Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018: 30 to 21

The second instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 Releases of the year.

Welcome to my second instalment of Metalmance’s Top 40 albums of the year! Hopefully you enjoyed Albums 40-31, you’re in for a treat with this list! Let’s get down to business then and proceed with the next 10 albums on my list…

30

THE FIVE HUNDREDBleed Red

These lovely lads from Nottingham (via Gibraltar) released this magnificent debut album back in August and it’s a melodic tech metal delight. Coming to the fore of the UK tech scene, the band also wear their metalcore influences on their sleeves with Bleed Red as there is a definite KILLSWITCH ENGAGE streak running throughout (especially on the self titled track and Smoke and Mirrors). This is an album which makes you eagerly anticipate the next release! Great stuff. Check out my full album review from August by following the link below.

The Five Hundred – Bleed Red

29

BROKEN GIRLS FROM ALLFUENT BACKGROUNDSFiction Will See Us Through

This little gem was released back in May and it’s an EP I’ve been returning to during the remainder of the year. I adore bands who throw in shoegaze and post-rock influences and this progressive rock act from Phoenix, AZ throw oodles of the stuff into the pot. There’s a delightful sense of nostalgia when listening to BROKEN GIRLS FROM AFFLUENT BACKGROUNDS. I won’t spoil them for you, they’re a band you’ll have to listen to yourself. Fingers crossed for a full length album soon!

Broken Girls From Affluent Backgrounds – Fiction Will See Us Through

28

SVALBARDIt’s Hard To Have Hope

Hardcore black metal band SVALBARD have caused some serious waves with the release of their latest album It’s Hard to Have Hope. Featuring serious themes such as the bleak job prospects for the youth of today, revenge porn and backlash against feminism, SVALBARD tackle these issues by writing equally urgent songs. You can hear the grit, desperation, anger and passion in frontwoman Serena Cherry’s vocals and it makes for a very intense listen. This album is proving to be somewhat of an underground hit, but don’t just take my word for it, have a listen and hear for yourself. Below are links to my full album review, my live review of their album release show and a Q&A with the band.

Svalbard – It’s Hard To Have Hope

Q&A with Svalbard

Svalbard/Møl/Group of Man

27

UNPROCESSEDCovenant

Djent may be seen as a bit of a stale genre these days but German progressive metallers UNPROCESSED are pushing the boundaries of the style with their latest album Covenant and I’ve been smitten ever since. There are some serious grooves on this record and the riffs sound refreshing in an over-saturated scene. There is an extraordinary depth to their music and with each listen, new snippets are discovered. Read more of my views of Covenant in August’s roundup via the link below.

Roundup – July 2018

26

MANESSlow Motion Death Sequence

No album of the year list would be complete without at least one avant-garde album. That album for me is Slow Motion Death Sequence, by Norway’s art rock band MANES. It’s been said this is their most accessible record but I find it to be one of their more intense efforts. There is a menacing darkness and sense of unease which runs throughout the record and makes for an unnerving-but spectacular- listen. Haunting, electrifying and still unpredictable, MANES will never be boring.

Manes – Slow Motion Death Sequence

25

ARSISVisitant

If you read my November Roundup from last month you might remember me harking on about my love for tech death veterans ARSIS. New album Visitant takes a couple of spins to really sink in but after their classic albums A Celebration of Guilt and We Are The Nightmare, this album has a lot to live up to. Thankfully the band haven’t lost any of their momentum and this record is as fast and ferocious as ever. The tech death legends have returned and will show the young un’s exactly how it’s done!

Roundup – November 2018

24

DISTORTED HARMONYA Way Out

Israeli prog metallers DISTORTED HARMONY already had the hard task of writing an album to rival their last release Chain Reaction, without  adding two new members to the dynamic as well! A Way Out felt like a long time coming but it’s been worth the wait. The album would have ranked higher if the chemistry of the music was flawless, in my eyes Chain Reaction was perfection so perhaps I’m being too harsh. I adore the melodic intensity DISTORTED HARMONY achieve and their technical flourishes. This band are still too unknown, this needs to change next year.

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out

23

SICKONESFind Energy

When I witnessed this brilliant hardcore punk band live earlier in the year, I was completely blown away; their unforgettable performance, the messages in their music and their sense of fun were ridiculously addictive and incredibly unique. SICKONES are a truly special beast and this year saw the release of their new EP Find Energy, which is also sadly the last record they will release with frontman Ben Curd now he has left the band. Despite some serious song topics, SICKONES ooze such a sense of fun and optimism and I hope that remains. You can read more of my words about this magnificent band in the links below.

Roundup – June 2018

Cancer Bats/SickOnes/Walk In Coma

22

GOOD TIGERWe Will All Be Gone

Released way, way back at the beginning of February, alternative metal supergroup GOOD TIGER released the beautiful We Will All Be Gone and it’s just as exciting now listening to it as it was on first listen. The post-hardcore elements and the stunning vocals of Elliot Coleman make We Will All Be Gone a glorious piece of art. The irresistible melodies and sun-kissed vibes never fail to warm the soul.

Good Tiger – We Will All Be Gone

21

TEMPLES ON MARSSelf-titled

This album has been a grower on me this year. When I reviewed TEMPLES ON MARS’ self-titled album back in April I enjoyed it but could never have predicted how much I’d end up loving it. Their progressive rock is catchy, intelligent and mature and their songs are incredibly majestic. I enjoy the creativity of the album and the spacey vibes which result in a quite a few epic moments throughout the record. Radio friendly, riffy and catchy this is an album you’re safe to play to your normie friends and enjoy as well.

Temples On Mars – Self titled

Roundup – June 2018

The hottest releases and band picks of the past 30 days.

How are we halfway through the year already? One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be bloody difficult to choose the top 20 albums later in the year! 2018 has seen some absolutely stellar releases and this month was no different! I’ll start with my top 3 releases as usual then I’ll talk what else I’ve been enjoying and which bands I’ve been listening to in preparation for Tech Fest.


Metalmance Top 3 Releases from June

1

SICKONES – Find Energy. Release date: 12 June.

Do you ever feel like yFind Energyou’ve discovered a band at exactly the right time? That’s how I feel about SICKONES. 2018 might be great for music but 2018 hasn’t been kind to Metalmance. When I saw these Bristol hardcore punks support CANCER BATS a fortnight ago I was struck by their stage presence and performance. Considering their lyrics can be quite serious they exude so much positivity in a live setting they’re utterly infectious and they’ve really resonated with me since and got me through a particularly challenging month. I’ve been digging their latest EP Find Energy a lot this month, with catchy songs such as Bad Way and chaotic hardcore tracks like Moving Forward and The Choice making this EP is as entertaining to listen to as they are to see live. Their music takes influence from 80s hardcore bands (I can hear a bit of GORILLA BISCUITS and MINOR THREAT, can you?) and its this raw energy and organic recording that I find so utterly charming and addictive. I think I’m showing symptoms of being a SickOne indeed.

 

2

HEAD WITH WINGS – From Worry To Shame. Release date: 1 June.

Head With Wings

Since reviewing this album last month, the alternative rock duo HEAD WITH WINGS have been gaining a following in the prog and rock community alike and it’s very reassuring to witness. With songs and music of high quality, it is great to see this promising band aren’t being overlooked. With emotionally charged songs and progressive twinklings, songs such as Goodbye Sky, Stepping Stone and…actually I could list all the songs as examples of the stellar songwriting talent the duo boast. From Worry To Shame is a powerful album which is also catchy and memorable. This is a dangerous combination and could run the risk of HEAD WITH WINGS dominating the proggy rock scene…which would not be a bad thing. I’ve written a more in depth analysis in my review of the album which you can find in the link below.

Head With Wings – From Worry To Shame Metalmance Review

 

3

NINE INCH NAILS – Bad Witch. Release date: 22 June.

Bad Witch

I think a lot of people won’t agree with this but I still think Trent Reznor is one of the most severely underrated musicians in metal (I’m even going to upset people by classing NIN as metal). A lot of the younger fans of heavier music still completely overlook them but Reznor has proved NIN is still relevant and as ground-breaking as ever. Yes, the likes of The Fragile and Downward Spiral may never be surpassed but the more recent releases, Bad Witch included, are still edgy outputs that push boundaries and give industrial music new life. Songs like Play The Goddamn Part hark back to the avant-garde instrumental days of The Fragile but with a fresh attitude. The record sounds like an evolution of his previous work with God Break Down The Door reminding me of Year Zero and I’m Not From This World sounding like the more claustrophobic moments of Downward Spiral. Many turn their nose up at new NIN releases but they have no idea on the gold they’re missing. Don’t miss out.


 

On the playlist…

LIGHT THE TORCH – Revival. Release date: 30 March 2018.

Revival

Not going to lie I normally have a few older albums on the go during the month, but the past few weeks I’ve finally checked out Revival by Howard Jones and co in LIGHT THE TORCH and I haven’t been able to take it off repeat since. I didn’t fall in love with the last DEVIL YOU KNOW ALBUM, but the lineup and name changes have somehow given the band an extra spark and I think Revival is one of the most underrated releases of the year so far. I’ve seen little love for this album which is shocking because it is a ridiculously strong release. Hojo is on top form here and you can rely on him for some massive choruses but bloody hell the album is compiled of banger after banger. Die Alone, Virus, The Great Divide are just some of the belters on this incredible album. There are also some interesting musical passages with electronic flourishes nestled in the background, which really add to the rich texture of this album. Hopefully more people will appreciate this album over the time, this is a gentle nudge to encourage you to give it a listen.


 

Prep For Tech Fest

Releases by 3 lesser known bands playing Tech Fest you HAVE to check out…

VNDTA – Pale Glow. Release date: 13 April 2018.

VNDTA

Possibly too good to be an after party band, VNDTA (VENDETTA) from Hertfordshire dropped one of the most promising EPs of the year back in April. Mixing djent, tech, groove metal and even pop influences, Pale Glow is an exciting little package. Frontwoman Megan Targett can scream, growl and sweetly sing as good as any other but it’s her confidence and swagger that sets her voice apart from the rest. It’s one thing having a disgustingly talented vocalist, you need to have a decent band to back the vocals up, luckily the rest of the band deliver. Stand out tracks are the SIKTH-ish Martyr and the INME-esque Swine, but it is the title track and Excuses which you will have in your head for hours on end. Not only am I excited to see how this band will be received at Tech Fest, but I’m also extremely curious what VNDTA will conjure up for their next release.

 

CHIASMATA – EP. Release date: 14 May 2018.

Chiasmata

For a band a little over a year old, CHIASMATA have already achieved great things such as supporting notable tech metal acts along the likes of SARAH LONGFIELD and VALIS ABLAZE, and in May the young progressive metal band from Manchester released their debut self-titled EP. The production and mixing of the EP leave a lot to be desired, which is a shame because the potential of the songs is staggering. This just makes it more exciting to see how the songs translate live. Another female fronted band playing one of the after parties, expect to hear TESSERACT inspired melodies and a cheeky bit of post-rock influences amongst their irresistible techy dynamics. This EP only has four tracks but it has the ambition of a full length album. Vocalist and bassist Zoé Gale is quickly gaining respect and admiration in the tech scene for her charm, talent and ever improving vocals, of which can be appreciated the most in the song Subsidia which is one of the best little treats of the year so far. The band have still got some work to do to nurture and refine their sound but I expect to hear a lot more from these guys and gal. Promising stuff.

 

SIAMESE – Shameless. Release date: 2 June 2017.

SiameseI was very surprised but very pleased to see Danish rockers SIAMESE had been announced for Tech Fest. They may be hidden away in the opening afternoon but I think they would well be worth heading to the showground early for. There are quite a few bands on the melodic end of tech metal this year, including fellow Danes VOLA and proggy bands VOYAGER and VALIS ABLAZE, but SIAMESE are another beast entirely. Radio friendly rock with techy flourishes, they almost sound a guilty pleasure but I can’t feel ashamed listening to Shameless when the songs are this good. Songs like My Turn have an IMAGINE DRAGONS feel to them but others, like Tunnel Visions sounds more like DREAM ON DREAMER. I can’t imagine the INGESTED fans will be queuing up to see SIAMESE do their thang but for those who do rock up early to catch the band, they will no doubt be rewarded with shimmering melodies and chilled vibes before the rest of the weekend obliterates their ears.

Cancer Bats/SickOnes/Walk In Coma

Chinnerys, Southend. 12 June 2018.

If you’ve been following Metalmance then you’ll know how much I was looking forward to seeing CANCER BATS for the sixth time. I’ve been witnessing them tearing venues to shreds for 10 years now and tonight proves they are still as riotous as ever. The Chinnerys, Southend were hosts to the ‘BATS tonight and walking into the intimate room, you knew then you might not make it out alive. Or if you do, you’ll be covered in other people’s sweat and spit.

There was a decent amount of people to see the opening band, WALK IN COMA who are residents of the town. Rapidly gaining a reputation in Essex with their bold metal tunes, these Southend lads appeased their existing fans and gained new followers with their blistering set this evening. Playing songs from their first EP Narrenturm and their forthcoming EP Blur The Line Of Fiction And Fate, their sound is a cross between PANTERA and IN FLAMES so you can probably gauge how beastly WALK IN COMA sound live. It’s one thing having a big sound, you’ve also got to be able to pull it off live. Luckily the band are natural showmen, looking at ease and confident like they do this every day. Singer Alex Adlington is proving to be quite the beguiling frontman with his brilliant harsh vocals and cleans (the chorus of Through Your Eyes anyone?) and his stage presence was quite formidable. The new songs sounded absolutely massive, don’t be surprised if you find them playing a city near you soon.

I was not expecting what I was about to witness next. Hardcore punk trio SICKONES were an impressive sight to behold. Frontman Ben Curd can only be described as the Louie Spence of hardcore punk with his stupidly magnificent dance moves and jumps and spins. He has to be seen to be believed. Add this to their ridiculously charming hardcore punk and you’ll soon be dancing along and being converted. Playing songs from their EPs The Red Line and Find Energy, these Bristolians are truly something special. Explaining the messages behind each song, whether it be about feeling stuck in a rut, not conforming to lifestyle choices of the majority or if you feel stuck in a relationship, the band somehow make everyone in the room feel encouraged to be themselves and feel happy. It’s obvious SICKONES are all about the music and expression and it’s this sense of authenticity that is so appealing. Their music itself is hard, fast, fun and deceivingly catchy. The whole SICKONES package is a truly exceptional one. This is one band you absolutely HAVE to see live.

Standing at the barrier at a CANCER BATS gig is always going to be risky business and tonight was no different. As soon as Liam Cormier and co. graced the stage the bars of the barrier acted as a climbing frame for Southend’s eager hardcore kids. A few brave souls climbed up to the lighting rig and dived into the crowd from there causing absolute carnage. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Tonight felt like the reunion of kindred spirits. The majority of people here have been witnessing CANCER BATS slay venues for a decade now and the Chinnerys is one venue they always return to. And you can understand why judging by the raucous reception they receive! The set was full of classics such as Hail Destroyer, Pneumonia Hawk, R.A.T.S, Scared To Death which sounded timeless amongst new tunes such as Gatekeeper and Bed Of Nails. Seeing Pray For Darkness and Sorceress live is still an essential gig experience, it’s incredible to see 10 years on these songs still get the same intense response at shows. CANCER BATS have still got it and it looks like they’re not slowing down yet. Once the riff of Sabotage was played, the security surrendered and let the chaos ensue. This will be a night Southend will remember for years to come.