Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018: 40 to 31

The first instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 Releases of the 2018.

Welcome to my first instalment of my Top Releases of the 2018. I decided to not only have albums in the list, but EPs too, purely because of the wealth of fantastic ones released in the past 12 months. I will post 10 albums at a time, so without further ado enjoy my Top 40 to 31 albums of the year!

40

VEXESAncient Geometry

Released back in February, it feels like a long time since VEXES released their debut album Ancient Geometry yet it hasn’t lost any of its punch. The album has a shimmering nostalgic, progressive rock tinge, with a large helping of DEFTONES-esque melodies and ambiance. Featuring past members from a variety of established bands, VEXES bring all their skills and expertise together in this impressive record. Do not sleep on this album. My full review is linked below.

Vexes – Ancient Geometry

39

PSYCROPTICAs The Kingdom Drowns

Still a relatively new album as it was only released last month, As The Kingdom Drowns is the seventh album by Austrailian tech mertallers PSYCROPTIC and it’s making enormous waves in the tech death scene. It’s been a cracking year for tech death with the likes of BEYOND CREATION, INFERI and OSBCURA releasing albums, but for me, this effort by PSYCROPTIC surpasses those others as it’s the one I feel compelled to return to again. The instrumentation is absolutely stellar on this album, proving PSYCROPTIC are only getting better with each release. Cracking stuff.

38

WALK IN COMABlur The Line of Fiction and Hate

Here is the first of the EPs I have included in this year’s list. Southend’s WALK IN COMA are establishing themselves as one of Essex’s most promising metal acts with their EP, Blur The Line of Fiction and Hate. The band produce strong, in-your-face metal with good hooks and enough riffs to keep a PANTERA fan happy, but it is the second track Through Your Eyes which proves to be something very special indeed.

Walk In Coma – Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate 

37

ORPHANED LANDUnsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Way back in January, Israeli progressive metallers ORPHANED LAND released the stunning Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, and we need this album more than ever. The band have always flawlessly tied oriental elements in with their metal foundations and it always creates a spectacular result. Much like most of their back catalogue, ORPHANED LAND stresses the importance of equality, acceptance and love. The topics and themes feel a lot more urgent on this release, copying the state of current affairs in the world today. If you want an album where you feel you can unite with humanity, this would be it.

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs 

36

TESSERACTSonder

When I reviewed Sonder, the fourth album by British prog metallers TESSERACT, back in April, I said it’s nowhere near the band’s best album but it could potentially worm its way into album of the year lists. Unfortunately the album didn’t stick with me throughout the remainder of the year, hence its low placing in my album list. Sonder has lots of good songs but it doesn’t maintain momentum or interest for me, compared to albums released by their contemporaries this year which have ranked higher. It’s still a strong album but I’m not convinced it will stand the test of time in the long run.

Tesseract – Sonder

35

WOLF KINGLoyal To The Soil

WOLF KING sound like what I always wanted TRAP THEM to become. They boast filthy, blackened hardcore along with strenuous screams that make their debut album Loyal to the Soil absolutely disgusting – in a good way! WOLF KING sound like the aural equivalent of a full day down the mines; dark, suffocating, dirty and forever plunging into the depths. An incredibly underrated debut release this year, I’m hoping Loyal to the Soil will eventually be celebrated as one of the finest slabs of blackened hardcore to date.

34

JESUS PIECEOnly Self

Speaking of filthy hardcore (oo-er!) Only Self is another breathtaking debut released this year…breathtaking in the winded kinda way. JESUS PIECE are rapidly emerging in the hardcore scene thanks to their CODE ORANGE-esque riffs and their 90s-inspired beats. This year has seen a lot of hype for JESUS PIECE’s contemporaries VEIN, but personally I think the former have the edge. The brutality, the ferocity and downright filth is both crushing and considerably impressive for a debut release. Expect big things. You can read more on what I have to say about Only Self in the link to the Roundup below.

Roundup – August 2018

33

MECHROMORPHSelf-titled EP

I couldn’t write my top 40 releases of the year list without including a quality band from my hometown. Slam metal band MECHROMORPH are the best metal band to burst out of Clacton since…well…ever. The band are proving their worth in the scene, having played shows all over the country and lighting a fire under other local bands. Their self-titled EP features old school sounds along with contemporary slam elements in the same vein as VULVODYNIA, INGESTED etc. Once the band have established their sound there is no reason they couldn’t also prove to be an unstoppable force.

Mechromorph – Self-titled EP

32

BLEEDING THROUGHLove Will Kill All

I always thought any new BLEEDING THROUGH album would be in my Top 10 albums of the year, so I’m surprised with myself for placing the band’s comeback album fairly low in the rankings. The metalcore darlings ended their career on a high with 2012’s The Great Fire and frontman Brandan Schieppati released a brilliant solo album as THE IRON SON in the meantime, but unfortunately Love Will Kill All didn’t quite live up to expectations compared to their peers ATREYU and THE AGONY SCENE who released better quality albums this year. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a solid album, and last track Life is positively stunning. Check out my BLEEDING THROUGH retrospective I wrote earlier in the year for my low-down on each of their albums.

METALMANCE RETROSPECTIVE: Bleeding Through

31

VALIS ABLAZEBoundless

This mesmerising debut album by Bristolians VALIS ABLAZE is the album I’ve moved around the most whilst compiling this Top 40 list. Boundless is an awesome progression from the band’s EP Insularity, but it’s an album I’ve struggled to return to throughout the year which is why I haven’t placed it higher. There are several particularly stunning tracks on here such as Lumen, Afterlight and Frequency which prove VALIS ABLAZE are one of the leading lights of British progressive metal. Choosing Paradox as their lead single might not have been the wisest choice as it doesn’t show the band at their most original, but bloody hell the potential is there for greater things.

Valis Ablaze – Boundless

Vexes – Ancient Geometry

Release date: 23 February 2018.

There seems to be a trend of nostalgic sounding metal as of late, with the likes of GOOD TIGER and their new proggy post-hardcore – and now VEXES and their spectacular DEFTONES-tinged metal. From the ashes of several established bands, a phoenix formed with the name VEXES and they have just released their beautiful debut album Ancient Geometry.

Smashing in with Helion, you’d probably think you were hearing the warblings of Chino Moreno, but you’d be mistaken. They are in the fact the luscious vocals of Charlie Berezansky, former member of VESSL. Helion boasts a wealth of influences. After the initial comparison to DEFTONES, elements of late FINCH and THRICE can also be recognised through the emotive attitude and subtle technicality wrapped under huge dollops of melodies. The ending takes an interesting turn with the heavy riffs sounding not too dissimilar to  A LIFE ONCE LOST, the former band of drummer Justin Graves. A subtle hint to past lives?

Second track Lift is sugar-soaked with Mesmer-era NORTHLANE vibes and the spacey chorus has CIRCA SURVIVE stamped all over it. The glorious and deep feelings VEXES have already stirred with the fist two songs is impressive stuff. It’s beginning to give the impression this is an album to fully immerse yourself in. This is a great feat by frontman Berezansky who engineered and mixed the album, the tones are spot on and it’s all helped along by the mastering of Mike Kalajian (THE DEER HUNTER, SAOSIN, EMMURE).

Decisions Are Death Here is a brooding track that erupts into a heart wrenching chorus. Drenched in dark emotion, it would sit quite happily an album such as Saturday Night wrist. A similar formula is used for Plasticine, a song which has some hints of grunge, but is very unashamedly DEFTONES in its melodies.

The impressive and ambitious No Color features guest vocalist Mikey Carvajal, from ISLANDER. Carvajal gives this punchy song a hard, nu-metal edge. Having said that, this track still sounds as fresh as ever, giving dated styles a modern crunch. The riffs are reminiscent of MATCHBOOK ROMANCE in places which drives the song home. Sometimes VEXES also remind me of CAVE IN, most likely because of the clean, slick sound and the old school riffs and melodies. VEXES chuck it all into their melting pot and serve their own hybrid. A nod to CIRCA SURVIVE is once again heard in Terra; another impressive slab of metal.

While listening to Ancient Geometry, one word keeps springing to mind. Coincidentally this word is also the title of the next song – Lush.  The instrumentation shifts and shines and makes this song a very enjoyable listen. With a heavy crunch from the middle onwards, it has a hint of TESSERACT with its melodic twinklings and heavy accompaniment.

A short interlude titled Meridian Response clears the mind and cleans the palette before the storming Photochrom smashes your senses. Screaming through the first chorus, the song continues with FINCH-esque melodies and catchy choruses. You can’t help but hope the song will take another heavy turn again, but VEXES remain melodic with irresistible riffs.

The title track is also the finale of Ancient Geometry. A chilled out affair, the blissful melodies provide the perfect setting to close this spellbinding album. The track is chock-full of delights, ensuring you finish Ancient Geometry with goosebumps. I don’t know how VEXES have done it, but they have achieved something special with their debut album. Not every band could accomplish wearing their influences on their sleeves so openly, yet still produce an album that sounds fresh and innovative. It will be interesting to see what direction VEXES will progress with album number two, but for the moment let’s enjoy the triumph that is Ancient Geometry.