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

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.

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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.