The Swedish streaming giant may have millions of plays every day, but it pales into comparison against YouTube’s billions. And the unique processes that recommend the tracks have been curated from the staggering number of metal consumers honing in on what they (and by extension ‘we’ ) want to hear.
ABIOTIC – Ikigai [Official Album Stream]
A full 50 minutes of tech-deathcore from Miami which the artwork at least suggests will be inspired by the Rising Sun. What we get is a beautiful intro of Japanese “sounding” pipes and strings into the visceral cut of the album’s title track. Even the first few chords tell you this is going to be more interesting than your usual fare and slices deeper than a well-executed seppuku. The tech continues with unrelenting savagery but never loses focus or interest. Ikigai itself is a monster but The Wrath has it for me. Strangely I don’t think the music lives up to the Nipponese overtones promised by the album cover but who’s looking the art when you’re trying to figure out how to play that last fucking riff you just heard… [ 8/10 ]
For fans of : Archspire, Born of Osiris, and just about every guitarist who enjoys a challenge.
Novelists FR – Terrorist (Official Music Video)
Now this is right up my street. Overlooking the fact that they’re from France, this follow up to last year’s brilliant Lost Cause (which didn’t leave my playlist ) drops un enorme sac of dirty saw-wave on us before ripping into the hook riff. Not afraid to mix electronica solely as a complement but as a full feature of their sound, Terrorist plunges into a chorus that’s arguably not as good as their last offering but really just sets up the hook riff repeat which is what we’ve all been waiting for. There’s the usual drops to the dry vocals – which is their trademark – and a restrained melodic solo from Florestan which quickly becomes huge a-la-Tremonti. It’s a great single and immediately jumped into my playlist next to their last one. And those YT hate comments can fuck right off. They are trying something different and – in my mind – succeeding. Encore, mes amis. [ 9/10 ]
For fans of : Spiritbox, Being as an Ocean, Alter Bridge (who want something different)
Against The Current – weapon [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
While Chris J hates this [“It’s true, I do” – CJ], it made me smile and definitely has its place in this list. It’s verging on rock/metal and is unquestionably on the commercial end of things. But it’s an accomplished single from a band that’s been going for 10 years. Which means they started as basically foetuses. And in 2018 they released Voices which I really liked as pop-rock. Those years since have been spent learning their craft and getting heavier. The chorus hook from Chrissy is great, the production is sickeningly precise. If Scuzz was still going this would be one of those they played on repeat. 2.14M Subs on YT and going strong. They’ve tried all sorts of genres in their career and I applaud what they’ve done with this. While it’s not something Slam Worldwide would put out it could make a refreshing change in a playlist between your 90’s death metal and that Paramore track you shamefully love but keep to yourself. [ 7/10 ]
For fans of : Don’t worry about it – just give it a go ☺
ALLUVIAL – ULYSSES (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
That fucking intro! A few loops of a beautiful, deep palm-muted clean delay that mesmerizes you into closing your eyes before the first stab hits harder than your uncle hits the vodka at Christmas. The guitar’s sound like seasons-era slayer until the groove and vocals remind you this is 2021 and these boys are here to fuck your shit up. They pound into a weird Prong-style chorus which makes you sit up and go “ooooooo” and do that head bobbing thing of goodness. The early solo is accomplished without being flashy and sets up the chorus repeat and breakdown. In fact, if I had one criticism it would be the drop could have been deeper and doesn’t make me want to punch as many kittens as something from Alphawolf would do. But who cares. It’s awesome. [ 8/10 ] ( would have been 9/10 but I really wanted that bigger breakdown )
For fans of : Black Crown Initiate, The Faceless ( It’s basically members of those bands anyway )
Left to Suffer – “DEPRESSION” (Official Music Video)
Ah, I knew we’d gone too long without an angry millennial screaming at my face over some Metalcore. But this packs three hundred cheese burgers of power into the beats and screaming. It’s got more groove than you’d rightly expect and the breakdowns ( yes, there’s two as is only right and proper ) are satisfyingly brutal without just being noise. There’s clarity to the mix and the vocal break is clever without being ‘fad’. And can I just say that riff at the 1:11 mark is one of the most unique and heaviest I’ve heard in a while, complete with obligatory quarter note china. What more do you want? I’ve played this five times while writing this because it’s as more-ish as a can of Pringles covered in heroin. [ 9/10 ]
For fans of : Alphawolf, Invent Animate, and all the usual Metalcore suspects.
Jord – Sol (Full Album Premiere)
Now this is cool. It doesn’t know what it wants to be but at the same time makes me listen more to see what happens next. It’s like post-rock had a green machine session with their weird black metal mate while listening to Kyuss and Kvelertak but said “Hey can we do this in the forest not the desert coz the heat brings me out in stereotypes.” So they obviously did because this is pretty spot on. Personally, I’d have preferred a more Stoner-like vocal but the grooves and riffs are solid enough to carry it. I know Black Metal is often derided for being same-same-same but they’ve learnt some important lessons about dynamics from whatever they’re consuming and gone somewhere different. I like what they’ve done with the place. Yeah the mix isn’t the best in places but it’s good enough to make me want to look out for what they do next. [ 7/10 ]
For fans of : The afore-mentioned Stoner fans and Black Metallers who keep the corpse-paint on the down-low.
Bound in Fear – Eternal (Official Stream)
Well it wouldn’t be YouTube without some Beatdown Deathcore. As the vocalist angrily sums me up with “Know what you are – you’re just a waste of mother fucking life [incoherent pig-growls]” I assume it’s on Slam Worldwide but it’s actually Unique Leader Records. Ok cool. Signs of the Swarm are on that label so I don’t expect much subtlety. Cardinal Sin sets the stage. Second track Left to Drown drops some serious stank and the rest never get past the 5th fret but it does properly slam. Not gonna lie I do like me some beatdown deathcore. Eternal is pretty well mixed ( vocals are too loud but that’s just the style I guess ), the guitars sound great and the riffs and everything else you want is smothered in angst and staccato vocals. Yeah I listened twice. Sue me.
Also, why do Slam bands have the best looking merch? Completely fucking baffles me. But I kinda want it on me. So I ordered it. Not the CD. The t-shirt. [ 5/10 ]
For fans of : Disaffected white 20-somethings who crowd-kill and still live at home in their mom’s basement.
Currents – Kill The Ache
Last year’s A Flag to Wave from the Connecticut band Currents was a hard-hitting cut of Metalcore that had more love in the comments section than is I think legally allowed on YouTube. They coated the like button with enough fan-jizz that it scores a uniquely impressive 10000 to 109 like/dislike ratio. Unheard of. But deserved. This band do what the fans want. They’ve grown as a unit and the followers are loyal. Flag to Wave really made me sit up and take notice. I listened to the album a lot. Yeah, it had its flaws, but it was solid and bared it’s chest. Kill the Ache was one of the slower, more thoughtful and melodic tracks. 9 months after the album release they’ve dropped this video and TBH it’s not the one I would have expected but here it is nonetheless. I went on YT and found a bunch of reaction videos to it and every single one loved it. The fan base is strong with this one. So there’s something there. It’s not completely my thing but it’s important to younger metal fans so it’s important to the genre. Good on them. Give it a listen and see for yourself.
Plus the guitarist has the same Ibanez as me so he obviously knows what’s up ☺ [ 7/10 ]
For fans of : Emmure, Loathe, Of Mice & Men. Basically anything on Sharptone Records.
As Everything Unfolds – On The Inside (Official Video)
Look, I really, really like Marmozets, Dream State, Vukovi and Don Broco. And this touches me in those special places where I keep all my British sing-along Zoomer metal bands. It’s fun, bouncy UK metal and just makes you wanna dance like the singer in this video as she goes into the first chorus. Speaking of the chorus – these bands live and die on their ear-worms and this one is up there with anything you’d hear at any metal night when it gets busy and the DJ starts playing the popular stuff while the Dying Fetus fans go find a corner to sulk in. Getting the pace right on a track like this is tricky at best without falling into cliché and AEU pull this off perfectly. I went through their back catalogue and it’s all equally awesome. Check this out.
And….. they’ve even got a Tiktok. Well… What did I expect… [ 8/10 ]
For fans of : Read the first line of the review!
MARIANAS REST – Pointless Tale (Official Lyric Video)
Unlike Jord from earlier this never really grabbed me. It’s a bit by-the-numbers and doesn’t offer much new to the Finnish death/doom metal genre. The lyrics are from the black-metal lyric generator. However – that said – there’s a really melodic and melancholy mid-section at around 2:58 which is by contrast very, very good. The repeating pentatonic refrain over the I-V-IV sounds more like Tantric Porno by Bardo Pond than Finnish metal and it’s the crux of the song, but it does the job and I’m now on board. I listened again. It made more sense. They should concentrate on more of that and less of the other stuff. They’re good at it. [ 6/10 ]
For fans of : Anything bleak and Scandinavian
OUR HOLLOW, OUR HOME – Overcast
Ok this seems to have it all. Cool Lo-Fi intro. Boxy-sounding kick louder than it should be. Djenty-Djent ‘0’s riff. Angry screamer ( with a great tone it has to be said ). Standard chorus chords with a late 2000’s pop-punk melody sung by the guitarist ( while the scream singer just kinda hangs out ). Second Verse drops to half-time with a pre-drop vocal break. All boxes ticked. But it’s not grabbing me. It’s very, very formula. We’ve heard it all before from other Metalcore cookie-cutter bands. You need something different. And at around 1:58 they deliver. For 20 seconds. There’s a really nice play between clean and dirty vocals that sounds great. So of course they only do it once. And at 2:20 go into an over-thought middle section that sounds like the orchestration was badly faxed to them but the dirty singer just belts out over it anyway. It sounds terrible. When he finally decides he’s had enough and goes for a chai latte the clean singer takes over and it all fits into place again. He’s really good.
It continues with a modern Fall-Out-Boy inspired section ( You can almost sing “Down Down” over it ) which sounds pretty cool. Basically someone hasn’t produced this. There are compositional mistakes which makes it unlistenable as a cohesive track. Number one being keep the dirty vocals off the anthemic middle. And the lyrics are full of problems. They “sound cool” but don’t bear scrutiny. “How I long to free my mind, find clearer skies ahead / Cos if every cloud has a silver lining then by now I should be dead.” What ???? There are some good ideas, good melodies and cool riffs in this track. It just needs a more accomplished song-writer to guide them. I do hope they find one. Their other tracks are really good and their fans seem to like it so no harm done. [4/10] ( It could have been an 8 with a proper producer )
For fans of : People who used to listen to Fall Out Boy, MCR, Panic! At the Disco etc but wanted some Thall and 0’s with their Patrick Stump and Brendon Urie
WIDE EYES – Synesthesia (Official Visualizer)
And to finish we have some instrumental prog-metal. One of the best things about YouTube is you find gems like this that Spotify would never think of sending your way. It’s 8:18 of top-shelf grade prog sounding like Vola that’s being more self-indulgent. With any band like this comes Dream Theater comparisons and its definitely there. Prog checklist time: Odd-time rhythms ( check ), the djent drops in to say “BAM-BA-KA” ( check ) and the solos break up the onslaught ( check ). But its quintessentially modern without sounding like they really just wrote this to show off on the inevitable guitar play-through video. About the 4:30 mark onwards there’s two drops in signature and tempo that just made me do that “oooooo” thing again. Vocals would change this: I love it as instrumental, like all their previous material. But this has grown up a notch. Can’t wait for the album. [ 9/10 ]
For fans of : Erra, DT, Intervals, Periphery.
In summary : I dropped three of these into my playlist ( I think you can tell which ones ) , Then I thought about it a little and added the Marianas Rest in as well. I think it needs more plays. I’m not done with it yet. I really wanted to like that OHOH song but it’s just drags me out of the experience every time. Such a shame.