Roundup – August 2019

The best discoveries, bands and albums of the past 31 days.

August has been an absolute mammoth of a month! With releases from metal heavyweights SLIPKNOT and TOOL there have also been stellar releases in the underground scene. Read below to find out my Top 3 releases of August! However, this roundup begins a little differently, featuring Metalmance’s discovery of the month, a band who I am very excited about!. Also in August’s roundup I feature a catch up of albums I’ve been enjoying on my blogging break. If you stick around for long enough you will also be reacquainted with a gem from the archive and a roundup of all my posts this month. Enjoy! See you next month.


 

Metalmance’s Discovery of the Month:

SOULSPLITTER

Almost ready to release their debut conceptual album Salutogenesis on 26th September, SOULSPLITTER have already secured a place at this year’s Euroblast as well as a European tour with fellow proggers HEAD WITH WINGS! The German band have been busy for the past three years writing the album and getting up to fifty other musicans and creative artists involved. The video for their first single Moloch (video above) which came out in May, features a hand painted animation by a group of Berlin artists and it is this sense of art and collaboration which really shines through the band’s ethic. Channelling the beautiful melodies of DISTORTED HARMONY and the madness of WITHOUT WAVES, there’s no telling which way SOULSPLITTER will turn. This month the band released new single The Maze and it’s a more melodic track similar to their future tour mates HEAD WITH WINGS and it hints at SOULSPLITTER becoming something special! If you’re lucky enough to check them out in Europe in the coming months, be prepared to be perplexed and blown away in equal measures!     


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of August

It was hard to pick my Top 3 releases of the month considering the quantity and quality of releases we’ve seen these past 31 days. Below are my favourite three releases of August as well as a special mention. Let me know what you’ve been enjoying this month in the comments!

1   

PIJN & CONJURER – Curse These Metal Hands. Release date: 16 August.

I am still totally enamoured with this brilliant EP by two of the country’s most promising bands! PIJN and CONJURER are both on Holy Roar’s terrific roster and Curse These Metal Hands is the result of a collaboration between the two for last year’s edition of ArcTangent festival. Luckily for us the bands have finally reworked and released the tracks into this musical masterpiece. Mixing the superb post-rock beauty of PIJN and the ferocious intensity of CONJURER, Curse These Metal Hands is a sublime concoction of the two and it has such a powerful nostalgic slant to proceedings I find it utterly irresistible. Every day I am inundated with songs and albums so it takes something extra special these days to really make an impression on me and stick. Curse These Metal Hands is one example and I will shout about how brilliant this material is for the years to come! Read my full review below for more thoughts.  

Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands Review

2

UNPROCESSEED – Artificial Void. Release date: 9 August. 

After last year’s amazing album Covenant, I was eagerly anticipating UNPROCESSED’s Artificial Void and it’s totally smashed all expectations! This album is bolder, more confident and more creative. Artificial Void is bursting with ideas but the band are experienced enough to deliver these ideas into one coherent album and the result speaks for itself.  The guitar work is stellar as usual, ANIMALS AS LEADERS and MESHUGGAH fans will be pleased, but what is so astounding about the band is the guitars sound so explicitly UNRPOCESSED which is an incredible feat for such a young band in the tech scene. Track Fear is a superb example of how the band are successfully entwining their revolutionary djent, TESSERACT vibes and atmospherics of NORTHLANE into an album which sounds so fresh in the midst of a stale which is at the risk of becoming stale. Absolutely stunning.

3 

HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH – Abyssal. Release date: 2 August.

One of my most eagerly anticipated albums of 2019 finally dropped this month, Abyssal by the heaviest band on the planet, HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH. It’s not higher up my Top 3 list as I thought it would be because after the initial joy of the absurdly heavy elements, it gets a bit samey. The insane tones and heaviness created with the usual instruments of metal is something to be desired. Unforgiving and punishing from the first track Bursting Bowel of Tellus to the haunting last track Dödgud, HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH are reinventing heavy. Unfortunately the band are still yet to translate their godlike live presence into record format, and that is one thing Abyssal lacks. Once HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH work out how to how to do just that then they will truly be unstoppable. 

Special Mention

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – Atonement. Release date: 16 August. 

I might upset a few people when I say the last two KILLSWITCH ENGAGE albums with Jesse Leach back on vocals left me uninspired and bored but it is such a joy to listen to Atonement and hear the band have their fire back! Having Howard Jones do a guest spot on The Signal Fire was a genius idea, but throughout the album you can hear the band’s passion shine through and no other band quite matches their inner strength and optimism. Even though they’re the kings of metalcore (I don’t care if you hate that word) they’ve always tried to push their sound and no two albums sound the same which is something I really admire. With Atonement KILLSWITCH ENGAGE have harder metalcore twangs going on as well as groovier moments (i.e. Know Your Enemy) but the huge choruses are still their best weapon and this album is unsurprisingly chock-full of them. I’m going to be bold and say Atonement is the best album with Leach since Alive Or Just Breathing and I couldn’t be more thrilled.             


 

Metalmance Catch Up

Below are three more albums I have been jamming while on my blogging break. Check them out and make sure you don’t miss out too!

MYRATH – Shehili. Release date: 3 May 2019.

Tunisian metal probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you know me you’ll know I have a soft spot for North African and oriental metal. I love the fresh dynamics bands like MYRATH can bring to the metal community and it is extremely reassuring to see Shehili be enjoyed by metal fans across the world. The traditional instruments sit seamlessly beside the modern metal components and it always makes for stunning results. Often likened to Israel’s ORPHANED LAND, you can understand the comparison because they’re not your typical Western metal. However, MYRATH are less dramatic in the political sense and they sound a lot more classic metal than the extreme tendencies of ORPHANED LAND.  I hope you like huge choruses because MYRATH have a lot of them. Songs like You’ve Lost Yourself and Born To Survive may be deemed as cheesy to some but you cannot deny the impact MYRATH have with their heavy riffs and melodic moments. If you’re looking for something a bit different then MYRATH might be for you!

OSIAH – Kingdom of Lies. Release date: 3 May 2019.

I absolutely adored 2016’s album Terror Firma by deathcore merchants OSIAH. This year’s album Kingdom of Lies is even more devastating and brutal which is a terrifying achievement. Unlike some of their contemporaries, OSIAH have a bit of substance to their work which keeps you interested. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet but there is just a bit more ‘soul’ to their savagery. I don’t mean Dusty Springfield soul, but there is something underneath the layers which make OSIAH sound alive and not another deathcore puppet in an oversaturated scene. Also, their talent is unparalleled and the brutality is overwhelming. Jamie Graham (ex-HEART OF A COWARD) makes an unexpected appearance on Awakening which gives the song an extra something. Overall it’s just a bloody brilliant face-ripping album by a British band who deserve a listen.

ANY GIVEN DAY – Overpower. Release date: 15 March 2019.

There is something safe and familiar about ANY GIVEN DAY and I really don’t mean that in a bad way. They sound like a mash-up between KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, SOILWORK and EVERGREY (a glorious mash-up if you ask me) with their beefy riffs and melodic choruses. They’re not reinventing the wheel at all but not every band has to be. ANY GIVEN DAY are just a band who are very good at writing straight-up enjoyable metal and catchy songs. Overpower is the band’s boldest effort to date and has seen them earn headline tours across Europe. Tracks like Taking Over Me are a real stomper whereas opener Start Over exposes the band’s penchant for groovy melodic goodness. Check it out if you want some wholesome metal!


 

From The Archive

This month saw German slamming death metal troupe STILLBIRTH release Back To The Stoned Age, a collection of the band’s songs reworked with their current line-up and it’s a fantastic beastly package. Last year I reviewed their album Annihilation of Mankind, here’s a extract of what I had to say…

STILLBIRTH – Annihilation of Mankind. Release date: 31 August 2018.

“Fifth album Annihilation of Mankind is an evident step up in terms of brutality and groove – no wonder Unique Leader Records want a piece of the forthcoming carnage. Like its namesake, this record absolutely annihilates the lugholes.”

Stillbirth – Annihilation of Mankind Review


 

DON’T MISS…

Metalmance review of KILLERKORP

Killerkorp – PAIN EP

Metalmance review of CHAOS REIGNS

Chaos Reigns – A Horrific Accident EP

Metalmance review of KRYSTHLA

Krysthla – Worldwide Negative

Metalmance review of STILLBIRTH

Stillbirth – Back To The Stoned Age

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 – July 2018

All the releases I’ve been indulging in this past month.

My month has mostly been taken up by the mighty UK Tech Metal fest and the bands surrounding that, but I have had a busy month with this month’s plethora of awesome releases and more. What bands and albums have you been enjoying this month? Let me know!


 

Metalmance Top 3 Releases from July

July has been another awesome month for new releases, including a couple by bands that have reformed and released new material. You can read about one of said bands below! Deciding my Top 20 albums later in the year is going to be very difficult indeed.

 

1

THE AGONY SCENE – Tormentor. Release date: 20 July 2018.

Tormentor

Back in 2005 I was obsessed with The Darkest Red. There’s always been an AGONY SCENE shaped hole left in the metal world for me, but now it’s been filled again because the band have reformed and are better than ever. Tormentor is disgustingly heavy with more tech and black metal elements than ever before. The starting riff in Submissive reminds me of the opening of Bastard Chain by SOILWORK and album finale Mechanical Breath is a superb example of blackened AGONY SCENE, with its WINTERFYLLETH-esque opening riff and ferocious drumming. Not only have the band returned all guns blazing but they’ve evolved from metalcore and surpassed their older material. This is THE AGONY SCENE 2.0 and I bloody love it. Currently tearing up the US on the Summer Slaughter tour along with BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, VEIL OF MAYA and ETHEOS, don’t be surprised if the band take over the scene once again. Catch the link to my blog post below from the archive which features me reminiscing about The Darkest Red.

Weekly Roundup #19 featuring The Agony Scene

 

2

DISTORTED HARMONY – A Way Out. Release date: 19 July 2018.

A Way Out

I was wondering how DISTORTED HARMONY’s third album A Way Out would be received by fans, and since its release it’s been interesting to see the response. A few have expressed their dislike of the heavier direction, while others – me included – have embraced the techier stance. In my review (link below) I mentioned this album may pave the way for them to be accepted further into the progressive metal community and I stand by that. Don’t forget this album was four years in the making and had various line-up changes, the next album may see all the components of DISTORTED HARMONY gelling together more coherently. A Way Out sounds like the band are still finding out what works for them but I really believe they’re on the right track and it’s only going to be a stratospheric rise from here.

Distorted Harmony – A Way Out Review

 

3

NEXILVA – Aseity : I EP. Release date: 20 July 2018.

AseityI cannot believe I stupidly missed NEXILVA on the Saturday of Tech Fest, I must have been napping in the shade or something (more about other bands I’ve missed later in this post) because their most recent EP Aseity : I absolutely slays. Their sound is a collection of all things dark and heavy. The opener Redeemed is a highlight for me, it reminds me of symphonic ABIGAIL WILLIAMS but it also has the exotic SHOKRAN elements which pushes the dynamic to the next level. And don’t get me started of the disgustingly awesome clean vocals on this EP, this track especially. All the tech influences can be heard on Aseity : I from MESHUGGAH on Decades and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME on Overview, but NEXILVA completely own their sound. They’re exciting, blisteringly heavy and they haven’t even tapped into their full potential yet.


 

On the playlist…

I’ve been trying to catch up with some independent releases this month. These are the records which caught my attention.

ISA – Chimera. Release date: 19 April 2018.

ISASo I’m just gonna throw this out there straight away and inform you that ISA is just one chap. Everything is written, played and recorded by Dan Curhan and I think Chimera is a bloody good achievement. Chaotic, messy and progressive it’s an interesting beast to listen to. Listening to tracks such as Stage I – Descent and Stage II – Fear, there’s something of a manic Devin Townsend about Curhan’s progressive approach. In his calmer moments, Curhan has a Maynard James Keenan tinge to his voice, even Mike Patton, there’s something unbelievable about Curhan’s vocal talent. Musically Chimera shifts from BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME to BEECHER to OPETH. It’s all over the place yet it’s all contained. It’s got to be heard to be believed. The depth and ambition of this release is incredible for a soloist. You could do much worse than check this out. Do it.

 

DECAY THE OCEAN – Mirror City. Release date: 9 June 2018.

Mirror CityI don’t think I’ve seen a band work so hard as DECAY THE OCEAN. Coming out of nowhere they’ve been taking their home county of Norfolk by storm this year and further a field as well, including recently supporting CYCLAMEN on their Tech Fest warm up show in Sheffield. In an over-saturated scene of A DAY TO REMEMBER rip-offs and mediocre tech bands, it takes a lot these days to get noticed and be respected but through their passion and perseverance, DECAY THE OCEAN are making waves (haha, geddit?). Their material isn’t the most original and the production could be better, but the potential and the love of the music is there bubbling fiercely underneath. Debut EP Mirror City wears all of the band’s melodic metalcore influences on its sleeve, at times so much it becomes predictable, but I can’t help but wonder what DECAY THE OCEAN may achieve once they’ve established a sound of their own and grown more as a band. Watch this space.


 

Post-Tech Fest playlist…

This is my little section dedicated to the bands I stupidly missed playing live at this year’s Tech Fest but have been listening to since. Yes, I am an idiot but I promise I won’t miss them next time around.

UNPROCESSED – Covenant. Release date: 13 April 2018.

CovenantIt’s no secret I’m a massive fan of the Long Branch Records roster, so how on Earth did I remain ignorant to UNPROCESSED? A German tech metal band that’s taking djent to new heights, they played Tech Fest on the Friday and yours truly stupidly missed out. The band have recently toured with fellow label mates VALIS ABLAZE and I haven’t stopped listening to their album Covenant since.  My first thought was this band is what ANIMAL AS LEADERS would sound like if they had vocals but that’s just scratching the surface. UNPROCESSED have an abundance of tricks up their sleeves and this album is an incredible slab of progressive tech metal. A stand out track for me is Malleable which sounds like djent with THE ROYAL vocals and a melodic ending reminiscent of JUROJIN. The pure djent moments of this band are refreshing and pushing boundaries. Millenium is also another outstanding track with its eerily heavy riff and its BRUTAI-like clean vocals. Everything about this track is spot on, it rocks HARD. This is contrasted by The Mirror which is piano driven and has oodles of electronic elements. The riffing is ridiculous in Meridian, and with a NORTHLANE-ish melody and CHON-esque vibes after the chorus, this is a corker of a track. Don’t make the same mistake I did, make sure you catch these guys when you can!

 

MISCREANT – Living Death. Release date: 6 May 2016.

Living DeathThese dudes have been on my radar for quite a while. So what did I do? I missed them at Tech Fest on the Friday didn’t I. I’m hoping to redeem myself when they play Kings Lynn with MECHROMORPH and BOUND IN FEAR though so bear with me. MISCREANT released new single Let Tomorrow Die last year but their last full release for their debut EP Living Death and it’s a stunning debut of dark and chaotic metal. With the dark intensity of LOATHE this isn’t a listening experience for the faint-hearted. Bitter Regrets is full of OCEANO-scale breakdowns and Desolation has an irresistible hardcore pace that manifests into an absolute beast. So much is packed into these four songs, the debut album is going to blow everyone away. You’ll see.

 

DESPITE EXILE – Relics. Release date: 17 November 2017.

RelicsIt seems all the bands I wanted to see were on the Friday. I remember wanting to check out DESPITE EXHILE but also wanting to save my energy for VOYAGER so I chose the latter but I do regret missing these Italian metallers. I hear they absolutely smashed it and it’s not surprising if you’ve listened to their last album Relics. The title track alone is a blackened paradise. The depth to their heaviness is staggering. It’s interesting to see how people pigeon-hole this band. I’ve seen ‘deathcore’, ‘black metal’ and ‘death metal’ thrown about but the truth is the band are all three and so much more. There is something epic about their dynamic which borrows from the world of black and death metal but there is also the straight-up brutality from deathcore. It’s an exciting combination. In tracks such as Ephemeral you have metalcore riffs and black metal atmospherics and it’s such a stunning result, the whole album leaves me a bit gobsmacked at the end. Let’s hope these Italians play the UK again soon.