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

Damnation Festival 2018

3 November 2018. Leeds University Union.

The second I stepped out of Damnation Festival last year I already decided I would return again in 2018. The atmosphere and variety of bands for this awesome in-door festival is unparalleled and it does feel lovingly unique. Each new line-up announcement throughout the year whetted my appetite more until the day finally came where I would once again be at Damnation. As soon as doors opened, the positive energy of extreme metal’s finest punters poured into each of the venues and the merch area.

The bars were already heaving with battle-jacket-clad metal fans as I wandered down to the Tone MGMT Stage to witness LEECHED opening the festival. The band’s debut album You Took The Sun When You Left is a gritty and dark affair, so it was no surprise their set was equally as suffocating. Backlit and shrouded with smoke, the hardcore metallers from Manchester were an intense group with their gruff vocals, blackened riffs and power violence elements. It’s hard to keep your eyes off drummer Tom Hansell; one because of his impressive myriad of tattoos and two, because it becomes clear he’s the secret weapon for LEECHED with his ferocious drumming and hardcore vocals. An excellent start to the day.

It would have been rude not to catch progressive darlings CALIGULA’S HORSE on the Eyesore Merch Stage as they did come all the way from Australia, but also because they’re one of THE most exciting progressive metal bands on the planet right now (they’re better than LEPROUS, there I said it). Starting their set with Dream the Dead off last year’s In Contact, the Aussie troupe mesmerised and stunned the crowd with their majestic set. On record they can sound quite soft, but in a live setting they’re surprisingly heavy. It’s clear they made new fans this afternoon judging by some of the expressions of delight in the curious crowd.

I sneaked off before the end of CALIGULA’s HORSE’s set to make my way to the Cult Never Dies Stage to get a good spot to witness MØL strut their stuff. The venue was already packed full with people, endorsing a one in, one out policy when the set started. I was close enough to see frontman Kim Song Sternkopf scream in the faces of the people down the front, in his madman-godlike state throughout the set. The Danish blackgaze group have rapidly gained a fanbase this year after the successful release of their debut album Jord and judging by the volume of people in the room, it proves there is a real buzz about this band right now. Having seen them at their debut London show earlier in the year supporting SVALBARD, I knew what to expect but their intensity and sheer blackgaze perfection still astounded me. It’s just a shame the fire alarm interrupted the set…

Once all the fuss (and annoyance) of the fire alarm had died down I headed to the Jagermeister Stage to see NE OBLIVISCARIS absolutely tear up the room with their extreme progressive metal. Their tight sound cut through the room like a knife; they were absolute perfection. The guitars sung and clean vocalist and violinist Tim Charles could do no wrong. The professionalism of the band resonated round the room, proving they were masters at their craft. Clearly owning the biggest stage in the students’ union, I wouldn’t be surprised if the band headline a few years down the line.

Having said this, I’m surprised Birmingham’s ANAAL NATHRAKH are yet to headline a Damnation as their set is always a killer. Easily whipping up the most brutal crowd of the day, the black metal veterans prove their worth with their stellar set of songs old and new. Forward! off new album A New Kind of Horror sounds equally as punishing as older classics Forging Towards the Sunset and Depravity Favours the Bold. The fighting pit in the middle of the room showed the fans’ appreciation of the band’s unforgiving music. Throw in a pair of knickers on the stage and you got yourself a legendary Damnation performance.

If I wanted to find something a bit more soothing then I was never going to find it with CELESTE on the Tone MGMT Stage. The French experimental metallers hypnotised the crowd with their unique aesthetic. Lit only by a red light strapped to each member’s head, it created an eerie – heck- celestial atmosphere which superbly suited the dissonant tones of their music. A severely underrated band, I was especially pleased to see a large turnout for them.

It was truly special to see death metal legends ENTOMBED A.D. tear up the Jagermeister Stage. They sounded bigger and more badass as ever with frontman L-G Petrov pacing up and down the stage commanding the crowd with his epic growls. Death metal never sounded so good but I needed to hop along to the Tone MGMT Stage to get a decent spot to see BATUSHKA deliver their sermon. I wish I hadn’t bothered and gone to see MONUMENTS instead as the room was absolutely packed to the brim for BATUSHKA. The majority of people couldn’t see the stage, let alone move and the band came on late so a lot of the crowd were getting agitated and impatient while people pushed past to try and find a better viewing position. The set was a prime example of the wrong choice of stage for a band, but from what I could see (very little) the black metal band from Poland were visually stunning. I’ll try and see them another time when I’m also not being crushed slowly to death.

To recover, I went back to the Jagermeister stage to see the mighty IHSAHN play an utterly mesmerising set. A legend in the black metal scene and a respectable solo artist in his own right, IHSAHN proved his worth tonight playing the best selection of songs from his albums. Songs from new album Amr sounded fuller live than they do on record, but a personal highlight for me was hearing Celestial Violence from 2016’s Arktis resonate around the room. His black metal vocals have always been perfection but tonight his clean vocals also got the recognition they deserve. A stellar set of magical proportions, IHSAHN just keeps getting better when it wasn’t thought possible.

I regrettably missed THE OCEAN’s set but before I stumbled back to the hotel I couldn’t leave without seeing grindcore legends NAPALM DEATH smash some skulls and rip up the Jagermeister Stage. Excluding the fire alarm earlier, today has truly been a fantastic day of metal. The festival already promise their biggest band yet for next year and I can’t wait to see who will be announced first. Damnation is a festival I’d recommend to everyone. See you next year.

Roundup – August 2018

A roundup of my top picks from the past month.

August has been a ridiculous month for new music. I’ve barely reviewed what I’ve wanted to review but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to a load of kick ass metal!


Metalmance Top 3 Releases from August

I keep saying it each month but bloody hell choosing my list for Album of the Year is going to be extremely difficult if this pedigree of top notch metal continues. Here are my top albums of the past 31 days…

1

LEECHED – You Took The Sun When You Left. Release date: 24 August.

Leeched

This is utter filth. LEECHED sound like NAILS if they got in a fight with TRAPPED THEM and CURSED. Their balls are as big as the riffs on the record. Like the album title suggests this is a very dark piece of work. You won’t want to listen to this if you need cheering up. Songs such as By The Factories, Guilt and the title track absolutely decimate the senses and crush all hope. A Mouth Full Of Dirt is a hardcore delight in the same vein as HARM’S WAY. This is an incredibly brutal debut album, it’s no wonder they’ve been snapped up by Prosthetic Records and were invited to Tech Fest this year. I’ve found I have to listen to You Took The Sun When You Left with a light on to retain any sense of positivity I may still have. Absolutely devastating, and this is just the beginning.

2

EXOCRINE – Molten Giant. Release date: 13 August.

EXOCRINE

You may remember last month I reviewed this terrific album and was singing its praises. I was anticipating the reaction it would get from fellow fans and death metal enthusiasts. Let’s just say Molten Giant has been a massive hit in death metal circles. It’s an amazing feat of glorious progressive death metal, but so many songs on here are so memorable such as Scorched Human Society, Hayato and Flamewalkers, that fans have been saying EXOCRINE have achieved getting their songs stuck in their heads. Is this an example of CATCHY death metal? One thing’s for sure, their riffs are hella catchy too. If I’m still frequently listening to an album a month after I’ve reviewed it then that usually means it’s really struck a chord with me! I think Molten Giant is only going to manifest further with time, give it a few more months and it may very well creep up my album of the year list.

3

JESUS PIECE – Only Self. Release date: 24 August.

cover_1526316039001801

There seems to be a growing trend of ‘mucky hardcore’ bands as I like to call them, from CODE ORANGE and NO ZODIAC to newer bands such as VEIN (there’s a lot of hype about them isn’t there) and LEECHED, but you can add JESUS PIECE to that list now. This debut album is absolutely outrageous. Workhorse has a fantastic pace to it, Curse of the Serpent sounds like if CODE ORANGE listened to more powerviolence, and Adamant sounds like reeeaaaally old school EIGHTEEN VISIONS. The rage, the passion, the aggression just pours out of Only Self, it is an utterly compelling debut. Just imagine what venom they will spit out in the next release. Powerful stuff.


On the playlist…

Some choice pickings of other releases I’ve been enjoying this month.

HOMELANDS – Hurt People Hurt People EP. Release date: 18 May 2018.

Homelands

There is definitely something in the water in Norfolk, what with all these promising bands emerging from the rump of the British Isles and all. HOMELANDS is such a band and their debut EP Hurt People Hurt People is so full of grit and determination it’s no wonder I keep seeing them name dropped by other local bands and groups further afield. It’s hard to figure out who HOMELANDS can be likened to; they have the contemporary energy of OUR HOLLOW, OUR HOME and COUNTERPARTS yet there is something really old school about their approach that in some songs such as Pleas, there is an air of I KILLED THE PROM QUEEN about them. However, they still have a lot of work to do before they reach this level. The foundations are there and they clearly have the drive and potential, I’m just hoping they’ll gain the confidence to really go for it with their next release. It’s clear from listening to tracks like Growing Pains and Humble Beginnings that they’re borrowing from their influences, but my main wish is for guitarist/clean vocalist James Clayton to really belt out his cleans and get them up in the mix. I don’t approve adding clean vocals in choruses just for the sake of it but Clayton isn’t half bad and the dynamic with main vocalist Nathan Locke is a strong one. HOMELANDS are still at a very early stage in their career, it would be good to see them take more risks to set the band apart from the rest.

THE VILIFICATION – The World Owes You Nothing EP. Release date: 30 March 2018.

Vilification

Ontario band THE VILIFICATION are a bit of a mixed bag. They brand themselves as progressive/technical metal yet a load of other influences and styles are chucked into the pot. The prog tech influences are there with the chaos of SIKTH and the ambition of PERIPHERY, but what stands out for me is the emotive hardcore vocals. There’s me expecting some gruff vocals and flawless cleans but instead we’re confronted with Ben Tranter’s raw and passionate screams. It’s quite a distinctive combination. Tracks like Shuffling and Through Iron Sights have the obvious SIKTH riffs but some elements remind me of Suicide Season-era BRING ME THE HORIZON; that kind of edgy, in your face aggression. A Vicarious Life is an awesome finale for the EP, all the components of THE VILIFICATION come to the fore and the vocals are stellar. This is a very exciting EP and I’m really hoping when they do release a full length that it’s going to push boundaries and blow everyone away.


It ain’t metal, but I like it…

My little section to non-metal bands I’ve been listening to this month.

TRUEHEIGHTS – Days We Found EP. Release date: 6 April 2018.

TrueHeights

To be fair, TRUEHEIGHTS are musically heavy enough to be featured in Metalmance in their own right but I wanted to differentiate them from the ‘pure’ metal in this roundup, as TRUEHEIGHTS are probably one of the most exciting emerging UK rock acts in recent years. What I find so exciting about them is they harness the energy of forgotten bands such as CANTERBURY and ATTACK! ATTACK! (the Welsh one, not the crabcore one) while bringing British rock kicking and screaming into 2018 with their intelligent approach. Yes, the vocals are good but the accompaniment backs it up perfectly for a fully encompassing sound which fills the stereo. First track Exit Route is a hark back to these bands but Catalyst is more like FORT HOPE with its slower and melodic pace. The band channel their inner GASLIGHT ANTHEM and FUTURES in No Tomorrow for an irresistible pop anthem. I haven’t felt this optimistic about a rising British rock act since YOU ME AT SIX and TWIN ATLANTIC, and look at where those bands are now. There is a magic and a colour about TRUEHEIGHTS that makes them unforgettable. They’re already rocking the radio and topping independent charts, who knows what true heights (sorry, not sorry) the band can reach.