How are we halfway through the year already? One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be bloody difficult to choose the top 20 albums later in the year! 2018 has seen some absolutely stellar releases and this month was no different! I’ll start with my top 3 releases as usual then I’ll talk what else I’ve been enjoying and which bands I’ve been listening to in preparation for Tech Fest.
Metalmance Top 3 Releases from June
SICKONES – Find Energy. Release date: 12 June.
Do you ever feel like you’ve discovered a band at exactly the right time? That’s how I feel about SICKONES. 2018 might be great for music but 2018 hasn’t been kind to Metalmance. When I saw these Bristol hardcore punks support CANCER BATS a fortnight ago I was struck by their stage presence and performance. Considering their lyrics can be quite serious they exude so much positivity in a live setting they’re utterly infectious and they’ve really resonated with me since and got me through a particularly challenging month. I’ve been digging their latest EP Find Energy a lot this month, with catchy songs such as Bad Way and chaotic hardcore tracks like Moving Forward and The Choice making this EP is as entertaining to listen to as they are to see live. Their music takes influence from 80s hardcore bands (I can hear a bit of GORILLA BISCUITS and MINOR THREAT, can you?) and its this raw energy and organic recording that I find so utterly charming and addictive. I think I’m showing symptoms of being a SickOne indeed.
HEAD WITH WINGS – From Worry To Shame. Release date: 1 June.
Since reviewing this album last month, the alternative rock duo HEAD WITH WINGS have been gaining a following in the prog and rock community alike and it’s very reassuring to witness. With songs and music of high quality, it is great to see this promising band aren’t being overlooked. With emotionally charged songs and progressive twinklings, songs such as Goodbye Sky, Stepping Stone and…actually I could list all the songs as examples of the stellar songwriting talent the duo boast. From Worry To Shame is a powerful album which is also catchy and memorable. This is a dangerous combination and could run the risk of HEAD WITH WINGS dominating the proggy rock scene…which would not be a bad thing. I’ve written a more in depth analysis in my review of the album which you can find in the link below.
NINE INCH NAILS – Bad Witch. Release date: 22 June.
I think a lot of people won’t agree with this but I still think Trent Reznor is one of the most severely underrated musicians in metal (I’m even going to upset people by classing NIN as metal). A lot of the younger fans of heavier music still completely overlook them but Reznor has proved NIN is still relevant and as ground-breaking as ever. Yes, the likes of The Fragile and Downward Spiral may never be surpassed but the more recent releases, Bad Witch included, are still edgy outputs that push boundaries and give industrial music new life. Songs like Play The Goddamn Part hark back to the avant-garde instrumental days of The Fragile but with a fresh attitude. The record sounds like an evolution of his previous work with God Break Down The Door reminding me of Year Zero and I’m Not From This World sounding like the more claustrophobic moments of Downward Spiral. Many turn their nose up at new NIN releases but they have no idea on the gold they’re missing. Don’t miss out.
On the playlist…
LIGHT THE TORCH – Revival. Release date: 30 March 2018.
Not going to lie I normally have a few older albums on the go during the month, but the past few weeks I’ve finally checked out Revival by Howard Jones and co in LIGHT THE TORCH and I haven’t been able to take it off repeat since. I didn’t fall in love with the last DEVIL YOU KNOW ALBUM, but the lineup and name changes have somehow given the band an extra spark and I think Revival is one of the most underrated releases of the year so far. I’ve seen little love for this album which is shocking because it is a ridiculously strong release. Hojo is on top form here and you can rely on him for some massive choruses but bloody hell the album is compiled of banger after banger. Die Alone, Virus, The Great Divide are just some of the belters on this incredible album. There are also some interesting musical passages with electronic flourishes nestled in the background, which really add to the rich texture of this album. Hopefully more people will appreciate this album over the time, this is a gentle nudge to encourage you to give it a listen.
Prep For Tech Fest
Releases by 3 lesser known bands playing Tech Fest you HAVE to check out…
VNDTA – Pale Glow. Release date: 13 April 2018.
Possibly too good to be an after party band, VNDTA (VENDETTA) from Hertfordshire dropped one of the most promising EPs of the year back in April. Mixing djent, tech, groove metal and even pop influences, Pale Glow is an exciting little package. Frontwoman Megan Targett can scream, growl and sweetly sing as good as any other but it’s her confidence and swagger that sets her voice apart from the rest. It’s one thing having a disgustingly talented vocalist, you need to have a decent band to back the vocals up, luckily the rest of the band deliver. Stand out tracks are the SIKTH-ish Martyr and the INME-esque Swine, but it is the title track and Excuses which you will have in your head for hours on end. Not only am I excited to see how this band will be received at Tech Fest, but I’m also extremely curious what VNDTA will conjure up for their next release.
CHIASMATA – EP. Release date: 14 May 2018.
For a band a little over a year old, CHIASMATA have already achieved great things such as supporting notable tech metal acts along the likes of SARAH LONGFIELD and VALIS ABLAZE, and in May the young progressive metal band from Manchester released their debut self-titled EP. The production and mixing of the EP leave a lot to be desired, which is a shame because the potential of the songs is staggering. This just makes it more exciting to see how the songs translate live. Another female fronted band playing one of the after parties, expect to hear TESSERACT inspired melodies and a cheeky bit of post-rock influences amongst their irresistible techy dynamics. This EP only has four tracks but it has the ambition of a full length album. Vocalist and bassist Zoé Gale is quickly gaining respect and admiration in the tech scene for her charm, talent and ever improving vocals, of which can be appreciated the most in the song Subsidia which is one of the best little treats of the year so far. The band have still got some work to do to nurture and refine their sound but I expect to hear a lot more from these guys and gal. Promising stuff.
SIAMESE – Shameless. Release date: 2 June 2017.
I was very surprised but very pleased to see Danish rockers SIAMESE had been announced for Tech Fest. They may be hidden away in the opening afternoon but I think they would well be worth heading to the showground early for. There are quite a few bands on the melodic end of tech metal this year, including fellow Danes VOLA and proggy bands VOYAGER and VALIS ABLAZE, but SIAMESE are another beast entirely. Radio friendly rock with techy flourishes, they almost sound a guilty pleasure but I can’t feel ashamed listening to Shameless when the songs are this good. Songs like My Turn have an IMAGINE DRAGONS feel to them but others, like Tunnel Visions sounds more like DREAM ON DREAMER. I can’t imagine the INGESTED fans will be queuing up to see SIAMESE do their thang but for those who do rock up early to catch the band, they will no doubt be rewarded with shimmering melodies and chilled vibes before the rest of the weekend obliterates their ears.