Q&A with Mutation

From ‘Chaos-punk’ to Devin Townsend, Scott Lee Andrews gives Metalmance the low-down on what makes Mutation chaotically tick

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Metalmance witnessed MUTATION’s chaos recently at Damnation festival in Leeds, and it’s fair to say the band’s sound is not for the faint hearted! Featuring Ginger and Denzel (THE WILDHEARTS and many other projects), and Scott Lee Andrews (EXIT_INTERNATIONAL, JAWS OF DEAF), their third album Dark Black is a noisy affair and Scott kindly let Metalmance pick his brain about the album and the band’s direction.

Q. Hi Scott, great set at Damnation! I must admit, I hadn’t checked out MUTATION before the festival as I was keeping the sound a surprise, I heard it was unlike anything Ginger had done before and chaotic! And I was glad to find it was all true! How would you describe MUTATION’s style? Or is it more a spectrum of styles?

Scott: For sure – it’s an exploration of Ginger’s more extreme tastes, and that also shows in the personnel brought to the table to make this record. From Shane Embury to Merzbow to Devin Townsend, all sit in distinct pockets of the heavy/extreme music world, and guys who are visionaries with it. MUTATION’s use of an ensemble cast during the first two records allowed a wide coverage of these genres to be touched upon. Someone recently described our live show as ‘Chaos-punk’ which I thought was fucking great.

Q. Since Damnation, we’ve had Mutation III: Dark Black on heavy rotation! I feel like the whole album has a nostalgic feel, it reminds me of all sorts; a bit of MARTINI HENRY RIFLES here, a bit of 90s there, did you have a production style in mind while recording?

Scott: Your MARTINI HENRY RIFLES reference – I’ve been in a band with Fudge (bassist – MARTINI HENRY RIFLES) since 2009! That might be a bit of him rubbing off on my influence that has shown up there. I’m more into ‘alternative’ noise – SONIC YOUTH, NIRVANA, PART CHIMP, ATARI TEENAGE RIOT for example, this was the vibe I wanted to bring to the table, to allow Dark Black to stand out as a fresh record. When Ginger and I were passing song ideas and riffs back and forth via email, we were listening to THE BODY as a main reference point. The intention was to make a thoroughly disgusting album.

Q. With bands choosing to have a more polished production these days it’s refreshing to hear more of a raw and chaotically rich sound with MUTATION. Was this something you were aiming for?

Scott: Absolutely, mainly due to the fact the sonics used in heavy music seem to adhere to a quite narrow set of guidelines. As neither of us have day jobs in that realm, it was obvious that to be taken seriously, we had to push everything into the red. Both of us wanted to one-up each other in terms of how far/fucked up to go, and neither of us said ‘That’s too far’.

Q. A standout track for me (I’m sure also for many others too) is Irritant. I think everyone would find this song highly relatable and honest! But I find this with Ginger’s/your lyrics in general for MUTATION. What do you draw from to produce such brutally honest and unforgiving lyrics?

Scott: Ginger titled each song from a list he had prepared prior to the writing sessions. The one-word, succinct nature of them tell you off the bat this record was going to be very direct, certainly from his lyrics. It’s not as wordy or poetic as his other output, probably to ensure maximum effect. We both wanted to make a warts n’ all record in all aspects. I cannot comment on specific examples that birthed a chorus as vitriolic as Irritant, but as you picked up on, people have found the record dropping at such a low point economically, politically and even personally in many of our lives this record speaks for its time.

Q. You’ve just completed a tour in Japan. You’ve said before how much you like the country and playing there, what makes you go back time and time again?

Scott: That was my second time to Japan on tour, I think Denzel has been there around 7 times with Ginger and fuck knows how many times he has been over the last 20 or so years. But from my experience it is like being on another planet. Every single waking second is filled with awe. It’s very hard to vocalise. The people of Japan, from demeanour to our label’s organisation leaves you in a dream state. Such an incredible experience.

Q. It’s always fun to see who you collaborate with, and seeing Devin Townsend credited may come as a surprise to some people if they don’t know about his WILDHEARTS days. How involved was he in the writing of the album?

Scott: We wrote and demoed the album in 5 days in North Wales in the summer of 2015. The last time Devin worked with Ginger I believe was on a b-side called Kill Me To Death, during THE WILDHEARTS’ Endless Nameless campaign. Devolution was the final track we wrote for Dark Black. We knew someone like Devin could just take our version and stamp his style all over it. There was no direction given, and [he] let us have it. The stems/tracks he sent over broke my computer when I tried to load the session up. Many people believe Devin had a hand in the album, as comparisons to STRAPPING YOUNG LAD kept cropping up, but it was just that track. Devin was a pleasure to work with, and will also feature in the forthcoming video for the track.

Q. I saw PRIMITIVE WEAPONS live back in January and their brand of noisy post-hardcore isn’t too dissimilar to MUTATION, although I was still surprised to see Arthur Shepherd from PW also contributed vocals to Mutation III: Dark Black. How did that collaboration come about?

Scott: Arthur has been a friend of mine for a few years – he is a fantastic human. I am a massive fan of many of one of his previous projects by mostly GAY FOR JOHNNY DEPP – my band EXIT_INTERNATIONAL played with them a few times. When we had finished the tracking of the album (Ginger and I both tracked our own verses/lyrics without hearing each other’s input) we found the gaps for some guests. I reached out to a wishlist of friends who I thought could push it further and Arthur stepped up. He tracked his vocals in NY with Travis Bacon of BLACK ANVIL/HOGWASCHE.

Q. Scott, thank you for your time! Lastly, Metalmance aims to cover new and underground bands, are there any groups or artists on your radar you think the metal community should know about?

Scott: BARRABUS for a start – featuring the mighty Paul Catten. Fucking great band and honoured to have them perform with us at our London show. MADE OF TEETH who have an ex-TAINT member in the ranks were awesome too. We also played with an insane band called DISGUNDER at one of our Tokyo shows – well worth checking out. I look to Belgium for most of my heavy/noisy fixes these days. Bands like RAKETKANON, DRUMS ARE FOR PARADES, STEAK NUMBER EIGHT, THE ROTT CHILDS, KABUL GOLF CLUB…all making very non-traditional heavy music.

Kill the Kong – Colossus

Release date: 24 February 2017. Label: GAIN/SONY

Back in February we featured these beastly Swedes as a ‘band to watch’. With their unusual line-up of seven members including two vocalists and two percussionists, everything about KILL THE KONG feels like a two-pronged attack; a Two-Pronged Kong if you will. Now with second album Colossus almost ready to be unleashed, it’s time for you to sit up and pay attention.

“Why can’t you see I have multiple hearts beating?” is the first lyric uttered in the suitably titled opener Hearts Beat. Could this be a reference to the colossal beast of their namesake? Or the hearts of the multiple members of the group? Either way, the track gives a good indication of the straight-up metalcore this album channels compared to their self-titled 2016 debut. No quirky percussion is present in this tune, but despite the limited lyrics it still provides a killer hook and the hope that the band have honed their song writing skills for this release.

This hope is realised when second track Juggernaut (wolfpack) crashes into our consciousness. Just a few seconds into the song, it can be heard their ambition and production has doubled in size; a shiny, massive sound to match their colossal line-up. The KILL THE KONG energy is there in bucket loads as we finally hear their signature drumming style for the first time in Colossus. With a vibe akin to newer PARKWAY DRIVE, the shout-along chorus perfectly matches the metallic groove of the instrumentation. The song breaks way to a satisfying clean vocal melody; wearing their metalcore influences on their sleeve KILL THE KONG clearly gain inspiration from bands such as ARCHITECTS but add their own refreshing twist to proceedings.

Just when you think you can predict how the next track will sound, the band let loose in Nerve; a song with a more hardcore stance. The groove is still there but the delivery and aggression is channelled in a similar manner to newer COMEBACK KID. Nerve also features a decent bit of riffage which maintains their energetic pace. The dual vocals of Timo and Sebastian really pay off as it provides subtle shifts in dynamic to keep the listener on their toes.

Pitch Black is a curious beast in itself. With another cheeky change in style, the song is a tad more unpredictable than the others; with a sound not too dissimilar to the quirkier end of metalcore such as HE IS LEGEND and EVERY TIME I DIE, yet the chorus almost has a nu metal element to it. A very interesting track, Pitch Black might prove to be an unexpected fan favourite with its hint of chaos and unforgiving attitude.

Another nice, crunchy riff greets the listener at the start of The Antagonist before it erupts into metalcore galore. A mature and focused song, everything about this track is spot on – its approach, execution and feeling. Atmospherics lurk in the background of the verse before a killer chorus catapults the song to a new level. But before you can get comfortable with the familiarity of the safe metalcore, KILL THE KONG unleash more impressive percussion to keep things interesting and make the sound truly their own.

A Swedish influence breaks through in Close to the Bone. The beginning has a strong THE HAUNTED groove which evolves into a contemporary metallic crunch. The band once again demonstrate their chorus game is getting stronger but the song is over before you know it! However, things take another interesting turn with Map of Wounds; the verse sounds reminiscent of LACUNA COIL with its bassy undertones and dark melody, yet the chorus blows up into a thumping ruckus.

Burning in Water, Drowning in Flames has some good ideas yet doesn’t quite take off like the other tracks. But it does feature the most pulsing breakdown of the album. If this song was likened to another band, you could argue it has a similar approach as newer KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, the chorus especially. Hopefully the song will become a grower.

We’re back in business when we’re introduced to the addictive beats of Snake Eyes. A whirring, storming thumper, it energetically pumps along like a good ol’ SOILWORK ditty. The song keeps on giving with its relentless energy holding out before its exhale at the very end. Album finale The Hurt Stays continues this energy, with the gang vocals returning in abundance expelling passion and emotion until the descent to Colossus‘ conclusion.

While offering nothing particularly groundbreaking, KILL THE KONG remain memorable with their quirky grooves. There was always the danger two percussionists could become a gimmick but luckily the band avoid this through their mature song writing. The foundations are set for something truly colossal in the future, but will KILL THE KONG break free from the chains of the underground and make an impact in the mainstream?

 

Dyscarnate – With All Their Might

Release Date: September 15 2017. Label: Unique Leader.

DYSCARNATE are finally releasing their hotly anticipated third album, With All Their Might after a five year wait; but after the close-to-perfection-groove-fest which was 2012’s And So It Came To Pass, how does it compare? Well, DYSCARNATE fans will be pleased to know this new release shows no mercy; faster, tougher, more ambitious and almost impossibly groovier, With All Their Might is all that you wish the new DECAPITATED would be. With new bassist Al Llewellyn in tow, the trio, completed by guitarist/vocalist Tom Whitty and drummer Matt Usworth, create a sound far bigger and more dynamic than most bands double their size. After being blown away by their groovy ritual at Tech Fest this year, Metalmance couldn’t wait to get our grubby mitts on the new album. The new songs they played live were a taste of the darker, more metallic album With All Their Might promised to be.

Bludgeoning their way into our consciousness with the gloriously punchy opener Of Mice And Mountains, DYSCARNATE are back in business. They are the British death metal riff masters after all and the track sets the unforgiving pace for the remainder of the album. Immediately you are confronted with the freshly diverse screaming on this record, for here is a band who are getting musically heavier with each release rather than others who are becoming softer. Straight to your face and triumphant, the instrumentation is relentless in its brutality and groove. The two things which form the backbone of the band’s strongest release to date.

The metallic crunch of the opening riff to second track This is Fire! gives it a blackened tinge to proceedings. The first track needed an equally punishing follow-up track and This Is Fire! certainly delivers. The chorus will most certainly become a firm fan favourite to shout along to, but it is the riff which drives the song to become the musical equivalent of sharpening steel. The track also features the surprise of ‘clean vocals’; not in the singing sense, but more of a chant which propels the song into a new dimension before plummeting into an absolute beast of a closing riff.

Lead single Iron Strengthens Iron should be the soundtrack to a bloodthirsty epic, like Spartacus or Gladiator. Crushing and heavy, DYSCARNATE truly do use ‘all their might’ to conduct this wounding, modern death metal classic. A good transition from old album to new, it’s easy to understand why it was chosen to be the first single. It has the same tone as And So It Came To Pass but with the new ambition of With All Their Might. A terrifically bruising composition, Iron Strengthens Iron is the sound of a raging battle.

Things slow down a tad with the intriguing Traitors In The Palace. Another blackened ambience greets the listener with bell tolls and hellish riffs. The gutteral vocals drag the song into a deeper circle of hell. A menacing riff erupts before we witness the evil sound of the band. Brutal, dark and dynamic, DYSCARNATE sure as hell are raising the bar for British death metal.

A bassy, whirring monster comes in the form of To End All Flesh Before Me. Another suffocatingly punishing track, the song breaks into a bass-heavy lull before pummeling the listener with rapid-fire drumming and DECAPITATED-esque riffage. The machine-gun pace continues with Backbreaker. It should be noted DYSCARNATE wouldn’t be DYSCARNATE without the impeccable drumming of Matt Unsworth. In an age of programmed drums, it’s refreshing to hear the organic sound of a talented drummer.

Now it’s time for arguably the standout track of the album – or at least the one which Metalmance has had on repeat the most; All The Devils Are Here. With its thrashy beginning, it levels out into a groovy divine force. The vocals reflect this god-tier level, with screams straight out of a fallen angel’s mouth. It also feels like a call and response is happening before we are chucked head first into and rumbling riff. One of the most diverse songs on the album, this track selects limbs from all extreme genres to create its own hellish hybrid. When you think you’re safe, you’re then exposed to the most spellbinding and spine-tingling outro of 2017. It will make you bang your head into oblivion.

If you’ve survived the album so far and have enough energy left for the finale, stick it out, for Nothing Seems Right will bang the final nail in your coffin. One last atmospheric blackened intro graces our ears for the album’s swansong. With its apocalyptic ambience, it is a fitting end to what is a flawless work of art. If With All Their Might doesn’t cement DYSCARNATE as Britain’s heavyweight heroes then we might just have to crack our skulls in disgust. With their no-nonsense attitude, DYSCARNATE will have you gagging to join their ranks.

Cryptopsy + Jøtnarr + A Bribe For The Ferryman 

Colchester Arts Centre. 19 August 2017.

(Apologies for poor picture quality, had to use phone camera instead) 

Colchester Arts Centre is a quirky little venue, and a regular spot for all genres of music and arts. Tonight, the former church is host to Montreal’s finest, CRYPTOPSY. As the death metal fans of Essex start spilling into the room, opener A BRIBE FOR THE FERRYMAN get underway with their set. 

Over the past year, the band from Colchester have gained momentum round the local scene. Metalmance last saw the band open for SEAWOLVES at Colchester’s Three Wise Monkeys, and since then the band has had a lineup shake up in the form of new drummer Joshua Moreton, the former drummer of REZINWOLF (RIP). ABFTF aren’t the most original band, their brand of recycled riffs making them sound more like a college band. That’s not to say everyone feels this way; the band had their own crew of hardcore fans and a small group moshing down the front, but the band and music just didn’t seem quite suitable for a death metal show. Luckily, Moreton has injected a new energy into the band, and bassist Chris May is well worth a watch purely for his stage presence alone. However you’re left wishing frontman Rob Norrington was less static on stage, but as a band they are still finding their feet and ABFTF really need to establish their own sound or risk failing to break out of the local scene. 

Gracing the stage next were local troupe JØTNARR. Always a safe choice for an extreme metal gig in Colchester, the trio brought the gritty noise and chaotic energy to the Arts Centre and got the crowd warmed up for the noisy ruckus to come. The simplicity of the band being a three-piece is a deceiving disguise for the huge wall of sound and screams they make. Their performances are always captivating, with all members unleashing a sound akin to the soundtrack of the expulsion of demons. If you’re from the area and haven’t yet witnessed the mighty JØTNARR, then what has possessed you? 

Iconic in itself, the painting Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist by the artist Elisabetta Sirani is no doubt more infamous now for being the artwork for CRYPTOPSY’s None So Vile, with John’s decapitated head decorating the scrims on the stage. It is this album which the masters of death metal are playing in its entirety tonight. With his exuberant long hair, frontman Matt McGachy whipped his locks round and windmilled enough for everyone down the front to caught tangled up in it or have it dip in their drinks at some point. Intense and loud as ever, it was evident the band were experts at their aural craft, oozing professionalism and menace with their fans lapping up each riff and scream. Unrelenting throughout the playthrough of None So Vile, when the opening riff for the classic track, Slit Your Guts resonated round the room, the band had the crowd eating out of their hands. Legends in their own right, it was a very special occasion that the band were gracing Colchester with their presence, it is hard to do the band justice with this little review. The only disappointment of the night was that the show didn’t have a larger turnout. This seems to be a repeating pattern at Colchester gigs recently  (possibly even the region as a whole). If CRYPTOPSY played here ten years ago, it more than likely would have been near to selling out. But tonight is the present, and everyone in attendance had a ghoulishly good time otherwise. 

Tech Fest 2017

6 Jul – 7 Jul 2017. Newark Showground.

THURSDAY

A small festival filled with technical metal bands, death metal and progressive metal? Yes please. Add to that the tight-knit tech community of people from all around the world, heavenly pizza, and tiny pancakes and you have a stellar weekend on your hands.

Thursday was the early bird day, with CHELSEA GRIN headlining. However, with Metalmance participating in camping shenanigans and being flooded out by rain of biblical proportions, there was only time to see THE ROYAL in the afternoon. Last time Metalmance saw these Dutch metalcore chaps, was in Boston Music Rooms supporting DREAMSHADE in March. Back then the band managed to stir up the crowd with their jumping-inducing tunes, and at Tech Fest it was no different, just on a bigger scale. Playing material from albums Dreamcatchers and their newest release, Seven, the band certainly won new fans over with their energetic set.

 

FRIDAY

Kicking off the weekend proper were London prog darlings FRAKTIONS. Metalmance recently had the pleasure of witnessing the band in Bristol supporting DEITIES, but their Tech Fest set was on another level. The group had brought their A-game, with vocalist Joel Pinder leading the performance with every vocal spot on. It was great to see a big turn out for the first band of the day and it’s clear to see how firmly wedged in the tech fam hearts FRAKTIONS are. If Tech Festers weren’t warmed up already, then they most certainly were after Kaan Tasan of NO CONSEQUENCE made a guest appearance. An impressive start to the festival by one of Britain’s promising progressive hopes.

Metalmance caught the second half of DREWSIF STALIN’S MUSICAL ENDEAVOURS and it was exactly as expected; fun, bordering on chaos with the man himself commanding the stage along with vocalist, Lee making a damn fine effort.

VALIS ABLAZE were up next on the Gigantic Stage. A solid set, the band were clearly well rehearsed, with material from latest EP Insularity shimmering amongst the setlist. Vocalist Phil Owen hits every note while guitarist Tom Moore steals the hearts with his evident joy of being there, demanding the most attention by performing on a front speaker. That is until the guest appearance of Drewsif Stalin (the producer of Insularity) stealing the focus away. Ending the set in high spirits and to a great response, it’s wonderful to see this talented band starting to receive the recognition they deserve.

Metalmance Valis Ablaze

From VALIS ABLAZE’s melodic progressive metal to something quite different, Metalmance entered the main arena to the irresistible riffy ruckus of British death metallers DYSCARNATE. Having never encountered the band before it’s safe to say the brutal trio ended up being one of Metalmance’s highlights of the festival. No nonsense, straight to your face, no gimmicks, the band deliver their material at 100mph. They treated their fans to a few new tracks from their forthcoming album. These songs have a blackened tinge to them, making the next release one of the most hotly anticipated of the year for us.

Deathcore masters MARTYR DEFILED deliver a polished set which loses none of its impressive intensity. This British lot have been touring for well over 5 years now, their ease at playing a ferocious show is evident. One of the veterans of the British scene and should remain so.

In a drunken haze, Metalmance caught bits of WITHIN DESTRUCTION and VIRVUM, both on the gigantic stage. Both very heavy. Heavy is the word which came to mind…

By the time the evening rolled round, everyone was buzzing for the headliners THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, but beforehand we all got warmed up with an absolute pummelling from the legendary ABORTED. Intense, disgustingly heavy and incredibly tight, the pioneers of Belgian deathgrind delighted the crowd with their impressive stage presence and set up. Skeletons graced the stage, backlit by eerie lighting. This, coupled with frontman Sven De Caluwe pacing up and down the platform and the technical instrumentation, all contributed to arguably one of the tightest sets of the whole weekend.

It was always going to be a challenging job to top ABORTED’s flawless set, but who better for the job than THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER? Their live reputation is well known, a stupidly tight and professional band, TBDM have always moved from strength to strength. Performing material spanning across their whole back catalogue, from Unhallowed to Abysmal, every song went down a treat with their fans. Of course, this year signals 10 years since the release of classic album Nocturnal, so several tracks were played tonight, including the fan favourite What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse, in preparation for their forthcoming tour playing the album in full. Feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm, the band were clearly in high spirits and knocking out tune after tune. Frontman Trevor Strnad grabbed the inflatable banana which was being crowd surfed to the front. This bode the start of what would become a legendary year for inflatables at Tech Fest… Heads banging, pits, cheers and smiles all round were the result of TBDM’s set. You can’t help but to be left feeling impressed and upbeat once the band have rolled into town. A hard act to follow, the bar was set for the remainder of the weekend.

As Paradise Falls – Digital Ritual

Label: Eclipse Records. Release Date: 21 July 2017.

Australia is gaining quite the reputation for quality metal acts; KARNIVOOL, VOYAGER, NORTHLANE, AVERSIONS CROWN…get the idea? Now you can add Brisbane’s AS PARADISE FALLS to that list too. The band who are proving to be an unstoppable force, faced a few setbacks while the recording of Digital Ritual, mostly the sudden passing of guitarist Glen Barrie in late 2015. Not only did the band have to regroup and support each other after his death, but the band were also more conscious about creating an album worthy of preserving Glen’s legacy. Produced by Shane Edwards (NORTHLANE, TROPHY EYES, HELLIONS) the band have achieved a solid album; a heavy tech record full of interesting nuggets here and there, with more grooves, beats, riffs and curious titbits than you can shake a stick at. Influenced by bands such as EMMURE and fellow Aussies THY ART IS MURDER and PARKWAY DRIVE, it’s no surprise Digital Ritual is an album which packs a punch.

The title track kicks off proceedings with a tense introduction, erupting into an instrumental banger with a smattering of electronic tinkles. Balance then completely blows the senses with its massive drums, ferocious riffs and the raw vocals from frontman Shaun Coar. One of the heaviest tracks on the album, Balance threatens the listener with what AS PARADISE FALLS are capable of.

The chuggy, EMMURE-ish riffs soon break way for the start of Star Blind. The lead single entices with its calming intro of blissful clean vocals but we’re soon back in business with a punishing riff to make sure you continue your way to the killer chorus reminiscent of AMORPHIS or even ORPHANED LAND. Once again, nothing prepares you for the switch in style for next track, The Ultimate Consumer. With a riff not too dissimilar to DECAPITATED’s Spheres of Madness, the song switches between mesmerising vocals and downright punishing metal.

Automated Sacrifice is a mish-mash of all sorts making it one of the more rewarding tracks on Digital Ritual. With the album’s best guitar solo and breakdown , this song also features more of Coar’s versatile vocals as well as more atmospheric flourishes which enriches the dynamic. A relentless groove greets listeners for Glory To The Server, but frequently breaks into djent moments with a SIKTH-esque edge.

A melodic opening to Reborn soon evolves into something reminiscent of a MALEVOLENCE groove but with an extra metallic crunch. This intensifies for Dead Message, an absolute stomper of a track. It’s becoming evident AS PARADISE FALLS pull off every style they play, but this also means they are lacking a sound which is distinctly theirs. Having said this, the material is strong enough and exciting enough to kick up anticipation to see how the band will progress. A very promising full-length, AS PARADISE FALLS should be on your radar.

 

 

Eighteen Visions – XVIII

Label: Rise Records. Release Date: 2 June 2017.

XVIII might just take the crown for most unexpected 2017 release. Last year Metalmance raved about EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ back catalogue in Weekly Roundup #6, and stated it would be very unlikely there would be a reunion in the near future. Well, 10 years on from their breakup, EIGHTEEN VISIONS sneakily reformed and recorded a new album with the help of ANAAL NATHRAKH’s Mick Kenney (who also produces ex-EIGHTEEN VISIONS and BLEEDING THROUGH member Brandan Schieppatti’s solo project THE IRON SON.) and it’s fair to say it’s a return to their roots. Everything, from their logo to shots of bees and mannequins in their promotional materials, all hark back to their first major release Until The Ink Runs Out in 2000. XVIII feels like a homage to their past selves and their late bassist Mick Morris, as it meanders through familiar territory (i.e the use of film samples which has not been practised since Vanity in 2002), but in true EIGHTEEN VISIONS fashion, it sounds nothing like anything they have written before. Each album shifts massively from style to style and this new release is no different.

Blasting in with Crucified, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are shaking off any false impressions from their last self-titled album, an album which saw the band being branded as sell-outs. This storming intro, with its ferocious drumming and blackened riffs, immediately makes the point that EIGHTEEN VISIONS are heavier than ever and are back to show the scene how it’s done. The lyrics themselves could be interpreted in many ways; “Still crucified. I’ve never been consumed. Never conformed like you.” Could this be the band’s response to comments about their last album? How they’ve always done what the hell they’ve wanted despite what fans and the scene say?

The Disease, The Decline, and Wasted Time is quite a groovy fair, with James Hart’s distinct screams tearing through the track. The chorus is not too dissimilar to something you would hear on their self-titled, infectiously catchy yet backed up with heavy accompaniment. They always had killer breakdowns (Tower of Snakes anyone?) but the breakdown in this track is something else. Guitarist Keith Barney has seriously concocted a batch of tasty riffs for this album and has plunged the band into another level of heaviness. This formula continues for the third track Underneath The Gun, with the vocal melody in the middle eight and the end sounding reminiscent of the self-titled track off Vanity. Heavy. There’s that word again, heavy…

A tribute to Mick Morris comes in the form of the intense track Live Again. An unapologetically heavy single, it features more top notch riffs but also some of the album’s most carefully considered lyrics; “Stay inside me. We’ll never forget the days. We made the most of our memories.” The song descends into a powerful rock chorus but never strays far from the brutal foundations of the composition. A fitting, and heartfelt tribute to Morris’ legacy indeed.

Hart’s rock vocals raise their head again in Laid to Waste in the Shit of Man but erupt back into their raw state for the punishing Oath. Many have interpreted this song to be the band’s loyalty to the straight edge, but it could represent many things. A likely interpretation is staying true to music and family, it follows the same attitude as You Don’t Have to be Blood to be Family-era THROWDOWN. The gritty instrumentation is a mish-mash of all their previous albums, it sounds like Until the Ink Runs Out, Vanity and Obsession all rolled into one. Ladies and gentlemen, this is EIGHTEEN VISIONS.

Spit and Picture Perfect are further examples of filthy tunes with oodles of groove and distortion. If their self-titled album was geared towards an 80’s vibe then XVIII definitely veers towards a 90’s ALICE IN CHAINS edge in places. Fake Leather Jacket could easily fit on 2004’s Obsession, with its groovy riff reminiscent to Crushed and its crushing chorus. The lyrics are also quite curious; “Said youʼd make me famous. The year of the “v.” But youʼre just so epic full of shit.” Could this be directed to Epic Records who let them down with promoting their self-titled? This track is full suggestive comments but once again in true 18V fashion it could be interpreted in many different ways.

Each EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ album has an absolutely spellbinding track and XVIII is no different. A solid album and one which has exceeded all expectations, this record needed a statement finale. With For This I Sacrifice they have achieved this, a track dripping with passion and feeling, it is one of the heaviest love songs you’ll hear all year. It also demonstrates just how far Hart’s vocals have come since the introduction of cleans on Vanity. A spine tingling ending for one of their best albums to date, there’s no doubt about it, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are back and ready to rejuvenate the metalcore scene again. Welcome back chaps.

 

My Vitriol + Marla + Kamensko

15 May 2017. The Waterfront Studio, Norwich.

It had been over 15 years since London’s “nu-gaze” masters had graced a stage in Norfolk’s fine city, but they had finally returned to fans both old and new. Last year eventually saw the release of the band’s highly anticipated second album, The Secret Sessions and a UK tour was always expected by fans. If the Norwich show was anything to go by then the rest of the UK tour would have been well worth the wait.

Supports for tonight’s gig were Norwich’s own KAMENSKO and MARLA, bands which prove the local scene is in safe hands. KAMENSKO warmed up the crowd with their classic sound but surprised with the odd cheeky breakdown, fresh yet funky. MARLA had an immense sound considering they were one member short, their stage presence and rich material more than made up for the absent member. A high-energy indie band in the same vein as THE EDITORS but bolder, there were lots of interesting and captivating sounds to pull the crowd closer to the stage. One band to watch for sure. 

There was a modest excitement before MY VITRIOL took to the stage. Remember, this is a band who performed on Top of the Pops and main stage Reading and Leeds back in the day, so to see the group in such an intimate venue as The Waterfront Studio is a special treat indeed. One striking component of their set was their impressive light rig, it made the small venue feel like a room triple its capacity and perfectly complimented the dreamy and melodic rock the band from London produce.

Kicking off with a few newer songs from The Secret Sessions, such as We’ve Lost Our Way and It’s So Damn Easy, the band, including frontman Som Wardner, looked relaxed and oozed professionalism on stage. The new songs nestled nicely amongst the old with fans greatly appreciating Finelines’ lesser known songs such as Infantile as well as the classic single Grounded. By the time the band finished with Always Your Way it felt like tonight had been a celebration of the band’s reunion but also a celebration of their unique material which had been sorely missed in the UK music scene. “Hopefully it won’t take us 15 years until we play Norwich again.” Hopefully Som, hopefully. 

Rezinwolf EP

Self-released. Release date: 26 April 2017.

You may remember Metalmance reviewed REZINWOLF’s single Poison Ivy way back in September, but now the lads from Harwich have finally released the EP and it is a shining example of what metal delights Essex has to offer. If you’ve been following the band from their early beginnings and their debut Corruption Kingdom, you may be surprised by the change in direction from thrash leanings to a more classic approach to proceedings. Keeping it old school yet refreshingly modern, it is clear from the first listen REZINWOLF have poured their hearts and souls into this record, but are metal to the core.

Kicking off with Voice of the Youth, the quality and depth of the song writing is only the start of it. Vocalist Danny ‘Murf’ Murphy’s clean vocals have improved massively, with his yaps and yells spot on in classic fashion, yet sounding smooth and charismatic for the melodies. With solos aplenty, the talent of the band is apparent straight away yet they somehow avoid clichés, most likely through their passion for their craft which just oozes out the speakers.

Nearer My Hell To Thee is a punchy and bright number. With this second track it is already impossible not to be seduced by the band’s infectious choruses. The vocals in this track in particular are stellar but it also becomes evident the band’s decision to record and mix in a studio was an excellent choice, as the recording positively shimmers with polished tones and has set the band to flourish. The bass is nicely nestled in the mix, enabling a full and dynamic sound full of rich layers of melodies and riffs, resulting in a delicious gateau of heavy metal.

Third track is in memory of Murf’s mother who tragically passed away before the release. Restart Your Heart brings 80s classic rock to the fore, with cheesy and catchy melodies but with extra heart. If a less experienced band attempted to pull off a track such as this, it might not have been convincing, but REZINWOLF execute the emotion in this song perfectly and you know they mean every word. Even the riffs are catchy. By now you know the band are onto a real winner with this EP, they’re everything you wanted AIRBOURNE to be. They live and breathe this.

The EP closes with the stunning Poison Ivy, which harks band to the band’s heavier origins with more thrashy elements than the rest of the EP. With another catchy chorus but a darker feel, this track is still as irresistible as when it was first released last year. There is a sprinkling of piano on the closing bars, resulting in a dramatic yet thrilling ending for the EP. REZINWOLF have set themselves a high bar here to top when they record their next album. It will be exciting to see what direction the band move into next, but one thing’s for sure, you’ll want to buckle up and go along for the ride to see what heights REZINWOLF can reach with this release.

Rezinwolf – Poison Ivy Review

The Royal – Seven

Label: Long Branch Records. Release Date: 31 March 2017.

Since releasing their debut album Dreamcatchers in 2014, THE ROYAL have slowly been causing a stir in the European metalcore scene, and now hopefully with the band’s first label release Seven through Long Branch Records, this group of promising Dutchmen are set to take the scene by storm. Seven continues where Dreamcatchers left off, but things sound a lot sharper, more structured, and vocalist Sem Pisarahu has definitely found his vocal niche with this release.

To kick off proceedings, Thunder storms in with riffs galore, and soon enough we’re back amongst THE ROYAL’s safe clutches. With this opening track, the band’s confidence oozes through the speakers, with bold tones and an urgent presence, the song soon gives way to one of the album’s highlights, Feeding Wolves. Featuring Carlo Knöpfel of BREAKDOWN OF SANITY this song features a lot of exciting elements; elegant riffs which soon erupt into a crushing mass of tech riffery and catchy lines which are destined to be firm favourites for fans to shout along to. Unapologetically heavy, yet diverse enough to remain interesting, this track sets the milestone for the remainder of the album.

The third track, single, Wildmind maintains the band’s infectious energy and features one of the album’s most memorable riffs. It is becoming apparent THE ROYAL are definitely ones to watch, with their mix of a bruising foundation, topped by piercing guitars and crushing vocals. This variety is worked to create an interesting and unpredictable bag of metalcore. Creeds and Vultures surprises the ear with tech riffs that border on the djent, along with an unexpected acoustic middle-eight and a triumphant outro. A truly impressive track in terms of seamlessly mixing all these components together, THE ROYAL confidently demonstrate they are still unfazed by including acoustic and orchestral parts, as any fan of the debut album would be familiar with.

This continues with the piano opening of Counterculture, the second single taken from Seven. With a desperate message, the band storm their way through the song, once again with killer riffs and a hardcore attitude of camaraderie. A thought provoking song about the state of the world, this message has time to sink in during the album’s atmospheric interlude, appropriately named…Interlude. This is soon interrupted with the whirring riff of the title track, which is an example of the band’s leaning towards the more tech side of metal.

Life Breaker and Thalassa are chock-full of tech influences, with both songs of course containing signature killer riffs, you can just assume by this point that the remainder of the songs will also plentiful in the riffage department. Indeed, closer Viridian needs something special to offer to put the tech metal cherry on top of THE ROYAL’s metalcore cake. And it certainly delivers; a fast-paced, energetic number, it is the perfect counterpart to Thunder, nicely sandwiching all the riffs and screams between two solid tracks of THE ROYAL goodness.

A seriously blinding effort, Seven will hopefully propel THE ROYAL to the forefront of the burgeoning scene. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for this promising lot and how the band evolves for future releases.