Metalmance’s Top 20 Releases of 2019

The best 20 releases of the past 12 months

What a year! I was absent for most of it but that didn’t mean I wasn’t lurking and listening to albums. I’ve kept the list honest this year, with the releases I’ve listened to the most. If you’ve come here expecting to see SLIPKNOT and TOOL then you can go to Metal Hammer for that. As always I’m featuring EPs as well as albums…so behold! My Top 20 releases of 2019!


 

20. HOUR OF PENANCEMisotheism. Release date: 25 October.

It’s been a couple of months since Italy’s HOUR OF PENANCE dropped the meaty slab of death metal that is Misotheism and it still absolutely slays. Out of all the brutal death metal releases which have dropped this year, Misotheism is one of the most consistently punishing. Tracks such as The Second Babel and Lamb of the Seven Sins are violent delights. The brutal grooves and relentless battering of the senses are a morbid treat. Instead of focussing on how fast or how extreme they can go, HOUR OF PENANCE ensure there is some form of structure and substance to their songs which is sometimes missing in extreme music today. If you’re also a glutton for punishment then you could do a lot worse than giving Misotheism a spin.

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019 feat. Misotheism


 

19. ABIGAIL WILLIAMSWalk Beyond The Dark. Release date: 15 November.

It’s great when a band’s first album in almost five years doesn’t suck. ABIGAIL WILLIAMS have always been a bit of an oddball (in the best possible way) and have upset the most cvlt of black metal fans through the years. Walk Beyond The Dark is their best album since In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns. That’s a big statement I know, but it just emphasises my point on how good Walk Beyond The Dark Is. Atmospheric enough to be gripping and chilling, succinct enough to remain ambitious without overstaying its welcome. Sun and Moon and Into the Sleep are some of the more storming tracks on the album, but no second is wasted on this beauty. The darkness and colossal atmosphere is something else and proof that ABIGAIL WILLIAMS have not lost an ounce of intensity. In fact, it seems they’ve gained more.

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019 feat. Walk Beyond The Dark


 

18. BAESTVenenum. Release date: 13 September.

I’ve probably said this a few times but BAEST are what I wish BLOODBATH still were. Their old school death metal is addictive as hell and with Venenum their second album, they sound beastlier than ever. The riffs are utter filth and the venom spat by frontman Simon Olsen is some of the most terrifying you’ll hear from a modern death metal band. Heresy, As Above So Below and Sodomize are ferocious additions to BAEST’s arsenal of death metal delights. With hellish lyrics and a relentless delivery, BAEST are firmly on the rise to extreme metal royalty. This year saw their ascent escalate with successful support slots for the likes of DECAPITATED and ABORTED. Their recorded material is impressive but their live show absolutely slays. One of the most promising death metal acts out there, beware the BAEST.

Roundup – September 2019 feat. Venenum


 

17. WORMEDMetaportal EP. Release date: 19 July.

Another death metal delight, this time in the form of WORMED’s incredible EP Metaportal. Their technical death metal is some of the best I’ve heard all year, like old school DECAPITATED with extra speed, madness and sci-fi themes. Metaportal is four tracks of unapologetic tech death bludgeoning. 2019 saw some albums which should have been EPs and some EPs which should have been full-lengths, including this one. Spain is rapidly gaining a reputation for its quality, extreme death metal acts and there’s no reason why WORMED can’t join Spain’s metal elite. A polished slab of the most unforgiving metal around, Metaportal shows the newbies how it’s done. Full length next please!

Roundup – July 2019 feat. Metaportal


 

16. CRYSTAL LAKE Helix. Release date: 15 February.

The last couple of years has seen Japan’s metalcore troupe CRYSTAL LAKE grow from strength to strength. Last album True North was a bit all over the place, but Helix is an absolutely punishing release. Aeon has remained one of my favourite songs of the year with its flawless execution. If the same focus was given to the remainder of the album then Helix would rank higher in the list. Agony and +81 are other bangers and things get brutal again with the heavy Hail To The Fire. Helix features lots of riffs to die for and some of the most ferocious drumming of the year, but it’s front man Ryo Kinoshita who is the [not so] secret weapon of CRYSTAL LAKE’s appeal. The technique and talent on display in Helix is incredibly exciting. Once they tap into which sound works best for them and stick to it, world domination awaits.

Crystal Lake – Helix review


 

15. AENIMUSDreamcatcher. Release date: 22 February.

Californian brutal troupe AENIMUS are slowly but surely working their way through the ranks to being one of the best progressive extreme acts out there. I’m surprised they haven’t gained more recognition off the back of the incredible Dreamcatcher album. One of the most polished and consistent extreme records of 2019, Dreamcatcher is a spectacularly dark record. Any moments of light and optimism are briskly extinguished to maintain a fiercely dark atmosphere. Songs like The Ritual fill the empty BLACK CROWN INITIATE-shaped hole that is in our lives at the moment, while My Becoming could have been what we wanted from SHOKRAN this year…there is something for every extreme metal fan on Dreamcatcher. Fingers crossed we get more live shows and we can get our faces ripped off in person.

Aenimus – Dreamcatcher review


 

14. SCHAMMASCHHearts Of No Light. Release date: 8 November.

One of the most atmospheric black metal bands out there, Switzerland’s SCHAMMASCH never fail to bring the most chilling and ambitious black metal to our ears. SCHAMMASCH achieve blackened brilliance without all the cringey cvlt gimmicks of the genre. Hearts Of No Light is another superb effort from the Swiss demons. Polished and bold, but not so it loses any raw power or impact, the album is sure to finally put the band on a level which they deserve. There are a few interesting nuggets on this album which hint at the band experimenting with new ideas and approaches (the bewitching I Burn Within You anyone?) which is exciting as some black metal bands churn out the same stuff year after year. SCHAMMASCH are a band you can’t wait to hear more of or see what they conjure up next. All hail the new dark lords!


 

13. THIS GIFT IS A CURSEA Throne Of Ash. Release date: 14 June.

I made a bold statement at the beginning of the year, saying 2019 was going to be the year for black metal and sludgy hardcore. Sweden’s THIS GIFT IS A CURSE mix all these genres into a terrifying aural assault in the form of latest album A Throne Of Ash. This album is anything but uplifting and optimistic. Harking back to the glory days of CURSED and chaos, THIS GIFT IS A CURSE have produced one of the most bleak, yet rewarding albums of 2019. The unforgiving Blood Is My Harvest and Gate Dweller provide some of the noisiest and most disorientating metal of the year. If you’re a sensitive soul then avoid THIS GIFT IS A CURSE.


 

12. MYRATHShehili. Release date: 3 May.

Shehili by Tunisian metallers MYRATH is a bit of a gem. If you like your progressive metal with a little extra something, then MYRATH are for you. They often get compared to ORPHANED LAND but MYRATH are more power metal than oriental metal. MYRATH write catchy songs and go easy on heavy messages, so it’s a good time all round. Tracks like You’ve Lost Yourself, Dance and Darkness Arise are absolute belters. If you don’t get your shimmy on with this album then you might not have a musical bone in your body. Shehili is a solid, catchy, polished album that is a fun listen and rewarding every time. Well worth checking out.

Roundup – August 2019 feat. Shehili


 

11. CAR BOMBMordial. Release date: 27 September.

Ah CAR BOMB. Previous album Meta was mathcore perfection, yet with Mordial they have pushed the boundaries further and created something so genius and mindblowing I am almost lost for words. I mean, we all fell in love with the laser effects on Dissect Yoéurself but CAR BOMB mostly avoid gimmicks and let their otherworldly music speak for itself. Some fans have expressed their dislike of the ‘clean’ vocals but I love the DEFTONES edge they give. Mordial is one of those albums that you find yourself shaking your head at in bemusement and awe. The crunchy, metallic riffs, the whirring instrumentation and crazy time signatures all add up to a cacophony of brilliance and madness. Indulge if you dare.

Roundup – September 2019 feat. Mordial


 

10. GODEATERAll Flesh Is Grass. Release date: 27 September.

America might dominate the tech metal scene but Glaswegian darlings GODEATER are sure as hell worming their way upwards to the British elite. Their debut album All Flesh Is Grass has thankfully smashed out of the UK tech bubble and has been invading its way into the wider metal community, both at home and overseas. Environmentally conscious but not in the way that dominates the music, GODEATER are a band with a conscience…and tasty riffs. Standout songs Silent Spring, Blood Moon and Inertia Haze exhibit the technical brilliance of the band, but technical brilliance which also shimmers with heart and soul. There is substance to the songs which prevents it from becoming soulless guitar noodling. This is only the beginning.  

Tech Fest 2019: Part 1 feat. Godeater

Roundup – September 2019 feat. All Flesh Is Grass


 

9. ISSUESBeautiful Oblivion. Release date: 4 October.

ISSUES’ first self-titled album was perfection and their second album Headspace fell short of expectations, so I wasn’t expecting much from third album Beautiful Oblivion. That was until they released lead single Tapping Out and I got all excited by its promise of a heavy direction. When I first listened to the album I was bitterly disappointed. But once I got over that it wasn’t the self-titled 2.0, I began to appreciate the gem that it is. Mature, catchy and subtly heavy, Beautiful Oblivion is a solid, melodic metal album. It’s a passionate, thoughtful, polished slab of joy, but nothing quite prepares you for the brilliant Flexin and its irresistible hooks. Some might see ISSUES as a guilty pleasure. I see them as a melodic band worthy of your attention.


 

8. TIDES FROM NEBULAFrom Voodoo To Zen. Release date: 20 September.

Polish post-rockers TIDES FROM NEBULA released their most ‘electronic’ album to date, with the incredible From Voodoo To Zen. From the breath-taking opening track Ghost Horses to the sublime closer, Eve White, Eve Black, Jane, TIDES FROM NEBULA have created a post-rock masterpiece for the 21st century. The synth greatness which ensues in tracks such as Dopamine and the mesmerising title track, elevate your senses to a stratospheric level. The shimmering tracks take you on a journey and the bright, crisp sounds are oddly reassuring and positive. An outstanding album by one of the greats. Phenomenal.


 

7. SIGNS OF THE SWARMVital Deprivation. Release date: 11 October.

I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed SIGNS OF THE SWARM new album Vital Deprivation. I’ve always liked them, don’t get me wrong but they have seriously stepped up their game with this latest effort. Last year it was all about WITHIN DESTRUCTION for slamming deathcore, this year it’s about SIGNS OF THE SWARM. Songs such as Malformed Dissonance and Malevolent Enslavement bring the best slamming grooves, while Lost Within Reflection and Tempting Death (featuring Tom Barber) bring something a bit more mature and nasty to the table. It’s really promising to hear such a huge jump in progression between albums, I wonder what SIGNS OF THE SWARM will pull out of the bag for album number four?

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019 feat. Vital Deprivation


 

6. VOYAGERColours In The Sun. Release date: 1 November.

VOYAGER have always been a quality prog band but with newest album Colours In The Sun they have really surpassed themselves. It’s the old cliché of the album being their poppiest, yet heaviest to date. But it only takes one listen to realise this is true. Tracks like Colours, Brightstar and Reconnected are some of the best songs VOYAGER have ever penned. A glorious highlight is the magnificent Entropy which features none other than LEPROUS’ Einar Solberg which makes for a terrific proggy surprise. Colours In The Sun is the band’s most solid and consistent release and it’s a gem from start to finish. Fun, upbeat, heavy and catchy…what’s not to like?!


 

5. PORT NOIRThe New Routine. Release date: 10 May.

PORT NOIR’s previous album Any Way The Wind Carries was my second favourite album of 2016, but their newest effort The New Routine hasn’t quite matched its predecessor for me. BUT, The New Routine is still one of the slickest releases of 2019. PORT NOIR have dropped their heavy, progressive edge and embraced their funkier, poppier side, and it’s divine. Tracks like Champagne, Blow and Flawless are some of the catchiest and smoothest songs of the year. They will have you groovin’ and movin’ in no time. No one really qute sounds like PORT NOIR and their experimental side is utterly irresistible.  

Roundup – July 2019 feat. The New Routine


 

4. NUMENOREANAdore. Release date: 12 April.

Over the course of the year Adore has really grown on me. NUMENOREAN are one of the most promising post-black metal bands out there and I’m beginning to wonder how they will ever top this masterpiece. So many blistering yet moving tracks feature on Adore; the brilliant Horizon, the bewitching Stay and all the cacophony of terrors in between. NUMENOREAN appeal to the blackgaze community with their black metal approach and their melodic twists. The atmosphere that NUMENOREAN create is unlike any other, it’s both chilling yet heartwarming, an amazing feat without losing any of their impact. An incredible album by a band still so early in their career. Ones to watch for sure.


 

3. GHOST IRISApple Of Discord. Release date: 22 February.

Danish progressive metallers GHOST IRIS are always one of those reliable bands you know are going to smash it with every release. Latest album Apple Of Discord is a magnificent release and easily their best record so far. Last album Blind World hinted at the band’s talent at writing brutal yet catchy tunes, but nothing prepares you for what they’ve achieved with Apple Of Discord. Crushing riffs with Jesper Vicencio Gün’s menacing growls and impressive cleans are the order of the day. One of the standout songs The Rat & The Snake features the bludgeoning growls of TRAITORS’ Tyler Shelton and is unforgettable. GHOST IRIS also drop some absolute belters with the likes of Heaven Was Pure Hell and The Devil’s Plaything to keep you nodding along. Such an underrated yet talented band!

Ghost Iris – Apple of Discord review


 

2. PIJN & CONJURERCurse These Metal Hands. Release date: 16 August.

Is this an EP? Is this an album? Who the hell cares this trumps most releases which have dropped this year. PIJN and CONJURER are both exciting up and coming bands from the UK, but together they are phenomenal. Curse These Metal Hands sees the material the bands wrote for ArcTangent Festival finally see the light of day as a recording. It mixes the mesmerising post-rock of PIJN and the storming venom of CONJURER and the result is something so special it makes me want to weep. High Spirits sounds like MAYBESHEWILL with BARONESS riffs and a bit of the ol’ shouty, shouty. whereas Endeavour sounds like a KYLESA/CONVERGE gritfest and I’m all for it. Such a treat.

Roundup – August 2019 feat. Curse These Metal Hands

Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands review


 

  1. CARTOGRAPHS wilt & blossom. Release date: 1 March.

Well, here you have it, my favourite release of 2019. Earlier in the year I said this was a contender for album of the year…and no other release has topped it for me. Post-metal is seriously gaining some traction and Denmark’s CARTOGRAPHS have proved they are one of the genre’s most promising bands with the sublime wilt & blossom. The passion, the fire, the grit and the power in each song is unforgettable and incredibly striking. Wilt Over Time and Peace Was Never Mine To Be Found are two standout tracks but the biggest gem of them all is the superb Through The Garden Gate with THAT riff and all the feels. It’s no surprise no other band have touched the top spot for me after this release. Listening to wilt & blossom again nine months on feels like I’m listening to it again for the first time. I am winded by its colossal power and numbed by its heartwrenching melodies. Just…incredible.

Cartographs – wilt & blossom review

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019

The top releases of the past two months and soundbite reviews

So life got in the way and I didn’t manage to publish my October roundup. Instead I’m mixing both October and November ahead of my Album of the Year list which is in progress. This roundup also sees some ‘Soundbite Reviews’ of albums I wanted to review when I was on my blogging hiatus, but they’re too good to completely forget so I’m happy to share them with you now! Also featured is one of my favourite discoveries since the last roundup. Keep reading for a gem from the archive and see you for my AOTY!


 

Metalmance’s Discovery of October/November

DEVOTION

I have to be honest here, I’ve been aware of German post-hardcore group DEVOTION for a couple of years but never really followed them after the release of single Hiraeth in 2017. September saw the release of new EP Your Love Never Found A Home In Me and it is a collection of five heart-felt and emotionally stirring songs. From the powerful Apnea to the melodic Discordance, this EP blasts and shimmers its way through the realms of post-hardcore. The thing I enjoy most about DEVOTION is the sheer passion dripping from every screamed word and every note. This is one appealing feature of the genre anyway but DEVOTION get the balance of passion and power just right. Stunning and stirring stuff.


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of October and November

October and November have been absolutely mad for releases! There have been some disappointments along the way (LEPROUS for me) as well as some absolute bangers (IVY CROWN, LACUNA COIL, DESPISED ICON and VOYAGER I’m looking at you) so it’s been hard to pick just three across the two months.

1

HOUR OF PENANCEMisotheism. Release date: 25 October.

Even though I’ve been a fan of Rome’s death metal troupe HOUR OF PENANCE for a number of years now, I somehow forgot their eighth album Misotheism was being released this year. This only meant their album knocked me for six when it did drop in October, and I’ve felt sorry ever since. Easily their best body of work to date, Misotheism is everything HOUR OF PENANCE stands for, and more. Beastly riffs for days mate, but songs such as The Second Babel and Lamb Of The Seven Sins threatened to rip my face off with their sheer savagery. This is exactly how I imagine a DECAPITATED and ABORTED lovechild would sound like, but HOUR OF PENANCE makes everything sound more evil and brutal. Absolutely incredible, this is one album of the year contender for sure.

 

2

ABIGAIL WILLIAMS – Walk Beyond The Dark. Release date: 15 November.

The announcement earlier in the year of a new ABIGAIL WILLIAMS album sent me into a bit of a frenzy! Having been besotted since debut EP Legend, ABIGAIL WILLIAMS have always been one of my favourite black metal bands. They have never quite fitted into the scene which is probably one of the main appeals of them. Later down the line their sound ended up more expansive and experimental and new album Walk Beyond The Dark continues on this thread but with added vigour. The break has done the band good as tracks such as I Will Depart and Sun and Moon sound as ambitious and as devastating as ever. ABIGAIL WILLIAMS sound more focussed and ferocious than before. It’s so nice and refreshing that a comeback album doesn’t suck nor resort on nostalgia. All hail ABIGAIL WILLIAMS.

 

3

SIGNS OF THE SWARMVital Deprivation. Release date: 11 October.

I’ve always enjoyed SIGNS OF THE SWARM but I REALLY enjoy Vital Deprivation. Their slamming deathcore is up there with WITHIN DESTRUCTION for me and this new album exposes the band at their fastest, filthiest, most unforgiving and most punishing. An absolutely brutal ride from start to finish, it is another quality release from Unique Leader Records. Songs such as Malformed Dissonance and Tempting Death show some of the best material the scene has to offer. Now with a solidified line-up and quality albums under their belts, there’s no reason as to why SIGNS OF THE SWARM can’t invade the wider metal world.


 

Soundbite Reviews

Below are independent releases which I’ve been enjoying but haven’t had the time to dedicate a full review to. One thing I want to include more in my blog is coverage of independent releases. Over time due to receiving bigger promos I’ve lost sight of what I originally wanted Metalmance to be a platform for; underground and unsigned bands. Each release below deserves your attention. Take the plunge!

 

ISBJÖRGIridescent. Release date: 26 April 2019.

The Danes are leading the way in all sub-genres of heavy music it seems! What about piano prog you may be asking? Well, ISBJÖRG have you covered. Back in April, this talented group released their debut album Iridescent and it is an incredible effort. Emotionally stirring and ambitious, their songs are full of emotion and progressive drama. Vocalist Niklas Jespersen sounds like he was made to sing alongside Mathias Bro Jørgensen’s piano playing. Songs such as Stockholm Reversed are poppy and piano-heavy whereas While The Sunlight Grace The Mourning has a dark undertone and NORDIC GIANTS vibes. Sometimes not all the instruments and vocals quite gel, but the music is so honest and natural, it ends up being a part of the charm. Once ISBJÖRG have refined their sound, they’ll give the melodic prog-rock bands a run for their money.

 

GHOST ON MARSLost Signals. Release date: 9 October 2019.

Italian dark metallers GHOST ON MARS have unleashed their debut EP Lost Signals and it’s a bold and polished effort. Channelling the dark melodies and ballsy riffs of their fellow countrymen LACUNA COIL, GHOST ON MARS still sound like a band trying to figure out their sound but the songs are hugely enjoyable to listen to. Songs like The Black Rose and That Time I Saw The Moon feature huge MUSE-esque melodies, with the latter sounding more ‘genuine’ and therefore more easily digestible. For a debut release, it’s a really solid EP. It might be best if the vocalist avoided growling but the clean vocals are top notch. It’s clear all the band are talented musicians and the chemistry is flawless, each component merging into one. With a bit more experience and nurturing of their songwriting, GHOST ON MARS might prove to be a stellar band. 

 

MOON AND AZURE SHADOWAge of Darkness and Frost. Release date: 26 August 2019.

I do get a lot of emails from solo black metallers asking me to review their project and the majority of the time the music is almost too painful to listen to. Sean Yoshioka on the other hand has produced some absolute gold with MOON AND AZURE SHADOW. Seeking to combine aspects of Japanese soundtracks with atmospheric black metal, latest album Age of Darkness and Frost is definitely an interesting and different beast. The title track is a perfect example of this unique hybrid of styles and sounds like IHSAHN atop a Japanese mountain. It’s almost as if the word ‘ethereal’ was invented for this album alone. This is one solo project that you wish would expand to a full band, just to flesh out the sound to its full potential. Promising stuff from a talented and passionate black metal musician. More please.


 

From The Archive

If you follow American proggers EARTHSIDE on social media you will have seen the band are FINALLY underway with album number two. After their spectacular debut album A Dream In Static was released way back in 2015 I’ve been an avid fan and eagerly anticipating their next release! Back in early 2017 I caught up with guitarist/mastermind Jamie Van Dyck about the release of their video for the title track, featuring TESSERACT’s Daniel Tompkins. You can read a snippet of the interview below and follow the link to the original post:

I think music videos are inherently somewhat of an abstract art form, given the lack of dialogue and how the plot cut-ins are interspersed with band performance shots[…]A lot of our A Dream In Static album deals with the internal struggle of having these lofty seemingly unattainable dreams and then a self-doubt that sets in. Our character confronts the manifestation of her self that is a shell of herself, a fear of what she may become. But when you let that fear consume you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Earthside – A Dream In Static Video, an interview with Jamie Van Dyck

Weekly Roundup #16

Metalcore, death metal, hardcore…cor….

Band to watch: AERIAL. Norway is normally known for its black metal and general extremeness, but metalcore? Nah, right? Wrong. AERIAL are sure to set their homeland on the metalcore map if their debut EP Foresight is anything to go by. This week the band released a video for new single Foreign Coast and it is a perfect example of the band’s gloriously heavy yet melodic approach to progressive metalcore, in a similar vein to NORTHLANE. The standout vocals of Markus Johnsen with his incredible highs to his guttural lows raises the band to another level. Formed in 2015, the band relocated to the UK to record Foresight which was self-released in June 2016. Now back in Norway, AERIAL have set their sights on getting their music out there for the rest of the world to hear. With a strong post-hardcore stance on their sound too, there are lots of things to keep the heavy music fan interested; instrumental track Inspire/Interlude provides a progressive break between the crushing Everlasting and the deceivingly catchy Foreign Coast. Five songs just doesn’t seem enough for the EP, it will be interesting to see how they progress on their journey to album number one. But for now, they more than deserve your attention.

 

Video to watch: HOUR OF PENANCE. Last month saw the release of HOUR OF PENANCE’s seventh album Cast the First Stone on Prosthetic Records, and once again it has proven what a pummelling force these Italian death metallers are. Two weeks ago the band released a video for the title track and it can only be described as a visual feast of crusade imagery, flames and blood, lots of blood. Giving the song more of an epic feel, the simple video reflects the brutality of the music. Imagery of impaled babies and battle violence seemingly suit the brutal death metal HOUR OF PENANCE have become so well known for. Influenced by CANNIBAL CORPSE, the Italians somehow sound darker than their American counterparts drawing from more black metal elements to achieve a blistering violent assault on the senses.

 

In the stereo: CODE ORANGE. You might remember back in the eighth weekly roundup, CODE ORANGE were Metalmance’s band to watch. Well since the band’s third album Forever has hit the shelves, the band are moving from strength to strength, they’ve even bagged themselves a tasty support slot on GOJIRA’s UK tour in March along with CAR BOMB. The actual album though is sure to go down as a modern classic. Primarily hardcore, Forever has a bit of everything thrown in, making it one hell of a ride. Gritty, raw and ferocious, the album also harnesses a couple of surprises in the form of tracks such as the catchy Bleeding in the Blur and the MARILYN MANSON-esque Hurt Goes On. An intense record, the energy never lets up for a second, ensuring once the album finishes you’ll have it on repeat and repeat and repeat.

 

Band to rediscover: EMANUEL. With all the emo, screamo and post-hardcore reunions happening as of late, there’s one band who is still sorely missed and that is EMANUEL. The five piece from Kentucky gained praise and popularity with their 2005 album Soundtrack to a Headrush. The album title was truly fitting as EMANUEL was an energetic ball of punk rock; catchy enough to be on tours with bands such as THE AUDITION, and heavy enough to be on a more metalcore line up along with FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES or THE BLED. They were destined for big things by critics but by the time second album Black Tiger rolled round in 2007, the fire had died down and their musical direction had taken more of a spacey turn. Losing the screams, vocalist Matt Breen sounded more like Chino Moreno from DEFTONES and their edge just wasn’t there. The band soon fizzled out, becoming one of the decade’s most underrated and underappreciated groups. Soundtrack to a Headrush remains to this day, a modern punk masterpiece.