Band to watch: KILL THE KONG. In an oversaturated metalcore scene it takes something special for bands to stand out nowadays. KILL THE KONG offer an enticing package in the form of seven, yes, SEVEN members; two vocalists but it is the two percussionists which give the band from Sweden their unique sound. With an irresistible groove and chugging riffs, KILL THE KONG are hard to ignore and impossible not to enjoy. The hardcore screams in tracks such as Bring The Heat bring the energy, yet the melodic clean singing in songs such as Ignite, demonstrate the band’s ability to pen a catchy vocal hook. Newest single Ashes In The Wind is a straight-up metalcore banger, with obvious influence from bands such as PARKWAY DRIVE and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH. There’s no denying listening to KILL THE KONG is an entertaining experience, and with the additional percussionist it adds an exciting dynamic to a style which is running out of ideas. If you’re looking for a fresh perspective then you could do worse than giving KILL THE KONG a listen.
Video to watch: GHOST IRIS. Last week these Danish metallers released the new video for single Save Yourself off their new album Blind World which was released today! The video is probably what any djent party in a limo would look like, along with dapper suits, champagne and sunglasses. The humour in the video is what makes it shine, but it is also backed up with a tune which is absolute killer. This isn’t djent by numbers, heck it probably shouldn’t even be classed as djent but there’s no denying the sound is there nestled amongst the catchy chorus and just downright good songwriting. With a single as good as this, don’t be surprised if the album is quality too.
In the stereo: VIPASSI. This year ain’t half been a treat with regard to instrumental, extreme progressive metal. We’ve already had an album from ALLUVIAL but January also saw the release of Sunyata by VIPASSI through Season of Mist. Who is VIPASSI you might be asking? Well, they are somewhat of a super group, comprising of members from bands such as A MILLION DEAD BIRDS LAUGHING and a little band called NE OBLIVISCARIS (you might have heard of them). Together they compose gloriously dark yet technical songs (what else would you expect) with album highlights including Benzaiten and the stunning closer Samsara. Black metal vibes run through the album at times, and Samsara is definitely on the darker end of progressive metal. The atmospheric wispy hints of vocals take the track to a dramatic level, making the song the perfect finale. With only seven tracks, Sunyata feels a bit like a tease, a bit like a punishing starter before a main course. Go on, indulge.
Band to rediscover: THE HOPE CONSPIRACY. Following on from last week’s trip down memory lane with the likes of EIGHTEEN VISIONS and THROWDOWN, another hardcore band we’ve been reminiscing about is THE HOPE CONSPIRACY. The album Death Knows Your Name released back in 2006 was a sickeningly good hardcore record with riffs as big as its production. A massive sound without losing any rawness, standout track Suicide Design is still an impressive slab of relentless hardcore energy. The driving riffs, the rumbling bass, the desperate shouts, all mount up to a killer track. Released on Deathwish Inc. you know you’re in for a mucky treat. Masters of no-nonsense heaviness, the band never officially broke up, so here’s to hoping THE HOPE CONSPIRACY remerge in the near future.
The Hope Conspiracy Bandcamp
Label: Artery Recordings. Release date: 3rd March 2017.
After the success of their self-titled EP in 2015, SHE MUST BURN are now unleashing their new material in the form of album Grimoire. Thankfully the album is the EP 2.0, more of the same blackened symphonic metal, but with more confidence. Overall, the album has the feel of The Great Fire era BLEEDING THROUGH, which is not a terrible thing at all. With a good deal of CRADLE OF FILTH and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE influences thrown into the mix, Grimoire will no doubt catapult SHE MUST BURN into the blackened metal stratosphere.
No black metal influenced album would be complete without an atmospheric opening, and Grimoire does not fail to disappoint in the form of Ritual, an unsettling piece of audio which is probably the aural equivalent of paranoia and pyromania. The Wicked soon blasts in with the band’s signature sound of ferocious drumming and the hellish screams of frontman Joseph Sinclair. Female vocals soon haunt the chorus, hinting towards the gothic masterpiece this album could become. This track sounds more like a glorious finale, but instead it plays its part as a spellbinding opener.
Sean Harmanis from MAKE THEM SUFFER guests on next track Gloom, which erupts into a deliciously morbid composition. Gloom is blackened metal personified; fast riffs, fast screams, even faster drumming, with a shroud of chaotic gloom (‘scuse the pun). A perfect example of the manic darkness SHE MUST BURN offer to the unsuspecting masses. Victoria is almost blackened hardcore if that’s even a thing, but it works so well. The shouty vocals along with the keys compliment each other beautifully, it shouldn’t gel but somehow SHE MUST BURN achieve it. The song also includes clean male vocals which demonstrates the band’s willingness to display their talent and influences. So far with Grimoire, SHE MUST BURN do not disappoint.
The melancholic piano in A False Heaven provides a calm interlude in the middle of the album. Beautifully haunting yet classical, it would be the perfect soundtrack for a gothic period drama, think Pride and Prejudice if the Bennet sisters had a penchant for the dark arts. This illusion is shattered when the machine gun drums of From The Grave blast their way into your consciousness. The song takes a few unexpected turns; with a more melodic stance in parts, a mellow mood seeps in before a progressive ending brings the track to a thumping end.
Album closer After Death is a culmination of all the elements previously heard on the album. The most dramatic song on Grimoire, it is a fitting finale with soaring vocals and triumphant riffs. Just like the beginning of the album, the track closes with an atmospheric end, so that when the last note of the piano resonates you’ll already be willing to play Grimoire all over again.
Progressive, hardcore and hard rock galore.
Band to watch: WITHOUT WAVES. On March 17th, this experimental group from Chicago will be releasing their album Lunar through Prosthetic Records, and judging by the two tracks unleashed already, this is one release not to be missed! Sewing Together the Limbs shows the heavier, more progressive side of the band in the same vein as TEXTURES. With chaotic verses and a LAMB OF GOD style groove, it is a treat of a taster for the new album. The clean vocals almost have a grunge feel to them before they relapse to crazy screams. WITHOUT WAVES seek to incorporate a variety of music genres from extreme metal to jazz fusion and by the sounds of it, everything in between. New track Never Know Quite Why is the opposite of Sewing Together The Limbs, a more chilled out vibe but still well thought out. Anthony Cwan’s vocals really come to light here, his mesmerising voice runs the risk of being contemporary metal’s most alluring warble. If these two tracks reflect the diversity of the album then WITHOUT WAVES may be something special.
Video to watch: PALM READER. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing PALM READER live, then you’ll what a gloriously intense live band they are. With new video for Always Darkest, the band are displayed in all of their energetic punk glory. Tonight they embark on a UK headline tour and this video is a good indication of what potential punters could expect. The use of strobes in the video also adds to the visual chaos, something which should be reflected in their real life performance to great effect. It’s rare to find a music video which matches the intensity of a band’s live show but somehow PALM READER have achieved this. Make sure you catch them on tour now to see for yourself.
In the stereo: EIGHTEEN VISIONS. Last night the metalcore and hardcore world was sent into a frenzy by a simple picture uploaded on Instagram by a certain EIGHTEEN VISIONS. You might remember Metalmance included them in our sixth weekly roundup as ‘band to rediscover’. You might also remember we said that the band were most unlikely to reform, in the near future at least. Well, we were wrong. But so joyously wrong. The band are teasing fans with a new release in the works and it’s safe to say 18V fans are very, very excited. By the looks of things at moment it seems to be James Hart, Keith Barney and Trevor Friedrich in tow at the moment, but it’s safe to say we’ll be keeping a very close eye on what the band will get up to. To celebrate their reunion we’ve been rocking their back catalogue today; from Until The Ink Runs Out to their self-titled. Every release was different to the last, making this new album a complete mystery. Will they sound hardcore like their Vanity era? Or will they be hard rock like their self-titled? Or a new direction altogether? We shall wait and see.
Weekly Roundup #6
Band to rediscover: THROWDOWN. With the news of the EIGHTEEN VISIONS reunion, we can’t help but look back on the other Orange County bands of the same ilk. One notable band is THROWDOWN, although the band haven’t split up they have been incredibly quiet for a few years. THROWDOWN and EIGHTEEN VISIONS always seemed to be swapping members in the past (Vocalist Dave Peters used to play guitar for EIGHTEEN VISIONS and Keith Barney used to front THROWDOWN but then played guitar for 18V) but the former were always on the more hardcore side of things. Both bands were straight edge but THROWDOWN perhaps more openly with the lyrical content of some of their songs (i.e The Edge is Strong from the 2001 album You Don’t Have to be Blood to be Family) and further on their career they went down the PANTERA route with big riffs but they never lost their hardcore intensity, something which fans were grateful for. Fourth album Vendetta, released in 2005 is arguably the band’s breakthrough album. It saw them shift from primarily hardcore to a more metal stance, with lead single Burn demonstrating THROWDOWN’s ability to mix heavy yet catchy riffs with a raw attitude.
Self-release. Release Date: 17th February 2017.
Silent Riddles is a nine minute epic opener which starts with a strong melodic CYNIC vibe and erupts into a spacey riff the likes of MASTODON would be proud of. This song is a good introduction to what the remainder of the album has to offer; a mixed bag of a lot of progressive and experimental elements. Halfway through the song there is a strong post-rock feel too, a bit like if OPETH went down the MAYBESHEWILL route.
The title track takes more of a BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME turn, with the ambitious length of the song (16 minutes) and the constant fluid changes between styles. Beginning with an eerie, ambient feel it soon breaks away to a gritty, almost black metal verse. After the IHSAHN-esque vocals, the song floats and crashes along in a wave of prog. 11 minutes in and Emergence descends into an unnecessary midi haze. The song redeems itself by the end as it lapses into a metallic groove.
Track three, Torrential Skylines provides a short instrumental interlude before the song Inhabitant which follows a similar structure to the title track but in a more focused way. Starting with a post-rock ditty, the song then moves into MASTODON territory again. The band’s experimental edge emerges again for the remainder of the track, resulting in a chaotic crash.
Accidental Entity is the heaviest ten minutes of the album and probably one of the more consistent songs on Emergence, but closer Soak Up The Fall has definitely been saved for last. The most rewarding track to listen to in terms of melody and direction, WHITE STAG show their song writing talent with this song. The band sound a bit unfocused at times during the album but with the last two songs everything seems to come together, demonstrating the band’s progressive potential. An ambitious effort, the band clearly are not afraid to take creative risks.
Metalcore, death metal, hardcore…cor….
Band to watch: AERIAL. Norway is normally known for its black metal and general extremeness, but metalcore? Nah, right? Wrong. AERIAL are sure to set their homeland on the metalcore map if their debut EP Foresight is anything to go by. This week the band released a video for new single Foreign Coast and it is a perfect example of the band’s gloriously heavy yet melodic approach to progressive metalcore, in a similar vein to NORTHLANE. The standout vocals of Markus Johnsen with his incredible highs to his guttural lows raises the band to another level. Formed in 2015, the band relocated to the UK to record Foresight which was self-released in June 2016. Now back in Norway, AERIAL have set their sights on getting their music out there for the rest of the world to hear. With a strong post-hardcore stance on their sound too, there are lots of things to keep the heavy music fan interested; instrumental track Inspire/Interlude provides a progressive break between the crushing Everlasting and the deceivingly catchy Foreign Coast. Five songs just doesn’t seem enough for the EP, it will be interesting to see how they progress on their journey to album number one. But for now, they more than deserve your attention.
Video to watch: HOUR OF PENANCE. Last month saw the release of HOUR OF PENANCE’s seventh album Cast the First Stone on Prosthetic Records, and once again it has proven what a pummelling force these Italian death metallers are. Two weeks ago the band released a video for the title track and it can only be described as a visual feast of crusade imagery, flames and blood, lots of blood. Giving the song more of an epic feel, the simple video reflects the brutality of the music. Imagery of impaled babies and battle violence seemingly suit the brutal death metal HOUR OF PENANCE have become so well known for. Influenced by CANNIBAL CORPSE, the Italians somehow sound darker than their American counterparts drawing from more black metal elements to achieve a blistering violent assault on the senses.
In the stereo: CODE ORANGE. You might remember back in the eighth weekly roundup, CODE ORANGE were Metalmance’s band to watch. Well since the band’s third album Forever has hit the shelves, the band are moving from strength to strength, they’ve even bagged themselves a tasty support slot on GOJIRA’s UK tour in March along with CAR BOMB. The actual album though is sure to go down as a modern classic. Primarily hardcore, Forever has a bit of everything thrown in, making it one hell of a ride. Gritty, raw and ferocious, the album also harnesses a couple of surprises in the form of tracks such as the catchy Bleeding in the Blur and the MARILYN MANSON-esque Hurt Goes On. An intense record, the energy never lets up for a second, ensuring once the album finishes you’ll have it on repeat and repeat and repeat.
Band to rediscover: EMANUEL. With all the emo, screamo and post-hardcore reunions happening as of late, there’s one band who is still sorely missed and that is EMANUEL. The five piece from Kentucky gained praise and popularity with their 2005 album Soundtrack to a Headrush. The album title was truly fitting as EMANUEL was an energetic ball of punk rock; catchy enough to be on tours with bands such as THE AUDITION, and heavy enough to be on a more metalcore line up along with FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES or THE BLED. They were destined for big things by critics but by the time second album Black Tiger rolled round in 2007, the fire had died down and their musical direction had taken more of a spacey turn. Losing the screams, vocalist Matt Breen sounded more like Chino Moreno from DEFTONES and their edge just wasn’t there. The band soon fizzled out, becoming one of the decade’s most underrated and underappreciated groups. Soundtrack to a Headrush remains to this day, a modern punk masterpiece.