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

Tesseract – Sonder

Label: Kscope. Release date: 20 April 2018.

One of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year is almost upon us, and if you’re a big TESSERACT fan like me, you might also be wondering how on earth they could top 2015’s Polaris. It always seems effortless for TESSERACT to evolve with each album and fourth album Sonder is no different. TESSERACT have now fully established themselves as progressive metal greats and this reflects in their sound and songwriting. An incredibly mature and focused approach is used for this album. With many rip-off TESSERACT bands on the scene, the group now need to avoid becoming a parody of themselves. Luckily they manage this.

I must admit, after hearing Smile when the band previewed it last year, I wasn’t enamoured at all. I had the same reaction during the first spin of Sonder, however I am a firm believer this often signals an album which grows over time. It is the effort of the digesting of the record after a few listens which rewards you with a superb album that just ‘clicks’.

Sonder kicks off with Luminary. Most fans might expect a twinkly intro, but this opener immediately packs a punch. Have they got your attention? Yes. During the melodic verse, there are some CALIGULA’S HORSE vibes but THAT chorus blows any soft vocals out of the water. An excellent start with some token TESSERACT motifs here and there, you’re on tenterhooks for more. Thankfully for us, more is what we get with next track King which is a right ol’ jewel in the crown. Hopefully you will have already heard this blistering single, but hearing it in context with the rest of the album creates an incredible, new experience. With this single, TESSERACT declare this is us, this is our sound, watch us evolve. TESSERACT are well past using screams to be heavy, but the screams on King do take it to the next level. The song is probably longer than it needs to be, but it is an outstanding track.

TESSERACT has always been one for atmospheric and broody songs but next track, Orbital is quite unlike anything the band have done before. A short song, but the instrumentation sounds colossal, yet really subtle. It is one to expand the imagination and I think it is truly beautiful and moving. It has to be heard to be believed. It merges into the next gem of the album, Juno. It is quite an upbeat, djent ditty making it one of the more memorable songs on Sonder. The lyrics tie in nicely with the name of the album; ‘sonder’ is a term coined by writer John Koenig to express the indescribable emotion we experience when we realise each of us are simultaneously living vivid and complex lives. It is this disconnection that Sonder hints at – the thought that something greater is happening within.

Beneath My Skin harks back to the glory days of One, with the build up of tension before the sweet release of a bit of djent. Old school fans will probably swarm to this track, but it does follow the more thoughtful and melodic approach the band are now known for. Mirror Image follows TESSERACT’s newer formula of straight-up melodic metal. Using less djent and incorporating more keys, it’s grown into one of my favourite songs on Sonder. After first listen, I completely overlooked it, but it has a charm about it which has enchanted me.

As mentioned earlier, when I first heard Smile last year I wasn’t blown away at all. However, hearing it on Sonder has made me appreciate it a lot more. A great deal happens in this song and once again Dan Tompkins pushes himself to be on of progressive metal’s best vocalists. With a couple of strong songs at the beginning of Sonder, the album also needed two strong closers to anchor it. Smile provides one and the finale, The Arrow provides the other. Normally TESSERACT like to have a lengthy conclusion to proceedings but The Arrow is really short in comparison at two and a half minutes. It was important not to drag Sonder out and luckily this final track keeps it short and sweet with a killer melody and twinkly instrumentation. Eight songs might not seem enough but I do genuinely think TESSERACT made the right decision here. Sonder is a terrifically solid body of work. I don’t think it will progress to being my favourite TESSERACT album, but album of the year..? Well, it wouldn’t be impossible.