Roundup – August 2019

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

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


 

Metalmance’s Discovery of the Month:

SOULSPLITTER

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


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of August

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

1   

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

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

Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands Review

2

UNPROCESSEED – Artificial Void. Release date: 9 August. 

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

3 

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

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

Special Mention

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – Atonement. Release date: 16 August. 

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


 

Metalmance Catch Up

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

MYRATH – Shehili. Release date: 3 May 2019.

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

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

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

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

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


 

From The Archive

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

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

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

Stillbirth – Annihilation of Mankind Review


 

DON’T MISS…

Metalmance review of KILLERKORP

Killerkorp – PAIN EP

Metalmance review of CHAOS REIGNS

Chaos Reigns – A Horrific Accident EP

Metalmance review of KRYSTHLA

Krysthla – Worldwide Negative

Metalmance review of STILLBIRTH

Stillbirth – Back To The Stoned Age

Stillbirth – Back To The Stoned Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Krysthla – Worldwide Negative

Label: PHD. Release date: 16 August 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chaos Reigns – A Horrific Accident EP

Release date: 16 August 2019. Self-release.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Killerkorp – PAIN EP

Release date: 19 April 2019. Self-release.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roundup – July 2019

It’s been a scorcher of a month and that’s just this month’s releases!

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:

 

WORMEDMetaportal 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.  

2

DISENTOMBThe 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. 

3

Thy Art Is MurderHuman 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.  

 

BRUTUSNest. 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 ABLAZEInsularity 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.”

Valis Ablaze – Insularity Review

 


 

DON’T MISS…

Metalmance interview with WOLF JAW

INTERVIEW: Wolf Jaw

Metalmance Tech Fest 2019 reviews

Tech Fest 2019: Part 1

Tech Fest 2019: Part 2

Metalmance live review of CROBOT

Crobot/Wolf Jaw/Kamensko

Metalmance review of VALIS ABLAZE Render

Valis Ablaze – Render

Tech Fest 2019: Part 2

Sat 6th & Sun 7th July 2019. Newark Showground.

After a cracking Friday we all thought we could take it easy Saturday lunch time but no, ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE well and truly blew the cobwebs away. Their ferocious sludgy metal obliterated our senses and played their set with furious energy. You could not take your eyes off the band, front man Nate Burman especially, as they performed with the intensity of a headline act. An early highlight for most on the third day of Tech Fest.

The next act ended up being another ‘DIVIDUM’ for me, a band who I glanced over on the line-up announcement but who ended up being one of my favourite discoveries of the weekend. That band was UNSEEN FAITH, a tech band from Denmark (there’s been a bit of a Danish invasion this year at Tech Fest but that just reiterates what I kept claiming last year – that Denmark is exporting the hottest acts in metal right now) and they are definitely a band you need to listen to NOW. Front man Alexander Eriksen was truly captivating with his intense stares and formidable presence. The band performed as a unit and were utterly spellbinding to watch. Their brand of techy metalcore sounded fresh with just the right amount of familiar elements to keep things interesting, but it was the delivery which won over new fans. One to watch for sure.         

One band which most Tech Festers were anticipating were up next and it was one band I was never sure if I’d be able to witness on UK soil – SHOKRAN. The Russians have released some of the most innovative and downright brilliant progressive metal since their formation in 2012 and everyone was curious to find how their oriental metal translated into a live setting. It’s safe to say SHOKRAN smashed all expectations. Considering they arrived as a trio, every song still sounded colossal. Guitar aficionado Dmitry Demyanenko wowed in yellow with his distinct technical wizardy, but it was vocalist Andrew Ivashchenko who stole the attention with his flawless voice and commanding stage presence. Playing songs from all three of their albums, including new album Ethereal, the material sounded as strong live as it does on record. Ending with fan favourite Creatures From The Mud, it was evident SHOKRAN had proven themselves to be a sublime live act. Do not miss them at Euroblast.   

Headlining the Fireball Stage were British hardcore metallers PALM READER. “This is the first time we’ve played Tech Fest and we’re headlining the stage!” gushed humbled front man Josh Mckeown. The room was packed to witness their unique slab of hardcore and their intense delivery never fails to amaze. Tracks from latest album Braille go down a treat and the crowd response shows the band is going from strength to strength. PALM READER are definitely one band who do not get softer the bigger they get (oo-er).

The crowds were gathering for Tasmanian tech death metallers PSYCROPTIC and the wait was worth it because the set was phenomenal. With brutal circle pits, brutal tunes and stellar front man Jason Peppiatt owning the stage, PSYCROPTIC’s set was an obliterating sensory experience. With a wealth of material under their belts, their set was always going to be one to remember, but tracks from last year’s album As The Kingdom Drowns took on a life of their own in a live setting and fans went into meltdown. Rapidly becoming one of the most celebrated bands in the tech death scene, it’s no wonder why when you see PSYCROPTIC live!   

It was inevitable that tonight’s headliners were going to stir up emotions. British prog metallers MONUMENTS have always been firm favourites at Tech Fest, having played the very first instalment of the festival back in 2011. The week before this year’s edition, the band announced the departure of vocalist Chris Barretto and the introduction of Andy Cizek of MAKARI as stand-in for the tour and festivals. Tonight’s set was met with anticipation, but only one word can describe the event – otherworldly.

With the biggest crowd Tech Fest had seen so far this weekend it seemed the whole festival had packed into the main room to witness this spectacle. A mystical light show, bodies moving, John Browne’s  signature riffage and Cizek’s phenomenal vocals, resulted in a mind-blowing performance. Newer songs from last year’s Phronesis held their own amongst older classics but each song merged into the other creating a never-ending flow of glorious progressive metal and never-ending mosh pits.  It was clear Cizek was winning over the audience and after the set, many were heard saying they wouldn’t complain if he stepped up as a full time member.

Sunday

Sunday is usually the hardest day to get through, with hangovers, fatigue and sobering up before the Monday drive home, all taking their toll. Luckily for us Indian proggers PROJECT MISHRAM woke us all up and got us on our feet. The progressive Carnatic fusion band wowed the crowd with not only their djent, but their violin, flute and traditional Carnatic vocals. ‘Mishram’ means ‘mix’ which is truly apt for the concoction of styles PROJECT MISHRAM provide. This is what Tech Fest is about; innovation, discovering unknown bands and celebrating how diverse the metal community is. PROJECT MISHRAM attracted the biggest audience for this time in the afternoon and certainly became one of everyone’s favourite discoveries.

It is always a pleasure to witness Hull metallers SWORN AMONGST. Flawless, fun and professional, this band have worked so hard in the scene and their experience  as band is reflected in the quality of their live show. Front man Darryl Jones is an unstoppable force with his boundless energy on stage. The band had a great turnout and passionate fans down the front screamed back every word. With three albums and two EPs under their belts, including this year’s brilliant Reclamation EP, SWORN AMONGST have plenty of material to play a blistering set. Their positivity and talent never get boring to watch. Higher up the bill next time please?

CARCER CITY have always been darlings of the scene but sadly today was their farewell show. “Support bands, buy a CD, buy merch.” warns front man Patch Pinion to the crowd. The bittersweet set was a tremendous send-off for the lads from Liverpool, with circle pits and a wall of death to say goodbye. The band played their hearts out, clearly not having lost any passion for their craft after announcing their split. One of the most polished and tightest bands of the weekend, it’s a sore reminder of what the world will miss. Support the scene kids. 

UK tech wizards HARBINGER’s stage presence has mightily improved since their last Tech Fest appearance in 2017. However, they are still not living up to the hype for me and still have a long way to go to really capture everyone’s attention during a live show, the same way next act FROM SORROW TO SERENITY do. They utterly blew me away last year at Tech Fest, so expectations were high for their set today. I needn’t have worried as their performance was faultless. Vocalist Gaz King was most impressive of all, a true professional, his voice did not falter once considering the extreme workout it was getting. New album Reclaim was released earlier this year and the songs played today sounded absolutely huge. Being signed to Long Branch Records is suiting them well. Surely it’s only a matter of time before FROM SORROW TO SERENITY hit the big time.   

Having reviewed new album Render before the weekend by VALIS ABLAZE (it’s bloody brilliant), I was curious to hear how the new songs fared live. Now with a solidified line-up, the proggers from Bristol had a fuller stage presence and everything seemed to gel really well. New songs Hollow Heart, The Convincer and State of Decay all took on a new power in a live setting, and old reliables Insularity and Paradox still packed a punch. This band have ‘grown up’ playing at Tech Fest through the years, we’ve seen it all, from their numerous line-up changes, their Insularity EP, last year’s debut album Boundless and now Render. There is an air of ‘this is it now, watch us fly’ surrounding the band and the crowd can feel the buzz too. A band finally hitting their stride, see them before they get huge!

The real buzz today was around the highly anticipated co-headline set by VILDHJARTA. This would be the first time witnessing these elusive Swedes for the majority of people here tonight. In fact this is the band some had only come to Tech Fest for at all, so it was a momentous occasion and the pits and perspiration in the air were testament to that. Playing tracks such as Dagger and Eternal Golden Monk, the crowd were going wild and lapping up each moment. “Banana guy, get up here and headbang” led to the most legendary moment of the weekend. When people thought the set couldn’t get any better, they brought out Filip Danielsson from HUMAITY’S LAST BREATH to do guest vocals. That, my friend is how to go down in history at Tech Fest.

After that colossal set the pressure was on for Norwegian proggers LEPROUS to finish the weekend on a high. Of course they were up to the task and they were nothing short of spectacular. A godly set, LEPROUS churned out all the favourites including The Price and The Flood and played From The Flame and Mirage for their encore. Even the burliest metalhead was singing along to LEPROUS. Their crossover appeal is one of their greatest assets and their melodic prog was the perfect way to end the weekend. With a surreal atmosphere thanks to the ambient lighting and magical riffs, front man Einar Solberg “Aaahh-ah-ah-aaa”-ed his way through the set, much to the delight of fans. His luscious tones resonated around the room, somehow uniting all witnesses in this moment. Listening to LEPROUS, we could all forget we’d be returning to reality the next day. It concluded a spectacular weekend of innovative music, up and coming bands and old favourites. Repeat after me: TECH FEST IS BEST FEST.   

   

INTERVIEW: Wolf Jaw

Talking about odd-shaped balls, their love of Black Sabbath and their new album.

It was a rainy evening in the fine city of Norwich when WOLF JAW vocalist Tom Leighton met me at The Waterfront venue. Poking his head out the side door to greet me while I looked like a drowned rat, we went upstairs to meet the rest of the band. Bassist Dale Tonks was glued to a retro pinball machine while drummer Karl Selickis was chilling on a leather sofa. Passing me a beer as we all sat down to chat, I was eager to hear about the guys’ year so far and plans for the future.

Q: WOLF JAW! Thanks for meeting me. You’ve just played Download, you’ve been signed to Listenable Records and you have your album out in the autumn, what has been your personal highlight of the year so far?

All: Definitely Download. 

Q: Did you play three times?

Tom: We did three sets yeah, we did a VIP one on the Thursday, acoustic on Friday and the Dogtooth stage on Sunday. So it was pretty hectic.

Karl: It was all very, very surreal. It was a massive highlight of the year and the career so far.

Tom: We don’t live too far from where Download is, about 45 minutes away so we’ve always gone as kids and grown-ups. Always gone to Donnington to see our favourite bands play and we got asked to play it. It was like “Jesus!” it really blew our minds a bit. I don’t think we really got it until we got on stage…

Karl: You know what, for me it didn’t really sink in until we came off stage on Sunday. 

Tom: Yeah I was standing there when we got off stage. We were on quite early Sunday, um…ten to twelve, when we got there and looked across it was completely empty. Looking at the mainstage and it was like…yeah this is really cool.  

Q: I guess playing Download would be the dream for every band! Download also premiered your Hear Me single, how was that received?

Dale: That was received really well. We’ve really been feeling now anticipation for this, because this is something we’re really excited about. Not that we weren’t about the first one, but this feels like it’s got something else about it, and that’s just us hearing the tracks over and over again and every time we listen to it, it’s like listening afresh and the guys at Download putting it on there is just incredible. This is like, it couldn’t have gone any better than having the video there and the three sets as well, it’s just incredible.

Tom: All the guys there at Download and the organisers were great, we got Instagram takeover for the day so we just messed around on there. And when they premiered the video it was like, this is cool yeah. It got good reviews and went really well.

Q: It is a good track! What I like about WOLF JAW and Hear Me in particular is how riffy you guys are. Do you have any kind of riff heroes? Or any favourite riffs?

Tom: Anything by BLACK SABBATH.

Karl: Just SABBATH, yeah!

Tom: Um…Jimmy Page, you know, all the original guys [laughs] so to speak when it comes to rock. Um yeah…I mean modern guys like CROBOT who we’re playing with tonight, and CLUTCH, all stuff like that we have on in the van. Just riff hounds [all laugh].

Dale: I was brought up on the same stuff, like SABBATH, bands like THIN LIZZY as well. We were very into that and WISHBONE ASH.

Tom: We bonded over THIN LIZZY didn’t we?

Dale: Yeah [laughs] worst day of my life that was [all laugh]. I mean, there are so many classic bands, even stuff like bands like TRAPEZE, that sort of funkier, groovier side of it.

Tom: They’re from our hometown, our neck of the woods.

Q: Where is your hometown?

Tom: Me and Dale are originally from Cannock in the Midlands, where Glen Hughes and Mel Galley [from TRAPEZE] and all that are from. So it’s in the heritage really, we were all brought up on that kind of thing. Karl’s from Rugby…so…

Karl: I like odd-shaped balls…[all laugh].

Tom: Use that in a quote! 

Q: I will! So with the singles Hear Me and I Lose My Mind, is that a good taste of what’s to come on the album? Or are there other surprises?

Tom: Um…there’s so much on this one. With Starting Gun, when we released that when we were the band formally known as THE BAD FLOWERS [laughs] we tried to be as varied as possible and put all sorts of different stuff on. But it was songs we worked with for years and years wasn’t it? [Dale agrees] You know, four or five years of writing. And this one, we wrote the songs in about two months.   

Karl: It was written and mostly recorded in the space of the two – two and a half months.

Tom: Yeah so we just absolutely went for it and like, it’s riffy, but there’s also some heartfelt stuff on there as well. From a songwriting point of view, there’s a lot of what’s gone on in my head, things that have happened like in the last couple of years, so it’s quite a personal record. Yeah it’s good. 

Q: Yeah, from the transformation of THE BAD FLOWERS to WOLF JAW, is there anything you want to talk about?

Dale: Just how well it’s been received by people. Like, we were honestly really concerned about it, ’cause we built that name up and had the followers. To that extent we thought, if we change the name do we lose everything? The way people have backed it and received it and got behind it as well…

Karl: It was nerve wracking wasn’t it.

Dale: It was very tense and it was like, is this the right thing to do? Looking back at it now – Download and rolling into the new album, it was.

Karl: One hundred percent…One hundred percent.

Tom: We changed the name and wanted to go a little heavier, I think the name reflects it. Not heavier as such it’s just…

Karl: A bit darker, a bit grittier.

Tom: Yeah, yeah. And then, like you say, we signed with Listenable which is good and they’ve been great so far to us. We’re really looking forward to working with them on the new record, and Download got confirmed when we changed the name. So…so far so good, definitely.

Q: Especially Listenable, they’re famed for signing GOJIRA and other techier metal bands, so are you excited to bring more of a rock aspect to their label?

Tom: Yeah definitely, I think the label itself is expanding a little bit, like they had JARED JAMES NICHOLS, I’m wearing his shirt right now, he’s a friend of ours, we’ve toured with him and played a lot of shows with him. I think that’s where a lot of this came from and they’ve signed AARON BUCHANAN AND THE CULT CLASSICS too, so I think it’s maybe showing a new a direction, broadening their horizons maybe. We’re just happy to be a part of it because I think we can crossover that boundary quite well.

Dale: I think it shows a change in the way people are listening to music and what music people are listening to. From people wanting to expand, wanting to dip their toes into something that’s being marketed to suit everybody.

Q: I agree from a personal point of view. But one question I did want to ask you, the name WOLF JAW in itself…were you thinking of animals and body parts? Where did the name come from? And were there any names which were Plan B?

Tom: Well, we had about four hundred different names didn’t we? And they were mostly all stupid [laughs]. Mostly all silly like, WOLF JAW was…I don’t really know…Me and my partner have got a five year old, and he likes Jaws, always singing Jaws. We’ve never let him watch it but he’s obsessed with sharks. The wolf thing came from…he just calls himself a little wolf cub or something and he was singing it…so er, [laughs] it’s probably not as rock n roll… ‘Cause we were racking our brains and we needed to sort something out and everyone said yes to it so…

Karl: It works. There was that many names floating around, it was like “that’s cool…that one’s cool”, that one was right down and it was like, yeah, that works.

Dale: It was all shooting backwards and forwards on Whatsapp and when you see it you think “oh yeah, that’s the one”…

Tom: We always had animal connections really, our famous tshirt, the best-selling one we ever did was a lion, a phoenix and a shark on it. ‘Cause Dale’s got a shark tattooed on him, Karl’s got a phoenix and I’ve got a lion. So we drew them into one thing and we’ve always had that I suppose.  

Q: I guess as you were changing your name there was more pressure as well…

Tom: Tonnes of pressure. It was like, we’ve got to get this right. Like what Dale said earlier, we didn’t want to lose any fans. It was mostly received really well, there were a few people who were a bit funny about it which I can understand ’cause they spent money on merch and everything, but all we’ve got to do now is do really well so it’s worth a lot of money for them [laughs] in a few years, you know.

Dale: The nice thing is, you [Karl] were saying you went out to a gig the other night there was someone still wearing a BAD FLOWERS tshirt and stuff…

Tom: Yeah we’re still the same band. 

Dale: Definitely.

Tom: A few letters different.

Q: So this is the first night of the tour [with CROBOT]. Is there anything you’re expecting or wanting to achieve on this tour?

Karl: Personally I don’t want to fall off my drum stool this time [all laugh], ’cause that kinda sucked. That was the what, first or second show of the last tour?

Tom: Yeah last tour we did in September, Karl fell off his drum stool on the first gig [laughs].

Karl: Properly damaged and really hurt my neck and my back and that really sucked for the next couple of days, but no…we just wanna go out and premiere some of our new stuff and maybe stuff people haven’t seen before. So we’ve got a mixture of old tracks, new tracks and it’s just a bit of a belter really.

Tom: We’ve got two stops in the whole set so we just go through and fit as much in as we can.

Dale: Just blow the roof off every night. That’s it, that’s my aim! Be as loud as possible and just rip the roof off of everywhere we play.

Tom: Yeah we’re really looking forward to it, we played with CROBOT three years ago, maybe longer?

Dale: It’s just coming up to four years.

Tom: Nearly four years ago yeah.

Dale: Both bands have changed.

Tom: Yeah, and we’ve stayed in touch with the guys and we’re excited to be back out with them for sure.

Thanks guys! I hope tonight and the rest of the tour goes well.

[Dale returns to the pinball machine]

Crobot/Wolf Jaw/Kamensko Live Review

Tech Fest 2019: Part 1

Thurs 4th & Fri 5th July 2019. Newark Showground.

After last year’s UK Sweatfest, everyone was hoping for things to be a little cooler. A shame then the bands brought the heat and set Newark Showground alight.

Thursday  

It all started for me on the Early Bird Thursday with the mighty KARYBDIS, the melodic death metal band from ‘Laaandaan’. Pulling in a decent crowd for a Thursday afternoon, the band played bangers from their latest album In The Shadow of Paradise which lured in more curious onlookers. With a tight set, punishing vocals and good vibes all round, KARYBDIS got everyone warmed up for a weekend of tech.  

“We are not a kinetic band” states VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE front man Ashe O’Hara. However, witnessing their super melodic prog metal live transcends you. Playing songs from both Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams and Odyssey: The Destroyer of Worlds, the riffs twinkled and the vocals soothed. Ending with the upbeat Vestibule of Hell, the band proved they could also pack a punch.

Unfortunately my Thursday ended here due to pollen sending me into a stupor…  

Friday

Kicking off the morning with ABHORRENT DECIMATION, who definitely blew away any cobwebs which may have accumulated the night before. Their ballsy set should have been illeagal for this time in the very early afternoon.      

After everyone got their ears pummelled, a few dazily wandered to the Fireball Stage to check out DIVIDIUM. This ended up being one of those special moments of a festival when you watch a band on a whim and fall completely in love with them. The passion, energy and talent oozed from these melodic tech metallers from Hull. Playing songs from records In Terrifying Colour and T.H.R.E.E, DIVIDIUM got the crowd onside with front man Neil Bailey performing the majority of their set amongst the dazzled witnesses. Leaving the stage with a whole new legion of fans in tow, the band ended up being a hot topic for the remainder of the day.

Next up were Metalmance regulars SIAMESE. These Danish rockers played the Early Bird last year but the demand for more of their catchy-as-sin rock brought the loveable rogues back for this year and on the Line 6 Stage. Playing songs from Shameless and new album Super Human, each song went down a treat with the very charismatic front man Mirza Radonjica winning over the punters.  Opening with B.A.N.A.N.A.S and confusing the newcomers, their high-energy set continued to pull in crowds, so by the time the band ended with the euphoric Soul and Chemicals, they had garnered many a new follower to their rock flock.   

After briefly checking out ODD PALACE and their ‘odd’ concoction of quirky ditties, it was time for one of my mostly eagerly anticipated sets, that of COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS. Last year’s album Fervor was spectacular and the band’s fans, me included, couldn’t wait to hear the new material live. Not letting technical issues deter them, the band delighted fans with the likes of Black Swan and Canaille and songs from 2016 album Course of Events. Vocalist Johan Pedersen commanded the crowd and brought the energy, ensuring the audience were warmed up ready for the monstrous acts later. COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS are still a band to watch, if they keep this up they’ll be headlining soon.  

No time to rest, as Scottish tech death darlings GODEATER were getting underway on the Fireball Stage. Just think, back in 2017 the band played their second ever gig here, and now they’ve packed out the room. The new material and latest single Exsanguinated sounded absolutely devastating live, with lots of SHOKRAN-esque oriental twangs thrown into proceedings. An intense performance by all members and a terrific turnout proves bright times ahead for GODEATER.

Norwich deathcore veterans ANNOTATIONS OF AN AUTOPSY hit the Line 6 and pummelled the crowd with old classics and material from their comeback EP World of Sludge. Delivering an absolutely punishing set, it felt like the band never went away. Welcome back lads.

Nothing prepared anyone for the absolute side-splitting sesh that was ARCHSPIRE. Their unique tech death is hard to rival, but now their live show is too. From their clam hands clap, the ‘Applause’ signs and banter of eating your better half’s prosterior, fans were not only entertained but blown away by the technical brilliance of the disgustingly talented Canadians. The venue was absolutely rammed, the circle pits around Banana Man were relentless (if you know, you know) and the positivity in the room was overwhelming. THIS is what Tech Fest is all about.  

BLACK TONGUE were getting nasty over on the Line 6 Stage. The down-tempo misery merchants were stirring up the most violent pits of the festival so far. Their self-proclaimed ‘doomcore’ sounded absolutely colossal, with front man Alex Teyen pacing the stage barefoot with a fury in his eyes and a fire in his barks to the crowd. Playing tracks from their whole back catalogue, the intensity BLACK TONGUE stamp up is mightily impressive, with the crowd antics matching the energy. A brutal set which raised the bar for the remainder of the acts this weekend.

Tonight’s headliner need not worry about keeping proceedings brutal. DYING FETUS have punished the masses for longer than some of the audience have been alive. Their destructive grooves were exactly what was needed to conclude a blistering Friday. The death metal trio didn’t let up the pace at all and blasted the crowd into oblivion. DYING FETUS showed the young ‘uns how it’s done and were the cherry on the cake that was an outstanding second day at Tech Fest. Superb.