band use PALLBEARER-style prog and KYLESA-esque sludge in their hotpot of doom. 

The devastating, slow riff of Crushed Beneath The Tide launches the album into the brooding, dark mass it remains to be. A looming, yet triumphant break with the essence of PELICAN entices the listener before the crushing vocals demolish the mood. The clean vocals are strangely mesmerising, with the backdrop having a nostalgic doom tone. As expected, the song is a slow burner but unlike some repetitive instances of the genre, GARGANJUA keep it interesting with a tweak in dynamic every couple of minutes or so. The finale of Crushed Beneath The Tide comes full circle with the satisfying mirroring of the beginning of the track.   

A bold guitar tone introduces the next track Adrift, but it is the verse which I find the most interesting. The vocal melody and distorted guitars make my mind hark back to the melodic moments of DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL and HE IS LEGEND, although this is most likely not GARGANJUA’s intention to remind me of post-hardcore, this is what I mean when I said the band can’t be easily pigeon-holed as doom. What is exciting is everyone will hear different elements and make their own comparisons, enabling GARGANJUA to crossover a spectrum of genres. The doom does return in abundance though, with whispers adding to the darkly dulcet tones before the pace slows down a few notches. 

The album’s title track is arguably the standout song on Through The Void. The riffs, tone and melody create a spellbinding ambience. There is something about the heaviest parts of the songs which are reminiscent of the heavier end of progressive metal, such as CULT OF LUNA and Silhouettes-era TEXTURES, making Through The Void the progressive doom you’ve been dreaming of. The track is one epic, heartfelt journey, one you will have to listen to yourself to understand the colossal atmosphere GARGANJUA conjure. 

Only four tracks in 45 minutes, A Distant Shore signals the end of Through The Void. This song needed to be a fitting conclusion to an ambitious album, but for the first half of the track I wasn’t convinced it would be a suitable finale. But suddenly A Distant Shore shifts into an acoustic wonderland with strings and a sombre tranquility. This is all before it is whipped from under your feet in a climatic sense of closure. The distortion and riffs continue like a soothing pat on the back after a monstrous feat.

Through the Void is most certainly a grower. GARGANJUA are one of those bands with heaps of potential, a group you hope will mature into an unpredictable beast of metal. If you’ve been observing from a distance, it’s probably time to creep closer before GARGANJUA leap ahead of the pack.  

GARGANJUA are currently running a Pledge campaign to raise funds to release Through The Void on vinyl. If you would like to know more or would like to pledge then more information can be found at  https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/garganjuavinylpledge