Band to watch: DISTORTED HARMONY. Recently wowing crowds at this year’s ProgPower Europe, this melodic prog band from Tel Aviv already have two mesmerising albums under their belts. 2014’s album Chain Reaction is a delicious melodic package of progressive metal goodness. Their songs shimmer with spine-tingling piano as well as chord progressions which will make your heart soar. Thought provoking lyrics as well as emotional themes are the orders of the day with opener Every Time She Smiles being a firm fan favourite. Its tone and melody seem strangely nostalgic with flashbacks to bands you might have listened to a decade ago e.g. FINCH and STATISTICS but the remainder of the album takes many twists and turns it is hard to predict where the band will venture next. The single, Natural Selection storms in with a spectacularly fast proggy intro, a bit like a quicker THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT with politically charged lyrical content, but what always astounds listeners is the sheer talent of all the band members especially keyboardist Yoav Efron who also writes the majority of the songs. Vocalist Misha Soukhinin has an impressive range and such a smooth timbre to his voice you will fall under DISTORTED HARMONY’s spell in a second. Closer, Methylene Blue can only be described as the soundtrack to when you’re waking up from a dream. You may have to pinch yourself to confirm DISTORTED HARMONY are real, but trust me, they are worth the pinch.
Video to watch: ISSUES. This week, this American heavy pop band released quite a powerful video for their track Blue Wall. Aimed at protesting against police brutality it has become quite a talking point amongst fans. At the beginning of their video the band state the song is about “taking responsibility and making peace”. They are setting out to “tear down the blue wall which silences the good cops and empowers the bad”. They want to encourage listeners to reform their relationship with the American police. The video features ferocious live footage of the band and a running narrative of the theme, but what is so good about this release is the fact the accompanying song is the band’s heaviest on their second album Headspace. The rap and screams blasts their point across, yet also keeps older fans pleased as it is a return to a style similar to their self-titled album. ISSUES are still proving to be an exciting band that is sure to hit the mainstream soon with their catchy as hell songs, but Blue Wall shows the band still have a lot to say. Make sure you hear them loud and clear.
Still in the stereo: CANE HILL. This aggressive troupe from New Orleans, LA released their debut album Smile back in July and it’s safe to say it completely blew nu metal fans away. It still packs a brutal punch, devouring your favourite American aggressive bands and excreting them out into their own brand of ear-bashing, ferocious metal. Their sound harks back to the glory days of the best bands of the nu metal i.e. KORN and the straight up metal days similar to early SLIPKNOT but all with a confident swagger and less focus on an aesthetic. The sheer brutality of their songs dusts off the somewhat stale genre, making it relevant once again in the current resurgence, threatening to blow nu metal veterans i.e. (HED)PE and AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE completely out of the water. CANE HILL also have a modern metal sound, a bit like MOTIONLESS IN WHITE at times, but without the foundation and eyeliner. Instead they bring no nonsense, balls-to-the-wall metal and if live reviews are anything to go by then their forthcoming UK tour with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE in December will be one hell of a belter. So catch up with Smile and educate yo’selves with ear-assaulting tracks such as St Veronica, provocative tunes (see, Cream Pie) and darker ballads i.e. You’re So Wonderful.
Band to rediscover: EIGHTEEN VISIONS. This month 12 years ago, this straight edge metal band from Orange County, CA released Obsession, an album many would argue would trigger the beginning of the end for the band. This view might have been due to the album being their first to be released on a major album, but personally I thought Obsession was their most solid and coherent album yet. Creating a follow-up to their metal-tinged hardcore opus Vanity was never going to be an easy feat (that album is still highly regarded in the underground community) but Obsession was one highly polished, melodic metal beast it was difficult not to fall in love with it. Vocalist James Hart used more clean singing on the album (see closer, Said and Done) but when things got heavy, boy, did they get heavy! The breakdown in Tower of Snakes was the hottest of 2004 but it was Waiting for the Heavens which fully demonstrated the band’s maturity and ability to pen such sensitive yet hard-hitting songs. This album took the band all over the world touring with bands from LAMB OF GOD to BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE. Their energetic live shows was stuff of legend and the live scene has been missing their ‘fashioncore’, bass lickin’ ways ever since. Unfortunately the band broke up after their infamous self titled album which divided opinion more than Moses parted the sea. The album was radio friendly rock which was a far cry from their brutal early albums (check out Until The Ink Runs Out) but it was still a solid release and did not deserve such a brutal backlash. But fans and the metal community can still find comfort in their back catalogue, but it is unlikely the band will reunite in the near future at least.
Band yet to listen to: KAUAN. This Ukrainian post-rock band with folk and doom elements have been the first band confirmed to play ProgPower Europe 2017. A more intense listen is needed!