Roundup – June 2018

The hottest releases and band picks of the past 30 days.

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How are we halfway through the year already? One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be bloody difficult to choose the top 20 albums later in the year! 2018 has seen some absolutely stellar releases and this month was no different! I’ll start with my top 3 releases as usual then I’ll talk what else I’ve been enjoying and which bands I’ve been listening to in preparation for Tech Fest.


Metalmance Top 3 Releases from June

1

SICKONES – Find Energy. Release date: 12 June.

Do you ever feel like yFind Energyou’ve discovered a band at exactly the right time? That’s how I feel about SICKONES. 2018 might be great for music but 2018 hasn’t been kind to Metalmance. When I saw these Bristol hardcore punks support CANCER BATS a fortnight ago I was struck by their stage presence and performance. Considering their lyrics can be quite serious they exude so much positivity in a live setting they’re utterly infectious and they’ve really resonated with me since and got me through a particularly challenging month. I’ve been digging their latest EP Find Energy a lot this month, with catchy songs such as Bad Way and chaotic hardcore tracks like Moving Forward and The Choice making this EP is as entertaining to listen to as they are to see live. Their music takes influence from 80s hardcore bands (I can hear a bit of GORILLA BISCUITS and MINOR THREAT, can you?) and its this raw energy and organic recording that I find so utterly charming and addictive. I think I’m showing symptoms of being a SickOne indeed.

 

2

HEAD WITH WINGS – From Worry To Shame. Release date: 1 June.

Head With Wings

Since reviewing this album last month, the alternative rock duo HEAD WITH WINGS have been gaining a following in the prog and rock community alike and it’s very reassuring to witness. With songs and music of high quality, it is great to see this promising band aren’t being overlooked. With emotionally charged songs and progressive twinklings, songs such as Goodbye Sky, Stepping Stone and…actually I could list all the songs as examples of the stellar songwriting talent the duo boast. From Worry To Shame is a powerful album which is also catchy and memorable. This is a dangerous combination and could run the risk of HEAD WITH WINGS dominating the proggy rock scene…which would not be a bad thing. I’ve written a more in depth analysis in my review of the album which you can find in the link below.

Head With Wings – From Worry To Shame Metalmance Review

 

3

NINE INCH NAILS – Bad Witch. Release date: 22 June.

Bad Witch

I think a lot of people won’t agree with this but I still think Trent Reznor is one of the most severely underrated musicians in metal (I’m even going to upset people by classing NIN as metal). A lot of the younger fans of heavier music still completely overlook them but Reznor has proved NIN is still relevant and as ground-breaking as ever. Yes, the likes of The Fragile and Downward Spiral may never be surpassed but the more recent releases, Bad Witch included, are still edgy outputs that push boundaries and give industrial music new life. Songs like Play The Goddamn Part hark back to the avant-garde instrumental days of The Fragile but with a fresh attitude. The record sounds like an evolution of his previous work with God Break Down The Door reminding me of Year Zero and I’m Not From This World sounding like the more claustrophobic moments of Downward Spiral. Many turn their nose up at new NIN releases but they have no idea on the gold they’re missing. Don’t miss out.


 

On the playlist…

LIGHT THE TORCH – Revival. Release date: 30 March 2018.

Revival

Not going to lie I normally have a few older albums on the go during the month, but the past few weeks I’ve finally checked out Revival by Howard Jones and co in LIGHT THE TORCH and I haven’t been able to take it off repeat since. I didn’t fall in love with the last DEVIL YOU KNOW ALBUM, but the lineup and name changes have somehow given the band an extra spark and I think Revival is one of the most underrated releases of the year so far. I’ve seen little love for this album which is shocking because it is a ridiculously strong release. Hojo is on top form here and you can rely on him for some massive choruses but bloody hell the album is compiled of banger after banger. Die Alone, Virus, The Great Divide are just some of the belters on this incredible album. There are also some interesting musical passages with electronic flourishes nestled in the background, which really add to the rich texture of this album. Hopefully more people will appreciate this album over the time, this is a gentle nudge to encourage you to give it a listen.


 

Prep For Tech Fest

Releases by 3 lesser known bands playing Tech Fest you HAVE to check out…

VNDTA – Pale Glow. Release date: 13 April 2018.

VNDTA

Possibly too good to be an after party band, VNDTA (VENDETTA) from Hertfordshire dropped one of the most promising EPs of the year back in April. Mixing djent, tech, groove metal and even pop influences, Pale Glow is an exciting little package. Frontwoman Megan Targett can scream, growl and sweetly sing as good as any other but it’s her confidence and swagger that sets her voice apart from the rest. It’s one thing having a disgustingly talented vocalist, you need to have a decent band to back the vocals up, luckily the rest of the band deliver. Stand out tracks are the SIKTH-ish Martyr and the INME-esque Swine, but it is the title track and Excuses which you will have in your head for hours on end. Not only am I excited to see how this band will be received at Tech Fest, but I’m also extremely curious what VNDTA will conjure up for their next release.

 

CHIASMATA – EP. Release date: 14 May 2018.

Chiasmata

For a band a little over a year old, CHIASMATA have already achieved great things such as supporting notable tech metal acts along the likes of SARAH LONGFIELD and VALIS ABLAZE, and in May the young progressive metal band from Manchester released their debut self-titled EP. The production and mixing of the EP leave a lot to be desired, which is a shame because the potential of the songs is staggering. This just makes it more exciting to see how the songs translate live. Another female fronted band playing one of the after parties, expect to hear TESSERACT inspired melodies and a cheeky bit of post-rock influences amongst their irresistible techy dynamics. This EP only has four tracks but it has the ambition of a full length album. Vocalist and bassist Zoé Gale is quickly gaining respect and admiration in the tech scene for her charm, talent and ever improving vocals, of which can be appreciated the most in the song Subsidia which is one of the best little treats of the year so far. The band have still got some work to do to nurture and refine their sound but I expect to hear a lot more from these guys and gal. Promising stuff.

 

SIAMESE – Shameless. Release date: 2 June 2017.

SiameseI was very surprised but very pleased to see Danish rockers SIAMESE had been announced for Tech Fest. They may be hidden away in the opening afternoon but I think they would well be worth heading to the showground early for. There are quite a few bands on the melodic end of tech metal this year, including fellow Danes VOLA and proggy bands VOYAGER and VALIS ABLAZE, but SIAMESE are another beast entirely. Radio friendly rock with techy flourishes, they almost sound a guilty pleasure but I can’t feel ashamed listening to Shameless when the songs are this good. Songs like My Turn have an IMAGINE DRAGONS feel to them but others, like Tunnel Visions sounds more like DREAM ON DREAMER. I can’t imagine the INGESTED fans will be queuing up to see SIAMESE do their thang but for those who do rock up early to catch the band, they will no doubt be rewarded with shimmering melodies and chilled vibes before the rest of the weekend obliterates their ears.

Walk In Coma – Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate

Release date: 22 June 2018. Self-release.

When you think of Essex you may think of fake tan, TOWIE and Olly Murs, but thankfully after what seems like a long dry spell of decent metal in the county, Essex’s music scene is picking up again and Southend’s WALK IN COMA are at the forefront of it. After 2015 EP Narrenturm, the band have slowly been gaining momentum and with Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate there’s no reason why WALK IN COMA wouldn’t be able to launch themselves out of the county to wider audiences. This EP is one of those records you wish were a full length album. Six songs is generous for an EP but with music of this quality it just doesn’t seem enough! This of course is still a good thing as it spells the potential of this promising band.

The first thing that should be noted is the massive sound WALK IN COMA somehow behold. I can’t fathom how a small band from my home county can sound like America’s next big metal act. Opener Wings sounds like PANTERA with KILLSWITCH ENGAGE riffs and it absolutely slays. The chorus goes in a PARKWAY DRIVE direction but the synths add a cheeky dynamic to the wholesome metallic crunch. A fantastic start.

Now, I’ve been aware of second track Through Your Eyes since they dropped the banger on YouTube back in 2016. It’s felt like an age to finally hear it on an EP. But I’ll tell you one thing. Every time I listen to it, it still feels like the first time. When the groove kicks in you can’t help but bang your head. Alex Adlington is on full form here with his flawless screams and his spectacular cleans. The chorus is one of the most magical moments on the EP with its IN FLAMES vibe. Beware though, this song will remain in your head for days.

Third track Gospel sounds like the lovechild of MACHINE HEAD and SOILWORK. WALK IN COMA definitely have a knack of mixing the sound of Scandinavian melodic death metal with the boldness of the new wave of American heavy metal. It’s this confident, groovy style that could potentially attract new followers in their hundreds. The same could be said for Apathy, which can only be described as melodic nu metal overseen by DARK TRANQUILITY. There is quite a dark and brooding dynamic to this song which makes it slightly haunting.

If you like groovy riffs then you’re going to love Subhuman. All components of WALK IN COMA come to the fore here. But it is Serpents & Vermin which brings Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate to a storming close. The symphonic elements are handled well to add an intensity which propels the band into SCAR SYMMETRY territory. This track is also hard as nails, with parts which remind me of TEXTURES. A blistering conclusion to an impressive EP, don’t be surprised if WALK IN COMA whip up something special for their debut album. These guys need to be on your radar.

Cancer Bats/SickOnes/Walk In Coma

Chinnerys, Southend. 12 June 2018.

If you’ve been following Metalmance then you’ll know how much I was looking forward to seeing CANCER BATS for the sixth time. I’ve been witnessing them tearing venues to shreds for 10 years now and tonight proves they are still as riotous as ever. The Chinnerys, Southend were hosts to the ‘BATS tonight and walking into the intimate room, you knew then you might not make it out alive. Or if you do, you’ll be covered in other people’s sweat and spit.

There was a decent amount of people to see the opening band, WALK IN COMA who are residents of the town. Rapidly gaining a reputation in Essex with their bold metal tunes, these Southend lads appeased their existing fans and gained new followers with their blistering set this evening. Playing songs from their first EP Narrenturm and their forthcoming EP Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate, their sound is a cross between PANTERA and IN FLAMES so you can probably gauge how beastly WALK IN COMA sound live. It’s one thing having a big sound, you’ve also got to be able to pull it off live. Luckily the band are natural showmen, looking at ease and confident like they do this every day. Singer Alex Adlington is proving to be quite the beguiling frontman with his brilliant harsh vocals and cleans (the chorus of Through Your Eyes anyone?) and his stage presence was quite formidable. The new songs sounded absolutely massive, don’t be surprised if you find them playing a city near you soon.

I was not expecting what I was about to witness next. Hardcore punk trio SICKONES were an impressive sight to behold. Frontman Ben Curd can only be described as the Louie Spence of hardcore punk with his stupidly magnificent dance moves and jumps and spins. He has to be seen to be believed. Add this to their ridiculously charming hardcore punk and you’ll soon be dancing along and being converted. Playing songs from their EPs The Red Line and Find Energy, these Bristolians are truly something special. Explaining the messages behind each song, whether it be about feeling stuck in a rut, not conforming to lifestyle choices of the majority or if you feel stuck in a relationship, the band somehow make everyone in the room feel encouraged to be themselves and feel happy. It’s obvious SICKONES are all about the music and expression and it’s this sense of authenticity that is so appealing. Their music itself is hard, fast, fun and deceivingly catchy. The whole SICKONES package is a truly exceptional one. This is one band you absolutely HAVE to see live.

Standing at the barrier at a CANCER BATS gig is always going to be risky business and tonight was no different. As soon as Liam Cormier and co. graced the stage the bars of the barrier acted as a climbing frame for Southend’s eager hardcore kids. A few brave souls climbed up to the lighting rig and dived into the crowd from there causing absolute carnage. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Tonight felt like the reunion of kindred spirits. The majority of people here have been witnessing CANCER BATS slay venues for a decade now and the Chinnerys is one venue they always return to. And you can understand why judging by the raucous reception they receive! The set was full of classics such as Hail Destroyer, Pneumonia Hawk, R.A.T.S, Scared To Death which sounded timeless amongst new tunes such as Gatekeeper and Bed Of Nails. Seeing Pray For Darkness and Sorceress live is still an essential gig experience, it’s incredible to see 10 years on these songs still get the same intense response at shows. CANCER BATS have still got it and it looks like they’re not slowing down yet. Once the riff of Sabotage was played, the security surrendered and let the chaos ensue. This will be a night Southend will remember for years to come.

Svalbard/Møl/Group of Man

The Black Heart, Camden. 24 May 2018.

A sold out show at The Black Heart is always going to be a hot and sweaty affair. It’s also a special evening as it’s the album release show for SVALBARD, the first ever UK show for MØL and also an album release date for GROUP OF MAN. All of whom had their most recent records released by Holy Roar Records. A bit of a Holy Roar showcase if you will.

Heading upstairs just as opening act GROUP OF MAN are about to start and the room is almost full to capacity already. The UK post-hardcore troupe recently released EP What We Got In Common and the band were bouncing off it. Post-hardcore with a bit of groove, it took a while for the crowd to feel it but by the end of their set, they had the room nodding along and cheering. A good start.

Now for something a bit different. It’s no secret I’ve become a massive MØL fan, having reviewed their debut album Jord which was released in April and interviewing the lovely chaps just before this very show. MØL’s music needs an equally powerful and emotive live response so my expectations were very high and I was anticipating the atmosphere the Danish blackgaze group would evoke. Let’s just say I was not disappointed. As soon as MØL kicked in with Penumbra, the crowd was enraptured with the intense performance and huge sound the band produced. Frontman Kim Song Sternkopf is an absolute madman on stage, almost knocking people off their feet with a swing of his mic stand. His voice held out live too, in fact all the components of MØL sounded on par. Playing the songs Storm, Ligament and Vakuum, it all amazingly sounds like it does on record. When the band finished with the title track, Kim was in the crowd almost reducing the Black Heart to rubble. MØL are one of those bands you feel lucky to have seen in a small venue. Catch them before they get huge!

After the stunning performance by MØL, tonight’s headliners SVALBARD had a hard act to follow. By now the venue was heaving with hot and sweaty bodies but everyone was in high spirits. Serena Cherry and co took the stage and they were thrilled to see the turnout for their release show for It’s Hard To Have Hope. Considering the intense topics covered in the album, there was a strong sense of fun and positivity in the room, with the band members clearly having fun and sharing jokes with the crowd. Playing songs from the new album and One Day All This Will End, the band were amazed at the amount of people who already knew the words to new songs such as Unpaid Intern and Revenge Porn with the rest of the set being well received and increasingly chaotic. Serena took a moment in between songs to thank Holy Roar Records for their support and great work ethic. And seeing the quality of the roster tonight and the stellar performances from the bands, you have to agree Holy Roar are onto something special.

Link to my interview with SVALBARD can be found here: Q&A with Svalbard

Link to album review of It’s Hard To Have Hope is here: Svalbard – It’s Hard To Have Hope

Link to my interview with MØL can be found here: INTERVIEW: MØL

Link to my album review of Jord is here: Møl – Jord