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.
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.
Suffolk – home of CRADLE OF FILTH, Aspalls and…ED SHEERAN, but now there is a new staple of the county. Ipswich heavy metallers KILLERKORP (or THE KILLER KORPORATION as they’re also affectionately known) have been tearing up the local scene since 2017 and are threatening to take the rest of the UK by storm with their debut EP, Pain.
The band don’t mess around on opener Nightstalker. With its fast pace and crushing groove, the band are clearly wearing their influences on their sleeve; imagine LAMB OF GOD with straight-up riffs and a hardcore attitude. The production is nothing to be admired but this just emphasises KILLERKORP’s potential as the song still slays. Frontman Benjamin Lyddiatt is clearly an asset to the band as his screams cut through with monstrous affect.
Survival of the Fittest is undoubtedly KILLERKORP flexing their love of black metal; with the muddy riffs, ferocious drumming and machine-gun pace, it’s a surprising track but one executed with aplomb. The blackened groove is akin to LEVIATHAN and is an absolute delight. The stomping riffs at the end give it a hardcore feel. Blackened hardcore? Yes please. Luckily the band deliver more blackened punky goods with third track Hysterics. With a distorted sound which just screams THE MISFITS in a crypt, KILLERKORP are providing utter filth with this track.
Things take a thrashy turn with Deadly Nightshade which would normally fill me with despair as this sound can come across as extremely amateurish and is what separates local bands from the wider world, but somehow KILLERKORP add their own twist to proceedings with their groovy stance and the impressive Lyddiatt.
To Be The Hunter is a bit of an unfocussed mess and could have been left off the EP but the menacing riff and chaotic yaps at the beginning show promise. Last track, Pain is anything but disappointing as it’s half a minute of delicious hardcore punk. Reading this sentence will probably take longer than listening to the whole of the song.
Pain, the EP as a whole, proves KILLERKORP are anything but another run-of-the-mill thrash band from East Anglia. Even though their sound is sometimes sprawled across genres, they are still creating something no one else is churning out in the region and that is very exciting. With a bit more experience under their belts and a bit more focus in their songwriting, hopefully by the next release we will hear more snippets of a distinct KILLERKORP sound. The components are there, the formula just needs fine-tuning.
Metalmance is well and truly back after a well-deserved break. There is so much to catch up on, this year is proving to be a corker of a year for new albums. In the coming months Roundups will also include releases which have captured my attention and singles you might have missed. Links to features this month will also be shared as well as a gem from the archives. This month I’ll start with my Top 3 releases of July and then feature some of my favourite albums of 2019 I’ve been enjoying on my break. Thanks for reading, see you next month!
Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of July
This month has been a death metal paradise with regard to releases. With the scorching heat wave and the wave of brutal tunes, it’s been feeling like hell with a devilish soundtrack! My top releases of this month reflect this, so without further ado here are my Top 3:
WORMED – Metaportal EP. Release date: 19 July 2019
I don’t know how I’ve completely slept on WORMED until now, but goodness me am I happy I’ve discovered them. The Spanish sci-fi tech death troupe sound like all my favourite extreme metal bands all rolled into one. Metaprotal is an insane little record. One which you wish was a full length, but perhaps it is better off this way because you can savour each of the four tracks until you’ve consumed all the brutality. Songs like Bionic Relic boast DECAPITATED-esque riffs (cirqa. Organic Hallucinosis) while Cryptoubiquity harks back to the filthy days of BERZERKER, but it is E-Xystem://Ce which has a contemporary dissonant air about it (imagine if NIGHTMARER wrote Carnival is Forever). These four songs are enough to strike plenty of damage, approach at your own peril.
DISENTOMB – The Decaying Light. Release date: 12 July 2019.
One of my most anticipated albums of 2019 finally landed this month and it was well worth the wait! Brutal death metal Aussies DISENTOMB have returned with the spectacular The Decaying Light and if they weren’t on your radar, then they sure as hell will be now! The dissonant tones which run underneath their ferocious tunes give it an extra menacing edge. The production is as murky as the depths of despair which is a good thing when you want to spread your misery. The pace is relentless throughout the album and vocalist Jordan Phillip is continuing to impress as one of the scene’s most unforgiving guttural merchant. If you’ve yet to venture into the depths of DISENTOMB, then tread carefully.
Thy Art Is Murder – Human Target. Release date: 26 July 2019.
It’s easy to say Human Target, the fifth album by Aussie death metal merchants THY ART IS MURDER could be the raucous soundtrack to our inevitable dystopian future. Truth is, Human Target hits home in the dystopia which is the world TODAY. Never a band to shy away from sensitive topics or worldwide scandels, THY ART IS MURDER channels our sick world into some of the most brutal metal of our time. Human Target is arguably the band’s most blackened material to date and the results are outrageous. There’s oodles of CABAL-esque desperate despair as well as the predictable nods to politics today (Make America Hate Again) but with this album you can really feel every word and every note of misery played. The band are angrier than ever which means the state of the world is even worse, but it’s good news for us because we get an even more relentless steamroll from THY ART IS MURDER.
Metalmance Catch Up
As I said above, there’s been plenty of releases I’ve been jamming on my break and so many I want to share with you! This month I’m sharing some of my top albums which dropped in the Spring.
PORT NOIR – The New Routine. Release date: 10 May 2019.
Much like the title of the second track of this album, The New Routine is indeed Flawless! You might remember Swedish rockers PORT NOIR’s last album Anyway The Wind Carries was my second favourite album of 2016 and it’s felt like a long wait for this third album. Now signed to Inside Out Music I’m glad the band are amongst a progressive roster as PORT NOIR’s music is tough to pigeonhole and needs a label which will let them grow and fly. I was worried their new direction might be a lot poppier and it is in a way, but there is still such an appealing organicness to their music which is irresistible. I love they’re a trio with a huge sound and they really do get their groove on with this album. They sound like DEATH FROM ABOVE but sassier and bassist/vocalist Love Andersson is sounding as delightful as ever. The riffs are on point and the melodies are so smooth and sexy it will make you dream in velvet. Hot stuff, check them out before they get huge.
BRUTUS – Nest. Release date: 29 March 2019.
I bought Nest just on the basis of falling in love with a live video of BRUTUS’ song War. At the start I thought it was just going to be folky rock (which isn’t my cup of tea) but it developed into an intense, raw display of power and they blew me away. They’re only a trio but they create such huge walls of sound and blistering soundscapes they can be lumped in with post-rock bands as well as your conventional alt-rock groups. They’re signed to Hassle Records so you can expect an element of chaos to what they do. They chuck a lot of styles and influences into the pot yet they create their own BRUTUS sound; black metal riffs, punk energy and shoegaze visions all make an appearance on Nest making it unpredictable yet fresh. Stunning stuff.
EMPLOYED TO SERVE – Eternal Forward Motion. Release date: 10 May 2019.
This album goes bloody hard! EMPLOYED TO SERVE’s Eternal Forward Motion is absolutely devastating! I wasn’t expecting the brutal pace and relentless ferocity. I really liked their last album Warmth of a Dying Sun but this new album is something else! It makes me stomp around with the ugly riff face, exactly what I like in a record! There’s been a lot of hype around this band for a few years now so if you still haven’t checked them out or seen them live, then you’re really missing out.
From The Archive…
After reviewing the band’s second album Render earlier this month (link to review at the bottom of this Roundup), I was curious to revisit my first review of Bristolian proggers VALIS ABLAZE back when they released their EP Insularity. Here’s a snippet of what I had to say…
VALIS ABLAZE – Insularity EP. Release date: 30 January 2017.
“To push themselves to the forefront of the scene the band should focus on nurturing and fine-tuning their own sound, as the band have proved with this EP they already harness the talent and passion to potentially become a leading force themselves.”
This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for from VALIS ABLAZE. After reviewing their EP Insularity back in 2017 and then their debut album Boundless last year, I’ve always had high hopes for these Bristolians but they were yet to reveal their full potential. Render, the band’s second album to be released through Long Branch Records, showcases a band who have finally hit their stride. After numerous line-up changes and career defining shows, Render is the sound of VALIS ABLAZE ready to unleash their powress and put their stamp on the progressive scene in 2019.
Mesmerising riffs and an alluring depth entice the listener with opening track Neon Dreaming. This track also introduces what their previous material lacked a little bit – ‘oomph’. This confident appeal oozes through the rest of the album. Second track Hollow Heart is a prime example of VALIS ABLAZE’s newly found vigour. This glorious track is the best single the band have released to date and is an absolute belter. The staggering climax and triumphant riffs fill our hollow hearts to the brim.
The Convincer is an interesting beast. The jerky riffs and shimmering notes are shadowed by a dark undertone, yet the devastating chorus will make the track one which you’ll remember for a while. Speaking of memorable tracks, Ascent is an absolute corker of a song. The upbeat and infectious energy which punches at the beginnng is unlike anything we’ve heard from VALIS ABLAZE before and it’s flippin’ fantastic. The cheeky screamed vocals raise the song even higher. This track shows how versatile vocalist Phil Owen has become with his incredible vocal talent. If you think Ascent cannot get any better then the inclusion of MASK OF JUDAS’ Sam Bell just tips it over the edge. Absolutely outrageous.
After that triumph, next track Saturation provides a haunting and offbeat song which makes for a perfect interlude for an album full of unexpected twists and turns. States of Decay is another dreamlike and modest track which has stuck itself in my mind considering it’s quite laidback. The quirkiness continues with Infinite World with its opening notes which might deceive you into thinking you’d accidently skipped to ANIMALS AS LEADERS. The track continues with fresh energy and a few surprises; the 3 minute mark will blow you away. I’ll say no more.
Album finale Elevation is a mini masterpiece. The band don’t mess around here; immediately there is an impact at the beginning followed by a fast-paced chorus with a commanding energy throughout. The song elevates (sorry) with the breathtaking performance by Danish beauty WHITE DOVE, whom provided guest vocals during the band’s Tech Fest set last year, so I’m thrilled she’s back on a recorded track for Render. This conclusion is a stunning effort by VALIS ABLAZE.
Render is the band’s biggest achievement yet, each song has its own vibe and own story to tell. If they’ve improved and progressed this quickly between albums, just think of what VALIS ABLAZE will be capable of by album number three! If you’re still yet to check out this band (I’ve been blogging about them enough) then don’t wait any longer!