She Must Burn – She Must Burn

SMB - Cover Final

After forming in 2014, London-based sextet She Must Burn release their self-titled début EP (Ghost Music). Describing themselves as “entwining crushing brutality and beautiful melody”, it is hard not to be intrigued.

The fusion of screaming vocals and clean vocals is used in most heavy genres nowadays, so in some ways it has lost its original appeal. However, there is definitely something different about She Must Burn: it is obvious from the first full-length track ‘Possessed’ that this is not just another gimmick, but that Joseph Louis Sinclair and Aimy Miller’s vocals contrast perfectly. The innocent-sounding clean vocals fuse together incredibly well with the brutal screaming vocals, creating a dramatic metal sound.

One of the most impressive songs on the EP is ‘Into Light’. The song has a much softer vibe to it than the previous tracks, and it opens with a beautiful piano melody. Aimy’s vocals are almost enchanting, and it is easy to see exactly why She Must Burn have gained so many fans in just a short space of time.

Throughout the EP there are obvious influences from heavy metal, rock, metalcore and even symphonic metal. Each one of the six songs sounds unique, whilst still being able to create a definitive sound for She Must Burn.

 

8.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

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It Lies Within – Paramount

It Lies Within Paramount album cover 2016

It is really easy to dismiss the entire metalcore genre as a whole, and many people often do. However, metalcore is not going anywhere. Its popularity continues to rise each year, even with all of the hate from the metal elitist keyboard warriors. Despite the negativity which seems to constantly surround the genre there are a few bands who manage to make a name for themselves. One of these bands is It Lies Within, who are a Michigan-based quintet. Their second full-length album, Paramount (Luxor), is one of the first new releases of 2016, but the main question is will it still be remembered by next year?

The fusion of electronic dance music and metalcore is a recent phenomenon, with bands such as Asking Alexandria, Eskimo Callboy and Crossfaith all trying to appeal to the masses. It Lies Within are certainly attempting to add their name to the ‘electronicore’ Wikipedia page with their latest release. Their blend of heavy guitar riffs and electronic breakdowns is nothing new, however, Zachary Scott and co. are able to make it sound almost effortless. Although the production of the album generally sounds well-polished, the addition of bass-heavy beats and fragmented riffs adds a certain rough-around-the-edges vibe their sound, which is definitely a positive.

The main thing that separates It Lies Within from its competitors is the ferocious and powerful vocals. Zachary and Kamron’s vocals contrast well: the raspy screaming fused with the melodic choruses creates a well-balanced and exciting metalcore sound.

The techno beats are simplistic; however, they do their job well. The electronic element adds an upbeat twist to a somewhat aggressive genre and it would be interesting to hear exactly how It Lies Within are able to portray that element in their live shows.

If you are looking for something super-duper original then you are not going to find it on Paramount. However, if you are looking for electronic metalcore music which is hard-hitting and relentless, then you are certainly in the right place.

6.0/10

JULIA CONOPO

 
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Novelists – Souvenirs

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Most modern metalcore music comes from the US, which is not surprising as the genre was formed in the States. The UK has also recently upped its metalcore offerings, with the likes of While She Sleeps, Bury Tomorrow and Architects dominating the airwaves. One country that is not particularly well-known for its metalcore scene is France, but Paris-based quintet Novelists are hoping to change this with their debut album Souvenirs (Arising Empires). They have been teasing their ever-growing fanbase with a variety of singles since 2013, but their newest release should satisfy both pre-existing fans and newcomers alike.

In a genre which is infamous for its unoriginality bands need to ensure that the first track resonates with both pre-existing fans and newcomers, and that is exactly what Novelists have achieved with ‘Inanimate’. The haunting piano melody fused with the almost djent-like riffs creates a distinctive yet engaging sound which certainly makes an impact. Although the song itself is only two minutes long it is hard to ignore the powerful technical guitar work, never mind Matt Gelsomino’s harrowing vocals.

The progressive nature of their songs definitely takes their sound to the next level. The ever-changing tempo of each song is anything but unorganised; instead it adds to the excitement as you are unsure of exactly where each track is heading. In a genre full of predictable riff-chorus-riff, it is genuinely exhilarating to hear such a fresh take on metal music as a whole.

Despite the heavy nature of the majority of Souvenirs, Matt and co. are able to show their softer side in the ambient-sounding track ‘5:12AM’. Versatility is a handy trait to possess in the music industry, and it is clear that Novelists are not afraid to try something different.

Novelists have managed to take the best parts from genres across the metal spectrum and fuse them together to create their own signature style: heavy breakdowns, eerie melodies, hardcore-esque vocals, synth beats and technical guitar riffs.

 

7.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

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Twitching Tongues – Disharmony

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It’s not often bands criticize their own work, but Twitching Tongues have admitted themselves that in the beginning their sound was “all over the place”. The Los Angeles-based quintet are back and they are hoping to rectify their previous mistakes with their third full-length album Disharmony (Metal Blade).

The title track begins with an extremely haunting piano melody and completely contrasts with your expectations. Although the song soon descends into heavy metal chaos, their newest material is more sophisticated and proves that Twitching Tongues have worked upon their previous mistakes. Many bands often try to simply be the loudest and heaviest, and although there are many kickass guitar riffs on Disharmony, Colin Young and co. are not afraid to show their softer side with a wide range of melodies and clean vocals.

It is often cliché to say that every song on an album sounds different from the last, but Twitching Tongues have been able to create songs which vary in both tempo and genre. ‘Cannibal’ is a fast-paced thrill-ride full of heavy vocals and extreme drumming, whereas ‘Love Conquers None’ has an extremely melancholy vibe, full of emotional backing vocals and an almost ballad-style sound.

There are many conflicting views on Young’s vocals, and it is not as easy as saying ‘you either love them or you hate them’. Colin’s vocal style is not dissimilar to Robb Flynn’s due to the mixture of half-screams and heavy cleans. His dramatic singing may not be to everyone’s taste, and if you are looking for heavy growls and screaming then you are going to be disappointed, but it is certainly hard to ignore how much passion and energy he puts into his vocal performance.

Although the lyrical content may leave much to be desired, it is hard to completely write off Twitching Tongues’ latest release. The band show many signs of promise and it is clear that their recent signing to Metal Blade and their extensive touring schedule has helped them to develop their sound.

 

5.5/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Into The Fire – Aimy Miller of She Must Burn

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She Must Burn released their impressive self-titled debut EP (Ghost Music) in August, and since then they have certainly taken the UK metalcore scene by storm. Currently on tour with extreme metal band Cradle Of Filth, the London-based quintet are rocking their way into the hearts of music fans all across the metal spectrum.

Releasing your debut EP can be an extremely nerve-wracking experience and it is hard to predict how well it will go down with both fans and critics. Vocalist and keyboardist Aimy Miller has been overwhelmed by the amount of positive responses people have had to their latest release: “The response we’ve received for the EP so far has been mind-blowing. (It) was amazing to see it resonate with people the way it did.”

Creating music which people can truly engage with is always a hard task. When considering why the band have made that connection so early in their career, Aimy believes that their music is accessible as the listeners are able to relate to the lyrical content: “The EP is based on personal experiences of members as individuals: experiences and feelings which almost everyone will be able to relate to at certain points in their life.”

In a world where anyone can simply download a recording program and create an EP it is getting harder than ever to make an impact on the music scene. , yet the video for their latest video ‘Possessed’ has had over 26,000 views, something which She Must Burn were not expecting at all: “The video for Possessed racked up thousands of views in just a few days and we’ve received some stunning reviews along with wonderful comments from fans. (It) was quite unexpected to create such an impact right off the bat.”

Thousands of bands are trying to break into the industry and shatter the mould. Aimy believes that She Must Burn’s sinister yet elegant style makes them stand out amongst the crowd: “We all share a passion for a lot of the powerful, emotional and blackened sounds, but as individuals our tastes and musical backgrounds are so varied that it really adds a unique blend to the process. I suppose we have an outlook not typical in the genre.”

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She Must Burn’s hectic year is nowhere near over yet. Instead of relaxing and enjoying the success of their EP, they are joining two tours: “We have the honour of joining Cradle of Filth on the UK leg of their tour and the following month we have a two week run with Heart of a Coward! We’re excited to be on the road alongside such incredible bands and already looking into plans for next year.”

Touring with some of your idols is something that many bands can only dream of, but She Must Burn have actually managed to make it happen: “Cradle of Filth is another band that have always been a great inspiration to us and so were pretty astounded when we were added to their upcoming tour! They’ve achieved so much and have such an unforgettable theatrical look and sound. It’s what metal is all about.”

It is hard to call She Must Burn anything but hard-working. With such an explosive start to their career many bands would be scared of crashing and burning too quickly, but Aimy believes that their no-nonsense attitude is helping them to stay focussed on their music: “Inspiration for performing really just comes from the passion within. We love what we do and we don’t hold back.”

 

 

WORDS BY JULIA CONOPO

 

Speaking The King’s – Carousel

Speaking The King's - Carousel - Artwork

Speaking The King’s describe themselves as ‘for fans of Of Mice & Men, We Came As Romans & A Day To Remember’. When their own description of themselves purely mentions their similarities to other bands, it is hard for new listeners to expect anything unique from their latest album Carousel (Nuclear Blast). The California-based quartet are certainly one of the least heavy bands on the Nuclear Blast roster and if you are expecting anything ‘brutal’ you definitely have the wrong band.

One of the most surprising things about Speaking The King’s latest release is the addition of an almost pop-punk sound. Although they have been described as a post-hardcore band it is difficult to hear that element in most of the tracks. It is almost impossible to call ‘Shipwrecked’ anything but pop-punk due to its happy-go-lucky guitar riffs and exaggerated nautical lyrics.

There are various points in the album where Speaking The King’s manage to build up the listener’s expectations, just to let them fall back down again. One clear example of this is ‘Caught In The Middle’: the group vocals and fast-paced riffs build up anticipation, only for the so-called breakdown to barely make an impact. The repetitive lyrics are far from catchy, especially the overuse of the phrase ‘oh no’. Oh no, indeed.

Carousel is another one of those ‘in-between’ albums: it is not awful, but at the same time there is nothing truly original about it. There is certainly something lacking about Speaking The King’s new release and it is hard to fully engage with the lyrical content. It is almost as if they released something which they thought would their listeners would want, rather than what they wanted to make. Carousel is an easy album to put on in the background, but it is also easily forgettable.

5.5/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

Derange – The Awakening

Derange

London rock band Derangewhose name has connotations of insanity, irregularity and craziness, state that their main influences are bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Limp Bizkit and Deftones, however, their musical style is similar to Lacuna Coil. This comparison is not just because their lead vocalist is female, it is because Cat Pereira’s are both melodic and haunting. The main difference between Cat and Cristina Scabbia is that Cat not only sings like an angel, she also growls like a demon too; her harsh vocals in particular are extremely powerful.

One of the most interesting tracks on their self-released debut album, The Awakening (self-released) is ‘The Thinker’, which has an almost Jekyll and Hyde feel to it. The melodic parts of the song are almost relaxing, whereas the heavier parts of the song are extremely powerful and aggressive. While not an unusual tactic, many bands often try to juxtapose different elements into their sound, however, Derange have managed to do this successfully.

‘Echo’ is a ferocious track full of technical guitar riffs and fast-paced drum beats. It is hard to describe ‘Echo’ as anything other than energetic and it would be interesting to see how this song would work live. If there is one Derange song that you need to listen to on repeat it is definitely this one.

It is obvious that Derange have spent a lot of time trying to create an album which showcases the diversity of Cat’s vocals, and it has definitely paid off. Their melodic yet aggressive musical style is nothing new, but Derange have put their heart and soul into an impressive debut album.

 

7.0/10

JULIA CONOPO

Trivium – Silence In The Snow

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There aren’t many bands to achieve the success levels that Trivium have that have to subsequently prove themselves over with each album. While the shadow of the decade old Ascendancy (Roadrunner) continues to loom over their career, that familiar feeling of deja-vu pervades as the Floridians unveil their seventh album, Silence In The Snow (also Roadrunner), once again to a backdrop of doubters and people gleefully awaiting a failure to show their mettle.

There is often negativity and scepticism attached to bands changing their style, but Trivium’s new music sounds more sophisticated and almost effortless. The introductory track ‘Snofall’, delicately crafted by Ihsahn to reflect the melodies of the upcoming title track, is dark and haunting; intriguing the listener, yet not giving away exactly what direction Trivium are going to take with their new sound, and the beautiful melodies are able to reinforce the themes of loneliness and of course… snow. The snow theme seems to have put off a lot of people, as if snow is only related to Frozen or Christmas. Although it may make a good Christmas present, this album is anything but tacky…

Title track ‘Silence In The Snow’ had its live debut earlier this year on the bands’ summer shows and since then it has been frequently gracing the airwaves and segues from the introduction before duplicating the same chaos as ‘In Waves’ with its melodic stomp. ‘Blind Leading The Blind’ is one of the strongest songs on the album and the guitar work is extremely effective: the simplistic riffs contrast well with the technical guitar solos.

‘Until The World Goes Cold’ opens with a haunting guitar riff, and progresses into a slow yet bass-heavy song. There are no fast-paced or shredding guitars, as the track shows Trivium’s softer side. Matt Heafy’s clean vocals are stronger than ever, and there is more of a focus on the lyrical content, with the heavy vocals of previous albums left by the wayside; exploring themes of legacy and fading away in ‘Dead And Gone’, singing “I feel I will die a forgotten man, just a number.”

Trivium have been criticised in the past for trying too hard to create music that they think everyone will like, however, Silence In The Snow should change perceptions and sets up a future direction. With less of a focus on trying to be the heaviest, it is much easier to enjoy their sound for what it really is: decent metal music which does not need harsh vocals.

Heafy’s improved vocals are the focus throughout, a path which is a continuation of the route travelled on Vengeance Falls (Roadrunner), so if you are looking for an extremely heavy album then you will be disappointed. Allow yourself to enjoy the increased emphasis on song-writing and melodic refrains, however, and Silence In The Snow will resonate with you. 

 

7.5/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

New Years Day – Malevolence

New Years Day Malevolence

Describing themselves as ‘Hauntedmansioncore’, it is hard to call New Years Day anything other than unique. Their gothic style has won them masses of fans from across the world and their third album Malevolence (Another Century) will be released in early October.

Opening track ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ is quite simply a catchy rock song, full of distorted guitars and angry lyrics. Ash Costello’s clean vocals are extremely powerful, demanding the full attention of the listener. Although from a first glance their music and image may just seem to appeal to teenagers there is much more to New Years Day than meets the eye, and their music is sophisticated enough for even the older generation to enjoy.

‘Relentless’ features lyrics which prove that Ash and co. will not be brought down by rumours and drama with other bands: “They are fixated on bringing down my name, the grudges that you hold have no effect on me.” This song is almost empowering and proves that New Years Day are definitely here to stay.

One song which is sure to appeal to the younger generation is ‘Anthem Of The Unwanted’. The group vocals are catchy and almost impossible not to sing along to. There is also an unmissable vibe of teenage rebellion and anarchy incorporated into this song, and it would probably be extremely easy for Ash to influence a new wave of youngsters into the gothic/horror scene.

Title-track ‘Malevolence’ sounds as though it was taken from an upcoming horror movie due to the haunting riffs and Ash’s dominant clean vocals. Their macabre yet upbeat music is unlike anything you will have ever heard.

Malevolence is New Years Day’s most sophisticated and impressive album yet. It is clear to see that the California-based group are still able to write powerful and almost addictive rock anthems which will appeal to fans both young and old.

7.5/10

 

JULIA CONOPO

 

One Machine – The Final Cull

One Machine The Final Cull album cover 2015

It’s no secret that metal music seems to be getting tamer recently, especially due to the influx of metalcore bands dominating the scene. However, there is no need to lose hope yet. If you are craving a dose of proper metal then you definitely need to check out what One Machine have been up to. Their latest album, The Final Cull (self-release), serves as testament (no pun intended) that traditional metal music will never die.

Opening track ‘Forewarning’ opens with a killer guitar riff: it is almost as if Steve Smyth (Nevermore, Forbidden, Dragonlord, Vicious Rumors) and co. are warning the listener that there will be no gimmicks or frills used on The Final Cull, just pure metal music. Chris Hawkins’ vocals are as powerful as ever, allowing the listener to fully engage with the lyrical content.

Title track ‘The Final Cull’ is about the captain of a ship on the stormy seas carrying human cargo, and he is unsure of whether the humans are alive or dead. The morbid theme of the song is not only apparent from the lyrics, but it is also emphasised by the gloomy orchestral opening of the song. This progresses into a heavy and unforgettable song which will send shivers down your spine.

‘New Motive Power’ is a four-minute thrill-ride of a song. The shredding guitar riffs make it almost impossible to sit still through and it will be interesting to see how this song would sound live. It is powerful, passionate and heavy: everything that metal music should be.

Ashes In The Sky’ begins as a beautiful and melodic song, completely different to all of the other songs on The Final Cull. Chris’ voice is soothing and relaxing, which could easily make you think that you are listening to the wrong album. However, around the two and a half minute mark the song progresses into a heavier dimension with chugging guitar riffs.

Both old and new fans will find something to love about this incredible offering from One Machine. It is hard to be disappointed with an album which will make you want to either smash things up or drive full-speed down the motorway.

7.5/10

 

JULIA CONOPO