Homelands – Internal Reflections (single)

Release date: 30 May 2020. Self-release.

This is, by far the best song Norfolk lads HOMELANDS have released to date. Up until now it’s always been the vocals which have conveyed best what the melodic hardcore group are about, but with new track Internal Reflections, the riffs have caught up. In fact, it is the guitar work you’ll find yourself latching onto with this track.

Internal Reflections sounds huge and it is the bold riffs which carry the song and elevate the emotions felt throughout. Tackling the topic of living for loved ones when you can’t live for yourself, the heart-wrenching screams capture the intensity of the subject, while the riffs bring a touch of hope and optimism. A beautifully balanced track, Internal Reflections heralds the new era of HOMELANDS achieving their own sound.  

Acârash – Descend to Purity

Label: Dark Essence Records. Release date: 29 May 2020.

Oslo black metal troupe ACÂRASH have achieved one of the most accessible black metal records of the year, with new album Descend to Purity. This is black metal in more of the traditional sense; mixing black metal and hard rock into a hot, bubbling concoction of devilish goodness. ACÂRASH stick to their black metal roots, but with modern production standards, sounding like a slick DARKTHRONE and MGLA.

Tracks such as Desecrate. Liberate., Steel Hunter and Below Ceremonial get the ol’ blood pumping. Goat, Skull, Ritual Fire has a glorious, expansive sound with a nostalgic groove and threatens to be the standout track on Descend to Purity. ACÂRASH has a lot of traditional appeal, but they pump new energy into the genre, to ensure they provide a fresh offering.

Killerkorp – The End (single)

Release date: 29 May 2020. Self-release.

Ipswich’s KILLERKORP have obviously been influenced by hailing from the land of CRADLE OF FILTH and EASTERN FRONT, as new single The End borrows some blackened elements from their neighbours. This is a welcome direction as debut EP PAIN was a myriad of styles, with no sense of which sound the band will throw themselves into. However, if KILLERKORP want to be taken seriously outside Suffolk, they will need to drop the ‘local band’ production and step it up so the mix matches their ideas.

The End shows a more succinct KILLERKORP, with menacing riffs amongst the apocalyptic drums and vocals, but the guitar solo interrupts the song too much, just as the vocals start escalating. KILLERKORP need to fine-tune their sound and ideas if they want to break into the wider scene, but the ideas are definitely there.

Kardashev – The Baring of Shadows

Release date: 15 May 2020. Self-release.

The word beautiful is not sufficient to describe the magnitude of emotions that permeate KARDASHEV’s stunning new album, The Baring of Shadows. This album really needs to be heard to be believed. Pulling together the most appealing aspects of post-rock, post-metal, blackgaze/black metal and heavy, progressive music, The Baring of Shadows is a sublime concoction of all styles and so much more. Opener A Frame, A Light can only be likened to a post-metal BLACK CROWN INITIATE with more ethereal clean vocals than that of LEPROUS, but that is only scratching the surface. The way the drums resonate amongst the delicate notes create a cavernous depth to proceedings, until you’re well and truly immersed.

Snow – Sleep commands the power to reduce the hardest metalhead into a sobbing wreck. The majesty of this track is unlike anything heard this year so far. With the chilling beauty of CARTOGRAPHS and TESSERACT-esque harmonies during the verse, it slowly builds to the chorus which provides the most rousing moment of The Baring of Shadows. The sense of loss is frighteningly real and we are left to confront our own demons while KARDASHEV channels IHSAHN into a blistering ending. Snow – Sleep is a barrage of moods and feelings. We’re halfway through the album (which is only four tracks) and some listeners might already be bordering on emotional exhaustion at this point.

Torchpassing sounds like the marriage of ALCEST and MØL we’ve all dreamt of, with bright post-rock twinklings accompanying the intense execution. This track soars to new heights, while album finale Heartache crushes our hopes and dreams with its CULT OF LUNA-esque dissonance. Some well-timed deathcore moments rear their ugly head to ensure the literal heartache of the track is bludgeoned home. As the emotions build throughout The Baring of Shadows, the finale signals the colossal breakdown of all feeling. KARDASHEV has become the epitome of emotional, progressive metal and it will leave you in awe and speechless.

10/10

INTERVIEW: Shrapnel

Guitarist Chris Martin on the band’s new line-up, album and the future of thrash.

In under a month, Norwich thrashers SHRAPNEL will be releasing their most ambitious work to date in the form of their third full-length album, Palace for the Insane. Guitarist Chris Martin takes time out of his lockdown schedule to talk to Metalmance about it all.

“Changing your front man is a scary thing, you don’t know how people are going to react to that.” Martin is referring to the big line-up changes in the SHRAPNEL camp between 2017’s album Raised on Decay and writing the new album, when the band went from a five-piece, to a four-piece. Some fans are instantly against the ‘new guy’ but it seems SHRAPNEL have got nothing to worry about when it comes to new vocalist and bassist Aarran Tucker; “The response so far has been amazing”, continues Martin, “Aarran’s got a great energy. He’s a great front man, live and on record.”

At first, he said no!

The band knew Tucker from his days in former band TEREBOS, also from Norfolk. Back when Martin was living in Austria, Tucker would cover for him if Martin was unable to fly back for a show. When SHRAPNEL’s old vocalist Jae Hadley left the group, Tucker was the obvious choice when it came to Hadley’s replacement; “He knew the songs, he’s a great guitar player, we knew he was a good front man.” However, Tucker wasn’t so convinced at first… “At first, he said no!” remembers Martin, “He didn’t want to play bass, and stepping into what Jae was doing must have been quite nerve-wracking, because Jae was quite a big presence.” After a few trips to the pub and constant persuasion, Tucker finally came round to the idea of becoming SHRAPNEL’s new front man.

In the run-up to releasing Place for the Insane, the band have hinted it shows SHRAPNEL at their most diverse. This can immediately be heard on album opener Might of Cygnus with its more dynamic composition. Asked if choosing this as the opener was intentional, Martin wholeheartedly agrees; “Yes, so with Raised on Decay you had to dig into it, you had to be a fan of that kind of thing. It may not have been as accessible to a lot of people.” Admitting Palace for the Insane is aimed at metal fans whose first choice isn’t thrash, Martin continues with the band’s goal; “Thrash can be really catchy, really hooky so we thought maybe that’s where we should be looking this time. When we finished Cygnus, we thought this is the one that should hook people in.”

“We definitely set out this time to do something we’ve never done before”

Another track which reveals the band’s ambition is Begin Again, marrying blackened thrash riffs with all-out classic rock. Was Begin Again a conscious decision to push genres? “We definitely set out this time to do something we’ve never done before”, Martin explains. “Begin Again was definitely us saying ‘what have we not done yet?’, ‘how can we push other things that we enjoy?’. There’s almost an ALICE IN CHAINS-y vibe to some of it and a ZAKK WYLDE-esque solo, they may be elements we wouldn’t have looked at before the song.” The gamble pays off as Begin Again is a standout track on the album.

With all this chat about pushing their sound further, what propelled SHRAPNEL to do it with Palace for the Insane? “We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to sell more records.” laughs Martin. The guitarist elaborates, explaining that Raised on Decay was a difficult album; “It wasn’t that successful, mainly because we were in a weird place personally, we were all separate and we didn’t put as much focus into pushing that album as we could have done.” A mixture of not getting shows and their label changing hands, resulted in not receiving as much support as their debut record. Fortunately that support is back in place for Palace for the Insane. “When it came to doing this album we thought we have to do more and get us in front of more people.”

Before the pandemic halted tours and shows around the globe, SHRAPNEL were finally having a stroke of luck. The band were invited to play their first mainland Europe show in February at House of Metal Festival, Sweden. “We got an email from one of the guys who worked at House of Metal and they offered us a show, and of course we bit his hand off!” The invitation was the result of a word of mouth recommendation of SHRAPNEL in the Swedish scene. Asked if another similar experience has occurred, Martin expresses his surprise after discovering renowned artist Costin Chioreanu was a fan after approaching him for artwork; “We always introduce ourselves as if they haven’t heard of us before – and he’d already heard of us and was keen to work with us. Things like that are really cool!”

If you’re into metal in general, that [Salt of the Earth] would be a song where you would find something that you would enjoy.

With more to prove this time round, choosing a suitable lead single was pivotal. Martin admits it was a difficult decision, “I wouldn’t say it was a heated debate, but it was a topic of conversation for a very long time.” Salt the Earth was eventually selected and it seems to have been a wise decision. With enough of a thrash leaning to please SHRAPNEL fans, while also offering something new to entice new listeners, the track embodies what the new SHRAPNEL are all about. “There’s a familiarity about it.” Martin suggests, “I think if you’re into metal in general, that would be a song where you would find something that you would enjoy.”

Listening to Palace for the Insane, some lyrical content also links with the title. When asked if there is an underlying concept of madness and insanity, Martin confesses there’s more of a personal approach to the album; “We’ve done the war and death albums that every thrash metal band does. This one we’ve definitely thought more internally and looked at mental health issues.” Losing a good friend to suicide saw the band deal with some of that through writing the record. “It wasn’t so intentional to have a theme running through the whole thing, but the more we wrote, the more things started to connect.” Martin goes on to add, “I really hope this will be one of those albums where people will want to read through the booklet.”

As SHRAPNEL aim to diversify their sound, what direction does Martin see thrash heading? “That’s a tough question, it comes in waves”. Observing that most thrash fans have now had hair cuts and swapped battle jackets for plaid shirts, Martin thinks proper thrash metal hasn’t changed all that much, “I don’t think it’s going very far, because I don’t think it’s gone very far in the past 35 years.” Variations of thrash on the other hand are continuing to grow, with sci-fi and technical bands like VEKTOR and CRYPTIC SHIFT gaining momentum. Hardcore thrash is also enjoying a heyday, “POWER TRIP are very popular right now, and for good reason.” Martin continues, “You look at them and it’s really refreshing because they’re one of the first bands with no gimmick. It’s just…good heavy music.”

We’ve got the hooks and we’ve got the riffs

When it comes to good heavy music, how would Martin persuade a non-thrash fan to listen to SHRAPNEL? “With this new album, I think we’ve got the hooks and we’ve got the riffs. You don’t need to be a thrash fan, but you do need to be a heavy metal fan.” Martin concludes, “If you’re into any form of heavy metal, there is definitely something in there for you.”

Palace for the Insane will be released via Candlelight Records on 15 April 2020.

Q&A: Compounds

Compounds’ Jon and Chris give Metalmance the lowdown on their new single and chapter.

Melodic hardcore troupe COMPOUNDS are about to unleash their new single Survive or Die and it spells the beginning of a new chapter for the band from Reading. Drummer Jon Sugden and bassist Chris Taylor give Metalmance the lowdown on their new single and what the band are all about.

Q. Survive or Die covers the topics of anxiety and depression. How personal is the song to COMPOUNDS?

Jon: Survive or Die’s meaning is having someone there for you when going through negative thought processes. It’s something that each member of COMPOUNDS (as well as most of the human population) have been through and can often relate to. With Survive or Die bringing this negativity into a positive light, we seek to convey a message that it is okay to speak out to others.

Q. You hint that Survive or Die is COMPOUNDS’ most ambitious track to date. Why is this?

Chris: It was the first track that we really wrote as a full band, and developed every session – all the way through to recording it at the studio – so it was the first one where we could really blend together our styles and techniques, and that led to more varied rhythms, structure and dynamics. And all of that ties in with the emotions underlying the theme of the lyrics. It’s set the bar for how we want to write the next EP.

Jon: Yeah, it’s definitely something we feel we have pushed the boat out on in terms of our musical ability as well as lyrical content. Going into writing Survive or Die, we wanted to create something that would challenge us as well as it being different to our older material. We had a vision from day one that it would be something that would stand out live and as we started to introduce this song into our set, our fans that come to see us live now seem to be pretty excited about this one coming out, so I guess this means we’ve achieved that!

Q. How have COMPOUNDS grown as a band between debut EP Once More The Night Turns Black and releasing Survive or Die

Jon: OMTNTB was a collection of material that we developed from the five of us having quite different musical backgrounds and over a long period of time, way before we surfaced as a band, we started to develop what we felt was a good starting point for how we wanted to sound. Fast forward to Survive or Die, and we’ve definitely got more of a perspective as to how the music industry works and what it takes to keep continuing what we love doing. Whether that’s writing, recording, booking gigs or releasing tracks.

Chris: The end of last year was pretty intense for all of us – personal changes for everyone meant we couldn’t just rock up to a rehearsal studio or last minute gig whenever – so that was a learning curve. Sadly Scott made the decision to bow out after putting in a huge amount of effort to make it work, but I think the whole thing has made us stronger as a band and really focused us on writing the next EP. Survive or Die was actually supposed to be the first single for that, but with Scott leaving (and COVID) we decided to do a big release for it now and give ourselves a bit more time to work on new material.

Q. How would you describe the COMPOUNDS’ sound? 

Jon: As a band, we’ve brought a wide range of musical influences and have always had a love for fast punk, and heavy breakdowns. Combining that plus a mix of melodic guitar riffs, and you get COMPOUNDS! We’ve always said from day one that this would be our core ideas and what we want our sound to be, but then continue to develop new and interesting things over the top of that.

Q. What can fans expect from the new EP?

Jon: There will definitely be a few changes to what you’ve heard previously, the new EP will have a slight line-up change with this EP being our first material with a new vocalist.

Chris: It’s also Luke’s first chance to really get involved in the writing, I’m excited for the fans to hear some of the stuff he’s been coming up with. A big part of our process is making sure we balance everything out and still sound like ‘COMPOUNDS’ though, so you can still expect plenty of those fast punk sections that get people hyped up live!

Q. What do you want COMPOUNDS to achieve with the new material?

Jon: We’ll definitely be looking at trying to push our creativity a bit further I think! We are going to try and bring new and exciting things that people may not have heard from us before, but still bring it fast!

Chris: As we said before, we’ve learned a lot about the industry and scene since the last release too. It was luck that got Night’s End on a Spotify playlist – it would be great if something could top the 20,000 odd plays that got, now we know what we’re doing! We’re treating it as the start of a new chapter, so we’ll be going big…

Q. Your reassuring lyrics in Survive or Die are quite empowering. Is this how you want listeners to relate to COMPOUNDS?

Jon: Like I said earlier, I feel like the lyrics have always been quite positive, coming from all of our personal backgrounds, we’ve at times been through quite negative periods in our lives and learning from this, we’d like to send out a message that a positive mental attitude is definitely key to bringing a healthy lifestyle. However angry our music sounds at face value, deep inside, we’d like to ensure our music is something that spreads positivity to our listeners!

Q. The UK hardcore scene seems to be getting stronger year on year. Where does COMPOUNDS fit in the hardcore/metal scene?

Chris: I actually think part of the reason modern hardcore is such a big thing at the moment is because so many bands are embracing those ideas of positive mental health that we’ve mentioned – even though it can sound quite violent, it’s such a supportive scene to be part of (in real life and on social media) and I think that’s really helping it to grow. It’s something we’re proud to be part of. COMPOUNDS is fairly new (our first show was July 2018, with gigging only seriously starting towards the end of that year), but we’ve already had the pleasure of playing with some great up-and-coming bands at a range of melodic/post-hardcore, hardcore and metalcore shows: MTXS, HIGH RISE, GRIEVER, HOLDING ABSENCE, THE CITY IS OURS etc. It’s great to be able to play such a range of shows and see people getting into it who wouldn’t necessarily go for the faster/punkier stuff – our writing is firmly in the melodic hardcore camp, but we like to think that there’s enough variety in our music/live show that hardcore/metalcore (or even metal) fans could enjoy it!

Survive or Die will be independently released 15 April 2020.

METALMANCE RETROSPECTIVE: The Hurt Process

A look back at one of Britain’s unsung heroes. Feat. a Q&A with vocalist Daniel Lawrence.

Over the festive period, one particular band announcement proved to be one of the best gifts of the season. I’m not talking about all those MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE reunion posts and teasers. No, no. I’m talking about the return of British metalcore darlings THE HURT PROCESS and their announcement of a reunion show this year (London, 23rd April to be exact). It seems all the 30-somethings who honed their emo craft to the band’s music, are now crawling out of the woodwork faster than you can say “Myspace”.

After forming in the early noughties, the band achieved success both here in the UK and over the pond in the US after a successful stint on the Warped Tour in 2004. Shortly after the release of the second album A Heartbeat Behind in 2005, the band split up. It seems they split just as emo and melodic hardcore really hit the big time. As THE HURT PROCESS shrivelled into obscurity, their American contemporaries catapulted to stardom i.e. SILVERSTEIN, HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS amongst others.

With such strong roots and oodles of promise, it seems a shame THE HURT PROCESS never quite became a staple band in British metal history. At the height of their success, British fans were also obsessing over the likes of FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND, HUNDRED REASONS and MILLION DEAD whose legacy seem to hold greater stead. Did THE HURT PROCESS break up too soon? Didn’t they look emo enough? Were the dual vocals too radical? Who knows.

THE HURT PROCESS did nail the glorious emo/metalcore sound of the early noughties but with an added post-hardcore crunch. Being British they sounded less whiny and nodded less to pop punk than their peers overseas. After numerous line-up changes over the years and their sound maturing with each release, THE HURT PROCESS ended on a metalcore high. I think their crossover appeal will ensure the band have the freedom to experiment with styles if they dabble in writing new material.


THE HURT PROCESS – Drive By Monologue. Year: 2003.

After two successful EPs (Another Day and Last Goodbye) the band released the absolute gem that is Drive By Monologue. Raw, honest and charmingly melodic, this album encompassed everything that the golden age of melodic hardcore harnessed. The riffs are rock solid on this album and still make your inner-emo shake its studded-belted-butt. The first two tracks This Piece and White Butterflies (The Sky Bleeding) are two of the best songs the band ever wrote; This Piece captured that glorious early noughties melodic hardcore sound as well as the awesome dual vocal approach, while White Butterflies boasted the band’s ability to write a crushing emo anthem. THE HURT PROCESS also penned some beautifully heartfelt songs including Tuesday and Clarity, but somehow managed to avoid being overtly cheesy and cringy…perhaps because they sounded so sincere? It will be interesting to see how these songs hold up live now! At the time Drive By Monologue was exactly what I wanted to hear, it satisfied my emo cravings but with an extra metallic crunch. Surprisingly, it’s aged quite well!

THE HURT PROCESS A Heartbeat Behind. Year: 2005.

After some line-up changes and a small shift in direction, next (and last) album A Heartbeat Behind ended up being more of a straight-up metalcore venture. This album dropped as I was getting into heavier stuff, so for me this album arrived at just the right time. Immediately with opening track Anchor, the heavier riffs and screams smacked you in the face and whacked you from being an emo darling into an angsty metalhead instead. Sometimes the impact got lost (You Don’t Get Gold For Second Place and The Night Before The Morning After) but this album featured more belters than before (see: the brilliant My Scandinavian Ride and Delicious 53). My two favourite THE HURT PROCESS tracks are on this album; the moving Boogie Nights In Michigan and the colossal Reading Into It. Both songs are unlike anything the band had done before. The former being confusingly uplifting with its bright riffs but sorrowful lyrics and the latter providing the dramatic cello-infused finale the album (and band) deserved. A Heartbeat Behind is a British metalcore underdog indeed.


Q&A with THE HURT PROCESS vocalist Daniel Lawrence

Q. How did the reunion happen?

Lawrence: We’ve been talking about meeting up for years, primarily to catch up with each other. Then the opportunity for some shows came about so we made it happen. It’s been great so far.

Q. How are rehearsals going after over a decade apart?

Lawrence: It’s been awesome and sounding just like the old days. Cannot wait to get it to the stage for everyone to see.

Q. Which songs are you most looking forward to playing live?

Lawrence: All of them! I can’t wait to get the pit moving in front of us again.

Q. What can THE HURT PROCESS fans expect from the live show?

Lawrence: If rehearsals are anything to go by, expect it to be heavy and poppy along with high energy.

Q. Can we expect new songs? If so, what style are they heading in?

Lawrence: There will be new songs. Style wise….you will have to wait and see! Come to the shows to find out.

Metalmance’s Top 20 Releases of 2019

The best 20 releases of the past 12 months

What a year! I was absent for most of it but that didn’t mean I wasn’t lurking and listening to albums. I’ve kept the list honest this year, with the releases I’ve listened to the most. If you’ve come here expecting to see SLIPKNOT and TOOL then you can go to Metal Hammer for that. As always I’m featuring EPs as well as albums…so behold! My Top 20 releases of 2019!


 

20. HOUR OF PENANCEMisotheism. Release date: 25 October.

It’s been a couple of months since Italy’s HOUR OF PENANCE dropped the meaty slab of death metal that is Misotheism and it still absolutely slays. Out of all the brutal death metal releases which have dropped this year, Misotheism is one of the most consistently punishing. Tracks such as The Second Babel and Lamb of the Seven Sins are violent delights. The brutal grooves and relentless battering of the senses are a morbid treat. Instead of focussing on how fast or how extreme they can go, HOUR OF PENANCE ensure there is some form of structure and substance to their songs which is sometimes missing in extreme music today. If you’re also a glutton for punishment then you could do a lot worse than giving Misotheism a spin.

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019 feat. Misotheism


 

19. ABIGAIL WILLIAMSWalk Beyond The Dark. Release date: 15 November.

It’s great when a band’s first album in almost five years doesn’t suck. ABIGAIL WILLIAMS have always been a bit of an oddball (in the best possible way) and have upset the most cvlt of black metal fans through the years. Walk Beyond The Dark is their best album since In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns. That’s a big statement I know, but it just emphasises my point on how good Walk Beyond The Dark Is. Atmospheric enough to be gripping and chilling, succinct enough to remain ambitious without overstaying its welcome. Sun and Moon and Into the Sleep are some of the more storming tracks on the album, but no second is wasted on this beauty. The darkness and colossal atmosphere is something else and proof that ABIGAIL WILLIAMS have not lost an ounce of intensity. In fact, it seems they’ve gained more.

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019 feat. Walk Beyond The Dark


 

18. BAESTVenenum. Release date: 13 September.

I’ve probably said this a few times but BAEST are what I wish BLOODBATH still were. Their old school death metal is addictive as hell and with Venenum their second album, they sound beastlier than ever. The riffs are utter filth and the venom spat by frontman Simon Olsen is some of the most terrifying you’ll hear from a modern death metal band. Heresy, As Above So Below and Sodomize are ferocious additions to BAEST’s arsenal of death metal delights. With hellish lyrics and a relentless delivery, BAEST are firmly on the rise to extreme metal royalty. This year saw their ascent escalate with successful support slots for the likes of DECAPITATED and ABORTED. Their recorded material is impressive but their live show absolutely slays. One of the most promising death metal acts out there, beware the BAEST.

Roundup – September 2019 feat. Venenum


 

17. WORMEDMetaportal EP. Release date: 19 July.

Another death metal delight, this time in the form of WORMED’s incredible EP Metaportal. Their technical death metal is some of the best I’ve heard all year, like old school DECAPITATED with extra speed, madness and sci-fi themes. Metaportal is four tracks of unapologetic tech death bludgeoning. 2019 saw some albums which should have been EPs and some EPs which should have been full-lengths, including this one. Spain is rapidly gaining a reputation for its quality, extreme death metal acts and there’s no reason why WORMED can’t join Spain’s metal elite. A polished slab of the most unforgiving metal around, Metaportal shows the newbies how it’s done. Full length next please!

Roundup – July 2019 feat. Metaportal


 

16. CRYSTAL LAKE Helix. Release date: 15 February.

The last couple of years has seen Japan’s metalcore troupe CRYSTAL LAKE grow from strength to strength. Last album True North was a bit all over the place, but Helix is an absolutely punishing release. Aeon has remained one of my favourite songs of the year with its flawless execution. If the same focus was given to the remainder of the album then Helix would rank higher in the list. Agony and +81 are other bangers and things get brutal again with the heavy Hail To The Fire. Helix features lots of riffs to die for and some of the most ferocious drumming of the year, but it’s front man Ryo Kinoshita who is the [not so] secret weapon of CRYSTAL LAKE’s appeal. The technique and talent on display in Helix is incredibly exciting. Once they tap into which sound works best for them and stick to it, world domination awaits.

Crystal Lake – Helix review


 

15. AENIMUSDreamcatcher. Release date: 22 February.

Californian brutal troupe AENIMUS are slowly but surely working their way through the ranks to being one of the best progressive extreme acts out there. I’m surprised they haven’t gained more recognition off the back of the incredible Dreamcatcher album. One of the most polished and consistent extreme records of 2019, Dreamcatcher is a spectacularly dark record. Any moments of light and optimism are briskly extinguished to maintain a fiercely dark atmosphere. Songs like The Ritual fill the empty BLACK CROWN INITIATE-shaped hole that is in our lives at the moment, while My Becoming could have been what we wanted from SHOKRAN this year…there is something for every extreme metal fan on Dreamcatcher. Fingers crossed we get more live shows and we can get our faces ripped off in person.

Aenimus – Dreamcatcher review


 

14. SCHAMMASCHHearts Of No Light. Release date: 8 November.

One of the most atmospheric black metal bands out there, Switzerland’s SCHAMMASCH never fail to bring the most chilling and ambitious black metal to our ears. SCHAMMASCH achieve blackened brilliance without all the cringey cvlt gimmicks of the genre. Hearts Of No Light is another superb effort from the Swiss demons. Polished and bold, but not so it loses any raw power or impact, the album is sure to finally put the band on a level which they deserve. There are a few interesting nuggets on this album which hint at the band experimenting with new ideas and approaches (the bewitching I Burn Within You anyone?) which is exciting as some black metal bands churn out the same stuff year after year. SCHAMMASCH are a band you can’t wait to hear more of or see what they conjure up next. All hail the new dark lords!


 

13. THIS GIFT IS A CURSEA Throne Of Ash. Release date: 14 June.

I made a bold statement at the beginning of the year, saying 2019 was going to be the year for black metal and sludgy hardcore. Sweden’s THIS GIFT IS A CURSE mix all these genres into a terrifying aural assault in the form of latest album A Throne Of Ash. This album is anything but uplifting and optimistic. Harking back to the glory days of CURSED and chaos, THIS GIFT IS A CURSE have produced one of the most bleak, yet rewarding albums of 2019. The unforgiving Blood Is My Harvest and Gate Dweller provide some of the noisiest and most disorientating metal of the year. If you’re a sensitive soul then avoid THIS GIFT IS A CURSE.


 

12. MYRATHShehili. Release date: 3 May.

Shehili by Tunisian metallers MYRATH is a bit of a gem. If you like your progressive metal with a little extra something, then MYRATH are for you. They often get compared to ORPHANED LAND but MYRATH are more power metal than oriental metal. MYRATH write catchy songs and go easy on heavy messages, so it’s a good time all round. Tracks like You’ve Lost Yourself, Dance and Darkness Arise are absolute belters. If you don’t get your shimmy on with this album then you might not have a musical bone in your body. Shehili is a solid, catchy, polished album that is a fun listen and rewarding every time. Well worth checking out.

Roundup – August 2019 feat. Shehili


 

11. CAR BOMBMordial. Release date: 27 September.

Ah CAR BOMB. Previous album Meta was mathcore perfection, yet with Mordial they have pushed the boundaries further and created something so genius and mindblowing I am almost lost for words. I mean, we all fell in love with the laser effects on Dissect Yoéurself but CAR BOMB mostly avoid gimmicks and let their otherworldly music speak for itself. Some fans have expressed their dislike of the ‘clean’ vocals but I love the DEFTONES edge they give. Mordial is one of those albums that you find yourself shaking your head at in bemusement and awe. The crunchy, metallic riffs, the whirring instrumentation and crazy time signatures all add up to a cacophony of brilliance and madness. Indulge if you dare.

Roundup – September 2019 feat. Mordial


 

10. GODEATERAll Flesh Is Grass. Release date: 27 September.

America might dominate the tech metal scene but Glaswegian darlings GODEATER are sure as hell worming their way upwards to the British elite. Their debut album All Flesh Is Grass has thankfully smashed out of the UK tech bubble and has been invading its way into the wider metal community, both at home and overseas. Environmentally conscious but not in the way that dominates the music, GODEATER are a band with a conscience…and tasty riffs. Standout songs Silent Spring, Blood Moon and Inertia Haze exhibit the technical brilliance of the band, but technical brilliance which also shimmers with heart and soul. There is substance to the songs which prevents it from becoming soulless guitar noodling. This is only the beginning.  

Tech Fest 2019: Part 1 feat. Godeater

Roundup – September 2019 feat. All Flesh Is Grass


 

9. ISSUESBeautiful Oblivion. Release date: 4 October.

ISSUES’ first self-titled album was perfection and their second album Headspace fell short of expectations, so I wasn’t expecting much from third album Beautiful Oblivion. That was until they released lead single Tapping Out and I got all excited by its promise of a heavy direction. When I first listened to the album I was bitterly disappointed. But once I got over that it wasn’t the self-titled 2.0, I began to appreciate the gem that it is. Mature, catchy and subtly heavy, Beautiful Oblivion is a solid, melodic metal album. It’s a passionate, thoughtful, polished slab of joy, but nothing quite prepares you for the brilliant Flexin and its irresistible hooks. Some might see ISSUES as a guilty pleasure. I see them as a melodic band worthy of your attention.


 

8. TIDES FROM NEBULAFrom Voodoo To Zen. Release date: 20 September.

Polish post-rockers TIDES FROM NEBULA released their most ‘electronic’ album to date, with the incredible From Voodoo To Zen. From the breath-taking opening track Ghost Horses to the sublime closer, Eve White, Eve Black, Jane, TIDES FROM NEBULA have created a post-rock masterpiece for the 21st century. The synth greatness which ensues in tracks such as Dopamine and the mesmerising title track, elevate your senses to a stratospheric level. The shimmering tracks take you on a journey and the bright, crisp sounds are oddly reassuring and positive. An outstanding album by one of the greats. Phenomenal.


 

7. SIGNS OF THE SWARMVital Deprivation. Release date: 11 October.

I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed SIGNS OF THE SWARM new album Vital Deprivation. I’ve always liked them, don’t get me wrong but they have seriously stepped up their game with this latest effort. Last year it was all about WITHIN DESTRUCTION for slamming deathcore, this year it’s about SIGNS OF THE SWARM. Songs such as Malformed Dissonance and Malevolent Enslavement bring the best slamming grooves, while Lost Within Reflection and Tempting Death (featuring Tom Barber) bring something a bit more mature and nasty to the table. It’s really promising to hear such a huge jump in progression between albums, I wonder what SIGNS OF THE SWARM will pull out of the bag for album number four?

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019 feat. Vital Deprivation


 

6. VOYAGERColours In The Sun. Release date: 1 November.

VOYAGER have always been a quality prog band but with newest album Colours In The Sun they have really surpassed themselves. It’s the old cliché of the album being their poppiest, yet heaviest to date. But it only takes one listen to realise this is true. Tracks like Colours, Brightstar and Reconnected are some of the best songs VOYAGER have ever penned. A glorious highlight is the magnificent Entropy which features none other than LEPROUS’ Einar Solberg which makes for a terrific proggy surprise. Colours In The Sun is the band’s most solid and consistent release and it’s a gem from start to finish. Fun, upbeat, heavy and catchy…what’s not to like?!


 

5. PORT NOIRThe New Routine. Release date: 10 May.

PORT NOIR’s previous album Any Way The Wind Carries was my second favourite album of 2016, but their newest effort The New Routine hasn’t quite matched its predecessor for me. BUT, The New Routine is still one of the slickest releases of 2019. PORT NOIR have dropped their heavy, progressive edge and embraced their funkier, poppier side, and it’s divine. Tracks like Champagne, Blow and Flawless are some of the catchiest and smoothest songs of the year. They will have you groovin’ and movin’ in no time. No one really qute sounds like PORT NOIR and their experimental side is utterly irresistible.  

Roundup – July 2019 feat. The New Routine


 

4. NUMENOREANAdore. Release date: 12 April.

Over the course of the year Adore has really grown on me. NUMENOREAN are one of the most promising post-black metal bands out there and I’m beginning to wonder how they will ever top this masterpiece. So many blistering yet moving tracks feature on Adore; the brilliant Horizon, the bewitching Stay and all the cacophony of terrors in between. NUMENOREAN appeal to the blackgaze community with their black metal approach and their melodic twists. The atmosphere that NUMENOREAN create is unlike any other, it’s both chilling yet heartwarming, an amazing feat without losing any of their impact. An incredible album by a band still so early in their career. Ones to watch for sure.


 

3. GHOST IRISApple Of Discord. Release date: 22 February.

Danish progressive metallers GHOST IRIS are always one of those reliable bands you know are going to smash it with every release. Latest album Apple Of Discord is a magnificent release and easily their best record so far. Last album Blind World hinted at the band’s talent at writing brutal yet catchy tunes, but nothing prepares you for what they’ve achieved with Apple Of Discord. Crushing riffs with Jesper Vicencio Gün’s menacing growls and impressive cleans are the order of the day. One of the standout songs The Rat & The Snake features the bludgeoning growls of TRAITORS’ Tyler Shelton and is unforgettable. GHOST IRIS also drop some absolute belters with the likes of Heaven Was Pure Hell and The Devil’s Plaything to keep you nodding along. Such an underrated yet talented band!

Ghost Iris – Apple of Discord review


 

2. PIJN & CONJURERCurse These Metal Hands. Release date: 16 August.

Is this an EP? Is this an album? Who the hell cares this trumps most releases which have dropped this year. PIJN and CONJURER are both exciting up and coming bands from the UK, but together they are phenomenal. Curse These Metal Hands sees the material the bands wrote for ArcTangent Festival finally see the light of day as a recording. It mixes the mesmerising post-rock of PIJN and the storming venom of CONJURER and the result is something so special it makes me want to weep. High Spirits sounds like MAYBESHEWILL with BARONESS riffs and a bit of the ol’ shouty, shouty. whereas Endeavour sounds like a KYLESA/CONVERGE gritfest and I’m all for it. Such a treat.

Roundup – August 2019 feat. Curse These Metal Hands

Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands review


 

  1. CARTOGRAPHS wilt & blossom. Release date: 1 March.

Well, here you have it, my favourite release of 2019. Earlier in the year I said this was a contender for album of the year…and no other release has topped it for me. Post-metal is seriously gaining some traction and Denmark’s CARTOGRAPHS have proved they are one of the genre’s most promising bands with the sublime wilt & blossom. The passion, the fire, the grit and the power in each song is unforgettable and incredibly striking. Wilt Over Time and Peace Was Never Mine To Be Found are two standout tracks but the biggest gem of them all is the superb Through The Garden Gate with THAT riff and all the feels. It’s no surprise no other band have touched the top spot for me after this release. Listening to wilt & blossom again nine months on feels like I’m listening to it again for the first time. I am winded by its colossal power and numbed by its heartwrenching melodies. Just…incredible.

Cartographs – wilt & blossom review

Metalmance’s Top 20 Albums of the Decade

20 of the best albums from 2010-2019.

Album of the Year lists aren’t enough this year. 2019 heralds the end of one of the best decades of metal. Emerging genres have really come to the fore in the past ten years (blackgaze anyone?) whereas we’re all surprised at how metalcore has survived and evolved. With technology advancing, the decade has also seen different consumer habits as well as advances in music technology as a whole. But that’s enough faff and chat. Without further ado, behold my Top 20 Albums of the Decade!


 

20. ORPHANED LANDAll Is One. Release date: 24 June 2013.

I’ve always enjoyed oriental music but hearing it in a metal context was a phenomenal concept to me. When I finally checked out Israel’s ORPHANED LAND I fell in love immediately. To me, they’re still the best ‘oriental metal’ band out there. They mix traditional instruments, metal elements and heartfelt messages so seamlessly it’s hard not to fall under their spell. All Is One is a superb example of the epic anthems they create to help reunite people of all faiths, race and genders. Tracks such as the title track, Freedom and Children emphasise their mission, all the while keeping tracks catchy and heavy. A must-listen for all.


 

19. SLEEPING WITH SIRENSFeel. Release date: 4 June 2013.

Now before you close this post and avoid my blog forever, hear me out here. Every track on SLEEPING WITH SIREN’s Feel is absolute gold. There’s a song for every occasion and emotion and it beckoned the start of their retreat from poisonous emo-pop-punk to the boring rock music they create today. With Feel they get it just right. Personally for me, this album dropped at a huge transitional period of my life so tracks such as Free Now, Congratulations and Satellites became anthems of this time. It’s not only teenagers who relate to Kellin Quinn and co. and their lyrics are more honest and relatable than many of their peers (FALLING IN REVERSE I’m looking at you).


 

18. TESSERACTOne. Release date: 22 March 2011.

I just had to include something by TESSERACT in this list. It was a tough choice between One and Polaris, but I chose One in the end as it was unlike anything I had heard in the metal world. Yeah there was PERIPHERY as well but for me, TESSERACT had a little something extra…mainly the vocal expertise of Daniel Tompkins. The first track I heard was The Impossible – Concealing Fate Part. 3 and I will never forget its melodies, djent and overwhelming atmosphere. In a way One signifies the innocence of the beginning of the djent genre before it became oversaturated by awful bands and copycats. Today it’s evolved into a whole new progressive metal beast but it’s good to look back on One and see how far metal has come.


 

17. AVASTMother Culture. Release date: 26 October 2018.

This decade saw the rise of blackgaze as a genre and it is one of the best things to have ever happened for metal. Mixing black metal and shoegaze to create highly emotive extreme metal is a dream come true. Only a handful of bands are getting the formula right and Norway’s AVAST is one of those bands. Last year’s debut album Mother Culture is a superb example of the heavier end of the genre. Tracks such as the title track and The Birth Of Man show some of the best that AVAST have to offer, but their instrumental tracks also trigger a strong emotional response. Powerful, climatic and devastating, Mother Culture is an important album.


 

16. MOTIONLESS IN WHITEReincarnate. Release date: 15 September 2014.

reincarnate

Metalcore is alive and well and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE have helped the survival of the gothic strain of it. Reincarnate saw the band at their most industrial, experimental and arguably…their catchiest. The guest features on this album are spot on, with the likes of Dani Filth, Maria Brink and Tim Skold making Reincarnate a goth’s wet dream. There is absolutely no filler on this album like a lot of their others, with tracks Break The Cycle and Wasp being some of the best keyboard-led metalcore for years. Now if only MOTIONLESS IN WHITE took the blueprint for The Final Dictvm for the latest albums…


 

15. TIMES OF GRACEHymn of a Broken Man. Release date: 18 January 2011.

I am one of those fans who think the new Jesse Leach-era KILLSWICTH ENGAGE has never surpassed what Leach and Adam D achieved with Hymn of a Broken Man. Yes, TIMES OF GRACE was always meant to be a more melodic and honest project, and remember Howard Jones was still in KILLSWITCH ENGAGE at this point, but Hymn of a Broken Man is one of the most beautiful albums created this decade and few have surpassed its melodic prowess. Live in Love, Where The Spirit Leads Me and Willing are some of the most stirring metal tracks this decade has seen. It’s just a shame the duo decided to lead the album with one of the weaker tracks, Strength in Numbers. Let’s hope they release a new album next year.


 

14. 65DAYSOFSTATICWe Were Exploding Anyway. Release date: 26 April 2010.

65dos

We Were Exploding Anyway was everything I wanted from 65DAYSOFSTATIC. The Sheffield post-rockers have always pushed the boundaries of the genre and have created the most phenomenal sounds. With this album, the band were their most ‘dancey’ and it even saw the inclusion of vocals on Come to Me, but they were very cleverly sliced and used as samples. Mountainhead, Crash Tactics and Piano Fights are some of the most genius songs 65DOS have written and the album as a whole is a delight from start to finish.


 

13. BLEEDING THROUGHThe Great Fire. Release date: 31 January 2012.

The Great Fire

Before the Orange County crew split up in 2014 (and reformed in 2018) the metalcore darlings dropped one of their finest albums to date, The Great Fire. This glorious slab of brutality incorporates every genre that BLEEDING THROUGH can execute so well, metalcore, hardcore, punk, black metal, melodic death metal…tracks like Goodbye To Death and Everything You Love Is Gone are perfect examples of their melting pot of styles. No metalcore band have achieved this again.


 

12. ABORTEDRetrogore. Release date: 22 April 2016.

retrogore

I must admit I was a bit late to the ABORTED fandom, but once I finally got there I was besotted. Retrogore was my first exposure to the Belgian death metallers and it’s still my favourite. Everything just seems to gel on this record and the blackened elements which play a big part on 2018’s Terrorvision come to the fore on this record. Termination Redux and Divine Impediment are brutal gems, dark death metal at its best. The band aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, constantly evolving to remain one of the most terrifying bands out there.


 

11. NORDIC GIANTSA Séance of Dark Delusions. Release date: 20 April 2015.

nordic giants

NORDIC GIANTS are always best to experience live, but 2015’s masterpiece A Séance of Dark Delusions brilliantly captures the intense material this post-rock duo create. The guest vocalists on this album are all outstanding with standout tracks being Dissolve (with SATURDAY SUN), Rapture (with Beth Cannon) and the superb Futures Dark (with Nadine Wild-Palmer). Each tracks tells its own story and every track with vocals could easily be a radio hit, making NORDIC GIANTS your favourite secret.


 

10. EIGHTEEN VISIONSXVIII. Release date: 2 June 2017.

XVIII

C’mon you knew EIGHTEEN VISIONS were going to make an appearance. This was the comeback of the decade for me. In true 18V fashion, their comeback album XVIII sounded unlike anything they have recorded before. The throwback references to earlier material (film samples, insects buzzing and the objects in the artwork) create a nostalgic record which still bludgeons you with modern, crunchy metal. Songs such as Oath and Live Again are the perfect tributes to the band’s roots and their late bassist Mick Morris (RIP). This is definitely an album for the loyal fans, but any lover of heavy, crushing metal will equally enjoy this album.


 

9. SOILWORKThe Ride Majestic. Release date: 28 August 2015.

soilwork

The kings of melodic death metal, SOILWORK seem to get better with age. The Ride Majestic is a sublime album by the modern version of SOILWORK. This is an absolute belter from start to finish. Some old school fans look down on it for not being Natural Born Chaos 2.0, but this album is the full package. The vocals, lyrics, instrumentation, flow of the album are outstanding. When their peers are crashing and burning, SOILWORK have evolved and grown to be the melodic death metal darlings they are today. The title track, Death In General and the stirring finale Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down are some of my favourite songs of the decade. The fact that the band are still going strong is a blessing.


 

8. BLACK CROWN INITIATE Selves We Cannot Forgive. Release date: 22 July 2016.

blackcrowninitiateselves

Selves We Cannot Forgive was my first ever Album of the Year when I started this blog back in 2016. It has stood the test of time and cemented itself as one of my favourite progressive death metal records of all time. There has been a surge of progressive death metal bands in the past few years and BLACK CROWN INITIATE remain one of the best. This album exhibits the best aspects of the genre, with tracks such as Belie The Machine and For Red Cloud providing the brutality, and the title track and Again providing the soaring melodies. This album has it all.


 

7. DYSCARNATEAnd So It Came To Pass. Release date: 27 February 2012.

and so it came to pass

DYSCARNATE’s last album With All Their Might topped my AOTY list back in 2017, but I couldn’t have two of their albums in my top 20 of the decade so I’ve opted for their phenomenal second album And So It Came To Pass. If you’re still unfamiliar with this death metal trio (yes, they’re a trio and still heavier than most bands) then you are seriously missing a trick here. A band haven’t been this brutally groovy since…well…forever. And So It Came To Pass is a tremendous example of this, with The Promethean, In The Face of Armageddon and A Drone In The Hive bringing the hardest bangers of the album. Fingers crossed there will be a new album in the new year!


 

6. DREAMSHADEThe Gift of Life. Release date: 25 January 2013. 

gift of life

DREAMSHADE are always such a treat. These Swiss metalcore lovelies are still relatively unknown yet every album is an absolute blinder. 2013’s album The Gift of Life saw the band hit their stride. Photographs, Your Voice and Consumed Future are some of the best metalcore tracks you haven’t heard yet. Not only do DREAMSHADE write catchy songs but somehow their riffs are hella catchy too. A super slick and polished beast, DREAMSHADE are currently working on a new album and it promises to be another stellar effort.


 

5. DISTORTED HARMONYChain Reaction. Release date: 9 July 2014.

chain reaction

Discovering DISTORTED HARMONY was one of the best things I did in the past few years. Their progressive metal is fuelled by melodies and heart. Their second album Chain Reaction has just the right amount of technicality and melody to make it a beautifully balanced record. The charm and passion oozes out of this record with tracks such as Every Time She Smiles, Hollow and Natural Selection being some of the most stirring. With the ever-growing prog metal scene it takes something special to standout from the rest of the pack these days, these guys have got it.


 

4. MAYBESHEWILLI Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone. Release date: 30 May 2011. 

maybeshewill

So this is my third and final post-rock album in this list. I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone is my favourite of them all, for a number of reasons. The main one being, the album triggers the biggest emotional response of any album without vocals. It demonstrates the sheer, emotional power that rock instruments have. The melodies and climaxes are sublime, there’s no other post-rock albums quite like this one. Another reason why this ranks so highly is because MAYBESHEWILL were one of the pioneers of British post-rock and they are very sorely missed by fans. Just listen to the song Accolades, Critical Distance and Red Paper Lanterns and you’ll see what I mean.


 

3. EARTHSIDEA Dream In Static. Release date: 23 October 2015.

earthside

There are few bands who make a huge impact with their debut album like EARTHSIDE have. This is modern prog rock at its finest. But the thing that EARTHSIDE has that sets them apart from the rest is their expert musicianship. Each member is an incredibly talented musician and this talent can be heard in the ambition of their tracks. They execute their brilliance without any pretentious fluff and they scored some of the best vocalists in the business to elevate their tracks to new levels (see: Crater, the title track and Mob Mentality). With a new album being recorded as we speak, we can expect big things from the rising proggers.


 

2. MØLJord. Release date: 13 April 2018.

mol

It’s probably no surprise MØL have ranked so highly on this list, considering they were my Album of the Year last year. It’s been warming to see Jord resonating with other people so strongly. Songs such as Storm, Bruma and Penumbra are some of the most striking blackgaze tracks of the past decade. Their shoegaze riffs, black metal vocals and chilling melodies add up to a spectacular album. I’ve already written so many words about this album but I never run out of praise to say about it. Emotion and soul drip from every note and syllable screamed. A phenomenal album by one of the most promising acts around.


 

1 . ANAAL NATHRAKHVanitas. Release date: 23 October 2012.

vanitas

Behold, my album of the decade! ANAAL NATHRAKH have always been one of the best extreme metal acts from Britain, but 2012’s Vanitas shows the band at their most ambitious and polished. These songs are huge! I honestly don’t know where to start with this album. A lot of their albums prior (and after) have a few standout tracks and the rest are forgettable. Vanitas has banger after banger, with every track being its own individual beast you’ll remember for a long time to come. Yes, Forging Towards The Sunset and To Spite The Face are incredible, but can we just talk about album finale A Metaphor For The Dead? With one of the most climatic choruses the band have ever written, along with some of the most devastating riffs, it has gone down in history as my favourite album closer of all time. A strong statement I know but once you hear it for yourself, you may agree! Every great album needs a powerful closer and Vanitas concludes in such a roaring fashion, you feel compelled to start over again. After seven years no album has topped this for me.

Decay The Ocean – Hopeless

Self-release. Release date: 30 November 2019

If I gave Metalmance Awards for ‘Most Improved Band’, I would give this year’s to King’s Lynn’s metalcore younglings DECAY THE OCEAN. Second EP Hopeless is a major step up from their debut EP Mirror City, which was released after their formation in 2017. Gone are the adolescent lyrics and mediocre riffs, and in storms an unrecognisable maturity from the band and a raging fire of determination. Yes, their sound has a long way to go, but their potential is rapidly exposing itself. DECAY THE OCEAN still wear their influences boldly on their sleeve but they now sound less like a poor man’s A DAY TO REMEMBER and more like a band channeling their love of ARCHITECTS, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and WHILE SHE SLEEPS.

Lead single Wake Up kicks off proceedings with strong KILLSWITCH vibes and energy. Big, crunchy, metalcore riffs are the deal of the day while front man Mike Jenkins screams and croons his way through the number. Wake Up isn’t the most original thing you’ll hear all year but it’s ballsy and catchy enough to maintain your attention.

Hopeless on the other hand is by far the best track DECAY THE OCEAN have ever written. The heavy brutality blasts out of nowhere and it’s refreshing as hell. If they write more material like this I would not be disappointed. With its big riffs, Jenkins’ spitting venom and a punishing pace, Hopeless is an unforgiving offering. Instead of trying to mimic their heroes, DECAY THE OCEAN sound like they’re unleashing their inner demons. More please.

More madness ensues in Peace of Mind. Chuggy riffs and aggression galore, it does go a bit southern and cringey in places, but the ambition is there. DECAY THE OCEAN are clearly capable of a huge sound but it does lose momentum towards the end. Things go a little post-hardcore with EP closer Before It’s Gone. The second half feels a lot more honest and genuine than the first. There’s a lot of mish-mash of styles happening in Before It’s Gone which sometimes makes it sound unfocused, but it is still a strong finale. The last minute trumps the rest and provides a late highlight for Hopeless as a whole.

DECAY THE OCEAN have produced a strong body of work but now need to focus on their strengths and nurture their sound. Adding every style into the melting pot won’t save them next time. The passion, ambition, and potential are there, the lads just need to tap into it and write from the heart. With a lot of hot talent emerging from Norfolk, DECAY THE OCEAN can’t risk being left behind.