Instrumental, progressive metal can be a bit of a minefield, with some bands attempting to rip off pioneers such as ANIMALS AS LEADERS and INTERVALS, but ending up sounding like a band who fail at attracting a vocalist. Luckily, Birmingham trio AXIOM bring a refreshing stance to instrumental prog which is typically dominated by guitar noodling. On the same sunny edge of the prog spectrum as CHON, AXIOM also incorporate some awesome, funky bass to keep things retro and upbeat. The best thing about debut EP Metathesis though? It was all recorded live within 24 hours and it makes for an energetic and organic production!
Opening track Slumber builds up gently to a wonderfully steely riff. The title is apt as the instrumentation conjures the image of a ride through a cityscape at night. The neon lights are reflected in the dazzling riffs, with bold, slap bass accompanying the super slick guitar. Being recorded live makes the drums sound natural, with the cymbals providing a cascade of crashes which almost sound like fireworks amongst the metallic crunch. The melody throughout the verses is delicate enough to avoid being a long-winded guitar solo. After a couple of minutes Slumber launches into a striking wall of loud rock which the likes of MAYBESHEWILL would be proud of. A storming start.
Lead single Believe is easily the most charming track on Metathesis with its twinkly notes and fun bass hooks. Considering there’s only three members being recorded, the sound is huge, with oodles of energy. The riffs shine bright while the drums maintain the upbeat rhythm. After a groovy first half, it erupts into a progressive ruckus we haven’t seen since the likes of ARCANE ROOTS. Things escalate to a heavy, triumphant break before resorting back to the funky barrage of riffs. Serious progressive rock with a cheeky twinkle in the eye is the best way to describe AXIOM’s delivery and it is irresistible.
Scared is a sublime and heavy offering compared to its predecessors. A fluid, bass riff provides the foundation of a dreamy sequence before the guitars provide the sharp edge. With heavy riffs throughout it is outrageously rocky but somehow seems ballsier as it’s wholly instrumental. The hooks are stellar in every song on Metathesis but Scared boasts catchy hooks as well as a deeper depth to its overall sound. Seriously impressive stuff with only a live recording, it proves AXIOM’s quality as a band.
EP finale Serpentine gets even heavier and is definitely the most ‘metal’ track on Metathesis. The opening melody is a bold, metallic treat which lapses into a softer interlude. This is only the quiet before the storm as the riffs get heavier and crazier. The bass attempts to keep some civility to it but soon joins the assault. The last minute is a bludgeoning farewell and ends the EP with an impact. AXIOM bring the fun, groove and addictive hooks with Metathesis. In a time where bands try to out-tech each other, it’s reassuring that a band like AXIOM can still bring progressive goodness with plenty of heart while keeping the writing honest. Every track on Metathesis is a solid slab of rock. We can be confident that AXIOM will deliver a top-notch full-length. Watch this space.
Any form of artistic collective is bound to be chaotic and beautiful, Funnily enough, these two words easily describe Salutogenesis, the debut album by German progressive troupe SOULSPLITTER. The group consists of four members, but involves other musicians and artists to fulfil their creative vision. Expanding the collaborations pays off as Salutogenesis is a sprawling mass of intense and emotive rock. Incorporating different musicians and styles makes SOULSPLITTER exciting and unpredictable, with the music taking ambitious twists and turns. Salutogenesis takes a few good listens to process, like any good prog record should. I don’t even know if I’ve digested the album enough to write a review which does it justice, but let’s give it a go.
Opening track The Prophecy heralds the beginning of the madness. With a string arrangement akin to the accompaniment for a baddie at the ballet, The Prophecy is a raw concoction of organic instrumentation and unnerving spoken word. The chilling piano introduces the haunting soundscapes which are scattered across Salutogenesis. The Transition sees the start of SOULSPLITTER being at their progressive best. Full of energy and jazz elements, it’s a track full of interesting nuggets which never becomes too overloaded. An ambitious song at over eleven minutes, it ‘transitions’ from upbeat jazz to STEVEN WILSON-esque melancholy courtesy of the female guest vocalist and the musical brilliance of Trautonia Capra. If you have a friend who doesn’t know what modern prog is, show them this song.
Heaviness ensues with the utterly brilliant The Moloch. The tracks prior have had raw instrumentation whereas this offering boasts raw emotion. The harsh vocals and surreal piano notes collide with the heavy riffs for a WITHOUT WAVES-esque chaotic prowess. Easily one of the strongest songs on Salutogenesis, The Moloch will remain with you for a long time to come. The Maze‘s haunting melodies are some of the most bewitching on the record. Dipping into progressive heaviness which DISTORTED HARMONY would be proud of, SOULSPLITTER also venture into a theatrical climax. The passion of expression pours out of every outlet, creating an overwhelming, yet euphoric intensity. The Sunset provides another mesmerising instrumental interlude before we plummet into the second half of the album.
The Dream is blissful post-rock with classical instruments and jazz weirdness. The title is very apt as the mood is very surreal and other-worldly. Music should always have the ability to transcend you, and SOULSPLITTER achieve this with aplomb. The heavy sections are astounding but it is the ending which elevates the album to a phenomenal highlight. Absolutely breath-taking. It would take a lot to match The Dream, but SOULSPLITTER go down a different route for The Eye Of The Cyclone. Any eye of a storm will be the calmest moment and this is beautifully reflected on the stripped back artistry of this track. The male and female vocals are sublime and the piano is some of the most moving on Salutogenesis. It makes for a spellbinding penultimate track.
Album closer The Sacrifice is as ambitious a finale you could expect from a progressive album. Channelling old school prog tendencies and fresher approaches, SOULSPLITTER have created a colossal tune which would satisfy prog fans both young and old. With strong CALIGULA’S HORSE vibes, The Sacrifice ends Salutogenesis on a resounding high. SOULSPLITTER are exactly what progressive music should be about and their collaborations enhance the diversity of their sound.
In a time where new bands try to feature scene legends on their songs for some street credibility, it’s refreshing to hear under-represented talent in SOULSPLITTER’s work. The collaborations never detract from the progressive foundations, each component compliments the other. With other prog bands turning to pop for inspiration, SOULSPLITTER are turning to the arts and it’s incredibly inspiring and reassuring. This is the beginning of something special.
Technical death metal is experiencing such a heyday this past year or two, it’s been hard to keep up with all the quality releases. Here’s another for you though, Arizona’s SINGULARITY are releasing a contender for tech death album of the year with Place of Chains. Their first release since 2016, their absence has been well worth the wait as the band are now stronger than ever. The blackened and symphonic elements of their music is definitely one of their greatest strengths and adds a dramatic flair to their brutality.
It is the symphonic Bellum which kicks off proceedings. This instrumental opener is not quite as elaborate as SEPTIC FLESH or FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, but it’s still enough to set a futuristic and other-worldly tone to get you in the mood for a technical romp. The pace quickens as Victory or Death bludgeons the senses with the ferocious drumming, fiery riffs and punishing vocals. The track also demonstrates the beastly range of growls SINGULARITY have to offer. Throw in an extra punishing riff and you’ve got a winner.
The menacing Sisyphean Cycle begins with a blackened riff and atmospherics alongside unsettling, whispered vocals. The blackened symphonies escalate in an ABIGAIL WILLIAMS style before the verse batters its way in. The beastly blackened breaks in the track make their brand of tech death irresistible. Things get really techy on Ritual of Regret with the symphonics matching the chaotic speed of the opening riff. The monstrous pace is not speed over substance, oh no, each second is dripping with fascinating depth and a myriad of textures, making this track an incredible feat.
Consume and Assume proves that the faster the riff, the better the song. However, the slower sections brilliantly contrast, making the pummeling riffs sound even more unforgiving. The blackened symphonics return for the stunning first minute of Desmoterion. This song boasts such dark depths, it is its own monster. Blackly bewitching, SINGULARITY’s savagery will have you in their clutches. With the addition of an acoustic refuge, this track is a rollercoaster of light, dark and downright evil. Serpentes, Eternal continues this violent monstrosity with such blackened vigour you’ll be praying for a small glimpse of light. One of the strongest songs on Place of Chains, it is its dips into blackened brutality which dims the prior highlights.
Penultimate track Dead Receptors is a beautifully ferocious track with the most striking drumming heard so far. The intimidating delivery of this track is not for the faint-hearted and strengthens the band’s case to be new legends in the tech death scene. After your ears are truly assaulted by the relentless Dead Receptors, album finale As Dark As This Nefarious Night continues SINGULARITY’s blackened voyage. Finally the bass joins its comrades into the mix and gives a glorious OBSCURA twang to proceedings. If Place of Chains has battered you into the ground then this closer will put you out of your misery for good. The dramatic chants provide such a spectacular climax, the haunting conclusion will leave you stunned and at the band’s mercy.
Place of Chains is set to launch these tech death nobodies to the forefront of the genre. Some bands can’t execute symphonic extreme metal without sounding like they’re using atmospherics to hide lack of substance. If you take the symphonics away from SINGULARITY you would still be left with one of the most brutal releases of the year. Place of Chains sees a band who have grown in confidence of their talent, to the extent that news of their unbelievable riffs are spreading like wildfire through tech death forums. Believe the hype. SINGULARITY are coming for the tech death crown.
Considering the show is starting early on a weeknight, there is still a generous crowd gathering for Swedish death metal troupe ORBIT CULTURE who are opening the show. Their riffs thump enough to get the audience in the mood for a night of blistering metal. However, it’s not until the band play new single Nensha that things start to get interesting. Once the band get more material and live experience under their belts then maybe they will have more of an impact.
It’s reassuring to see so many members of the audience wearing MØL tshirts tonight. Knowledge of their stunning live show has been spreading and there are many curious onlookers this evening. Front man Kim Song Sternkopf has not lost an ounce of his power and energy on this mammoth tour and is as captivating as ever. Screaming every word with such passion and intensity is incredibly moving as a spectator. A short spell in the crowd enables some fans to scream along with Sternkopf and everyone wants part of the action. The band play tracks from their debut album Jord – with the blackgaze sounding as equally superb and moving in the live setting. Guitarist Nicolai Busse Hansen is the contemplative counterpart to Sternkopf’s fiery persona, and the guitar notes shimmer over the crowd. Their live show is quickly becoming legendary. Surely we are due a MØL headline tour next?
After MØL stunned us into silence, it’s the turn of progressive death metal heavyweights BLACK CROWN INITIATE to pummel us into submission. Driving fans wild by playing the majority of their debut EP Song of the Crippled Bull and other older gems, the crowd were going fanatic! New song Years in Frigid Light sounds immense live and was lapped up gratefully by fans. Bassist Nick Shaw and guitarist Ethan McKenna spend the set flexing their faces making damn-good-riff expressions while drummer Sam Santiago proves he might possibly be an actual machine. Andy Thomas amazed with his impeccable voice, while front man James Dorton sounds as colossal live as he does on record, his penetrating growls commanding the crowd. With their long-awaited new album rearing its head soon, you can expect to see more (hopefully) from these prog death titans.
It’s been an epic night so far with MØL and BLACK CROWN INITIATE providing headline-worthy sets. RIVERS OF NIHIL had hard acts to follow but, my word, they were phenomenal! Listening to last album Where Owls Know My Name in full is always a treat, but hearing it in full live…? Nothing short of sublime. Throw in numerous spots by a real life sax man (a headbanging one at that) and you’ve got yourself an other-worldly experience. Front man Jake Dieffenbach is extremely striking in his unusual attire but his roars are formidable. With extremely brutal circle pits and a wall of death, the crowd were running riot. Being one member short tonight (guitarist Jon Topore was unfortunately in hospital) didn’t deter the band from delivering one of the tightest sets I’ve seen all year. After selling out The Dome and getting the whole venue moving, it won’t be long before RIVERS OF NIHIL sell out bigger venues. Watch this space.
August might have been a mad month for mainstream metal releases but September has certainly seen its fair share of mammoth albums from the underground. This roundup sees the staple Top 3 releases of the month and then a look at September’s singles, of which there have been some huge releases! But to start things off I introduce my discovery of the month. If you stick around long enough you can dip into a highlight from the archive. See you in October!
Metalmance’s Discovery of the Month
I have to confess, Danish metalcore troupe have been on my radar for a little while now but after last month’s single Our Worst Days and the fact their debut album is out in October, I’ve been giddier about IVY CROWN this month! Previous singles Run and Lonesome and Cold (which features Kim Song Sternkopf from MØL) have been promising good things from IVY CROWN. Newest single Our Worst Days has an infectious sense of mischief and fun, but underneath each track is a dark undertone which makes this all-female group even more intriguing. Gaining momentum in the Danish scene, it won’t be long before IVY CROWN make their mark in the UK. With the forthcoming album being produced by Chris Kreutzfeldt (CABAL), vocal production by Mirza Radonjica-Bang (SIAMESE) and guest appearences from the Danish talent of Sternkopf and GHOST IRIS’ Jesper Gün, you can get a sense of what a big deal the women are becoming in their homeland. You’ll be silly not to check them out!
Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of September
This month has been hard to rank my Top 3. A special mention must go out to 65DAYSOFSTATIC and their amazing new release, replicr. This band always surpass themselves yet remain humble and create outstanding soundscapes. However, this month has seen some monstrous albums and here are the best three…
CAR BOMB – Mordial. Release date: 27 September 2019.
After releasing the singles Dissect Yourself and Scattered Sprites, I knew I was going to love this new CAR BOMB release. However, I had no idea how much Mordial was going to blow me away. It’s felt like a long wait since 2016’s breath taking album Meta, but the growth by CAR BOMB since that album is bewildering. I have seen a lot of mixed responses about Michael Dafferner’s clean vocals on some of the songs but for me, it adds a surreal element to their music, making them sound like a mathcore DEFTONES. Meta was always going to be impossible to top, and thankfully CAR BOMB haven’t given us more of the same with Mordial. Yes, their distinct mathy riffs are there, yes the songs are insane, but there is now so much depth to their textures and dynamic it is staggering. Second track Fade Out even has a pang of indie and shoegaze underneath the brutality and it makes for an interesting listen. CAR BOMB are still a band who are evolving after almost two decades in the game, and that is terrifyingly good.
BAEST – Venenum. Release date: 13 September 2019.
If like me, you believe BLOODBATH should have called it a day after The Fathomless Mastery, Danish death metallers BAEST could easily fill the death metal void in your life. After last year’s incredible Danse Macabre, BAEST have stepped the menace up tenfold with Venenum. Each track drips with venom and malice. Reaping from old school death metal influcnces, the band conjure up filthy riffs and hellish growls. Main singles Vitriol Lament, Gula and As Above So Below do standout, but album highlights come in the shape of Empty Throne and Sodomize with their beastly grooves and violent lyrics. Causing a stir in the European scene after huge tours supporting the likes of DECAPITATED and next month ABORTED and ENTOMBED A.D., the band are constantly on the up. For the love of metal, listen to BAEST.
GODEATER – All Flesh Is Grass. Release date: 27 September 2019
GODEATER’s debut album All Flesh Is Grass is everything I wanted the new SHOKRAN album to be. The Glaswegians have nailed technical death metal with oriental passages thrown in but with an important environmental message too. Not willing to shy away from the planet’s climate issues, GODEATER are unleashing their views with their equally compelling music. The fast pace and brutality of their songs is mightily impressive for a new band, but the atmosphere they conjure would be the envy of bands twice their age. Tracks like Salvation and Inertia Haze also boast ABIGAIL WILLIAMS-esque blackened brilliance. Unlike some of their UK Tech Metal scene contemporaries, GODEATER write ridiculously technical songs, but with enough heart and substance to actually keep you interested. If the band have achieved this masterpiece with their debut album and so few shows under their belts, imagine what GODEATER will be capable of with album number two.
It’s mad to think we’re still promised so many awesome albums before the end of 2019. Some of the tracks below are singles from forthcoming albums and they are a sign of the quality to come. If metal keeps up like this, then we’re in for a blistering end of year. Behold my top singles from September!
SCHAMMASCH – Rays Like Razors
It’s been a while since Switzerland’s black metal elite SCHAMMASCH have graced us with their infectious misery. Rays Like Razors hints at a progression in sound for the band. The dark atmosphere and intense black metal is still there, but the crisper production and polished madness somehow makes the band sound bolder and even more frightening. The mature sound on show here pushes the envelope of black metal. SCHAMMASCH have always been atmospheric but the tone here is absolutely suffocating with an edge of the progressive. By the end of the track you feel like you haven’t received the full blow of what the band is promising, but this hopefully means the band will unveil all that they have up their morbid sleeves on the full length.
END OF DAZE – Reach Out
Who said metalcore was dead? Harking back to the sound of the late noughties, these young Britons are channelling MOTIONLESS IN WHITE, ATREYU and ASKING ALEXANDRIA and other bands of that ilk, but with more heart and less make-up. Hailing from Weymouth, END OF DAZE is threatening to bring British metalcore back to glory. Even though their sound isn’t anything ground-breaking, Reach Out included, there is something so pure and brilliant about what they play, you can enjoy the music exactly for what it is – good, honest metalcore. The metal scene is so saturated with bands searching for likes and followers, if a band is sincere and write enjoyable songs then I’m all for it!
BLACK CROWN INITIATE – Years In Frigid Light
You may remember BLACK CROWN INITIATE’s last album Selves We Cannot Forgive made it to the top spot in my 2016 Album of the Year list. So it goes without saying their forthcoming album is one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year. They finally released the first track Years In Frigid Light this month and I’m having mixed feelings about it. The vocals are too high in the mix and it takes a long while for the song to really get going, but the dissonant air is spectacular. Once again the clean vocals raise the track to new heights, but the impact is too late and underwhelming. After a three year wait, the song unfortunately doesn’t cut it for me.
KILL THE KONG – Interstellar
Yet to make a mark on the British scene, Swedish metalcore outfit KILL THE KONG have been on my radar for a few years now and have been featured in my blog a few times. New song Interstellar sees the band further remove themselves from their dual-percussion element (thankfully, as there’s only so many tribal rhythms you can include before it starts to sound repetitive) and deeper into metalcore territory. The energy is still infectious and it sounds like KILL THE KONG are finally hitting their stride. Bold, heavy and energetic, the Swedes should really start to gain more attention now. They’ve proved they have the staying power and ability to evolve, they just need to continue working hard and hone their sound to becoming something unstoppable.
ABIGAIL WILLIAMS – I Will Depart
ABIGAIL WILLIAMS mastermind Ken Sorceron has been teasing new AW material for a while now but this track seemed to drop out of nowhere. I Will Depart is the opening track for forthcoming album Walk Beyond The Dark and it spells a new era for the American black metal band. This terrific track sees the band return to the blackened brilliance of their glory days, but with an older and wiser air to proceedings. The technicality remains and the atmosphere is colossal, but the writing is more focussed making for a brutal assault. If the remainder of the album is as mesmerising as this, then we’re in for a right ol’ black metal treat.
LOATHE – Gored
LOATHE were responsible for one of the darkest and most chilling albums of 2017, The Cold Sun. If single Gored is anything to go by, then LOATHE will surpass themselves with their darkest and most furious material to date. Crushingly heavy and suffocating, LOATHE are not here to soothe your soul or ears. The dense riffs would make CODE ORANGE proud but it is the intensity of the band which always shakes you to the core. Vocalist Kadeem France sounds like a man possessed on this single, his unnerving vocals leading the way for the hefty racous of riffage which ensues. Truly spectacular, LOATHE have been going from strength to strength but this release will be sure to see them rocket to the Kings of the heavy British scene.
LEPROUS – Alleviate
It’s a good thing that I’m a huge fan of Eurovision otherwise I might never revisit LEPROUS again after their new single, Alleviate. I love the song and the band, but I find it amusing how they’ve evolved from being the backing band for IHSAHN and now LEPROUS seem to be the backing band for Einar Solberg. Even if the band are going down a pop route, they still make better pop music than the majority of chart artists. The subtle elements happening in the verses keep things interesting but it is the catchy folk pop chorus which will continue to pull in new fans. Read below for a snippet of my first post about LEPROUS from the Metalmance archive.
From the Archive
After the recent release of two singles from LEPROUS’ forthcoming album Pitfalls, I wondered if I could have predicted their prog pop direction…
Band to watch: LEPROUS
“Deliciously on the melodic end of the metal spectrum, LEPROUS’ beautiful melodies are made the more spine tingling thanks to the incredible vocal talent of Einar Solberg […] There’s no denying LEPROUS add their own twist to proceedings and really push themselves to the front of the melodic metal pack.”
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.