Roundup – July 2018

All the releases I’ve been indulging in this past month.

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.

 

1

THE AGONY SCENE – Tormentor. Release date: 20 July 2018.

Tormentor

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.

Weekly Roundup #19 featuring The Agony Scene

 

2

DISTORTED HARMONY – A Way Out. Release date: 19 July 2018.

A Way Out

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.

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out Review

 

3

NEXILVA – Aseity : I EP. Release date: 20 July 2018.

AseityI 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.

ISASo 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.

Mirror CityI 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.

CovenantIt’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.

Living DeathThese 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.

RelicsIt 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.

Exocrine – Molten Giant

Label: Unique Leader Records. Release date: 17 August 2018.

This year has already seen beastly album artwork of alien monster beings in the form of WITHIN DESTRUCTION’s  D E A T H W I S H, but now we have another hellish creature waiting to be unleashed upon the world. EXOCRINE’s Molten Giant is a concept album about a nuclear war between a gigantic lava minster and the surviving human beings. Quite fitting for this deathly heat wave we’re having, this album is a slab of progressive technical death metal perfection. The French metallers have been snapped up by Unique Leader Records after catching the label’s eye on last year’s tour with OBSCURA and ARCHSPIRE in Japan and their two previous albums. This year should spell the year of the lava monster. With an abhorrent concept, the music needed to be monstrous to match and EXOCRINE have delivered an absolutely blistering and ferocious third offering.

EXOCRINE have a manifestly mammoth sound for Molten Giant and with opening track Scorched Human Society all the terror and violence tumbles out in an aural assault. Atmospheric and suffocatingly heavy, the technical influences are there with hints of NECROPHAGIST and OBSCURA rattling around while your lugholes are subjected to a progressive battering. Riff city with touches of NILE, it’s an opener that will decimate the senses. I think you get the idea now. From the first track you will be hooked, trust me.

Lead single Hayato has a fantastic oriental sounding intro and it erupts into a BEYOND CREATION type brawl. It has a glorious old school sound with fresh production, but the chops and changes throughout the song are incredible. The verse has a chaotic feel like THE BERZERKER or CARNIVAL IN COAL then the middle eight has a strong OPETH oomph to proceedings. The ending has a nice touch of piano before things start raging again with third track Backdraft. This tune is a proper stomper, with a magnificent groove running throughout. There are spacey elements, hints of dissonance and an uplifting ending which is quite unexpected.

The title track Molten Giant has a newer DECAPITATED vibe with some slam elements whereas Flamewalkers has more of a Spheres of Madness-era DECAPITATED stance. The riffs on this album are consistently phenomenal as well as the flawless drumming. The more ‘melodic’ moments truly shine and also emphasise the brutality of the EXOCRINE. I think Flamewalkers has it all; atmosphere, tension, technicality and savagery.

Lavaburst is another intense ball of insane fury but Behind The Wall provides a FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE/SEPTIC FLESH orchestral break to proceedings. Then before we know it we’ve reached the album finale The Shape of New World and it spells our untimely apocalypse. With a strong progressive leaning, it’s the ambition and drive of this song which makes it a suitable climax of such a punishing album. It has to be heard to be believed. Dramatic, colossal and unforgiving, The Shape of New World brings Molten Giant to an astonishing close. Say hello to your new favourite progressive tech-death band.

 

Tech Fest 2018

Newark Showground. 5th-8th July 2018.

There was quite a merry buzz running throughout Tech Fest this year, what with England doing well in the World Cup and the constant predictions of who the *Secret Act* would be on the Sunday (it was SLEEP TOKEN). Personally it felt like it was gearing up to be the best year but unfortunately due to an emergency in our camp I had to miss the bands Sunday (so, sorry for no reviews of the bands that day!). Despite this and the hottest weather on Earth, the atmosphere this year was unparalleled and the quality of the bands just kept getting better and better. I know I’m not the only one already looking forward to next year! For now, here is my rundown of the bands I saw (in between eating delicious food and avoiding the sun). Photos are a combination of my own and Lee Harper/Go To The Gig.

Thursday

It was absolutely staggering to see the amount of people already settled in and checking out the bands when I got to the showground Thursday afternoon. Definitely the most people I’d seen on a Thursday at Tech Fest which was a very promising sight. After pitching the tent I went to catch Danish rockers SIAMESE. If you read my last Metalmance Monthly Roundup you will know how much I was looking forward to catching these guys but I was also nervous about how they would be received by the rest of the Tech Fest crowd. I needn’t have worried as they totally owned the room and got everyone nodding along while they played songs from last year’s Shameless. The majority were surprised to see a violinist in tow but this adds such an awesome dynamic to their sound, the band as a whole sound irresistible. Frontman Mirza Radonjica is a captivating frontman and closing the set with Soul and Chemicals and Ablaze they got the early evening of Tech Fest off to a kicking start.

20180705_204950.jpg

I was glad to see a big turnout for CRYSTAL LAKE on the Winspear Stage. All the way from Japan, these guys really got the party started with their mix of hardcore and progressive metal. Frontman Ryo charms the crowd and when they break out with a cover of LIMP BIZKIT’s Rollin’ then that’s when all the bodies erupted. The band all looked thrilled to be there and it was this energy and passion that the audience fed off. A stellar performance, it’s safe to say the band won over a new legion of fans tonight.

Headlining the night was a very special set from HEART OF A COWARD. The band have always been lodged firmly in the hearts of Tech Fest fans and this year felt like a celebration of the band’s new lineup and the promise of the future. Last year at Tech Fest Kaan Tasan (formly of NO CONSEQUENCE) made a guest appearance during VALIS ABLAZE’s set, but no one could have imagined this year he would be back fronting HEART OF A COWARD and headlining the opening night. Everyone knew he would be able to deliver but bloody hell he surpassed expectations. Clearly thrilled to be there in the moment, Tasan and co conquered the stage and conquered the hearts of the crowd. The professionalism and talent oozed from the band and the audience lapped it up. A set I am very proud to have witnessed. With a reception such as this, who knows what new heights HEART OF A COWARD could achieve in the future.

The after parties at Tech Fest are always a goldmine of bands and sets and this opening night was no different. Tonight saw Dutch tech metallers THE ROYAL make their second Tech Fest appearance. This was my third time seeing this brilliant group and it was hands down the best set I’ve seen them play to date. The energy these guys have is i20180706_004149.jpgnfectious and the way frontman Sem Pisarahu commands the crowd is always a sight to behold. THE ROYAL just keep getting better and better and the response from the crowd during songs from albums Dreamcatchers and Seven was very promising, proving the band are continuing to be on the up.

 

Friday

Today was the day I was looking forward to the most with favourites VOYAGER, VOLA and SIKTH playing later, and it proved to be my favourite of the whole weekend. I kicked off my day seeing FROM EDEN TO EXILE, having heard their latest release Modern Disdain I was looking forward to seeing how their metallic intensity translate live. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to witness these guys live as I was completely blown away by their brutality and composure. This is exactly how you should get your Friday afternoon off to a cracking start. Frontman Tom Franklin is proving to be an unstoppable force and the whole band are equally as ferocious. One of the unexpected highlights of the weekend.

Nothing quite prepared me for the FROM SORROW TO SERENITY extravaganza that was to follow over on the Winspear Stage. I hate to admit I’ve always seen their name dotted around and knew they had recently signed to Long Branch Records, but until this 20180706_145322.jpgmoment I hadn’t actually committed to listening to a full song. So it’s safe to say the set was always going to be a bit of a surprise but I was utterly enthralled by their explosive performance. I’m now beating myself up for sleeping on this band for too long. Just a few minutes in their presence you can understand why they’ve pulled crowds of people to their set early in the afternoon and why they have been signed to an excellent label. The energy on stage was overwhelming and I was left a little shell shocked after. Absolutely superb.

I was curious to see how the mad genius of THE DALI THUNDERING CONCEPT fared live, but a few technical issues hindered their sound a tad. Despite this, the French math-metallers still sounded unbelievable. Every member performed with a fierce passion making the set an intense affair. Having been promoted up the bill in the place of JINJER (who unfortunately couldn’t make it due to visa issues) THE DALI THUNDERING CONCEPT performed to a very generous crowd, proving they’ve got what it takes to play higher up the bill. Let’s hope we see these guys again very soon.

There was a real excitement in the air before VOLA began their set. The band from Denmark always win new fans wherever they go with their stupidly catchy and charming prog metal. There were still some technical issues on the Winspear Stage but 20180706_164627.jpgVOLA still sounded brilliant. Their secret weapon is their keys player Martin Werner, whose skill and performance excels the band’s dynamic. Singer and guitarist Asger Mygind proved to be one of the most charming frontmen of the weekend, with his signature voice and his composed stage presence. The band played songs from their debut album Inmazes and their older EPs, much to their hardcore fans’ delight. They even generously threw a new song into the set, which was a very curious song including spoken word elements and a poppier approach. It will be very interesting to see what the band have conjured for their next album. Of course, the majority of the crowd wanted to hear one particular song and VOLA obliged by playing it as their finale. Stray The Skies got one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the weekend and VOLA was a name on the tongues of all who saw them.

Releasing one of the best metal albums of the year so far, BLEED FROM WITHIN are back on fine form and were ready to prove to Tech Fest why they’re becoming one of BBleed From Withinritain’s metal heavyweights. A big crowd, big sound and a big stage presence, it’s clear the Glaswegians are comfortable with the heights they are reaching but they have remained humble and interact with the crowd with joy and professionalism. Songs from Era sound utterly flawless live and the exciting thing is, BLEED FROM WITHIN still have so much to give. Don’t be surprised if the next time we see them at Tech Fest they’re headlining.

Next up were Australian prog metallers VOYAGER deservedly headlining the Waghorn Guitars Stage. With an impressive back catalogue, the band had a wealth of disgustingly Voyagerbrilliant songs to choose from for their set, but they chose one of their best to open – What A Wonderful Day. And what a wonderful set the next hour would be. VOYAGER are one of those bands where every member brings their unique element to the live dynamic and the band are highly addictive to witness live; guitarists Simone Dow and Scott Kay bounce off each other, while bassist Alex Canion is such an entertaining sight to behold, drummer Ashley Doodkorte is a beard with a beast attached and singer Danny Estrin is truly captivating with his 80s pop voice and keytar skills. Songs from latest album Ghost Mile go down a storm, such as Ascension and Misery Is Only Company. But the highlight of the set was when Estrin played the opening note of DARUDE – Sandstorm that things got really riotous. It’s so much fun to see a band who are comfortable playing together and who exude such magnificent showmanship you dread when the set ends. Until next time.

All throughout the weekend, choruses of “IT’S COMING HOME!!” ring out and in the queue for SIKTH it becomes deafening while two lads with Gladiator style inflatable Sikthsticks bang them together to drum the rhythm. Everyone is in good spirits and there is a good energy which erupts during the headline set of tech veterans SIKTH. The room seemed to be at full capacity with sweaty and hot bodies flailing around to classics such as Bland Street Bloom and Summer Rain. The band knew which songs the crowd wanted and they delivered, playing plenty of songs from Death Of A Dead Day especially. It’s crazy to think over a decade ago SIKTH played their farewell show in London. Now in 2018 their audience is bigger than ever and the quality of their performance proves their talent of raising venues to the ground, yet they still have plenty in the bag. An absolutely chaotic set with euphoric vibes afterwards, this is how you headline Tech Fest.

After a day of chaotic sets and dancing I was after something a bit slower to end the day with. Luckily Norwich doom merchants NERVEWRECKER were playing the after party and if you’ve been following my blog you may remember my recent review of their latest EP Murmur and a review of their support slot with EMPLOYED TO SERVE and CONJURER (both of whom were playing the Sunday). This was NERVEWRECKER at their best, a hardcore attitude and energy with a massive sound, this is doom metal with a big “fuck you”. The crowd loved it and lapped up every resonating note, proving the band were the perfect choice for the after party. Despite their disgustingly slow riffs, NERVEWRECKER whipped up a frenzy and the support from their fans was golden. Same again next year please!

 

Saturday

Saturday afternoon was something of a little Long Branch Records show case, with VALIS ABLAZE and THE FIVE HUNDRED releasing their debut albums through the label (the latter is still yet to be released) and playing after one another today. Last year Bristolian progsters VALIS ABLAZE played the smaller stage, but this year they finally get the setting they deserve and stormed the Winspear stage. With a new bassist in tow, it was great to see the new lineup and to hear the new songs played live. The band released debut album Boundless back in April and the new tracks went down a storm. Most of the fans in the crowd have been with the band since the beginning so there’s always a buzz when the tech homeboys play. This year DREWSIF STALIN was absent for a guest spot, and if you’ve heard Frequency off the new album you will know what a little gem this song is and how it really does shine with two vocalists present. The band instead had called upon WHITE DOVE to do the guest vocals and she absolutely killed it. A superb substitute for a winner of a song. It’s only a matter of time before VALIS ABLAZE burst into the wider metal community.

Up next on the Waghorn Guitars stage were Nottingham metallers THE FIVE HUNDRED. I’ve been listening to this band since they released their Winters EP back in 2015 but this was my first time seeing them live. It’s safe to say they completely blew my hangover away. I don’t know what’s in the water in Nottingham but the new songs they teased sounded beastly and a blistering progression from last year’s EP The Veil. Performing like they were playing a stage twice the size, it’s great to see the band’s energy match their sound. With their debut album soon to be released this set has made me even more excited for the record. Long Branch have snapped up one of the most promising tech acts around, fingers crossed next year will see the band will launch to new heights.

I was super eager to catch DVSR during half time of the football. Last year we had HACKTIVIST, but this year we had DVSR providing the rap metal and playing an exclusive UK DVSRset and I am very proud to have witnessed such an incredible show. Pulling in the punters despite the game, people knew this was a special occasion and the band delivered. Groovy, confident and downright heavy, this band were the perfect edition for a Saturday afternoon.

I had no idea INGESTED would turn out to be my last band of the weekend, but I’m very glad the slamming death metal band wrapped up my weekend as things got a little bit insane. Last year the band absolutely decimated the smaller stage when they headlined the Sunday. It was about time the Manchester mob played the main stage and after the release of their incredible new album The Level Above Human earlier in the year, it was well deserved. Seeing the biggest wall of death of the weekend, I don’t know if it was the sun or the football or the alcohol, but the room was whipped up into a frenzy and remained so the entirety of the set. Commanding the crowd, vocalist Jason Evans is an absolute demon live, some other frontmen could learn from his example. His energy and passion is unparalleled, one of the reasons why they always slay live. A superb set and a superb end to my Tech Fest weekend. See you next year.

 

 

 

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

Release date: 19th July 2018. Self-release.

This album has felt like a long time coming. It’s been four years since the progressive metal band from Israel released the masterpiece Chain Reaction. The band have been teasing new music to fans for the past year as well as having some line up changes. Last year saw the departure of guitarist Guy Landau, then DISTORTED HARMONY announced they were not only replacing Landau with another guitarist, but TWO guitarists; Amit Plaschkes and Yoel Genin. Some fans, me included, were worried how much a second guitarist would shake up the wonderful dynamic of the band. But seriously, it was the perfect step for the evolution of DISTORTED HARMONY’s sound.

Four years is a long time between albums, so progression in sound is expected. The band have become a lot heavier with A Way Out, their third album, but not too far to alienate older fans. Personally I applaud the techier and riffier direction as this will hopefully see them gain a stronger footing in the progressive metal scene. They still have their (not so) secret weapon though, in the form of keyboardist/mastermind Yoav Efron and it’s his signature flourishes which enable DISTORTED HARMONY to remain unique.

The album begins with such a flourish in the opener Downfall. Immediately you can hear the progression from Chain Reaction. The sound is bigger, bolder and far more confident. This includes vocalist Misha Soukhinin and his distinct and charming vocals. He really steps up the game in this release and proves he can belt a tune out just as good as the rest. This first song is a superb example of what DISTORTED HARMONY offer in 2018; intelligent compositions, challenging lyrics, big choruses and thinking outside the box. Fans might be anticipating riffs, riffs, riffs with this release but nothing prepared me for the utter groove-fest that is second track Room 11. Everything is ramped up for this track and this completes the spectacular beginning of A Way Out.

Things get extremely interesting with third track Awaken, whose first half soothes and matches the charm of Chain Reaction. The subtle electronics here underline the amazing song-writing prowess of the group, but it is the second half of this track which will blow you away. Everything ramps up and soars creating an unexpected climax for so early on in the album. The closing riff sounds not too dissimilar to Methylene Blue which perfectly completes the song. Things get extra technical with Severed, where the keys and guitars satisfying align before it breaks down into a djenty breakdown. It’s really interesting to hear the heavier influences coming into play here and sitting seamlessly amongst the classic DISTORTED HARMONY components.

For Puppet On Strings, things sound a little MARTIN GRECH in places. The eerie and brooding composition coupled with the musing vocals make this song one of the most haunting on the album. This is followed by the rousing interlude of For Ester, which is an utterly compelling instrumental break before our ears are pummelled by the opening riff of Anima. The melody reminds me a little of TOOL which is amusing because of the choice of title track used. The sweeping chorus is classic DISTORTED HARMONY which is complimented by the newer techier riffs.

A Way Out of Here has an innocent tone and is stripped down to piano and vocals at the beginning. Quiet and haunting, when other instrumentation is introduced it reminds me of the charming days of KRISTIAN LEONTIOU, the kind of heart-wrenching ballad with a soft accompaniment which emphasises the emotions and lyrics. DISTORTED HARMONY have always been the masters of creating captivating tunes and it appears they’ll continue to be so. If you really are craving the days of Chain Reaction then the next track Time and Time Again is for you! With hints of Natural Selection and Hollow, it will appease old fans and new.

The first song DISTORTED HARMONY released off A Way Out is still one of the most provoking songs of the album. We Are Free is a glorious track of tech riffs and mesmerising programming, topped off with the powerful chorus and imagery. When the breakdown drops, it drops hard. DISTORTED HARMONY use breakdowns to great effect, they never add one unnecessarily, but they know when to sprinkle them in for an intense impact.

Before you know it, it’s the album finale, Someday, which is another melodically intense affair. The pacing and use of multiple vocals may remind you of Every Time She Smiles. DISTORTED HARMONY seem to lean towards a modest closing track and Someday is no different. It never quite takes off but this is the eerie magic of it. A bewitching end to a spectacular album, don’t be surprised if A Way Out sees the band breaking out. It would be a shame to keep such a talented band hidden away. Once they’ve fully unlocked their potential, who knows what DISTORTED HARMONY could achieve. Another stunning effort.

Hopesfall – Arbiter

Label: Equal Vision Records. Release date: 13 July 2018.

It’s been almost 11 years since HOPESFALL released their last album Magnetic North and since 2008 there has been a massive HOPESFALL void left the metal scene that no other band could quite replace. Luckily the band reformed last year and have recorded Arbiter, their incredible comeback album. There is a clear evolution which has happened here, immediately you can recognise the classic HOPESFALL sound and frontman Jay Forrest’s distinct vocals, but Arbiter sounds like HOPESFALL 2.0. It’s a bit like what you always wanted the band to achieve, it has the ambition and progressive sensibilities of Magnetic North and the melodic approach of A Types, which makes for a winning combination. This release has a bigger sound, bigger production and bigger songs. HOPESFALL aren’t going to sneak back onto the scene quietly, they’re going to crash in and show the youngsters how it’s done.

Things get off to a raucous start with Faint Object Camera. Definitely one of the ‘rawer’ HOPESFALL songs vocally, it is a bit of a serious affair but one with massive impact. I was half expecting A Types style quirky riffs, but instead I got a HELL IS FOR HEROES-cum-DEFTONES vibe which is equally as glorious. Second track H.A. Wallace Space Academy is a lot more ‘classic’ HOPESFALL but with an added GASLIGHT ANTHEM-esque twist to proceedings. Forrest is back in business with his big melodies and big screams with the last minute sounding a tad more DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL/JIMMY EAT WORLD than usual, but stick with it as this mix is very rewarding.

If you are desperate for something a bit more old school HOPESFALL then look no further than Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the verse wouldn’t sound out of place on A Types with its twinkly riffs and Forrest’s vocal approach. The chorus entertains the newer style but the spacey riffs soar. I Catapult is another spectacular example of stratospheric rock. Its delicate notes somehow perfectly reflect the artwork. There is a sense of weightlessness in the sun-drenched riffs. You can imagine the pure light you witness when you’re at great heights. When the sun kicks in it is HOPESFALL at their best, one of the album highlights so far.

Tunguska is an emotive track of huge proportions. It has a glorious old school sound, not necessarily HOPESFALL but it sounds like early noughties era rock which has been brought kicking and screaming into 2018. Brooding riffs and a chorus which lapses into a mammoth TAKING BACK SUNDAY-esque passage. This is special stuff. The same could be said for Drowning Potential which is another intense track that would appease old HOPESFALL fans. Angry, fast-paced then oddly soothing, this track matches the intensity and pacing of Magnetic North.

We are suddenly at the penultimate song of Arbiter and HOPESFALL keep our attention with the brilliant To Bloom, which could easily be the album opener. It has that wholesome sound and features all that the band have to offer, from the big choruses, the intense screaming and the twinkly riffs and spacey guitars. It nicely settles down to the album finale Indignation and the Rise of the Arbiter which proves to be one of the most melodic songs on the album. A soothing and blissful track, it continues HOPESFALL’s spacey musical odyssey. The melodies and whispers hark back to the glory days of A Types which satisfyingly wraps up the HOPESFALL nostalgia for the album. Arbiter certainly is not A Types Part 2 or Magnetic North Part 2. This is a different beast entirely and the sound of an experienced band evolving and coming back with a bang. Let’s hope this time they stick around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreamshade – On My Own

Single, self-release. 29 June 2018.

Out of the blue last Friday, Metalmance favourites DREAMSHADE dropped new single On My Own and it’s a corker. Taking the plunge and self-releasing this song, DREAMSHADE are taking a risk putting their new music out there themselves, but with top notch music such as this and a dedicated fan base, they’ll pull it off.

Old fans who were unhappy with the lighter output of last album Vibrant will no doubt be disappointed with this new song, but DREAMSHADE have evolved into a much bolder and a more vibrant (sorry) outfit. They have outgrown their metalcore roots and nailed a mature DREAMSHADE sound. Most bands never achieve a signature sound but this Swiss band achieved it by album number two. Now looking at releasing a fourth album, if On My Own is anything to go by then we might see their most ambitious release to date.

On My Own has that glorious signature DREAMSHADE sound courtesy of guitarist Fernando ‘Fella’ Di Cicco’s shimmering riffs. But it is vocalist Kevin Calì who captures attention in this single with his ballsy approach with his clean vocals now having an extra zest. Immediately you’re confronted with a strong rock song that would keep the radio listeners happy as well as metal fans happy. This winning formula reminds me of later ATRYEU, especially the album Lead Sails Paper Anchor, with it’s catchy yet heavy sound. The chorus sounds a little like a continuation of DREAMSHADE’s single Where My Heart Belongs, a fan favourite from their last album. This will make the transition between Vibrant and the next release a lot smoother for fans.

With the song title and their current situation of self-releasing their material, I can’t help but interpret this tune is their anthem of going it alone and allowing DREAMSHADE to be who they want to be, and create the music they want to make. By releasing On My Own on their own they are making a statement while testing the waters. A promising progression for the band, it will be exciting to see how their direction will evolve for their next full length. More please!

 

 


If you would like to read more DREAMSHADE related posts then follow the links below:

INTERVIEW: Dreamshade

Dreamshade + The Royal Live Review

Metalmance Top 20 Albums of 2016 featuring Dreamshade

Dreamshade – Vibrant Album Review