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: 30 to 21

The second instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 Releases of the year.

Welcome to my second instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 albums of the year! Hopefully you enjoyed Albums 40-31, you’re in for a treat with this list! Let’s get down to business then and proceed with the next 10 albums on my list…

30

THE FIVE HUNDREDBleed Red

These lovely lads from Nottingham (via Gibraltar) released this magnificent debut album back in August and it’s a melodic tech metal delight. Coming to the fore of the UK tech scene, the band also wear their metalcore influences on their sleeves with Bleed Red as there is a definite KILLSWITCH ENGAGE streak running throughout (especially on the self titled track and Smoke and Mirrors). This is an album which makes you eagerly anticipate the next release! Great stuff. Check out my full album review from August by following the link below.

The Five Hundred – Bleed Red

29

BROKEN GIRLS FROM ALLFUENT BACKGROUNDSFiction Will See Us Through

This little gem was released back in May and it’s an EP I’ve been returning to during the remainder of the year. I adore bands who throw in shoegaze and post-rock influences and this progressive rock act from Phoenix, AZ throw oodles of the stuff into the pot. There’s a delightful sense of nostalgia when listening to BROKEN GIRLS FROM AFFLUENT BACKGROUNDS. I won’t spoil them for you, they’re a band you’ll have to listen to yourself. Fingers crossed for a full length album soon!

Broken Girls From Affluent Backgrounds – Fiction Will See Us Through

28

SVALBARDIt’s Hard To Have Hope

Hardcore black metal band SVALBARD have caused some serious waves with the release of their latest album It’s Hard to Have Hope. Featuring serious themes such as the bleak job prospects for the youth of today, revenge porn and backlash against feminism, SVALBARD tackle these issues by writing equally urgent songs. You can hear the grit, desperation, anger and passion in frontwoman Serena Cherry’s vocals and it makes for a very intense listen. This album is proving to be somewhat of an underground hit, but don’t just take my word for it, have a listen and hear for yourself. Below are links to my full album review, my live review of their album release show and a Q&A with the band.

Svalbard – It’s Hard To Have Hope

Q&A with Svalbard

Svalbard/Møl/Group of Man

27

UNPROCESSEDCovenant

Djent may be seen as a bit of a stale genre these days but German progressive metallers UNPROCESSED are pushing the boundaries of the style with their latest album Covenant and I’ve been smitten ever since. There are some serious grooves on this record and the riffs sound refreshing in an over-saturated scene. There is an extraordinary depth to their music and with each listen, new snippets are discovered. Read more of my views of Covenant in August’s roundup via the link below.

Roundup – July 2018

26

MANESSlow Motion Death Sequence

No album of the year list would be complete without at least one avant-garde album. That album for me is Slow Motion Death Sequence, by Norway’s art rock band MANES. It’s been said this is their most accessible record but I find it to be one of their more intense efforts. There is a menacing darkness and sense of unease which runs throughout the record and makes for an unnerving-but spectacular- listen. Haunting, electrifying and still unpredictable, MANES will never be boring.

Manes – Slow Motion Death Sequence

25

ARSISVisitant

If you read my November Roundup from last month you might remember me harking on about my love for tech death veterans ARSIS. New album Visitant takes a couple of spins to really sink in but after their classic albums A Celebration of Guilt and We Are The Nightmare, this album has a lot to live up to. Thankfully the band haven’t lost any of their momentum and this record is as fast and ferocious as ever. The tech death legends have returned and will show the young un’s exactly how it’s done!

Roundup – November 2018

24

DISTORTED HARMONYA Way Out

Israeli prog metallers DISTORTED HARMONY already had the hard task of writing an album to rival their last release Chain Reaction, without  adding two new members to the dynamic as well! A Way Out felt like a long time coming but it’s been worth the wait. The album would have ranked higher if the chemistry of the music was flawless, in my eyes Chain Reaction was perfection so perhaps I’m being too harsh. I adore the melodic intensity DISTORTED HARMONY achieve and their technical flourishes. This band are still too unknown, this needs to change next year.

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

23

SICKONESFind Energy

When I witnessed this brilliant hardcore punk band live earlier in the year, I was completely blown away; their unforgettable performance, the messages in their music and their sense of fun were ridiculously addictive and incredibly unique. SICKONES are a truly special beast and this year saw the release of their new EP Find Energy, which is also sadly the last record they will release with frontman Ben Curd now he has left the band. Despite some serious song topics, SICKONES ooze such a sense of fun and optimism and I hope that remains. You can read more of my words about this magnificent band in the links below.

Roundup – June 2018

Cancer Bats/SickOnes/Walk In Coma

22

GOOD TIGERWe Will All Be Gone

Released way, way back at the beginning of February, alternative metal supergroup GOOD TIGER released the beautiful We Will All Be Gone and it’s just as exciting now listening to it as it was on first listen. The post-hardcore elements and the stunning vocals of Elliot Coleman make We Will All Be Gone a glorious piece of art. The irresistible melodies and sun-kissed vibes never fail to warm the soul.

Good Tiger – We Will All Be Gone

21

TEMPLES ON MARSSelf-titled

This album has been a grower on me this year. When I reviewed TEMPLES ON MARS’ self-titled album back in April I enjoyed it but could never have predicted how much I’d end up loving it. Their progressive rock is catchy, intelligent and mature and their songs are incredibly majestic. I enjoy the creativity of the album and the spacey vibes which result in a quite a few epic moments throughout the record. Radio friendly, riffy and catchy this is an album you’re safe to play to your normie friends and enjoy as well.

Temples On Mars – Self titled

Roundup – July 2018

All the releases I’ve been indulging in this past month.

My month has mostly been taken up by the mighty UK Tech Metal fest and the bands surrounding that, but I have had a busy month with this month’s plethora of awesome releases and more. What bands and albums have you been enjoying this month? Let me know!


 

Metalmance Top 3 Releases from July

July has been another awesome month for new releases, including a couple by bands that have reformed and released new material. You can read about one of said bands below! Deciding my Top 20 albums later in the year is going to be very difficult indeed.

 

1

THE AGONY SCENE – Tormentor. Release date: 20 July 2018.

Tormentor

Back in 2005 I was obsessed with The Darkest Red. There’s always been an AGONY SCENE shaped hole left in the metal world for me, but now it’s been filled again because the band have reformed and are better than ever. Tormentor is disgustingly heavy with more tech and black metal elements than ever before. The starting riff in Submissive reminds me of the opening of Bastard Chain by SOILWORK and album finale Mechanical Breath is a superb example of blackened AGONY SCENE, with its WINTERFYLLETH-esque opening riff and ferocious drumming. Not only have the band returned all guns blazing but they’ve evolved from metalcore and surpassed their older material. This is THE AGONY SCENE 2.0 and I bloody love it. Currently tearing up the US on the Summer Slaughter tour along with BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, VEIL OF MAYA and ETHEOS, don’t be surprised if the band take over the scene once again. Catch the link to my blog post below from the archive which features me reminiscing about The Darkest Red.

Weekly Roundup #19 featuring The Agony Scene

 

2

DISTORTED HARMONY – A Way Out. Release date: 19 July 2018.

A Way Out

I was wondering how DISTORTED HARMONY’s third album A Way Out would be received by fans, and since its release it’s been interesting to see the response. A few have expressed their dislike of the heavier direction, while others – me included – have embraced the techier stance. In my review (link below) I mentioned this album may pave the way for them to be accepted further into the progressive metal community and I stand by that. Don’t forget this album was four years in the making and had various line-up changes, the next album may see all the components of DISTORTED HARMONY gelling together more coherently. A Way Out sounds like the band are still finding out what works for them but I really believe they’re on the right track and it’s only going to be a stratospheric rise from here.

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out Review

 

3

NEXILVA – Aseity : I EP. Release date: 20 July 2018.

AseityI cannot believe I stupidly missed NEXILVA on the Saturday of Tech Fest, I must have been napping in the shade or something (more about other bands I’ve missed later in this post) because their most recent EP Aseity : I absolutely slays. Their sound is a collection of all things dark and heavy. The opener Redeemed is a highlight for me, it reminds me of symphonic ABIGAIL WILLIAMS but it also has the exotic SHOKRAN elements which pushes the dynamic to the next level. And don’t get me started of the disgustingly awesome clean vocals on this EP, this track especially. All the tech influences can be heard on Aseity : I from MESHUGGAH on Decades and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME on Overview, but NEXILVA completely own their sound. They’re exciting, blisteringly heavy and they haven’t even tapped into their full potential yet.


 

On the playlist…

I’ve been trying to catch up with some independent releases this month. These are the records which caught my attention.

ISA – Chimera. Release date: 19 April 2018.

ISASo I’m just gonna throw this out there straight away and inform you that ISA is just one chap. Everything is written, played and recorded by Dan Curhan and I think Chimera is a bloody good achievement. Chaotic, messy and progressive it’s an interesting beast to listen to. Listening to tracks such as Stage I – Descent and Stage II – Fear, there’s something of a manic Devin Townsend about Curhan’s progressive approach. In his calmer moments, Curhan has a Maynard James Keenan tinge to his voice, even Mike Patton, there’s something unbelievable about Curhan’s vocal talent. Musically Chimera shifts from BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME to BEECHER to OPETH. It’s all over the place yet it’s all contained. It’s got to be heard to be believed. The depth and ambition of this release is incredible for a soloist. You could do much worse than check this out. Do it.

 

DECAY THE OCEAN – Mirror City. Release date: 9 June 2018.

Mirror CityI don’t think I’ve seen a band work so hard as DECAY THE OCEAN. Coming out of nowhere they’ve been taking their home county of Norfolk by storm this year and further a field as well, including recently supporting CYCLAMEN on their Tech Fest warm up show in Sheffield. In an over-saturated scene of A DAY TO REMEMBER rip-offs and mediocre tech bands, it takes a lot these days to get noticed and be respected but through their passion and perseverance, DECAY THE OCEAN are making waves (haha, geddit?). Their material isn’t the most original and the production could be better, but the potential and the love of the music is there bubbling fiercely underneath. Debut EP Mirror City wears all of the band’s melodic metalcore influences on its sleeve, at times so much it becomes predictable, but I can’t help but wonder what DECAY THE OCEAN may achieve once they’ve established a sound of their own and grown more as a band. Watch this space.


 

Post-Tech Fest playlist…

This is my little section dedicated to the bands I stupidly missed playing live at this year’s Tech Fest but have been listening to since. Yes, I am an idiot but I promise I won’t miss them next time around.

UNPROCESSED – Covenant. Release date: 13 April 2018.

CovenantIt’s no secret I’m a massive fan of the Long Branch Records roster, so how on Earth did I remain ignorant to UNPROCESSED? A German tech metal band that’s taking djent to new heights, they played Tech Fest on the Friday and yours truly stupidly missed out. The band have recently toured with fellow label mates VALIS ABLAZE and I haven’t stopped listening to their album Covenant since.  My first thought was this band is what ANIMAL AS LEADERS would sound like if they had vocals but that’s just scratching the surface. UNPROCESSED have an abundance of tricks up their sleeves and this album is an incredible slab of progressive tech metal. A stand out track for me is Malleable which sounds like djent with THE ROYAL vocals and a melodic ending reminiscent of JUROJIN. The pure djent moments of this band are refreshing and pushing boundaries. Millenium is also another outstanding track with its eerily heavy riff and its BRUTAI-like clean vocals. Everything about this track is spot on, it rocks HARD. This is contrasted by The Mirror which is piano driven and has oodles of electronic elements. The riffing is ridiculous in Meridian, and with a NORTHLANE-ish melody and CHON-esque vibes after the chorus, this is a corker of a track. Don’t make the same mistake I did, make sure you catch these guys when you can!

 

MISCREANT – Living Death. Release date: 6 May 2016.

Living DeathThese dudes have been on my radar for quite a while. So what did I do? I missed them at Tech Fest on the Friday didn’t I. I’m hoping to redeem myself when they play Kings Lynn with MECHROMORPH and BOUND IN FEAR though so bear with me. MISCREANT released new single Let Tomorrow Die last year but their last full release for their debut EP Living Death and it’s a stunning debut of dark and chaotic metal. With the dark intensity of LOATHE this isn’t a listening experience for the faint-hearted. Bitter Regrets is full of OCEANO-scale breakdowns and Desolation has an irresistible hardcore pace that manifests into an absolute beast. So much is packed into these four songs, the debut album is going to blow everyone away. You’ll see.

 

DESPITE EXILE – Relics. Release date: 17 November 2017.

RelicsIt seems all the bands I wanted to see were on the Friday. I remember wanting to check out DESPITE EXHILE but also wanting to save my energy for VOYAGER so I chose the latter but I do regret missing these Italian metallers. I hear they absolutely smashed it and it’s not surprising if you’ve listened to their last album Relics. The title track alone is a blackened paradise. The depth to their heaviness is staggering. It’s interesting to see how people pigeon-hole this band. I’ve seen ‘deathcore’, ‘black metal’ and ‘death metal’ thrown about but the truth is the band are all three and so much more. There is something epic about their dynamic which borrows from the world of black and death metal but there is also the straight-up brutality from deathcore. It’s an exciting combination. In tracks such as Ephemeral you have metalcore riffs and black metal atmospherics and it’s such a stunning result, the whole album leaves me a bit gobsmacked at the end. Let’s hope these Italians play the UK again soon.

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

Release date: 19th July 2018. Self-release.

This album has felt like a long time coming. It’s been four years since the progressive metal band from Israel released the masterpiece Chain Reaction. The band have been teasing new music to fans for the past year as well as having some line up changes. Last year saw the departure of guitarist Guy Landau, then DISTORTED HARMONY announced they were not only replacing Landau with another guitarist, but TWO guitarists; Amit Plaschkes and Yoel Genin. Some fans, me included, were worried how much a second guitarist would shake up the wonderful dynamic of the band. But seriously, it was the perfect step for the evolution of DISTORTED HARMONY’s sound.

Four years is a long time between albums, so progression in sound is expected. The band have become a lot heavier with A Way Out, their third album, but not too far to alienate older fans. Personally I applaud the techier and riffier direction as this will hopefully see them gain a stronger footing in the progressive metal scene. They still have their (not so) secret weapon though, in the form of keyboardist/mastermind Yoav Efron and it’s his signature flourishes which enable DISTORTED HARMONY to remain unique.

The album begins with such a flourish in the opener Downfall. Immediately you can hear the progression from Chain Reaction. The sound is bigger, bolder and far more confident. This includes vocalist Misha Soukhinin and his distinct and charming vocals. He really steps up the game in this release and proves he can belt a tune out just as good as the rest. This first song is a superb example of what DISTORTED HARMONY offer in 2018; intelligent compositions, challenging lyrics, big choruses and thinking outside the box. Fans might be anticipating riffs, riffs, riffs with this release but nothing prepared me for the utter groove-fest that is second track Room 11. Everything is ramped up for this track and this completes the spectacular beginning of A Way Out.

Things get extremely interesting with third track Awaken, whose first half soothes and matches the charm of Chain Reaction. The subtle electronics here underline the amazing song-writing prowess of the group, but it is the second half of this track which will blow you away. Everything ramps up and soars creating an unexpected climax for so early on in the album. The closing riff sounds not too dissimilar to Methylene Blue which perfectly completes the song. Things get extra technical with Severed, where the keys and guitars satisfying align before it breaks down into a djenty breakdown. It’s really interesting to hear the heavier influences coming into play here and sitting seamlessly amongst the classic DISTORTED HARMONY components.

For Puppet On Strings, things sound a little MARTIN GRECH in places. The eerie and brooding composition coupled with the musing vocals make this song one of the most haunting on the album. This is followed by the rousing interlude of For Ester, which is an utterly compelling instrumental break before our ears are pummelled by the opening riff of Anima. The melody reminds me a little of TOOL which is amusing because of the choice of title track used. The sweeping chorus is classic DISTORTED HARMONY which is complimented by the newer techier riffs.

A Way Out of Here has an innocent tone and is stripped down to piano and vocals at the beginning. Quiet and haunting, when other instrumentation is introduced it reminds me of the charming days of KRISTIAN LEONTIOU, the kind of heart-wrenching ballad with a soft accompaniment which emphasises the emotions and lyrics. DISTORTED HARMONY have always been the masters of creating captivating tunes and it appears they’ll continue to be so. If you really are craving the days of Chain Reaction then the next track Time and Time Again is for you! With hints of Natural Selection and Hollow, it will appease old fans and new.

The first song DISTORTED HARMONY released off A Way Out is still one of the most provoking songs of the album. We Are Free is a glorious track of tech riffs and mesmerising programming, topped off with the powerful chorus and imagery. When the breakdown drops, it drops hard. DISTORTED HARMONY use breakdowns to great effect, they never add one unnecessarily, but they know when to sprinkle them in for an intense impact.

Before you know it, it’s the album finale, Someday, which is another melodically intense affair. The pacing and use of multiple vocals may remind you of Every Time She Smiles. DISTORTED HARMONY seem to lean towards a modest closing track and Someday is no different. It never quite takes off but this is the eerie magic of it. A bewitching end to a spectacular album, don’t be surprised if A Way Out sees the band breaking out. It would be a shame to keep such a talented band hidden away. Once they’ve fully unlocked their potential, who knows what DISTORTED HARMONY could achieve. Another stunning effort.

Weekly Roundup #6

Melodic, metal and prog all in one blog.

Band to watch: DISTORTED HARMONY. Recently wowing crowds at this year’s ProgPower Europe, this melodic prog band from Tel Aviv already have two mesmerising albums under their belts. 2014’s album Chain Reaction is a delicious melodic package of progressive metal goodness. Their songs shimmer with spine-tingling piano as well as chord progressions which will make your heart soar. Thought provoking lyrics as well as emotional themes are the orders of the day with opener Every Time She Smiles being a firm fan favourite. Its tone and melody seem strangely nostalgic with flashbacks to bands you might have listened to a decade ago e.g. FINCH and STATISTICS but the remainder of the album takes many twists and turns it is hard to predict where the band will venture next. The single, Natural Selection storms in with a spectacularly fast proggy intro, a bit like a quicker THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT with politically charged lyrical content, but what always astounds listeners is the sheer talent of all the band members especially keyboardist Yoav Efron who also writes the majority of the songs. Vocalist Misha Soukhinin has an impressive range and such a smooth timbre to his voice you will fall under DISTORTED HARMONY’s spell in a second. Closer, Methylene Blue can only be described as the soundtrack to when you’re waking up from a dream. You may have to pinch yourself to confirm DISTORTED HARMONY are real, but trust me, they are worth the pinch.

 

Video to watch: ISSUES. This week, this American heavy pop band released quite a powerful video for their track Blue Wall. Aimed at protesting against police brutality it has become quite a talking point amongst fans. At the beginning of their video the band state the song is about “taking responsibility and making peace”. They are setting out to “tear down the blue wall which silences the good cops and empowers the bad”. They want to encourage listeners to reform their relationship with the American police. The video features ferocious live footage of the band and a running narrative of the theme, but what is so good about this release is the fact the accompanying song is the band’s heaviest on their second album Headspace. The rap and screams blasts their point across, yet also keeps older fans pleased as it is a return to a style similar to their self-titled album. ISSUES are still proving to be an exciting band that is sure to hit the mainstream soon with their catchy as hell songs, but Blue Wall shows the band still have a lot to say. Make sure you hear them loud and clear.

 

Still in the stereo: CANE HILL. This aggressive troupe from New Orleans, LA released their debut album Smile back in July and it’s safe to say it completely blew nu metal fans away. It still packs a brutal punch, devouring your favourite American aggressive bands and excreting them out into their own brand of ear-bashing, ferocious metal. Their sound harks back to the glory days of the best bands of the nu metal i.e. KORN and the straight up metal days similar to early SLIPKNOT but all with a confident swagger and less focus on an aesthetic. The sheer brutality of their songs dusts off the somewhat stale genre, making it relevant once again in the current resurgence, threatening to blow nu metal veterans i.e. (HED)PE and AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE completely out of the water. CANE HILL also have a modern metal sound, a bit like MOTIONLESS IN WHITE at times, but without the foundation and eyeliner. Instead they bring no nonsense, balls-to-the-wall metal and if live reviews are anything to go by then their forthcoming UK tour with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE in December will be one hell of a belter. So catch up with Smile and educate yo’selves with ear-assaulting tracks such as St Veronica, provocative tunes (see, Cream Pie) and darker ballads i.e. You’re So Wonderful.

 

Band to rediscover: EIGHTEEN VISIONS. This month 12 years ago, this straight edge metal band from Orange County, CA released Obsession, an album many would argue would trigger the beginning of the end for the band. This view might have been due to the album being their first to be released on a major album, but personally I thought Obsession was their most solid and coherent album yet. Creating a follow-up to their metal-tinged hardcore opus Vanity was never going to be an easy feat (that album is still highly regarded in the underground community) but Obsession was one highly polished, melodic metal beast it was difficult not to fall in love with it. Vocalist James Hart used more clean singing on the album (see closer, Said and Done) but when things got heavy, boy, did they get heavy! The breakdown in Tower of Snakes was the hottest of 2004 but it was Waiting for the Heavens which fully demonstrated the band’s maturity and ability to pen such sensitive yet hard-hitting songs. This album took the band all over the world touring with bands from LAMB OF GOD to BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE. Their energetic live shows was stuff of legend and the live scene has been missing their ‘fashioncore’, bass lickin’ ways ever since. Unfortunately the band broke up after their infamous self titled album which divided opinion more than Moses parted the sea. The album was radio friendly rock which was a far cry from their brutal early albums (check out Until The Ink Runs Out) but it was still a solid release and did not deserve such a brutal backlash. But fans and the metal community can still find comfort in their back catalogue, but it is unlikely the band will reunite in the near future at least.

 

Band yet to listen to: KAUAN. This Ukrainian post-rock band with folk and doom elements have been the first band confirmed to play ProgPower Europe 2017. A more intense listen is needed!