Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018: 10 to 1

The final 10. The all important No. 1.

Here it is! My final instalment of Metalmance’s Top Releases of 2018. Thanks for joining me on my Top Releases of the Year journey, it’s been fun! I won’t delay you any further, I’m sure you’re dying to know who has won my top spot! You may proceed. See you next year!

10

NIGHTMARERCacophony of Terror

One of the heaviest, darkest, most terrifying releases of the year, I’ve been besotted with Cacophony of Terror by NIGHTMARER since its release back in March. The dissonant tones and insanely heavy riffs are what keeps me coming back again and again. The seamless transition between opening track The Descent and Stahlwald has got to be one of my favourite album moments of 2018. These two tracks together are mindblowing and the ridiculous riff and crushing atmosphere in the latter will leave you chuckling at just how heavy NIGHTMARER are. Read more of my [dark] thoughts on Cacophony of Terror in the roundup below.

Roundup – May 2018

9

SKYHARBORSunshine Dust

It’s been a strong year for progressive metal releases and one big surprise this year has been SKYHARBOR’s new album, Sunshine Dust. Usually TESSERACT and MONUMENTS lead the way in the progressive metal/djent scene, but for me SKYHARBOR have risen high above the rest this year with their new release. New vocalist Eric Emery plays a big part in this with his terrific warbles, but the songs as a whole are more focussed and melodic compared to their previous releases. Standout tracks Out of Time, Synthetic Hands and the phenomenal title track will leave you dreaming for days. Fantastic stuff. Read my full review via the link below.  

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust

8

ABORTEDTerrorVision

The Belgian death metal/grindcore Kings are back and with TerrorVision, their 10th studio album, they’ve unleashed their most blackened release yet. TerrorVision is everything I wanted the new BEHEMOTH to be. ABORTED have achieved an album so punishing, so unforgiving, so relentless it is a ferocious ride from start to finish. It’s amazing how something that sounds so polished can still sound extremely brutal and I think that proves the beastly talent of these Belgians. 

7

WITHIN DESTRUCTIOND E A T H W I S H

There’s a mad genius to D E A T H W I S H, the third album by Slovenian deathcore/slam band (there I’ve said it) WITHIN DESTRUCTION. This album is exceptionally brutal but it’s executed remarkably well making it an incredibly enjoyable listen. You know it must be a good record if Unique Leader Records picked the band up after the album was released in March. The title track is a slab of perfection, with brilliant guest vocals by VULVODYNIA’s Duncan Bentley. The pace, the riffage, the aural assault of the track is superb and sets the tone for the remainder of the album. Tracks like Extinction and Darkness Swallows Life demonstrate the awesome vocal talent of the band’s frontman Rok Rupnik, but I find penultimate track Death Awaits Us All is their most mature offering on D E A T H W I S H. The darkness of this song is suffocating and guarantees an enthralling listen. Do not ignore this album.

Roundup – April 2018

6

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGEOdyssey: The Founder of Dreams

When I first listened to Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams and included it in my last roundup, I quite liked it but I didn’t realise how much I’d end up loving it and having it on repeat since. When this album clicked after a few listens, the sheer brilliance of the songwriting and lyrics was completely overwhelming. The delicate riffs and considered components of each song results in an absolute winner of an album. It’s rare to hear a record with not only heart-wrenching lyrics, but vocals too that make you believe every single the word. On this album, vocalist Ashe O’Hara ensures listeners feels the pain, the hope, the despair, the passion. It’s an unforgettable rollercoaster and singles Nine Levels and Vestibule of Hell are surprisingly heavy which fills out the album to be the perfect package. The real deal.

Roundup – November 2018

5

HARM’S WAYPosthuman

This is the CD I’ve played the most in my car this year; beefy, bold and hella heavy, no I’m not just describing HARM’S WAY frontman, I’m talking about how Posthuman is one of the most brutal records on the planet. Released way back in February, this album is guaranteed to make you pull the filthy riff face. For months nothing surpassed this record for me, and no matter how many times I listen to it, it never loses its punch. It’s not just any hardcore record though, no no, the industrial elements of tracks such as Last Man and the powerviolence thread that runs throughout makes Posthuman stupidly addictive to return to.

Roundup – April 2018

4

VOLAApplause of a Distant Crowd

I absolutely adore VOLA’s first album InMazes so I’m ashamed to admit my expectations weren’t too high for their second album as I thought it wouldn’t match its predecessor. How wrong I was. Applause of the Distant Crowd blows everything VOLA have previously done out the water. Thankfully the band have dropped most of the djent and have released one of the best progressive records of the year. With this album, the band have shown the world how good they are at creating stunning soundscapes. Applause of a Distant Crowd shimmers with dreamy notes and haunting vocals. There are still lots of heavy lil nuggets and surprises along the way. For me the best moment of the album is the KATATONIA-esque Still, which is an utterly mesmerising track. The songs Alien Shivers, Ghosts and Smartfriend are some of the best singles of the year, yet the album is still full of stunning moments. Believe the hype.

3

AVASTMother Culture

I know what you’re thinking. Who?? Who are AVAST? In October I reviewed the Norwegians’ debut album Mother Culture and I’ve been slightly obsessed ever since. 2018 has seen the rise of blackgaze bands and AVAST are still extremely new on the scene but my word, they’re one of the most intense and blissfully beautiful blackgaze bands around. On the more black metal end of blackgaze than shoegaze, the songs sound like WINTERFYLLETH if they gazed at their shoes a bit more. The mesmerising soundscapes AVAST also produce are captivatingly beautiful, if I listen to this album I have to make sure I’m not doing anything else. This album requires your full attention and concentration. I don’t want to say too much more about it as my full review below and the album as a whole speaks for itself. But promise me you’ll check it out, it’ll be one of the best things you do this year.

Avast – Mother Culture

2

EXOCRINEMolten Giant

After WITHIN DESTRUCTION’s D E A T H W I S H came out I wasn’t sure there was enough room in my life for another monster-themed album this year. I was wrong…again. French progressive death metal group EXOCRINE entered my life with their blistering new album Molten Giant and I haven’t looked back since. What I like about EXOCRINE is they leave all the bullshit out and get on with it. Molten Giant is a superb accomplishment and each song is of the highest calibre of prog death. It’s been fantastic to see the band really gaining momentum in the tech and prog death scene, and rightfully so. Tracks such as Scorched Human Society, Backdraft and Flamewalkers really showcase just how technically magnificent and brutal EXOCRINE are. Congratulations to EXOCRINE on releasing my favourite death metal album of 2018!

Exocrine – Molten Giant

1

MØLJord 

Here it is! My album of the year. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock to most of you considering I’ve been singing the praises of MØL since they released their debut album Jord back in April (I may as well change my name to Mølmance while I’m here). Throughout these Top 40 Releases of 2018 posts I’ve mentioned how my wanting to return to albums has been a factor in where I’ve ranked releases. Jord is the opposite. Jord is one of those albums where you savour every listen and limit yourself to how often you experience it so you avoid becoming bored of the record or over listening to it. Below you can read my full review of the album as well as my interview with the band which they did before their very first UK show at The Black Heart, Camden.

At first I wondered if it was just me who felt an over-emotional response to Jord, but after seeing other people’s reactions during the year and seeing the band fill the room to the brim at Damnation Festival, it’s safe to say I’m not alone. There is something truly special and unique about MØL. From their powerful blackgaze tunes and their mesmerising sound, to their phenomenal live show (it’s becoming legendary) the band are storming on all fronts and remaining humble with it. They get the balance between black metal and shoegaze just right, resulting in stunningly deep textures and soundscapes. I could rave on all day about how much I admire this band but an analysis will never do their music justice. Jord isn’t just an album, it is an experience. Jord is my Top Release of 2018.

Møl – Jord

INTERVIEW: MØL


Roundup – September 2018

This month has seen a plethora of awesome album releases (see below) but September has also been an outstanding month for new singles. So much so I have decided to dedicate the second half of this roundup to September Singles. A bit of alliteration is nice innit. Hope you enjoy this roundup, see you next month! (Hopefully before that as I’ve got a lot of bloody good reviews in the pipeline…)


Metalmance Top 3 Releases from September

It’s been hard to choose just 3 releases to include, as this month also saw blistering releases from the likes of PIG DESTROYER, REVOCATION and ABORTED but I have finally settled on a Top 3 and I’m very happy with it. Seriously, every month I say this but what the hell is going to happen with my album of the year list in December?! 2018 has been a killer year for releases and we still have 3 months to go! Help!

1

ANAAL NATHRAKH – A New Kind of Horror. Release date: 28 September.

A New Kind of Horror

Based on the atrocities of the First World War, this was never going to be a cheery listen. If you follow my blog you will have already read my little review of the album preview show at the Black Heart (link below) but listening to it again properly is just another mindblowing experience. If you know me then you’ll know I think the band’s 2012 album Vanitas is perfection, so you will understand how good A New Kind of Horror is once I’ve told you I think this is the band’s best material since 2012. Songs like The Reek of Fear and Forward! boast the classic beefy riffs and intensity ANAAL NATHRAKH are so well known for. It’s reassuring to hear they haven’t watered down their sound now they’re further along in their career. In fact they sound ballsier and more terrifying than ever. This album is a must-listen.

Anaal Nathrakh + The Atrocity Exhibit Live Review

2

SKYHARBOR – Sunshine Dust. Release date: 7 September.

Sunshine Dust

I’m surprised to see Sunshine Dust hasn’t been making the waves I was expecting it to, because I think this album is absolutely stunning. A major factor of this album’s appeal is the warbles from new frontman Eric Emery. Before this album was re-recorded and released, we had already been treated to Out of Time and Chemical Hands (now Synthetic Hands) so this album has been an extremely long wait. It was all worth it though as Sunshine Dust boasts a wealth of beautifully progressive and emotive songs. Tracks like Ugly Heart, Dim and the title track all tug on the heart strings yet still pack a punch. Definitely a contender for album of the year, don’t be surprised if you see Sunshine Dust high up in my list at the end of 2018.

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust Review

3

FROM INSIDE – When I’m Breathing Without You EP. Release date: 14 September.

From Inside

At the tail end of 2016 I reviewed FROM INSIDE’s first EP The New Era (link below) and I predicted big things for the band and named them as possible game-changers down the line. This statement still stands as this new EP is a major jump in both confidence and quality. Opener Helpless has an irresistible European tinge to proceedings (think ANNISOKAY and DEAD BY APRIL) and You & I reminds me of THE USED and ISSUES, so you can probably gauge the high calibre metal on offer here. Still an unsigned band, the Liverpudlians are doing just fine continuing as an independent band, playing oodles of shows and building their fanbase. If this EP is anything to go by, when FROM INSIDE do release a debut album it’s going to be absolute killer.

From Inside – The New Era Review


September Singles

Normally this section is dedicated to other albums I’ve been listening to in the past month, but September has seen an influx of stupidly good singles, ahead of album releases. So I thought I would use this opportunity to share my favourite ones of the month and shed light on the bands in the lead up to their records dropping.

ARSIS – Tricking the Gods

The best news this month was hearing technical melodic death metal legends ARSIS are finally releasing their sixth album Visitant on 2nd November. I grew up listening to albums Celebration of Guilt and We Are The Nightmare, so ARSIS have been pivotal in my extreme metal history. This single is by far the best thing they’ve ever done, so if the new album is anything like this then we are all in for a little treat. The band haven’t lost any of their intensity or brutality, if anything it sounds like they’ve become even more technical and ambitious. This accompanying video is very fitting and not for the faint hearted. All the lyrics of the forthcoming album are apparently about different horror movies so be prepared for a blistering and terrifying release.

LASTELLE – This Cage I Built Myself

Who the hell are LASTELLE? I just so happened to stumble upon them on a Youtube channel and I’ve been besotted with this song ever since. It appears the band are only just starting out but have already sold out a gig in their home city of Oxford. LASTELLE have the knack of writing spine-tingling melodies with their drummer stealing the show with his melodic vocals (ATREYU vibes are strong with this one) but they seem to have penned the perfect post-hardcore track for the contemporary scene. Be prepared to feel all the feels. And be prepared to hear a lot more of this talented band.

COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS – Canaille

Danish progressive metal band COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS have been on my radar for a little while, so when I saw they had now been signed to Long Branch Records I was very excited. After hearing new single Canaille my thought was confirmed that the band are only going to get bigger and receive more recognition. A little bit more melodic than their previous material, this single is an absolute belter. There are a lot of interesting elements to Canaille, including jazz and djent and emotive rock. I am curious to hear how forthcoming album Fervor (out 9th November) will sound as a whole. Refreshing, fun and talented, COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS are sure to warm the coldest of reptiles with their forward-thinking metal. Expect to hear more about these guys.

DECAY THE OCEAN – Oizys, Beneath Me

Fed up with being labelled as just another 4/4 metalcore band, Kings Lynn DECAY THE OCEAN have fought back at critics with this promising new single, Oizys, Beneath Me. Starting with a beefy riff, this new track has got more grit, guts and determination than any of the songs on their debut EP Mirror City. Clearly stepping in the right direction to prove their doubters wrong, it’s good to see this young band eager to mature their sound and constantly improve. The love of playing music is clearly there and will hopefully continue to ooze out in the material they release later down the line.

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE – Nine Levels

Following on from 2016’s Odyssey: The Destroyer of Worlds, British progressive champions VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE dropped the news this week they will be releasing their next album, titled Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams later in the year. Along with the news of the forthcoming album, the band also released their first single off it, Nine Levels. I feel this song has a strong COHEED AND CAMBRIA vibe at the beginning before it erupts into the classic emotive metal the band is known for. Vocalist Ashe O’Hara is a little gem in the metal scene and absolutely shines on this single, and the soaring melodies heard in Nine Levels are truly something else. A band to watch for sure, this album is definitely geared up and set to stun.

ABORTED – Vespertine Decay

Another sexy gorefest of a video this month, Vespertine Decay by Belgian death metallers ABORTED is the blistering new single from new album Terrorvision. This song shows the metal legends going down a more blackened route. Arguably more ‘melodic’ than their other material, this suggests the band are pushing the boat out and pushing their own boundaries in turn. One of the heaviest singles of the year so far, it has the potential to rip your face off. The ferocious brutality and intensity is suffocating and makes for an incredibly compelling listen.

VOLA – Ghosts

VOLA were one of the first bands I featured in Metalmance, I labelled them as a ‘Band to watch’ and I reviewed their debut album InMazes and since then I’ve watched them explode. Now on the brink of releasing their second album Applause From A Distant Crowd 12th October, the band have released two singles from it so far. Ghosts is the second of the two singles and quite a stark contrast to Smartfriend, the first single to be released. Ghost is a beautiful, tranquil track which makes good use of electronics, but it’s one of those calming tracks which gets stuck in your head for days. A dangerous combination! Hopefully the album will boast more diverse tracks, as the singles so far have featured less of the djent which featured heavily in their debut album.

Tech Fest 2018

Newark Showground. 5th-8th July 2018.

There was quite a merry buzz running throughout Tech Fest this year, what with England doing well in the World Cup and the constant predictions of who the *Secret Act* would be on the Sunday (it was SLEEP TOKEN). Personally it felt like it was gearing up to be the best year but unfortunately due to an emergency in our camp I had to miss the bands Sunday (so, sorry for no reviews of the bands that day!). Despite this and the hottest weather on Earth, the atmosphere this year was unparalleled and the quality of the bands just kept getting better and better. I know I’m not the only one already looking forward to next year! For now, here is my rundown of the bands I saw (in between eating delicious food and avoiding the sun). Photos are a combination of my own and Lee Harper/Go To The Gig.

Thursday

It was absolutely staggering to see the amount of people already settled in and checking out the bands when I got to the showground Thursday afternoon. Definitely the most people I’d seen on a Thursday at Tech Fest which was a very promising sight. After pitching the tent I went to catch Danish rockers SIAMESE. If you read my last Metalmance Monthly Roundup you will know how much I was looking forward to catching these guys but I was also nervous about how they would be received by the rest of the Tech Fest crowd. I needn’t have worried as they totally owned the room and got everyone nodding along while they played songs from last year’s Shameless. The majority were surprised to see a violinist in tow but this adds such an awesome dynamic to their sound, the band as a whole sound irresistible. Frontman Mirza Radonjica is a captivating frontman and closing the set with Soul and Chemicals and Ablaze they got the early evening of Tech Fest off to a kicking start.

20180705_204950.jpg

I was glad to see a big turnout for CRYSTAL LAKE on the Winspear Stage. All the way from Japan, these guys really got the party started with their mix of hardcore and progressive metal. Frontman Ryo charms the crowd and when they break out with a cover of LIMP BIZKIT’s Rollin’ then that’s when all the bodies erupted. The band all looked thrilled to be there and it was this energy and passion that the audience fed off. A stellar performance, it’s safe to say the band won over a new legion of fans tonight.

Headlining the night was a very special set from HEART OF A COWARD. The band have always been lodged firmly in the hearts of Tech Fest fans and this year felt like a celebration of the band’s new lineup and the promise of the future. Last year at Tech Fest Kaan Tasan (formly of NO CONSEQUENCE) made a guest appearance during VALIS ABLAZE’s set, but no one could have imagined this year he would be back fronting HEART OF A COWARD and headlining the opening night. Everyone knew he would be able to deliver but bloody hell he surpassed expectations. Clearly thrilled to be there in the moment, Tasan and co conquered the stage and conquered the hearts of the crowd. The professionalism and talent oozed from the band and the audience lapped it up. A set I am very proud to have witnessed. With a reception such as this, who knows what new heights HEART OF A COWARD could achieve in the future.

The after parties at Tech Fest are always a goldmine of bands and sets and this opening night was no different. Tonight saw Dutch tech metallers THE ROYAL make their second Tech Fest appearance. This was my third time seeing this brilliant group and it was hands down the best set I’ve seen them play to date. The energy these guys have is i20180706_004149.jpgnfectious and the way frontman Sem Pisarahu commands the crowd is always a sight to behold. THE ROYAL just keep getting better and better and the response from the crowd during songs from albums Dreamcatchers and Seven was very promising, proving the band are continuing to be on the up.

 

Friday

Today was the day I was looking forward to the most with favourites VOYAGER, VOLA and SIKTH playing later, and it proved to be my favourite of the whole weekend. I kicked off my day seeing FROM EDEN TO EXILE, having heard their latest release Modern Disdain I was looking forward to seeing how their metallic intensity translate live. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to witness these guys live as I was completely blown away by their brutality and composure. This is exactly how you should get your Friday afternoon off to a cracking start. Frontman Tom Franklin is proving to be an unstoppable force and the whole band are equally as ferocious. One of the unexpected highlights of the weekend.

Nothing quite prepared me for the FROM SORROW TO SERENITY extravaganza that was to follow over on the Winspear Stage. I hate to admit I’ve always seen their name dotted around and knew they had recently signed to Long Branch Records, but until this 20180706_145322.jpgmoment I hadn’t actually committed to listening to a full song. So it’s safe to say the set was always going to be a bit of a surprise but I was utterly enthralled by their explosive performance. I’m now beating myself up for sleeping on this band for too long. Just a few minutes in their presence you can understand why they’ve pulled crowds of people to their set early in the afternoon and why they have been signed to an excellent label. The energy on stage was overwhelming and I was left a little shell shocked after. Absolutely superb.

I was curious to see how the mad genius of THE DALI THUNDERING CONCEPT fared live, but a few technical issues hindered their sound a tad. Despite this, the French math-metallers still sounded unbelievable. Every member performed with a fierce passion making the set an intense affair. Having been promoted up the bill in the place of JINJER (who unfortunately couldn’t make it due to visa issues) THE DALI THUNDERING CONCEPT performed to a very generous crowd, proving they’ve got what it takes to play higher up the bill. Let’s hope we see these guys again very soon.

There was a real excitement in the air before VOLA began their set. The band from Denmark always win new fans wherever they go with their stupidly catchy and charming prog metal. There were still some technical issues on the Winspear Stage but 20180706_164627.jpgVOLA still sounded brilliant. Their secret weapon is their keys player Martin Werner, whose skill and performance excels the band’s dynamic. Singer and guitarist Asger Mygind proved to be one of the most charming frontmen of the weekend, with his signature voice and his composed stage presence. The band played songs from their debut album Inmazes and their older EPs, much to their hardcore fans’ delight. They even generously threw a new song into the set, which was a very curious song including spoken word elements and a poppier approach. It will be very interesting to see what the band have conjured for their next album. Of course, the majority of the crowd wanted to hear one particular song and VOLA obliged by playing it as their finale. Stray The Skies got one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the weekend and VOLA was a name on the tongues of all who saw them.

Releasing one of the best metal albums of the year so far, BLEED FROM WITHIN are back on fine form and were ready to prove to Tech Fest why they’re becoming one of BBleed From Withinritain’s metal heavyweights. A big crowd, big sound and a big stage presence, it’s clear the Glaswegians are comfortable with the heights they are reaching but they have remained humble and interact with the crowd with joy and professionalism. Songs from Era sound utterly flawless live and the exciting thing is, BLEED FROM WITHIN still have so much to give. Don’t be surprised if the next time we see them at Tech Fest they’re headlining.

Next up were Australian prog metallers VOYAGER deservedly headlining the Waghorn Guitars Stage. With an impressive back catalogue, the band had a wealth of disgustingly Voyagerbrilliant songs to choose from for their set, but they chose one of their best to open – What A Wonderful Day. And what a wonderful set the next hour would be. VOYAGER are one of those bands where every member brings their unique element to the live dynamic and the band are highly addictive to witness live; guitarists Simone Dow and Scott Kay bounce off each other, while bassist Alex Canion is such an entertaining sight to behold, drummer Ashley Doodkorte is a beard with a beast attached and singer Danny Estrin is truly captivating with his 80s pop voice and keytar skills. Songs from latest album Ghost Mile go down a storm, such as Ascension and Misery Is Only Company. But the highlight of the set was when Estrin played the opening note of DARUDE – Sandstorm that things got really riotous. It’s so much fun to see a band who are comfortable playing together and who exude such magnificent showmanship you dread when the set ends. Until next time.

All throughout the weekend, choruses of “IT’S COMING HOME!!” ring out and in the queue for SIKTH it becomes deafening while two lads with Gladiator style inflatable Sikthsticks bang them together to drum the rhythm. Everyone is in good spirits and there is a good energy which erupts during the headline set of tech veterans SIKTH. The room seemed to be at full capacity with sweaty and hot bodies flailing around to classics such as Bland Street Bloom and Summer Rain. The band knew which songs the crowd wanted and they delivered, playing plenty of songs from Death Of A Dead Day especially. It’s crazy to think over a decade ago SIKTH played their farewell show in London. Now in 2018 their audience is bigger than ever and the quality of their performance proves their talent of raising venues to the ground, yet they still have plenty in the bag. An absolutely chaotic set with euphoric vibes afterwards, this is how you headline Tech Fest.

After a day of chaotic sets and dancing I was after something a bit slower to end the day with. Luckily Norwich doom merchants NERVEWRECKER were playing the after party and if you’ve been following my blog you may remember my recent review of their latest EP Murmur and a review of their support slot with EMPLOYED TO SERVE and CONJURER (both of whom were playing the Sunday). This was NERVEWRECKER at their best, a hardcore attitude and energy with a massive sound, this is doom metal with a big “fuck you”. The crowd loved it and lapped up every resonating note, proving the band were the perfect choice for the after party. Despite their disgustingly slow riffs, NERVEWRECKER whipped up a frenzy and the support from their fans was golden. Same again next year please!

 

Saturday

Saturday afternoon was something of a little Long Branch Records show case, with VALIS ABLAZE and THE FIVE HUNDRED releasing their debut albums through the label (the latter is still yet to be released) and playing after one another today. Last year Bristolian progsters VALIS ABLAZE played the smaller stage, but this year they finally get the setting they deserve and stormed the Winspear stage. With a new bassist in tow, it was great to see the new lineup and to hear the new songs played live. The band released debut album Boundless back in April and the new tracks went down a storm. Most of the fans in the crowd have been with the band since the beginning so there’s always a buzz when the tech homeboys play. This year DREWSIF STALIN was absent for a guest spot, and if you’ve heard Frequency off the new album you will know what a little gem this song is and how it really does shine with two vocalists present. The band instead had called upon WHITE DOVE to do the guest vocals and she absolutely killed it. A superb substitute for a winner of a song. It’s only a matter of time before VALIS ABLAZE burst into the wider metal community.

Up next on the Waghorn Guitars stage were Nottingham metallers THE FIVE HUNDRED. I’ve been listening to this band since they released their Winters EP back in 2015 but this was my first time seeing them live. It’s safe to say they completely blew my hangover away. I don’t know what’s in the water in Nottingham but the new songs they teased sounded beastly and a blistering progression from last year’s EP The Veil. Performing like they were playing a stage twice the size, it’s great to see the band’s energy match their sound. With their debut album soon to be released this set has made me even more excited for the record. Long Branch have snapped up one of the most promising tech acts around, fingers crossed next year will see the band will launch to new heights.

I was super eager to catch DVSR during half time of the football. Last year we had HACKTIVIST, but this year we had DVSR providing the rap metal and playing an exclusive UK DVSRset and I am very proud to have witnessed such an incredible show. Pulling in the punters despite the game, people knew this was a special occasion and the band delivered. Groovy, confident and downright heavy, this band were the perfect edition for a Saturday afternoon.

I had no idea INGESTED would turn out to be my last band of the weekend, but I’m very glad the slamming death metal band wrapped up my weekend as things got a little bit insane. Last year the band absolutely decimated the smaller stage when they headlined the Sunday. It was about time the Manchester mob played the main stage and after the release of their incredible new album The Level Above Human earlier in the year, it was well deserved. Seeing the biggest wall of death of the weekend, I don’t know if it was the sun or the football or the alcohol, but the room was whipped up into a frenzy and remained so the entirety of the set. Commanding the crowd, vocalist Jason Evans is an absolute demon live, some other frontmen could learn from his example. His energy and passion is unparalleled, one of the reasons why they always slay live. A superb set and a superb end to my Tech Fest weekend. See you next year.

 

 

 

Metalmance Top 20 Albums of 2016

A great year for metal! Who took the top spot?

Welcome to the first Metalmance Top 20 Albums! 2016 has been a hell of a year for metal this year, with lots of reunions and surprise releases. Not all entries will have a blog link due to Metalmance only being a third of a year old. So let’s get straight to it…

 

sleeping  No. 20  CANDIRIA – While They Were Sleeping                     

It’s good to have CANDIRIA back isn’t it? While They Were Sleeping is the band’s eighth album and their first on Metal Blade and it’s a reminder of the band’s refreshing metal mix of hardcore, prog, hip hop and jazz. If you’re new to CANDIRIA, then this album is a good start. Check out the link below to see what Metalmance said about the band’s video for the title track.

Weekly Roundup #4

 

a3458996965_10  No. 19  INCITE – Oppression

You can always rely on INCITE to provide some straight-up, relentless metal, and with their fourth album Oppression, the band continue to carve their own niche in the scene. This isn’t easy when you’re the stepson of metal god Max Cavelera, like frontman Richie Cavalera is, but INCITE are more than capable of thriving on their own. With an intense live show to match, INCITE should be one of your bands to watch.

 

kvelertaknattesferd  No. 18  KVELERTAK – Nattesferd

Every KVELERTAK release is an exciting bag of rock n roll, black metal and punk. This, being the Norwegian’s third album is no different but includes a glorious classic rock tinge to proceedings without losing any the original ferociousness the band are known for. Still raw, fast and exciting, KVELERTAK are still on the rise.

 

mortiis_cover  No. 17  MORTIIS – The Great Deceiver

Another welcome return in 2016 was MORTIIS with their new album The Great Deceiver. After a hiatus of almost five years, the new material was like reuniting with an old, industrial friend. The album has the timbre of Downward Spiral era NIN, but with a contemporary twist, all resulting in a pretty impressive album for the revival of industrial metal.

 

14040057_10154510824634759_8534743349618738043_n  No. 16  NOCETM – Haeresis

Stumbling upon Spanish extreme metallers NOCTEM was an excellent discovery this year. Their album Haersis is still bludgeoning the ears of Metalmance. Read a snippet of the review below and follow the link to the full review.

“Introducing NOCTEM, a black metal band that have more tricks up their sleeve than you might first perceive. They sound like all of your favourite extreme bands rolled into one delicious, morbid package, each track offering a new twist to proceedings.”

NOCTEM – Haeresis Review

 

nails_-_you_will_never_be_one_of_us  No. 15  NAILS – You Will Never Be One of Us

Probably the most unforgivingly brutal release of the year, NAILS winded metal fans around the world with the absolutely punishing You Will Never Be One of Us. Twenty minutes of sheer face-ripping, ear-pummelling metal, it never gives up for a second. This is how metallic hardcore punk should be done.

 

annisokay  No. 14  ANNISOKAY – Devil May Cry

One of Germany’s most promising metal exports, ANNISOKAY makes metalcore exciting again with their pure passion for their craft. Not afraid to include massive choruses, this young band can only get bigger with their irresistible melodies and crushing riffs.

“With the aggression of newer PARKWAY DRIVE and the melodic sensibilities of bands like SAOSIN and SILVERSTEIN, ANNISOKAY will appeal to fans across the melodic metal spectrum.”

ANNISOKAY – Devil May Care Review

 

lacunacoildeliriumcd  No. 13  LACUNA COIL – Delirium

Italy’s finest never disappoint. Still churning out masterpiece after masterpiece, LACUNA COIL have set their own bar high in the form of Delirium, their eighth album and heaviest to date. Based on narratives surrounding the abandoned asylum near to where the band live, the album is full of intensity and emotion. It still packs a punch over half a year later.

“The subject matter helps to shape the band’s most intense album to date with opener House of Shame bursting in kicking and screaming with the heaviest riff and vocals we’ve heard from LACUNA COIL in a long, long time.”

Weekly Roundup #2

 

textures-phenotype-artwork  No. 12  TEXTURES – Phenotype

Four long years since their last release, TEXTURES finally dropped fifth album Phenotype back in February and it’s still a rewarding progressive metal album. Vocalist Daniël de Jongh is proving his worth with the absolute belters of New Horizons and opener Oceans Collide. Recorded simultaneously with the album Genotype which will be released next year, don’t be surprised if TEXTURES also feature on the list next year.

 

wallsofjerichonoonecd  No. 11  WALLS OF JERICHO – No One Can Save You From Yourself

Yet another band returning from a hiatus, Detroit’s WALLS OF JERICHO released No One Can Save You From Yourself and it is a perfect return to form. The hardcore greats are as ferocious and as angry as ever and could easily show younger bands how it’s done. Welcome back.

“Candice Kucsulain, along with the rest of the band WALLS OF HERICHO, delivers such straight up, no nonsense hardcore punk, it’s mind boggling this hardcore troupe from Detroit do not receive more credit and recognition.”

Weekly Roundup #3

 

brutai  No. 10  BRUTAI – Born

2016 finally saw the release of the debut album by London’s BRUTAI. It was well worth the wait, with its refreshing approach to the melodic metal genre making the band one to watch. With big riffs, big ideas and big choruses, BRUTAI pulls it all off with aplomb and passion. One of the UK’s brightest metal hopes.

“The future of British metal has indeed been born.”

BRUTAI – Born Review

 

a0651344947_10  No. 9  ANAAL NATHRAKH – The Whole of the Law

A band who never disappoint, ANAAL NATHRAKH returned this year with ninth album The Whole of the Law, which is quite possibly the band’s most punishing album to date (if that’s even possible). The brutality ramps up with each song, making The Whole of the Law an intense listen which rewards you with mutilated ears.

“A new ANAAL NATHRAKH album is always a joyous occasion – if joyous means the same as the sensation of having your face battered off by a shovel.”

ANAAL NATHRAKH – The Whole of the Law Review

 

dreamshade  No. 8  DREAMSHADE – Vibrant

A late treat in the year, DREAMSHADE’s third album Vibrant is a gloriously melodic affair with a whole lot of heart. Their passion for their music overspills in each song, ensuring you get wrapped up in their infectious metal and melodies. A great discovery for Metalmance this year.

“An album which shimmers with melodic metal perfection, this third offering from Swiss band DREAMSHADE is indeed a vibrant effort.”

DREAMSHADE – Vibrant Review

 

evergreythestormwithincd  No. 7  EVERGREY – The Storm Within

EVERGREY…dark, emotional, intelligent, melodic, heavy, progressive…and catchy too. Is this an album with everything?? Guest appearances from Floor Jansen? Check. Songs with a big heart? Check. Dark and moody atmosphere? Check. Intense and beautiful video accompaniments? Check!

“If you want some progressive metal which you can belt out around the house, then look no further than EVERGREY.”

Weekly Roundup #9

 

vola-inmazes-album-art  No. 6  VOLA – Inmazes

Technically a reissue through Mascot Label Group, it’s such a treat of an album it would have been rude not to have featured it in this year’s list. VOLA’s Inmazes features most of the year’s catchiest melodies and big choruses, with Stray The Skies still owning the most memorable keyboard hook in recent memory. A young band full of promise and potential, VOLA are ones to watch for sure.

“The young band from Copenhagen have already fine tuned their sound which incorporates chugging guitars giving way to soaring vocals and catchy keyboard hooks.”

VOLA – Inmazes Review

 

animalsasleadersmadnesscd  No. 5  ANIMALS AS LEADERS – The Madness of Many

Modern metal legends ANIMALS AS LEADERS dropped The Madness of Many a month ago and it is captivating and mesmerising audiences worldwide. Just listening to a few seconds of opener Arithmophobia will make you understand why. An album bursting with a stupid amount of musical talent, ANIMALS AS LEADERS have outdone themselves again. How will they ever be able to top this?

“The diversity of sounds on this album demonstrates how far the band push the boundaries of progressive music and composition itself, as far as utterly breaking free of limitations and creating the most mesmerising music which doesn’t seem possible by man.”

Weekly Roundup #11

 

0045778746064_png_1200x1200_q90_crop  No. 4  SAOSIN – Along The Shadow

Another band who ended their hiatus and released an album this year. With Along The Shadow, SAOSIN have created a modern, post-hardcore classic. There was always a risk of sounding run-of-the-mill or sounding too similar to CIRCA SURVIVE, but the band thankfully pulled out all the stops and released one of the year’s most surprising highlights. Heart wrenching songs, big riffs and even bigger choruses, they’re the kings of the new post-hardcore generation.

“The album is one hot nostalgic trip to the glory days of post-hardcore, but somehow they sound timeless.”

Weekly Roundup #13

 

ihsahn-arktis-e1450461123634  No. 3  IHSAHN – Arktis

Ihsahn needs no introduction. This year he almost reached perfection with Arktis, an album so full of twists and turns in extreme styles it is spectacular from start to finish. There are plenty of unexpected elements which feature in the album, including SHINING’s Jørgen Munkeby providing a cheeky bit of saxophone on Crooked Red Line and LEPROUS’ Einar Solberg providing the stunning vocals on closer, Celestial Violence. A modern classic, Arktis will astound listeners for many years to come.

 

635902518368165120  No. 2  PORT NOIR – Any Way The Wind Carries

Possibly the most exciting discovery for Metalmance this year, PORT NOIR is a band which is almost impossible to pigeonhole. With songs bordering on pop, then others edging towards CULT OF LUNA-esque riffs (see Black From the Ink) each song is a different melodic beast. Elements of funk, jazz and metal complete with the distinct vocals of frontman Love Andersson, make Any Way The Wind Carries a rewarding listen each time. For a trio, PORT NOIR have such a rich and deep sound you wonder at how they haven’t already cracked the mainstream. An album so diverse and well executed, Any Way The Wind Carries deserves its high ranking in this list.

“The level of melodic goodness doesn’t detract from the heaviness on the album, instead you feel like you’re listening to all of your favourite genres as they are all sprinkled into one tasty package.”

Weekly Roundup #5

 

blackcrowninitiateselves

No. 1  BLACK CROWN INITIATE – Selves We Cannot Forgive 

And here we have it! Metalmance’s album of the year! BLACK CROWN INITIATE’s Selves We Cannot Forgive has been on frequent rotation since its release. A truly spellbinding example of progressive death metal and its very best. An absolute beast of an album, it pummels you with its devastating riffs and ferocious drumming, then revives you through the utterly compelling clean vocals. The band mix slow and brooding, with fast and aggressive with such zeal the album is a seamless triumph of modern metal. Standout track Belie the Machine pulls you in with its entrancing introduction, you think you’re safe for a few minutes, then the band absolutely crush you with a catastrophic riff GOJIRA would be proud of. The title track shows the more melodic side of BLACK CROWN INITIATE, with its soaring vocals and piano accompaniment. A diverse and ambitious album, it deservedly owns its place at the top spot.

“This, being the band’s second album released through eOne Music, is such a varied beast with  each track harnessing its own surprising little nugget.”

Weekly Roundup #4

Vola – Inmazes

A review of album by the promising Danes

Starting with MESHUGGAH-esque riffage, opener The Same War soon dissolves into a blisteringly melodic chorus. This sets the scene the remainder of the album Inmazes. The young band from Copenhagen have already fine tuned their sound which incorporates chugging guitars giving way to soaring vocals and catchy keyboard hooks. Asger Mygind’s soothing voice brings a pop element to the sound as if VOLA are one big djent disco and fans across all genres are invited.

Latest single Stray the Skies is definitely a standout track with its  dominating keyboard riff and a chorus so catchy it will remain in your head for days. It is refreshing to hear a band with keys strong in the mix and it adds to VOLA’s unique sound which sets them apart from the rest. No two songs sound the same on Inmazes with the band’s own melodic metal style tying the album together.

Emily provides a calm interlude halfway through the album but is delivered with as much heart and soul as the rest of the album you can’t help but be swept up by the dreamy sonic landscape. A Stare Without Eyes begins like old-school TESSERACT but it soon evolves into its own progressive beast, a bit like newer OPETH.

Closing track Inmazes opens with an unsettling combination of a disjointed riff and eerie keys, then explodes into such a heart wrenching conclusion of a song it leaves you feel like your among the stars. If you could choose the soundtrack for your daydreams, choose VOLA.

Weekly Roundup #1

Proggy, black metal and pop rock madness

Welcome to the first Metalmance Weekly Roundup! What else is there to do on a Tuesday evening? Back in the day I used to live for Tuesday nights as that was when Mike Davies on Radio 1 used to do his Lock Up punk rock show, remember that?

So this is where I’ll be summing up what bands I’ve been listening to this week and what new bands I think you should check out. So, without further ado…

Band to watch: VOLA. These lovely Danes mash up all sorts of genres to create music which sounds as refreshing as it is unique. Elements of djent and prog all settle nicely under soaring keyboard hooks and catchy lyrics. Look out for a review later in the week of the reissue of their album In Mazes which will be released this Friday. You can catch VOLA supporting KATATONIA in the UK next month! The band also released their new music video this week for song Stray the Skies it is made up of more than two thousand hand drawn frames which makes a truly amazing visual experience for such a brilliant song. Trust me, once you’ve listened to it you’ll have the song in your head for days. You can see the video and read more about the band via the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/volaband/?fref=ts

Video to watch: CARACH ANGREN. These Dutch horror metal masters dropped their new video yesterday for their track When Crows Tick on Windows and you really shouldn’t watch it alone at night. Visually it looks like the film Sinister, only with a better soundtrack. The attention to detail here and quality of the visual production stops CARACH ANGREN feeling like a second rate GHOST.  If you’re feeling brave you can watch the video via the link below.

Most anticipated release: TESSERACT. This Friday TESSERACT will reissue their third album Polaris as a new entity titled Errai. With Polaris, the band really stepped up the game and removed themselves even further from their former djent label into a more progressive style. It will be interesting to see what new treats Errai will offer fans. They will support DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT in the UK next March.

Still in the stereo: BILLY TALENT. Billy Talent’s fifth album, Afraid of Heights was released last month and it just gets better and better with each listen. The hooks and catchy lyrics hark back to their early days but there also is a new confidence to their sound. The title track proves to be a moving track and reminds you that you almost forgot just how poetic and honest their material is. You can see them on tour in the UK in October.

https://www.facebook.com/billytalent/?fref=ts

Band to rediscover: HIMSA. It’s been eight years since this Seattle metalcore crew disbanded yet their material hasn’t aged at all. Managing to avoid all the whiny vocals the genre was associated with, HIMSA proved to be a brutal beast, capturing the energy and aggression  of hardcore and metal and combining it to create their own metal sound. Their music videos were a treat too, with the tennis parody of Unleash Carnage to the puppet production of Big Timber. This was a band which could have fun and poke fun at themselves which is what the ‘scene’ really needs these days. If you listen to one album by them, then let that be Summon In Thunder (2007). Produced by the master himself, Devin Townsend, this album which proved to be their last was also their most brutal and varied.

Band yet to listen to: INQUISITION. I’ve heard a lot about this riffy black metal band, but yet to fully indulge myself in their stuff. New album dropped last month.

Any good bands to check out? Get in touch!