Roundup – August 2019

The best discoveries, bands and albums of the past 31 days.

August has been an absolute mammoth of a month! With releases from metal heavyweights SLIPKNOT and TOOL there have also been stellar releases in the underground scene. Read below to find out my Top 3 releases of August! However, this roundup begins a little differently, featuring Metalmance’s discovery of the month, a band who I am very excited about!. Also in August’s roundup I feature a catch up of albums I’ve been enjoying on my blogging break. If you stick around for long enough you will also be reacquainted with a gem from the archive and a roundup of all my posts this month. Enjoy! See you next month.


 

Metalmance’s Discovery of the Month:

SOULSPLITTER

Almost ready to release their debut conceptual album Salutogenesis on 26th September, SOULSPLITTER have already secured a place at this year’s Euroblast as well as a European tour with fellow proggers HEAD WITH WINGS! The German band have been busy for the past three years writing the album and getting up to fifty other musicans and creative artists involved. The video for their first single Moloch (video above) which came out in May, features a hand painted animation by a group of Berlin artists and it is this sense of art and collaboration which really shines through the band’s ethic. Channelling the beautiful melodies of DISTORTED HARMONY and the madness of WITHOUT WAVES, there’s no telling which way SOULSPLITTER will turn. This month the band released new single The Maze and it’s a more melodic track similar to their future tour mates HEAD WITH WINGS and it hints at SOULSPLITTER becoming something special! If you’re lucky enough to check them out in Europe in the coming months, be prepared to be perplexed and blown away in equal measures!     


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of August

It was hard to pick my Top 3 releases of the month considering the quantity and quality of releases we’ve seen these past 31 days. Below are my favourite three releases of August as well as a special mention. Let me know what you’ve been enjoying this month in the comments!

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PIJN & CONJURER – Curse These Metal Hands. Release date: 16 August.

I am still totally enamoured with this brilliant EP by two of the country’s most promising bands! PIJN and CONJURER are both on Holy Roar’s terrific roster and Curse These Metal Hands is the result of a collaboration between the two for last year’s edition of ArcTangent festival. Luckily for us the bands have finally reworked and released the tracks into this musical masterpiece. Mixing the superb post-rock beauty of PIJN and the ferocious intensity of CONJURER, Curse These Metal Hands is a sublime concoction of the two and it has such a powerful nostalgic slant to proceedings I find it utterly irresistible. Every day I am inundated with songs and albums so it takes something extra special these days to really make an impression on me and stick. Curse These Metal Hands is one example and I will shout about how brilliant this material is for the years to come! Read my full review below for more thoughts.  

Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands Review

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UNPROCESSEED – Artificial Void. Release date: 9 August. 

After last year’s amazing album Covenant, I was eagerly anticipating UNPROCESSED’s Artificial Void and it’s totally smashed all expectations! This album is bolder, more confident and more creative. Artificial Void is bursting with ideas but the band are experienced enough to deliver these ideas into one coherent album and the result speaks for itself.  The guitar work is stellar as usual, ANIMALS AS LEADERS and MESHUGGAH fans will be pleased, but what is so astounding about the band is the guitars sound so explicitly UNRPOCESSED which is an incredible feat for such a young band in the tech scene. Track Fear is a superb example of how the band are successfully entwining their revolutionary djent, TESSERACT vibes and atmospherics of NORTHLANE into an album which sounds so fresh in the midst of a stale which is at the risk of becoming stale. Absolutely stunning.

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HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH – Abyssal. Release date: 2 August.

One of my most eagerly anticipated albums of 2019 finally dropped this month, Abyssal by the heaviest band on the planet, HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH. It’s not higher up my Top 3 list as I thought it would be because after the initial joy of the absurdly heavy elements, it gets a bit samey. The insane tones and heaviness created with the usual instruments of metal is something to be desired. Unforgiving and punishing from the first track Bursting Bowel of Tellus to the haunting last track Dödgud, HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH are reinventing heavy. Unfortunately the band are still yet to translate their godlike live presence into record format, and that is one thing Abyssal lacks. Once HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH work out how to how to do just that then they will truly be unstoppable. 

Special Mention

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – Atonement. Release date: 16 August. 

I might upset a few people when I say the last two KILLSWITCH ENGAGE albums with Jesse Leach back on vocals left me uninspired and bored but it is such a joy to listen to Atonement and hear the band have their fire back! Having Howard Jones do a guest spot on The Signal Fire was a genius idea, but throughout the album you can hear the band’s passion shine through and no other band quite matches their inner strength and optimism. Even though they’re the kings of metalcore (I don’t care if you hate that word) they’ve always tried to push their sound and no two albums sound the same which is something I really admire. With Atonement KILLSWITCH ENGAGE have harder metalcore twangs going on as well as groovier moments (i.e. Know Your Enemy) but the huge choruses are still their best weapon and this album is unsurprisingly chock-full of them. I’m going to be bold and say Atonement is the best album with Leach since Alive Or Just Breathing and I couldn’t be more thrilled.             


 

Metalmance Catch Up

Below are three more albums I have been jamming while on my blogging break. Check them out and make sure you don’t miss out too!

MYRATH – Shehili. Release date: 3 May 2019.

Tunisian metal probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you know me you’ll know I have a soft spot for North African and oriental metal. I love the fresh dynamics bands like MYRATH can bring to the metal community and it is extremely reassuring to see Shehili be enjoyed by metal fans across the world. The traditional instruments sit seamlessly beside the modern metal components and it always makes for stunning results. Often likened to Israel’s ORPHANED LAND, you can understand the comparison because they’re not your typical Western metal. However, MYRATH are less dramatic in the political sense and they sound a lot more classic metal than the extreme tendencies of ORPHANED LAND.  I hope you like huge choruses because MYRATH have a lot of them. Songs like You’ve Lost Yourself and Born To Survive may be deemed as cheesy to some but you cannot deny the impact MYRATH have with their heavy riffs and melodic moments. If you’re looking for something a bit different then MYRATH might be for you!

OSIAH – Kingdom of Lies. Release date: 3 May 2019.

I absolutely adored 2016’s album Terror Firma by deathcore merchants OSIAH. This year’s album Kingdom of Lies is even more devastating and brutal which is a terrifying achievement. Unlike some of their contemporaries, OSIAH have a bit of substance to their work which keeps you interested. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet but there is just a bit more ‘soul’ to their savagery. I don’t mean Dusty Springfield soul, but there is something underneath the layers which make OSIAH sound alive and not another deathcore puppet in an oversaturated scene. Also, their talent is unparalleled and the brutality is overwhelming. Jamie Graham (ex-HEART OF A COWARD) makes an unexpected appearance on Awakening which gives the song an extra something. Overall it’s just a bloody brilliant face-ripping album by a British band who deserve a listen.

ANY GIVEN DAY – Overpower. Release date: 15 March 2019.

There is something safe and familiar about ANY GIVEN DAY and I really don’t mean that in a bad way. They sound like a mash-up between KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, SOILWORK and EVERGREY (a glorious mash-up if you ask me) with their beefy riffs and melodic choruses. They’re not reinventing the wheel at all but not every band has to be. ANY GIVEN DAY are just a band who are very good at writing straight-up enjoyable metal and catchy songs. Overpower is the band’s boldest effort to date and has seen them earn headline tours across Europe. Tracks like Taking Over Me are a real stomper whereas opener Start Over exposes the band’s penchant for groovy melodic goodness. Check it out if you want some wholesome metal!


 

From The Archive

This month saw German slamming death metal troupe STILLBIRTH release Back To The Stoned Age, a collection of the band’s songs reworked with their current line-up and it’s a fantastic beastly package. Last year I reviewed their album Annihilation of Mankind, here’s a extract of what I had to say…

STILLBIRTH – Annihilation of Mankind. Release date: 31 August 2018.

“Fifth album Annihilation of Mankind is an evident step up in terms of brutality and groove – no wonder Unique Leader Records want a piece of the forthcoming carnage. Like its namesake, this record absolutely annihilates the lugholes.”

Stillbirth – Annihilation of Mankind Review


 

DON’T MISS…

Metalmance review of KILLERKORP

Killerkorp – PAIN EP

Metalmance review of CHAOS REIGNS

Chaos Reigns – A Horrific Accident EP

Metalmance review of KRYSTHLA

Krysthla – Worldwide Negative

Metalmance review of STILLBIRTH

Stillbirth – Back To The Stoned Age

Stillbirth – Back To The Stoned Age

Label: Unique Leader Records. Release date: 30 August 2019.

German slamming death metal band STILLBIRTH have been riding on the wave of success after signing with Unique Leader Records last year for their album Annihilation Of Mankind. Playing shows with the other hottest slamming stalwarts around (i.e. VULVODYNIA and WITHIN DESTRUCTION) has only raised their profile even higher. Mad to know then, that STILLBIRTH have been alive since 1999 and releasing albums since 2002! Before embarking on their next chapter, us lucky sods will be treated to Back To The Stoned Age, a collection of reworked songs from their back catalogue. Spoiler alert: it’s as fresh and as brutal as ever.

Killing it with Riot Auffer Buehne 2.0, even with the new mix is sounds like the filthiest detritus. With their CREPITATION-esque deathgrind moments and best pig squeals, this is one hell of a revisit. The slamming groove continues with Open Up This Fucking Pit 2.0 which features its genius gunshot breakdown and punishing slam riffs. An absolutely disgusting assault of a song, it still crushes today.

Endgame Is Near 2.0 is STILLBIRTH at their most unforgiving. The plunging depths the band go to with this track is something else entirely. Much like Human Parasite 2.0 which is immediately penetrating with its slamming groove and death metal bluntness. The demonic vocals harvest your soul as the riffs pummel you into oblivion. Chainsaw VS Face 2.0 is equally as relentless making sure you are unable to stop for breath for all its 49 seconds.

Beating Pacifists 2.0 is a dark and menacing track. Its pace is stepped down a notch which adds to its creeping lust for maximum damage. Add a feature by EXTERMINATION DISMEMBERMENT’s Vladislav Martirosov and you’re onto a punishing winner. The focussed savagery continues with Global Error 2.0 which boasts one of the filthiest breakdowns of the whole album (if not their whole back catalogue). When will the brutality end?! Thankfully not during Individual Related 2.0 which features the disgusting vocals of CUMBEAST’s Iiro Rosonen. This short but sweet track is a rollercoaster throughout and is a must-listen for any aspiring extreme metal vocalists. Incredible stuff.

Legalize It is a phenomenal example of all which STILLBIRTH have to offer (and their love of the green stuff). Beastly blastbeats, whirring riffs and guttural growls are the rule of the land here. The band maintain the pace with Steuerklasse 1 Und Keiner Sagt Danke 2.0 and its hard, metallic edge. This is what slamming hardcore thrash would sound like and we want more! The ridiculous Addicted To Abortion 2.0 is also a morbid treat, bordering on grindcore delights. So much is happening in this track it’s one to keep crawling back to!

BENIGHTED fans rejoice! Julien Truchan lays down his obliterating vocals for On The Edge Of Society 2.0 and it’s an absolute beast! Hard, fast and nightmarish it sounds like it was composed from the very depths of the lagoon itself. By the time Brootal Party 2.0 rolls round your ears will be at risk of turning to sludge after the battering they’ve been receiving. The energy and build-up of this song is unforgettable. Mix in a guest feature by VULVODYNIA’s guitar god Kris Xenopoulos and you’ll soon be begging for more.

Back To The Stoned Age is one of those rare records when the reworkings really do bring the material up to scratch to match the current material. A band full of fun with a tongue in cheek attitude but serious riffage is a winner. Hopefully when they drop their new album next year they would have climbed the slam ranks and gained the recognition they deserve.

Krysthla – Worldwide Negative

Label: PHD. Release date: 16 August 2019.

No doubt you’ve seen KRYSTHLA’s name on a festival or show line-up along the years. This Northampton lot are hard grafters in the scene but I don’t think anyone could have predicted what the band were capable of achieving with this, their third album Worldwide Negative. This incredible body of work can be summed up in two words…riff city.

Beginning with the addictive groove and unabashed brutality of Negative, KRYSTHLA are starting as they mean to go on; hard, fast and unforgiving. With distinct drumming courtesy of Liam Turland, the guitars are also a morbid delight with bold, metallic goodness. As a whole, the tone has a very THREAT SIGNAL feel to it; a confident swagger of ferocity.

A wholesome metalcore riff graces the opening minute of Reawaken. It all escalates with a glorious tech groove slant before erupting into a fantastic SOILWORK-esque chorus. KRYSTHLA are flexing their melodic prowess alongside their savage tendencies. The result is mesmerising.

Chaos and manic screams introduce Grief Is New Love and the filthy depths KRYSTHLA reach make you believe every word is drenched in grief. With a pace and groove MALEVOLENCE would be proud of, the band show their crossover appeal. Things do take a blackened djent turn with marvelous effect. The monstrous pace continues in Zero Sum Game. The fierce drums steal the show here but clean, melodic breaks provide some shelter from the violence.

Another blackened section pummels White Castles into your consciousness. This along with the soaring riffs make you start to wonder how KRYSTHLA have managed to cram this much awesomeness into the first five songs. There’s still three to go! With a hardcore stance on the vocals which makes it devastatingly heavy, the groove continues with a quick dip into grunge nostalgia. Stunning stuff.

Channeling their inner MESHUGGAH for the beastly Psalm Of Heartlessness, it’s another breathtaking slab of crushing metal. Aurea Mediocritas is an even darker progression of KRYSTHLA’s punishing metal which I didn’t think was possible. It becomes an absolute stomper with jarring riffs and bassy grooves.

Instead of concluding the album all guns blazing, there is more of a laidback feel about album closer, The Gift. That’s not to say the song doesn’t slay, it does but with more of a considered pace and tone. The beautiful guitar work resonates until the calm outro leaves you to ponder the brilliance of what you have just listened to. No longer just a band on a bill, KRYSTHLA deserve your attention and every piece of praise coming their way. Worldwide Negative is phenomenal.

Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands

Release date: 16 August 2019. Label: Holy Roar Records.

This is going to be one of the best things you’ll hear all year. Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock these past few years, you will already be familiar with the extreme progressive metal of CONJURER and the post-rock brilliance of PIJN. Both bands are British stalwarts in the metal community and are part of the staggering roster of Holy Roar Records. Last year, members from both bands created the group CURSE THESE METAL HANDS for the 2018 edition of Arctangent Festival and now the songs they wrote are being released for the first time. The four tracks have been reworked and the result is stunning.

Aptly named first track High Spirits is nine minutes of pure bliss. Light and bright twinkles like the first sighs on a Spring morning. You can feel everything coming to life. Each component is slowly waking and finding their voice. Finally it all erupts into a terrific post-rock crescendo. A wonderfully raw yet perfected sound is tipped over the edge by vocals and the ferocious riffage. If the beginning was a Spring morning, the second half is the chill and darkness before a storm. The sound is resoundedly British, harking back to the days of the delicate tones of MAYBESHEWILL, the intensity of  TALONS and the atmospheric passages of the much-missed AEREOGRAMME. If Curse These Metal Hands only consisted of this track, it would still be one of the best records of 2019.

The Pall begins with a slow build-up in the same vein as BATTLES or 65DAYSOFSTATIC before it boils over into a full bodied riff. The introduction of the shoegazy riff has tremendous effect, providing clarity to the short notes before all sense is obliterated by the thunderous vocals. Quiet eventually ensues with a brooding ambience. The track breaks with an atmospheric riff (bordering on IHSAHN-esque) which soon becomes triumphant. This section with the desperate vocals moves into blackgaze territory with the outro returning to triumph, ending the song on a high after moody dips into darkness.

Endeavour bursts in with a bold riff the likes of KYLESA and BARONESS would be proud of. The tumultuous vocals bring an air of CURSED to the chaos. The shortest song on the record (just over two minutes) it is also one of the most impactful, with its gloomy tone and monstrous riffs. Sludgy yet effective at the same time, Endeavour packs a punch before the finale Sunday closes proceedings. Warm tones and delicate notes beckon the end with an air of The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw-era PELICAN surrounding the intro. The dreamy riffs entwine with the storming vocals and atmospherics with colossal effect. Triumph returns with the powerful vocals and robust riffs. Featuring the only clean vocals on Curse These Metal Hands, they provide a crystalline conclusion to this phenomenal closer.  

The only downside to Curse These Metal Hands is the uncertainty of a second record of material being produced. This does however, make this body of work that little bit more precious. A unique and beautiful slab of metal by two of our finest exports. The record will daze and stun for many years to come before becoming legendary.    

Chaos Reigns – A Horrific Accident EP

Release date: 16 August 2019. Self-release.

British hardcore seems to be stronger than ever, but one band is threatening to take the scene by storm and burst from its ranks with their latest EP A Horrific Accident. London’s aptly named CHAOS REIGNS are a furious ball of energy taking influence from your favourite bands from the late-noughties onwards; THE GHOST OF A THOUSAND (RIP), CANCER BATS and EVERY TIME I DIE. The result is a band with a familiar sound but with an injection of the chaos of 2019.

Immediately we’re confronted with the tumultuous Fight/Flight which gloriously channels the rawness and quick pace of THE GHOST OF A THOUSAND (listen to album New Hope, New Demonstrations) but CHAOS REIGNS slap their own spin on it resulting in hardcore pandemonium.

Far Off And Like A Dream has a whiff of EMPLOYED TO SERVE about it with its more intensely delivered approach. The riffs are bold yet simple, creating a strong foundation for this storming song. CHAOS REIGNS’ attitude sounds utterly unforgiving, reminding us they mean business and will take no prisoners.

Fellow British hardcore hopefuls MTXS have also been creating a stir in the scene, with vocalist Paul Collins featuring on A Horrific Accident‘s lead single Swan. Collins brings his own ruckus to proceedings and the gang vocals heighten the ferocity of the track. One thing to add regarding CHAOS REIGNS is their brilliant mathy riffs which give their sound a DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN-esque flourish. It is awesome guitarists Joe Griffin and Lorinc Meszaros can pull together their influences yet keep it fresh and fundamentally punk.

Wasted Breath has a sickening old school punk stance which is a breath of fresh air compared to the stale and overly polished muck some bands pass as art these days. Things get really interesting from the middle onwards as it dips into a mathy frenzy and ends with a stomping riff. Bassist Billy Padmore keeps things rumbling along smoothly as the song gets even darker. One of the most diverse songs on the EP, Wasted Breath causes an uproar before the final track.

Their inner EVERY TIME I DIE bursts through in Digital Lives, the blistering finale of A Horrific Accident, with its whirring riffs and disorientating warbles. The chorus switches to a Birthing The Giant-era CANCER BATS style featuring a roaring pace and a sludgy riff. The hard-hitting lyrics and abrupt ending act like a mic drop to their anthem. The EP is anything but a horrific accident. Frontman Daniel Tolley is an unstoppable force, never once losing power or screaming without heart. With infectious energy, songs full of rage and an intense live show to boot, CHAOS REIGNS are proving themselves as future stars of the hardcore scene. Watch this space.

Killerkorp – PAIN EP

Release date: 19 April 2019. Self-release.

Suffolk – home of CRADLE OF FILTH, Aspalls and…ED SHEERAN, but now there is a new staple of the county. Ipswich heavy metallers KILLERKORP (or THE KILLER KORPORATION as they’re also affectionately known) have been tearing up the local scene since 2017 and are threatening to take the rest of the UK by storm with their debut EP, Pain.

The band don’t mess around on opener Nightstalker. With its fast pace and crushing groove, the band are clearly wearing their influences on their sleeve; imagine LAMB OF GOD with straight-up riffs and a hardcore attitude. The production is nothing to be admired but this just emphasises KILLERKORP’s potential as the song still slays. Frontman Benjamin Lyddiatt is clearly an asset to the band as his screams cut through with monstrous affect.

Survival of the Fittest is undoubtedly KILLERKORP flexing their love of black metal; with the muddy riffs, ferocious drumming and machine-gun pace, it’s a surprising track but one executed with aplomb. The blackened groove is akin to LEVIATHAN and is an absolute delight. The stomping riffs at the end give it a hardcore feel. Blackened hardcore? Yes please. Luckily the band deliver more blackened punky goods with third track Hysterics. With a distorted sound which just screams THE MISFITS in a crypt, KILLERKORP are providing utter filth with this track.

Things take a thrashy turn with Deadly Nightshade which would normally fill me with despair as this sound can come across as extremely amateurish and is what separates local bands from the wider world, but somehow KILLERKORP add their own twist to proceedings with their groovy stance and the impressive Lyddiatt.

To Be The Hunter is a bit of an unfocussed mess and could have been left off the EP but the menacing riff and chaotic yaps at the beginning show promise. Last track, Pain is anything but disappointing as it’s half a minute of delicious hardcore punk. Reading this sentence will probably take longer than listening to the whole of the song.

Pain, the EP as a whole, proves KILLERKORP are anything but another run-of-the-mill thrash band from East Anglia. Even though their sound is sometimes sprawled across genres, they are still creating something no one else is churning out in the region and that is very exciting. With a bit more experience under their belts and a bit more focus in their songwriting, hopefully by the next release we will hear more snippets of a distinct KILLERKORP sound. The components are there, the formula just needs fine-tuning.