Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018: 30 to 21

The second instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 Releases of the year.

Welcome to my second instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 albums of the year! Hopefully you enjoyed Albums 40-31, you’re in for a treat with this list! Let’s get down to business then and proceed with the next 10 albums on my list…

30

THE FIVE HUNDREDBleed Red

These lovely lads from Nottingham (via Gibraltar) released this magnificent debut album back in August and it’s a melodic tech metal delight. Coming to the fore of the UK tech scene, the band also wear their metalcore influences on their sleeves with Bleed Red as there is a definite KILLSWITCH ENGAGE streak running throughout (especially on the self titled track and Smoke and Mirrors). This is an album which makes you eagerly anticipate the next release! Great stuff. Check out my full album review from August by following the link below.

The Five Hundred – Bleed Red

29

BROKEN GIRLS FROM ALLFUENT BACKGROUNDSFiction Will See Us Through

This little gem was released back in May and it’s an EP I’ve been returning to during the remainder of the year. I adore bands who throw in shoegaze and post-rock influences and this progressive rock act from Phoenix, AZ throw oodles of the stuff into the pot. There’s a delightful sense of nostalgia when listening to BROKEN GIRLS FROM AFFLUENT BACKGROUNDS. I won’t spoil them for you, they’re a band you’ll have to listen to yourself. Fingers crossed for a full length album soon!

Broken Girls From Affluent Backgrounds – Fiction Will See Us Through

28

SVALBARDIt’s Hard To Have Hope

Hardcore black metal band SVALBARD have caused some serious waves with the release of their latest album It’s Hard to Have Hope. Featuring serious themes such as the bleak job prospects for the youth of today, revenge porn and backlash against feminism, SVALBARD tackle these issues by writing equally urgent songs. You can hear the grit, desperation, anger and passion in frontwoman Serena Cherry’s vocals and it makes for a very intense listen. This album is proving to be somewhat of an underground hit, but don’t just take my word for it, have a listen and hear for yourself. Below are links to my full album review, my live review of their album release show and a Q&A with the band.

Svalbard – It’s Hard To Have Hope

Q&A with Svalbard

Svalbard/Møl/Group of Man

27

UNPROCESSEDCovenant

Djent may be seen as a bit of a stale genre these days but German progressive metallers UNPROCESSED are pushing the boundaries of the style with their latest album Covenant and I’ve been smitten ever since. There are some serious grooves on this record and the riffs sound refreshing in an over-saturated scene. There is an extraordinary depth to their music and with each listen, new snippets are discovered. Read more of my views of Covenant in August’s roundup via the link below.

Roundup – July 2018

26

MANESSlow Motion Death Sequence

No album of the year list would be complete without at least one avant-garde album. That album for me is Slow Motion Death Sequence, by Norway’s art rock band MANES. It’s been said this is their most accessible record but I find it to be one of their more intense efforts. There is a menacing darkness and sense of unease which runs throughout the record and makes for an unnerving-but spectacular- listen. Haunting, electrifying and still unpredictable, MANES will never be boring.

Manes – Slow Motion Death Sequence

25

ARSISVisitant

If you read my November Roundup from last month you might remember me harking on about my love for tech death veterans ARSIS. New album Visitant takes a couple of spins to really sink in but after their classic albums A Celebration of Guilt and We Are The Nightmare, this album has a lot to live up to. Thankfully the band haven’t lost any of their momentum and this record is as fast and ferocious as ever. The tech death legends have returned and will show the young un’s exactly how it’s done!

Roundup – November 2018

24

DISTORTED HARMONYA Way Out

Israeli prog metallers DISTORTED HARMONY already had the hard task of writing an album to rival their last release Chain Reaction, without  adding two new members to the dynamic as well! A Way Out felt like a long time coming but it’s been worth the wait. The album would have ranked higher if the chemistry of the music was flawless, in my eyes Chain Reaction was perfection so perhaps I’m being too harsh. I adore the melodic intensity DISTORTED HARMONY achieve and their technical flourishes. This band are still too unknown, this needs to change next year.

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

23

SICKONESFind Energy

When I witnessed this brilliant hardcore punk band live earlier in the year, I was completely blown away; their unforgettable performance, the messages in their music and their sense of fun were ridiculously addictive and incredibly unique. SICKONES are a truly special beast and this year saw the release of their new EP Find Energy, which is also sadly the last record they will release with frontman Ben Curd now he has left the band. Despite some serious song topics, SICKONES ooze such a sense of fun and optimism and I hope that remains. You can read more of my words about this magnificent band in the links below.

Roundup – June 2018

Cancer Bats/SickOnes/Walk In Coma

22

GOOD TIGERWe Will All Be Gone

Released way, way back at the beginning of February, alternative metal supergroup GOOD TIGER released the beautiful We Will All Be Gone and it’s just as exciting now listening to it as it was on first listen. The post-hardcore elements and the stunning vocals of Elliot Coleman make We Will All Be Gone a glorious piece of art. The irresistible melodies and sun-kissed vibes never fail to warm the soul.

Good Tiger – We Will All Be Gone

21

TEMPLES ON MARSSelf-titled

This album has been a grower on me this year. When I reviewed TEMPLES ON MARS’ self-titled album back in April I enjoyed it but could never have predicted how much I’d end up loving it. Their progressive rock is catchy, intelligent and mature and their songs are incredibly majestic. I enjoy the creativity of the album and the spacey vibes which result in a quite a few epic moments throughout the record. Radio friendly, riffy and catchy this is an album you’re safe to play to your normie friends and enjoy as well.

Temples On Mars – Self titled

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

Release date: 19th July 2018. Self-release.

This album has felt like a long time coming. It’s been four years since the progressive metal band from Israel released the masterpiece Chain Reaction. The band have been teasing new music to fans for the past year as well as having some line up changes. Last year saw the departure of guitarist Guy Landau, then DISTORTED HARMONY announced they were not only replacing Landau with another guitarist, but TWO guitarists; Amit Plaschkes and Yoel Genin. Some fans, me included, were worried how much a second guitarist would shake up the wonderful dynamic of the band. But seriously, it was the perfect step for the evolution of DISTORTED HARMONY’s sound.

Four years is a long time between albums, so progression in sound is expected. The band have become a lot heavier with A Way Out, their third album, but not too far to alienate older fans. Personally I applaud the techier and riffier direction as this will hopefully see them gain a stronger footing in the progressive metal scene. They still have their (not so) secret weapon though, in the form of keyboardist/mastermind Yoav Efron and it’s his signature flourishes which enable DISTORTED HARMONY to remain unique.

The album begins with such a flourish in the opener Downfall. Immediately you can hear the progression from Chain Reaction. The sound is bigger, bolder and far more confident. This includes vocalist Misha Soukhinin and his distinct and charming vocals. He really steps up the game in this release and proves he can belt a tune out just as good as the rest. This first song is a superb example of what DISTORTED HARMONY offer in 2018; intelligent compositions, challenging lyrics, big choruses and thinking outside the box. Fans might be anticipating riffs, riffs, riffs with this release but nothing prepared me for the utter groove-fest that is second track Room 11. Everything is ramped up for this track and this completes the spectacular beginning of A Way Out.

Things get extremely interesting with third track Awaken, whose first half soothes and matches the charm of Chain Reaction. The subtle electronics here underline the amazing song-writing prowess of the group, but it is the second half of this track which will blow you away. Everything ramps up and soars creating an unexpected climax for so early on in the album. The closing riff sounds not too dissimilar to Methylene Blue which perfectly completes the song. Things get extra technical with Severed, where the keys and guitars satisfying align before it breaks down into a djenty breakdown. It’s really interesting to hear the heavier influences coming into play here and sitting seamlessly amongst the classic DISTORTED HARMONY components.

For Puppet On Strings, things sound a little MARTIN GRECH in places. The eerie and brooding composition coupled with the musing vocals make this song one of the most haunting on the album. This is followed by the rousing interlude of For Ester, which is an utterly compelling instrumental break before our ears are pummelled by the opening riff of Anima. The melody reminds me a little of TOOL which is amusing because of the choice of title track used. The sweeping chorus is classic DISTORTED HARMONY which is complimented by the newer techier riffs.

A Way Out of Here has an innocent tone and is stripped down to piano and vocals at the beginning. Quiet and haunting, when other instrumentation is introduced it reminds me of the charming days of KRISTIAN LEONTIOU, the kind of heart-wrenching ballad with a soft accompaniment which emphasises the emotions and lyrics. DISTORTED HARMONY have always been the masters of creating captivating tunes and it appears they’ll continue to be so. If you really are craving the days of Chain Reaction then the next track Time and Time Again is for you! With hints of Natural Selection and Hollow, it will appease old fans and new.

The first song DISTORTED HARMONY released off A Way Out is still one of the most provoking songs of the album. We Are Free is a glorious track of tech riffs and mesmerising programming, topped off with the powerful chorus and imagery. When the breakdown drops, it drops hard. DISTORTED HARMONY use breakdowns to great effect, they never add one unnecessarily, but they know when to sprinkle them in for an intense impact.

Before you know it, it’s the album finale, Someday, which is another melodically intense affair. The pacing and use of multiple vocals may remind you of Every Time She Smiles. DISTORTED HARMONY seem to lean towards a modest closing track and Someday is no different. It never quite takes off but this is the eerie magic of it. A bewitching end to a spectacular album, don’t be surprised if A Way Out sees the band breaking out. It would be a shame to keep such a talented band hidden away. Once they’ve fully unlocked their potential, who knows what DISTORTED HARMONY could achieve. Another stunning effort.