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.

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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: 10 to 1

The final 10. The all important No. 1.

Here it is! My final instalment of Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018. Thanks for joining me on my Top Releases of the Year journey, it’s been fun! I won’t delay you any further, I’m sure you’re dying to know who has won my top spot! You may proceed. See you next year!

10

NIGHTMARERCacophony of Terror

One of the heaviest, darkest, most terrifying releases of the year, I’ve been besotted with Cacophony of Terror by NIGHTMARER since its release back in March. The dissonant tones and insanely heavy riffs are what keeps me coming back again and again. The seamless transition between opening track The Descent and Stahlwald has got to be one of my favourite album moments of 2018. These two tracks together are mindblowing and the ridiculous riff and crushing atmosphere in the latter will leave you chuckling at just how heavy NIGHTMARER are. Read more of my [dark] thoughts on Cacophony of Terror in the roundup below.

Roundup – May 2018

9

SKYHARBORSunshine Dust

It’s been a strong year for progressive metal releases and one big surprise this year has been SKYHARBOR’s new album, Sunshine Dust. Usually TESSERACT and MONUMENTS lead the way in the progressive metal/djent scene, but for me SKYHARBOR have risen high above the rest this year with their new release. New vocalist Eric Emery plays a big part in this with his terrific warbles, but the songs as a whole are more focussed and melodic compared to their previous releases. Standout tracks Out of Time, Synthetic Hands and the phenomenal title track will leave you dreaming for days. Fantastic stuff. Read my full review via the link below.  

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust

8

ABORTEDTerrorVision

The Belgian death metal/grindcore Kings are back and with TerrorVision, their 10th studio album, they’ve unleashed their most blackened release yet. TerrorVision is everything I wanted the new BEHEMOTH to be. ABORTED have achieved an album so punishing, so unforgiving, so relentless it is a ferocious ride from start to finish. It’s amazing how something that sounds so polished can still sound extremely brutal and I think that proves the beastly talent of these Belgians. 

7

WITHIN DESTRUCTIOND E A T H W I S H

There’s a mad genius to D E A T H W I S H, the third album by Slovenian deathcore/slam band (there I’ve said it) WITHIN DESTRUCTION. This album is exceptionally brutal but it’s executed remarkably well making it an incredibly enjoyable listen. You know it must be a good record if Unique Leader Records picked the band up after the album was released in March. The title track is a slab of perfection, with brilliant guest vocals by VULVODYNIA’s Duncan Bentley. The pace, the riffage, the aural assault of the track is superb and sets the tone for the remainder of the album. Tracks like Extinction and Darkness Swallows Life demonstrate the awesome vocal talent of the band’s frontman Rok Rupnik, but I find penultimate track Death Awaits Us All is their most mature offering on D E A T H W I S H. The darkness of this song is suffocating and guarantees an enthralling listen. Do not ignore this album.

Roundup – April 2018

6

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGEOdyssey: The Founder of Dreams

When I first listened to Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams and included it in my last roundup, I quite liked it but I didn’t realise how much I’d end up loving it and having it on repeat since. When this album clicked after a few listens, the sheer brilliance of the songwriting and lyrics was completely overwhelming. The delicate riffs and considered components of each song results in an absolute winner of an album. It’s rare to hear a record with not only heart-wrenching lyrics, but vocals too that make you believe every single the word. On this album, vocalist Ashe O’Hara ensures listeners feels the pain, the hope, the despair, the passion. It’s an unforgettable rollercoaster and singles Nine Levels and Vestibule of Hell are surprisingly heavy which fills out the album to be the perfect package. The real deal.

Roundup – November 2018

5

HARM’S WAYPosthuman

This is the CD I’ve played the most in my car this year; beefy, bold and hella heavy, no I’m not just describing HARM’S WAY frontman, I’m talking about how Posthuman is one of the most brutal records on the planet. Released way back in February, this album is guaranteed to make you pull the filthy riff face. For months nothing surpassed this record for me, and no matter how many times I listen to it, it never loses its punch. It’s not just any hardcore record though, no no, the industrial elements of tracks such as Last Man and the powerviolence thread that runs throughout makes Posthuman stupidly addictive to return to.

Roundup – April 2018

4

VOLAApplause of a Distant Crowd

I absolutely adore VOLA’s first album InMazes so I’m ashamed to admit my expectations weren’t too high for their second album as I thought it wouldn’t match its predecessor. How wrong I was. Applause of the Distant Crowd blows everything VOLA have previously done out the water. Thankfully the band have dropped most of the djent and have released one of the best progressive records of the year. With this album, the band have shown the world how good they are at creating stunning soundscapes. Applause of a Distant Crowd shimmers with dreamy notes and haunting vocals. There are still lots of heavy lil nuggets and surprises along the way. For me the best moment of the album is the KATATONIA-esque Still, which is an utterly mesmerising track. The songs Alien Shivers, Ghosts and Smartfriend are some of the best singles of the year, yet the album is still full of stunning moments. Believe the hype.

3

AVASTMother Culture

I know what you’re thinking. Who?? Who are AVAST? In October I reviewed the Norwegians’ debut album Mother Culture and I’ve been slightly obsessed ever since. 2018 has seen the rise of blackgaze bands and AVAST are still extremely new on the scene but my word, they’re one of the most intense and blissfully beautiful blackgaze bands around. On the more black metal end of blackgaze than shoegaze, the songs sound like WINTERFYLLETH if they gazed at their shoes a bit more. The mesmerising soundscapes AVAST also produce are captivatingly beautiful, if I listen to this album I have to make sure I’m not doing anything else. This album requires your full attention and concentration. I don’t want to say too much more about it as my full review below and the album as a whole speaks for itself. But promise me you’ll check it out, it’ll be one of the best things you do this year.

Avast – Mother Culture

2

EXOCRINEMolten Giant

After WITHIN DESTRUCTION’s D E A T H W I S H came out I wasn’t sure there was enough room in my life for another monster-themed album this year. I was wrong…again. French progressive death metal group EXOCRINE entered my life with their blistering new album Molten Giant and I haven’t looked back since. What I like about EXOCRINE is they leave all the bullshit out and get on with it. Molten Giant is a superb accomplishment and each song is of the highest calibre of prog death. It’s been fantastic to see the band really gaining momentum in the tech and prog death scene, and rightfully so. Tracks such as Scorched Human Society, Backdraft and Flamewalkers really showcase just how technically magnificent and brutal EXOCRINE are. Congratulations to EXOCRINE on releasing my favourite death metal album of 2018!

Exocrine – Molten Giant

1

MØLJord 

Here it is! My album of the year. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock to most of you considering I’ve been singing the praises of MØL since they released their debut album Jord back in April (I may as well change my name to Mølmance while I’m here). Throughout these Top 40 Releases of 2018 posts I’ve mentioned how my wanting to return to albums has been a factor in where I’ve ranked releases. Jord is the opposite. Jord is one of those albums where you savour every listen and limit yourself to how often you experience it so you avoid becoming bored of the record or over listening to it. Below you can read my full review of the album as well as my interview with the band which they did before their very first UK show at The Black Heart, Camden.

At first I wondered if it was just me who felt an over-emotional response to Jord, but after seeing other people’s reactions during the year and seeing the band fill the room to the brim at Damnation Festival, it’s safe to say I’m not alone. There is something truly special and unique about MØL. From their powerful blackgaze tunes and their mesmerising sound, to their phenomenal live show (it’s becoming legendary) the band are storming on all fronts and remaining humble with it. They get the balance between black metal and shoegaze just right, resulting in stunningly deep textures and soundscapes. I could rave on all day about how much I admire this band but an analysis will never do their music justice. Jord isn’t just an album, it is an experience. Jord is my Top Release of 2018.

Møl – Jord

INTERVIEW: MØL


Roundup – October 2018

After a much needed break I am back and ready to share all the kickass metal that I was enjoying in October. I know I’m a little late, but better late than never eh? In this roundup I feature my top 3 releases from last month and other notable releases I’ve been particularly fond of for the past few weeks. See you throughout November for more awesome music and my Damnation review!


 

Metalmance Top 3 Releases from October

October saw awesome releases from the likes of VOLA and BLOODBATH but it also welcomed records from lesser known bands, some of which are featured below. The nights are drawing in and music is also getting darker. I’ll also be thinking about my AOTY list. Stayed tuned!

1

AVAST – Mother Culture. Release date: 26 October 2018.

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You may remember Mother Culture by Norwegian blackgaze metallers AVAST was my last full review on here. It is also the album I am still heavily rotating since my review and a definite contender for my album of the year. This is one of the most stunning debut albums of 2018, with its intense black metal riffs and blissful releases of shoegaze and melody. On the more ferocious end of the blackgaze spectrum, Mother Culture is a relentless work of art, with its title track and Birth of Man being two of its standout songs. The atmosphere is suffocating throughout, making for an fierce listen. Read my review below for a better insight into this phenomenal debut.

Avast – Mother Culture Review Link

 

2

MYCELIA – Apex. Release date: 12 October.

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Describing a band as ‘djent’ these days results in the rolling of the eyes. However, Swiss metallers MYCELIA somehow avoid being pigeonholed as a bog-standard djent band as so much happens in their fifth full length, Apex. If you dig SIKTH, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN then this band is for you, as the mix-mash of elements creates a thrilling experience which is also downright heavy. The instrumentation is extremely impressive, especially the blistering riffs and jazz flourishes. This band are not afraid to be ambitious and it pays off. Tracks such as the single Eight Milligrams and the brilliant Slip-Along Jack McTravis, boast the talent on display. There are a few amusing moments in the same vein as CARNIVAL IN COAL and the theatrical moments of DILLINGER, but nothing is more surprising than Cromulon and the absolute beast of a track it is. You could do a lot worse than check MYCELIA out.

 

3

AS EVERYTHING UNFOLDS – Closure EP. Release date: 19 October.

ClosureHigh Wycombe post-hardcore/alternative outfit AS EVERYTHING UNFOLDS have dropped the storming Closure. A record so full of emotion and energy, the potential of this young band oozes out of each track of this glorious EP. Vocalist Charlie Rolfe carries the band with her fantastic warbles, I really hope they don’t get lumped with the PARAMORE tag based on there being a young female vocalist in the band, because AS EVERYTHING UNFOLDS absolutely slay with a ferocious energy. Songs such as 17:10 and Divided (featuring Sam Stolliday from THECITYISOURS) prove the band can hold their own with their melodic songwriting and their metallic stance. If they keep releasing fantastic material such as this, then they run the risk of becoming Britain’s next big thing.


 

On the playlist…

Just a short section this month as I’m catching up with a lot of music but below is another notable mention from October and an album which I have discovered and fallen head over heels with…

SOUL DISSOLUTION – Nowhere EP. Release date: 18 October.

artwork - cover

Post black metal is really thriving at the moment, and after two full length albums, Belgian experimental metallers SOUL DISSOLUTION released new EP Nowhere in October, and it is a brooding and crushing delight. Only featuring two songs, this EP is a beautiful and chilling affair with many spectacular moments of sheer intensity and ferocity which erupt into euphoric passages. First track Road to Nowhere has some glorious black metal moments which are perfect for these dark, wintery nights. Second track Fading Darkness is a slower affair that creeps along in an eerie oscillation of blackened goodness. The soaring black metal riffs resonate from the rich depths of the music. Influenced by bands such as AGALLOCH, ALCEST and KATAONIA, you can get the idea of the brooding black metal paradise the band aim to create. Spectacular stuff.

 

THE SHIVER – Adeline. Release date: 4 April 2017.

ShiverIn October I saw my childhood favourites THE RASMUS play in Norwich and beforehand I wasn’t holding out much hope for the support bands. How I was wrong. One band in particular, THE SHIVER, an alternative rock band from Italy, completely blew me away. Their last album Adeline is a spectacular mix of hard rock, shoegaze riffs, metallic moments and sheer brilliance – I’ve been left wondering where this album has been my whole life! Featuring some strong storytelling (the title track sometimes reminds me of LEPROUS) and MY VITRIOL-esque riffs, I feel like I have discovered one of the most underrated European bands of all time. Confident, talented and full of passion, everything THE SHIVER play feels like a genuine outpour of love. Couple this with the fact that they’re very nice and approachable people and you’ve got yourself a band that have captured my heart.

Avast – Mother Culture

Release date: 26 October 2018. Label: Dark Essence Records.

2018 is certainly the year of blackgaze. The strong love for the style has really come to the fore this year as well as love for the bands of the genre; ALCEST, DEAFHEAVEN and more recently MØL who released their stunning debut album back in April. October sees another debut blackgaze album, this time from Norwegian blackgaze/post-black band AVAST. What sets AVAST apart from the rest is the inclusion of their native country’s style of black metal. They use this to their advantage to give their music an extra bite but Mother Culture is an absolutely stunning beauty. What I enjoy most about blackgaze is the feeling and emotions I get from the shoegaze riffs and the extreme intensity, AVAST are already masters of this and the album speaks for itself.

AVAST’s lyrical content lean towards the philosophical and poetical stance on social and environmental issues. Mother Culture is a concept album which examines the myths upon which modern civilisation is based and there is a looming sense of an impending catastrophe. Based on the philosophical novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, you know this going to be an intelligent and thought-provoking listen.

The album begins with the mesmerising title track. Building a wall of sound, the band erupt into a WINTERFYLLETH-esque black metal cascade. The pace and intensity of this song is spot-on, grabbing the listener in at the first chance and latching on for a post-black assault. When the shoegaze riffs kick in it’s a stunning switch to light and triumph, like when the sun rises after a frightful night. Absolutely beautiful.

The triumphant riffs and ambiance continues with the phenomenal instrumental track The Myth. It’s more post-rock than post-black, along the lines of MAYBESHEWILL and PELICAN but it just makes Mother Culture that little more spectacular. As the last guitar note rings, the song shifts suddenly, but seamlessly into the blistering Birth of Man. This track steamrolls through, obliterating everything in its wake. The atmosphere and depth of the sound are absolutely crushing, yet a calmness does descend for an IHSAHN-esque break during the intensity.

The World Belongs to Man is a bewitching track of ambitious proportions. There is a heart wrenching element to this song and the desperation and pain spills out into your ears. The rich textures of sound provides a massive tapestry for AVAST to project their philosophical woes creating an exceptional experience. An Earnest Desire is a more laidback affair which somehow amplifies the yearning. It deceives you into a false sense of security with its delicate and brooding instrumentation, but it bursts into blackgaze perfection. It’s another example of the songwriting prowess of AVAST and the true potential of their craft.

The impeccable Mother Culture needs an equally remarkable finale to do the album justice. Luckily Man Belongs to the World provides a fitting conclusion to this devastating blackgaze showcase. This track is a bit more modest compared to other songs on the album in terms of pace, but this somehow magnifies the components of AVAST and allows you to appreciate the timbre of the riffs and emotion of the vocals. The reduction in tempo and textures towards the end could imply the forthcoming catastrophe. Each component is wiped out until there is only feedback, then silence.

An absolutely breathtaking debut record, AVAST are sure to be accepted as one of the new blackgaze greats. The ambition, ability and intelligence of this record is profound. After listening to the intensity on the record I am eager to experience Mother Culture live. This is only the beginning.