Weekly Roundup #16

Metalcore, death metal, hardcore…cor….

Band to watch: AERIAL. Norway is normally known for its black metal and general extremeness, but metalcore? Nah, right? Wrong. AERIAL are sure to set their homeland on the metalcore map if their debut EP Foresight is anything to go by. This week the band released a video for new single Foreign Coast and it is a perfect example of the band’s gloriously heavy yet melodic approach to progressive metalcore, in a similar vein to NORTHLANE. The standout vocals of Markus Johnsen with his incredible highs to his guttural lows raises the band to another level. Formed in 2015, the band relocated to the UK to record Foresight which was self-released in June 2016. Now back in Norway, AERIAL have set their sights on getting their music out there for the rest of the world to hear. With a strong post-hardcore stance on their sound too, there are lots of things to keep the heavy music fan interested; instrumental track Inspire/Interlude provides a progressive break between the crushing Everlasting and the deceivingly catchy Foreign Coast. Five songs just doesn’t seem enough for the EP, it will be interesting to see how they progress on their journey to album number one. But for now, they more than deserve your attention.

 

Video to watch: HOUR OF PENANCE. Last month saw the release of HOUR OF PENANCE’s seventh album Cast the First Stone on Prosthetic Records, and once again it has proven what a pummelling force these Italian death metallers are. Two weeks ago the band released a video for the title track and it can only be described as a visual feast of crusade imagery, flames and blood, lots of blood. Giving the song more of an epic feel, the simple video reflects the brutality of the music. Imagery of impaled babies and battle violence seemingly suit the brutal death metal HOUR OF PENANCE have become so well known for. Influenced by CANNIBAL CORPSE, the Italians somehow sound darker than their American counterparts drawing from more black metal elements to achieve a blistering violent assault on the senses.

 

In the stereo: CODE ORANGE. You might remember back in the eighth weekly roundup, CODE ORANGE were Metalmance’s band to watch. Well since the band’s third album Forever has hit the shelves, the band are moving from strength to strength, they’ve even bagged themselves a tasty support slot on GOJIRA’s UK tour in March along with CAR BOMB. The actual album though is sure to go down as a modern classic. Primarily hardcore, Forever has a bit of everything thrown in, making it one hell of a ride. Gritty, raw and ferocious, the album also harnesses a couple of surprises in the form of tracks such as the catchy Bleeding in the Blur and the MARILYN MANSON-esque Hurt Goes On. An intense record, the energy never lets up for a second, ensuring once the album finishes you’ll have it on repeat and repeat and repeat.

 

Band to rediscover: EMANUEL. With all the emo, screamo and post-hardcore reunions happening as of late, there’s one band who is still sorely missed and that is EMANUEL. The five piece from Kentucky gained praise and popularity with their 2005 album Soundtrack to a Headrush. The album title was truly fitting as EMANUEL was an energetic ball of punk rock; catchy enough to be on tours with bands such as THE AUDITION, and heavy enough to be on a more metalcore line up along with FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES or THE BLED. They were destined for big things by critics but by the time second album Black Tiger rolled round in 2007, the fire had died down and their musical direction had taken more of a spacey turn. Losing the screams, vocalist Matt Breen sounded more like Chino Moreno from DEFTONES and their edge just wasn’t there. The band soon fizzled out, becoming one of the decade’s most underrated and underappreciated groups. Soundtrack to a Headrush remains to this day, a modern punk masterpiece.

Weekly Roundup #15

This week is all about newbies and blasts from the past

Band to watch: TOY MOUNTAINS. Before the end of last year, these young lads from Glasgow were announced as support for PALM READER’s UK tour this February. TOY MOUNTAIN’s EP I Swore I’d Never Speak of this Again is a wonderful mish-mash of all things alternative. Each track brings a fresh new take on different styles, a highlight being Hard Done By which opens with a blissful post-hardcore riff and continues in a glorious haze of alternative rock. The honest lyrics are irresistible and completes the package. Old Friends is a punkier affair, mixing GLASSJAW vibes with indie. It seems on this EP there is something for everyone. Being hard to pigeonhole will highlight the band’s strength of not sticking to one style but successfully maintain the ‘TOY MOUNTAINS’ sound. They manage to capture a nostalgic alternative vibe and if their live shows have the same amount of energy their recordings have, then they would definitely be a band to see.

 

Video to watch: PRIMITIVE WEAPONS. About to embark on a UK tour as support for THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, this post-hardcore troupe from Brooklyn, New York released a video for new single Panopticon Blues and it’s a bit of a political affair. “You’re watched, you’re trapped, you’re never alone” is repeated throughout the song which reflects the claustrophobic 1984-esque feel of the video. The message is clear here but it is the band’s raw energy which gives the video a sense of urgency. With a sound similar to later CANCER BATS and PRIZE COUNTRY, PRIMITIVE WEAPONS have plenty of bass and shouts but the catchy tunes to go with it. With the hard task of warming up the crowds before DILLINGER, I doubt it wouldn’t be too much trouble for these fellas if the raw energy in their recordings is anything to go by.

 

In the stereo: MY VITRIOL. Speak to any MY VITRIOL fan and they’d tell you the wait for a follow-up to 2001’s Finelines was absolutely agonizing, but in October last year the band finally released album number two, The Secret Sessions. As a fan base only release, it was mostly funded by the fans themselves which is what makes this album so special. What’s more, the record was well worth the wait. The most exciting aspect of The Secret Sessions is Som Wardner and Ravi Kesavaram have somehow managed to maintain the early noughties sound but with contemporary production. MY VITRIOL sound deliciously modern while sounding like…MY VITRIOL. Tracks such as It’s So Damn Easy and If Only (God Only Knows) captures the band’s unique combination of shoe-gaze and rock. Blissful riffs and melodies are their speciality and they are still clearly the masters of it. With a stellar second album, let’s hope it won’t be another 15 years until album number three!

 

Band to rediscover: FROM FIRST TO LAST. Yesterday the internet went into meltdown when it was revealed Sonny Moore (you might know him as SKRILLEX) reunited with his old band FROM FIRST TO LAST to sing on new track Make War. It is still not quite clear if Moore is back for the whole album but this was still huge news in the emo world. Nostalgia hit and it seemed everyone was prepared to dig out their eyeliner, straighteners and red and black stripy hoodie. FROM FIRST TO LAST never actually went away though after the departure of Moore in 2007, but they never quite managed to capture the magic of albums such as Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count (2004) and Heroine (2006). Moore was a driving force behind these albums with his distinct voice and his hairstyle will always be considered to be the epitome of emo haircuts, but with Make War, the band are following their more post-hardcore direction and it’s very, very promising. With bands like SAOSIN and UNDEROATH having reformed, could 2017 be the year of emo?

 

 

Weekly Roundup #10

Number 10 Astounding Street

Band to watch: DREAMSHADE. In the run up to the release of their album Vibrant on December 9th, this Swiss band have been teasing fans with previews of new tracks which are, put simply, something special. Introducing DREAMSHADE then, a band hard to pigeonhole so let’s just stick with ‘melodic metal’, but after you listen to these talented chaps you’ll soon realise they experiment with a vast array of genres in their music. Most recent preview Up All Night has a bright pop punk riff, but soon evolves into a blissful hard rock tune. Catchy, yet mature, this band know how to take their influences and turn them into their distinct style of heavy music. Dreamers Don’t Sleep has a definite melodic death metal vibe, sounding similar to later KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and a softer SOILWORK. A little bit of LINKIN PARK can even be heard here, with Kevin Calì’s vocals turning a bit Chester Bennington at times. But this is most certainly DREAMSHADE. An exciting mix of heaviness and raw with clean and melodic, they break the mould by remaining unpredictable. With teasers such as this, Vibrant is set to be a corker of a release. 2017 will most certainly be a big year for them. Don’t miss out.

 

Video to watch: TWELVE FOOT NINJA. Finally receiving the recognition they deserve in the UK, this metal band from Australia always treat us with entertaining videos, and this video for Sick is no different. Adopting a Stranger Things vibe, this is 9 minutes of pure WTF accompanying the band’s unique brand of funk-fusion-prog-infused metal. The video begins with TWELVE FOOT NINJA watching a movie which also features the band. Their car breaks down and they are approached by a hella creepy fella and all hell breaks loose from there. A morbidly funny video, expect blood, chainsaws and a twist at the end! So risk it for a biscuit and giggle at a bit of TWELVE FOOT NINJA.

 

In the stereo: EARTHSIDE. It’s hard to believe EARTHSIDE’s debut album A Dream In Static has been out for over a year now. It’s also hard to believe it is a debut! The sheer talent and passion displayed on this album makes the record a rewarding listen each time. Each note and lyric is carefully composed and considered, making A Dream In Static a rich variety of sounds and layers. Cinematic in style, this metal band from New Haven have a few tricks up their sleeve with some impressive guest vocals from the likes of Lajon Witherspoon (SEVENDUST), Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid (SOILWORK) and Dan Tompkins (TESSERACT). Each track has its own unique EARTHSIDE stamp on it, from the blissful opening of The Closest I’ve Come with Frank Sacramone’s incredible keyboard lead, to the heart wrenching closer of The Contemplation of the Beautiful with the vehement vocals of Eric Zirlinger. A standout track from the album is Mob Mentality, a composition by guitarist Jamie Van Dyck, it not only features the vocals of Lajon Witherspoon, but also instrumentation from the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra, making the track the most cinematic in style. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what this album has to offer; an expansive and emotionally deep album, it will take you on a journey to the depths of your soul and to the edges of your mind. A dream in static indeed.

 

Back to rediscover: MAYBESHEWILL parted ways in April, but recently teased fans with news of a collaboration with design and production house WeTheConspirators. This will ultimately be a going away present to fans, but any MAYBESHEWILL material is always gratefully received. This instrumental band from Leicester were always a special gem in the post-rock world. With an impressive back catalogue, the band ended their career on a high with Fair Youth but it was 2011’s album I Was Here For A Moment, Then I was Gone which was the most critically acclaimed, with soaring tracks such as Accolades and Red Paper Lanterns. MAYBESHEWILL successfully mixed samples and electronics with uplifting and spectacular instrumentation. Their live performances were something to behold as well, in a similar vein to 65DAYSOFSTATIC, their live shows were blinding and the band members were always approachable and pleased to meet fans after. 2008’s album Not For The Want Of Trying propelled the band into the wider rock world, with songs such as Paris Hilton Sex Tape and the sample-tastic self-titled track, this album was a milestone in the British post-rock scene. Fans will always hope MAYBESHEWILL might release more material, maybetheywill.

Riverside – Eye of the Soundscape

A review of the instrumental compilation album by the Polish prog rockers

It is hard to ignore the heartbreak surrounding this release with regard to the death of guitarist Piotr Grudziński earlier this year, but Grudziński’s life and music career can be celebrated with Eye of the Soundscape, the compilation album of RIVERSIDE’s instrumental and ambient tracks. This two-disc album offers four new tracks as well as featuring rare cuts and songs previously heard as extras on earlier albums.

New song Where the River Flows dramatically starts proceedings, with a tense atmosphere akin to a storm brewing. Electronic elements accompany the rich guitar tone throughout, but when the song clears to piano and improvised vocals, it’s the equivalent of the sun emerging after the rain.

Second Shine is also new and it kicks off with a post-rock feel, the solid mix definitely having a MOGWAI tinge which borders on the ZOMBI-esque. The guitar melody almost acts like the vocal line and it is these little touches and details which make the album sparkle. Night Session One and Two also feature on the first disc, which brings a fluid, laidback, sax-infused affair.

Disc two begins with the new groove Sleepwalkers, which will soon get your foot tapping with the funky beat. Each song has something new to offer, with Aether featuring some delicious bass playing, before thumper of a track Machines delivers some infectious grooves. The album mellows out to the acoustic Promise and the closer, Eye of the Soundscape which is also the last of the new songs.

It is this last track which will slow burn its way into fans’ hearts. Its calmness sounds out of this world which conjures a cosmic landscape for the listener. This ambient composition is a fitting tribute to the lasting legacy of Grudziński and RIVERSIDE. The band have decided to continue their musical journey as a trio, only time will tell what their next chapter has in store.

 

Weekly Roundup #6

Melodic, metal and prog all in one blog.

Band to watch: DISTORTED HARMONY. Recently wowing crowds at this year’s ProgPower Europe, this melodic prog band from Tel Aviv already have two mesmerising albums under their belts. 2014’s album Chain Reaction is a delicious melodic package of progressive metal goodness. Their songs shimmer with spine-tingling piano as well as chord progressions which will make your heart soar. Thought provoking lyrics as well as emotional themes are the orders of the day with opener Every Time She Smiles being a firm fan favourite. Its tone and melody seem strangely nostalgic with flashbacks to bands you might have listened to a decade ago e.g. FINCH and STATISTICS but the remainder of the album takes many twists and turns it is hard to predict where the band will venture next. The single, Natural Selection storms in with a spectacularly fast proggy intro, a bit like a quicker THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT with politically charged lyrical content, but what always astounds listeners is the sheer talent of all the band members especially keyboardist Yoav Efron who also writes the majority of the songs. Vocalist Misha Soukhinin has an impressive range and such a smooth timbre to his voice you will fall under DISTORTED HARMONY’s spell in a second. Closer, Methylene Blue can only be described as the soundtrack to when you’re waking up from a dream. You may have to pinch yourself to confirm DISTORTED HARMONY are real, but trust me, they are worth the pinch.

 

Video to watch: ISSUES. This week, this American heavy pop band released quite a powerful video for their track Blue Wall. Aimed at protesting against police brutality it has become quite a talking point amongst fans. At the beginning of their video the band state the song is about “taking responsibility and making peace”. They are setting out to “tear down the blue wall which silences the good cops and empowers the bad”. They want to encourage listeners to reform their relationship with the American police. The video features ferocious live footage of the band and a running narrative of the theme, but what is so good about this release is the fact the accompanying song is the band’s heaviest on their second album Headspace. The rap and screams blasts their point across, yet also keeps older fans pleased as it is a return to a style similar to their self-titled album. ISSUES are still proving to be an exciting band that is sure to hit the mainstream soon with their catchy as hell songs, but Blue Wall shows the band still have a lot to say. Make sure you hear them loud and clear.

 

Still in the stereo: CANE HILL. This aggressive troupe from New Orleans, LA released their debut album Smile back in July and it’s safe to say it completely blew nu metal fans away. It still packs a brutal punch, devouring your favourite American aggressive bands and excreting them out into their own brand of ear-bashing, ferocious metal. Their sound harks back to the glory days of the best bands of the nu metal i.e. KORN and the straight up metal days similar to early SLIPKNOT but all with a confident swagger and less focus on an aesthetic. The sheer brutality of their songs dusts off the somewhat stale genre, making it relevant once again in the current resurgence, threatening to blow nu metal veterans i.e. (HED)PE and AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE completely out of the water. CANE HILL also have a modern metal sound, a bit like MOTIONLESS IN WHITE at times, but without the foundation and eyeliner. Instead they bring no nonsense, balls-to-the-wall metal and if live reviews are anything to go by then their forthcoming UK tour with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE in December will be one hell of a belter. So catch up with Smile and educate yo’selves with ear-assaulting tracks such as St Veronica, provocative tunes (see, Cream Pie) and darker ballads i.e. You’re So Wonderful.

 

Band to rediscover: EIGHTEEN VISIONS. This month 12 years ago, this straight edge metal band from Orange County, CA released Obsession, an album many would argue would trigger the beginning of the end for the band. This view might have been due to the album being their first to be released on a major album, but personally I thought Obsession was their most solid and coherent album yet. Creating a follow-up to their metal-tinged hardcore opus Vanity was never going to be an easy feat (that album is still highly regarded in the underground community) but Obsession was one highly polished, melodic metal beast it was difficult not to fall in love with it. Vocalist James Hart used more clean singing on the album (see closer, Said and Done) but when things got heavy, boy, did they get heavy! The breakdown in Tower of Snakes was the hottest of 2004 but it was Waiting for the Heavens which fully demonstrated the band’s maturity and ability to pen such sensitive yet hard-hitting songs. This album took the band all over the world touring with bands from LAMB OF GOD to BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE. Their energetic live shows was stuff of legend and the live scene has been missing their ‘fashioncore’, bass lickin’ ways ever since. Unfortunately the band broke up after their infamous self titled album which divided opinion more than Moses parted the sea. The album was radio friendly rock which was a far cry from their brutal early albums (check out Until The Ink Runs Out) but it was still a solid release and did not deserve such a brutal backlash. But fans and the metal community can still find comfort in their back catalogue, but it is unlikely the band will reunite in the near future at least.

 

Band yet to listen to: KAUAN. This Ukrainian post-rock band with folk and doom elements have been the first band confirmed to play ProgPower Europe 2017. A more intense listen is needed!

Weekly Roundup #5

5 weeks, 5 bands to check out…

5 weeks, 5 bands to check out…

Band to watch: ANNISOKAY. German metal bands. You either have your CALIBANs or your RAMMSTEINs, but now you have your ANNISOKAYs (Annisokies?). Their second album Devil May Care is out 11th November and last week they released their second single Loud from the forthcoming album, along with a new video to boot. Sounding more intense than ever, they’re a cross between PARKWAY DRIVE and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE, with nods to other metalcore influences. But don’t let that tag put you off (if that ain’t your bag) because ANNISOKAY pack a fresh punch, pulling a modern melodic metal sound kicking and screaming into what is left of 2016. They have youth on their side and a UK tour already under their belt, things can only get bigger and better for this lot. So make sure you catch them when they next roll into town!

Video to watch: WARDRUNA. You’re probably already familiar with WARDRUNA’s warblings (series 2 of Vikings anyone?) but they released a new video last week and it will probably be the most majestic thing you’ll see for a while. New album Runaljod – Ragnarok is due to be released October 21st and this new video for the track Raido should keep you going until then. These pagan pioneers still know how to treat the senses with a truly spectacular video to accompany the haunting, spine-tingling song which erupts into such a rich texture of sound you will want to grab your sticks, rope and the nearest horse and make your way to Bergen…

Still in the stereo: PORT NOIR. Second album Any Way The Wind Carries by PORT NOIR was released way back in April can you believe, but the Swedes’ songs are so ridiculously delicious and catchy it is hard not to return to them. A lot of influences are thrown into the mix. If you listen to Black From The Ink you hear a bit of CULT OF LUNA, if you listen to Earth you might think you accidently tuned into the radio, but chill, you haven’t. The level of melodic goodness doesn’t detract from the heaviness on the album, instead you feel like you’re listening to all of your favourite genres as they are all sprinkled into one tasty package. It is hard to avoid comparing them to LEPROUS, with the clean vocals high in the mix here, but it is hard to pigeonhole this exciting band as they bring so much to the table. They are on the rise in the melodic scene so give the album a listen before you get left behind!

Band to rediscover: JUROJIN. With this current influx of forward thinking neo-prog bombarding our senses (am not complaining!) it seems JUROJIN were ahead of their time! Poetic lyrics, powerfully charged vocals, polished production with a fiercely independent work ethic – and to top it all off – a tabla player… Yes, you read that correctly. It really brought something fresh and unique to the scene, but it was done in a way it was not suffocating. It was subtly used in their first and only release The Living Measure of Time (2010), but it stole the show during some tracks especially Proem. The band disappeared into obscurity which is such a shame as they were compared to bands such as KARNIVOOLand TOOL, and if your band is considered to be similar to the greats then you know you’re onto a good thing! Before disappearing into the void, they were known to play frequent acoustic shows around London which garnered as much praise as their album did. If you listen to one song, let it be The Winter and thank me later.

https://www.facebook.com/jurojinband/

Band yet to listen to: CARIGULA’S HORSE. I keep hearing snippets of this Australian band, yet to delve into a complete album.

Weekly Roundup #4

More metal and alternative goodness for you

Wow, four weeks is like a month right? So a month of metal madness to celebrate then! Feats your eyes (and ears) on the bands featured below!

Band to watch: ANIMALS AS LEADERS. Last week the band unveiled new track The Brain Dance from their forthcoming album The Madness of Many. If you haven’t heard of this band already (where have you been mate?!) then expect to hear more from this impeccably talented trio. Their instrumental material shimmers with  variety of metal styles and jazz elements, and if this song is anything to go by then their new album could have less djent which may be a sign the band are comfortable progressing into their own distinct sound. The Brain Dance then, does what it says on the tin. Its intricate melodies and delicate guitar notes create a sonic soundscape so delicious it makes your brain all tingly while it comprehends how humans can create such beautiful music. If you like your prog music on the guitar-y side of things i.e. PLINI and INTERVALS, then make sure you delve into ANIMALS AS LEADERS.

Video to watch: CANDIRIA.

Normally if a band’s music video is filmed in a recording studio you might feel a little disappointed. But not this time. CANDIRIA’s play through for While They Were Sleeping, directed by Steve Perlmutter and filmed in Spaceman Sound studios,  premiered last week and shows a new take on the humble play through video. A visually interesting video, it is made up of a variety of shots from different angles and sides of each member of the band playing through the song. Because the shots keep changing, the audience’s interest is held. The brutality of the song isn’t lost at all, in fact the viewer can appreciate it more as all the small details are captured on camera, especially during the progressive interlude. But don’t let me ruin the video for you. Go on, have a watch below.

Still in the stereo: BLACK CROWN INITATE. Released back in July, Selves We Cannot Forgive by BLACK CROWN INITIATE is still demolishing the stereo with its breath-taking progressive death metal. This, being the band’s second album released through eOne Music, is such a varied beast with  each track harnessing its own surprising little nugget. Opener For Red Cloud blasts the album into your consciousness with its gloriously heavy composition of pummelling riffs and devastating growls, but there are small rays of sunshine through the clean vocals which propel the songs even further into awesomeness. The calmer moments of the album such as the title track demonstrate the band’s more progressive side, but other parts of the album have a lot of European influences from OPETH to GOJIRA, it is sometimes hard to believe BLACK  CROWN INITIATE hail from Pennsylvania! You’ve just missed them play in the UK supporting BORN OF OSIRIS and VEIL OF MAYA, but let’s hope they’ll play our shores again soon.

Band to rediscover: MY AWESOME COMPILATION. A song which never fails to lift me out of a bad mood is Put Up A Fight which was released way back in 2005 by MY AWESOME COMPILATION. This ridiculously optimistic song could thaw even the coldest of hearts. The band from Leicester are currently still on hiatus (BOO!) but leave two albums and two EPs (and a split single with FALL OUT BOY go figure) for our listening pleasure(hurrah!). The happy band is something we miss in these uncertain times, every now and then you just want someone to say to you “All these small chances will one day add up to everything” and somehow, everything will seem OK. MY AWESOME COMPILAION we need you! Come back!

Band yet to listen to: NORDIC GIANTS. After a successful tour with TESSERACT earlier this year, NORDIC GIANTS have been attracting more attention and fans, but they might not be what you think they’d be…

 

Noctem – Haeresis

A review of the blistering new opus by Noctem

When you think of Valencia, you might imagine sun, sea and sangria. Who knew then, that this Spanish city could be the home for a metal band so ambitious and extreme they’d give the Scandinavians a run for their money. Introducing NOCTEM, a black metal band that have more tricks up their sleeve than you might first perceive. They sound like all of your favourite extreme bands rolled into one delicious, morbid package, each track offering a new twist to proceedings.

Indeed this is no thrashed out, rushed output, but a well thought out and composed album which should propel NOCTEM amongst the extreme greats such as BEHEMOTH and DIMMU BORGIR. Opening track The Black Temples of Disaster kicks in straight away, unleashing the band’s lethal dose of metal. Ferocious drumming, complex and mesmerising guitars lead the way, but it soon becomes hard to ignore the variety in vocal styles frontman Beleth can achieve with his hellish growls; chants like DIMMU BORGIR, screeches straight out of CRADLE OF FILTH and low guttural growls which wouldn’t sound out of place on an AKERCOCKE album, this guy is one versatile extreme metal warbler.

There are a few interesting little nuggets throughout Haeresis, including the acoustic interludes which add a unique classical twist to songs such as single The Submission Discipline. With track The Dark One, it is indeed the dark one of the album, demonstrating a confident black metal swagger you normally hear from ANAAL NATHRAKH. The album as a whole shimmers with NOCTEM’s confidence, so by the time the pummelling closing track Pactum with the Indomitable Darkness rolls round, there is no doubt NOCTEM will soon become the ones to watch in the extreme metal scene.

Weekly Roundup #3

3 is the magic number

Band to watch: LEPROUS. They’re about to embark on an extensive North American tour but it’s most likely you haven’t heard of these Norwegian fellows. Four albums into their career and they’re finally gaining momentum and praise around the world. Deliciously on the melodic end of the metal spectrum, LEPROUS’ beautiful melodies are made the more spine tingling thanks to the incredible vocal talent of Einar Solberg. You might have heard his voice recently as guest vocalist on IHSAHN’s track Celestial Violence on this year’s Arktis. In fact, LEPROUS used to be the backing band for IHSAHN. The haunting Nordic sound is ever present in LEPROUS’ songs, but their influences range from MASSIVE ATTACK to GOJIRA. The heavier side of metal unexpectedly is unleashed now and then in their compositions which further emotionally charges the music. Most recent album The Congregation boasts elements from a variety of genres, everything from prog to djent and jazz. There’s no denying LEPROUS add their own twist to proceedings and really push themselves to the front of the melodic metal pack. You can catch them on tour in the UK with prog contemporaries TESSERACT and DEVIN TOWNSEND next March. Expect to hear more about these guys in the coming months!

https://www.facebook.com/leprousband/?fref=ts

Video to watch: SKYHARBOR. Last year SKYHARBOR released the track Out of Time which show cased new vocalist Eric Emery, proving he is more than capable of filling the shoes left behind by Daniel Tompkins (now back in TESSERACT). Now with new video Chemical Hands released last week, SKYHARBOR are prepared to take over the world with their new line-up and their own strain of progressive metal. The song itself is a stellar piece of melodic, proggy, technical goodness, fully demonstrating Eric’s vocal capabilities. The video accompaniment itself can only be described as a glorious sci-fi vision akin to films The Matrix and the Riddick trilogy. The stunning visuals compliment the heart wrenching melodies to create an all encompassing sensory experience. Director Michael Di Lonardo sets out a barren, futuristic landscape occupied by machines, with the band appearing like a transmission from outer space. SKYHARBOR, we read you loud and clear, we’ll see you in the UK next week!

Most anticipated release: WINTERFYLLETH. New album The Dark Hereafter will be released this Friday!

https://www.facebook.com/Winterfylleth/?fref=ts

Still in the stereo: WALLS OF JERICHO. When you think of female fronted bands you probably think of your pop punk types or your metal ARCH ENEMY like bands. But Candice Kucsulain, along with the rest of the band WALLS OF HERICHO, delivers such straight up, no nonsense hardcore punk, it’s mind boggling this hardcore troupe from Detroit do not receive more credit and recognition. Easily just as relevant and ferocious as contemporaries HATEBREED and SICK OF IT ALL, it is refreshing to hear a band so passionate and aggressive minus all the poser bullshit the scene can be now guilty of at times. So when WALLS OF JERICHO released No One Can Save You From Yourself back in March this year, it was gratefully received by fans as it had been roughly 8 years since last album The American Dream came out. It was well the worth the wait with the band sounding angrier than ever but also aiming to reunite people across not only their fan base, but across the scene, especially through tracks such as Relentless and The Anthem. It is a solid piece of honest work by a band who obviously still have a lot to say. They announced a UK/EU tour this week, so let’s hope they stick around for a little while longer at least.

https://www.facebook.com/WallsofJericho/?fref=ts

Band to rediscover: BYZANTINE. I must admit, I thought BYZANTINE were long gone, dead and buried in the metal graveyard, but lo and behold, they are now signed to Metal Blade Records with a self-titled album available in stores and a new record underway! 2005’s album …And They Shall Take Up Serpents rippled a few waves in the underground metal scene, then they seemed to vanish. To be fair, they can be pretty hard to Google, but now it shouldn’t be hard to find them and fall under their spell once again. Their progressive thrash metal, reminiscent of bands such as TESTAMENT, LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, also incorporates instrumental sections, tribal drumming and killer solos bordering on progressive jazz. Now the band are back and stronger than ever, it is time to punish our ears once again!

https://www.facebook.com/Byzantinewv/?fref=ts

Band yet to listen to: PORT NOIR. I keep hearing about this band and their ability to mix up all sorts of genres to create their own brand of gorgeous metal. Next on my list to check out.

 

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

A review of the Finns’ new corker of an album

When you think about what Winter sounds like, what do you hear? Chilling winds? Crisp echoes reverberating around you? Well, funnily enough that is how Part 1 of Winter’s Gate begins. The gate soon opens to a classic, triumphant INSOMNIUM riff leading the listener to the band’s familiar melodic death metal sound. Very quickly you realise this is the strongest the band has ever sounded.

Part 3 is gloriously melodic with delicate, crystal clear guitar notes unexpectedly reminiscent of bands such as ANIMALS AS LEADERS. But this proves how versatile the band still is and the track soon explodes into pure INSOMNIUM territory, with plenty of nods to peers such like AMON AMARTH and AMORPHIS. A few calmer interludes only emphasise how on form these Finnish masters are as they take you by surprise.

It is soon hard to ignore the use of strings and piano which perfectly compliment the metal, creating an epic audio landscape topped with Niilo Sevänen’s rumbling growls. Indeed it is the piano which begins Part 5 and it erupts into old school INSOMNIUM – with the low, slow growls and no nonsense death metal ambience. The final song, Part 7 flows from Part 6 to the climatic end. The album is after all, meant to be appreciated as one song, with all seven parts seamlessly transitioning from the one before to the next.

This is an ambitious album but it pays off as Part 7 is an impressive beast in itself, with previously used elements all thrown together to create a superb, heavy finale. Even rumbles of thunder make an appearance to bring the album to a thumping end. Soon everything fades to piano and whispers in the dark before Winter’s Gate finally closes.