Welcome to the first weekly roundup of the year! Sitting comfortably? Headphones on? Let’s begin!
Band to watch: ALLUVIAL. What do solo-instrumentalist Keith Merrow and BLACK CROWN INITIATE’s Wes Hauch have in common? Well, together they are the instrumental metal outfit ALLUVIAL. But that’s not all. This week the band released their debut album The Deep Longing For Annihilation and it’s absolutely punishing. Imagine BLACK CROWN INITIATE, DECAPITATED and GOJIRA all rolled into one. This album is proof progressive metal does not necessarily need vocals to make it heavier. The ferocious riffs speak for themselves and with the unbelievable talent of the riff lords Merrow and Hauch, you know you’re going to be in safe hands. The album isn’t all riffs, riffs, riffs however, there are plenty of dark and atmospheric moments such as the tracks Mirelands and Occulsion. Album highlights include the crushing As The Crow Flies and Compound, the latter featuring all sorts of wonderful guitar screeches GOJIRA would be proud of. If your friends ever moan about you listening to metal whose lyrics they can’t understand, then introduce them to ALLUVIAL, there is now no excuse.
Video to watch: DISPERSE. Polish proggers DISPERSE have had quite an exciting start to 2017! This week saw the band release a video for new single Tether and announce they will be supporting PLINI on their European tour this year. Tether is the newest single taken from their forthcoming album Foreward due 24th February. A refreshing take on progressive music, DISPERSE have a released such a light and bright track it transports you to warmer times. It would be the perfect soundtrack to a Summer’s evening, with chilled out MINUS THE BEAR-esque vibes, but there is still so much more happening under the shimmering surface. With a poppier CYNIC feel, their progressiveness is what makes the song shine bright along with the laidback vocals of frontman and keyboardist Rafał Biernacki. A truly irresistible track, if this is a taster of the what the rest of the album will be like, then DISPERSE will definitely set to make 2017 their own.
In the stereo: SHOKRAN. A surprise discovery for Metalmance over the Christmas holiday, SHOKRAN are a Russian band who seamlessly mix deathcore and progressive metal together to make a sound truly exciting and memorable. This is even before we take the orchestral elements into account too. Their album Exodus is full of biblical narratives as well as middle eastern flourishes to really push the band ahead of the pack. An intelligent and expertly executed release, it is unbelievable the band have not yet caused a bigger stir in progressive metal circles. Exodus sees the introduction of new vocalist Andrew Ivashchenko who totally enhances the superb composition set by genius guitarist Dmitry Demyanenko. Album highlights include And Heavens Begin To Fall which features the awesome female vocals from Lauren Babic (RED HANDED DENIAL) and the utterly compelling Living Arrows which demonstrates Ivashchenko’s impressive vocal talent. It is hard these days for modern bands to stand out but it is clear SHOKRAN have made their own niche in the metal scene. Exciting, dramatic and brutal, SHOKRAN are definitely a band to keep your eye on.
Band to rediscover: ZAO. Remember ZAO? They were a metalcore band but they always seemed so much more than that. Raw and brutal, ZAO were always on the more chaotic end of the metalcore spectrum along with CONVERGE and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. The band entered an unofficial hiatus before 2010 and many had expected no more new material from this group from West Virginia. However, in December 2016, the band released their eleventh album The Well Intentioned Virus and it has already been critically acclaimed by critics and fans alike. Returning with their utterly unforgiving strain of ferocious metalcore, ZAO are once again pummelling ears across the world. They haven’t yet got a new official video, so watch the classic below to reacquaint yourself with why you fell in love with them in the first place.