Roundup – September 2019

Looking back at the hottest albums and singles of the month.

August might have been a mad month for mainstream metal releases but September has certainly seen its fair share of mammoth albums from the underground. This roundup sees the staple Top 3 releases of the month and then a look at September’s singles, of which there have been some huge releases! But to start things off I introduce my discovery of the month. If you stick around long enough you can dip into a highlight from the archive. See you in October!


 

Metalmance’s Discovery of the Month

IVY CROWN

I have to confess, Danish metalcore troupe have been on my radar for a little while now but after last month’s single Our Worst Days and the fact their debut album is out in October, I’ve been giddier about IVY CROWN this month! Previous singles Run and Lonesome and Cold (which features Kim Song Sternkopf from MØL) have been promising good things from IVY CROWN. Newest single Our Worst Days has an infectious sense of mischief and fun, but underneath each track is a dark undertone which makes this all-female group even more intriguing. Gaining momentum in the Danish scene, it won’t be long before IVY CROWN make their mark in the UK. With the forthcoming album being produced by Chris Kreutzfeldt (CABAL), vocal production by Mirza Radonjica-Bang (SIAMESE) and guest appearences from the Danish talent of Sternkopf and GHOST IRIS’ Jesper Gün, you can get a sense of what a big deal the women are becoming in their homeland. You’ll be silly not to check them out! 


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of September

This month has been hard to rank my Top 3. A special mention must go out to 65DAYSOFSTATIC and their amazing new release, replicr. This band always surpass themselves yet remain humble and create outstanding soundscapes. However, this month has seen some monstrous albums and here are the best three…

1

CAR BOMBMordial. Release date: 27 September 2019.

After releasing the singles Dissect Yourself and Scattered Sprites, I knew I was going to love this new CAR BOMB release. However, I had no idea how much Mordial was going to blow me away. It’s felt like a long wait since 2016’s breath taking album Meta, but the growth by CAR BOMB since that album is bewildering. I have seen a lot of mixed responses about Michael Dafferner’s clean vocals on some of the songs but for me, it adds a surreal element to their music, making them sound like a mathcore DEFTONES. Meta was always going to be impossible to top, and thankfully CAR BOMB haven’t given us more of the same with Mordial. Yes, their distinct mathy riffs are there, yes the songs are insane, but there is now so much depth to their textures and dynamic it is staggering. Second track Fade Out even has a pang of indie and shoegaze underneath the brutality and it makes for an interesting listen. CAR BOMB are still a band who are evolving after almost two decades in the game, and that is terrifyingly good.

 

2

BAESTVenenum. Release date: 13 September 2019.

If like me, you believe BLOODBATH should have called it a day after The Fathomless Mastery, Danish death metallers BAEST could easily fill the death metal void in your life. After last year’s incredible Danse Macabre, BAEST have stepped the menace up tenfold with Venenum. Each track drips with venom and malice. Reaping from old school death metal influcnces, the band conjure up filthy riffs and hellish growls. Main singles Vitriol Lament, Gula and As Above So Below do standout, but album highlights come in the shape of Empty Throne and Sodomize with their beastly grooves and violent lyrics. Causing a stir in the European scene after huge tours supporting the likes of DECAPITATED and next month ABORTED and ENTOMBED A.D., the band are constantly on the up. For the love of metal, listen to BAEST.

 

3

GODEATERAll Flesh Is Grass. Release date: 27 September 2019

GODEATER’s debut album All Flesh Is Grass is everything I wanted the new SHOKRAN album to be. The Glaswegians have nailed technical death metal with oriental passages thrown in but with an important environmental message too. Not willing to shy away from the planet’s climate issues, GODEATER are unleashing their views with their equally compelling music. The fast pace and brutality of their songs is mightily impressive for a new band, but the atmosphere they conjure would be the envy of bands twice their age. Tracks like Salvation and Inertia Haze also boast ABIGAIL WILLIAMS-esque blackened brilliance. Unlike some of their UK Tech Metal scene contemporaries, GODEATER write ridiculously technical songs, but with enough heart and substance to actually keep you interested. If the band have achieved this masterpiece with their debut album and so few shows under their belts, imagine what GODEATER will be capable of with album number two.


 

September Singles

It’s mad to think we’re still promised so many awesome albums before the end of 2019. Some of the tracks below are singles from forthcoming albums and they are a sign of the quality to come. If metal keeps up like this, then we’re in for a blistering end of year. Behold my top singles from September!

SCHAMMASCHRays Like Razors

It’s been a while since Switzerland’s black metal elite SCHAMMASCH have graced us with their infectious misery. Rays Like Razors hints at a progression in sound for the band. The dark atmosphere and intense black metal is still there, but the crisper production and polished madness somehow makes the band sound bolder and even more frightening. The mature sound on show here pushes the envelope of black metal. SCHAMMASCH have always been atmospheric but the tone here is absolutely suffocating with an edge of the progressive. By the end of the track you feel like you haven’t received the full blow of what the band is promising, but this hopefully means the band will unveil all that they have up their morbid sleeves on the full length.

 

END OF DAZEReach Out

Who said metalcore was dead? Harking back to the sound of the late noughties, these young Britons are channelling MOTIONLESS IN WHITE, ATREYU and ASKING ALEXANDRIA and other bands of that ilk, but with more heart and less make-up. Hailing from Weymouth, END OF DAZE is threatening to bring British metalcore back to glory. Even though their sound isn’t anything ground-breaking, Reach Out included, there is something so pure and brilliant about what they play, you can enjoy the music exactly for what it is – good, honest metalcore. The metal scene is so saturated with bands searching for likes and followers, if a band is sincere and write enjoyable songs then I’m all for it!

 

BLACK CROWN INITIATEYears In Frigid Light

You may remember BLACK CROWN INITIATE’s last album Selves We Cannot Forgive made it to the top spot in my 2016 Album of the Year list. So it goes without saying their forthcoming album is one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year. They finally released the first track Years In Frigid Light this month and I’m having mixed feelings about it. The vocals are too high in the mix and it takes a long while for the song to really get going, but the dissonant air is spectacular. Once again the clean vocals raise the track to new heights, but the impact is too late and underwhelming. After a three year wait, the song unfortunately doesn’t cut it for me.

 

KILL THE KONGInterstellar

Yet to make a mark on the British scene, Swedish metalcore outfit KILL THE KONG have been on my radar for a few years now and have been featured in my blog a few times. New song Interstellar sees the band further remove themselves from their dual-percussion element (thankfully, as there’s only so many tribal rhythms you can include before it starts to sound repetitive) and deeper into metalcore territory.  The energy is still infectious and it sounds like KILL THE KONG are finally hitting their stride. Bold, heavy and energetic, the Swedes should really start to gain more attention now. They’ve proved they have the staying power and ability to evolve, they just need to continue working hard and hone their sound to becoming something unstoppable. 

 

ABIGAIL WILLIAMSI Will Depart

ABIGAIL WILLIAMS mastermind Ken Sorceron has been teasing new AW material for a while now but this track seemed to drop out of nowhere. I Will Depart is the opening track for forthcoming album Walk Beyond The Dark and it spells a new era for the American black metal band. This terrific track sees the band return to the blackened brilliance of their glory days, but with an older and wiser air to proceedings. The technicality remains and the atmosphere is colossal, but the writing is more focussed making for a brutal assault. If the remainder of the album is as mesmerising as this, then we’re in for a right ol’ black metal treat.

 

LOATHEGored

LOATHE were responsible for one of the darkest and most chilling albums of 2017, The Cold Sun. If single Gored is anything to go by, then LOATHE will surpass themselves with their darkest and most furious material to date. Crushingly heavy and suffocating, LOATHE are not here to soothe your soul or ears. The dense riffs would make CODE ORANGE proud but it is the intensity of the band which always shakes you to the core. Vocalist Kadeem France sounds like a man possessed on this single, his unnerving vocals leading the way for the hefty racous of riffage which ensues. Truly spectacular, LOATHE have been going from strength to strength but this release will be sure to see them rocket to the Kings of the heavy British scene.

 

LEPROUSAlleviate

It’s a good thing that I’m a huge fan of Eurovision otherwise I might never revisit LEPROUS again after their new single, Alleviate. I love the song and the band, but I find it amusing how they’ve evolved from being the backing band for IHSAHN and now LEPROUS seem to be the backing band for Einar Solberg. Even if the band are going down a pop route, they still make better pop music than the majority of chart artists. The subtle elements happening in the verses keep things interesting but it is the catchy folk pop chorus which will continue to pull in new fans. Read below for a snippet of my first post about LEPROUS from the Metalmance archive.


 

From the Archive

After the recent release of two singles from LEPROUS’ forthcoming album Pitfalls, I wondered if I could have predicted their prog pop direction… 

Band to watch: LEPROUS

Deliciously on the melodic end of the metal spectrum, LEPROUS’ beautiful melodies are made the more spine tingling thanks to the incredible vocal talent of Einar Solberg […] There’s no denying LEPROUS add their own twist to proceedings and really push themselves to the front of the melodic metal pack.”

Weekly Roundup #3

Tech Fest 2019: Part 2

Sat 6th & Sun 7th July 2019. Newark Showground.

After a cracking Friday we all thought we could take it easy Saturday lunch time but no, ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE well and truly blew the cobwebs away. Their ferocious sludgy metal obliterated our senses and played their set with furious energy. You could not take your eyes off the band, front man Nate Burman especially, as they performed with the intensity of a headline act. An early highlight for most on the third day of Tech Fest.

The next act ended up being another ‘DIVIDUM’ for me, a band who I glanced over on the line-up announcement but who ended up being one of my favourite discoveries of the weekend. That band was UNSEEN FAITH, a tech band from Denmark (there’s been a bit of a Danish invasion this year at Tech Fest but that just reiterates what I kept claiming last year – that Denmark is exporting the hottest acts in metal right now) and they are definitely a band you need to listen to NOW. Front man Alexander Eriksen was truly captivating with his intense stares and formidable presence. The band performed as a unit and were utterly spellbinding to watch. Their brand of techy metalcore sounded fresh with just the right amount of familiar elements to keep things interesting, but it was the delivery which won over new fans. One to watch for sure.         

One band which most Tech Festers were anticipating were up next and it was one band I was never sure if I’d be able to witness on UK soil – SHOKRAN. The Russians have released some of the most innovative and downright brilliant progressive metal since their formation in 2012 and everyone was curious to find how their oriental metal translated into a live setting. It’s safe to say SHOKRAN smashed all expectations. Considering they arrived as a trio, every song still sounded colossal. Guitar aficionado Dmitry Demyanenko wowed in yellow with his distinct technical wizardy, but it was vocalist Andrew Ivashchenko who stole the attention with his flawless voice and commanding stage presence. Playing songs from all three of their albums, including new album Ethereal, the material sounded as strong live as it does on record. Ending with fan favourite Creatures From The Mud, it was evident SHOKRAN had proven themselves to be a sublime live act. Do not miss them at Euroblast.   

Headlining the Fireball Stage were British hardcore metallers PALM READER. “This is the first time we’ve played Tech Fest and we’re headlining the stage!” gushed humbled front man Josh Mckeown. The room was packed to witness their unique slab of hardcore and their intense delivery never fails to amaze. Tracks from latest album Braille go down a treat and the crowd response shows the band is going from strength to strength. PALM READER are definitely one band who do not get softer the bigger they get (oo-er).

The crowds were gathering for Tasmanian tech death metallers PSYCROPTIC and the wait was worth it because the set was phenomenal. With brutal circle pits, brutal tunes and stellar front man Jason Peppiatt owning the stage, PSYCROPTIC’s set was an obliterating sensory experience. With a wealth of material under their belts, their set was always going to be one to remember, but tracks from last year’s album As The Kingdom Drowns took on a life of their own in a live setting and fans went into meltdown. Rapidly becoming one of the most celebrated bands in the tech death scene, it’s no wonder why when you see PSYCROPTIC live!   

It was inevitable that tonight’s headliners were going to stir up emotions. British prog metallers MONUMENTS have always been firm favourites at Tech Fest, having played the very first instalment of the festival back in 2011. The week before this year’s edition, the band announced the departure of vocalist Chris Barretto and the introduction of Andy Cizek of MAKARI as stand-in for the tour and festivals. Tonight’s set was met with anticipation, but only one word can describe the event – otherworldly.

With the biggest crowd Tech Fest had seen so far this weekend it seemed the whole festival had packed into the main room to witness this spectacle. A mystical light show, bodies moving, John Browne’s  signature riffage and Cizek’s phenomenal vocals, resulted in a mind-blowing performance. Newer songs from last year’s Phronesis held their own amongst older classics but each song merged into the other creating a never-ending flow of glorious progressive metal and never-ending mosh pits.  It was clear Cizek was winning over the audience and after the set, many were heard saying they wouldn’t complain if he stepped up as a full time member.

Sunday

Sunday is usually the hardest day to get through, with hangovers, fatigue and sobering up before the Monday drive home, all taking their toll. Luckily for us Indian proggers PROJECT MISHRAM woke us all up and got us on our feet. The progressive Carnatic fusion band wowed the crowd with not only their djent, but their violin, flute and traditional Carnatic vocals. ‘Mishram’ means ‘mix’ which is truly apt for the concoction of styles PROJECT MISHRAM provide. This is what Tech Fest is about; innovation, discovering unknown bands and celebrating how diverse the metal community is. PROJECT MISHRAM attracted the biggest audience for this time in the afternoon and certainly became one of everyone’s favourite discoveries.

It is always a pleasure to witness Hull metallers SWORN AMONGST. Flawless, fun and professional, this band have worked so hard in the scene and their experience  as band is reflected in the quality of their live show. Front man Darryl Jones is an unstoppable force with his boundless energy on stage. The band had a great turnout and passionate fans down the front screamed back every word. With three albums and two EPs under their belts, including this year’s brilliant Reclamation EP, SWORN AMONGST have plenty of material to play a blistering set. Their positivity and talent never get boring to watch. Higher up the bill next time please?

CARCER CITY have always been darlings of the scene but sadly today was their farewell show. “Support bands, buy a CD, buy merch.” warns front man Patch Pinion to the crowd. The bittersweet set was a tremendous send-off for the lads from Liverpool, with circle pits and a wall of death to say goodbye. The band played their hearts out, clearly not having lost any passion for their craft after announcing their split. One of the most polished and tightest bands of the weekend, it’s a sore reminder of what the world will miss. Support the scene kids. 

UK tech wizards HARBINGER’s stage presence has mightily improved since their last Tech Fest appearance in 2017. However, they are still not living up to the hype for me and still have a long way to go to really capture everyone’s attention during a live show, the same way next act FROM SORROW TO SERENITY do. They utterly blew me away last year at Tech Fest, so expectations were high for their set today. I needn’t have worried as their performance was faultless. Vocalist Gaz King was most impressive of all, a true professional, his voice did not falter once considering the extreme workout it was getting. New album Reclaim was released earlier this year and the songs played today sounded absolutely huge. Being signed to Long Branch Records is suiting them well. Surely it’s only a matter of time before FROM SORROW TO SERENITY hit the big time.   

Having reviewed new album Render before the weekend by VALIS ABLAZE (it’s bloody brilliant), I was curious to hear how the new songs fared live. Now with a solidified line-up, the proggers from Bristol had a fuller stage presence and everything seemed to gel really well. New songs Hollow Heart, The Convincer and State of Decay all took on a new power in a live setting, and old reliables Insularity and Paradox still packed a punch. This band have ‘grown up’ playing at Tech Fest through the years, we’ve seen it all, from their numerous line-up changes, their Insularity EP, last year’s debut album Boundless and now Render. There is an air of ‘this is it now, watch us fly’ surrounding the band and the crowd can feel the buzz too. A band finally hitting their stride, see them before they get huge!

The real buzz today was around the highly anticipated co-headline set by VILDHJARTA. This would be the first time witnessing these elusive Swedes for the majority of people here tonight. In fact this is the band some had only come to Tech Fest for at all, so it was a momentous occasion and the pits and perspiration in the air were testament to that. Playing tracks such as Dagger and Eternal Golden Monk, the crowd were going wild and lapping up each moment. “Banana guy, get up here and headbang” led to the most legendary moment of the weekend. When people thought the set couldn’t get any better, they brought out Filip Danielsson from HUMAITY’S LAST BREATH to do guest vocals. That, my friend is how to go down in history at Tech Fest.

After that colossal set the pressure was on for Norwegian proggers LEPROUS to finish the weekend on a high. Of course they were up to the task and they were nothing short of spectacular. A godly set, LEPROUS churned out all the favourites including The Price and The Flood and played From The Flame and Mirage for their encore. Even the burliest metalhead was singing along to LEPROUS. Their crossover appeal is one of their greatest assets and their melodic prog was the perfect way to end the weekend. With a surreal atmosphere thanks to the ambient lighting and magical riffs, front man Einar Solberg “Aaahh-ah-ah-aaa”-ed his way through the set, much to the delight of fans. His luscious tones resonated around the room, somehow uniting all witnesses in this moment. Listening to LEPROUS, we could all forget we’d be returning to reality the next day. It concluded a spectacular weekend of innovative music, up and coming bands and old favourites. Repeat after me: TECH FEST IS BEST FEST.   

   

Metalmance Top 20 Albums of 2017

Our hottest albums of 2017…beware…there’s a turkey in there…

No. 20  THE ROYAL – Seven

The Royal

Metalmance have mentioned THE ROYAL a lot this year, and once again they feature in one of our posts. This time they kick off our Top 20 albums of the year list! In a scene which is becoming overwhelmingly full with bland groups and so-so tech, these Dutchman are slowly but surely gaining a reputation for themselves as a talented and promising metal act. Seven sees THE ROYAL gain confidence and the nurturing of a signature sound. Once the band finally have a firm footing in the metal world, who knows how high they could climb?

“A seriously blinding effort, Seven will hopefully propel THE ROYAL to the forefront of the burgeoning scene.”

The Royal – Seven

 

No. 19  EMPLOYED TO SERVE – The Warmth of a Dying Sun

Employed to Serve

One of 2017’s breakthrough bands, Britain’s own EMPLOYED TO SERVE rightly deserve all the attention they’ve been receiving this year. Their sophomore release The Warmth of a Dying Sun is proof they are worthy of your time. With a gloriously sludgy, nu-metal-ish, heavy hardcore energy, they throw together old and new influences into a melting pot of riffy joy. If new kids CODE ORANGE and OATHBREAKER were bred with old daddies WILL HAVEN and BOTCH, then you will more than likely achieve the perfection of EMPLOYED TO SERVE. These are the new masters of British forward-thinking metal.

 

No. 18  NORDIC GIANTS – Amplify Human Vibration

Nordic Giants

Since Metalmance first discovered the intriguing and mysterious NORDIC GIANTS last year, we’ve been utterly in love. You can’t treat Amplify Human Vibration as a continuation of A Séance of Dark Delusions however, no, no, it is a much deeper and a more thought-provoking affair than that. Predominantly using spoken word samples to accompany the duo’s stunning soundscapes, Amplify Human Vibration is about re-awakening the human spirit, to realise our true potential as a power together on this planet. The songs do summon some kind of deep inner-awareness, a feat which not all of NORDIC GIANTS’ peers and contemporaries would be able to accomplish.

“Their last album released in 2015 A Séance of Dark Delusions is a truly spellbinding record, with each listen exposing something missed before.”

Weekly Roundup #9

 

No. 17  VIPASSI – Sunyata

Vipassi

This instrumental effort from the progressive metal supergroup VIPASSI unfortunately seems to have slipped under the carpet a bit this year. Hopefully this could mean Sunyata could become a sleeper hit in the prog metal world. A sprawling mass of complex rhythms, heavenly bass and stunning soundscapes, VIPPASSI have created a blackened beast of complexity. All tracks seem to merge into one, allowing the listener to be transported to a progressive paradise. More please.

“With only seven tracks, Sunyata feels a bit like a tease, a bit like a punishing starter before a main course. Go on, indulge.”

Weekly Roundup #18

 

No. 16  CODE ORANGE – Forever

Code Orange

This year has certainly been the year of CODE ORANGE. At the end of 2016 they were threatening the world with something special, then in January they dropped Forever, and the rest is history. Dark, disturbing, modern and unpredictable – their energy is infectious. Their arrogant swagger in the scene make them an unstoppable and untouchable force. In our Weekly Roundup #8, Metalmance said they were a band to watch. We weren’t wrong. Will you join forces with them? Or be part of the wreckage they’ll leave behind?

“If the band are able to maintain this rawness then the future of hardcore is bright, the future is CODE ORANGE.”

Weekly Roundup #8

 

No. 15  LEPROUS – Malina

Leprous

Back in 2016, Metalmance hailed the Norwegian progsters as a band to watch, and rolling off the back of 2015’s The Congregation and this year’s Malina, the band have been growing from strength to strength. Malina sees the band stretching the term ‘progressive metal’, with their stupidly catchy and melodic songs, the band seem to be veering towards a lighter approach. They have always been good songwriters but with Malina, LEPROUS finally seem to have hit the nail on the head. One of our qualms with The Congregation was the songs didn’t know really when to get going or where to end, but Malina is far more of an enjoyable and rewarding listen.

“There’s no denying LEPROUS add their own twist to proceedings and really push themselves to the front of the melodic metal pack.”

Weekly Roundup #3

 

No. 14  NORTHLANE – Mesmer

Northlane

Remember earlier in the year when NORTHLANE shouted ‘SURPRISE!!!’ and dropped Mesmer with no warning? Well it certainly paid off as it got people talking. And for good reason! Mesmer is easily the most focused and accomplished work by NORTHLANE to date. Savage, yet emotionally heavy, the feels the listener experiences during the Mesmer sonic experience is plenty. Each member has improved as a serious musician and the sound created is a mature one, with oodles of depth. Heart-felt songs which still drop hard, NORTHLANE seemed to have mastered the knack of combining emotion and heaviness.

 

No. 13  ENTHEOS – Dark Future

Entheos

A bit more of a progressive affair than previous album The Infinite Nothing, ENTHEOS are definitely gaining momentum as their own entity rather than some sort of supergroup (with ex members of ANIMALS AS LEADERS and THE FACELESS). Vocalist Chaney Crabb once again proves she is a force to reckon with because of her impressive performance and aggression. Hopefully in 2018 Chaney will gain more recognition as one of extreme metal’s finest vocalists. Dark Future isn’t an album you can absorb and process in one listen, its complex design and dynamics each come into their own individually after numerous listens. This is one album we will still be exploring into the new year.

 

No. 12  IGORRR – Savage Sinusoid

Igorrr

You either love this intriguing French group, or they leave you thinking what on earth??? Metalmance is the former and we witnessed them live at Tech Fest and were very glad to find this eclectic troupe were just as weird and as intense live as they are on record. One of the amazing aspects of the band and the album is the ‘samples’, each individual part is played and recorded which gives Savage Sinusoid an impressive depth. Full of heavy, yet charming tracks, the classical vocals sit surprisingly well among the more, er, primal screaming. And if we ran an award for best album opener of the year, we’d sure as hell choose Viande.

 

No. 11  GHOST IRIS – Blind World

Ghost Iris

As soon as these techy Danes released their catchy single Save Yourself back in February, Metalmance have been hooked. They released Blind World a week later and it is still on heavy rotation even now in December. A more focused effort than their previous releases, they seem to have their fingers well on the pulse of European tech metal. The album boasts tracks which are upbeat, heavy, melodic, yet deceivingly complex. GHOST IRIS really seem to have finally found their sound, and it’s a winning formula. Each song is a standout track, making Blind World an album you can happily listen to all the way through and return to again and again. Trust us, you won’t get bored.

“An album which keeps you on your toes yet constantly brings the fun, Blind World is sure to launch GHOST IRIS into the tech metal stratosphere.”

Weekly Roundup #19

 

No. 10  MUTATION – Dark Black

Mutation

In a time of super slick production and programming overload, it’s refreshing to hear something with a bit more of a raw approach (oo-er!) in the form of MUTATION’s Dark Black. With an organic and nostalgic feel, Dark Black has been one of 2017’s surprises. A thoroughly enjoyable and chaotic listen, you can read more about the band and the making of the album (which also features the one and only, DEVIN TOWNSEND) in our recent interview with Scott Lee Andrews from MUTATION.

“Both of us wanted to one-up each other in terms of how far/fucked up to go, and neither of us said ‘That’s too far’.” – Scott Lee Andrews

Q&A with Mutation

 

No. 9  CALIGULA’S HORSE – In Contact

Caligula's Horse

You may remember we featured CALIGULA’S HORSE in our Prog Down Under feature last year (which reminds us, we never did finish a second part) and 2017 saw these Aussie chaps release the breath-taking In Contact. From the stunning opener Dream the Dead to the sax-fuelled epic Graves, this is without a doubt CALIGULA’S HORSE finest work to date. Heavier than anticipated, In Contact also charms with the delicate compositions and expertly executed flourishes. Jim Grey once again impresses with his distinct voice and lyrical magic. Expect big things in 2018.

“No two songs sound the same, with CALIGULA’S HORSE mixing up the styles; a hint of folk here, a little indie there, but it’s all wrapped up in their own brand of infectious melodic prog.”

Prog Down Under Part 1

 

No. 8  ALLUVIAL – The Deep Longing for Annihilation

Alluvial

At the very beginning of 2017, we were spoilt immediately with the release of The Deep Longing for Annihilation, the instrumental masterpiece by metal greats, Keith Merrow and Wes Hauch. If you remember BLACK CROWN INITIATE were our album of the year last year, then you can understand why we were thrilled to begin our year with ALLUVIAL. Dark and brooding, the album hones both Merrow and Hauch’s signature styles, so much so they raised the bar so high for other instrumental albums this year.

“Imagine BLACK CROWN INITIATE, DECAPITATED and GOJIRA all rolled into one. This album is proof progressive metal does not necessarily need vocals to make it heavier.”

Weekly Roundup #14

 

No. 7  LOATHE – The Cold Sun

Loathe

One of the darker albums featured on our list this year – The Cold Sun has the same atmosphere as its namesake. A deep, stunning, yet unpredictable slab of British tech metal, this album is proof of why you should be paying attention to LOATHE. Astonishingly heavy, yet fiendishly melodic in places, they throw all sorts of extreme elements into the pot; the blackened influences, the instrumentals and the electronic/orchestral parts all pay off massively. Each listen unveils new layers you were unaware of before, and that demonstrates a maturity and love for the craft which will hopefully keep them ahead of the pack.

 

No. 6  EMMURE – Look At Yourself

Emmure

Look At Yourself indeed. Who would have known you would become an EMMURE fan in 2017? Metalmance in all honesty never really gave EMMURE the time of day, but after the announcement that members of GLASS CLOUD and TONY DANZA TAPDANCE EXTRAVAGANZA were joining the ranks, curiosity got the better of us and we’re very glad it did! Look At Yourself is the aural equivalent of ejecting bile and defecating over your enemies. The album is one of the heaviest featured on our list this year. If we gave an award for heaviest track of the year, then Natural Born Killer would win hands down.

 

No. 5  WITHOUT WAVES – Lunar

Without Waves

Earlier in the year, Metalmance labelled WITHOUT WAVES as a band to watch and once their album Lunar was released, we stood by our decision. Listening back to it now, the diversity and variety of genres the band squeeze into their song writing is still mind-blowing; progressive metal, grunge elements, some post-rock tinkles, lots of nostalgic sounds in the same vein as CAVE IN and Say Hello To Sunshine-era FINCH. Yet, somehow WITHOUT WAVES stamp all over these styles with their own sound. How these chaps haven’t blown up in the scene yet is one of 2017’s greatest musical mysteries.

“Anthony Cwan’s vocals really come to light here, his mesmerising voice runs the risk of being contemporary metal’s most alluring warble.”

Weekly Roundup #17

 

No. 4  DEATH FROM ABOVE – Outrage! Is Now

Death From Above

Metalmance are so, so happy DEATH FROM ABOVE are back on top form as we were massive fans of 2004’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, but Outrage! Is Now has completely surpassed all expectations. The Canadian duo deliciously create bass and drum fuelled rock, yet the music they produce is heavy in its own way. Addictive, with a punk energy, Outrage! boasts an impressive array of irresistible riffs, beats and croons. DEATH FROM ABOVE have always had a mainstream sound, sounding a bit like JACK WHITE and MUSE here and there, but with Outrage! the band sound like they are confident in themselves and finally ready to take over the world.

 

No. 3  THE RASMUS – Dark Matters

The Rasmus

You’re probably disgusted by our choice for the no. 3 spot, but bear with us. We all have that one band who were our gateway into rock and metal, it just so happens our feathery friends THE RASMUS were ours. Dark Matters manages to achieve a similar atmosphere to 2004’s Dead Letters, and we can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy and nostalgic. It’s a much poppier affair than their more recent releases, but we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t admit it’s one of our favourites this year. Still full of catchy choruses and a healthy dollop of European cheese, we almost feel compelled to dig out our old wristbands, beanies and crow feathers, but we’re respectable adults now so we’ve managed to refrain…ahem…

 

No. 2  EIGHTEEN VISIONS – XVIII

XVIII

The biggest surprise of the year was the news that our metalcore heroes EIGHTEEN VISIONS had reformed AND were releasing a new album after ten years apart. We thought our 2017 couldn’t get any better than that…until we heard the actual album that is. It was everything old school EIGHTEEN VISIONS fans could ever dream of. Harking back to their glory days, XVIII is an incredible gift to the metal community and tribute to the late Mick Morris who played bass in their heyday. They’ve borrowed elements from their most popular albums; Until The Ink Runs Out, Vanity and Obsession, and have created a fresh new sound with subtle nostalgia. We hope they’re back for good.

“…there’s no doubt about it, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are back and ready to rejuvenate the metalcore scene again. Welcome back chaps.”

Eighteen Visions – XVIII

 

No. 1  DYSCARNATE – With All Their Might

Dyscarnate

We threatened back in August that With All Their Might could end up being our album of the year – and it bloody well is! No other album this year has been better in our eyes. An absolute corker of a beast, DYSCARNATE are a stupidly talented trio who know how to the bring the groove and the brutality. We don’t think we’ve heard any riffs this year which top what can be heard on With All Their Might. This album has WINNER stamped all over it and we seriously cannot wait to hear the songs live. Congratulations DYSCARNATE!

“If With All Their Might doesn’t cement DYSCARNATE as Britain’s heavyweight heroes then we might just have to crack our skulls in disgust. With their no-nonsense attitude, DYSCARNATE will have you gagging to join their ranks.”

Dyscarnate – With All Their Might

Weekly Roundup #3

3 is the magic number

Band to watch: LEPROUS. They’re about to embark on an extensive North American tour but it’s most likely you haven’t heard of these Norwegian fellows. Four albums into their career and they’re finally gaining momentum and praise around the world. Deliciously on the melodic end of the metal spectrum, LEPROUS’ beautiful melodies are made the more spine tingling thanks to the incredible vocal talent of Einar Solberg. You might have heard his voice recently as guest vocalist on IHSAHN’s track Celestial Violence on this year’s Arktis. In fact, LEPROUS used to be the backing band for IHSAHN. The haunting Nordic sound is ever present in LEPROUS’ songs, but their influences range from MASSIVE ATTACK to GOJIRA. The heavier side of metal unexpectedly is unleashed now and then in their compositions which further emotionally charges the music. Most recent album The Congregation boasts elements from a variety of genres, everything from prog to djent and jazz. There’s no denying LEPROUS add their own twist to proceedings and really push themselves to the front of the melodic metal pack. You can catch them on tour in the UK with prog contemporaries TESSERACT and DEVIN TOWNSEND next March. Expect to hear more about these guys in the coming months!

https://www.facebook.com/leprousband/?fref=ts

Video to watch: SKYHARBOR. Last year SKYHARBOR released the track Out of Time which show cased new vocalist Eric Emery, proving he is more than capable of filling the shoes left behind by Daniel Tompkins (now back in TESSERACT). Now with new video Chemical Hands released last week, SKYHARBOR are prepared to take over the world with their new line-up and their own strain of progressive metal. The song itself is a stellar piece of melodic, proggy, technical goodness, fully demonstrating Eric’s vocal capabilities. The video accompaniment itself can only be described as a glorious sci-fi vision akin to films The Matrix and the Riddick trilogy. The stunning visuals compliment the heart wrenching melodies to create an all encompassing sensory experience. Director Michael Di Lonardo sets out a barren, futuristic landscape occupied by machines, with the band appearing like a transmission from outer space. SKYHARBOR, we read you loud and clear, we’ll see you in the UK next week!

Most anticipated release: WINTERFYLLETH. New album The Dark Hereafter will be released this Friday!

https://www.facebook.com/Winterfylleth/?fref=ts

Still in the stereo: WALLS OF JERICHO. When you think of female fronted bands you probably think of your pop punk types or your metal ARCH ENEMY like bands. But Candice Kucsulain, along with the rest of the band WALLS OF HERICHO, delivers such straight up, no nonsense hardcore punk, it’s mind boggling this hardcore troupe from Detroit do not receive more credit and recognition. Easily just as relevant and ferocious as contemporaries HATEBREED and SICK OF IT ALL, it is refreshing to hear a band so passionate and aggressive minus all the poser bullshit the scene can be now guilty of at times. So when WALLS OF JERICHO released No One Can Save You From Yourself back in March this year, it was gratefully received by fans as it had been roughly 8 years since last album The American Dream came out. It was well the worth the wait with the band sounding angrier than ever but also aiming to reunite people across not only their fan base, but across the scene, especially through tracks such as Relentless and The Anthem. It is a solid piece of honest work by a band who obviously still have a lot to say. They announced a UK/EU tour this week, so let’s hope they stick around for a little while longer at least.

https://www.facebook.com/WallsofJericho/?fref=ts

Band to rediscover: BYZANTINE. I must admit, I thought BYZANTINE were long gone, dead and buried in the metal graveyard, but lo and behold, they are now signed to Metal Blade Records with a self-titled album available in stores and a new record underway! 2005’s album …And They Shall Take Up Serpents rippled a few waves in the underground metal scene, then they seemed to vanish. To be fair, they can be pretty hard to Google, but now it shouldn’t be hard to find them and fall under their spell once again. Their progressive thrash metal, reminiscent of bands such as TESTAMENT, LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, also incorporates instrumental sections, tribal drumming and killer solos bordering on progressive jazz. Now the band are back and stronger than ever, it is time to punish our ears once again!

https://www.facebook.com/Byzantinewv/?fref=ts

Band yet to listen to: PORT NOIR. I keep hearing about this band and their ability to mix up all sorts of genres to create their own brand of gorgeous metal. Next on my list to check out.