Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018: 40 to 31

The first instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 Releases of the 2018.

Welcome to my first instalment of my Top Releases of the 2018. I decided to not only have albums in the list, but EPs too, purely because of the wealth of fantastic ones released in the past 12 months. I will post 10 albums at a time, so without further ado enjoy my Top 40 to 31 albums of the year!

40

VEXESAncient Geometry

Released back in February, it feels like a long time since VEXES released their debut album Ancient Geometry yet it hasn’t lost any of its punch. The album has a shimmering nostalgic, progressive rock tinge, with a large helping of DEFTONES-esque melodies and ambiance. Featuring past members from a variety of established bands, VEXES bring all their skills and expertise together in this impressive record. Do not sleep on this album. My full review is linked below.

Vexes – Ancient Geometry

39

PSYCROPTICAs The Kingdom Drowns

Still a relatively new album as it was only released last month, As The Kingdom Drowns is the seventh album by Austrailian tech mertallers PSYCROPTIC and it’s making enormous waves in the tech death scene. It’s been a cracking year for tech death with the likes of BEYOND CREATION, INFERI and OSBCURA releasing albums, but for me, this effort by PSYCROPTIC surpasses those others as it’s the one I feel compelled to return to again. The instrumentation is absolutely stellar on this album, proving PSYCROPTIC are only getting better with each release. Cracking stuff.

38

WALK IN COMABlur The Line of Fiction and Hate

Here is the first of the EPs I have included in this year’s list. Southend’s WALK IN COMA are establishing themselves as one of Essex’s most promising metal acts with their EP, Blur The Line of Fiction and Hate. The band produce strong, in-your-face metal with good hooks and enough riffs to keep a PANTERA fan happy, but it is the second track Through Your Eyes which proves to be something very special indeed.

Walk In Coma – Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate 

37

ORPHANED LANDUnsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Way back in January, Israeli progressive metallers ORPHANED LAND released the stunning Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, and we need this album more than ever. The band have always flawlessly tied oriental elements in with their metal foundations and it always creates a spectacular result. Much like most of their back catalogue, ORPHANED LAND stresses the importance of equality, acceptance and love. The topics and themes feel a lot more urgent on this release, copying the state of current affairs in the world today. If you want an album where you feel you can unite with humanity, this would be it.

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs 

36

TESSERACTSonder

When I reviewed Sonder, the fourth album by British prog metallers TESSERACT, back in April, I said it’s nowhere near the band’s best album but it could potentially worm its way into album of the year lists. Unfortunately the album didn’t stick with me throughout the remainder of the year, hence its low placing in my album list. Sonder has lots of good songs but it doesn’t maintain momentum or interest for me, compared to albums released by their contemporaries this year which have ranked higher. It’s still a strong album but I’m not convinced it will stand the test of time in the long run.

Tesseract – Sonder

35

WOLF KINGLoyal To The Soil

WOLF KING sound like what I always wanted TRAP THEM to become. They boast filthy, blackened hardcore along with strenuous screams that make their debut album Loyal to the Soil absolutely disgusting – in a good way! WOLF KING sound like the aural equivalent of a full day down the mines; dark, suffocating, dirty and forever plunging into the depths. An incredibly underrated debut release this year, I’m hoping Loyal to the Soil will eventually be celebrated as one of the finest slabs of blackened hardcore to date.

34

JESUS PIECEOnly Self

Speaking of filthy hardcore (oo-er!) Only Self is another breathtaking debut released this year…breathtaking in the winded kinda way. JESUS PIECE are rapidly emerging in the hardcore scene thanks to their CODE ORANGE-esque riffs and their 90s-inspired beats. This year has seen a lot of hype for JESUS PIECE’s contemporaries VEIN, but personally I think the former have the edge. The brutality, the ferocity and downright filth is both crushing and considerably impressive for a debut release. Expect big things. You can read more on what I have to say about Only Self in the link to the Roundup below.

Roundup – August 2018

33

MECHROMORPHSelf-titled EP

I couldn’t write my top 40 releases of the year list without including a quality band from my hometown. Slam metal band MECHROMORPH are the best metal band to burst out of Clacton since…well…ever. The band are proving their worth in the scene, having played shows all over the country and lighting a fire under other local bands. Their self-titled EP features old school sounds along with contemporary slam elements in the same vein as VULVODYNIA, INGESTED etc. Once the band have established their sound there is no reason they couldn’t also prove to be an unstoppable force.

Mechromorph – Self-titled EP

32

BLEEDING THROUGHLove Will Kill All

I always thought any new BLEEDING THROUGH album would be in my Top 10 albums of the year, so I’m surprised with myself for placing the band’s comeback album fairly low in the rankings. The metalcore darlings ended their career on a high with 2012’s The Great Fire and frontman Brandan Schieppati released a brilliant solo album as THE IRON SON in the meantime, but unfortunately Love Will Kill All didn’t quite live up to expectations compared to their peers ATREYU and THE AGONY SCENE who released better quality albums this year. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a solid album, and last track Life is positively stunning. Check out my BLEEDING THROUGH retrospective I wrote earlier in the year for my low-down on each of their albums.

METALMANCE RETROSPECTIVE: Bleeding Through

31

VALIS ABLAZEBoundless

This mesmerising debut album by Bristolians VALIS ABLAZE is the album I’ve moved around the most whilst compiling this Top 40 list. Boundless is an awesome progression from the band’s EP Insularity, but it’s an album I’ve struggled to return to throughout the year which is why I haven’t placed it higher. There are several particularly stunning tracks on here such as Lumen, Afterlight and Frequency which prove VALIS ABLAZE are one of the leading lights of British progressive metal. Choosing Paradox as their lead single might not have been the wisest choice as it doesn’t show the band at their most original, but bloody hell the potential is there for greater things.

Valis Ablaze – Boundless

METALMANCE RETROSPECTIVE: Bleeding Through

Rediscovering the back catalogue of one of the most important bands in metalcore.

BLEEDING THROUGH will always hold a special place in my heart for three reasons. The first reason being the band includes one member of the band EIGHTEEN VISIONS (Brandan Schieppati, the vocalist), and if you’ve been following my blog for a while you will know EIGHTEEN VISIONS are my favourite band. The second reason why BLEEDING THROUGH mean so much is because they were my first ever gig! I always joke I was waiting for a special band to lose my ‘gig virginity’ to as funny as that sounds, but I’m glad I waited until I was 16 and I saw BLEEDING THROUGH at Colchester Arts Centre with JOB FOR A COWBOY and THROWDOWN as support. Now if you are familiar with the OC straight edge scene you can probably guess why I was even more excited that THROWDOWN were supporting. THROWDOWN, BLEEDING THROUGH and EIGHTEEN VISIONS were always swapping members and playing shows together back in the day so seeing two of my ‘big three’ in one night almost blew my little mind. Especially as EIGHTEEN VISIONS had already broken up by this time and I thought I would never get to see them live (fortunately I was wrong!) and so BLEEDING THROUGH and THROWDOWN felt like the next best thing!

The third reason of course is because BLEEDING THROUGH consistently released albums of such superb quality and were pioneers of the metalcore scene (sorry if you hate that word). They’re one of those rare bands who have the energy of a hardcore band, the brutality of the hardest metalcore and some of the most mesmerising symphonic elements, of which never sound out of place or cheesy. There is no bad album and when the band split in 2014, they ended on a high. This year they announced their reformation AND released their new album Love Will Kill All. This retrospective will express my thoughts and memories of each album, along with favourite tracks. I also did a little digging through my old CD-ROMs of photos I’ve taken at gigs to choose a featured image for this post. What did I think of the new album? Continue reading to find out!

 

Dust To Ashes, 2001

Dust to Ashes

Unfortunately BLEEDING THROUGH’s debut is the album I’ve listened to the least, mainly because it’s so difficult to get hold of and I can only really listen to it on YouTube. Some of the tracks were later re-recorded for their second album such as Ill Part 2, Turns Cold to the Touch and Just Another Pretty Face, so I’ve never felt much of a need to keep returning to this album. It’s interesting to hear the strong EIGHTEEN VISIONS influences in this album, from Schieppati’s vocal delivery and songwriting to some of the structures and riffs. For a debut metalcore album in the early noughties, the production isn’t actually that bad!

Favourite track: Thrones of Agony.

I love the swagger of this song, the guitar licks and the breakdowns. The riffs were so ahead of their time. Quite a lot happens in this song, there are punk influences to hints of doom and it packs a punch, bringing their debut album to a blistering close.

 

Portrait of The Goddess, 2002

Portrait of the Goddess

This second album is always severely overlooked but it’s my favourite of BLEEDING THROUGH’s early albums. This is when the foundations of the band’s sound were truly set. Yes most of the songs were reworkings of tracks from the debut album but new tracks such as Wake of Orion and the title track show the promising direction the band were heading. Before AVENGED SEVENFOLD became one of the world’s biggest bands, the band played shows with BLEEDING THROUGH and M. Shadows lent his vocals to the track Savior, Saint, Salvation. It’s funny how the beginning of this track sounds like something A7X would release later in their career and shows how some bands in the scene became huge and how others crashed and burned.

Favourite track: Rise.

I am a mega fan of HIMSA and John Pettibone and the HIMSA singer guests on this fantastic track. Rise opens Portrait of the Goddess and it’s a tough song for others to follow because it’s just so good. I love the groove, I love the keys and I love the heaviness of this track. One of my favourite BLEEDING THROUGH tracks of all time.

 

This Is Love, This Is Murderous, 2003

This Is Love

Their third album This Is Love, This Is Murderous was the band’s breakthrough album and one of Trustkill Records best selling records of all time. This album is an important album for metalcore as BLEEDING THROUGH were doing things slightly differently and their format set the bar for their contemporaries and new bands. Listening back to the album now the production is quite bad but somehow this gives the record a mysterious charm. It’s aged pretty well, the riffs still sound as brutal as ever and you can hear how metalcore and even deathcore bands today took influence from This Is Love, This Is Murderous. The breakdowns on this album are something else. All the classics are here too from Love Lost In A Hail of Gun Fire, Revenge I Seek and On The Wings of Lead and samples from The Boondock Saints. If you haven’t listened to this slab of metal history then you seriously need to educate yourself.

Favourite track: Number Seven With a Bullet.

It was a hard decision between this track and City of the Condemned, but I chose Number Seven With a Bullet as it has the beginnings of the classic BLEEDING THROUGH sound. It also rages hard, some parts of this song are way ahead of its time. This track is a perfect example of what metalcore should be, a seamless mix of metal and hardcore. BLEEDING THROUGH always have and always will be masters at this.

 

The Truth, 2006

The TruthThis was the first album by BLEEDING THROUGH I bought and listened to. I remember hearing the single Kill To Believe and being overwhelmed by how heavy it was. I loved the chorus, I loved the keys and I just loved how fast and heavy the intro was, I hadn’t heard anything quite like it. The whole album is an unstoppable beast and nothing quite matches the pacing of this record. It’s a violent whirlwind all the way through. It slows down a tad with the ballad Line In The Sand, but this still sounds so urgent and melodically heavy they just about get away with it. I still argue this is the most unforgiving and brutal of their releases. It’s so unashamedly aggressive (remember the music videos for singles Kill To Believe and Love In Slow Motion?!) and I think it’s the anger that resonated with fans as everyone could relate in some form or another whether it would be heartbreak or feeling like a failure. BLEEDING THROUGH are so relatable and I think this is a strength to their music.

Favourite track: Dearly Demented.

This track has so many breathtaking elements, from it’s speedy pace to its climatic chorus and Marta’s amazing keys (the first album she is credited fully with BLEEDING THROUGH). One standout part of Dearly Demented though is the guest appearance of NIck 13 from rockabilly legends TIGER ARMY. It adds a really eerie dynamic to the track and takes it to a new high. This song is an example of everything BLEEDING THROUGH have to offer and so much more.

 

Declaration, 2008

Declaration

Recently I’ve seen people claim this is the best BLEEDING THROUGH album, I don’t necessarily agree but I can understand why this is a favourite for a lot of BLEEDING THROUGH fans. Declaration is when the blackened elements really ramp up and when they really start to push the genre of metalcore. A part of me felt a tad disappointed hearing this album, mostly because I thought The Truth was a masterpiece so I guess my expectations were high. This was also the first album without one of the founding members Scott Danough so a big part of the BLEEDING THROUGH magic had gone. It’s quite evident as the chaotic riffs are missing in Declaration. Instead the band had Jona Weinhofen from I KILLED THE PROM QUEEN (and after he left BLEEDING THROUGH he joined BRING ME THE HORIZON) who brought the big riffs. All the songs on this album have their own little flourishes and sounds. From the dark, brutal energy of Germany, the post-hardcore opening of There Was A Flood to the disgusting heaviness of Reborn From Isolation, this album shows BLEEDING THROUGH experimenting with different styles and it makes for a very exciting album.

Favourite track: Orange County Blond and Blue.

To be honest it was either going to be this or Death Anxiety but I chose Orange County Blond and Blue because I remember they previewed the song when I saw them live and I thought it sounded extremely beefy. The opening riff reminds me of older BLEEDING THROUGH and the chorus is just so catchy in its own ferocious way. Groovy and hard as nails this song is a winner.

 

Bleeding Through, 2010

Self TitledI think this album doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. I’ve always thought this album is the most overlooked but it just absolutely slays. This is when we started to see BLEEDING THROUGH becoming the modern metalcore force that they still are today. With songs like Anti-Hero having a thrashy stance and Your Abandonment sounding a bit like DIMMU BORGIR, it goes to show once again how comfortable the band were at pushing the boundaries of metalcore and writing a straight up heavy release. Schieppati was also being bold with his clean vocals on Salvation Never Found and Distortion, Devotion which are absolute stellar tracks. This album also saw the introduction of the band’s mantra of ‘Nothing is over’ which can be heard in the obliteratingly heavy Breathing in the Wrath. A stunning album from start to finish it still sounds like a colossal feat.

Favourite track: Slow Your Roll.

I adore this track, from the dark electronics, the brutal beginning and to the CRADLE OF FILTH-esque verses, Slow Your Roll is a perfect example of metalcore brutality. The way it crashes in at the start and never lets up, it’s unstoppable and Schieppati sounds like a total beast.

 

The Great Fire, 2012

The Great Fire

One of the reasons why I was absolutely gutted when BLEEDING THROUGH originally called it a day was because their last album The Great Fire was by far one of their best. Fast, brutal and relentless it was a true tour de force. It was heavy with blackened influences which is why the album shone so much. As usual Schieppati is full of hatred and anger but this is by far their darkest album musically. I wouldn’t be surprised if the big blackened deathcore acts of today didn’t take influence from this album, some riffs really sound like ANAAL NATHRAKH and it just sounds so goddamn evil. The gothic keys really give the album a sense of menace and impending doom, creating quite a suffocating atmosphere. At the time of their split I was glad they ended their career on such a high, unlike some of their peers. I saw this album as a real achievement and an example of a veteran metalcore band pushing the genre’s boundaries and creating a blackened masterpiece. The final track Back To Life will stick with me until the end of time.

Favourite track: Goodbye to Death.

I’ve probably said this about my other favourite album tracks but this song as it all. Goodbye to Death is absolutely mental. I don’t know how many times I’ve had this song on repeat but it still gives me chills. A stunningly heavy track it has a hardcore punk pacing with oodles of gothic elements and the most brutal of metalcore riffs. This song is outrageous.

 

Love Will Kill All, 2018

Love Will Kill All

One thing I love about this album is that it was produced by ANAAL NATHRAKH’s Mick Kenney (who also produced Schieppati’s solo project THE IRON SON and EIGHTEEN VISION’s comeback album too) so there are some brilliant blackened ANAAL NATHRAKH-esque passages. Fade Into The Ash is a brilliant comeback track, demonstrating Schieppati’s improved vocals and the band’s wicked return to songwriting. The album sounds a cross between Declaration and their self-titled which is a winning combination. The blackened riffs are out in force, especially in No Friends and the whole record oozes confidence and attitude. This is BLEEDING THROUGH returning all guns blazing and showing the new kids how it’s done. The band always return with a gang-vocal-tastic song and the first song they released off Love Will Kill All was no different; Set Me Free has a hard as nails chorus but also spectacular black metal screams halfway through the track. No One From Nowhere is a gloriously brutal track proving the band are back on fine form. A perfect return for the Kings and Queen of metalcore.

Favourite track: Life.

This is probably everyone’s favourite track from Love Will Kill All because of one reason, and one reason only. Marta’s bloody brilliant vocals. How has it taken it this long for her haunting warbles to grace a BLEEDING THROUGH track? It brings the album to an absolutely chilling close. The band have always been full of feeling but this song triggers all the feels. Welcome back BLEEDING THROUGH.