Roundup – January 2019

It’s gonna be another good year metal fans!

Happy new year! Christmas might seem like a distant dream now but rest assured you can feel consoled by the promise of stellar releases in 2019. January has boasted some incredible album and single releases and February is looking even better. We’re going to be utterly spoilt this year! I’m excited to share my first roundup of 2019 with you, as usual you can read about my Top 3 albums of the month but I’ve also included my favourite singles of January to whet your appetite for the bands’ forthcoming albums!


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Albums of January

The albums released this month have really set the bar high for the remainder of the year! January has seen a mixture of releases from the tech wizardry of BORN OF OSIRIS to the black metal madness of ASTROPHOBOS and my Top 3 are equally a mixed bag; melodic death metal, beatdown/deathcore and progressive metal. Who made my first Top 3 of 2019? Continue reading below!

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soilwork - verkligheten - artwork

SOILWORKVerkligheten. Release date: 11 January

I am so relieved Verkligheten has been well received by SOILWORK fans and death metal fans alike. This album has been a grower on me and since writing my review I’ve fallen in love with this album even more. SOILWORK never fail to release a good album. Sure, they might be getting a bit mellower with age but Verkligheten features enough punishing riffs and elements to keep the most hardcore fan happy. All the tracks on here sound like SOILWORK but it’s not a repeat of 2016’s The Ride Majestic, proving the band are always reinventing themselves but never selling out. Fingers crossed the band still have a fair few albums in them yet. Read my fuller review of Verkligheten by clicking the link below.

Soilwork – Verkligheten review

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last ten seconds of lifeTHE LAST TEN SECONDS OF LIFEMachina Non Grata. Release date: 11 January

This is utter filth. Their beatdown-infused deathcore is always a punishing force but with Machina Non Grata, they’ve really ramped the brutality up. Their filthy riffs mixed with their ferocious vocals is a terrifying mix but it absolutely slays. Tracks such as Axe To Grind and Psychophrenia obliterate the senses and considering it’s quite a lengthy album (14 tracks) THE LAST TEN SECONDS OF LIFE never ease the savagery. 2019 has already seen one of the most brutal albums of the year in the form of Machina Non Grata, it will be frightening to see which brutal release tops this. You have been warned.

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evergrey

EVERGREYThe Atlantic. Release Date: 25 January

Could this be the best EVERGREY album ever?! I must admit I wasn’t too pumped before I heard this because I loved their last album, 2016’s The Storm Within so much, but I was wrong to doubt the Swedish progressive metal band wouldn’t be able to top its predecessor. The Atlantic features bigger riffs, bigger choruses and bigger feels than ever before. It’s heavy and melodic in equal measures which EVERGREY have always been masters of, but somehow on The Atlantic the balance is just right. The band just seem to get better and better with each album and this record has a much fuller sound making EVERGREY that all more encompassing. You can thank me later for the recommendation.


 

Top Singles of January

I’ve lost track of all the kickass singles released this month! The list below is only chipping at the surface but may I present to you my favourite singles from January.

EMPLOYED TO SERVE – Force Fed

Getting ready to release their forthcoming album Eternal Forward Motion through Spinefarm Records, Woking’s heaviest export EMPLOYED TO SERVE have finally dropped their first single off the new album and it’s a corker! Force Fed is by far one of the ballsiest tracks the band have ever released, and with the added ‘clean vocals’ it is probably one of the most dynamic. It feels like EMPLOYED THE SERVE have quickened the pace, making Force Fed a beastly force to contend with. A potential album of the year? I believe so. Below the video is a link to my live review of the band’s headline show in Norwich last year.

Employed To Serve/Conjurer/God Complex/Nervewrecker live review

 

DREAMSHADEQuestion Everything

We all know I hold Switzerland’s DREAMSHADE in high regard so let’s cut to the chase here. With each new single they prove they cannot write a bad song. Question Everything is one hell of a catchy track with plenty of riffs and bold textures to keep every DREAMSHADE fan happy. The band still haven’t announced any album release plans yet but you can read more about what the band are all about and what they’re aiming to achieve in my interview and song review links below the video. For now, treat yourself and watch their hilarious new video for Question Everything!

INTERVIEW: Dreamshade

Dreamshade – On My Own

 

BASTARDSnake Hips

It’s been a while since I heard such a catchy hardcore song, but Norwich’s BASTARD have hit the nail on the head here with their newest single Snake Hips. 80s synths, gang vocals, sexy lyrics, beefy CANCER BATS-esque riffs…cor BASTARD you ain’t half spoiling us. The confidence and swagger displayed here is irresistible yet there is just enough rawness and metallic goodness to entice the most ‘hardcore’ of metal fans. In the age of overly technical wankery, sometimes it’s delightful to indulge in something more straight to the point…and something damn groovy. So stick on Snake Hips, grab your lover, and start movin’!

 

CARTOGRAPHSPeace Was Never Mine To Be Found

Danish post-rock band CARTOGRAPHS are nearing the release of their debut album Wilt & Blossom through Prime Collective on 1st March and their first single Peace Was Never Mine To Be Found is a stunning example of what’s to come. With blackgaze textures, soaring riffs and ambient passages, this single is the soundtrack to cold and tense January days. Recorded live and produced by Chris Kreutzfeldt who also produced the likes of CABAL, MØL and GHOST IRIS, you can guarantee the album will be top notch quality. Expect to hear more of CARTOGRAPHS this year.

 

CHAOS REIGNSPeripheral

Ahead of their appearance at Downsurge Festival, London hardcore band CHAOS REIGNS have dropped this absolute banger, Peripheral. The video was filmed in one of my favourite London venues, The Dome and the track sounds like the lovechild of THE GHOST OF A THOUSAND, EVERY TIME I DIE and CANCER BATS so you can probably gauge what a riot this band are. Fast, to the point and raw (oo-er) CHAOS REIGNS are another exciting addition to the blossoming UK hardcore scene. Catch these guys before they get huge!

 

FROM SORROW TO SERENITYWe Are Liberty

Last year at Tech Fest, Glasgow’s FROM SORROW TO SERENITY absolutely blew me away so I’m really curious to see what’s in store when the band release their new album Reclaim on 22nd March through Long Branch Records. The album will be first featuring new singer Gaz King (ex-NEXILVA) and he’s on top form in this new single, We Are Liberty. One word springs to mind when listening to this track…RIFFS!!! I’d be surprised if this track and album didn’t propel the band into the big leagues as their potential is HUGE. Everything about this track is spot on, you’ll be silly not to check it out. A link to my review of their set at Tech Fest is below the video.

From Sorrow to Serenity in Tech Fest 2018 live review

 

EQUIPOISEWaking Divinity

Just when tech death fans could finally recover from the influx of stellar releases last year, American band EQUIPOISE drop their new single Waking Divinity and sends the tech death scene into meltdown. Fans of OBSCURA, BEYOND CREATION and INFERI will want to take note here as the parallels cannot be ignored (mainly because the band features members from the latter two bands and also an ex-THE FACELESS member) but the technicality and quality of the songwriting is absolutely staggering. Their forthcoming album Demiurgus will be released 8th March through The Artisan Era, but until then, make sure you indulge yourself in Waking Divinity. The bar of tech death in 2019 has been set high already.

 

TRAITORSLeft To Rot

Next month sees Florida band TRAITORS head out on tour with THE LAST TEN SECONDS OF LIFE and ANGELMAKER (both of whom are featured in this roundup as well) and have just demolished our senses with the devastating new single Left To Rot. The single is off their forthcoming album Repent, due for release on 25th February, and if the album is anything like this single then we are all in for a sore neck from banging our heads too hard. The down-tempo filth TRAITORS have belched absolutely pummels the senses and makes us surrender to its nasty beats. Don’t listen to this track alone.

 

THE ROYALState of Dominance

Metalmance faves THE ROYAL are almost ready to release their third album Deathwatch on 8th March through Long Branch Records and if the singles are anything to go by then we’re in for an exciting release! The band dropped new single State of Dominance this month and it features some irresistible keys giving it an air of SHOKRAN but with a metallic crunch. THE ROYAL have always had the ability to crossover genres but this sounds like THE ROYAL at their most versatile and most brutal yet. The video includes footage from many of their tours and shows from last year (their Tech Fest appearance being one!) and is a visual representation of their gruelling tour schedule. THE ROYAL are one of the hardest working bands I know, fingers crossed this will be the year it all pays off.

 

ANGELMAKERHollow Heart

I must admit Hollow Heart, the new single by Vancouver metallers ANGELMAKER is the first time I have really be ‘wowed’ by the band. Hollow Heart was the first single of 2019 I got mega excited about and it’s still a thrill listening to it now. The unforgiving brutality is relentless and it’s got me all hot under the collar. Their forthcoming album is still shrouded in mystery but one thing’s for sure, it’s not going to be a disappointment. I needed this track to blow away the cobwebs from Christmas and when their next single drops then my body will be ready. Question is, are you prepared?

Soilwork – Verkligheten

Label: Nuclear Blast. Release date: 11 January 2019.

I am delighted that one of my first reviews of 2019 is that of SOILWORK’s forthcoming album Verkligheten. This will be the band’s eleventh album and it feels like a long wait since their last release, 2015’s fantastic The Ride Majestic  (the longest gap between SOILWORK studio albums to date). One thing that SOILWORK fans and critics alike always comment on is how the Swedish melodic death metal group always evolve and release stellar albums even after two decades in the game. Even their rarities album Death Resonance had better material than some of their contemporaries (not naming names). But after such a long time between albums and with vocalist Björn Strid and guitarist David Andersson also playing in Swedish hard rock band THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA, does SOILWORK stand the test of time in 2019?

We’re introduced to the album by its title track opener, a slow-burning yet mesmerising instrumental which gets Verklighteten going at an unexpectedly slow pace. Thankfully second track Arrival blows the cobwebs away with its blistering, blackened intro. SOILWORK are back in business! It’s clear The Ride Majestic was a springboard for this stellar song. The big chorus is backed up full textures of sound. It’s glorious how energetic and alive this song sounds.

Bleeder Despoiler is the ultimate groovefest, like Stabbing the Drama 2.0, but it is Full Moon Shoals which provides the first surprise of the album. It is a lot more on the metallic side of SOILWORK than expected, but also with a big, cheesy chorus making it one of the band’s most poppiest offerings. Strid somehow gets away with it because his vocals are always top-notch.

The intro of fifth track The Nurturing Glance is richly melodic and the old school verse continues the metallic tinge to proceedings. As expected, there is another storming chorus but it is the melodic riffs which steal the show here. Having said this, When the Universe Spoke steals all the attention away. This is a song which is equal parts melodic and ferocious. It’s a fresh and heavy SOILWORK which provides a dense centre to Verkligheten. It was a good choice having this track in the middle of the album to prevent it sounding samey.

Unfortunately Stålfågel doesn’t keep the energy up with its classic metal infused melody. The Wolves Are Back in Town brings things back to more of an old school SOILWORK sound, but it is Witan which provides one of the more interesting tracks of the second half of Verkligheten. Witan has a subtle symphonic element to it which takes it to the next level, but the groove is irresistible.

After the forgettable The Ageless Whisper, SOILWORK deliver a corker of a tune with Needles and Kin. The instrumentation ramps up with this song, with the new drummer Bastian Thusgaard really coming to the fore here. Add some guest vocals by Tomi Joutsen from AMORPHIS and you’ve got a winner.

Last album The Ride Majestic ended on a spectacular finale, so I was expecting Verkligheten to also have an exhilarating conclusion. However, we are instead presented with You Aquiver, which despite its catchy melodies and charming riffs, doesn’t feel like a fitting closer for such a celebrated band. It leaves me wishing the album finished with the previous song. 

Verkligheten is still a really enjoyable album, but it loses momentum halfway through. Despite this, and to answer my question posed at the start, SOILWORK continue to prove doubters wrong. Yes they sound a bit mellower on this album, but they do not sound stale and past their sell by date just yet. They’re still churning out enough interesting ideas to remain relevant and if they can stay a head up above their peers there’s no reason why we couldn’t enjoy SOILWORK for two more decades.

Arch Enemy, Soilwork, The Infernal Sea.

The Waterfront, Norwich. 21st August 2016.

THE INFERNAL SEA

This black metal troupe from Peterborough kicked off the night with their black death inspired noise. Clad in a uniform of hoodies emblazoned with their logo, plague masks and shrouded in green light, punters in Norwich hadn’t been greeted with this much intensity since OATHBREAKER shattered eardrums last year. Ferocious drumming, raw vocals and a taste of most recent album The Great Mortality, leave the crowd in awe of the ear battering they have just received. It is safe to say new fans joined their ritual tonight. British black metal is safe in The Infernal Sea’s hands.

 

SOILWORK

As soon as these Swedish melodic death metal Kings hit the stage with opener The Ride Majestic, The Waterfront turned into a hot, sweaty mess of flailing limbs and banging heads. Soilwork had released rarities album Death Resonance a few days previous, and tonight really felt like a celebration of their long career and back catalogue. Old favourites such as Nerve sat seamlessly alongside newer anthems like Death in General. The crowd were putty in Bjorn and co’s hands and when old fan favourite Bastard Chain erupted, it almost reduced The Waterfront to rubble. Charismatic tongue-wagging guitarist Sylvain brought the fun and smiling faces were seen all around after the victorious set. After almost two decades as a band, Soilwork have proved tonight they are still one of the pioneers of the melodic death metal genre. Let’s hope they don’t leave it another ten years until they return to Norwich.

 

ARCH ENEMY

Overhearing other members of the crowd it is clear what is on everyone’s mind; will Alissa live up to Angela’s legacy? The answer is an undoubtedly, resounding YES! From the start Alissa took command of the crowd and the room was filled with her distinct rumbling growl. Material from most recent album War Eternal went down a storm. The title track was screamed back at Alissa with such a passion from the fans that the band could not help but lap up the crowd’s enthusiasm and return such an energetic performance for the hour and a half they were on stage. Old gems such as Ravenous, My Apocalypse and Nemesis still sound just as devastating as when they were first released. Light hearted fun was brought by Alissa encouraging the crowd to ‘sing along to’ the solo in My Apocalypse, have you ever been encouraged to sing along to a solo? The thing which stood out tonight was Alissa’s professionalism and pure admiration for her band mates, always moving the focus from her to the rest of the band when it was their time to shine. By the end of the set there was no doubt Alissa had cemented herself as the frontwoman of Arch Enemy and one will garner respect from metal fans for many years to come.