Another month and yet another roundup article, I’m actually sticking to this one! The scribes this month are Kep, April, Ellis and Melinda (thats me, I don’t have twitter anymore and IG banned me for having 1312 in my @ so I use Discord: Melinda#5425). Some exciting picks this month from familiar bands and a couple of newcomers with impressive wares (Heriot, it’s really good).
Heriot – Profound Morality
Metallic Hardcore from the UK
Church Road Records
Heriot have worked hard to earn the hype surrounding the arrival of their debut EP. Here in the UK they seem to be supporting a different (and often legendary) band every week, and they’re on Church Road Records, who can arguably do no wrong at this point. With Profound Morality they prove that they’re far more than just a hype band though, delivering 20 minutes of absolutely devastating metallic hardcore imbued with elements of sludge, grind, industrial, death metal and more. The HM-2 worship is ridiculously strong, and there are a few welcome cleans and ethereal sections which make sure the band’s most visceral edges never really wear off. Perhaps the UK’s strongest answer to Code Orange yet.
And Hell Followed With – Quietus
Deathcore from Michigan, USA
Good honest to god deathcore with an endless supply of both bells AND whistles, the economy be damned. It’s mostly frantic, dark and heavy but shows an extensive range of ideas incorporating a lot of secondary instruments and some surprisingly melodic clean moments bordering on an homage to Opeth (One of the best bits of “Sacrificial Human Destiny”). Even when using elements of symphonic deathcore and djent they do it with enough finesse to really make it work, just as much as they make the prog and brutal elements work well. The energy and showmanship of a lot of the guitars reminds me of season one Dethklok like on “Emotional Mass” featuring Bodysnatcher vocalist Kyle Medina. Another great feature track is Kyle Anderson from Brand Of Sacrifice on “Infinite Sequential Visions of a Sphere Of Hate” and other tracks with members of Spirit Breaker, Wormhole and Vulvodynia. Christ, that opening for “Dethroned” though. I’m basically just naming all of the tracks because there’s so many great moments and well built songs around those moments across the entire thing. They nail the execution and it makes for a hugely enjoyable album.
Feral Light – Psychic Contortions
Black metal goodness from Minnesota, US
I, Voidhanger Records
Feral Light’s 2020 LP Life Vapor, which I still contend is criminally underrated, has been a regular spin in my house for nigh on two years now, so I was eager to get Psychic Contortions into my ears. The enigmatic duo’s sound has always been a bit hard to pin down—the “black ‘n’ roll” descriptor attached to them has never really felt 100% correct to my ears—and it’s as unpindownable as ever here, black metal forward but with a ton of influences ranging from post-metal to crust to bits of yes, rock ‘n’ roll. Honestly though, it’s not worth agonizing too much over what to define them as when that attention could be better focused on appreciating how much the record fucking slays. It’s harrowing and haunting all at once, with the kind of emotive riffs that cut like a knife straight to the heart and agonized vocals that stick with you well after they’re gone, delivered with production the likes of which every black metal outfit should shoot for. This band deserves recognition in the scene, and this is the album that should secure it. I’ll be thinking about songs like “Self Disavow” and “Wells of Blackness” for a long time.
They Drove Us From the Garden – We Might Be Dead, We Might Be Flowers
Post-rock from Dallas, TX
From the moment I first heard their (excellent) 2019 demo, The Lexington Sessions, I knew I would have to keep an eye on They Drove Us From the Garden. With the release of their sprawling debut album, We Might Be Dead, We Might Be Flowers, the instrumental post-rock quintet have absolutely delivered on the promise they showed three years ago, and then some. Featuring ethereal guitar tones, delightfully gritty bass, tastefully integrated electronic elements, and a nocturnal, enchanting, mystical atmosphere, this record is lush, immersive, and absolutely beautiful. Every track features powerful crescendos and gorgeous melodies from start to finish. Despite the record’s ambitious length, which clocks in just short of an hour, it’s remarkably consistent, and breezes by in seemingly no time at all. I found myself replaying it almost immediately after my first listen, eager to pick out any details I’d missed the first time. There’s no doubt about it – this is one of the best records I’ve heard yet in what has already been an excellent year for music. If you’re a fan of God Is an Astronaut, Caspian, Echotide, or any emotive post-rock with a slight metallic edge, We Might Be Dead, We Might Be Flowers is a must-listen. Don’t miss it!
PUP – The Unraveling Of PUPTHEBAND
Noise-Punk/Indie from Toronto, Canada
It’s no surprise at all that PUP received a nod from none other than Rivers Cuomo following the release of The Unraveling Of PUPTHEBAND. Contained within its 12 tracks (or nine and a half plus a few piano-led interludes more accurately) are some of the most infectiously catchy indie punk anthems since those the Weezer frontman himself wrote in the 90s. Add to this the more cacophonous edge of a band like the Pixies, plus vocalist Stefan Babcock‘s striking mix of self-reflective honesty and self-deprecating humour and you’ve got an infinitely replayable and instantly memorable 36 minutes stuffed full of highlights like “Totally Fine”, “Relentless” and “Waiting”, to name just a few.
Thebes – Ziggurat Beyond the Unseen Shroud
Atmospheric black metal from Canada
Y’all know Wormwitch? Have you ever noticed how every single thing those guys touch seems to be amazing? From 2019’s Boreal Hymn demo to the seven volumes of Seer to the highly anticipated Vital Spirit LP dropping on May 6, there’s nothing but excellent music coming from those Canadians. Thebes, the brand new solo atmoblack project from Wormwitch guitarist Colby Hinn, is no exception. It’s a pretty hefty package for an EP too, clocking in at 27+ minutes over its four tracks. It’ll transport you somewhere far away, painting esoteric dreamscapes through the sort of black metal riffs that brought Vukari’s sound to my mind. Atmospheric as it is, though, don’t think that Ziggurat doesn’t have teeth, because there’s plenty of ferocity to be found both in the guitar tone and Hink’s vocals, and the technical and songwriting mastery you’d expect if you know those other projects I mentioned is ever-present. All that being said, the thing I’m most impressed with is the success of the overall vision of this EP. The scope of track-to-track movement and the way that the spirituality and mystical nature of the subject matter shines right through, and it makes for an addictive listen.
If I Die Today – The Abyss Is Silence
Post hardcore/metalcore from Italy
Doomy metalcore for fans of bands like Conjurer and Botch and the general melodeath side of metalcore. If I Die Today also has no problem dipping into more straight forward hardcore punk styles and even screamo showing a versatile degree of talent however the album shifts. “White Noise (Anger)” is one of the best standalone tracks of the year, it’s very fast and catchy. The breaking screamed vocals paired with gutturals on “Ashes (Negotiation)” is very energetic and satisfying. The Abyss Is Silence is pretty consistent with back to back good tracks with so many nice melodic guitar parts during the more atmospheric sections. The most punk element to the music is the bass which has a tendency to go for that old school brute force pace but bright tone. A must listen new album that hasn’t been heard by many yet, which is surprising given the nature of the production and the competency of the song writing.
Dusk – The Relic
Unsigned/Independent Death Industrial / Atmospheric Black Metal from San Jose, Costa Rica
Costa Rican quartet Dusk self-describe as an “industrial atmospheric black metal” band, and when I first threw on their latest cacophonous opus, The Relic, I expected to hear something roughly in the vein of older Blut Aus Nord, which the band names as a prominent influence. Although Dusk do bear some superficial similarities to their forebears, their sound here is something altogether unique. With its mercilessly pounding mechanical percussion, distortion-drenched screeches, and ice-cold electronics, The Relic really does feel more like a proper death industrial album than any black metal album I’ve ever heard. Distorted guitar chords & arpeggios appear here and there, injecting moody dissonance and haunting melody into the package in equal measure. The vast majority of the material here is noisy, pitch-black, vile, and delectably ugly, but there are moments of faint light throughout. The guitars and synths are particularly melodic on “Relic 2” and “Relic 4,” which both manage to be quite pretty while still maintaining a chilling atmosphere. Make no mistake, though – this is not a record for the faint of heart. Listeners who like their metal fun and catchy should run for the hills; but if you’re one of the TRVE ones and are craving a soundtrack for a foundry in the sixth circle of hell, you’re in for a real treat here.
Gradual Slip – …No Hope to Begin With
Metallic hardcore from Maryland, US
I love it when I come across a band by chance on their release day and it turns out their shit fucks. And when it’s a band like Marylanders Gradual Slip, that channels anti-cop and anti-racist fury into the kind of metallic hardcore that caves your head in, all the better. This EP, their second, blew me away with its potent blend of riffs and rage. You’ll find plenty of mosh-worthy breakdowns and punishing passages designed to get a crowd riled up, plus periodic hints of metalcore guitarwork in the 14+ minutes that make up this effort, and the bass in particular is a muscular good time. The whole thing is damn satisfying, and that’s before you take into account the lyrical content, delivered with the full range of hardcore screams, roars, and gang vocals. These guys aren’t fucking around, and they’re spitting truth at all times. Here’s my two favorite passages: “Exsanguinate the ones that hide behind their blue wall / Not just the force but the whole fucking system” (“Burnt Edges”), “Those with other gods, different hair, darker skin / Deserve respect you fucking hypocrite / Those with other countries on their birth certificates / Are welcome here too / Bitch” (“Peril”).
Pyrithe – Monuments To Impermanence
Basically some of the fastest sludgecore I’ve heard when at it’s best, I love this shit. Fusing elements from black metal and noise into an uneasy ocean of sludge, stoner and post metal, Pyrithe have made something truly captivating here. An intersection of “hell yeah!” Neurosis moments and disorientating nauseous Oxbow moments. A comfortable listen for fans of bands like Infant Island but perhaps an opening to more post hardcore leaning styles for stricter metalheads with this enjoyable showcase of the more moody sophisticated presentation of the genre. At it’s worst it can dawdle in its pacing particularly with beautiful but long songs (for what they are) like “Heaving Roots II” so make sure you are in the headspace where you are willing to let something unfold at various speeds throughout. The synth on “Earthen Anchors” is a real treat that helps reconstruct the atmosphere and the momentum behind it, bringing a Cult Of Luna inspiration to the forefront. A respectable album that I’m sure I will return to more before the years end.
Glasslands – The Deep
Metalcore/post-hardcore from Nashville, TN
Since their inception, Nashville metalcore trio Glasslands have delivered a potent strain of modern metalcore featuring lush, engrossing atmospheres, great use of electronics, and prominent clean vocals. The Deep delivers this same winning formula, but with an even more focused ear for epic melody, and the results are absolutely out of this world. Opening track “Beggar” gives a great taste of what’s to come with its hard-hitting guitar grooves, subdued prechorus, and an explosive chorus in which vocalist Josh Kincheloe belts out some of the highest and most searing toned screams I’ve ever heard. After three more tracks of bouncy riffs and catchy hooks, the band suddenly goes full-on dark electronic with cinematic mid-album stunner “Ghosts.” This is a special moment on the record, and a clear sign to me that this band has a level of depth and daring that outclasses many other superficially similar artists. Remarkably, the album’s second half is perhaps even stronger than its first, featuring the beautiful lead single “Bury My Flame,” the massive “I Can’t Bend,” which boasts one of the best choruses on the album, and the immensely powerful closer “Let Go.” In summary, this record is an absolute banger, and a must-listen if you’re fond of atmospheric modern metalcore. Fans of Thornhill, Spiritbox, Architects, and early 2010s Bring Me the Horizon will definitely find something to love here.
Introtyl – Adfectus
Death metal from Mexico
This is one of those releases that sent me running to their back catalogue to see what I’d been missing. I have no idea how Introtyl wasn’t on my radar before this release, since they put out a strong debut LP back in 2018, but I’m glad they are now because this is absolutely killer death metal. Adfectus is riffy OSDM, the kind of shit that we’re all suckers for, and with damn good songwriting to boot. The tight 30 minutes of this album are chock full of satisfying guitar lines and a downright bruising rhythm section, and vocalist Kary Ramos has a massive presence that can measure up to any of your favorite death metal frontmen. There are big moments that pull you in, too: I dare you to check out the neck-breaking slams in the back half of “Under My Skin” and try to not bang your head. Adfectus will be a getting a ton of play around these parts over the next few months, that’s for sure. These ladies have the goddamn riffs.
Sator – Cleansing Ritual
Sludge/Doom Metal from Genoa, Italy
For a genre that’s barely changed since day one, it’s quite impressive how many bands still manage to make sludge and doom feel genuinely compelling. Italy’s Sator are no exception, and their third full-length album Cleansing Ritual is everything music like this should sound like. Loads of Sabbath worship, all the riffs you could ask for, and a raw and biting edge that’s hammered home especially by bassist/vocalist Valerio‘s feral screams and growls. There is a bit of a murkiness to the production, but never to the detriment of the trio’s monolithic sound, and especially not to guitarist Mauro‘s frenzied psychedelic leads. Every track stretches at least past the eight-minute mark, but the record still moves forward with a steady urgency, pausing only for a few niche film samples between tracks. Definitely stick around for closer “On The Edge” in particular – a 12-minute rager that twists and turns and winds and squeals all over the place before closing with a repeated sample from 1982’s Conan The Barbarian.