Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018: 10 to 1

The final 10. The all important No. 1.

Here it is! My final instalment of Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018. Thanks for joining me on my Top Releases of the Year journey, it’s been fun! I won’t delay you any further, I’m sure you’re dying to know who has won my top spot! You may proceed. See you next year!

10

NIGHTMARERCacophony of Terror

One of the heaviest, darkest, most terrifying releases of the year, I’ve been besotted with Cacophony of Terror by NIGHTMARER since its release back in March. The dissonant tones and insanely heavy riffs are what keeps me coming back again and again. The seamless transition between opening track The Descent and Stahlwald has got to be one of my favourite album moments of 2018. These two tracks together are mindblowing and the ridiculous riff and crushing atmosphere in the latter will leave you chuckling at just how heavy NIGHTMARER are. Read more of my [dark] thoughts on Cacophony of Terror in the roundup below.

Roundup – May 2018

9

SKYHARBORSunshine Dust

It’s been a strong year for progressive metal releases and one big surprise this year has been SKYHARBOR’s new album, Sunshine Dust. Usually TESSERACT and MONUMENTS lead the way in the progressive metal/djent scene, but for me SKYHARBOR have risen high above the rest this year with their new release. New vocalist Eric Emery plays a big part in this with his terrific warbles, but the songs as a whole are more focussed and melodic compared to their previous releases. Standout tracks Out of Time, Synthetic Hands and the phenomenal title track will leave you dreaming for days. Fantastic stuff. Read my full review via the link below.  

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust

8

ABORTEDTerrorVision

The Belgian death metal/grindcore Kings are back and with TerrorVision, their 10th studio album, they’ve unleashed their most blackened release yet. TerrorVision is everything I wanted the new BEHEMOTH to be. ABORTED have achieved an album so punishing, so unforgiving, so relentless it is a ferocious ride from start to finish. It’s amazing how something that sounds so polished can still sound extremely brutal and I think that proves the beastly talent of these Belgians. 

7

WITHIN DESTRUCTIOND E A T H W I S H

There’s a mad genius to D E A T H W I S H, the third album by Slovenian deathcore/slam band (there I’ve said it) WITHIN DESTRUCTION. This album is exceptionally brutal but it’s executed remarkably well making it an incredibly enjoyable listen. You know it must be a good record if Unique Leader Records picked the band up after the album was released in March. The title track is a slab of perfection, with brilliant guest vocals by VULVODYNIA’s Duncan Bentley. The pace, the riffage, the aural assault of the track is superb and sets the tone for the remainder of the album. Tracks like Extinction and Darkness Swallows Life demonstrate the awesome vocal talent of the band’s frontman Rok Rupnik, but I find penultimate track Death Awaits Us All is their most mature offering on D E A T H W I S H. The darkness of this song is suffocating and guarantees an enthralling listen. Do not ignore this album.

Roundup – April 2018

6

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGEOdyssey: The Founder of Dreams

When I first listened to Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams and included it in my last roundup, I quite liked it but I didn’t realise how much I’d end up loving it and having it on repeat since. When this album clicked after a few listens, the sheer brilliance of the songwriting and lyrics was completely overwhelming. The delicate riffs and considered components of each song results in an absolute winner of an album. It’s rare to hear a record with not only heart-wrenching lyrics, but vocals too that make you believe every single the word. On this album, vocalist Ashe O’Hara ensures listeners feels the pain, the hope, the despair, the passion. It’s an unforgettable rollercoaster and singles Nine Levels and Vestibule of Hell are surprisingly heavy which fills out the album to be the perfect package. The real deal.

Roundup – November 2018

5

HARM’S WAYPosthuman

This is the CD I’ve played the most in my car this year; beefy, bold and hella heavy, no I’m not just describing HARM’S WAY frontman, I’m talking about how Posthuman is one of the most brutal records on the planet. Released way back in February, this album is guaranteed to make you pull the filthy riff face. For months nothing surpassed this record for me, and no matter how many times I listen to it, it never loses its punch. It’s not just any hardcore record though, no no, the industrial elements of tracks such as Last Man and the powerviolence thread that runs throughout makes Posthuman stupidly addictive to return to.

Roundup – April 2018

4

VOLAApplause of a Distant Crowd

I absolutely adore VOLA’s first album InMazes so I’m ashamed to admit my expectations weren’t too high for their second album as I thought it wouldn’t match its predecessor. How wrong I was. Applause of the Distant Crowd blows everything VOLA have previously done out the water. Thankfully the band have dropped most of the djent and have released one of the best progressive records of the year. With this album, the band have shown the world how good they are at creating stunning soundscapes. Applause of a Distant Crowd shimmers with dreamy notes and haunting vocals. There are still lots of heavy lil nuggets and surprises along the way. For me the best moment of the album is the KATATONIA-esque Still, which is an utterly mesmerising track. The songs Alien Shivers, Ghosts and Smartfriend are some of the best singles of the year, yet the album is still full of stunning moments. Believe the hype.

3

AVASTMother Culture

I know what you’re thinking. Who?? Who are AVAST? In October I reviewed the Norwegians’ debut album Mother Culture and I’ve been slightly obsessed ever since. 2018 has seen the rise of blackgaze bands and AVAST are still extremely new on the scene but my word, they’re one of the most intense and blissfully beautiful blackgaze bands around. On the more black metal end of blackgaze than shoegaze, the songs sound like WINTERFYLLETH if they gazed at their shoes a bit more. The mesmerising soundscapes AVAST also produce are captivatingly beautiful, if I listen to this album I have to make sure I’m not doing anything else. This album requires your full attention and concentration. I don’t want to say too much more about it as my full review below and the album as a whole speaks for itself. But promise me you’ll check it out, it’ll be one of the best things you do this year.

Avast – Mother Culture

2

EXOCRINEMolten Giant

After WITHIN DESTRUCTION’s D E A T H W I S H came out I wasn’t sure there was enough room in my life for another monster-themed album this year. I was wrong…again. French progressive death metal group EXOCRINE entered my life with their blistering new album Molten Giant and I haven’t looked back since. What I like about EXOCRINE is they leave all the bullshit out and get on with it. Molten Giant is a superb accomplishment and each song is of the highest calibre of prog death. It’s been fantastic to see the band really gaining momentum in the tech and prog death scene, and rightfully so. Tracks such as Scorched Human Society, Backdraft and Flamewalkers really showcase just how technically magnificent and brutal EXOCRINE are. Congratulations to EXOCRINE on releasing my favourite death metal album of 2018!

Exocrine – Molten Giant

1

MØLJord 

Here it is! My album of the year. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock to most of you considering I’ve been singing the praises of MØL since they released their debut album Jord back in April (I may as well change my name to Mølmance while I’m here). Throughout these Top 40 Releases of 2018 posts I’ve mentioned how my wanting to return to albums has been a factor in where I’ve ranked releases. Jord is the opposite. Jord is one of those albums where you savour every listen and limit yourself to how often you experience it so you avoid becoming bored of the record or over listening to it. Below you can read my full review of the album as well as my interview with the band which they did before their very first UK show at The Black Heart, Camden.

At first I wondered if it was just me who felt an over-emotional response to Jord, but after seeing other people’s reactions during the year and seeing the band fill the room to the brim at Damnation Festival, it’s safe to say I’m not alone. There is something truly special and unique about MØL. From their powerful blackgaze tunes and their mesmerising sound, to their phenomenal live show (it’s becoming legendary) the band are storming on all fronts and remaining humble with it. They get the balance between black metal and shoegaze just right, resulting in stunningly deep textures and soundscapes. I could rave on all day about how much I admire this band but an analysis will never do their music justice. Jord isn’t just an album, it is an experience. Jord is my Top Release of 2018.

Møl – Jord

INTERVIEW: MØL


Roundup – October 2018

After a much needed break I am back and ready to share all the kickass metal that I was enjoying in October. I know I’m a little late, but better late than never eh? In this roundup I feature my top 3 releases from last month and other notable releases I’ve been particularly fond of for the past few weeks. See you throughout November for more awesome music and my Damnation review!


 

Metalmance Top 3 Releases from October

October saw awesome releases from the likes of VOLA and BLOODBATH but it also welcomed records from lesser known bands, some of which are featured below. The nights are drawing in and music is also getting darker. I’ll also be thinking about my AOTY list. Stayed tuned!

1

AVAST – Mother Culture. Release date: 26 October 2018.

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You may remember Mother Culture by Norwegian blackgaze metallers AVAST was my last full review on here. It is also the album I am still heavily rotating since my review and a definite contender for my album of the year. This is one of the most stunning debut albums of 2018, with its intense black metal riffs and blissful releases of shoegaze and melody. On the more ferocious end of the blackgaze spectrum, Mother Culture is a relentless work of art, with its title track and Birth of Man being two of its standout songs. The atmosphere is suffocating throughout, making for an fierce listen. Read my review below for a better insight into this phenomenal debut.

Avast – Mother Culture Review Link

 

2

MYCELIA – Apex. Release date: 12 October.

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Describing a band as ‘djent’ these days results in the rolling of the eyes. However, Swiss metallers MYCELIA somehow avoid being pigeonholed as a bog-standard djent band as so much happens in their fifth full length, Apex. If you dig SIKTH, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN then this band is for you, as the mix-mash of elements creates a thrilling experience which is also downright heavy. The instrumentation is extremely impressive, especially the blistering riffs and jazz flourishes. This band are not afraid to be ambitious and it pays off. Tracks such as the single Eight Milligrams and the brilliant Slip-Along Jack McTravis, boast the talent on display. There are a few amusing moments in the same vein as CARNIVAL IN COAL and the theatrical moments of DILLINGER, but nothing is more surprising than Cromulon and the absolute beast of a track it is. You could do a lot worse than check MYCELIA out.

 

3

AS EVERYTHING UNFOLDS – Closure EP. Release date: 19 October.

ClosureHigh Wycombe post-hardcore/alternative outfit AS EVERYTHING UNFOLDS have dropped the storming Closure. A record so full of emotion and energy, the potential of this young band oozes out of each track of this glorious EP. Vocalist Charlie Rolfe carries the band with her fantastic warbles, I really hope they don’t get lumped with the PARAMORE tag based on there being a young female vocalist in the band, because AS EVERYTHING UNFOLDS absolutely slay with a ferocious energy. Songs such as 17:10 and Divided (featuring Sam Stolliday from THECITYISOURS) prove the band can hold their own with their melodic songwriting and their metallic stance. If they keep releasing fantastic material such as this, then they run the risk of becoming Britain’s next big thing.


 

On the playlist…

Just a short section this month as I’m catching up with a lot of music but below is another notable mention from October and an album which I have discovered and fallen head over heels with…

SOUL DISSOLUTION – Nowhere EP. Release date: 18 October.

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Post black metal is really thriving at the moment, and after two full length albums, Belgian experimental metallers SOUL DISSOLUTION released new EP Nowhere in October, and it is a brooding and crushing delight. Only featuring two songs, this EP is a beautiful and chilling affair with many spectacular moments of sheer intensity and ferocity which erupt into euphoric passages. First track Road to Nowhere has some glorious black metal moments which are perfect for these dark, wintery nights. Second track Fading Darkness is a slower affair that creeps along in an eerie oscillation of blackened goodness. The soaring black metal riffs resonate from the rich depths of the music. Influenced by bands such as AGALLOCH, ALCEST and KATAONIA, you can get the idea of the brooding black metal paradise the band aim to create. Spectacular stuff.

 

THE SHIVER – Adeline. Release date: 4 April 2017.

ShiverIn October I saw my childhood favourites THE RASMUS play in Norwich and beforehand I wasn’t holding out much hope for the support bands. How I was wrong. One band in particular, THE SHIVER, an alternative rock band from Italy, completely blew me away. Their last album Adeline is a spectacular mix of hard rock, shoegaze riffs, metallic moments and sheer brilliance – I’ve been left wondering where this album has been my whole life! Featuring some strong storytelling (the title track sometimes reminds me of LEPROUS) and MY VITRIOL-esque riffs, I feel like I have discovered one of the most underrated European bands of all time. Confident, talented and full of passion, everything THE SHIVER play feels like a genuine outpour of love. Couple this with the fact that they’re very nice and approachable people and you’ve got yourself a band that have captured my heart.

Avast – Mother Culture

Release date: 26 October 2018. Label: Dark Essence Records.

2018 is certainly the year of blackgaze. The strong love for the style has really come to the fore this year as well as love for the bands of the genre; ALCEST, DEAFHEAVEN and more recently MØL who released their stunning debut album back in April. October sees another debut blackgaze album, this time from Norwegian blackgaze/post-black band AVAST. What sets AVAST apart from the rest is the inclusion of their native country’s style of black metal. They use this to their advantage to give their music an extra bite but Mother Culture is an absolutely stunning beauty. What I enjoy most about blackgaze is the feeling and emotions I get from the shoegaze riffs and the extreme intensity, AVAST are already masters of this and the album speaks for itself.

AVAST’s lyrical content lean towards the philosophical and poetical stance on social and environmental issues. Mother Culture is a concept album which examines the myths upon which modern civilisation is based and there is a looming sense of an impending catastrophe. Based on the philosophical novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, you know this going to be an intelligent and thought-provoking listen.

The album begins with the mesmerising title track. Building a wall of sound, the band erupt into a WINTERFYLLETH-esque black metal cascade. The pace and intensity of this song is spot-on, grabbing the listener in at the first chance and latching on for a post-black assault. When the shoegaze riffs kick in it’s a stunning switch to light and triumph, like when the sun rises after a frightful night. Absolutely beautiful.

The triumphant riffs and ambiance continues with the phenomenal instrumental track The Myth. It’s more post-rock than post-black, along the lines of MAYBESHEWILL and PELICAN but it just makes Mother Culture that little more spectacular. As the last guitar note rings, the song shifts suddenly, but seamlessly into the blistering Birth of Man. This track steamrolls through, obliterating everything in its wake. The atmosphere and depth of the sound are absolutely crushing, yet a calmness does descend for an IHSAHN-esque break during the intensity.

The World Belongs to Man is a bewitching track of ambitious proportions. There is a heart wrenching element to this song and the desperation and pain spills out into your ears. The rich textures of sound provides a massive tapestry for AVAST to project their philosophical woes creating an exceptional experience. An Earnest Desire is a more laidback affair which somehow amplifies the yearning. It deceives you into a false sense of security with its delicate and brooding instrumentation, but it bursts into blackgaze perfection. It’s another example of the songwriting prowess of AVAST and the true potential of their craft.

The impeccable Mother Culture needs an equally remarkable finale to do the album justice. Luckily Man Belongs to the World provides a fitting conclusion to this devastating blackgaze showcase. This track is a bit more modest compared to other songs on the album in terms of pace, but this somehow magnifies the components of AVAST and allows you to appreciate the timbre of the riffs and emotion of the vocals. The reduction in tempo and textures towards the end could imply the forthcoming catastrophe. Each component is wiped out until there is only feedback, then silence.

An absolutely breathtaking debut record, AVAST are sure to be accepted as one of the new blackgaze greats. The ambition, ability and intelligence of this record is profound. After listening to the intensity on the record I am eager to experience Mother Culture live. This is only the beginning.