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

Roundup – June 2018

The hottest releases and band picks of the past 30 days.

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

1

SICKONES – Find Energy. Release date: 12 June.

Do you ever feel like yFind Energyou’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.

 

2

HEAD WITH WINGS – From Worry To Shame. Release date: 1 June.

Head With Wings

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.

Head With Wings – From Worry To Shame Metalmance Review

 

3

NINE INCH NAILS – Bad Witch. Release date: 22 June.

Bad Witch

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.

Revival

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.

VNDTA

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.

Chiasmata

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.

SiameseI 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.

Head With Wings – From Worry To Shame

Release date: 1 June 2018. Self-release.

I’ve been looking forward to this release for a while and it’s safe to say it’s exceeded expectations. If you’re an EARTHSIDE fan then you’re probably already aware of HEAD WITH WINGS as Frank Sacramone and Jamie Van Dyck have been a big part of the writing and production of HEAD WITH WINGS’ work. The band is formed of vocalist/guitarist Joshua Corum and fellow guitarist Brandon Cousino. With the melodic nature of the work and the prog influences, comparisons have been made to PORCUPINE TREE/STEVEN WILSON and KARNIVOOL but I think they extend further from just prog (sorry prog snobs). I’m not denying the prog is there but they are one of those magnificent rock bands who effortlessly transcend the alternative rock realm. I might upset a few people when I say this, but every time I listen to HEAD WITH WINGS it’s like I’m listening to a more conceptual JIMMY EAT WORLD – and I promise that is a good thing. It is the emotion and melodies that HEAD WITH WINGS pull off so flawlessly and the delicate instrumentation beautifully puts the cherry on the cake.

After the first listen of From Worry To Shame the depth of the emotion is quite overwhelming. There’s something about Corum’s voice which is truly mesmerising. If you like soaring melodies then this album has 9 songs chock full of ’em! Corum is at risk of becoming one of rock’s most signature voices and Sacramone’s and Van Dyck’s production wizardry have really helped to heighten the feelings and beautiful accompaniments to create a haunting masterpiece. There is also a significant reason as to why From Worry to Shame is such an important release. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the kidnap/murder of Corum’s cousin. He wishes to raise awareness of the importance of remaining astute when journeying through life. The album also touches upon other tragic events such as the Sandy Hook massacre and Chesire Home Invasion. Some really heavy topics to draw from, HEAD WITH WINGS do them justice through the storytelling feel of Corum’s lyrics, making their tributes that much more potent.

The opening of the album, Goodbye Sky features all the beautiful components I’ve already touched upon. It is a perfect example of the arresting composure Corum and Cousino exhibit throughout the album. I’ll never forget when I first heard this song, even before I knew the subject matter of the album I was overwhelmed with the vehemence that pours from this track and I had to hold back tears. Words cannot describe how stunning this opening song is, but it is the perfect opener for such a soul-stirring record.

A narrative is tactfully constructed for second track Somewhere, Something Gives; a rock ballad inspired by the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre that occurred in the band’s native Connecticut. I say ballad because the emotive riffs and hushed vocal approach during the verses superbly tackles the sensitive topic. Song theme aside, it’s a solid rock song which submerges the listener in its rich depth of textures. The same could be said for In Memoriam, another ballady type song which erupts into spiralling riffs and climatic melodies.

Now Misanthropy is a bit proggier with its brooding guitars and mystic nature of the poetic lyrics. The way the acoustic strings resonate then burst into electric solos is what dreams are made of. The production is particularly good with this track as the tone of the guitars is warm yet still slightly chilling. Corum’s voice is also well mixed here, it sounds so natural and comfortable nestled amongst the impressive guitar work. The same can be said for the album’s title track; From Worry To Shame has great use of harmonies where every component has its place.

Things turn a bit proggier with post-rock vibes with Beyond The Wall. It is quite a haunting song which turns into a post-rock ditty halfway through. The guitars and Corum’s evocative laments make it one of the darker songs on From Worry To Shame. A contrast then occurs when the upbeat Stepping Stone starts. There’s something summery and shimmery about this track. Where Beyond The Wall was mesmerising with its haunting nature, Stepping Stone is mesmerising in its own relaxed way, it does pick up nearer the end when it becomes a resounding rocky ruckus. It’s become very evident by now that HEAD WITH WINGS are disgustingly talented song writers; catchy, beautiful and haunting, they seem to have found a winning formula.

The last two tracks, In Dark Motel Rooms and Treading Lightly are further examples of brilliant alternative rock perfection. The latter is a fitting finale with its beautiful guitars and poetic storytelling. Featuring a guitar solo from Jamie Van Dyck himself, this was always going to be a special song and a storming conclusion to a spectacular album. The ending of Treading Lightly is the most rousing of all, closing this absolutely staggering debut.