If the emotional story of how the Bizaardvark star filled out forms at the DMV or Masked Wolf’s scintillating monologue on Thots has left you feeling empty and a little dead inside then look no further. Because it’s time to drop some new music on your playlists that almost certainly will not include anything by the Biebs or a washed up Disney+ star having a mid-life crisis at 17. Probably.
There is also a metric fuck-ton to get through. With some genuine awesomeness in there…
Hacktivist – PLANET ZERO – (Official Video)
Starting strong this week. Very Strong. Not “Pavement Strong“. A bit more than that. Following on from last year’s “Armoured Core” (spelt the correct British way), Hacktivist again drop another djent-wrapped phat stack of UK rap-metal onto a scene that desperately needs them. Every release is more accomplished than the last and defines a quintessentially British sound within the tired, drop-tuned quagmire of US sound-alikes. Put this in your holes immediately, then go through their back catalogue. Sterling stuff chaps. Tea and medals all round [9/10]
For fans of : Nu-metal, Deathcore with groove and people who spell English words correctly.
Liquid Tension Experiment – Hypersonic (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
It’s scary watching your musical influences get old. The lengthening beards, the thicker glasses, the lines around the eyes. But if you were to listen to LTE‘s recent offering you would think they were 23 years younger than their first album, not 23 years further down the line to a bus pass and incontinence diapers. Having said that Tony Levin is 74… fuck… What’s to say about this that if you already know who they are you won’t already just from the name? For the uninitiated this is basically members past and present of Dream Theater with King Crimson‘s Tony Levin making instrumental music for the sheer pleasure of it. And it’s amazing to me now as it was dropping that first LTE into my CD-player in 1998. Recorded in August 2020 this follows all the LTE tropes : writing and recording quickly and letting each member shine. It’s absolutely glorious and sounds a lot like DT could have been if Portnoy had managed to keep his dummy firmly where it should have been. If I could stop fangirling for a second I should point out it sounds a little dated. But not a lot. [9/10]
For fans of : Dream theater, King Crimson, Transatlantic and basically every other project any of these boys have ever been in. So that’s me then.
JACKHAMMER – FENRIR [DEBUT SINGLE] (2021) SW EXCLUSIVE
What would these articles be without a Slam Worldwide release, eh? Something a little more grind-y from Jackhammer this week. And quite a good mix. Usual suspects abound – monotone vocals and you can’t hear definition on the guitars. But that doesn’t matter to SW fans who listen to this stuff when pwning n00bs on Fortnite anyway. If they put their Gatorade and Doritos down for a minute and actually listened though they’d hear a pretty good single from sludge-beatdown enthusiasts Jackhammer. [5/10]
For fans of : People who think Slam Worldwide is the only record label in existence.
August Burns Red – Icarus
One of the longest running Metalcore bands in history return with a new single that marks a shift towards a more modern sound in their writing. It’s not my thing – I don’t like the monotone vocals, I think the mix isn’t very bright and it’s not full of any urgency. But ABR fans seem to love it judging by the comments section so that’s all fine. If you like 2000’s Metalcore this is the thing for you. I finished it with my welm neither under’ed nor over’ed [6/10]
For fans of : Metalcore’s roots.
VEXED – Epiphany (Official Video)
Finally some Napalm Records goodness! This I really like. I hear Phrygian and I’m all in. The two metal vocal styles of CJ McMahon transition into each other perfectly and the sung chorus is memorable for it’s uniqueness. There’s brutality, melody and substance to the lyrical delivery. And is that a percussion line I hear??? YES! The more I listen to this UK band the more I love it. And on the strength of this track , their 2nd single, I’m gonna say this is “Band to watch 2021“. I am not at all vexed by how good this is. Put it in you. Now. [9/10]
For fans of : Metal. Full stop.
Kardashev – Snow-Sleep (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Well that started off quite nicely, thank you! And the outro from 5:55 onwards was excellent. But the middle is a little less convincing. Honestly, I think there is – for me – something wrong with this mix. Mark Garrett‘s voice is both beautiful and trve cvlt black-metal at just the right times but there is no depth to how it’s been presented here. No bottom end. I think I preferred the more lo-fi sound of Peripety. But there is merit and intelligence in the track and it’s well worth a listen. It really appealed to my Scandinavian-metal-loving friend. [6/10]
For fans of : Progressive death metal with a genuine lyrical and emotional touch.
Solence – Good F**king Music (Official Music Video)
Look I’m adding this for a laugh. And to be honest it’s kinda fun. Not Good f**king music but certainly Good F**king Time music. And I love the video 🙂 But I think the mixing engineer needs to watch some YT tutorials on how to use a Compressor. Fuck me that kick squashes the mix like an EDM synth from 2002. [6/10] but 8/10 at 3am after a bottle of bourbon
Worm Shepherd – Chasm Dweller (Official Lyric Video)
There was so much to get through this week I wasn’t going to add this when I was only 30 seconds in. Yeah it’s pretty good symphonic death metal. But I’m not an expert on this, nor does it tickle my cockles. Or even the sub-cockle region. But then I heard the two dynamic sections split up by some lovely breeeeeeeee and I thought…. mmm…. That makes it more brutal. And I can even read their logo. Nice. [7/10]
For fans of : People who like orchestras with their Thall.
REFLECTIONS | NOIR (Official Visualizer)
If you’ve read my past MTIFOYTW articles you’ll know this one would immediately spark my attention and consider it suitably sparked. Fuck me that’s some guitar tone you got there bois! It sounds like a serial killer’s internal monologue on a hidden Doom level you can only reach by murdering kittens. I love tech-death that’s got a groove and this has more groove than Deee-Lite. And I’m fairly certain that is the first time those two bands were mentioned in the same review. Crushingly fucking good. Oh God it’s SO HEAVY!!! [10/10]
For fans of : Brutal Deathcore that likes to drown the dancefloor in blood.
MONUMENTS – Deadnest (VISUALIZER VIDEO)
Yeah yeah yeah, Justin. Alright. This is cool. You introduced me to a band I never really got. I thought it all sounded like two technical guitarists were showing off. I’m still far more firmly in the Erra camp than Monuments but this is much more to my taste. It’s still open-note / fret-wankery / open-note / fret-wankery but it’s a more listenable open-note / fret-wankery / open-note / fret-wankery. Obviously the production is on-point and this time the chorus hook is well-crafted, unlike their previous efforts. It’s just not as heavy as it could have been. Not Erra, but closer this time. [6/10]
For fans of : Periphery, Erra, and all the other technical metal bands
Above, Below – Melting Amber
I’m gonna make this quick and succinct (We still have a lot to get through):
Australian. Progressive Metalcore. Some amazing technical riffs. Great use of harmony. Excellent clean vocals. Fucking awful dirty vocals. Great use of composition in the riffs to keep the interest, face-melting mix. And a fucking class-A breakdown at the end [7/10] 9/10 for the last breakdown you sick fucking bogans
For fans of : People who enjoy not melting but like music about the such
Endseeker – Count The Dead
Jesus! I thought it was 1991 all over again when this started. Someone has obviously been listening to the Wolverine Blues guitar-tone tutorials. Its a great throw-back to the lo-fi death-and-roll sound. The vocals are evil, the guitars growl through their Metal-zones like barely contained pitbulls and the drums sound like.. well…. drums. Which is perfect. This went onto the playlist about 30 seconds in. Just listen to those chorus chords!!!! [8/10]
For fans of : Entombed and every band they ever inspired.
Sal3m – Fucking Easy (Official Visualizer)
Time for Si’s patented oddball entry. Like the Starset video from last week this is all the synthwave. But unlike Starset I think Sal3m was dropped on it’s head as a baby – one moment it thinks it’s progressive tech-metal with a really unique guitar tone and the next it’s some brutal slam-core beatdown with some definite “Anger.. Hostility towards the opposition” vibes in all the very best ways. I love that modern bands are becoming more adventurous in what genres they can smash together in the Large Hadron Collider that is Metal. Put this on your playlist and thank me later. [8/10]
For fans of : Metal that has an identity crisis
Blackbriar – Deadly Diminuendo (Official Audio)
We’ve been spoilt this week for good music and there are still 2 left to come.. First up is genuinely unique Netherlands prog-goth-metallers Blackbriar. I had to listen to this a couple to times to realise what it wanted to be. Singer Zora‘s vocals are incredible: When the crunchy guitars djent under her pre-chorus it soars with purpose and emotion. The orchestration is especially good and layers the sound without drowning it. The high falsetto’s sound forlorn over the cold middle section before the Phrygian kicks in (And we do love us some Phyrgian as we said before) but this is used more musically than just to add “ethnic ambience“. This is the sort of top-shelf Dutch stuff you don’t get in their cafes but do get in their metal bands. [9/10]
For fans of : People who like their metal to wear a corset, read by trembling candlelight and await the undead not with fear but anticipation
CELLAR DARLING – DANCE (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
One I did not expect from Nuclear Blast at all. 9 minutes of stunning visuals, prog that understands what “pacing” means and more instruments played by a front-person that is legally allowed in several European countries. This three-piece swiss outfit have crafted something outstanding. Not only does it not follow classic harmonic structure but while the melodies seem familiar there is an undercurrent of the unexpected. And the middle-section around 6:16 onwards is lifted from “Starless” by King Crimson in all the right whole-scale ways. And a fucking overdriven hurdy-gurdy solo!!!!! I listened to this about five times over the weekend and found a new detail every time. God they’re good. I urge you to give this a go [10/10]
For fans of : PROPER Prog. And bands with compositional talent.
Is that it then ? That was a lot… No… Wait…! Got room for some more? Because it’s now time for the MIFOYTW sub-section I like to call :
*** The Metalcore-Spiritbox-modern-metalpop-wannabe-bands That All Sound So Similar I Found It Hard To Write Individual Reviews So They Can Go Together In One Big Quickfire BONUS ROUND Section Bit Compilation ***
I’m fairly certain that title will catch on. It flows off the tongue eh ?
Revaira – Maze (Official Music Video)
Yup. Not bad. Chorus is as disappointing as sex with your ex, but with a much better guitar tone. Lyrics come to us courtesy of the emotional rejected nu-man cheat sheet but vocals and riffs are solid enough. [5/10]
Nevertel – all i need (Official Music Video)
All the ingredient are here. Except my continued attention. You are absolutely not all I need. [4/10]
THECITYISOURS – Violent (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
These boys get the “I’m mad because my mom bought me the white iPhone not the Black one” award for derivative drivel. Use fucking spaces in your name. [3/10]
Tides – Haven (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Very much “Biggest band in your local area does not translate well to music video”. Sounds like they wrote this for their high school crush who rejected them. Sorry boys. Great voice and mix though. You need a producer. [4/10]
Thanks for sticking with me. It’s been a great high scoring week for good music. I’m off to play almost all those again. Especially Hacktivist, Reflections, and Cellar Darling. You should too. I’ll know when you do.
And you know what – I’m giving that Solence track another play because we all need a fucking smile.