Roundup – September 2018

This month has seen a plethora of awesome album releases (see below) but September has also been an outstanding month for new singles. So much so I have decided to dedicate the second half of this roundup to September Singles. A bit of alliteration is nice innit. Hope you enjoy this roundup, see you next month! (Hopefully before that as I’ve got a lot of bloody good reviews in the pipeline…)


Metalmance Top 3 Releases from September

It’s been hard to choose just 3 releases to include, as this month also saw blistering releases from the likes of PIG DESTROYER, REVOCATION and ABORTED but I have finally settled on a Top 3 and I’m very happy with it. Seriously, every month I say this but what the hell is going to happen with my album of the year list in December?! 2018 has been a killer year for releases and we still have 3 months to go! Help!

1

ANAAL NATHRAKH – A New Kind of Horror. Release date: 28 September.

A New Kind of Horror

Based on the atrocities of the First World War, this was never going to be a cheery listen. If you follow my blog you will have already read my little review of the album preview show at the Black Heart (link below) but listening to it again properly is just another mindblowing experience. If you know me then you’ll know I think the band’s 2012 album Vanitas is perfection, so you will understand how good A New Kind of Horror is once I’ve told you I think this is the band’s best material since 2012. Songs like The Reek of Fear and Forward! boast the classic beefy riffs and intensity ANAAL NATHRAKH are so well known for. It’s reassuring to hear they haven’t watered down their sound now they’re further along in their career. In fact they sound ballsier and more terrifying than ever. This album is a must-listen.

Anaal Nathrakh + The Atrocity Exhibit Live Review

2

SKYHARBOR – Sunshine Dust. Release date: 7 September.

Sunshine Dust

I’m surprised to see Sunshine Dust hasn’t been making the waves I was expecting it to, because I think this album is absolutely stunning. A major factor of this album’s appeal is the warbles from new frontman Eric Emery. Before this album was re-recorded and released, we had already been treated to Out of Time and Chemical Hands (now Synthetic Hands) so this album has been an extremely long wait. It was all worth it though as Sunshine Dust boasts a wealth of beautifully progressive and emotive songs. Tracks like Ugly Heart, Dim and the title track all tug on the heart strings yet still pack a punch. Definitely a contender for album of the year, don’t be surprised if you see Sunshine Dust high up in my list at the end of 2018.

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust Review

3

FROM INSIDE – When I’m Breathing Without You EP. Release date: 14 September.

From Inside

At the tail end of 2016 I reviewed FROM INSIDE’s first EP The New Era (link below) and I predicted big things for the band and named them as possible game-changers down the line. This statement still stands as this new EP is a major jump in both confidence and quality. Opener Helpless has an irresistible European tinge to proceedings (think ANNISOKAY and DEAD BY APRIL) and You & I reminds me of THE USED and ISSUES, so you can probably gauge the high calibre metal on offer here. Still an unsigned band, the Liverpudlians are doing just fine continuing as an independent band, playing oodles of shows and building their fanbase. If this EP is anything to go by, when FROM INSIDE do release a debut album it’s going to be absolute killer.

From Inside – The New Era Review


September Singles

Normally this section is dedicated to other albums I’ve been listening to in the past month, but September has seen an influx of stupidly good singles, ahead of album releases. So I thought I would use this opportunity to share my favourite ones of the month and shed light on the bands in the lead up to their records dropping.

ARSIS – Tricking the Gods

The best news this month was hearing technical melodic death metal legends ARSIS are finally releasing their sixth album Visitant on 2nd November. I grew up listening to albums Celebration of Guilt and We Are The Nightmare, so ARSIS have been pivotal in my extreme metal history. This single is by far the best thing they’ve ever done, so if the new album is anything like this then we are all in for a little treat. The band haven’t lost any of their intensity or brutality, if anything it sounds like they’ve become even more technical and ambitious. This accompanying video is very fitting and not for the faint hearted. All the lyrics of the forthcoming album are apparently about different horror movies so be prepared for a blistering and terrifying release.

LASTELLE – This Cage I Built Myself

Who the hell are LASTELLE? I just so happened to stumble upon them on a Youtube channel and I’ve been besotted with this song ever since. It appears the band are only just starting out but have already sold out a gig in their home city of Oxford. LASTELLE have the knack of writing spine-tingling melodies with their drummer stealing the show with his melodic vocals (ATREYU vibes are strong with this one) but they seem to have penned the perfect post-hardcore track for the contemporary scene. Be prepared to feel all the feels. And be prepared to hear a lot more of this talented band.

COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS – Canaille

Danish progressive metal band COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS have been on my radar for a little while, so when I saw they had now been signed to Long Branch Records I was very excited. After hearing new single Canaille my thought was confirmed that the band are only going to get bigger and receive more recognition. A little bit more melodic than their previous material, this single is an absolute belter. There are a lot of interesting elements to Canaille, including jazz and djent and emotive rock. I am curious to hear how forthcoming album Fervor (out 9th November) will sound as a whole. Refreshing, fun and talented, COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS are sure to warm the coldest of reptiles with their forward-thinking metal. Expect to hear more about these guys.

DECAY THE OCEAN – Oizys, Beneath Me

Fed up with being labelled as just another 4/4 metalcore band, Kings Lynn DECAY THE OCEAN have fought back at critics with this promising new single, Oizys, Beneath Me. Starting with a beefy riff, this new track has got more grit, guts and determination than any of the songs on their debut EP Mirror City. Clearly stepping in the right direction to prove their doubters wrong, it’s good to see this young band eager to mature their sound and constantly improve. The love of playing music is clearly there and will hopefully continue to ooze out in the material they release later down the line.

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE – Nine Levels

Following on from 2016’s Odyssey: The Destroyer of Worlds, British progressive champions VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE dropped the news this week they will be releasing their next album, titled Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams later in the year. Along with the news of the forthcoming album, the band also released their first single off it, Nine Levels. I feel this song has a strong COHEED AND CAMBRIA vibe at the beginning before it erupts into the classic emotive metal the band is known for. Vocalist Ashe O’Hara is a little gem in the metal scene and absolutely shines on this single, and the soaring melodies heard in Nine Levels are truly something else. A band to watch for sure, this album is definitely geared up and set to stun.

ABORTED – Vespertine Decay

Another sexy gorefest of a video this month, Vespertine Decay by Belgian death metallers ABORTED is the blistering new single from new album Terrorvision. This song shows the metal legends going down a more blackened route. Arguably more ‘melodic’ than their other material, this suggests the band are pushing the boat out and pushing their own boundaries in turn. One of the heaviest singles of the year so far, it has the potential to rip your face off. The ferocious brutality and intensity is suffocating and makes for an incredibly compelling listen.

VOLA – Ghosts

VOLA were one of the first bands I featured in Metalmance, I labelled them as a ‘Band to watch’ and I reviewed their debut album InMazes and since then I’ve watched them explode. Now on the brink of releasing their second album Applause From A Distant Crowd 12th October, the band have released two singles from it so far. Ghosts is the second of the two singles and quite a stark contrast to Smartfriend, the first single to be released. Ghost is a beautiful, tranquil track which makes good use of electronics, but it’s one of those calming tracks which gets stuck in your head for days. A dangerous combination! Hopefully the album will boast more diverse tracks, as the singles so far have featured less of the djent which featured heavily in their debut album.

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Avast – Mother Culture

Release date: 26 October 2018. Label: Dark Essence Records.

2018 is certainly the year of blackgaze. The strong love for the style has really come to the fore this year as well as love for the bands of the genre; ALCEST, DEAFHEAVEN and more recently MØL who released their stunning debut album back in April. October sees another debut blackgaze album, this time from Norwegian blackgaze/post-black band AVAST. What sets AVAST apart from the rest is the inclusion of their native country’s style of black metal. They use this to their advantage to give their music an extra bite but Mother Culture is an absolutely stunning beauty. What I enjoy most about blackgaze is the feeling and emotions I get from the shoegaze riffs and the extreme intensity, AVAST are already masters of this and the album speaks for itself.

AVAST’s lyrical content lean towards the philosophical and poetical stance on social and environmental issues. Mother Culture is a concept album which examines the myths upon which modern civilisation is based and there is a looming sense of an impending catastrophe. Based on the philosophical novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, you know this going to be an intelligent and thought-provoking listen.

The album begins with the mesmerising title track. Building a wall of sound, the band erupt into a WINTERFYLLETH-esque black metal cascade. The pace and intensity of this song is spot-on, grabbing the listener in at the first chance and latching on for a post-black assault. When the shoegaze riffs kick in it’s a stunning switch to light and triumph, like when the sun rises after a frightful night. Absolutely beautiful.

The triumphant riffs and ambiance continues with the phenomenal instrumental track The Myth. It’s more post-rock than post-black, along the lines of MAYBESHEWILL and PELICAN but it just makes Mother Culture that little more spectacular. As the last guitar note rings, the song shifts suddenly, but seamlessly into the blistering Birth of Man. This track steamrolls through, obliterating everything in its wake. The atmosphere and depth of the sound are absolutely crushing, yet a calmness does descend for an IHSAHN-esque break during the intensity.

The World Belongs to Man is a bewitching track of ambitious proportions. There is a heart wrenching element to this song and the desperation and pain spills out into your ears. The rich textures of sound provides a massive tapestry for AVAST to project their philosophical woes creating an exceptional experience. An Earnest Desire is a more laidback affair which somehow amplifies the yearning. It deceives you into a false sense of security with its delicate and brooding instrumentation, but it bursts into blackgaze perfection. It’s another example of the songwriting prowess of AVAST and the true potential of their craft.

The impeccable Mother Culture needs an equally remarkable finale to do the album justice. Luckily Man Belongs to the World provides a fitting conclusion to this devastating blackgaze showcase. This track is a bit more modest compared to other songs on the album in terms of pace, but this somehow magnifies the components of AVAST and allows you to appreciate the timbre of the riffs and emotion of the vocals. The reduction in tempo and textures towards the end could imply the forthcoming catastrophe. Each component is wiped out until there is only feedback, then silence.

An absolutely breathtaking debut record, AVAST are sure to be accepted as one of the new blackgaze greats. The ambition, ability and intelligence of this record is profound. After listening to the intensity on the record I am eager to experience Mother Culture live. This is only the beginning.

Chronicles – Breathing New Life

Release date: 22 September 2018. Self-release.

The metal scene in France is really starting to pick up. You have of course GOJIRA, HACRIDE, SCARVE and now more recently you got EXOCRINE and IGORRR, but now you can add CHRONICLES to the growing list. This progressive metal group have just released their new record Breathing New Life and they’re not messing around. Mastered by Acle Kahney of TESSERACT fame, Breathing New Life is a fantastic sounding album. At first I was concerned they might just be another TESSERACT-by-numbers band but I was wrong. Yes there is a strong influence there, but CHRONICLES have enough of their own sound going on to easily differentiate between the two.

First track The Lost Wanderer begins with delicate piano and eerie atmospherics. The guitar work sounds promising from the off and I promise you it is the guitars which steal your attention all the way through Breathing New Life. The vocals aren’t outstanding, but they sometimes make a refreshing change from ultra polished vocals like every other neo-prog band.

The title track is full of djent-style riffs and twinkly guitar notes, but it is the drumming and effects which capture my attention here. At times CHRONICLES remind me of the later-era TEXTURES, but I kinda wish the band would go full-on heavy, sometimes they sound like they’re on the edge of just going mad but never quite reach the madness. Having said this Ghost of the Past starts with a GOJIRA-esque riff but it calms right down for the verse. The djent kicks in after a couple of minutes and things get tense, but it is the solo towards the end which makes for an awesome climax.

Desperate & Down has an elegant beginning and a rich sound but it lapses into much of the same. What’s happening in the background is the most interesting; the whirring riffs, the drum fills and atmospheric guitars take this song to a new level. It seamlessly transitions into Run which has hints of dissonance amongst the djent, creating a darker dynamic.

Dead Man’s Insight has lots happening. Djent, tech, melodic…all the progressive styles are here and it’s the song which flows the best on the album, but it is the final track Sanctuary which contains all of the components used throughout the album. To me the songs get significantly better as Breathing New Life goes along. Sanctuary is a fitting conclusion for the album as it’s an ambitious track full of interesting elements and progressions. The music ability is there to launch the band to new heights, CHRONICLES just need to focus and nurture their sound in order to push boundaries and carve their own niche in the scene.

PREVIEW: Danish Demolition Tour

A look at the four bands on this phenomenal tour.

I swear I start every blog entry with this statement nowadays, but believe me when I say there is something in the water in Denmark. The top quality bands that the country is exporting are threatening to lead the world of heavy music. Four examples of such bands will soon be invading our shores; DEFECTO, HELHORSE, SIAMESE and APHYXION. Each band sound entirely different to the other, ensuring the Danish Demolition tour has something to please all heavy music fans! The Danes will be storming the stage at Boston Music Rooms, London 24th September, and in preparation for this historical night I have shared my thoughts and suggested tracks for each band as well as the bands’ own words on their music, crazy tour stories and what they’re looking forward to most on the tour.


APHYXION

Aphyxion

Suggested track: As We Blacken the Sky. This track off the album Aftermath sounds like a cross between INSOMNIUM and PARKWAY DRIVE and it’s got such an epic feel to it.

The heaviest band on the Danish Demolition tour, APHYXION claim notable bands ARCHITECTS and SOILWORK as influences which explains how they gloriously mix melodic death metal with kick-ass tech metal for a signature sound. Last album Aftermath released back in 2016 is still absolutely crushing. This tour finally sees the band playing London for the first time and going by what the band have talked about below, London should expect a fantastic show!

Q. Describe your band in 3 words.

Hard-working, determined and hungry.

Q. What can fans expect from your live show?

We always deliver an extremely tight show with a lot of beautiful Jutlandic dancing.

Q. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened while you were on tour?

When we were on our first European tour, only 17 years old, we were invited to sleep at the place of one of the guys who attended the show. His parents were out and of course we completely wrecked his house and had a great party. We all got insanely drunk. The morning after we woke up only to find out, that we were in the house of an extremely Christian family, and that the guy who invited us to sleep over, never really had been drunk before. His parents got home – it was on his mothers birthday, obviously – and they weren’t exactly happy. And off to the next gig we were…

Q. Which other band on the Danish Demolition tour are you most excited to play shows with?

SIAMESE. Their frontman Mirza is amazing. Have you ever watched him dance? If not, make sure to be there when they start to play their songs. Beautiful as hell.

Q. What other Danish bands should people check out?
Everybody is talking about BAEST these days, and with good reason. If you’re into old school death metal, these guys will rock your boat. Go check ‘em out.


SIAMESE

SiameseBand

Suggested track: Soul & Chemicals. I’ve probably mentioned before but this song is incredible. THAT chorus just rocks and there is an epic core to their sound.

A little while back I featured SIAMESE in a monthly roundup and also in my review of their Tech Fest set, so you have probably already guessed I think this band are bloody awesome. Exciting times are ahead as this month saw the release of their new single Animals which will be on their forthcoming album, and also the announcement they have signed to Long Branch Records! You better get to know this band quick!

Q. What can fans expect from your live show?

BANTER. All depending on how drunk I am, it can be fun or really cringy. But it’s how we do it I guess. Furthermore we are pretty decent musicians. Oh and clapping to 2 and 4 (not 1 & 3 you cheeky c***). Some sweat too.

Q. When did you first hear/meet the other bands on the tour?

APHYXION we’ve known since 2011. I met them when they were only 17 years old. HELHORSE grew up with SIAMESE. We started at the same time. And DEFECTO I know because I am their manager. I’m actually the manager of all the guys.

Q. Which city on the tour are you most excited about playing and why?

There is something totally exciting about the London show. I think that we will have a special night at Boston music room.

Q. What other Danish bands should people check out?

Easy. MØL, CABAL, ODD PALACE, DAZE OF JUNE and UNSEEN FAITH do a very good job if you are into core.

Q. If your band was a food, what would it be?

You know that candy that pops in your mouth? That’s SIAMESE.


HELHORSE

Helhorse

Suggested track: Among the Wolves. There’s something very CLUTCH-esque about this song. The awesome groovy riffs and catchy lyrics make this a standout track on their self-titled album.

Compared to the polished beats of SIAMESE, HELHORSE are a gritty, punky and raw beast entirely. Since their first album For Wolves and Vultures, released in 2011, the band have supported the likes of AC/DC, RAMMSTEIN and SLAYER, proving they’re Danish heavyweights and a force to be reckoned with. The band describes their sound and live show in their own amusing way below.

Q. Describe your band in 3 words.

Gritty, hard rocking and no fucks given attitude

Q. What are the band’s musical influences?

HELHORSE is truly a bastard child of influences. We mix punk, classic rock, heavy and great melodies.

Q. What can fans expect from your live show?

An explosion of energy. We thrive on our live performances and it’s something we take great pride in. We’re the kind of band that won’t stop until the whole room is bouncing, dancing, headbanging and going nuts. So expect a great party, huge riffs and a hell of a good time.

Q. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened while you were on tour?

Shit a lot of stuff has happened to us, but luckily no accidents (knock on wood). Once we played a showcase in Berlin (a Danish expo thing) and we partied really, really hard. So when it came to the time to go home and our ferry had reached Denmark, the other band had forgotten their bass player (whom had hangovers nearing a deathlike state) on the damn boat. None of them realised this until we asked if they were missing someone! Needless to say he spent 24 hours in Lübeck with no money, no phone and barely any clothes. I was also stand in for another band at a tour where they forgot me in a Chech town that looked like it was the location site of the Hostel Movies! That was only for 30 minutes – thank fuck!

Q. Which city on the tour are you most excited about playing and why?

We always love coming to Hamburg, that city has become a home from home for us. We are really excited about the places we haven’t been before like Harlem (NL) and Leipzig. It’s gonna be some great nights – so show up and party with us.


DEFECTO

Defecto

Suggested track: Nemesis. The title track of their second album released last year, Nemesis has a gloriously dramatic start and continues to be an epic masterpiece.

DEFECTO are becoming something of a massive deal in Denmark. Since releasing their debut album Excluded back in 2016, the band have played sold out tours across their native country as well as supporting the likes of METALLICA and RAMMSTEIN! Their classic melodic metal sound is flawless and fun! The band sum it all up in their own words…

Q. Describe your band in 3 words.

Heavy fucking metal.

Q. What can fans expect from your live show?

Besides rainbows and unicorns, you can expect mesmerizing guitar solos, epic choruses and kickass riffs.

Q. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened while you were on tour?

Without going into details we had one crazy ass night in Tokyo last year. The evening involved lots of Jack Daniels, Japanese showgirls and a fistfight with a tourist.

Q. When did you first hear/meet the other bands on the tour?

APHYXION I think we met for the first time when we started collaborating with Prime Collective a couple a years ago. I’m not sure… maybe because it was at the Prime Christmas Party. We knew SIAMESE from back when they were still called SIAMESE FIGHTING FISH. Can’t remember when… maybe because Mirza is soooo old. We met the first time when we supported another Danish band HATESPHERE back in 2012.

Q. If you could have one superpower what would you choose and why?

I’d choose the guts to say no to these stupid ass interviews… Because the clock is 21.19 and I’d much rather fuck my wife!

Grimm – Play Dead

Release date: 18 September 2018. Self-release.

Is there a MISFITS/goth-punk shaped hole in your life? Fret no more as North Arizona devils GRIMM are here to bring the darkness back to your soul. As their name and album art suggests, these ghoulish dudes are all about monsters, things that go bump in the night and creating raw sounds. This has quite a modest production but I didn’t realise it was something I’d been craving after a long binge on highly polished tech metal. If you want to find comfort in a spooky release then look no further.

Demon I Am is a devilishly charming track full of punky riffs, crooning vocals with a dash of angst. The pace and structure is very MISFITS-esque but without the gimmicks. There is something strangely addictive about this low-budget production. Heck…it sounds PUNK. Killing Spree boasts punkier vocals and some classic “whoa-oooh”s which just trigger the nostalgia. GRIMM aren’t churning out anything new but their energy and sound is as infectious as a virus.

The EP could do without Made From Dead as the harmonies need a lot of work but the track I, Monster is a morbidly groovy treat. There’s something about the ghostly grooves that remind me of the more upbeat moments of TIGER ARMY. I love everything about this song; the snare, the lyrics, the simplicity of the track, the pace…it’s like a rough diamond.

Knife With Violence has quite a bite to it. This is the track with the most spite and vocals of bile in it…and it’s awesome. It’s promising to hear GRIMM aren’t afraid to shake up the goth-punk crooning formula, which makes this track one of the more exciting ones on Play Dead. The formula is back though for last track The Devil’s Carnival, another TIGER ARMY-esque track for the finale. This song, as well as the first track Demon I Am create sufficient ‘bookends’ for the EP, as both songs have striking similarities so it was a wise idea to have these tracks further apart so that Play Dead didn’t become too samey, as well as being able to appreciate the tracks separately.

All in all GRIMM aren’t reinventing the wheel with this EP but you can’t deny how enjoyable the ghoulish sound and punk influences are. If the band keep things simple and try and create their own magical sound then they could be onto a winner. Don’t have nightmares.

 

PREMIERE: Polars Collide – Sanctutarium

The first look at the Dane’s debut video.

If you’ve been following Metalmance for a while you will know I’ve been raving about Danish metal bands for a couple of years now; from VOLA, GHOST IRIS, CABAL, MØL, SIAMESE etc. Well now there’s another band to add to the list. Say hello to Aarhus progressive death metal collective POLARS COLLIDE. Last year they released their awesome debut EP One to Rise and today sees the release of their music video for Sanctutarium, the first track of the EP. But who is this band? And what is Sanctutarium about?

The history of POLARS COLLIDE goes back to November 2012, when band members Tobias, Hendrik and Leander formed PULSAR. Patrick joined as a bassist in October 2014 but it was finding the right vocalist that took the most time. Luckily the band found Martin in 2016 and POLARS COLLIDE has been complete since. Going at their own pace the band were in no rush to get the ball rolling, preferring to take the time to write and let the songs develop instead of rushing into recording and playing the wrong shows.

It seemed to pay off as One to Rise is an excellent effort for an independently released debut. It’s no surprise really as all members are talented musicians; drummer Hendrik studies as a Master of classical percussion at The Royal Danish academy of music in Odense, and well as being a professional freelance percussionist in the Aarhus and Aalborg Symphony Orchestra; Martin has been practising extreme vocals for eight years and perfected his talent while being a member of melodic death metal band AS WE ASCEND; when he’s not studying to be a professional landscaper, Tobias is taking his love of distortion and BLACK SABBATH and using these influences in his guitar work; bassist Patrick has been playing in a variety of metal and folk projects; and finally Leander is a primarily self-taught guitarist who had an early interest in progressive music and rocks out in POLARS COLLIDE when he’s not studying Mathematics at Aarhus University.

Sanctutarium is definitely for fans of LAMB OF GOD and GOJIRA and is one of the standout tracks on One to Rise. The band say the song basically deals with having a mental disorder and finding salvation – whatever eases the suffering of paranoid thoughts in a confused head. The song deals with the thoughts that quickly make you hostile against the intentions of others, how admission can be perceived from the perspective of the subject. The band try to capture a bit of the madness in the video for Sanctutarium. A strong metal track with relentless riffs, blistering vocals and ferocious drumming, this is a perfect example of what POLARS COLLIDE have to offer. They’re hard at work writing for their next release and promise it will be heavier, faster and progressive as fuck.

Are you ready to join the madness? Check out the video below!

Video edit: Martin Arne Borre

 

Follow POLARS COLLIDE on
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Polarscollide/?tsid=0.22487509249005067&source=result

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/polarscollide/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2pc40l1ZRO3Dc3bp9AEjFE?nd=1

Soundcloud: https://m.soundcloud.com/polarscollide

 

 

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust

Label: eOne. Release date: 7 September 2018.

It feels like I’ve been waiting an incredibly long time for this album to drop. There is so much to be said about Sunshine Dust. It’s been a long time coming. After losing Dan Tompkins to TESSERACT again (which I was personally thrilled about as I always thought Tompkins thrived more in TESSERACT), SKYHARBOR had to find a new vocalist and solidify their line-up. They’ve struck gold with new frontman Eric Emery, who thankfully isn’t a Dan Tompkins copycat, but is a stellar singer in his own right.

But this is all old news! It’s been 3 years since the band released Out of Time and 2 years since they released Chemical Hands. Both incredible tracks and arguably the best material SKYHARBOR have ever done. Or so I thought anyway. When the band were picked up by record label eOne, they re-recorded all of the tracks they had written which involved a re-working of the previously released songs. Chemical Hands is now Synthetic Hands, but more about that track later.

Opening track Signal is a hauntingly calm intro and an opportunity for Emery to tease his prog-perfect vocals. We are soon brought to our senses with Dim, which is anything but. What I found frustrating about older SKYHARBOR is the songs never seemed focused enough. This isn’t the case with Sunshine Dust and with this track it is the perfect tune to reintroduce themselves to old fans and new. With a modest verse, but a storming chorus, Dim is going to grab your attention and the band will sure enough keep you interested until the end of this magnificent album.

When next track Out of Time was originally released I thought it was spectacular. Luckily most of the original magic remains with this re-recording. With its spacey beginning, rumbling bass and glorious riffs this song is a winner. The only noticeable change which is immediate is the vocals are higher in the mix in the chorus and sound a bit sharper, this is obviously only ever going to be an improvement! I adore the futuristic elements in this song and we all know that this chorus is going to get every fan belting it out at shows. I’m incredibly glad they’ve kept this song for the album.

The biggest shock of this album is the total re-working of Chemical Hands into Synthetic Hands. With an entirely new beginning, new title and new lyrics I was initially disappointed it wasn’t like the original, but after a few listens you’ll soon appreciate it in its new form. The melodies are mostly the same and the guitar wizardry of Keshav Dhar and Devesh Dayal is really emphasised here. I’m especially pleased they kept the last two minutes roughly the same, because the climax of the song is one of the highlights of the album. This is how melodic progressive metal should be done.

After such a strong track I am bewildered SKYHARBOR have another belter immediately after in the form of Blindside. One of my personal favourites of Sunshine Dust, its ambient beginning is utterly mesmerising, but the huge chorus storms in with oodles of feeling. I really enjoy the delicate riffs of this song, with some of the elements reminding me of shoegaze and postrock. This softer approach also introduces Disengage_Evacuate. With Emery’s hushed vocals you’re led to believe this will be a low-key song, but it’s got another crackin’ chorus. This is one of their more eclectic tracks, but it is one I don’t find myself returning to.

Ethos is another strong track. It’s got a NORTHLANE vibe and an excellent message. There is something triumphant about this song, it is probably the lyrics but the accompaniment somehow sounds optimistic too. This is a bit of a contrast with Ugly Heart, which is a bit of a heart-wrenching track but a beautiful song. The subtle riffs and atmospherics in Ugly Heart really help to make this track shine, along with Emery’s powerful vocal performance.

The Reckoning provides an electronic-fuelled interlude which I find to be a much needed ‘palette cleanser’ before the last chunk of the album. You’ll see what I mean when you’re confronted with Dissent, a DEFTONES/FINCH-esque stomper of a track. There is a brilliant nostalgic/grungy air to this track – progressive grunge? You’ll need to save energy for the rollercoaster that is Menance. It’s got a strong, melodic beginning and a charming chorus but the last half is a ferocious beast which catches you off guard. It merges flawlessly into Temptress which is another interlude, albeit a rather tense one.

This album has been a fantastic voyage through prog, ambient, rock, post-rock and metal, but nothing prepares you for the near-perfect finale – the title track. If one song on Sunshine Dust was going to give you goosebumps, it was going to be this one. It’s a beautifully laidback and melodic song, but the ending is a masterpiece. Dan Tompkins never quite reached climatic heights like this with this amount of power, and this is where Emery really proves himself. This impressive album needed something special to close it and SKYHARBOR pulled it out of the bag. The band will no doubt propel themselves back to the forefront of progressive metal with this effort. It will be very well deserved. Welcome back.

Chandrian Kill – Bring Out Your Dead

Label: Bar3 Records. Release date: 7 September 2018.

When presented with a debut EP with only three tracks on it, I approached with caution. Turns out three tracks is nowhere near enough for a release of this calibre. I was blown away with the quality of the songwriting and production, and after reading up about the band it’s no surprise CHANDRIAN KILL are a promising new project. The band are currently a two-piece with years of experience between them; vocalist Nic Whitmore toured the UK and released two albums with NUMBER ONE SON and was signed to Visible Noise Records; his bandmate Ted Clark is best known for his work with MOESABOA (Basick Records) and MY LIFE IN THE MAKING. Clark started writing on his own and sent Whitmore some early tracks. The project ended up being CHANDRIAN KILL and the result is the brilliant Bring Out Your Dead.

Kicking off with first single I Collide, it’s a bit of a DEFTONES-infused gem. It also reminds me of later FINCH, the melodies and riffs are a compelling  and nostalgic force. I think this will play to the band’s strengths as most people should be able to find something they like when listening to the EP. There are some interesting electronic effects in the chorus and a dash of djent to keep the young un’s happy but all in all this is an extremely solid track.

Second track Filter Off sounds like it was written in the early 00s with its bold riffs and vocals. I can imagine this track sitting quite happily on a film soundtrack amongst the big American types. The hushed FAITH NO MORE-esque moments are magical and the trail at the end of the chorus is simply delightful, but it is the unexpected techy turn of events which holds your attention.

Last track Remain Alive has a different vibe to it completely. It starts off chill but just ends up being an absolutely massive song – the chorus is HUGE. It again has a bit of a nostalgic sound to it, but it still sounds so fresh and exciting. This is unfortunately the end of Bring Out Your Dead. It might be a blessing after all because if it was a full length with songs as big as this, then we might be crushed under the massive weight of melodies and riffs. This is a thoroughly enjoyable release but I can’t yet quite gauge whereabouts CHANDRIAN KILL fit in the metal scene. I’m hoping they will release another EP before they commit to a full length, as I feel they haven’t found their sound yet. A very strong start though.