We’ve uncorked the exhibits, sniffed the bouquet, taken a deliciously moist mouthful, swilled around several times, then spat into this article the most succulent Metal this week. Our delicate and refined palette is here to serve you with the crushed dj0nt and rancid offerings from only the very best Metal vineyards, with subtle hints of Cvlt and overtones of Thall. May I draw your attention to the following menu items :
DEVILOOF – Newspeak (Official Music Video)
WTF you may ask? WTF indeed. If you’ve never heard Deviloof before then you’re in for a very …er… special time. And I don’t mean the sort of special time that needs to ask if you are 18 or not. Somewhere between Japanese Deathcore and Snuff Movie, Deviloof have the most distinctive sound in Brutal Metal, if that sound is a high-pitched “wheeee” followed by a “breeee“. As disturbing as they are arousing, I can’t look away from their videos and even though “Newspeak” is a little tamer than usual it’s top-shelf Fuktupcore. Yes, that’s now a genre. You’re welcome. Enjoy. [8/10]
For fans of : Not sleeping. And debating how many bass strings are enough.
Of Mice & Men – Bloom
“I will hug him and kiss him and squeeeze him and call him Bloom“, said Californian Metalcore enthusiasts Of Mice & Men. And pretty glad I am they did too. Jokes aside this is – on the surface at least – nothing much. At least musically. But the lyrics are poignant and well crafted and hit upon some melancholic themes with articulate observation and empathy. That’s rare these days. There is no shock here – just honest melody encapsulating loss. I never once nodded my head when listening but I keep coming back to this. It’s mature Metalcore to support those who have grown up with the genre and are now old enough to suffer in new ways. [8/10]
For fans of : Catharsis through music
Seven – Parallel (Official Music Video)
Oooo! Something new and interesting! I am all in. Cool percussion, great stabs, odd rhythms. This immediately has me by the special bits. Considering they are from Las Vegas (And thus usually on fire) this is not at all what I expected. And I even love the video. Seven are not afraid to show their prog roots while describing a unique and compelling vision. The video is beautifully shot and colour graded while the music – which sometimes does seem a tad too sparse in places – fits expertly with the visuals. I’m not a fan of Tool, but like I said a few weeks ago – if they had made music like this I probably would have been. [9/10]
For fans of : Prog at slower tempos where the complexity is in the emotion not the riffs.
Mental Cruelty – King Ov Fire (Official Video)
Ok, back to our usual programing. We’ll put the 1965 Chateau Meshuggah down for a minute and bring up the £3 supermarket swill. Not that this band is cheap. It’s just that you should expect a face-down visit to the porcelain bowl after listening. And whatever is going to come out of you is going to make the same sound upon exit as vocalist Lucca Schmerler is making on this track. It’s about as heavy as the genre can get. I would listen to the album on the strength of this. But I might have to tie my hair back first. [6/10]
For fans of : Bands that sound like bodily movements in all the right ways.
BALA – Mi Orden (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
We don’t get much Spanish metal, let alone Galacian. We don’t get many 2-pieces. We don’t get many Stoner bands and we don’t get many bands as immediately catchy as this. Vocalist/Guitarist Anxela Baltar keeps it in her own language (always a good sign) and rips into the fuzz on a Gibson SG just as things were meant to be. There’s a big punk movement where I live but many often completely miss the ethos of what punk actually is, or encompasses. Bala is Stoner metal but’s is as punk as they come. Simple, pounding and noisy as fuck. [8/10]
For fans of : Explaining to some IOM punks why punk isn’t probably what they think it is.
BEWITCHER – Electric Phantoms (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
I wasn’t going to feature this but I realised I do criminally few NWOBHM inspired bands. So here we go. Portland has opened it’s legs and shat out innumerable alt-rock, alt-indie and generally alt-everything bands over the years but it’s not usually a place for hard rock. Yet here we are whether we like it or not. It’s OK. The guitar riffs are what you expect and the mix is great. Not a fan of the vocals or the lyrics but he plays a mean genre solo. So fuck it. [6/10]
For fans of : Being so alt you go full circle and become the pastiche of what you were trying to get away from.
VEXED – Misery (Official Video)
Thank fuck for that. Vexed were a solid 9 a few weeks ago. And “Misery” goes a long way to being the same – the complexity is still there, the vocals are great, the mix is solid and the chorus melodies are the Phrygian I was both expecting and moist in anticipation for. And it’s worth it alone to watch Megan Targett freak out in a confession booth at the 2:48 breakdown. But an “Epiphany” this isn’t, sadly. [7/10]
For fans of : Watching a band mature. It’s still got huge potential, just give it time to grow. Which is also the name of my sex tape.
CRYPTS OF DESPAIR (Lithuania) – All Light Swallowed
Finally some proper Death Metal. The Eastern Europeans tend to show us how it should be done and this is a great example. Highlights are the opener “Being Erased” with it’s enormous tremolo picked chords and “The Great End” which is, confusingly, track 6 of 8. Missed a trick there boys! Not going to say much more as it’s a full album, but the YT channel it’s on – Transcending Obscurity – has some absolute beasts on display. Go check it out. [7/10]
For fans of : Bands with the best album art.
Our Reflections – Void (Official Lyric Video)
After last week’s excellent Skyworld track, here is vocalist Wilder Raine‘s other band, Our Reflections and another fucking Metalcore banger. Again, compositional skill is well reflected here – the music feels energetic and pumps along until the breakdown at 2:30 which will get the skank firmly fixed into your face features. And that chorus soars before get a tasteful melodic solo which is a great antidote for the usual “shred until it breaks” widdling I hear. Go give them a sub – we need more of this talent in a scene overpopulated with same-ness [9/10]
For fans of : Erra, obviously, but also proper, tuneful Metalcore
VAN CANTO – Falling Down (Official Video)
Alright… Maybe I’m late to the game here (they’ve been going since 2006) but for those like me… Acca-s’cuse me? Holy shit! I love the “Pitch Perfect” style Napalm Records intro and then the track just… well… er… yes! Honestly I don’t know what to feel about this. Or How. I feel both slightly unclean and a little bit acca-curious. The track would be OK if played on guitars and the power-metal has all the necessary “push away, grab towards“, but I can’t help being beguiled by the vocal skills. Why didn’t Universal use these guys instead of Das Sound Machine? They’re even German! [8/10] – Although that’s a very confused 8
For fans of : Er….
SOJOURNER – Perennial (Official Video)
Ah! Black forest power metal! I’ve learned since Elven King last week. So now I can say I like this with some idea of what I mean. I like this. It’s not the best mix in the world but past that the ethereal vocals, the slamming guitars and the many, many kick drums, Sojourner are offering up a gorgeous 7+ minutes of atmospheric metal that the video compliments perfectly. They could have shot all of this in a bleak, snow-covered forest but I applaud the visual choices. The atmospheric break around 4:20 is also immersive. It’s a great album to put on while you work. [7/10]
For fans of : Being unnaturally attracted to trees.
LILITH CZAR – Anarchy
Let’s mix it up a little. Not gonna lie: I really, really like this. It’s just all the head-nodding and powerful vocal you need. Juliet Simms has done a great job here – again – crafting a proper pop-metal track that has just the right amount of Grrrrrrl and melodic grunt to stand out amongst the crowd of sound-alikes. Her falsetto catches are just perfect and the whole mix reminds me of a much heavier ZZ Ward – who I also love and recommend you check out as a non-metal suggestion. [8/10]
For fans of : Just having a little joy in your existential bleakness
HIDEOUS DIVINITY – Delirium Trigger
Ok, back to the br00tal. This is a Melodic Death Metal cover of Coheed And Cambria, but if you didn’t recognize it, that’s all the better. I love a good cover that’s very much the signature of the performer not the original recording artist. We didn’t know we needed Melodic Death Metal versions of popular Prog tracks but now we are enlightened. [7/10]
For fans of : Coheed And Cambria that don’t listen to anything heavier but absolutely should.
Capra – In Transmission (FULL ALBUM)
Oh, yes please…. Thank you! First track proper, “Hollow Doll” reeled me in with a willing hook in mouth, but “The Locust Preacher” made it all happen in the trousers. That shit is catchier than COVID at a MAGA rally. They signed with Metal Blade in August and 9 months later here is their hardcore love child. The riffs are savagely bouncy and the pace relentless. The whole 11 tracks are just 33 odd minutes which for H/C is just right. [9/10]
For fans of : Converge… aaaaaand thats my hardcore band list used up
From Sorrow To Serenity – Tell All (Official Video)
Dichotomy – two things together which are opposite or contradictory. Like great music and bad lyrics. Which is the best summation of From Sorrow To Eternity. Bands : if your lyric game is weak don’t post them under the YT video. “Tell all the fight has begun / Tell all I am not undone / Tell them we’re forsaken as one / Tell all our time has come.” That’s like teenager lyrics you write in the back of a maths book next to doodles of ninjas. But the music is great – nice Phrygians all over the place that bleed into the chorus and some choice vocals. The single-stroke roll sounds powerful and the breakdown does what it’s designed to do (Although that first iteration is a little weak on the kit). I’m not infused to listen to more until you get better as lyric writers. Sorry. But the music is cool. [5/10]
For fans of : Not going to rhymezone.com
KORZUS – YOU CAN’T STOP ME
Now these guys I can forgive for the lyrics : As Brazilians, English is not their first language, they’ve been going since 1983 so they have credibility and TBH it’s secondary to the music. Also that bass player has a beard I will forgive anything for. They’ve been going as long as Sepultura and the experience shows. This is fist-bangingly good for a 37-year old band that hasn’t lost any drive or urgency in all that time. [8/10]
For fans of : Old school Thrash played by Old School Thrashers updated to 2021
Neurotech – Koma
Down to the last two. So back with tradition, the second-to-last is the Oddball. Or rather curve-ball. It’s not odd to people like me who love the Synths. Some sick side-chain compression the guitars, great layering from the electronica and an interesting compositional direction. Slovenia usually delivers some more traditional metal but Neurotech is moving in the right “3rd decade of the 21 Century” direction. I had a listen through their Bandcamp and honestly – while this is great – they have some even better tracks on there. And it’s name you price. So go support a fine artist: You won’t be disappointed. [8/10] – but there are some 9s and a 10 on the album
For fans of : Cyber metal in the 21st century
Blackbriar – Walking Over My Grave
I was blown away by this Dutch prog band a few weeks ago and now they’ve gone and dropped a monster. It’s part music theatre, part epic orchestral but wholly and uniquely prog-metal. As Zora begins the vocals she teases us into her full range, almost whispering the lyrics onto the bed of beautifully crafted chords and palm-mutes. Honestly, as she sings I get little shivers. Then as she builds into the bridge at 1:07 it drops three dramatic chords that made me smile like a very pleased musical motherfucker. And musical is the right word. There’s something “stage performance” about this – something from a big west-end production. I hate those. But I love this. It’s all the power and the drama without the lovees and the bullshit.
The chorus is haunting. Blackbriar have captured the gothic darkness just right, unashamed to shy away from what is easy to listen to and concentrate on what matters – the emotion. It’s the little details like the rest beat at the end of pre-chorus build at 3:47 that show this has been carefully curated. Even the sudden and unexpected stop is a pleasure to experience. And I even love the video. [10/10]
For fans of : (And I say this a lot with the last track on these lists but it’s always true ) Proper Prog.
Well now. Our glasses may be empty and our head a little swimming from all that but…. What’s this? Our sommelier has a little thing left for us? Oh no… It’s line cleaning day at Chateau Worship Metal. This can only mean it’s the segment we all dread : The “slops-that-you-drink-when-already-drunk-3-for-a-tenner-bargain-bin-mytoiletisnotgoingtothankmeinthemorning-things-section-bit” quickfire bonus round. Pass me the bucket.
IMMINENCE – Temptation (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Everyone seems to be wanking themselves off to this like it’s a Chris Evans and Lizzo sex tape. But I don’t see why. There’s nothing here. They’re a big band but there’s no real evidence of any effort to be original. I dozed off. Totally uninspiring unless your YouTube channel needs the views so you lick ass like the best of them. I don’t. Try harder. [4/10]
Another Now – Parallax
This may have been OK if they hadn’t released THIS video. What the fuck are they doing ??? Seriously they look like teenagers at their first club, not a professional band. They need a new manger. [3/10] but a 6 for the song. I like the middle bit.
From The Ash – Fearless (Official Lyric Video)
Another “oh, this sounds cool” ruined by releasing a LYRIC VIDEO for a song with the most fucking awful, derivative lyrics. Its so by the numbers I can describe it in a derivate myself. F(x)=(shit^3)+(DeltaY) Where Y is the change in my state from happy to bored over time T. [3/10]
Upon The Water – Nameless
Dreambound normally gives us the gems. But this is just a little… boring. Ah, maybe it’s just not my taste. It sounds like every other Metalcore wanna-be. They can obviously sing and play well. Get a songwriter in. [4/10]
Escape The Fate – Demons
The best things about this are: 1) They didn’t print the lyrics [See “From Sorrow to Serenity” above], 2) The chords are so predictable you already know it and 3) it’s only 2:46 long [3/10] but a 5 for the solo. Not that I can hear it as apparently a dude screaming at me is more important in the mix than the guy shredding the only interesting thing in the whole track.
Oh God… I shouldn’t have had those last 5 bands. Ugh…. I need a lie down. And maybe a rethink on my life choices.