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.

Hopesfall – Arbiter

Label: Equal Vision Records. Release date: 13 July 2018.

It’s been almost 11 years since HOPESFALL released their last album Magnetic North and since 2008 there has been a massive HOPESFALL void left the metal scene that no other band could quite replace. Luckily the band reformed last year and have recorded Arbiter, their incredible comeback album. There is a clear evolution which has happened here, immediately you can recognise the classic HOPESFALL sound and frontman Jay Forrest’s distinct vocals, but Arbiter sounds like HOPESFALL 2.0. It’s a bit like what you always wanted the band to achieve, it has the ambition and progressive sensibilities of Magnetic North and the melodic approach of A Types, which makes for a winning combination. This release has a bigger sound, bigger production and bigger songs. HOPESFALL aren’t going to sneak back onto the scene quietly, they’re going to crash in and show the youngsters how it’s done.

Things get off to a raucous start with Faint Object Camera. Definitely one of the ‘rawer’ HOPESFALL songs vocally, it is a bit of a serious affair but one with massive impact. I was half expecting A Types style quirky riffs, but instead I got a HELL IS FOR HEROES-cum-DEFTONES vibe which is equally as glorious. Second track H.A. Wallace Space Academy is a lot more ‘classic’ HOPESFALL but with an added GASLIGHT ANTHEM-esque twist to proceedings. Forrest is back in business with his big melodies and big screams with the last minute sounding a tad more DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL/JIMMY EAT WORLD than usual, but stick with it as this mix is very rewarding.

If you are desperate for something a bit more old school HOPESFALL then look no further than Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the verse wouldn’t sound out of place on A Types with its twinkly riffs and Forrest’s vocal approach. The chorus entertains the newer style but the spacey riffs soar. I Catapult is another spectacular example of stratospheric rock. Its delicate notes somehow perfectly reflect the artwork. There is a sense of weightlessness in the sun-drenched riffs. You can imagine the pure light you witness when you’re at great heights. When the sun kicks in it is HOPESFALL at their best, one of the album highlights so far.

Tunguska is an emotive track of huge proportions. It has a glorious old school sound, not necessarily HOPESFALL but it sounds like early noughties era rock which has been brought kicking and screaming into 2018. Brooding riffs and a chorus which lapses into a mammoth TAKING BACK SUNDAY-esque passage. This is special stuff. The same could be said for Drowning Potential which is another intense track that would appease old HOPESFALL fans. Angry, fast-paced then oddly soothing, this track matches the intensity and pacing of Magnetic North.

We are suddenly at the penultimate song of Arbiter and HOPESFALL keep our attention with the brilliant To Bloom, which could easily be the album opener. It has that wholesome sound and features all that the band have to offer, from the big choruses, the intense screaming and the twinkly riffs and spacey guitars. It nicely settles down to the album finale Indignation and the Rise of the Arbiter which proves to be one of the most melodic songs on the album. A soothing and blissful track, it continues HOPESFALL’s spacey musical odyssey. The melodies and whispers hark back to the glory days of A Types which satisfyingly wraps up the HOPESFALL nostalgia for the album. Arbiter certainly is not A Types Part 2 or Magnetic North Part 2. This is a different beast entirely and the sound of an experienced band evolving and coming back with a bang. Let’s hope this time they stick around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roundup – May 2018

My top 3 albums of the past month as well as other records that have captured my attention.

May has been another corker of a month, with releases from notable bands such as IHSAHN, AMOPHIS and of course SVALBARD who I have featured a lot in my blog this month. I’ve selected three bands and releases you need to watch, as well as what else I’ve been listening to and an album I’ve been discovering all over again. See you in June!


 

Metalmance Top 3 Albums from May

1

CALLIDICE – Anthem For Resistance. Release date: 18 May 2018.

Callidice

I’ve put CALLIDICE in the top spot as I’ve been looking forward to seeing how this Finnish metal would progress their sound for their debut album Anthem For Resistance and I was not disappointed. I really liked their EP Scarlet, released in 2016. I heard potential but it was obvious they still hadn’t quite anchored their sound or focus. With Anthem For Resistance they’ve achieved a beast that sounds like the love child of INSOMNIUM and SONIC SYNDICATE. It may not be the most original sound but it is a hugely enjoyable listen. CALLIDICE brilliantly mix synths into the mix and still sound impeccably heavy. The song Scarred is a gem, with an IN FLAMES Come Clarity vibe, while Brotherhood of Bastards is more SOILWORK mixed with IHSAHN. Basically, if you’re not a fan of Scandinavian metal then you should steer clear of CALLIDICE. If not, you could do a lot worse than giving Anthem For Resistance a listen.

2

SERAPHIM – Shades Of The Future. Release date: 25 May 2018.

Seraphim

Another severely underrated band, SERAPHIM have surpassed all their previous material with this brilliant effort, Shades of the Future. What’s so exciting about this band from Michigan is their ability to meld an array of metal styles into one gloriously flawless sound. Tech riffs? Check. Screams? Check. Djent? Check. Progressive elements? Check. Massive melodies? Cheeeeeeccccckkkkk. Their transitions from soaring melodic vocals to their heavier moments are seamless, they’re exactly what you always wanted ISSUES to be. The production on this album is the icing on the cake, enabling all of SERAPHIM’s components to shine. Songs like Unmask The Enemy sound a cross between DEAD BY APRIL and PERIPHERY, and it’s this mix of tech and melodic metal that gives their music that much needed modern crunch. An unsigned band with heaps of potential, SERAPHIM should be on everyone’s radar.

3

DREAM ON DREAMER – It Comes And Goes. Release date: 25 May 2018.

Dream On Dreamer

A friend of mine actually recommended this band to me. A friend whose musical opinion I trust and he didn’t let me down again. DREAM ON DREAMER are a band from Melbourne, Australia who seamlessly mix soul and metal together yet still sound heavy and avoid sounding like a teeny-bop band. My first thought is they sound like a metal PVRIS with their catchy melodies and meaningful lyrics, but they could also be compared to bands like VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE and SAOSIN because of the beautiful combination of heavy components and euphonious vocals. Last track Tell Me Why could easily be a radio hit with its YEARS AND YEARS vibes, yet opener Let It In reminds me of the atmospheric moments of LOATHE and the djent goodness of NORTHLANE. Don’t be surprised if you hear more of these guys this year, DREAM ON DREAMER have the talent and capabilities of being bloody huge.

 


 

On the playlist…

NIGHTMARER – Cacophony Of Terror. Release date: 23 March 2018.

Nightmarer

Definitely the heaviest band I’m featuring in this month’s roundup. NIGHTMARER is an apt name for their devastatingly heavy music. Formed in 2016, the band includes former members of bands such as GIGAN, THE  OCEAN and WAR FROM A HARLOTS MOUTH. Cacophony of Terror is definitely a contender for most crushing album of 2018. Suffocatingly heavy, it seems to suck the soul and light from all that is nice in the world and belches them out into a pitch black filth. Dissonant death metal at its finest, you try and think of bands to compare NIGHTMARER to but you’re stumped to find a band who melt all the gnarly ingredients into the same kind of morbid beauty NIGHTMARER exhumes. If you were to describe extreme metal to someone, then Cacophony of Terror would be the record you’d introduce them to. Spectacular stuff.

 

TURNSTILE – Time & Space. Release date: 23 February 2018.

Turnstile

Time & Space has been playing in my car all month, it is an absolute gem. When I found out these guys had signed to Roadrunner Records I knew this album was going to be special. I remember seeing these guys in Norwich in 2015 supporting THE STORY SO FAR and the stage diving and crowdkilling was on another level! I hadn’t even heard of them until that night and I didn’t really hear about them again until their signing announcement. I love how old school they sound and their live show firmly lodged them in my memory. Time & Space shows a more ambitious direction for TURNSTILE, I think it’s absolute gold. The songs I stick on repeat the most are The Real Thing, Generator and Right To Be. I love the grooves, the pacing, the switch from hardcore to metal riffs. It makes me want to dance and mosh at the same time. TURNSTILE are one of those bands I’d see live again in a heartbeat, it’s great to see them finally getting the recognition they deserve.


 

Rediscovering…

HOPESFALL – A Types. Release date: 2 November 2004.

Hopesfall

At the beginning of 2018, HOPESFALL announced they had reformed (finally!) and they will be releasing new album Arbiter in July! After the recent reunions of EIGHTEEN VISIONS, BLEEDING THROUGH and THE AGONY SCENE, I was absolutely thrilled to hear about HOPESFALL too. In my early teens I used to have their third album, A Types on heavy rotation. I had actually picked it up on a whim in a charity shop after I saw the Trustkill Records logo on the CD. Being a fan of EIGHTEEN VISIONS and BLEEDING THROUGH I trusted Trustkill and bought the CD. HOPESFALL were quite different, more post-hardcore than metal but they do have some quite progressive sections, especially on their album Magnetic North. This album is where it all started for me with HOPESFALL and it is still such a charming record. From the catchy It happens to the spellbinding Per Sempre Marciamo, HOPESFALL take you on a little journey through delicate melodies and intelligent songs. Songs like Champion Beyond Blessing and Icarus reek of that glorious early 00’s sound that make you feel nostalgic for the days of emo and post-hardcore. I’m incredibly curious to see what direction HOEPSFALL have gone in for their forthcoming release. One thing’s for sure, it’s sure to blow everyone away.