Metalmance's Top 20 Albums of the Decade

20 of the best albums from 2010-2019.

Album of the Year lists aren’t enough this year. 2019 heralds the end of one of the best decades of metal. Emerging genres have really come to the fore in the past ten years (blackgaze anyone?) whereas we’re all surprised at how metalcore has survived and evolved. With technology advancing, the decade has also seen different consumer habits as well as advances in music technology as a whole. But that’s enough faff and chat. Without further ado, behold my Top 20 Albums of the Decade!


 

20. ORPHANED LANDAll Is One. Release date: 24 June 2013.

I’ve always enjoyed oriental music but hearing it in a metal context was a phenomenal concept to me. When I finally checked out Israel’s ORPHANED LAND I fell in love immediately. To me, they’re still the best ‘oriental metal’ band out there. They mix traditional instruments, metal elements and heartfelt messages so seamlessly it’s hard not to fall under their spell. All Is One is a superb example of the epic anthems they create to help reunite people of all faiths, race and genders. Tracks such as the title track, Freedom and Children emphasise their mission, all the while keeping tracks catchy and heavy. A must-listen for all.


 

19. SLEEPING WITH SIRENSFeel. Release date: 4 June 2013.

Now before you close this post and avoid my blog forever, hear me out here. Every track on SLEEPING WITH SIREN’s Feel is absolute gold. There’s a song for every occasion and emotion and it beckoned the start of their retreat from poisonous emo-pop-punk to the boring rock music they create today. With Feel they get it just right. Personally for me, this album dropped at a huge transitional period of my life so tracks such as Free Now, Congratulations and Satellites became anthems of this time. It’s not only teenagers who relate to Kellin Quinn and co. and their lyrics are more honest and relatable than many of their peers (FALLING IN REVERSE I’m looking at you).


 

18. TESSERACTOne. Release date: 22 March 2011.

I just had to include something by TESSERACT in this list. It was a tough choice between One and Polaris, but I chose One in the end as it was unlike anything I had heard in the metal world. Yeah there was PERIPHERY as well but for me, TESSERACT had a little something extra…mainly the vocal expertise of Daniel Tompkins. The first track I heard was The Impossible – Concealing Fate Part. 3 and I will never forget its melodies, djent and overwhelming atmosphere. In a way One signifies the innocence of the beginning of the djent genre before it became oversaturated by awful bands and copycats. Today it’s evolved into a whole new progressive metal beast but it’s good to look back on One and see how far metal has come.


 

17. AVASTMother Culture. Release date: 26 October 2018.

This decade saw the rise of blackgaze as a genre and it is one of the best things to have ever happened for metal. Mixing black metal and shoegaze to create highly emotive extreme metal is a dream come true. Only a handful of bands are getting the formula right and Norway’s AVAST is one of those bands. Last year’s debut album Mother Culture is a superb example of the heavier end of the genre. Tracks such as the title track and The Birth Of Man show some of the best that AVAST have to offer, but their instrumental tracks also trigger a strong emotional response. Powerful, climatic and devastating, Mother Culture is an important album.


 

16. MOTIONLESS IN WHITEReincarnate. Release date: 15 September 2014.

reincarnate

Metalcore is alive and well and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE have helped the survival of the gothic strain of it. Reincarnate saw the band at their most industrial, experimental and arguably…their catchiest. The guest features on this album are spot on, with the likes of Dani Filth, Maria Brink and Tim Skold making Reincarnate a goth’s wet dream. There is absolutely no filler on this album like a lot of their others, with tracks Break The Cycle and Wasp being some of the best keyboard-led metalcore for years. Now if only MOTIONLESS IN WHITE took the blueprint for The Final Dictvm for the latest albums…


 

15. TIMES OF GRACEHymn of a Broken Man. Release date: 18 January 2011.

I am one of those fans who think the new Jesse Leach-era KILLSWICTH ENGAGE has never surpassed what Leach and Adam D achieved with Hymn of a Broken Man. Yes, TIMES OF GRACE was always meant to be a more melodic and honest project, and remember Howard Jones was still in KILLSWITCH ENGAGE at this point, but Hymn of a Broken Man is one of the most beautiful albums created this decade and few have surpassed its melodic prowess. Live in Love, Where The Spirit Leads Me and Willing are some of the most stirring metal tracks this decade has seen. It’s just a shame the duo decided to lead the album with one of the weaker tracks, Strength in Numbers. Let’s hope they release a new album next year.


 

14. 65DAYSOFSTATICWe Were Exploding Anyway. Release date: 26 April 2010.

65dos

We Were Exploding Anyway was everything I wanted from 65DAYSOFSTATIC. The Sheffield post-rockers have always pushed the boundaries of the genre and have created the most phenomenal sounds. With this album, the band were their most ‘dancey’ and it even saw the inclusion of vocals on Come to Me, but they were very cleverly sliced and used as samples. Mountainhead, Crash Tactics and Piano Fights are some of the most genius songs 65DOS have written and the album as a whole is a delight from start to finish.


 

13. BLEEDING THROUGHThe Great Fire. Release date: 31 January 2012.

The Great Fire

Before the Orange County crew split up in 2014 (and reformed in 2018) the metalcore darlings dropped one of their finest albums to date, The Great Fire. This glorious slab of brutality incorporates every genre that BLEEDING THROUGH can execute so well, metalcore, hardcore, punk, black metal, melodic death metal…tracks like Goodbye To Death and Everything You Love Is Gone are perfect examples of their melting pot of styles. No metalcore band have achieved this again.


 

12. ABORTEDRetrogore. Release date: 22 April 2016.

retrogore

I must admit I was a bit late to the ABORTED fandom, but once I finally got there I was besotted. Retrogore was my first exposure to the Belgian death metallers and it’s still my favourite. Everything just seems to gel on this record and the blackened elements which play a big part on 2018’s Terrorvision come to the fore on this record. Termination Redux and Divine Impediment are brutal gems, dark death metal at its best. The band aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, constantly evolving to remain one of the most terrifying bands out there.


 

11. NORDIC GIANTSA Séance of Dark Delusions. Release date: 20 April 2015.

nordic giants

NORDIC GIANTS are always best to experience live, but 2015’s masterpiece A Séance of Dark Delusions brilliantly captures the intense material this post-rock duo create. The guest vocalists on this album are all outstanding with standout tracks being Dissolve (with SATURDAY SUN), Rapture (with Beth Cannon) and the superb Futures Dark (with Nadine Wild-Palmer). Each tracks tells its own story and every track with vocals could easily be a radio hit, making NORDIC GIANTS your favourite secret.


 

10. EIGHTEEN VISIONSXVIII. Release date: 2 June 2017.

XVIII

C’mon you knew EIGHTEEN VISIONS were going to make an appearance. This was the comeback of the decade for me. In true 18V fashion, their comeback album XVIII sounded unlike anything they have recorded before. The throwback references to earlier material (film samples, insects buzzing and the objects in the artwork) create a nostalgic record which still bludgeons you with modern, crunchy metal. Songs such as Oath and Live Again are the perfect tributes to the band’s roots and their late bassist Mick Morris (RIP). This is definitely an album for the loyal fans, but any lover of heavy, crushing metal will equally enjoy this album.


 

9. SOILWORKThe Ride Majestic. Release date: 28 August 2015.

soilwork

The kings of melodic death metal, SOILWORK seem to get better with age. The Ride Majestic is a sublime album by the modern version of SOILWORK. This is an absolute belter from start to finish. Some old school fans look down on it for not being Natural Born Chaos 2.0, but this album is the full package. The vocals, lyrics, instrumentation, flow of the album are outstanding. When their peers are crashing and burning, SOILWORK have evolved and grown to be the melodic death metal darlings they are today. The title track, Death In General and the stirring finale Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down are some of my favourite songs of the decade. The fact that the band are still going strong is a blessing.


 

8. BLACK CROWN INITIATE Selves We Cannot Forgive. Release date: 22 July 2016.

blackcrowninitiateselves

Selves We Cannot Forgive was my first ever Album of the Year when I started this blog back in 2016. It has stood the test of time and cemented itself as one of my favourite progressive death metal records of all time. There has been a surge of progressive death metal bands in the past few years and BLACK CROWN INITIATE remain one of the best. This album exhibits the best aspects of the genre, with tracks such as Belie The Machine and For Red Cloud providing the brutality, and the title track and Again providing the soaring melodies. This album has it all.


 

7. DYSCARNATEAnd So It Came To Pass. Release date: 27 February 2012.

and so it came to pass

DYSCARNATE’s last album With All Their Might topped my AOTY list back in 2017, but I couldn’t have two of their albums in my top 20 of the decade so I’ve opted for their phenomenal second album And So It Came To Pass. If you’re still unfamiliar with this death metal trio (yes, they’re a trio and still heavier than most bands) then you are seriously missing a trick here. A band haven’t been this brutally groovy since…well…forever. And So It Came To Pass is a tremendous example of this, with The Promethean, In The Face of Armageddon and A Drone In The Hive bringing the hardest bangers of the album. Fingers crossed there will be a new album in the new year!


 

6. DREAMSHADEThe Gift of Life. Release date: 25 January 2013. 

gift of life

DREAMSHADE are always such a treat. These Swiss metalcore lovelies are still relatively unknown yet every album is an absolute blinder. 2013’s album The Gift of Life saw the band hit their stride. Photographs, Your Voice and Consumed Future are some of the best metalcore tracks you haven’t heard yet. Not only do DREAMSHADE write catchy songs but somehow their riffs are hella catchy too. A super slick and polished beast, DREAMSHADE are currently working on a new album and it promises to be another stellar effort.


 

5. DISTORTED HARMONYChain Reaction. Release date: 9 July 2014.

chain reaction

Discovering DISTORTED HARMONY was one of the best things I did in the past few years. Their progressive metal is fuelled by melodies and heart. Their second album Chain Reaction has just the right amount of technicality and melody to make it a beautifully balanced record. The charm and passion oozes out of this record with tracks such as Every Time She Smiles, Hollow and Natural Selection being some of the most stirring. With the ever-growing prog metal scene it takes something special to standout from the rest of the pack these days, these guys have got it.


 

4. MAYBESHEWILLI Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone. Release date: 30 May 2011. 

maybeshewill

So this is my third and final post-rock album in this list. I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone is my favourite of them all, for a number of reasons. The main one being, the album triggers the biggest emotional response of any album without vocals. It demonstrates the sheer, emotional power that rock instruments have. The melodies and climaxes are sublime, there’s no other post-rock albums quite like this one. Another reason why this ranks so highly is because MAYBESHEWILL were one of the pioneers of British post-rock and they are very sorely missed by fans. Just listen to the song Accolades, Critical Distance and Red Paper Lanterns and you’ll see what I mean.


 

3. EARTHSIDEA Dream In Static. Release date: 23 October 2015.

earthside

There are few bands who make a huge impact with their debut album like EARTHSIDE have. This is modern prog rock at its finest. But the thing that EARTHSIDE has that sets them apart from the rest is their expert musicianship. Each member is an incredibly talented musician and this talent can be heard in the ambition of their tracks. They execute their brilliance without any pretentious fluff and they scored some of the best vocalists in the business to elevate their tracks to new levels (see: Crater, the title track and Mob Mentality). With a new album being recorded as we speak, we can expect big things from the rising proggers.


 

2. MØLJord. Release date: 13 April 2018.

mol

It’s probably no surprise MØL have ranked so highly on this list, considering they were my Album of the Year last year. It’s been warming to see Jord resonating with other people so strongly. Songs such as Storm, Bruma and Penumbra are some of the most striking blackgaze tracks of the past decade. Their shoegaze riffs, black metal vocals and chilling melodies add up to a spectacular album. I’ve already written so many words about this album but I never run out of praise to say about it. Emotion and soul drip from every note and syllable screamed. A phenomenal album by one of the most promising acts around.


 

1 . ANAAL NATHRAKHVanitas. Release date: 23 October 2012.

vanitas

Behold, my album of the decade! ANAAL NATHRAKH have always been one of the best extreme metal acts from Britain, but 2012’s Vanitas shows the band at their most ambitious and polished. These songs are huge! I honestly don’t know where to start with this album. A lot of their albums prior (and after) have a few standout tracks and the rest are forgettable. Vanitas has banger after banger, with every track being its own individual beast you’ll remember for a long time to come. Yes, Forging Towards The Sunset and To Spite The Face are incredible, but can we just talk about album finale A Metaphor For The Dead? With one of the most climatic choruses the band have ever written, along with some of the most devastating riffs, it has gone down in history as my favourite album closer of all time. A strong statement I know but once you hear it for yourself, you may agree! Every great album needs a powerful closer and Vanitas concludes in such a roaring fashion, you feel compelled to start over again. After seven years no album has topped this for me.

Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018: 20 to 11

The penultimate group of Metalmance’s Top 40 releases of 2018.

Welcome to the penultimate instalment of my Top 40 releases of the year. We’re halfway through now and nearing that all important No. 1 spot. Thank you for joining me to see who I’ve picked for No. 20 to No. 11. Hope to see you next time for the final instalment!

20

CANCER BATSThe Spark That Moves

After their uninspiring last album Searching For Zero I was just about ready to give up on my favourite punk rockers CANCER BATS. But then with no warning they dropped this terrific slab of fury. The Spark That Moves is easily their best release since 2008’s Hail Destroyer and with this new album they’ve reignited the passion of their older fans and gained new followers. The energy and fun in this album has been missing in their last few efforts and it’s so reassuring to hear the Canadians are back and better than ever. You can read below my thoughts on each of their albums and my live review of their show at Southend where I almost died (again).

METALMANCE RETROSPECTIVE: Cancer Bats

Cancer Bats/SickOnes/Walk In Coma

19

THE AGONY SCENETormentor

When I first started Metalmance, THE AGONY SCENE were one of my first ‘Bands to rediscover’ and I spoke about my love for their pivotal album from 2005, The Darkest Red. Little did I know these metalcore legends were reforming and recording their comeback album, Tormentor. Where other comeback albums released this year have fallen flat for me, Tormentor is an example of a metalcore comeback album which shows a band who have grown since their hiatus and are not afraid to add other influences to their cooking pot. Tormentor features a lot of blackened elements, tech riffs and black metal influences which results in the band sounding like THE AGONY SCENE 2.0. Let’s hope the band return again. You can read more of my thoughts on Tormentor by following the link below.

Roundup – July 2018

18

ATREYUIn Our Wake

I wasn’t expecting to like the new ATREYU album, let alone feature it in my Top 40…my Top 20! There have been a few classic metalcore bands being featured in my Top 40 this year and ATREYU unexpectedly shine brighter than the rest. The band haven’t sounded this good since 2007’s sails Paper Anchor and haven’t had this much grit since 2006’s A Death-Grip on Yesterday. The catchiness and modern elements in their tracks ensure ATREYU do not sound stale and  do not outstay their welcome. Standout tracks Paper Castle and Blind Deaf & Dumb will easily become their new anthems. Hopefully old fans feel the same as I do about In Our Wake, but if not then last track Super Hero is sure to stoke the nostalgia with guest vocalists M. Shadows from AVENGED SEVENFOLD and Matt Gillespie from UNDEROATH…

17

NIGHT CROWNEDHumanity Will Echo Out EP

It hasn’t been long since I reviewed this spectacular EP, it would have been rude not to include this blackened slab of ferociousness in my Top 40. Humanity Will Echo Out is the debut release by ‘supergroup’ NIGHT CROWNED. Truth is, the band sound like a monster and this three track record is their first brutal assault on the world. A superb EP, this is only the beginning of their pandemic. You can read my full review of Humanity Will Echo Out below.

Night Crowned – Humanity Will Echo Out EP

16

ANAAL NATHRAKHA New Kind of Horror

They’ve done it again, British black metal veterans have released yet another stellar album, A New Kind of Horror. Always ready to push the boundaries of the genre and not afraid to surpass their older material, the band are untouchable. Who could forget the genius Forward! or Obscene as Cancer? This album is full of great ideas and familiar ANAAL NATHRAKH motifs. This is bound to become another modern classic. You can read my review of their album preview show in the link below.

Anaal Nathrakh + The Atrocity Exhibit

Roundup – September 2018

15

CABALMark of Rot

Easily one of the darkest and heaviest releases of the year, Mark of Rot by Danish demons CABAL is a terrifying release of mammoth proportions. Featuring the likes of THY ART IS MURDER’s C.J McMahon and HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH’S Filip Danielsson you can gauge just how crushingly heavy this album is. What’s even more frightening is the fact Mark of Rot is the band’s debut album. What further torment will the Danes unleash later down the line? It is too horrifying to imagine. Read the full review below to learn more before the darkness consumes you.

Cabal – Mark Of Rot

14

LEECHEDYou Took The Sun When You Left

2018 really has seen the return of gritty, filthy, blackened hardcore and Manchester crew LEECHED expertly mix NAILS-style grind with their chaotic CURSED-esque hardcore to create their suffocatingly heavy sound. Their debut album You Took The Sun When You Left is a relentlessly crushing affair. Any hope and optimism you may still hold will be drained from your soul upon your first listen of this. Devastatingly heavy stuff. You can read more of my thoughts on You Took The Sun When You Left in the Roundup below. 

Roundup – August 2018

13

TURNSTILETime & Space

The first time I encountered TURNSTILE was when I saw them support THE STORY SO FAR along with DRUG CHURCH back in 2015. It’s safe to say it was an unforgettable experience and one which I was lucky to escape unscathed! They’ve since exploded in the heavy music world and released their latest full length Time & Space through Roadrunner Records! It’s not hard to see why they’ve been picked up by one of the biggest labels in the metal community, this album is chock-full of strong tunes and the band haven’t lost any of their punch. It’s almost as if the band are bringing back good old fashioned hardcore to the masses. Time & Space will no doubt become a modern classic.

Roundup – May 2018

12

LIGHT THE TORCH  – Revival

It’s always concerning when a band go through a name change. Super group LIGHT THE TORCH were formally known as DEVIL YOU KNOW and personally I think this new incarnation of the band runs rings round their original outfit. DEVIL YOU KNOW were heavy but something in the music didn’t quite gel. Fast forward to 2018 and Revival, the band’s first album as LIGHT THE TORCH is a glorious effort. This album can be likened to frontman Howard Jones’ glory days in As Daylight Dies-era KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. Hojo is back on form here and this album is a stunning piece of metal. You’d be silly to ignore Revival.

Roundup – June 2018

11

HEAD WITH WINGSFrom Worry To Shame

You might remember my reaction to From Worry To Shame, the debut album by progressive rockers HEAD WITH WINGS. My review was a bit of an emotional affair (you can read it in full by following the link below) due to the stunning melodies and heart-wrenching lyrics. The topics of the songs are not light and the duo (now a full band) delicately pay homage to the lyrical themes with beautiful songwriting and poetic tributes. This is an album where you can feel every word and every note. Spectacular stuff.

Head With Wings – From Worry To Shame

Damnation Festival 2018

3 November 2018. Leeds University Union.

The second I stepped out of Damnation Festival last year I already decided I would return again in 2018. The atmosphere and variety of bands for this awesome in-door festival is unparalleled and it does feel lovingly unique. Each new line-up announcement throughout the year whetted my appetite more until the day finally came where I would once again be at Damnation. As soon as doors opened, the positive energy of extreme metal’s finest punters poured into each of the venues and the merch area.

The bars were already heaving with battle-jacket-clad metal fans as I wandered down to the Tone MGMT Stage to witness LEECHED opening the festival. The band’s debut album You Took The Sun When You Left is a gritty and dark affair, so it was no surprise their set was equally as suffocating. Backlit and shrouded with smoke, the hardcore metallers from Manchester were an intense group with their gruff vocals, blackened riffs and power violence elements. It’s hard to keep your eyes off drummer Tom Hansell; one because of his impressive myriad of tattoos and two, because it becomes clear he’s the secret weapon for LEECHED with his ferocious drumming and hardcore vocals. An excellent start to the day.

It would have been rude not to catch progressive darlings CALIGULA’S HORSE on the Eyesore Merch Stage as they did come all the way from Australia, but also because they’re one of THE most exciting progressive metal bands on the planet right now (they’re better than LEPROUS, there I said it). Starting their set with Dream the Dead off last year’s In Contact, the Aussie troupe mesmerised and stunned the crowd with their majestic set. On record they can sound quite soft, but in a live setting they’re surprisingly heavy. It’s clear they made new fans this afternoon judging by some of the expressions of delight in the curious crowd.

I sneaked off before the end of CALIGULA’s HORSE’s set to make my way to the Cult Never Dies Stage to get a good spot to witness MØL strut their stuff. The venue was already packed full with people, endorsing a one in, one out policy when the set started. I was close enough to see frontman Kim Song Sternkopf scream in the faces of the people down the front, in his madman-godlike state throughout the set. The Danish blackgaze group have rapidly gained a fanbase this year after the successful release of their debut album Jord and judging by the volume of people in the room, it proves there is a real buzz about this band right now. Having seen them at their debut London show earlier in the year supporting SVALBARD, I knew what to expect but their intensity and sheer blackgaze perfection still astounded me. It’s just a shame the fire alarm interrupted the set…

Once all the fuss (and annoyance) of the fire alarm had died down I headed to the Jagermeister Stage to see NE OBLIVISCARIS absolutely tear up the room with their extreme progressive metal. Their tight sound cut through the room like a knife; they were absolute perfection. The guitars sung and clean vocalist and violinist Tim Charles could do no wrong. The professionalism of the band resonated round the room, proving they were masters at their craft. Clearly owning the biggest stage in the students’ union, I wouldn’t be surprised if the band headline a few years down the line.

Having said this, I’m surprised Birmingham’s ANAAL NATHRAKH are yet to headline a Damnation as their set is always a killer. Easily whipping up the most brutal crowd of the day, the black metal veterans prove their worth with their stellar set of songs old and new. Forward! off new album A New Kind of Horror sounds equally as punishing as older classics Forging Towards the Sunset and Depravity Favours the Bold. The fighting pit in the middle of the room showed the fans’ appreciation of the band’s unforgiving music. Throw in a pair of knickers on the stage and you got yourself a legendary Damnation performance.

If I wanted to find something a bit more soothing then I was never going to find it with CELESTE on the Tone MGMT Stage. The French experimental metallers hypnotised the crowd with their unique aesthetic. Lit only by a red light strapped to each member’s head, it created an eerie – heck- celestial atmosphere which superbly suited the dissonant tones of their music. A severely underrated band, I was especially pleased to see a large turnout for them.

It was truly special to see death metal legends ENTOMBED A.D. tear up the Jagermeister Stage. They sounded bigger and more badass as ever with frontman L-G Petrov pacing up and down the stage commanding the crowd with his epic growls. Death metal never sounded so good but I needed to hop along to the Tone MGMT Stage to get a decent spot to see BATUSHKA deliver their sermon. I wish I hadn’t bothered and gone to see MONUMENTS instead as the room was absolutely packed to the brim for BATUSHKA. The majority of people couldn’t see the stage, let alone move and the band came on late so a lot of the crowd were getting agitated and impatient while people pushed past to try and find a better viewing position. The set was a prime example of the wrong choice of stage for a band, but from what I could see (very little) the black metal band from Poland were visually stunning. I’ll try and see them another time when I’m also not being crushed slowly to death.

To recover, I went back to the Jagermeister stage to see the mighty IHSAHN play an utterly mesmerising set. A legend in the black metal scene and a respectable solo artist in his own right, IHSAHN proved his worth tonight playing the best selection of songs from his albums. Songs from new album Amr sounded fuller live than they do on record, but a personal highlight for me was hearing Celestial Violence from 2016’s Arktis resonate around the room. His black metal vocals have always been perfection but tonight his clean vocals also got the recognition they deserve. A stellar set of magical proportions, IHSAHN just keeps getting better when it wasn’t thought possible.

I regrettably missed THE OCEAN’s set but before I stumbled back to the hotel I couldn’t leave without seeing grindcore legends NAPALM DEATH smash some skulls and rip up the Jagermeister Stage. Excluding the fire alarm earlier, today has truly been a fantastic day of metal. The festival already promise their biggest band yet for next year and I can’t wait to see who will be announced first. Damnation is a festival I’d recommend to everyone. See you next year.

Roundup – September 2018

This month has seen a plethora of awesome album releases (see below) but September has also been an outstanding month for new singles. So much so I have decided to dedicate the second half of this roundup to September Singles. A bit of alliteration is nice innit. Hope you enjoy this roundup, see you next month! (Hopefully before that as I’ve got a lot of bloody good reviews in the pipeline…)


Metalmance Top 3 Releases from September

It’s been hard to choose just 3 releases to include, as this month also saw blistering releases from the likes of PIG DESTROYER, REVOCATION and ABORTED but I have finally settled on a Top 3 and I’m very happy with it. Seriously, every month I say this but what the hell is going to happen with my album of the year list in December?! 2018 has been a killer year for releases and we still have 3 months to go! Help!

1

ANAAL NATHRAKH – A New Kind of Horror. Release date: 28 September.

A New Kind of Horror

Based on the atrocities of the First World War, this was never going to be a cheery listen. If you follow my blog you will have already read my little review of the album preview show at the Black Heart (link below) but listening to it again properly is just another mindblowing experience. If you know me then you’ll know I think the band’s 2012 album Vanitas is perfection, so you will understand how good A New Kind of Horror is once I’ve told you I think this is the band’s best material since 2012. Songs like The Reek of Fear and Forward! boast the classic beefy riffs and intensity ANAAL NATHRAKH are so well known for. It’s reassuring to hear they haven’t watered down their sound now they’re further along in their career. In fact they sound ballsier and more terrifying than ever. This album is a must-listen.

Anaal Nathrakh + The Atrocity Exhibit Live Review

2

SKYHARBOR – Sunshine Dust. Release date: 7 September.

Sunshine Dust

I’m surprised to see Sunshine Dust hasn’t been making the waves I was expecting it to, because I think this album is absolutely stunning. A major factor of this album’s appeal is the warbles from new frontman Eric Emery. Before this album was re-recorded and released, we had already been treated to Out of Time and Chemical Hands (now Synthetic Hands) so this album has been an extremely long wait. It was all worth it though as Sunshine Dust boasts a wealth of beautifully progressive and emotive songs. Tracks like Ugly Heart, Dim and the title track all tug on the heart strings yet still pack a punch. Definitely a contender for album of the year, don’t be surprised if you see Sunshine Dust high up in my list at the end of 2018.

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust Review

3

FROM INSIDE – When I’m Breathing Without You EP. Release date: 14 September.

From Inside

At the tail end of 2016 I reviewed FROM INSIDE’s first EP The New Era (link below) and I predicted big things for the band and named them as possible game-changers down the line. This statement still stands as this new EP is a major jump in both confidence and quality. Opener Helpless has an irresistible European tinge to proceedings (think ANNISOKAY and DEAD BY APRIL) and You & I reminds me of THE USED and ISSUES, so you can probably gauge the high calibre metal on offer here. Still an unsigned band, the Liverpudlians are doing just fine continuing as an independent band, playing oodles of shows and building their fanbase. If this EP is anything to go by, when FROM INSIDE do release a debut album it’s going to be absolute killer.

From Inside – The New Era Review


September Singles

Normally this section is dedicated to other albums I’ve been listening to in the past month, but September has seen an influx of stupidly good singles, ahead of album releases. So I thought I would use this opportunity to share my favourite ones of the month and shed light on the bands in the lead up to their records dropping.

ARSIS – Tricking the Gods

The best news this month was hearing technical melodic death metal legends ARSIS are finally releasing their sixth album Visitant on 2nd November. I grew up listening to albums Celebration of Guilt and We Are The Nightmare, so ARSIS have been pivotal in my extreme metal history. This single is by far the best thing they’ve ever done, so if the new album is anything like this then we are all in for a little treat. The band haven’t lost any of their intensity or brutality, if anything it sounds like they’ve become even more technical and ambitious. This accompanying video is very fitting and not for the faint hearted. All the lyrics of the forthcoming album are apparently about different horror movies so be prepared for a blistering and terrifying release.

LASTELLE – This Cage I Built Myself

Who the hell are LASTELLE? I just so happened to stumble upon them on a Youtube channel and I’ve been besotted with this song ever since. It appears the band are only just starting out but have already sold out a gig in their home city of Oxford. LASTELLE have the knack of writing spine-tingling melodies with their drummer stealing the show with his melodic vocals (ATREYU vibes are strong with this one) but they seem to have penned the perfect post-hardcore track for the contemporary scene. Be prepared to feel all the feels. And be prepared to hear a lot more of this talented band.

COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS – Canaille

Danish progressive metal band COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS have been on my radar for a little while, so when I saw they had now been signed to Long Branch Records I was very excited. After hearing new single Canaille my thought was confirmed that the band are only going to get bigger and receive more recognition. A little bit more melodic than their previous material, this single is an absolute belter. There are a lot of interesting elements to Canaille, including jazz and djent and emotive rock. I am curious to hear how forthcoming album Fervor (out 9th November) will sound as a whole. Refreshing, fun and talented, COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS are sure to warm the coldest of reptiles with their forward-thinking metal. Expect to hear more about these guys.

DECAY THE OCEAN – Oizys, Beneath Me

Fed up with being labelled as just another 4/4 metalcore band, Kings Lynn DECAY THE OCEAN have fought back at critics with this promising new single, Oizys, Beneath Me. Starting with a beefy riff, this new track has got more grit, guts and determination than any of the songs on their debut EP Mirror City. Clearly stepping in the right direction to prove their doubters wrong, it’s good to see this young band eager to mature their sound and constantly improve. The love of playing music is clearly there and will hopefully continue to ooze out in the material they release later down the line.

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE – Nine Levels

Following on from 2016’s Odyssey: The Destroyer of Worlds, British progressive champions VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE dropped the news this week they will be releasing their next album, titled Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams later in the year. Along with the news of the forthcoming album, the band also released their first single off it, Nine Levels. I feel this song has a strong COHEED AND CAMBRIA vibe at the beginning before it erupts into the classic emotive metal the band is known for. Vocalist Ashe O’Hara is a little gem in the metal scene and absolutely shines on this single, and the soaring melodies heard in Nine Levels are truly something else. A band to watch for sure, this album is definitely geared up and set to stun.

ABORTED – Vespertine Decay

Another sexy gorefest of a video this month, Vespertine Decay by Belgian death metallers ABORTED is the blistering new single from new album Terrorvision. This song shows the metal legends going down a more blackened route. Arguably more ‘melodic’ than their other material, this suggests the band are pushing the boat out and pushing their own boundaries in turn. One of the heaviest singles of the year so far, it has the potential to rip your face off. The ferocious brutality and intensity is suffocating and makes for an incredibly compelling listen.

VOLA – Ghosts

VOLA were one of the first bands I featured in Metalmance, I labelled them as a ‘Band to watch’ and I reviewed their debut album InMazes and since then I’ve watched them explode. Now on the brink of releasing their second album Applause From A Distant Crowd 12th October, the band have released two singles from it so far. Ghosts is the second of the two singles and quite a stark contrast to Smartfriend, the first single to be released. Ghost is a beautiful, tranquil track which makes good use of electronics, but it’s one of those calming tracks which gets stuck in your head for days. A dangerous combination! Hopefully the album will boast more diverse tracks, as the singles so far have featured less of the djent which featured heavily in their debut album.

Anaal Nathrakh + The Atrocity Exhibit

The Black Heart, Camden. 11 August 2018.

London was quite a hubbub of metalheads this evening, what with IRON MAIDEN and KILLSWITCH ENGAGE playing the O2 Arena and the Progmetalmadness all-dayer at New Cross Inn. Two hundred metalheads had chosen to embark instead to the sweatbox that is the Black Heart, Camden for an extra special night – the preview show of ANAAL NATHRAKH’s forthcoming album A New Kind of Horror. Of course a band of this calibre in a venue this small was going to sell out the night so it was a very hot and cramped evening…the perfect environment for some extreme metal carnage. The band always claim to be the soundtrack to Armageddon so we were lucky to survive the set.

Warming up the crowd tonight were the utterly mad THE ATROCITY EXHIBIT. Their sludgy grindcore in the clammy mist made sure everyone felt a bit of crust (see what I did there), but it was in between the band sets which was possibly the most exciting part of the evening. Fans were treated to an entire and uninterrupted playthrough of A New Kind Of Horror over the PA. Lead single Forward! sounded as brutal as ever and the majority of the crowd already knew the words. As the concept is the First World War, the sound effects of the shells expertly added amongst the riffs is just so disgustingly clever and judging by the look on punters’ faces it’s been well received by fans. As I listened to the album I thought the big riffs, bold motifs and general feel were not too dissimilar to Vanitas and I’m absolutely thrilled about that as that album is perfection. It was reassuring to see the rest of the crowd’s approval too. This album is going to absolutely slay.

It was time for a second helping of ANAAL NATHRAKH, this time with the actual band themselves gracing us with their presence. Tonight was being live streamed so things were bound to get rowdy, but tonight was one of those gigs when you end up being covered in someone else’s beer 0.0002 seconds into the set. No one was safe tonight, the whole room was one big pit, complete with a wall of death and numerous stage divers (despite the stage being only one step-up). The band brought out all the fan favourites including Forging Towards The Sunset and More Of Fire Than Blood and treated the crowd to a live rendition of Forward! Considering we’d already heard it tonight it was still like hearing it for the first time.

Flawless is one word to sum up the evening. In a live setting vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L sounds as ferocious as ever, confirming my thought that he is one of the most severely underrated extreme metal vocalists out there. You cannot fault him. You cannot fault the music either, Mick Kenney is a musical genius and hearing ANAAL NATHRAH live is like a full on aural assault. Don’t be surprised if A New Kind Of Horror ends up being contender for album of the year.

Metalmance Top 20 Albums of 2016

A great year for metal! Who took the top spot?

Welcome to the first Metalmance Top 20 Albums! 2016 has been a hell of a year for metal this year, with lots of reunions and surprise releases. Not all entries will have a blog link due to Metalmance only being a third of a year old. So let’s get straight to it…

 

sleeping  No. 20  CANDIRIA – While They Were Sleeping                     

It’s good to have CANDIRIA back isn’t it? While They Were Sleeping is the band’s eighth album and their first on Metal Blade and it’s a reminder of the band’s refreshing metal mix of hardcore, prog, hip hop and jazz. If you’re new to CANDIRIA, then this album is a good start. Check out the link below to see what Metalmance said about the band’s video for the title track.

Weekly Roundup #4

 

a3458996965_10  No. 19  INCITE – Oppression

You can always rely on INCITE to provide some straight-up, relentless metal, and with their fourth album Oppression, the band continue to carve their own niche in the scene. This isn’t easy when you’re the stepson of metal god Max Cavelera, like frontman Richie Cavalera is, but INCITE are more than capable of thriving on their own. With an intense live show to match, INCITE should be one of your bands to watch.

 

kvelertaknattesferd  No. 18  KVELERTAK – Nattesferd

Every KVELERTAK release is an exciting bag of rock n roll, black metal and punk. This, being the Norwegian’s third album is no different but includes a glorious classic rock tinge to proceedings without losing any the original ferociousness the band are known for. Still raw, fast and exciting, KVELERTAK are still on the rise.

 

mortiis_cover  No. 17  MORTIIS – The Great Deceiver

Another welcome return in 2016 was MORTIIS with their new album The Great Deceiver. After a hiatus of almost five years, the new material was like reuniting with an old, industrial friend. The album has the timbre of Downward Spiral era NIN, but with a contemporary twist, all resulting in a pretty impressive album for the revival of industrial metal.

 

14040057_10154510824634759_8534743349618738043_n  No. 16  NOCETM – Haeresis

Stumbling upon Spanish extreme metallers NOCTEM was an excellent discovery this year. Their album Haersis is still bludgeoning the ears of Metalmance. Read a snippet of the review below and follow the link to the full review.

“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.”

NOCTEM – Haeresis Review

 

nails_-_you_will_never_be_one_of_us  No. 15  NAILS – You Will Never Be One of Us

Probably the most unforgivingly brutal release of the year, NAILS winded metal fans around the world with the absolutely punishing You Will Never Be One of Us. Twenty minutes of sheer face-ripping, ear-pummelling metal, it never gives up for a second. This is how metallic hardcore punk should be done.

 

annisokay  No. 14  ANNISOKAY – Devil May Cry

One of Germany’s most promising metal exports, ANNISOKAY makes metalcore exciting again with their pure passion for their craft. Not afraid to include massive choruses, this young band can only get bigger with their irresistible melodies and crushing riffs.

“With the aggression of newer PARKWAY DRIVE and the melodic sensibilities of bands like SAOSIN and SILVERSTEIN, ANNISOKAY will appeal to fans across the melodic metal spectrum.”

ANNISOKAY – Devil May Care Review

 

lacunacoildeliriumcd  No. 13  LACUNA COIL – Delirium

Italy’s finest never disappoint. Still churning out masterpiece after masterpiece, LACUNA COIL have set their own bar high in the form of Delirium, their eighth album and heaviest to date. Based on narratives surrounding the abandoned asylum near to where the band live, the album is full of intensity and emotion. It still packs a punch over half a year later.

“The subject matter helps to shape the band’s most intense album to date with opener House of Shame bursting in kicking and screaming with the heaviest riff and vocals we’ve heard from LACUNA COIL in a long, long time.”

Weekly Roundup #2

 

textures-phenotype-artwork  No. 12  TEXTURES – Phenotype

Four long years since their last release, TEXTURES finally dropped fifth album Phenotype back in February and it’s still a rewarding progressive metal album. Vocalist Daniël de Jongh is proving his worth with the absolute belters of New Horizons and opener Oceans Collide. Recorded simultaneously with the album Genotype which will be released next year, don’t be surprised if TEXTURES also feature on the list next year.

 

wallsofjerichonoonecd  No. 11  WALLS OF JERICHO – No One Can Save You From Yourself

Yet another band returning from a hiatus, Detroit’s WALLS OF JERICHO released No One Can Save You From Yourself and it is a perfect return to form. The hardcore greats are as ferocious and as angry as ever and could easily show younger bands how it’s done. Welcome back.

“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.”

Weekly Roundup #3

 

brutai  No. 10  BRUTAI – Born

2016 finally saw the release of the debut album by London’s BRUTAI. It was well worth the wait, with its refreshing approach to the melodic metal genre making the band one to watch. With big riffs, big ideas and big choruses, BRUTAI pulls it all off with aplomb and passion. One of the UK’s brightest metal hopes.

“The future of British metal has indeed been born.”

BRUTAI – Born Review

 

a0651344947_10  No. 9  ANAAL NATHRAKH – The Whole of the Law

A band who never disappoint, ANAAL NATHRAKH returned this year with ninth album The Whole of the Law, which is quite possibly the band’s most punishing album to date (if that’s even possible). The brutality ramps up with each song, making The Whole of the Law an intense listen which rewards you with mutilated ears.

“A new ANAAL NATHRAKH album is always a joyous occasion – if joyous means the same as the sensation of having your face battered off by a shovel.”

ANAAL NATHRAKH – The Whole of the Law Review

 

dreamshade  No. 8  DREAMSHADE – Vibrant

A late treat in the year, DREAMSHADE’s third album Vibrant is a gloriously melodic affair with a whole lot of heart. Their passion for their music overspills in each song, ensuring you get wrapped up in their infectious metal and melodies. A great discovery for Metalmance this year.

“An album which shimmers with melodic metal perfection, this third offering from Swiss band DREAMSHADE is indeed a vibrant effort.”

DREAMSHADE – Vibrant Review

 

evergreythestormwithincd  No. 7  EVERGREY – The Storm Within

EVERGREY…dark, emotional, intelligent, melodic, heavy, progressive…and catchy too. Is this an album with everything?? Guest appearances from Floor Jansen? Check. Songs with a big heart? Check. Dark and moody atmosphere? Check. Intense and beautiful video accompaniments? Check!

“If you want some progressive metal which you can belt out around the house, then look no further than EVERGREY.”

Weekly Roundup #9

 

vola-inmazes-album-art  No. 6  VOLA – Inmazes

Technically a reissue through Mascot Label Group, it’s such a treat of an album it would have been rude not to have featured it in this year’s list. VOLA’s Inmazes features most of the year’s catchiest melodies and big choruses, with Stray The Skies still owning the most memorable keyboard hook in recent memory. A young band full of promise and potential, VOLA are ones to watch for sure.

“The young band from Copenhagen have already fine tuned their sound which incorporates chugging guitars giving way to soaring vocals and catchy keyboard hooks.”

VOLA – Inmazes Review

 

animalsasleadersmadnesscd  No. 5  ANIMALS AS LEADERS – The Madness of Many

Modern metal legends ANIMALS AS LEADERS dropped The Madness of Many a month ago and it is captivating and mesmerising audiences worldwide. Just listening to a few seconds of opener Arithmophobia will make you understand why. An album bursting with a stupid amount of musical talent, ANIMALS AS LEADERS have outdone themselves again. How will they ever be able to top this?

“The diversity of sounds on this album demonstrates how far the band push the boundaries of progressive music and composition itself, as far as utterly breaking free of limitations and creating the most mesmerising music which doesn’t seem possible by man.”

Weekly Roundup #11

 

0045778746064_png_1200x1200_q90_crop  No. 4  SAOSIN – Along The Shadow

Another band who ended their hiatus and released an album this year. With Along The Shadow, SAOSIN have created a modern, post-hardcore classic. There was always a risk of sounding run-of-the-mill or sounding too similar to CIRCA SURVIVE, but the band thankfully pulled out all the stops and released one of the year’s most surprising highlights. Heart wrenching songs, big riffs and even bigger choruses, they’re the kings of the new post-hardcore generation.

“The album is one hot nostalgic trip to the glory days of post-hardcore, but somehow they sound timeless.”

Weekly Roundup #13

 

ihsahn-arktis-e1450461123634  No. 3  IHSAHN – Arktis

Ihsahn needs no introduction. This year he almost reached perfection with Arktis, an album so full of twists and turns in extreme styles it is spectacular from start to finish. There are plenty of unexpected elements which feature in the album, including SHINING’s Jørgen Munkeby providing a cheeky bit of saxophone on Crooked Red Line and LEPROUS’ Einar Solberg providing the stunning vocals on closer, Celestial Violence. A modern classic, Arktis will astound listeners for many years to come.

 

635902518368165120  No. 2  PORT NOIR – Any Way The Wind Carries

Possibly the most exciting discovery for Metalmance this year, PORT NOIR is a band which is almost impossible to pigeonhole. With songs bordering on pop, then others edging towards CULT OF LUNA-esque riffs (see Black From the Ink) each song is a different melodic beast. Elements of funk, jazz and metal complete with the distinct vocals of frontman Love Andersson, make Any Way The Wind Carries a rewarding listen each time. For a trio, PORT NOIR have such a rich and deep sound you wonder at how they haven’t already cracked the mainstream. An album so diverse and well executed, Any Way The Wind Carries deserves its high ranking in this list.

“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.”

Weekly Roundup #5

 

blackcrowninitiateselves

No. 1  BLACK CROWN INITIATE – Selves We Cannot Forgive 

And here we have it! Metalmance’s album of the year! BLACK CROWN INITIATE’s Selves We Cannot Forgive has been on frequent rotation since its release. A truly spellbinding example of progressive death metal and its very best. An absolute beast of an album, it pummels you with its devastating riffs and ferocious drumming, then revives you through the utterly compelling clean vocals. The band mix slow and brooding, with fast and aggressive with such zeal the album is a seamless triumph of modern metal. Standout track Belie the Machine pulls you in with its entrancing introduction, you think you’re safe for a few minutes, then the band absolutely crush you with a catastrophic riff GOJIRA would be proud of. The title track shows the more melodic side of BLACK CROWN INITIATE, with its soaring vocals and piano accompaniment. A diverse and ambitious album, it deservedly owns its place at the top spot.

“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.”

Weekly Roundup #4

Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law

Metal Blade. Release date: 28.10.2016

A new ANAAL NATHRAKH album is always a joyous occasion – if joyous means the same as the sensation of having your face battered off by a shovel. With each release, the band get ever closer to reaching sheer black metal perfection and The Whole of the Law is no different. Opener The Nameless Dead, unsettlingly eases you into what promises to be a brutal circus of horror and corruption. With V.I.T.R.I.O.L’s signature screeches and Mick Kenney’s distinct instrumentation, we’re soon in familiar territory, but as soon as Depravity Favours the Bold screams in, all sense of safety is blown out of the water. So this is what being winded by music feels like.

The brutality never lets off but ramps up tenfold in the gloriously lethal Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion, which sees the inclusion of a brief electronic element which throws your mind back to the days of TED MAUL (remember them?). We Will Fucking Kill You threatens to do exactly what it says on the tin, never has a song made you think about taking out life insurance.

This album can only be described as the aural equivalent of having your face pummelled into the dust at 100mph. V.I.T.R.I.O.L’s high screech on Extravaganza makes you crave for their days in MISTRESS. But forget other bands, heck, no one compares or comes close to the sensory assault ANAAL NATHRAKH unleash on their listeners.

Of Horror and the Black Shawls has a delicious gothic twang to it with a ghostly choir lurking at the back of the mix. It brings the album to a dramatic and chilling close. If your ears and music device are still in one piece after listening to The Whole of the Law, then you’ll be sure to crawl through the detritus all over again.