My month has mostly been taken up by the mighty UK Tech Metal fest and the bands surrounding that, but I have had a busy month with this month’s plethora of awesome releases and more. What bands and albums have you been enjoying this month? Let me know!
Metalmance Top 3 Releases from July
July has been another awesome month for new releases, including a couple by bands that have reformed and released new material. You can read about one of said bands below! Deciding my Top 20 albums later in the year is going to be very difficult indeed.
THE AGONY SCENE – Tormentor. Release date: 20 July 2018.
Back in 2005 I was obsessed with The Darkest Red. There’s always been an AGONY SCENE shaped hole left in the metal world for me, but now it’s been filled again because the band have reformed and are better than ever. Tormentor is disgustingly heavy with more tech and black metal elements than ever before. The starting riff in Submissive reminds me of the opening of Bastard Chain by SOILWORK and album finale Mechanical Breath is a superb example of blackened AGONY SCENE, with its WINTERFYLLETH-esque opening riff and ferocious drumming. Not only have the band returned all guns blazing but they’ve evolved from metalcore and surpassed their older material. This is THE AGONY SCENE 2.0 and I bloody love it. Currently tearing up the US on the Summer Slaughter tour along with BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, VEIL OF MAYA and ETHEOS, don’t be surprised if the band take over the scene once again. Catch the link to my blog post below from the archive which features me reminiscing about The Darkest Red.
DISTORTED HARMONY – A Way Out. Release date: 19 July 2018.
I was wondering how DISTORTED HARMONY’s third album A Way Out would be received by fans, and since its release it’s been interesting to see the response. A few have expressed their dislike of the heavier direction, while others – me included – have embraced the techier stance. In my review (link below) I mentioned this album may pave the way for them to be accepted further into the progressive metal community and I stand by that. Don’t forget this album was four years in the making and had various line-up changes, the next album may see all the components of DISTORTED HARMONY gelling together more coherently. A Way Out sounds like the band are still finding out what works for them but I really believe they’re on the right track and it’s only going to be a stratospheric rise from here.
NEXILVA – Aseity : I EP. Release date: 20 July 2018.
I cannot believe I stupidly missed NEXILVA on the Saturday of Tech Fest, I must have been napping in the shade or something (more about other bands I’ve missed later in this post) because their most recent EP Aseity : I absolutely slays. Their sound is a collection of all things dark and heavy. The opener Redeemed is a highlight for me, it reminds me of symphonic ABIGAIL WILLIAMS but it also has the exotic SHOKRAN elements which pushes the dynamic to the next level. And don’t get me started of the disgustingly awesome clean vocals on this EP, this track especially. All the tech influences can be heard on Aseity : I from MESHUGGAH on Decades and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME on Overview, but NEXILVA completely own their sound. They’re exciting, blisteringly heavy and they haven’t even tapped into their full potential yet.
On the playlist…
I’ve been trying to catch up with some independent releases this month. These are the records which caught my attention.
ISA – Chimera. Release date: 19 April 2018.
So I’m just gonna throw this out there straight away and inform you that ISA is just one chap. Everything is written, played and recorded by Dan Curhan and I think Chimera is a bloody good achievement. Chaotic, messy and progressive it’s an interesting beast to listen to. Listening to tracks such as Stage I – Descent and Stage II – Fear, there’s something of a manic Devin Townsend about Curhan’s progressive approach. In his calmer moments, Curhan has a Maynard James Keenan tinge to his voice, even Mike Patton, there’s something unbelievable about Curhan’s vocal talent. Musically Chimera shifts from BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME to BEECHER to OPETH. It’s all over the place yet it’s all contained. It’s got to be heard to be believed. The depth and ambition of this release is incredible for a soloist. You could do much worse than check this out. Do it.
DECAY THE OCEAN – Mirror City. Release date: 9 June 2018.
I don’t think I’ve seen a band work so hard as DECAY THE OCEAN. Coming out of nowhere they’ve been taking their home county of Norfolk by storm this year and further a field as well, including recently supporting CYCLAMEN on their Tech Fest warm up show in Sheffield. In an over-saturated scene of A DAY TO REMEMBER rip-offs and mediocre tech bands, it takes a lot these days to get noticed and be respected but through their passion and perseverance, DECAY THE OCEAN are making waves (haha, geddit?). Their material isn’t the most original and the production could be better, but the potential and the love of the music is there bubbling fiercely underneath. Debut EP Mirror City wears all of the band’s melodic metalcore influences on its sleeve, at times so much it becomes predictable, but I can’t help but wonder what DECAY THE OCEAN may achieve once they’ve established a sound of their own and grown more as a band. Watch this space.
Post-Tech Fest playlist…
This is my little section dedicated to the bands I stupidly missed playing live at this year’s Tech Fest but have been listening to since. Yes, I am an idiot but I promise I won’t miss them next time around.
UNPROCESSED – Covenant. Release date: 13 April 2018.
It’s no secret I’m a massive fan of the Long Branch Records roster, so how on Earth did I remain ignorant to UNPROCESSED? A German tech metal band that’s taking djent to new heights, they played Tech Fest on the Friday and yours truly stupidly missed out. The band have recently toured with fellow label mates VALIS ABLAZE and I haven’t stopped listening to their album Covenant since. My first thought was this band is what ANIMAL AS LEADERS would sound like if they had vocals but that’s just scratching the surface. UNPROCESSED have an abundance of tricks up their sleeves and this album is an incredible slab of progressive tech metal. A stand out track for me is Malleable which sounds like djent with THE ROYAL vocals and a melodic ending reminiscent of JUROJIN. The pure djent moments of this band are refreshing and pushing boundaries. Millenium is also another outstanding track with its eerily heavy riff and its BRUTAI-like clean vocals. Everything about this track is spot on, it rocks HARD. This is contrasted by The Mirror which is piano driven and has oodles of electronic elements. The riffing is ridiculous in Meridian, and with a NORTHLANE-ish melody and CHON-esque vibes after the chorus, this is a corker of a track. Don’t make the same mistake I did, make sure you catch these guys when you can!
MISCREANT – Living Death. Release date: 6 May 2016.
These dudes have been on my radar for quite a while. So what did I do? I missed them at Tech Fest on the Friday didn’t I. I’m hoping to redeem myself when they play Kings Lynn with MECHROMORPH and BOUND IN FEAR though so bear with me. MISCREANT released new single Let Tomorrow Die last year but their last full release for their debut EP Living Death and it’s a stunning debut of dark and chaotic metal. With the dark intensity of LOATHE this isn’t a listening experience for the faint-hearted. Bitter Regrets is full of OCEANO-scale breakdowns and Desolation has an irresistible hardcore pace that manifests into an absolute beast. So much is packed into these four songs, the debut album is going to blow everyone away. You’ll see.
DESPITE EXILE – Relics. Release date: 17 November 2017.
It seems all the bands I wanted to see were on the Friday. I remember wanting to check out DESPITE EXHILE but also wanting to save my energy for VOYAGER so I chose the latter but I do regret missing these Italian metallers. I hear they absolutely smashed it and it’s not surprising if you’ve listened to their last album Relics. The title track alone is a blackened paradise. The depth to their heaviness is staggering. It’s interesting to see how people pigeon-hole this band. I’ve seen ‘deathcore’, ‘black metal’ and ‘death metal’ thrown about but the truth is the band are all three and so much more. There is something epic about their dynamic which borrows from the world of black and death metal but there is also the straight-up brutality from deathcore. It’s an exciting combination. In tracks such as Ephemeral you have metalcore riffs and black metal atmospherics and it’s such a stunning result, the whole album leaves me a bit gobsmacked at the end. Let’s hope these Italians play the UK again soon.