This has been a great week for Metal on YouTube with some class releases.
There’s a lot to get through so let’s get started….
TERMINA – The Edge Of Time (Official Music Video)
Mah boi Nik Noctural is a YouTube Guitarist personality. He’s best known for guitar playthroughs of modern metal tracks and being very quick to release “reaction to” videos that are pretty balanced and fair but definitely focus on the much heavier deathcore/breakdown genre types. He once famously released a YT video called “Top 500 Heaviest riffs” that ran to nearly 2 hours. He is required viewing if you are a metal guitarist. However like most YT “guitar celebrities” (including Jared Dines’ Sion), I think years of outputting their brand to YT reduces their original content because they’re not focused on that but influencer entertainment. This Termina song is cool but it’s nothing special. But the breakdown is on point, as you would expect from Termina. Sorry Nik. You’re special in other ways dude. I’m also looking forward to your reaction video to your own song 🙂 [7/10]
For fans of : Nik Nocturnal and any bands he name drops on his channel
Alustrium – This Hollow Ache (Official Lyric Video)
Ah, finally some progressive death metal! “This Hollow Ache” from this Philly band is stuffed full of juicy, melodic, fast-tempo riffs and some luscious harmonized solos. And – GASP – you can hear the music over the kick. This sounds absolutely great! Everything is exactly where you want it to be. As with most modern progressive death metal it shuffles between styles faster than Paris Fashion Week and even the solos have hints of 70’s pentatonic nestled together with uber-quick sweeps. It’s brutal, technical, musical and utterly more-ish. The vocals are a little lacking but you can’t have everything. Well done chaps! [9/10]
For fans of : Literally any metal genre. It’s bound to crop up in here somewhere.
NORTHLANE – CLOCKWORK
Gotta admit I do love me some Northlane. It’s a great blend of heavy synthwave and djenty-goodness. The distorted synth line is as infectious as a MAGA rally in the COVID pandemic and the guitars are full of the sort of phat ch0nk you usually only find in a whisky-tango strip club at 3AM. As you’d expect from Northlane the mix is crisp and precise to complement the absolutely perfectly balanced chorus clean hook – which they are not afraid to repeat. The breakdown slaps with simplicity and purpose without being distractingly different from the rest of the song. Fucking top shelf single material from the Aussies. I’m gonna say it … [10/10]
For fans of : The current synthwave infused metal genre.
DISTANT – Dusk of Anguish (Official EP Stream)
Another Unique Leader release this week. And, as you would suspect, it’s suitably and simply brutal. Over twisted orchestration drops the blast-beats and the djent while the singer drops vocals so low they threaten to fold him inside out. Standout track “Dusk of Anguish” is ferocious and unrelenting savagery and at about 5:05 the drop kicks in so hard it feels like your MDMA is on MDMA. Yeah, it suffers from the usual lyrical nonsense that most of these bands do, but this is a horror movie not an arthouse film about a divorced dad wondering if there’s more to life than the Zoo every other Saturday. I’m not sure what is going on in the low end but something between the kick and bass is making a noise my trousers like very very much. I could do without the breeeee which kinda takes me out of the experience but I’ll let that go. Definitely one to play at a house party you really don’t want to go to. [8/10]
For fans of : Brutal deathcore and anything else on Unique Leader Records.
While She Sleeps – NERVOUS ft. Simon Neil
This video is gorgeous. The colour grading, scale and camera work is totally on point. For a song with lyrics dealing with Mental Health I totally get what the director was trying to achieve – a sense of loneliness and isolation. The band staring at the huge screen, alone and consuming the images of their own struggles is powerful and poignant.
But…. I just don’t like the song. Kudos and many points for subject matter and energy but… I think my problem is I don’t like While She Sleeps. They’re my Yorkshire homeboys from an earlier life (and their video for “Civil Isolation” was one of the most ingenious I’ve seen in a while on a low budget and simple premise) but the songs just don’t resonate with me. The riffs are fine, the mix is OK ( but they’ve had much better ) and the lyrics are a commendable effort to encapsulate their vision. But like almost every other one of their tracks it just falls short of making me feel… something. Yes, you can employ every musical trick in the book for that ( like the I-III-VII-IV chord progression which is the de facto vehicle for emotive content, the melodic breakdown and the “building castles in the dirt and the dust” lyric) but it’s just…. Not my thing. Sorry. But your fans love it and that’s what matters [5/10] And that’s mainly for the video.
For fans of : Melodic shouty rock and anyone who enjoys the 2000 trees festival lineup.
LANDMVRKS – Tired Of It All (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
It took me a minute to realise what was going on in this video until it clicked. I thought they were just not into it. Not maybe the best strategy for a video! But now I get it, the concept is cool. During COVID most bands are struggling to make videos that allow proper social distancing – that’s why the bands are appearing member-by-member or spread out. This is a great compromise. The song’s pretty fun sing-along stuff and didn’t really grab me but then at around 2:08 it kicked into a middle section that just makes your head bob like a Funko pop on too much caffeine. That will sound THE SHIT at a live gig ( remember them? ). Focus suitably gained. Listened again. Liked it a little more. The vocals are too high in the mix everywhere else, but I do like the vocal hook at the end of the chorus. (Was their mixing engineer asleep ? Was he Tired of it All?). While She Sleeps could learn a bit (but not a lot) from this. Check out their considerably better full album stream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mVkk2BTe8E) [6/10] 7.5/10 for the album stream though.
For fans of : Metalheads who like something between pop-punk and Core. Seriously the album is a lot better. Listen to that
BORN OF OSIRIS – White Nile (Official Music Video)
Fuck you Born of Osiris. Stop writing the sort of riff that makes me pick up the guitar and learn it the moment I hear it. And thankfully in the clarity of a monochrome 4:3 video like this I can see exactly what you’re doing there. No guitar playthrough video needed – you did yourselves out of a job 🙂
Oh God and those solo’s are just pure understated class. Everything about this music is memorable and you can sing along with gusto. It’s a masterclass of how to write a song that sounds so clean and still has more meat and gristle than Jeffrey Dahmer’s freezer. They’ve fitted more in 3:49 than most bands manage on an entire EP. If I had one criticism, it’s that the video is a little lacklustre and they’re not balls-out going for it. But then again, those Kiesel guitars ( ugh… they look fucking horrible ) are so small you can’t really swing ’em with purpose. Put this in your holes now. [9/10]
For fans of : Quality metal with technical mastery
OCEANS – Voices feat. Lena Scissorhands
Ugh.. I really wanted to like this but it’s nothing special. It jumps all over the place. The cuts between the 32nds on the kick in the verses and then the chorus groove sounds like someone has not set the DAW Loop Locaters properly. Having the guest vocal from Lena Scissorhands doesn’t save it either. It’s confused and choppy and jumps between lyrical and musical tropes. When she sings “I’m gonna smash my head against the wall” I absolutely do not feel in any way like she is actually going to do so. It sounds like one of those attention-seeking Facebook posts where someone eventually bites and goes “You OK, Hun?”. The thing is I know they can do better – check out the Sound of Your Voice (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfXBHrLXRq0). But this one… Nah. Next. [3/10]
For fans of : Look just give it a miss and listen to another Oceans song
EVILE – Gore (ft. Brian Posehn) (Official Video)
Mmmm… Thrashy… This adds literally nothing to the genre. But who fucking cares when it’s a speed-driven onslaught like this.
Thrash checkbox: Slayer-beat – check. Razor-tight guitars – check. Carpal Tunnel after playing said riffs – check. Unrelentingly savage vocals that sound like classic Max Cavalera – check. Evil-sounding middle-8 – check. Furious solo of indeterminate scale or mode with multi-fret pull-offs for good measure – check. What’s not to love. There’s not been much good thrash in the past 12 months but this has very much broken the trend. [8/10]
For fans of : Thrash metallers who don’t just want drinking songs but something with some substance and vitriol.
Rogue – Vessel
I wasn’t expecting this… Dreambound exists to promote upcoming Melodic bands and it’s well worth a visit for some off-the-beaten-track new music (https://www.facebook.com/dreamboundmusic/). And this short Rogue track is exactly what they are all about. I love that main riff which compliments the background chord sequence. It’s clean, tight and abrasive. Throw in some Vola-esque djent and some brutal screaming and I am all in. While it doesn’t stray far from the tropes it’s a solid delivery and mixed to perfection. There are better bands doing this to a more polished degree but with riff-writing like this Rogue are set to be up there. This is from a 2020 EP I think, promoted here by Dreambound. I look forward to their 2021 offerings to the metalcore table! [7/10]
For fans of : Melodic metalcore and something different.
CALIBAN – Intoleranz (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Now this is what I call a fucking heavy mix. Those guitars sound like slabs of industrial pile-drivers pummeling into your brain. It’s classic Caliban: filthy, brutal and straight to the point. They make no attempt at lightening the style and lace the music with grating electronic noises that both make you feel uneasy and angry at the subject matter. The “chilled” breakdown ends with some of the most slamming chugs heard this side of an 80’s College Frat Party. If you thought metal music was getting too “commercial” recently then this is for you. [9/10]
For fans of : Brutal metal that isn’t deathcore and anyone who speaks German.
INTERLOPER – Drift (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Wow… Nuclear Blast are shitting them out this week like they’ve eaten a 5lb bag of sugar-free Gummie Bears. Look this isn’t my thing at all and it’s all over the place (stop looking at the camera all the time dude! It’s creepy!) but they’ve just signed to NB so give them a listen. Don’t like it – move on. Do like it – give them some support. I’m all about the new signings. I’m not even going to score it. That wouldn’t be fair.
STARSET – ECHO (Official Music Video)
This week’s outlier goes to Starset. It wouldn’t be one of my lists without a more challenging-to-the-metal-listener track like this. Is it metal? Barely. Do I like it? Oh yeah. Synthwave has a definite place in metal in the 2020’s. We need something new in the sonic palette. And this puts the guitars on the back to let the synth shine. The beautiful video has been crafted with love and tells a story through minimal animation: it looks like a game preview on Steam. I’m totally following the little guy’s journey. There is a real connection between the video and the song. Watch until the end for the resolution. Does it have repeat-worthy appeal? Maybe not. But for now it’s great and the proper palette-cleanser a good playlist needs. You’ll hear this a year from now and start singing along with a smile. [8/10]
For fans of : People who enjoy a music video with actual purpose.
Harakiri For The Sky – Us Against December Skies
And as usual we end on a gorgeous fucking epic… It’s an Opeth-elian ocean and consider my boat well and truly floated. That first repeated melody is VERY Opeth – (musicians ramble for a sec) if you took the last note over the V and moved it down to the A not the F it would be an exact Deliverance refrain. But then they find their unique voice again, still laced with those octave melodies. I’m not a fan of the vocal timbre but there is so much layering going on we are spoilt for choice for what to listen to. They’ve been described as post-black metal. What the fuck? Are we just putting ‘Post’ in front of things now? Just say what it is. Awesome.
Their full Harakiri For The Sky album is available to stream here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwQQOVbb91c and I suggest you check it out. This track is just one of a full album of great tracks brimming with melody and copious love and attention to layering. Just at it should be. I’m giving this a 9 only because the vocals don’t do much for me and get a bit repetitive. I’m not saying have clean passages – that’s their choice – but the vocalist seems to only have one preset. For my taste, he needs more range in the delivery. Maybe give him a factory reboot or see if there is new Firmware for him. But that’s just a niggle. The rest is fucking epic. Well done you magnificent Austrians [9/10]
Well that’s Metal I found on YouTube this week done. There was a lot eh? Good. Because the more new music we can put your way the better. Now excuse me I have to listen to Northlane for the 20th time today, learn some more Born of Osiris riffs and order my Starset t-shirt.