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
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.
HOUR OF PENANCE – Misotheism. 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.
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.
SIGNS OF THE SWARM – Vital 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.
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!
ISBJÖRG – Iridescent. 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 MARS – Lost 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 SHADOW – Age 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.”