Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Label: Century Media. Release date: Jan 26th 2018.

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Metalmance has always admired Israel’s metal masters ORPHANED LAND, and it’s been a long five years since 2013’s All Is One. One of the most politically vocal bands around, there is a comforting sense of belonging and optimism when ORPHANED LAND is experienced. The combination of metal and oriental elements is utterly irresistible; but it is their message that we are all equal, no matter what religion, race or creed you are, which is the most poignant.

All Is One would always be a hard album to top, but my word ORPHANED LAND manage to surpass themselves with the very first track alone – The Cave. An absolutely stunning opener for Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, this song features everything you’d expect from ORPAHNED LAND and more; haunting vocals, a rapturous chorus with a theatrical touch, an impressive and heavy breakdown, a diverse array of instruments and of course, thought-provoking lyrics. The metal elements of the songs have really ramped up with this album; the riffs are crunchier, the solos are sharper, the breakdowns are heavier… However, ORAPHANED LAND combine everything so flawlessly, you shake your head in wonderment at how they actually pull it off.

This thought continues with the next track, the stomping We Do Not Resist. It kicks in with a thrashy bang and erupts into a storming chorus, accompanied by those irresistible Oriental strings. ORPHAND LAND’s material has always had a rich depth to it, and Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs also has that organic, wholesome sound from its instrumentation and production. Every part has its place and moment in the spotlight, it is a glorious feat of song writing and production. The use of the ‘beep’ in this song is also a powerful addition, a reference to censorship perhaps and the denial of information. One way to make sure your listeners are listening.

Third track In Propaganda has quite a nostalgic feel as a lot of the main ‘riff’ is reminiscent of the title track of All Is One; a possible indication that in those five years not much has changed or improved so their message needs to be reiterated. The verses are some of the most melodic on the album and this is when the prog shines through, reminding you of other contemporary melodic prog bands such as CALIGULA’S HORSE, because of the delicate and carefully considered approach to vocal delivery.

Yedidi is a relatively short, yet charming track entirely in Hebrew, with the songs either side, All Knowing Eye and Chains Fall To Gravity both being unashamedly dramatic and atmospheric. ORPHANED LAND always manage to capture the essence of the climax of a musical with aplomb.

Lead single Like Orpheus is a powerful and an extremely passionate song, featuring the magnificent vocals of BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kürsch. The track begins with an awesome riff that AVENGED SEVENFOLD would be proud of, but we’re soon greeted with that classic eastern ORPHANED LAND sound. The lyrics once again heighten the notion of equality and humanity with great effect. If you’ve already seen the video for Like Orpheus, you will know how incredibly moving this song is.

Things calm down a notch with the mellow Poets of Prophetic Messianism. With the instrumentation and moving vocal performances, it’s truly an amazing alternative-prog triumph. It merges delightfully into the storming Left Behind. If you’re a fan of fellow Israeli prog-metallers DISTORTED HARMONY, then this will be up your street. My Brother’s Keeper wouldn’t sound out of place on All Is One; there is something about the spoken words of vocalist Kobi Farhi that really stir the soul, but his growls also stir the sleeping beast within. It is his cleans though which resonate the most and it is no different on Take My Hand which is an absolute anthem. The riffs are very rock n roll but they meld seamlessly with all other aspects of the song.

I won’t spoil the penultimate track for you – Only The Dead Have Seen The End; but it is most certainly one of the standout tracks on Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, for numerous reasons. After this blistering track, you wonder how ORPHANED LAND could top it, let alone compose a fitting finale for this absolute masterpiece of an album. The band achieve this with the unexpectedly reserved The Manifest – Epilogue. For the first couple of minutes you are able to reflect on and process the album and its message. The sombre conclusion brings Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs to a sudden and chilling end. After the comfort and feeling of belonging felt during the course of the album, it makes the ending that much more unnerving – like the sudden snap back to reality.

I’ve always felt ORPHANED LAND have never had their chance to shine in the wider metal community, but with Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs hopefully this will all change and more people can be united under the banner of love and hope. In such troubled times full of war and hate, we need ORPAHNED LAND more than ever – a beacon of hope in the darkness. With Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs they have achieved an album of progressive excellence, a masterpiece in the age of disposable nonsense.

 

Garganjua – Through The Void

Blistering doom, for fans of Pallbearer, Warning and RIFFS

GARGANJUA just might be one of Britain’s brightest doom hopes (oxymoron much?). With Through The Void, the Leicestershire troupe are hoping to cement their place in the metal scene, but after a few listens it’s evident GARGANJUA don’t just play slow, riffy metal. No, no, the band use PALLBEARER-style prog and KYLESA-esque sludge in their hotpot of doom. 

The devastating, slow riff of Crushed Beneath The Tide launches the album into the brooding, dark mass it remains to be. A looming, yet triumphant break with the essence of PELICAN entices the listener before the crushing vocals demolish the mood. The clean vocals are strangely mesmerising, with the backdrop having a nostalgic doom tone. As expected, the song is a slow burner but unlike some repetitive instances of the genre, GARGANJUA keep it interesting with a tweak in dynamic every couple of minutes or so. The finale of Crushed Beneath The Tide comes full circle with the satisfying mirroring of the beginning of the track.   

A bold guitar tone introduces the next track Adrift, but it is the verse which I find the most interesting. The vocal melody and distorted guitars make my mind hark back to the melodic moments of DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL and HE IS LEGEND, although this is most likely not GARGANJUA’s intention to remind me of post-hardcore, this is what I mean when I said the band can’t be easily pigeon-holed as doom. What is exciting is everyone will hear different elements and make their own comparisons, enabling GARGANJUA to crossover a spectrum of genres. The doom does return in abundance though, with whispers adding to the darkly dulcet tones before the pace slows down a few notches. 

The album’s title track is arguably the standout song on Through The Void. The riffs, tone and melody create a spellbinding ambience. There is something about the heaviest parts of the songs which are reminiscent of the heavier end of progressive metal, such as CULT OF LUNA and Silhouettes-era TEXTURES, making Through The Void the progressive doom you’ve been dreaming of. The track is one epic, heartfelt journey, one you will have to listen to yourself to understand the colossal atmosphere GARGANJUA conjure. 

Only four tracks in 45 minutes, A Distant Shore signals the end of Through The Void. This song needed to be a fitting conclusion to an ambitious album, but for the first half of the track I wasn’t convinced it would be a suitable finale. But suddenly A Distant Shore shifts into an acoustic wonderland with strings and a sombre tranquility. This is all before it is whipped from under your feet in a climatic sense of closure. The distortion and riffs continue like a soothing pat on the back after a monstrous feat.

Through the Void is most certainly a grower. GARGANJUA are one of those bands with heaps of potential, a group you hope will mature into an unpredictable beast of metal. If you’ve been observing from a distance, it’s probably time to creep closer before GARGANJUA leap ahead of the pack.  

GARGANJUA are currently running a Pledge campaign to raise funds to release Through The Void on vinyl. If you would like to know more or would like to pledge then more information can be found at  https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/garganjuavinylpledge

Metalmance Top 20 Albums of 2017

Our hottest albums of 2017…beware…there’s a turkey in there…

No. 20  THE ROYAL – Seven

The Royal

Metalmance have mentioned THE ROYAL a lot this year, and once again they feature in one of our posts. This time they kick off our Top 20 albums of the year list! In a scene which is becoming overwhelmingly full with bland groups and so-so tech, these Dutchman are slowly but surely gaining a reputation for themselves as a talented and promising metal act. Seven sees THE ROYAL gain confidence and the nurturing of a signature sound. Once the band finally have a firm footing in the metal world, who knows how high they could climb?

“A seriously blinding effort, Seven will hopefully propel THE ROYAL to the forefront of the burgeoning scene.”

The Royal – Seven

 

No. 19  EMPLOYED TO SERVE – The Warmth of a Dying Sun

Employed to Serve

One of 2017’s breakthrough bands, Britain’s own EMPLOYED TO SERVE rightly deserve all the attention they’ve been receiving this year. Their sophomore release The Warmth of a Dying Sun is proof they are worthy of your time. With a gloriously sludgy, nu-metal-ish, heavy hardcore energy, they throw together old and new influences into a melting pot of riffy joy. If new kids CODE ORANGE and OATHBREAKER were bred with old daddies WILL HAVEN and BOTCH, then you will more than likely achieve the perfection of EMPLOYED TO SERVE. These are the new masters of British forward-thinking metal.

 

No. 18  NORDIC GIANTS – Amplify Human Vibration

Nordic Giants

Since Metalmance first discovered the intriguing and mysterious NORDIC GIANTS last year, we’ve been utterly in love. You can’t treat Amplify Human Vibration as a continuation of A Séance of Dark Delusions however, no, no, it is a much deeper and a more thought-provoking affair than that. Predominantly using spoken word samples to accompany the duo’s stunning soundscapes, Amplify Human Vibration is about re-awakening the human spirit, to realise our true potential as a power together on this planet. The songs do summon some kind of deep inner-awareness, a feat which not all of NORDIC GIANTS’ peers and contemporaries would be able to accomplish.

“Their last album released in 2015 A Séance of Dark Delusions is a truly spellbinding record, with each listen exposing something missed before.”

Weekly Roundup #9

 

No. 17  VIPASSI – Sunyata

Vipassi

This instrumental effort from the progressive metal supergroup VIPASSI unfortunately seems to have slipped under the carpet a bit this year. Hopefully this could mean Sunyata could become a sleeper hit in the prog metal world. A sprawling mass of complex rhythms, heavenly bass and stunning soundscapes, VIPPASSI have created a blackened beast of complexity. All tracks seem to merge into one, allowing the listener to be transported to a progressive paradise. More please.

“With only seven tracks, Sunyata feels a bit like a tease, a bit like a punishing starter before a main course. Go on, indulge.”

Weekly Roundup #18

 

No. 16  CODE ORANGE – Forever

Code Orange

This year has certainly been the year of CODE ORANGE. At the end of 2016 they were threatening the world with something special, then in January they dropped Forever, and the rest is history. Dark, disturbing, modern and unpredictable – their energy is infectious. Their arrogant swagger in the scene make them an unstoppable and untouchable force. In our Weekly Roundup #8, Metalmance said they were a band to watch. We weren’t wrong. Will you join forces with them? Or be part of the wreckage they’ll leave behind?

“If the band are able to maintain this rawness then the future of hardcore is bright, the future is CODE ORANGE.”

Weekly Roundup #8

 

No. 15  LEPROUS – Malina

Leprous

Back in 2016, Metalmance hailed the Norwegian progsters as a band to watch, and rolling off the back of 2015’s The Congregation and this year’s Malina, the band have been growing from strength to strength. Malina sees the band stretching the term ‘progressive metal’, with their stupidly catchy and melodic songs, the band seem to be veering towards a lighter approach. They have always been good songwriters but with Malina, LEPROUS finally seem to have hit the nail on the head. One of our qualms with The Congregation was the songs didn’t know really when to get going or where to end, but Malina is far more of an enjoyable and rewarding listen.

“There’s no denying LEPROUS add their own twist to proceedings and really push themselves to the front of the melodic metal pack.”

Weekly Roundup #3

 

No. 14  NORTHLANE – Mesmer

Northlane

Remember earlier in the year when NORTHLANE shouted ‘SURPRISE!!!’ and dropped Mesmer with no warning? Well it certainly paid off as it got people talking. And for good reason! Mesmer is easily the most focused and accomplished work by NORTHLANE to date. Savage, yet emotionally heavy, the feels the listener experiences during the Mesmer sonic experience is plenty. Each member has improved as a serious musician and the sound created is a mature one, with oodles of depth. Heart-felt songs which still drop hard, NORTHLANE seemed to have mastered the knack of combining emotion and heaviness.

 

No. 13  ENTHEOS – Dark Future

Entheos

A bit more of a progressive affair than previous album The Infinite Nothing, ENTHEOS are definitely gaining momentum as their own entity rather than some sort of supergroup (with ex members of ANIMALS AS LEADERS and THE FACELESS). Vocalist Chaney Crabb once again proves she is a force to reckon with because of her impressive performance and aggression. Hopefully in 2018 Chaney will gain more recognition as one of extreme metal’s finest vocalists. Dark Future isn’t an album you can absorb and process in one listen, its complex design and dynamics each come into their own individually after numerous listens. This is one album we will still be exploring into the new year.

 

No. 12  IGORRR – Savage Sinusoid

Igorrr

You either love this intriguing French group, or they leave you thinking what on earth??? Metalmance is the former and we witnessed them live at Tech Fest and were very glad to find this eclectic troupe were just as weird and as intense live as they are on record. One of the amazing aspects of the band and the album is the ‘samples’, each individual part is played and recorded which gives Savage Sinusoid an impressive depth. Full of heavy, yet charming tracks, the classical vocals sit surprisingly well among the more, er, primal screaming. And if we ran an award for best album opener of the year, we’d sure as hell choose Viande.

 

No. 11  GHOST IRIS – Blind World

Ghost Iris

As soon as these techy Danes released their catchy single Save Yourself back in February, Metalmance have been hooked. They released Blind World a week later and it is still on heavy rotation even now in December. A more focused effort than their previous releases, they seem to have their fingers well on the pulse of European tech metal. The album boasts tracks which are upbeat, heavy, melodic, yet deceivingly complex. GHOST IRIS really seem to have finally found their sound, and it’s a winning formula. Each song is a standout track, making Blind World an album you can happily listen to all the way through and return to again and again. Trust us, you won’t get bored.

“An album which keeps you on your toes yet constantly brings the fun, Blind World is sure to launch GHOST IRIS into the tech metal stratosphere.”

Weekly Roundup #19

 

No. 10  MUTATION – Dark Black

Mutation

In a time of super slick production and programming overload, it’s refreshing to hear something with a bit more of a raw approach (oo-er!) in the form of MUTATION’s Dark Black. With an organic and nostalgic feel, Dark Black has been one of 2017’s surprises. A thoroughly enjoyable and chaotic listen, you can read more about the band and the making of the album (which also features the one and only, DEVIN TOWNSEND) in our recent interview with Scott Lee Andrews from MUTATION.

“Both of us wanted to one-up each other in terms of how far/fucked up to go, and neither of us said ‘That’s too far’.” – Scott Lee Andrews

Q&A with Mutation

 

No. 9  CALIGULA’S HORSE – In Contact

Caligula's Horse

You may remember we featured CALIGULA’S HORSE in our Prog Down Under feature last year (which reminds us, we never did finish a second part) and 2017 saw these Aussie chaps release the breath-taking In Contact. From the stunning opener Dream the Dead to the sax-fuelled epic Graves, this is without a doubt CALIGULA’S HORSE finest work to date. Heavier than anticipated, In Contact also charms with the delicate compositions and expertly executed flourishes. Jim Grey once again impresses with his distinct voice and lyrical magic. Expect big things in 2018.

“No two songs sound the same, with CALIGULA’S HORSE mixing up the styles; a hint of folk here, a little indie there, but it’s all wrapped up in their own brand of infectious melodic prog.”

Prog Down Under Part 1

 

No. 8  ALLUVIAL – The Deep Longing for Annihilation

Alluvial

At the very beginning of 2017, we were spoilt immediately with the release of The Deep Longing for Annihilation, the instrumental masterpiece by metal greats, Keith Merrow and Wes Hauch. If you remember BLACK CROWN INITIATE were our album of the year last year, then you can understand why we were thrilled to begin our year with ALLUVIAL. Dark and brooding, the album hones both Merrow and Hauch’s signature styles, so much so they raised the bar so high for other instrumental albums this year.

“Imagine BLACK CROWN INITIATE, DECAPITATED and GOJIRA all rolled into one. This album is proof progressive metal does not necessarily need vocals to make it heavier.”

Weekly Roundup #14

 

No. 7  LOATHE – The Cold Sun

Loathe

One of the darker albums featured on our list this year – The Cold Sun has the same atmosphere as its namesake. A deep, stunning, yet unpredictable slab of British tech metal, this album is proof of why you should be paying attention to LOATHE. Astonishingly heavy, yet fiendishly melodic in places, they throw all sorts of extreme elements into the pot; the blackened influences, the instrumentals and the electronic/orchestral parts all pay off massively. Each listen unveils new layers you were unaware of before, and that demonstrates a maturity and love for the craft which will hopefully keep them ahead of the pack.

 

No. 6  EMMURE – Look At Yourself

Emmure

Look At Yourself indeed. Who would have known you would become an EMMURE fan in 2017? Metalmance in all honesty never really gave EMMURE the time of day, but after the announcement that members of GLASS CLOUD and TONY DANZA TAPDANCE EXTRAVAGANZA were joining the ranks, curiosity got the better of us and we’re very glad it did! Look At Yourself is the aural equivalent of ejecting bile and defecating over your enemies. The album is one of the heaviest featured on our list this year. If we gave an award for heaviest track of the year, then Natural Born Killer would win hands down.

 

No. 5  WITHOUT WAVES – Lunar

Without Waves

Earlier in the year, Metalmance labelled WITHOUT WAVES as a band to watch and once their album Lunar was released, we stood by our decision. Listening back to it now, the diversity and variety of genres the band squeeze into their song writing is still mind-blowing; progressive metal, grunge elements, some post-rock tinkles, lots of nostalgic sounds in the same vein as CAVE IN and Say Hello To Sunshine-era FINCH. Yet, somehow WITHOUT WAVES stamp all over these styles with their own sound. How these chaps haven’t blown up in the scene yet is one of 2017’s greatest musical mysteries.

“Anthony Cwan’s vocals really come to light here, his mesmerising voice runs the risk of being contemporary metal’s most alluring warble.”

Weekly Roundup #17

 

No. 4  DEATH FROM ABOVE – Outrage! Is Now

Death From Above

Metalmance are so, so happy DEATH FROM ABOVE are back on top form as we were massive fans of 2004’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, but Outrage! Is Now has completely surpassed all expectations. The Canadian duo deliciously create bass and drum fuelled rock, yet the music they produce is heavy in its own way. Addictive, with a punk energy, Outrage! boasts an impressive array of irresistible riffs, beats and croons. DEATH FROM ABOVE have always had a mainstream sound, sounding a bit like JACK WHITE and MUSE here and there, but with Outrage! the band sound like they are confident in themselves and finally ready to take over the world.

 

No. 3  THE RASMUS – Dark Matters

The Rasmus

You’re probably disgusted by our choice for the no. 3 spot, but bear with us. We all have that one band who were our gateway into rock and metal, it just so happens our feathery friends THE RASMUS were ours. Dark Matters manages to achieve a similar atmosphere to 2004’s Dead Letters, and we can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy and nostalgic. It’s a much poppier affair than their more recent releases, but we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t admit it’s one of our favourites this year. Still full of catchy choruses and a healthy dollop of European cheese, we almost feel compelled to dig out our old wristbands, beanies and crow feathers, but we’re respectable adults now so we’ve managed to refrain…ahem…

 

No. 2  EIGHTEEN VISIONS – XVIII

XVIII

The biggest surprise of the year was the news that our metalcore heroes EIGHTEEN VISIONS had reformed AND were releasing a new album after ten years apart. We thought our 2017 couldn’t get any better than that…until we heard the actual album that is. It was everything old school EIGHTEEN VISIONS fans could ever dream of. Harking back to their glory days, XVIII is an incredible gift to the metal community and tribute to the late Mick Morris who played bass in their heyday. They’ve borrowed elements from their most popular albums; Until The Ink Runs Out, Vanity and Obsession, and have created a fresh new sound with subtle nostalgia. We hope they’re back for good.

“…there’s no doubt about it, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are back and ready to rejuvenate the metalcore scene again. Welcome back chaps.”

Eighteen Visions – XVIII

 

No. 1  DYSCARNATE – With All Their Might

Dyscarnate

We threatened back in August that With All Their Might could end up being our album of the year – and it bloody well is! No other album this year has been better in our eyes. An absolute corker of a beast, DYSCARNATE are a stupidly talented trio who know how to the bring the groove and the brutality. We don’t think we’ve heard any riffs this year which top what can be heard on With All Their Might. This album has WINNER stamped all over it and we seriously cannot wait to hear the songs live. Congratulations DYSCARNATE!

“If With All Their Might doesn’t cement DYSCARNATE as Britain’s heavyweight heroes then we might just have to crack our skulls in disgust. With their no-nonsense attitude, DYSCARNATE will have you gagging to join their ranks.”

Dyscarnate – With All Their Might

Q&A with Mutation

From ‘Chaos-punk’ to Devin Townsend, Scott Lee Andrews gives Metalmance the low-down on what makes Mutation chaotically tick

Metalmance witnessed MUTATION’s chaos recently at Damnation festival in Leeds, and it’s fair to say the band’s sound is not for the faint hearted! Featuring Ginger and Denzel (THE WILDHEARTS and many other projects), and Scott Lee Andrews (EXIT_INTERNATIONAL, JAWS OF DEAF), their third album Dark Black is a noisy affair and Scott kindly let Metalmance pick his brain about the album and the band’s direction.

Q. Hi Scott, great set at Damnation! I must admit, I hadn’t checked out MUTATION before the festival as I was keeping the sound a surprise, I heard it was unlike anything Ginger had done before and chaotic! And I was glad to find it was all true! How would you describe MUTATION’s style? Or is it more a spectrum of styles?

Scott: For sure – it’s an exploration of Ginger’s more extreme tastes, and that also shows in the personnel brought to the table to make this record. From Shane Embury to Merzbow to Devin Townsend, all sit in distinct pockets of the heavy/extreme music world, and guys who are visionaries with it. MUTATION’s use of an ensemble cast during the first two records allowed a wide coverage of these genres to be touched upon. Someone recently described our live show as ‘Chaos-punk’ which I thought was fucking great.

Q. Since Damnation, we’ve had Mutation III: Dark Black on heavy rotation! I feel like the whole album has a nostalgic feel, it reminds me of all sorts; a bit of MARTINI HENRY RIFLES here, a bit of 90s there, did you have a production style in mind while recording?

Scott: Your MARTINI HENRY RIFLES reference – I’ve been in a band with Fudge (bassist – MARTINI HENRY RIFLES) since 2009! That might be a bit of him rubbing off on my influence that has shown up there. I’m more into ‘alternative’ noise – SONIC YOUTH, NIRVANA, PART CHIMP, ATARI TEENAGE RIOT for example, this was the vibe I wanted to bring to the table, to allow Dark Black to stand out as a fresh record. When Ginger and I were passing song ideas and riffs back and forth via email, we were listening to THE BODY as a main reference point. The intention was to make a thoroughly disgusting album.

Q. With bands choosing to have a more polished production these days it’s refreshing to hear more of a raw and chaotically rich sound with MUTATION. Was this something you were aiming for?

Scott: Absolutely, mainly due to the fact the sonics used in heavy music seem to adhere to a quite narrow set of guidelines. As neither of us have day jobs in that realm, it was obvious that to be taken seriously, we had to push everything into the red. Both of us wanted to one-up each other in terms of how far/fucked up to go, and neither of us said ‘That’s too far’.

Q. A standout track for me (I’m sure also for many others too) is Irritant. I think everyone would find this song highly relatable and honest! But I find this with Ginger’s/your lyrics in general for MUTATION. What do you draw from to produce such brutally honest and unforgiving lyrics?

Scott: Ginger titled each song from a list he had prepared prior to the writing sessions. The one-word, succinct nature of them tell you off the bat this record was going to be very direct, certainly from his lyrics. It’s not as wordy or poetic as his other output, probably to ensure maximum effect. We both wanted to make a warts n’ all record in all aspects. I cannot comment on specific examples that birthed a chorus as vitriolic as Irritant, but as you picked up on, people have found the record dropping at such a low point economically, politically and even personally in many of our lives this record speaks for its time.

Q. You’ve just completed a tour in Japan. You’ve said before how much you like the country and playing there, what makes you go back time and time again?

Scott: That was my second time to Japan on tour, I think Denzel has been there around 7 times with Ginger and fuck knows how many times he has been over the last 20 or so years. But from my experience it is like being on another planet. Every single waking second is filled with awe. It’s very hard to vocalise. The people of Japan, from demeanour to our label’s organisation leaves you in a dream state. Such an incredible experience.

Q. It’s always fun to see who you collaborate with, and seeing Devin Townsend credited may come as a surprise to some people if they don’t know about his WILDHEARTS days. How involved was he in the writing of the album?

Scott: We wrote and demoed the album in 5 days in North Wales in the summer of 2015. The last time Devin worked with Ginger I believe was on a b-side called Kill Me To Death, during THE WILDHEARTS’ Endless Nameless campaign. Devolution was the final track we wrote for Dark Black. We knew someone like Devin could just take our version and stamp his style all over it. There was no direction given, and [he] let us have it. The stems/tracks he sent over broke my computer when I tried to load the session up. Many people believe Devin had a hand in the album, as comparisons to STRAPPING YOUNG LAD kept cropping up, but it was just that track. Devin was a pleasure to work with, and will also feature in the forthcoming video for the track.

Q. I saw PRIMITIVE WEAPONS live back in January and their brand of noisy post-hardcore isn’t too dissimilar to MUTATION, although I was still surprised to see Arthur Shepherd from PW also contributed vocals to Mutation III: Dark Black. How did that collaboration come about?

Scott: Arthur has been a friend of mine for a few years – he is a fantastic human. I am a massive fan of many of one of his previous projects by mostly GAY FOR JOHNNY DEPP – my band EXIT_INTERNATIONAL played with them a few times. When we had finished the tracking of the album (Ginger and I both tracked our own verses/lyrics without hearing each other’s input) we found the gaps for some guests. I reached out to a wishlist of friends who I thought could push it further and Arthur stepped up. He tracked his vocals in NY with Travis Bacon of BLACK ANVIL/HOGWASCHE.

Q. Scott, thank you for your time! Lastly, Metalmance aims to cover new and underground bands, are there any groups or artists on your radar you think the metal community should know about?

Scott: BARRABUS for a start – featuring the mighty Paul Catten. Fucking great band and honoured to have them perform with us at our London show. MADE OF TEETH who have an ex-TAINT member in the ranks were awesome too. We also played with an insane band called DISGUNDER at one of our Tokyo shows – well worth checking out. I look to Belgium for most of my heavy/noisy fixes these days. Bands like RAKETKANON, DRUMS ARE FOR PARADES, STEAK NUMBER EIGHT, THE ROTT CHILDS, KABUL GOLF CLUB…all making very non-traditional heavy music.

Kill the Kong – Colossus

Release date: 24 February 2017. Label: GAIN/SONY

Back in February we featured these beastly Swedes as a ‘band to watch’. With their unusual line-up of seven members including two vocalists and two percussionists, everything about KILL THE KONG feels like a two-pronged attack; a Two-Pronged Kong if you will. Now with second album Colossus almost ready to be unleashed, it’s time for you to sit up and pay attention.

“Why can’t you see I have multiple hearts beating?” is the first lyric uttered in the suitably titled opener Hearts Beat. Could this be a reference to the colossal beast of their namesake? Or the hearts of the multiple members of the group? Either way, the track gives a good indication of the straight-up metalcore this album channels compared to their self-titled 2016 debut. No quirky percussion is present in this tune, but despite the limited lyrics it still provides a killer hook and the hope that the band have honed their song writing skills for this release.

This hope is realised when second track Juggernaut (wolfpack) crashes into our consciousness. Just a few seconds into the song, it can be heard their ambition and production has doubled in size; a shiny, massive sound to match their colossal line-up. The KILL THE KONG energy is there in bucket loads as we finally hear their signature drumming style for the first time in Colossus. With a vibe akin to newer PARKWAY DRIVE, the shout-along chorus perfectly matches the metallic groove of the instrumentation. The song breaks way to a satisfying clean vocal melody; wearing their metalcore influences on their sleeve KILL THE KONG clearly gain inspiration from bands such as ARCHITECTS but add their own refreshing twist to proceedings.

Just when you think you can predict how the next track will sound, the band let loose in Nerve; a song with a more hardcore stance. The groove is still there but the delivery and aggression is channelled in a similar manner to newer COMEBACK KID. Nerve also features a decent bit of riffage which maintains their energetic pace. The dual vocals of Timo and Sebastian really pay off as it provides subtle shifts in dynamic to keep the listener on their toes.

Pitch Black is a curious beast in itself. With another cheeky change in style, the song is a tad more unpredictable than the others; with a sound not too dissimilar to the quirkier end of metalcore such as HE IS LEGEND and EVERY TIME I DIE, yet the chorus almost has a nu metal element to it. A very interesting track, Pitch Black might prove to be an unexpected fan favourite with its hint of chaos and unforgiving attitude.

Another nice, crunchy riff greets the listener at the start of The Antagonist before it erupts into metalcore galore. A mature and focused song, everything about this track is spot on – its approach, execution and feeling. Atmospherics lurk in the background of the verse before a killer chorus catapults the song to a new level. But before you can get comfortable with the familiarity of the safe metalcore, KILL THE KONG unleash more impressive percussion to keep things interesting and make the sound truly their own.

A Swedish influence breaks through in Close to the Bone. The beginning has a strong THE HAUNTED groove which evolves into a contemporary metallic crunch. The band once again demonstrate their chorus game is getting stronger but the song is over before you know it! However, things take another interesting turn with Map of Wounds; the verse sounds reminiscent of LACUNA COIL with its bassy undertones and dark melody, yet the chorus blows up into a thumping ruckus.

Burning in Water, Drowning in Flames has some good ideas yet doesn’t quite take off like the other tracks. But it does feature the most pulsing breakdown of the album. If this song was likened to another band, you could argue it has a similar approach as newer KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, the chorus especially. Hopefully the song will become a grower.

We’re back in business when we’re introduced to the addictive beats of Snake Eyes. A whirring, storming thumper, it energetically pumps along like a good ol’ SOILWORK ditty. The song keeps on giving with its relentless energy holding out before its exhale at the very end. Album finale The Hurt Stays continues this energy, with the gang vocals returning in abundance expelling passion and emotion until the descent to Colossus‘ conclusion.

While offering nothing particularly groundbreaking, KILL THE KONG remain memorable with their quirky grooves. There was always the danger two percussionists could become a gimmick but luckily the band avoid this through their mature song writing. The foundations are set for something truly colossal in the future, but will KILL THE KONG break free from the chains of the underground and make an impact in the mainstream?

 

Dyscarnate – With All Their Might

Release Date: September 15 2017. Label: Unique Leader.

DYSCARNATE are finally releasing their hotly anticipated third album, With All Their Might after a five year wait; but after the close-to-perfection-groove-fest which was 2012’s And So It Came To Pass, how does it compare? Well, DYSCARNATE fans will be pleased to know this new release shows no mercy; faster, tougher, more ambitious and almost impossibly groovier, With All Their Might is all that you wish the new DECAPITATED would be. With new bassist Al Llewellyn in tow, the trio, completed by guitarist/vocalist Tom Whitty and drummer Matt Usworth, create a sound far bigger and more dynamic than most bands double their size. After being blown away by their groovy ritual at Tech Fest this year, Metalmance couldn’t wait to get our grubby mitts on the new album. The new songs they played live were a taste of the darker, more metallic album With All Their Might promised to be.

Bludgeoning their way into our consciousness with the gloriously punchy opener Of Mice And Mountains, DYSCARNATE are back in business. They are the British death metal riff masters after all and the track sets the unforgiving pace for the remainder of the album. Immediately you are confronted with the freshly diverse screaming on this record, for here is a band who are getting musically heavier with each release rather than others who are becoming softer. Straight to your face and triumphant, the instrumentation is relentless in its brutality and groove. The two things which form the backbone of the band’s strongest release to date.

The metallic crunch of the opening riff to second track This is Fire! gives it a blackened tinge to proceedings. The first track needed an equally punishing follow-up track and This Is Fire! certainly delivers. The chorus will most certainly become a firm fan favourite to shout along to, but it is the riff which drives the song to become the musical equivalent of sharpening steel. The track also features the surprise of ‘clean vocals’; not in the singing sense, but more of a chant which propels the song into a new dimension before plummeting into an absolute beast of a closing riff.

Lead single Iron Strengthens Iron should be the soundtrack to a bloodthirsty epic, like Spartacus or Gladiator. Crushing and heavy, DYSCARNATE truly do use ‘all their might’ to conduct this wounding, modern death metal classic. A good transition from old album to new, it’s easy to understand why it was chosen to be the first single. It has the same tone as And So It Came To Pass but with the new ambition of With All Their Might. A terrifically bruising composition, Iron Strengthens Iron is the sound of a raging battle.

Things slow down a tad with the intriguing Traitors In The Palace. Another blackened ambience greets the listener with bell tolls and hellish riffs. The gutteral vocals drag the song into a deeper circle of hell. A menacing riff erupts before we witness the evil sound of the band. Brutal, dark and dynamic, DYSCARNATE sure as hell are raising the bar for British death metal.

A bassy, whirring monster comes in the form of To End All Flesh Before Me. Another suffocatingly punishing track, the song breaks into a bass-heavy lull before pummeling the listener with rapid-fire drumming and DECAPITATED-esque riffage. The machine-gun pace continues with Backbreaker. It should be noted DYSCARNATE wouldn’t be DYSCARNATE without the impeccable drumming of Matt Unsworth. In an age of programmed drums, it’s refreshing to hear the organic sound of a talented drummer.

Now it’s time for arguably the standout track of the album – or at least the one which Metalmance has had on repeat the most; All The Devils Are Here. With its thrashy beginning, it levels out into a groovy divine force. The vocals reflect this god-tier level, with screams straight out of a fallen angel’s mouth. It also feels like a call and response is happening before we are chucked head first into and rumbling riff. One of the most diverse songs on the album, this track selects limbs from all extreme genres to create its own hellish hybrid. When you think you’re safe, you’re then exposed to the most spellbinding and spine-tingling outro of 2017. It will make you bang your head into oblivion.

If you’ve survived the album so far and have enough energy left for the finale, stick it out, for Nothing Seems Right will bang the final nail in your coffin. One last atmospheric blackened intro graces our ears for the album’s swansong. With its apocalyptic ambience, it is a fitting end to what is a flawless work of art. If With All Their Might doesn’t cement DYSCARNATE as Britain’s heavyweight heroes then we might just have to crack our skulls in disgust. With their no-nonsense attitude, DYSCARNATE will have you gagging to join their ranks.

Cryptopsy + Jøtnarr + A Bribe For The Ferryman 

Colchester Arts Centre. 19 August 2017.

(Apologies for poor picture quality, had to use phone camera instead) 

Colchester Arts Centre is a quirky little venue, and a regular spot for all genres of music and arts. Tonight, the former church is host to Montreal’s finest, CRYPTOPSY. As the death metal fans of Essex start spilling into the room, opener A BRIBE FOR THE FERRYMAN get underway with their set. 

Over the past year, the band from Colchester have gained momentum round the local scene. Metalmance last saw the band open for SEAWOLVES at Colchester’s Three Wise Monkeys, and since then the band has had a lineup shake up in the form of new drummer Joshua Moreton, the former drummer of REZINWOLF (RIP). ABFTF aren’t the most original band, their brand of recycled riffs making them sound more like a college band. That’s not to say everyone feels this way; the band had their own crew of hardcore fans and a small group moshing down the front, but the band and music just didn’t seem quite suitable for a death metal show. Luckily, Moreton has injected a new energy into the band, and bassist Chris May is well worth a watch purely for his stage presence alone. However you’re left wishing frontman Rob Norrington was less static on stage, but as a band they are still finding their feet and ABFTF really need to establish their own sound or risk failing to break out of the local scene. 

Gracing the stage next were local troupe JØTNARR. Always a safe choice for an extreme metal gig in Colchester, the trio brought the gritty noise and chaotic energy to the Arts Centre and got the crowd warmed up for the noisy ruckus to come. The simplicity of the band being a three-piece is a deceiving disguise for the huge wall of sound and screams they make. Their performances are always captivating, with all members unleashing a sound akin to the soundtrack of the expulsion of demons. If you’re from the area and haven’t yet witnessed the mighty JØTNARR, then what has possessed you? 

Iconic in itself, the painting Herodias with the Head of John the Baptist by the artist Elisabetta Sirani is no doubt more infamous now for being the artwork for CRYPTOPSY’s None So Vile, with John’s decapitated head decorating the scrims on the stage. It is this album which the masters of death metal are playing in its entirety tonight. With his exuberant long hair, frontman Matt McGachy whipped his locks round and windmilled enough for everyone down the front to caught tangled up in it or have it dip in their drinks at some point. Intense and loud as ever, it was evident the band were experts at their aural craft, oozing professionalism and menace with their fans lapping up each riff and scream. Unrelenting throughout the playthrough of None So Vile, when the opening riff for the classic track, Slit Your Guts resonated round the room, the band had the crowd eating out of their hands. Legends in their own right, it was a very special occasion that the band were gracing Colchester with their presence, it is hard to do the band justice with this little review. The only disappointment of the night was that the show didn’t have a larger turnout. This seems to be a repeating pattern at Colchester gigs recently  (possibly even the region as a whole). If CRYPTOPSY played here ten years ago, it more than likely would have been near to selling out. But tonight is the present, and everyone in attendance had a ghoulishly good time otherwise. 

Tech Fest 2017

6 Jul – 7 Jul 2017. Newark Showground.

THURSDAY

A small festival filled with technical metal bands, death metal and progressive metal? Yes please. Add to that the tight-knit tech community of people from all around the world, heavenly pizza, and tiny pancakes and you have a stellar weekend on your hands.

Thursday was the early bird day, with CHELSEA GRIN headlining. However, with Metalmance participating in camping shenanigans and being flooded out by rain of biblical proportions, there was only time to see THE ROYAL in the afternoon. Last time Metalmance saw these Dutch metalcore chaps, was in Boston Music Rooms supporting DREAMSHADE in March. Back then the band managed to stir up the crowd with their jumping-inducing tunes, and at Tech Fest it was no different, just on a bigger scale. Playing material from albums Dreamcatchers and their newest release, Seven, the band certainly won new fans over with their energetic set.

 

FRIDAY

Kicking off the weekend proper were London prog darlings FRAKTIONS. Metalmance recently had the pleasure of witnessing the band in Bristol supporting DEITIES, but their Tech Fest set was on another level. The group had brought their A-game, with vocalist Joel Pinder leading the performance with every vocal spot on. It was great to see a big turn out for the first band of the day and it’s clear to see how firmly wedged in the tech fam hearts FRAKTIONS are. If Tech Festers weren’t warmed up already, then they most certainly were after Kaan Tasan of NO CONSEQUENCE made a guest appearance. An impressive start to the festival by one of Britain’s promising progressive hopes.

Metalmance caught the second half of DREWSIF STALIN’S MUSICAL ENDEAVOURS and it was exactly as expected; fun, bordering on chaos with the man himself commanding the stage along with vocalist, Lee making a damn fine effort.

VALIS ABLAZE were up next on the Gigantic Stage. A solid set, the band were clearly well rehearsed, with material from latest EP Insularity shimmering amongst the setlist. Vocalist Phil Owen hits every note while guitarist Tom Moore steals the hearts with his evident joy of being there, demanding the most attention by performing on a front speaker. That is until the guest appearance of Drewsif Stalin (the producer of Insularity) stealing the focus away. Ending the set in high spirits and to a great response, it’s wonderful to see this talented band starting to receive the recognition they deserve.

Metalmance Valis Ablaze

From VALIS ABLAZE’s melodic progressive metal to something quite different, Metalmance entered the main arena to the irresistible riffy ruckus of British death metallers DYSCARNATE. Having never encountered the band before it’s safe to say the brutal trio ended up being one of Metalmance’s highlights of the festival. No nonsense, straight to your face, no gimmicks, the band deliver their material at 100mph. They treated their fans to a few new tracks from their forthcoming album. These songs have a blackened tinge to them, making the next release one of the most hotly anticipated of the year for us.

Deathcore masters MARTYR DEFILED deliver a polished set which loses none of its impressive intensity. This British lot have been touring for well over 5 years now, their ease at playing a ferocious show is evident. One of the veterans of the British scene and should remain so.

In a drunken haze, Metalmance caught bits of WITHIN DESTRUCTION and VIRVUM, both on the gigantic stage. Both very heavy. Heavy is the word which came to mind…

By the time the evening rolled round, everyone was buzzing for the headliners THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, but beforehand we all got warmed up with an absolute pummelling from the legendary ABORTED. Intense, disgustingly heavy and incredibly tight, the pioneers of Belgian deathgrind delighted the crowd with their impressive stage presence and set up. Skeletons graced the stage, backlit by eerie lighting. This, coupled with frontman Sven De Caluwe pacing up and down the platform and the technical instrumentation, all contributed to arguably one of the tightest sets of the whole weekend.

It was always going to be a challenging job to top ABORTED’s flawless set, but who better for the job than THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER? Their live reputation is well known, a stupidly tight and professional band, TBDM have always moved from strength to strength. Performing material spanning across their whole back catalogue, from Unhallowed to Abysmal, every song went down a treat with their fans. Of course, this year signals 10 years since the release of classic album Nocturnal, so several tracks were played tonight, including the fan favourite What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse, in preparation for their forthcoming tour playing the album in full. Feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm, the band were clearly in high spirits and knocking out tune after tune. Frontman Trevor Strnad grabbed the inflatable banana which was being crowd surfed to the front. This bode the start of what would become a legendary year for inflatables at Tech Fest… Heads banging, pits, cheers and smiles all round were the result of TBDM’s set. You can’t help but to be left feeling impressed and upbeat once the band have rolled into town. A hard act to follow, the bar was set for the remainder of the weekend.

As Paradise Falls – Digital Ritual

Label: Eclipse Records. Release Date: 21 July 2017.

Australia is gaining quite the reputation for quality metal acts; KARNIVOOL, VOYAGER, NORTHLANE, AVERSIONS CROWN…get the idea? Now you can add Brisbane’s AS PARADISE FALLS to that list too. The band who are proving to be an unstoppable force, faced a few setbacks while the recording of Digital Ritual, mostly the sudden passing of guitarist Glen Barrie in late 2015. Not only did the band have to regroup and support each other after his death, but the band were also more conscious about creating an album worthy of preserving Glen’s legacy. Produced by Shane Edwards (NORTHLANE, TROPHY EYES, HELLIONS) the band have achieved a solid album; a heavy tech record full of interesting nuggets here and there, with more grooves, beats, riffs and curious titbits than you can shake a stick at. Influenced by bands such as EMMURE and fellow Aussies THY ART IS MURDER and PARKWAY DRIVE, it’s no surprise Digital Ritual is an album which packs a punch.

The title track kicks off proceedings with a tense introduction, erupting into an instrumental banger with a smattering of electronic tinkles. Balance then completely blows the senses with its massive drums, ferocious riffs and the raw vocals from frontman Shaun Coar. One of the heaviest tracks on the album, Balance threatens the listener with what AS PARADISE FALLS are capable of.

The chuggy, EMMURE-ish riffs soon break way for the start of Star Blind. The lead single entices with its calming intro of blissful clean vocals but we’re soon back in business with a punishing riff to make sure you continue your way to the killer chorus reminiscent of AMORPHIS or even ORPHANED LAND. Once again, nothing prepares you for the switch in style for next track, The Ultimate Consumer. With a riff not too dissimilar to DECAPITATED’s Spheres of Madness, the song switches between mesmerising vocals and downright punishing metal.

Automated Sacrifice is a mish-mash of all sorts making it one of the more rewarding tracks on Digital Ritual. With the album’s best guitar solo and breakdown , this song also features more of Coar’s versatile vocals as well as more atmospheric flourishes which enriches the dynamic. A relentless groove greets listeners for Glory To The Server, but frequently breaks into djent moments with a SIKTH-esque edge.

A melodic opening to Reborn soon evolves into something reminiscent of a MALEVOLENCE groove but with an extra metallic crunch. This intensifies for Dead Message, an absolute stomper of a track. It’s becoming evident AS PARADISE FALLS pull off every style they play, but this also means they are lacking a sound which is distinctly theirs. Having said this, the material is strong enough and exciting enough to kick up anticipation to see how the band will progress. A very promising full-length, AS PARADISE FALLS should be on your radar.

 

 

Eighteen Visions – XVIII

Label: Rise Records. Release Date: 2 June 2017.

XVIII might just take the crown for most unexpected 2017 release. Last year Metalmance raved about EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ back catalogue in Weekly Roundup #6, and stated it would be very unlikely there would be a reunion in the near future. Well, 10 years on from their breakup, EIGHTEEN VISIONS sneakily reformed and recorded a new album with the help of ANAAL NATHRAKH’s Mick Kenney (who also produces ex-EIGHTEEN VISIONS and BLEEDING THROUGH member Brandan Schieppatti’s solo project THE IRON SON.) and it’s fair to say it’s a return to their roots. Everything, from their logo to shots of bees and mannequins in their promotional materials, all hark back to their first major release Until The Ink Runs Out in 2000. XVIII feels like a homage to their past selves and their late bassist Mick Morris, as it meanders through familiar territory (i.e the use of film samples which has not been practised since Vanity in 2002), but in true EIGHTEEN VISIONS fashion, it sounds nothing like anything they have written before. Each album shifts massively from style to style and this new release is no different.

Blasting in with Crucified, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are shaking off any false impressions from their last self-titled album, an album which saw the band being branded as sell-outs. This storming intro, with its ferocious drumming and blackened riffs, immediately makes the point that EIGHTEEN VISIONS are heavier than ever and are back to show the scene how it’s done. The lyrics themselves could be interpreted in many ways; “Still crucified. I’ve never been consumed. Never conformed like you.” Could this be the band’s response to comments about their last album? How they’ve always done what the hell they’ve wanted despite what fans and the scene say?

The Disease, The Decline, and Wasted Time is quite a groovy fair, with James Hart’s distinct screams tearing through the track. The chorus is not too dissimilar to something you would hear on their self-titled, infectiously catchy yet backed up with heavy accompaniment. They always had killer breakdowns (Tower of Snakes anyone?) but the breakdown in this track is something else. Guitarist Keith Barney has seriously concocted a batch of tasty riffs for this album and has plunged the band into another level of heaviness. This formula continues for the third track Underneath The Gun, with the vocal melody in the middle eight and the end sounding reminiscent of the self-titled track off Vanity. Heavy. There’s that word again, heavy…

A tribute to Mick Morris comes in the form of the intense track Live Again. An unapologetically heavy single, it features more top notch riffs but also some of the album’s most carefully considered lyrics; “Stay inside me. We’ll never forget the days. We made the most of our memories.” The song descends into a powerful rock chorus but never strays far from the brutal foundations of the composition. A fitting, and heartfelt tribute to Morris’ legacy indeed.

Hart’s rock vocals raise their head again in Laid to Waste in the Shit of Man but erupt back into their raw state for the punishing Oath. Many have interpreted this song to be the band’s loyalty to the straight edge, but it could represent many things. A likely interpretation is staying true to music and family, it follows the same attitude as You Don’t Have to be Blood to be Family-era THROWDOWN. The gritty instrumentation is a mish-mash of all their previous albums, it sounds like Until the Ink Runs Out, Vanity and Obsession all rolled into one. Ladies and gentlemen, this is EIGHTEEN VISIONS.

Spit and Picture Perfect are further examples of filthy tunes with oodles of groove and distortion. If their self-titled album was geared towards an 80’s vibe then XVIII definitely veers towards a 90’s ALICE IN CHAINS edge in places. Fake Leather Jacket could easily fit on 2004’s Obsession, with its groovy riff reminiscent to Crushed and its crushing chorus. The lyrics are also quite curious; “Said youʼd make me famous. The year of the “v.” But youʼre just so epic full of shit.” Could this be directed to Epic Records who let them down with promoting their self-titled? This track is full suggestive comments but once again in true 18V fashion it could be interpreted in many different ways.

Each EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ album has an absolutely spellbinding track and XVIII is no different. A solid album and one which has exceeded all expectations, this record needed a statement finale. With For This I Sacrifice they have achieved this, a track dripping with passion and feeling, it is one of the heaviest love songs you’ll hear all year. It also demonstrates just how far Hart’s vocals have come since the introduction of cleans on Vanity. A spine tingling ending for one of their best albums to date, there’s no doubt about it, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are back and ready to rejuvenate the metalcore scene again. Welcome back chaps.