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

Cancer Bats/SickOnes/Walk In Coma

Chinnerys, Southend. 12 June 2018.

If you’ve been following Metalmance then you’ll know how much I was looking forward to seeing CANCER BATS for the sixth time. I’ve been witnessing them tearing venues to shreds for 10 years now and tonight proves they are still as riotous as ever. The Chinnerys, Southend were hosts to the ‘BATS tonight and walking into the intimate room, you knew then you might not make it out alive. Or if you do, you’ll be covered in other people’s sweat and spit.

There was a decent amount of people to see the opening band, WALK IN COMA who are residents of the town. Rapidly gaining a reputation in Essex with their bold metal tunes, these Southend lads appeased their existing fans and gained new followers with their blistering set this evening. Playing songs from their first EP Narrenturm and their forthcoming EP Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate, their sound is a cross between PANTERA and IN FLAMES so you can probably gauge how beastly WALK IN COMA sound live. It’s one thing having a big sound, you’ve also got to be able to pull it off live. Luckily the band are natural showmen, looking at ease and confident like they do this every day. Singer Alex Adlington is proving to be quite the beguiling frontman with his brilliant harsh vocals and cleans (the chorus of Through Your Eyes anyone?) and his stage presence was quite formidable. The new songs sounded absolutely massive, don’t be surprised if you find them playing a city near you soon.

I was not expecting what I was about to witness next. Hardcore punk trio SICKONES were an impressive sight to behold. Frontman Ben Curd can only be described as the Louie Spence of hardcore punk with his stupidly magnificent dance moves and jumps and spins. He has to be seen to be believed. Add this to their ridiculously charming hardcore punk and you’ll soon be dancing along and being converted. Playing songs from their EPs The Red Line and Find Energy, these Bristolians are truly something special. Explaining the messages behind each song, whether it be about feeling stuck in a rut, not conforming to lifestyle choices of the majority or if you feel stuck in a relationship, the band somehow make everyone in the room feel encouraged to be themselves and feel happy. It’s obvious SICKONES are all about the music and expression and it’s this sense of authenticity that is so appealing. Their music itself is hard, fast, fun and deceivingly catchy. The whole SICKONES package is a truly exceptional one. This is one band you absolutely HAVE to see live.

Standing at the barrier at a CANCER BATS gig is always going to be risky business and tonight was no different. As soon as Liam Cormier and co. graced the stage the bars of the barrier acted as a climbing frame for Southend’s eager hardcore kids. A few brave souls climbed up to the lighting rig and dived into the crowd from there causing absolute carnage. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Tonight felt like the reunion of kindred spirits. The majority of people here have been witnessing CANCER BATS slay venues for a decade now and the Chinnerys is one venue they always return to. And you can understand why judging by the raucous reception they receive! The set was full of classics such as Hail Destroyer, Pneumonia Hawk, R.A.T.S, Scared To Death which sounded timeless amongst new tunes such as Gatekeeper and Bed Of Nails. Seeing Pray For Darkness and Sorceress live is still an essential gig experience, it’s incredible to see 10 years on these songs still get the same intense response at shows. CANCER BATS have still got it and it looks like they’re not slowing down yet. Once the riff of Sabotage was played, the security surrendered and let the chaos ensue. This will be a night Southend will remember for years to come.

METALMANCE RETROSPECTIVE: Cancer Bats

My thoughts on their spectacular back catalogue.

CANCER BATS  are one of those reliable bands in heavy music. Spouting the grooviest hardcore punk of this century, the band have been shouting and raging for over a decade now. With a fiercely loyal fanbase the ‘BATS have always been close to their supporters and this always adds to their element of fun at their live shows. And what gigs they are! They’re the band I’ve seen the most and it’s always an incredible experience. Five times I’ve seen them and I’m hoping to make that six when I see them at Chinnerys in Southend next month. They crossover many styles and audiences, having oodles of appeal in different scenes. They recently released their sixth album The Spark That Moves as a surprise and it’s stirred all sorts of nostalgia in me. To celebrate the band making a triumphant return I have compiled a retrospective on their back catalogue and included my thoughts and favourite tracks of each album.

Birthing The Giant – 2006

Birthing The Giant

I feel like I’ve grown up listening to CANCER BATS the past 12 years. I first heard of them when Rock Sound magazine featured Golden Tanks on one of their cover mount CDs. I remember listening to this track over and over again in my GCSE Art mock exam, and loving the grooves and energy so much. I then heard French Immersion on a Hassle Records sampler and I knew I just HAD to buy Birthing The Giant the next time I made a trip to my nearest HMV. They instantly became my new favourite band. Despite the fact I cold never imitate Liam Cormier’s yaps I would always shout along and bang my head. I found them so heavy, yet extremely catchy and Scott Middleton’s riffs were so addictive I was completely besotted. I mean, 100 Grand Canyon anyone? You never know whether to dance or to mosh and that’s the beauty of their music.

Favourite track: Pneumonia Hawk. To be honest it could easily be one of the others I’ve just mentioned but this song has a special place in my heart. Still one of the most crushing songs live, CANCER BATS always reduce venues to rubble with this song. Throw in guest vocals from George Pettit from ALEXISONFIRE and you’re onto a winner.

Hail Destroyer – 2008

Hail Destroyer

CANCER BATS recently played four shows at The Underworld, Camden to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this absolute masterpiece. Every song is a gem in its own right with fan favourites being the devastating Sorceress and the fast-paced Pray For Darkness, both absolutely slay live and nothing compares to the poison Cormier spits during the former. The reissue a year later features their incredible covers of TEGAN AND SARA’s So Jealous and THE FAINT’s Agenda Suicide. Both of which are still some of my favourite covers to date.

I think the reason why young people related (and still relate) to Hail Destroyer is the fact it’s a collection of anthems that provide optimism and solidarity. At their live shows they make everyone feel like one big family and that sticks with fans forever. The raucous energy in the recordings are reflected in their live shows which results in utter chaos. I saw CANCER BATS three times while they toured this album and I almost suffocated at one, and blacked out at another. Utter madness.

Favourite track: Harem of Scorpions. One of THE most underrated CANCER BATS songs and one which I’ve never seen them play live. It has a powerful message which resonates with me and a lyric from this is one of my favourites of all time;

“And the greatest thing you’ve ever done, is made yourself truly happy. Not doing it for anyone, it’s your life to live as you choose.”

Couple this with incredible riffs and a guest appearance from RISE AGAINST’s Tim McIlrath and it’s an unstoppable track.

Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones – 2010

Bears Mayors Scraps and Bones

Named after the members’ nicknames, I always felt with this album Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones, CANCER BATS started to go in a sludgier direction. It’s not quite as fast and aggressive as Hail Destroyer which disappointed me initially, but listening to this album now I think I’ve totally taken it for granted. Still heavy as hell and catchier as ever, you’ve got the classics We Are The Undead, Fake Gold, Black Metal Bicycle and Snake Mountain to tickle your fancy. Groovy riffage runs throughout and of course the cherry on the cake is their cover of BEASTIE BOYS’ Sabotage. This cover further propelled them into the mainstream and rightly so, it’s a fantastic cover but I still get annoyed when people say it’s their favourite CANCER BATS song. I think the band have a whole wealth of material that surpasses this, but it is a great example of what CANCER BATS are all about; groovy, punky-hardcore that’s hella addictive and easy to enjoy.

Favourite track: Scared To Death. I think this is three minutes of perfection. So much happens in this song yet it sounds a tad more reserved than shoutier efforts. The way it all tumbles out from the get-go instantly captures your attention. I absolutely adore the pure metal riff after Cormier says “Ask me now I’d say I do”. JUST SO METAL. And let’s not forget we all tried to copy Cormier’s “uh uh – uuhh” but never sounded as cool. CANCER BATS always manage to write one-line anthems and this song has one too;

“I wanna kill everything I fear”.

I always feared CANCER BATS would crumble under the pressure of the success of Hail Destroyer but I needn’t have worried.

Dead Set On Living – 2012

Dead Set On Living

I don’t know how many times I skipped back to the intro of this album but R.A.T.S still sounds bloody HUGE. Probably one of the biggest sounds CANCER BATS have ever made, yet I feel this is the album which always gets overlooked. I think one reason for this, and this is only my personal opinion, is that the band sound a bit detached from their fanbase on this record. It’s a bit more of a straight-up metallic hardcore output but it’s got a few more doomy influences, such as the song The Void. You got some classic Middleton riffs on Drunken Physics and Rally The Wicked, but I find the album is missing an ‘anthem’. New World Alliance or R.A.T.S could arguably be treated as such but they’re not as in your face as previous efforts. All in all, this is till a very interesting and well written record, listening back to it now I feel like I’m listening to it for the first time.

Favourite track: Old Blood, because once again Middleton becomes extremely close to stealing the show with his riffing. I think the feel of this song harks back to their early days, with a little more balls. The gang vocals give it a cool hardcore feel and the energy is infectious.

Searching For Zero – 2015

Searching For Zero

This is probably the album I’ve connected with the least. That’s not exactly a criticism but I thought CANCER BATS had lost some of their oomph with Searching For Zero. I always thought this album was more doom metal than hardcore and the old school mix effect made it hard for me to digest. Songs like All Hail and Beezlebub still had a groovy riff and that CANCER BATS charm but tracks like Dusted and Cursed With A Conscious were always lost on me. It was interesting to see when they toured this album, the audience was no longer punk rock kids, but the band’s old school fans who had grown up into fully fledged adults. The gigs were still crazy but not as [cancer]batshit crazy like I was used to. I was always worried this album spelled the end of CANCER BATS but luckily, I was wrong…

Favourite track: True Zero. This song didn’t really ‘click’ with me until I saw them play it live. I’m not a massive fan of the verse and the overuse of reverb but it’s stupidly catchy and Cormier’s grit during the chorus is absolutely captivating. There are still glimpses of old CANCER BATS in this song and that’s what I always clung on to.

The Spark That Moves – 2018

Precision 12 Inch Jacket Template

When CANCER BATS surprised the world with the release of The Spark That Moves, I was a little apprehensive to give it a listen after the disappointment of Searching For Zero. I needn’t have been concerned because The Spark That Moves is clearly the best thing CANCER BATS have done since Hail Destroyer, and I’m not alone in this belief. The Canadian group have returned to their old roots and kicked all doubt out the window. Each track also has a unique music video to accompany the album which makes this record an audio and visual treat for all music fans. The energy and pace reflects that of their earlier albums with tracks like Brightest DaysRattlesnake and Can’t Sleep sounding like they wouldn’t be out of place on Birthing The Giant and Hail Destroyer. From the opening riff of Gatekeeper, you are hooked. This album is also the first record for a while CANCER BATS have got guest vocalists involved such as Jenna Priestner of MOBINA GALORE on Rattlesnake (the first female vocals on a CANCER BATS record?) and the amazing Chris Hannah from PROPAGANDI on the last track, Winterpeg which is just a fabulous finale. An all round fun album that has brought CANCER BATS to the forefront of hardcore punk again.

Favourite track: Bed Of Nails. I absolutely adore how this track begins, from the vocals to the groovy riff. This song actually ends up featuring some of Cormier’s ‘melodic’ vocals which emphasises the heavier lyric of “Before I die I’ll live forever”. CANCER BATS sound like they have got their mojo back and the anthems are back in full force.