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

Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Label: Century Media. Release date: Jan 26th 2018.

Metalmance has always admired Israel’s metal masters ORPHANED LAND, and it’s been a long five years since 2013’s All Is One. One of the most politically vocal bands around, there is a comforting sense of belonging and optimism when ORPHANED LAND is experienced. The combination of metal and oriental elements is utterly irresistible; but it is their message that we are all equal, no matter what religion, race or creed you are, which is the most poignant.

All Is One would always be a hard album to top, but my word ORPHANED LAND manage to surpass themselves with the very first track alone – The Cave. An absolutely stunning opener for Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, this song features everything you’d expect from ORPAHNED LAND and more; haunting vocals, a rapturous chorus with a theatrical touch, an impressive and heavy breakdown, a diverse array of instruments and of course, thought-provoking lyrics. The metal elements of the songs have really ramped up with this album; the riffs are crunchier, the solos are sharper, the breakdowns are heavier… However, ORAPHANED LAND combine everything so flawlessly, you shake your head in wonderment at how they actually pull it off.

This thought continues with the next track, the stomping We Do Not Resist. It kicks in with a thrashy bang and erupts into a storming chorus, accompanied by those irresistible Oriental strings. ORPHAND LAND’s material has always had a rich depth to it, and Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs also has that organic, wholesome sound from its instrumentation and production. Every part has its place and moment in the spotlight, it is a glorious feat of song writing and production. The use of the ‘beep’ in this song is also a powerful addition, a reference to censorship perhaps and the denial of information. One way to make sure your listeners are listening.

Third track In Propaganda has quite a nostalgic feel as a lot of the main ‘riff’ is reminiscent of the title track of All Is One; a possible indication that in those five years not much has changed or improved so their message needs to be reiterated. The verses are some of the most melodic on the album and this is when the prog shines through, reminding you of other contemporary melodic prog bands such as CALIGULA’S HORSE, because of the delicate and carefully considered approach to vocal delivery.

Yedidi is a relatively short, yet charming track entirely in Hebrew, with the songs either side, All Knowing Eye and Chains Fall To Gravity both being unashamedly dramatic and atmospheric. ORPHANED LAND always manage to capture the essence of the climax of a musical with aplomb.

Lead single Like Orpheus is a powerful and an extremely passionate song, featuring the magnificent vocals of BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kürsch. The track begins with an awesome riff that AVENGED SEVENFOLD would be proud of, but we’re soon greeted with that classic eastern ORPHANED LAND sound. The lyrics once again heighten the notion of equality and humanity with great effect. If you’ve already seen the video for Like Orpheus, you will know how incredibly moving this song is.

Things calm down a notch with the mellow Poets of Prophetic Messianism. With the instrumentation and moving vocal performances, it’s truly an amazing alternative-prog triumph. It merges delightfully into the storming Left Behind. If you’re a fan of fellow Israeli prog-metallers DISTORTED HARMONY, then this will be up your street. My Brother’s Keeper wouldn’t sound out of place on All Is One; there is something about the spoken words of vocalist Kobi Farhi that really stir the soul, but his growls also stir the sleeping beast within. It is his cleans though which resonate the most and it is no different on Take My Hand which is an absolute anthem. The riffs are very rock n roll but they meld seamlessly with all other aspects of the song.

I won’t spoil the penultimate track for you – Only The Dead Have Seen The End; but it is most certainly one of the standout tracks on Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, for numerous reasons. After this blistering track, you wonder how ORPHANED LAND could top it, let alone compose a fitting finale for this absolute masterpiece of an album. The band achieve this with the unexpectedly reserved The Manifest – Epilogue. For the first couple of minutes you are able to reflect on and process the album and its message. The sombre conclusion brings Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs to a sudden and chilling end. After the comfort and feeling of belonging felt during the course of the album, it makes the ending that much more unnerving – like the sudden snap back to reality.

I’ve always felt ORPHANED LAND have never had their chance to shine in the wider metal community, but with Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs hopefully this will all change and more people can be united under the banner of love and hope. In such troubled times full of war and hate, we need ORPAHNED LAND more than ever – a beacon of hope in the darkness. With Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs they have achieved an album of progressive excellence, a masterpiece in the age of disposable nonsense.