Deities – Archon

Self-release. Release date: 15th Dec 2016.

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Easing in with some feedback static, Archon suddenly crashes into our consciousness with the crushing riff of opener, Luna. Dan Earl’s punishing growls resonate, and from there on in, Norwich’s DEITIES are unstoppable with their own brand of experimental metal. During this first song it becomes clear that with Archon, their second EP, DEITIES are beginning to nurture a more dynamic, mature sound which will be vital for them to thrive in the burgeoning British tech metal scene. The band’s influences are still there, with Luna reminiscent of the grooves of LAMB OF GOD’s Cursed the Blackened Sun, but DEITIES take their influences and twist them into their own aggressive sound thanks to the zeal of guitarist Dave Klussman and drummer Jon Curtis.

Second track Archon is an impressive slab of progressive groove metal, sounding a bit of Silhouettes-era TEXTURES here and there, the band harness their energy and propel it into a full-throttle assault. The song packs a punch with the lyrics also creating an impact “I am enlightened, the apex of humanity. I am resistance, a monolith of the mind”. DEITIES create intelligent music with lyrics to match. Each component is clearly thought out and passionately crafted. The same can be said for Psychonaut, which proves to be a more progressive affair with the soaring vocals of guest singer Dave Maclachlan and the subtle use of djent, which when brought together creates a totally spellbinding composition.

Sol is a straight-up, no-nonsense, metal-de-force and whatever other hyphenated adjectives you can think of. Once again Dan Earl’s lyrics about the state of the Earth and mankind have a profounding effect “We are exiled by the divine, tainted creatures born of spite”. This unbridled frustration makes DEITIES a band of constructive aggression. Penultimate track Bloodletting is another stunning example of what DEITIES have to offer. It is hard to believe this standard of material is already reached by the band’s second EP.

If Archon hasn’t already blown you away by now, then the EP’s finale Blackened will most definitely pummel you into the ground. The masterpiece of the EP, the closing track is a 7 minute shift between styles yet remains a focused triumph. The rich depth of production creates layers of organised noise which lapse together into an utterly compelling opus. If DEITIES have already established a strong sound such as this by their second EP, just imagine what a monster their debut album could be.

Weekly Roundup #11

Turn it up to 11

Band to watch: KARMANJAKAH. With instant TESSERACT vibes, Color is the first song released by Swedish progressive metal band KARMANJAKAH (the name is a location in the Swedish children’s book The Brothers Lionheart). However, unlike most groups who aim to rip off the whole djent/Daniel Tompkins thing with little to no originality, KARMANJAKAH thankfully offer their own spin on things with their intelligent approach and the impressive vocals of Jonas Lundquist. Once the song absorbs you, you feel confident that the band can carve their own niche in an oversaturated scene, because as the song progresses, the sheer melodic power paves the way to the realisation that KARMANJAKAH do in fact have something new to bring to the table. Drumming up anticipation for their debut EP through this track alone, music fans are more than curious to hear what the remainder of the record will have in store when it is released 3rd December. If the blissful melodies and crushing riffs of Color are anything to go by then the EP may certainly be something very special.

 

Video to watch: THE KING IS BLIND. Made in collaboration with Kieran Wakeman of Divine Chaos Art, this video for East Anglia’s THE KING IS BLIND is a hellish yet a captivating visual accompaniment to the band’s bruising track Throne of Skulls. Echoes of films such as Eraserhead and Surrealist art house, hint at the disturbing and twisted content of the video. The jarring shots layer atop each other creating an unsettling array of images which make for intense viewing. The track itself is a lethal assault and will be available on the Speed Kills 7 compilation due 2nd December. If you’re after some unnerving artsy visuals and sounds then give Throne of Skulls a try.

 

In the stereo: ANIMALS AS LEADERS released fourth album, The Madness of Many earlier this month, and it’s safe to say, it is still on repeat ever since. A bit heavier and darker than 2014’s album The Joy of Motion, it is still unbelievable how ANIMALS AS LEADERS constantly up their own game and release masterpiece after masterpiece. The diversity of sounds on this album demonstrates how far the band push the boundaries of progressive music and composition itself, as far as utterly breaking free of limitations and creating the most mesmerising music which doesn’t seem possible by man. Stand out tracks being Arithmophobia, Backpfeifengesicht and The Brain Dance, each song has its own flare and signature motif, which is a departure from the songs on The Joy of Motion which seemed to melt into one another. ANIMALS AS LEADERS are already contemporary legends, how on earth are they going to top this?

 

Band to rediscover: THE HURT PROCESS. With all these emo/scremo/post-hardcore-o bands reforming and touring (i.e. SAOSIN, UNDEROATH etc) it got me thinking about similar bands I would like to hear again. This reintroduced me to THE HURT PROCESS, a melodic hardcore band from Tunbridge Wells, England, who proved that the British could play the genre just as well as their American counterparts. Releasing two albums, Drive By Monologue (2003) and A Heartbeat Behind (2005) the band were destined for big things especially after touring America on the Warped Tour in 2004. Then suddenly in 2006, the band disbanded, leaving a gaping hole in the British metalcore scene. A Heartbeat Behind is an album I often return to, due to its plentiful hooks, melodies, screams and dual vocals. It probably doesn’t sound like an original mix of components nowadays, but back in 2005 it was exciting that a home-grown ‘screamo’ band were rivalling the masters of the genre from the US. THE HURT PROCESS remain one of the most underrated underground heroes of our time.

Crystal Lake – True North

Label: Artery Recordings. Release Date: 2nd Dec 2016.

Punishing. That is the word to describe True North, the fourth album by this Japanese metal troupe from Tokyo. Now under MDDN management (Joel Madden of GOOD CHARLOTTE fame) this album is set to propel CRYSTAL LAKE  into the metal stratosphere. True North is an exciting and absolutely blistering record; full of surprises, this band definitely have a few tricks up their sleeve.

Their explosive brand of hardcore infused metalcore has made them pioneers of heavy music in their homeland, and now they are causing quite a stir in Europe and North America with their first single off the album, Omega. Crashing in with absolutely lethal vocals by Ryo coupled with the ferocious guitars and drumming, Omega is a blinding statement that CRYSTAL LAKE mean business. A truly crushing song, relief is found in melodic electronic effects which adds an interesting dynamic to the brutality of the composition.

Things then take an interesting turn with Hatred, an impressive example of metal with a hip hop flourish. CRYSTAL LAKE execute this mix of genres with aplomb, making this one of the most memorable songs from True North. The band then turn all of that on its head with Metro, a surprisingly catchy song with pop punk overtones, yet it maintains the band’s hardcore intensity. It is this intensity which CRYSTAL LAKE channel into the pummelling title track True North, a brutally honest anthem with lyrics such as “This is the way we are, this is the way we die.” It stands as a testament to how we are who we are, no matter the changes which occur around us.

It would ruin the surprise if the stylistic direction of every song on the album was described in this review, but one song you can become acquainted with before the release is the new track Six Feet Under. A violent 2 minute blast of pure hardcore which will most certainly feel like the aural equivalent of having your face ripped off. It kicks you in the throat then leaves you for dead before you’re washed up by the stunning album closer, Waves. This song perfectly juxtaposes melodic components with unforgivingly heavy elements, which results in a breath-taking finale to a truly spellbinding album. Believe the hype, CRYSTAL LAKE have arrived to claim the metal throne.

 

Dreamshade – Vibrant

Label: Artery Recordings. Release date: 9th Dec 2016.

An album which shimmers with melodic metal perfection, this third offering from Swiss band DREAMSHADE is indeed a vibrant effort. Focusing lyrically on relationships whether romantic or familial, the band explore the ability to grow and learn from the inevitable shifts in relationships and friendships. This feeling of inner strength and growth is matched by the instrumentation, a strong and mature sound while remaining unpredictable throughout the record. With unexpected twists and turns in styles, DREAMSHADE’s music can be seen as a reflection of the unforeseen changes in life.

Vibrant kicks off with blinding opener Autumn Leaves, a song which demonstrates the band’s knack of juxtaposing metalcore with pop punk elements. Crushing riffs are accompanied with bittersweet keys while vocalist Kevin Calì screams and sings his lament for a broken relationship. But when autumn leaves fall, new ones eventually take their place, and this hope and regrowth is expressed through Calì’s declaration of self-reparation in It’s Over. A stripped back beginning, it soon erupts into a massive chorus which is sure to become a firm fan favourite.

Things take a bit of a LINKIN PARK-esque turn for track Don’t Wanna Go, with rap, electronic elements and a killer chorus, all executed with aplomb creating an emotionally raw track. The band then turn towards their metalcore influences for Dreamers Don’t Sleep, which once again expertly combines raw and clean vocals to a standard of later KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and SOILWORK. This heaviness continues into The World In My Hands but the pace picks up, creating a positive force of facing fears which will most certainly make the song a future anthem for DREAMSHADE fans.

An unexpected gem is found in the form of Another Me Another You which evolves from a blissfully laidback tune into almost a power ballad with its blistering lead guitar. It’s these small shifts in style which make DREAMSHADE an exciting band to listen to. Oceantides is also a standout track, with fierce guitars and a soaring melody, it’s a perfect example of the band’s own brand of metalcore.

Bringing the album to a close is the heart wrenching Father, a song which seems to incorporate all emotions which makes a fitting finale to what is an emotionally exposing album. DREAMSHADE have a created a solid body of material with Vibrant, a rewarding listen which displays the potential of DREAMSHADE hitting the mainstream and making it their own.

Weekly Roundup #10

Number 10 Astounding Street

Band to watch: DREAMSHADE. In the run up to the release of their album Vibrant on December 9th, this Swiss band have been teasing fans with previews of new tracks which are, put simply, something special. Introducing DREAMSHADE then, a band hard to pigeonhole so let’s just stick with ‘melodic metal’, but after you listen to these talented chaps you’ll soon realise they experiment with a vast array of genres in their music. Most recent preview Up All Night has a bright pop punk riff, but soon evolves into a blissful hard rock tune. Catchy, yet mature, this band know how to take their influences and turn them into their distinct style of heavy music. Dreamers Don’t Sleep has a definite melodic death metal vibe, sounding similar to later KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and a softer SOILWORK. A little bit of LINKIN PARK can even be heard here, with Kevin Calì’s vocals turning a bit Chester Bennington at times. But this is most certainly DREAMSHADE. An exciting mix of heaviness and raw with clean and melodic, they break the mould by remaining unpredictable. With teasers such as this, Vibrant is set to be a corker of a release. 2017 will most certainly be a big year for them. Don’t miss out.

 

Video to watch: TWELVE FOOT NINJA. Finally receiving the recognition they deserve in the UK, this metal band from Australia always treat us with entertaining videos, and this video for Sick is no different. Adopting a Stranger Things vibe, this is 9 minutes of pure WTF accompanying the band’s unique brand of funk-fusion-prog-infused metal. The video begins with TWELVE FOOT NINJA watching a movie which also features the band. Their car breaks down and they are approached by a hella creepy fella and all hell breaks loose from there. A morbidly funny video, expect blood, chainsaws and a twist at the end! So risk it for a biscuit and giggle at a bit of TWELVE FOOT NINJA.

 

In the stereo: EARTHSIDE. It’s hard to believe EARTHSIDE’s debut album A Dream In Static has been out for over a year now. It’s also hard to believe it is a debut! The sheer talent and passion displayed on this album makes the record a rewarding listen each time. Each note and lyric is carefully composed and considered, making A Dream In Static a rich variety of sounds and layers. Cinematic in style, this metal band from New Haven have a few tricks up their sleeve with some impressive guest vocals from the likes of Lajon Witherspoon (SEVENDUST), Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid (SOILWORK) and Dan Tompkins (TESSERACT). Each track has its own unique EARTHSIDE stamp on it, from the blissful opening of The Closest I’ve Come with Frank Sacramone’s incredible keyboard lead, to the heart wrenching closer of The Contemplation of the Beautiful with the vehement vocals of Eric Zirlinger. A standout track from the album is Mob Mentality, a composition by guitarist Jamie Van Dyck, it not only features the vocals of Lajon Witherspoon, but also instrumentation from the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra, making the track the most cinematic in style. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what this album has to offer; an expansive and emotionally deep album, it will take you on a journey to the depths of your soul and to the edges of your mind. A dream in static indeed.

 

Back to rediscover: MAYBESHEWILL parted ways in April, but recently teased fans with news of a collaboration with design and production house WeTheConspirators. This will ultimately be a going away present to fans, but any MAYBESHEWILL material is always gratefully received. This instrumental band from Leicester were always a special gem in the post-rock world. With an impressive back catalogue, the band ended their career on a high with Fair Youth but it was 2011’s album I Was Here For A Moment, Then I was Gone which was the most critically acclaimed, with soaring tracks such as Accolades and Red Paper Lanterns. MAYBESHEWILL successfully mixed samples and electronics with uplifting and spectacular instrumentation. Their live performances were something to behold as well, in a similar vein to 65DAYSOFSTATIC, their live shows were blinding and the band members were always approachable and pleased to meet fans after. 2008’s album Not For The Want Of Trying propelled the band into the wider rock world, with songs such as Paris Hilton Sex Tape and the sample-tastic self-titled track, this album was a milestone in the British post-rock scene. Fans will always hope MAYBESHEWILL might release more material, maybetheywill.

Delain + Evergrey + Kobra and the Lotus

The Waterfront, Norwich. 15th Nov 2016.

 

 

With a line-up like this, it was always going to be a fun filled evening and the crowd were in high spirits as soon as doors opened. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS fed off this energy and it was smiles all round as they kicked off the night with their infectious brand of heavy metal. Crowd pleasers such as Soldier and Fifty Shades of Evil are performed with explosive energy, but it is new track Trigger Pulse from their forthcoming album which got the best response from fans. It certainly was the heaviest song of their set which makes next year’s album even more intriguing. Kobra Paige seriously impressed with her strong vocal delivery and her futuristic ensemble, with the chemistry between the band on stage revealing they were having as much fun as we were. It’s safe to say KOBRA AND THE LOTUS won over new fans tonight.

Things got a bit more serious when EVERGREY graced the stage. Tom Englund and co can be quite a formidable presence with their dark lighting and black attire, but they soon got the room moving by opening with the stomper Passing Through. Their dialogue between songs was amusing and warm which nicely contrasted with their heavy melodic material. Ten albums into their career, the band performed songs from several albums, interestingly only two from current album The Storm Within. The first song being the opener and the second is latest single In Orbit, which although Floor Jansen wasn’t present to fulfil her guest vocal duties, was still an absolute killer live thanks to Englund’s impeccable vocals. Not only were EVERGREY professional in their delivery (each song was flawless) they were also relaxed, cheekily posing for photos while playing. The audience lapped this up for the full 45 minutes they were on stage. Three quarters of an hour isn’t enough to get the full EVERGREY experience, next time we want a headline tour!

By the time DELAIN kicked off the remainder of the show, the crowd were well and truly warmed up, making the headliner’s set an upbeat experience. We were one big, happy DELAIN family. Tonight was a special night as it was the tenth anniversary of their debut album Lucidity, so to celebrate the band played two songs including the ever spellbinding The Gathering which hasn’t lost any of its essence over the past decade. Hearing old songs amongst newer classics such as Suckerpunch demonstrate just how much the band has matured and carved their own niche. The beautiful Charlotte Wessels stunned the crowd with her glamour and unshakable professionalism and stage presence. Not only a brilliant vocalist, but a delightful frontwoman, charming the socks off Norwich with her elegance and warm manner. The band thrived off the fans’ energy, with beaming faces, hair flailing  and banter between bandmates, the set was a sure success. By the end of the night, everyone was sweaty, tired but leaving the venue with a smile on their face.

 

annisokay – Devil May Care

Label: Long Branch Records. Release Date: 11th Nov 2016.

You might remember ANNISOKAY were Metalmance’s band to watch back in Weekly Roundup #5 and for good reason! Third album, Devil May Care sounds like a throwback to the glory days of post-hardcore, but with an additional modern crunch. With the aggression of newer PARKWAY DRIVE and the melodic sensibilities of bands like SAOSIN and SILVERSTEIN, ANNISOKAY will appeal to fans across the melodic metal spectrum. You’re probably wondering what this German five-piece bring to the table in terms of originality. Well, if you listen to the album you can hear a young, enthusiastic group playing music they believe in and really care about. They don’t go through the motions here, every piece played and note sung is conveyed with passion and a love for the genre of music they play.

Opening with single Loud, the band get underway with their dynamic approach to screaming and clean singing. You wouldn’t have heard dual vocals this tight and well executed since the heyday of UNDEROATH. This track demonstrates the sense of urgency ANNISOKAY exude, thanks to the high energy which is present until the end of the album. Third track Smile has a killer combination of an infectious groove, a soaring chorus and a guest spot from Marcus Bridge of NORTHLANE to boot! A few songs into the album and you’re well and truly hooked.

Latest single Blind Lane is a mature and laidback effort, but still maintains the band’s intense delivery. It is followed by Thumbs Up Thumbs Down which is a song which has it all; brutality, intensity, melody and a guest appearance from Christoph Von Freydorf from fellow German metallers EMIL BULLS. It packs a punch then blisters you with its highly charged chorus.

Eighth track Photographs is probably the most typically ‘post-hardcore’ song of the album. The guitar tone and raw vocals hark back to the aforementioned bands of SAOSIN and UNDEROATH. It is another example of the melodic intensity ANNISOKAY offer. You don’t get this quality of post-hardcore very often these days, so when a band like ANNISOKAY come along, it is something special.

Last track The Last Planet wraps up proceedings and brings the album to a heart wrenching close. ANNISOKAY have really stepped up their game since 2015’s album Enigmatic Smile as Devil May Care is a solid effort by the band. With such promise as this, ANNISOKAY are definitely more than okay!

 

Weekly Roundup #9

Nine-nine-nine, some emergency bands for these cold, dark evenings.

Band to watch: EVERGREY. If you want some progressive metal which you can belt out around the house, then look no further than EVERGREY. Formed in Gothenburg in 1998, these guys are already on their TENTH album. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them before, you can catch them on tour supporting DELAIN in the UK next week. They label themselves as dark melodic metal and their lyrical content definitely does edge towards the darker side of things, with topics including death and loneliness. Frontman Tom S. Englund and his powerful vocals and big choruses keep the emotions raw and the overall feeling heavy. The instrumentation crosses between melodic death metal and symphonic metal with the excellent use of keys. The series of videos for this album are directed by Patric Ullaeus and the band aimed to “recreate the eerie and desolate sense we had while writing the songs for this – the 10th Evergrey album“. They are indeed, ahem… ever grey, with dramatic landscapes and thoughtful cinematography to create a truly cinematic experience which totally compliments the ambitious nature of their songs. Fans of NIGHTWISH will be interested to hear Floor Jansen appearing on the track In Orbit and Disconnect, both being beautiful collaborations between the two. If you’re after a band who combine melodic heaviness and emotion with impressive videos, then you could do worse than check out the clip below.

 

Video to watch: SUBROSA. This week, doom band SUBROSA unveiled their video for Troubled Cells. It is a powerful video, delivering a personal statement by leading member Rebecca Vernon of her support for the LGBTQ community in the Mormon Church which changed its policy for gay members in 2015. This has led to an increase in suicides of LGBTQ members in the church. As a Mormon herself, it is her and the band’s stance against this policy. The band from Salt Lake City aim to spread awareness in Utah and the rest of the world. The collaboration with filmmaker Danica Vallone for Kinetic Pictures, has resulted in a very moving video which you can view below. A link to the original article with NPR is also included below, so do click on the link if you would like to read more behind this story.

NPR SubRosa Condemns Mormon Church’s LGBTQ Policy In Powerful Video

 

In the stereo: NORDIC GIANTS. Everyone likes a bit of a mysterious post-rock band don’t they? This instrumental duo hailing from somewhere on Earth (or Middle Earth by looking at their costumes), are gaining quite the reputation for their intense and spectacular live performances. Wowing audiences this year supporting TESSERACT and playing ProgPower EU, their stage show incorporates short films which brings their “claustrophobic cinema clatter” to the fore. Their last album released in 2015 A Séance of Dark Delusions is a truly spellbinding record, with each listen exposing something missed before. Comparing NORDIC GIANTS to SIGUR ROS cannot be avoided, but the former are definitely carving their own niche, thanks to their live performances and featured guest appearances. The guest vocals help to keep the album fresh and unpredictable throughout, highlights being SATURDAY SUN sounding all MARTIN GRECH-esque on Dissolve, and Nadine Wild-Palmer on Futures Dark which could easily have been a chart hit with its standout pop sound. This album is beautiful in every sense of the word; the composition, instrumentation, lyrics and general ambience of the record. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, each listen is a rewarding one which is a sure sign of pure musical talent.

 

Band to rediscover: THE SLEEPING. Formed in 2003, this post-hardcore band have been teasing fans recently with a reunion show planned in December. They unfortunately don’t have plans to reunite permanently for more shows and records, but the news has made us feel a bit nostalgic for the glory days of post-hardcore and emo rock. Signed to Victory Records, there are a lot of similarities between THE SLEEPING and other bands on the roster including TAKING BACK SUNDAY, THE AUDITION and ACTION, ACTION, but THE SLEEPING stood out with their infectiously catchy, high energy songs and the striking vocals of Doug Robinson. You might remember hearing Don’t Hold Back on Guitar Hero back in the day, but the album the track is from, Questions and Answers was released ten years ago back in 2006 (can you believe it?!). The album was their second (of four) and it is still a very enjoyable record to go back to now and then. Standout track Loud and Clear is a groovy, hip-wriggling affair with Doug crooning his way through the track with his distinct, punky flare. If you’re pining for the days of AIDEN and SPITALFIELD, then slap some of THE SLEEPING on your stereo and have a boogie-mosh round your room.

 

Brutai – Born

Label: Transcend. Release Date: 25th Nov 2016

This debut album by London’s BRUTAI is the equivalent of when you see an old friend from school, who has blossomed into a hottie. One brief listen to Born and you’ll think, ‘when did BRUTAI get so gooood?’ The signs were always there in their self-titled EP, but with this release the band are more comfortable and nurturing their own sound. A mature and solid album, this record has without doubt been worth the wait.

The album opens with guitar strokes reverberating in your ears while other instrumentation starts to sneak in. Then BAM! opener Relapse is well underway like a drum roll for the remainder of the album. The metalcore influences are there with a nature of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE but there is a definite contemporary edge to proceedings to prevent BRUTAI getting bogged down with such a label.

What’s hinted in Relapse comes to the fore in the single, Deep. Sounding like the lovechild of a poppier TESSERACT and INME, it is catchy as hell but poses no risk to a loss of punchiness. The production is superb with the instrumentation sounding crisp and clear without losing impact. Felix Lawrie’s vocals is nestled nicely into the mix along with the superb use of keys. It is this sprinkling of keys which give their sound an extra edge, with Of Ashes being no different. By this third track it is clear BRUTAI sound more confident with songs that are more coherent compared to earlier releases. It is hard not to compare some elements with fellow British metallers DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL and THE FIVE HUNDRED, but with an added bit of cheeky djent.

Lucidity is almost 5 minutes of expertly executed metal. The killer beginning to the song features piano and a killer guitar solo, a bit like AVENGED SEVENFOLD sans cheese. It is one of the most impressive and memorable tracks of the album, with a hearty chorus the likes of CHAOS DIVINE and WESTFIELD MASSACRE would be proud of. Lawrie’s vocals help give BRUTAI a distinct flare, that by the time Valediction starts playing, there’s no doubt the band are well on their way to developing their own signature sound.

New single Never Change is a glorious example of what BRUTAI have to offer with a soaring chorus and rich layers of sound to make the song sound massive. If this song isn’t a reflection of what the band are about then I don’t know what is.  Yet things take an interesting turn in Over Now. Starting with a bit of an 80s tinge, Lawrie practically croons his way through the song until it erupts into an absolute belter. Trust me, it’s a treat.

Album closer The Border is a 7 minute conclusion which sums up the tone of the album nicely. Incredible melodies and punishing riffs bring together BRUTAI’s clean style and raw edge seamlessly. When the track ends you’ll be left dumbstruck. What a debut.

The future of British metal has indeed been born.

Prog Down Under Part 1

5 of the best and up-and-coming prog bands from Oz

Think of Australian bands and you’re probably thinking AC/DC and PARKWAY DRIVE, am I right? Well, if you’ve had your ear to the ground, you might have noticed a rise of prog bands emerging from Down Under (sounds painful). Hopefully some of these bands will be familiar to you already, but delve a little deeper and you’ll be bombarded with ridiculously good stuff. So grab a beer, put another shrimp on the barbie and have a gander at the first part of Metalmance’s Prog Down Under…

 

CALIGULA’S HORSE

Formed in 2011 and already three albums in, this progressive alt rock band from Brisbane are now signed to Inside Out Records, home to DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT, LEPROUS and RIVERSIDE. With backing such as this it won’t be long until CALIGULA’S HORSE gallop full pelt into bigger and brighter pastures (sorry). All horse puns aside, this band are set to stun with their unique prog rock sound. They enter the melodic prog territory of later OPETH, and the polished LEPROUS, but the band sound like no other, thanks to frontman Jim Grey’s distinct vocals. No two songs sound the same, with CALIGULA’S HORSE mixing up the styles; a hint of folk here, a little indie there, but it’s all wrapped up in their own brand of infectious melodic prog. They’re currently on tour in Australia but fingers crossed we’ll see them on our shores next year.

 

KARNIVOOL

Hopefully you’re already familiar with these chaps from Perth, if not…why ever not? Their tour with the mighty DEFTONES starts in Australia this week so now is a perfect time to revisit what makes KARNIVOOL so good. Their third album Asymmetry was released back in 2013 and proved a worthy follow up to 2009’s mightily impressive Sound Awake. With a mesmerising sound like genre greats TOOL, the organised chaos of FALL OF TROY and a sprinkling of MESHUGGAH and THE MARS VOLTA, KARNIVOOL are an interesting beast. Beautifully melodic yet complex and heavy, they manage to capture the essence of progressive metal. Frontman Ian Kenny croons, barks and seduces the listener with his distinct vocals, but the instrumentation is equally as spellbinding. With little nuggets of genius happening in the background, you discover something new with each listen which makes KARNIVOOL a very exciting band to listen to. Let’s hope it’s not too long a wait until the next album.

 

CHAOS DIVINE

Another band from Perth, CHAOS DIVINE will be playing Melbourne’s Prog Fest in December along with CALIGULA’S HORSE. CHAOS DIVINE wear their influences on their sleeve, with the instrumentation having a retro feel in places (refer to the beginning of Badge of Honour) and having the melodic ambition of bands such as TOOL and SOILWORK. But CHAOS DIVINE have such a solid sound with the punchy guitars coupled with David Anderton’s strong vocals, that they can hold their own when it comes to melodic bands with soaring choruses. 2015’s album Colliding Skies features their massive, stadium-friendly sound and it surely is only a matter a time before we see this band in bigger venues (and hopefully over ‘ere!). If you like your prog metal of the variety you can belt out around the house, then look no further. Like the chaos in their namesake, their prog is pretty divine.

 

VOYAGER

They’ve managed to wrangle their way onto the DEFTONES and KARNIVOOL tour in Australia and they rightly deserve your attention! With plenty of tricks up their sleeve, this talented band from Perth mix all sorts of progressive influences along with an 80s tinge to proceedings. Already on their 5th album V, released in 2014, the band are finally making waves in the UK, albeit small ripples for now but with their song writing abilities don’t be surprised if it ends up being a full blown progressive tsunami. It is hard not to be impressed with charismatic frontman Danny Estrin and co, as their material spans across a diverse melodic spectrum. Heavy progressive riffs and keys work seamlessly with the band’s catchy lyrics and their unique new wave element which creeps in to give the band a truly refreshing sound. Here’s hoping they’ll voyage to our shores again soon.

 

DEAD LETTER CIRCUS

Another band hailing from Brisbane, you might have already heard DEAD LETTER CIRCUS’ alternative rock as they formed way back in 2004. They’re a similar level of progressive rock as fellow Australians THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, with soaring melodies with plenty of prog tinkerings in the background. Citing bands such as PEARL JAM and SOUNDGARDEN as influences, these guys may sound like radio friendly rock on first listen, but there’s plenty of treats happening in the layers of sound. Their third album Aesthesis was released in 2015 and continues to garner praise. Heartfelt yet intelligent lyrics along with deceivingly complex accompaniment keeps DEAD LETTER CIRCUS interesting and relevant. You’ve just missed them play in the UK but fingers crossed 2017 might bring new music or another European tour. This is one Australian band adored both at Home and Away (haha, sorry).