Architects – Holy Hell

It’s that gap between hope and expectation that we often fall through. Let’s be honest, your hope levels for Architects’ new album Holy Hell (Epitaph) might be stratospheric, but your expectations…? Given what this band has been through in terms of loss, sorrow and anguish, you could easily have fallen into that space of hoping for the best but guarding your expectations. It might be enough just that they simply deliver us something, anything, yes? Continue reading

Napoleon – Epiphany

Napoleon has been making their mark in the heavy progressive music scene since 2012. In 2016 they released an anticipated debut Newborn Mind that release led to headlining tours with Counterparts and August Burns Red. The trio did not take any time off and are back with their sophomore album Epiphany (Basick Records). The album has a lot to offer—impressive techniques and profound delivery to a sound that is recognizable by the Napoleon name.   Continue reading

Beyond Grace – Seekers

 

Melodic death metal is a very tricky style to get spot on, with a balance that needs to be struck between heaviness and an ear for a tune; a balance that all too often is lop-sided. It’s an understanding that Nottingham based death metallers Beyond Grace have, in a short life-span, have already recognised and mastered and thus, as evidenced on latest album Seekers (Self-released), have proven themselves as one of British metal’s best kept secrets and exciting prospects. Continue reading

Heart Of A Coward – Deliverance

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Now then. Every once in a while, you find an album where the first track gives you a stupid shit-eating grin because you just know the whole album’s going to kick your ass. Deliverance (Century Media) by Heart Of A Coward is one of those. Writing this review is a bit like trying to make conversation with a devastatingly attractive woman – all I could initially think of to write about each song was “Fucking Brilliant”.

The greatest thing about the djent “genre” is the huge diversity of influences and styles across the different bands. The potential for originality and excellence in such fertile ground is vast – the scene is a passionate community, has already bred a wide cadre of noteworthy bands and boasts its own labels, producers, websites and festivals.

Heart of a Coward are a fairly recent band on the scene, having formed in 2009, and, with the likes of Periphery and Animals as Leaders, are among the second generation of djent acts delivering on the rich promise of the genre. Taking the djent tropes as a given, there’s a plethora of high-grade influences evident in the mix – from Fear Factory crunch to Strapping Young Lad noisescapes through Lamb of God grooves and Killswitch Engage energy with Deftones breaks and Soilwork shout-a-longs. The real achievement of all this, however, is the fact that it’s realised without sounding fragmented or derivative. The different elements all coalesce into a cohesive sound that’s original, distinctive and incredibly full-on.

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This is the Milton Keynes noisemongers’ third album, and it’s an absolute pearler. It’s different in tone to their last outing – Severance (Century Media) – darker, fewer atmospherics, more aggressive and only a dash of clean vocals. This one’s less about the story and drama and more straight-ahead moshbait pitched perfectly to destroy any venue that dares to have them on the bill. We start with ‘Hollow’, which has you wishing for a mosh pit before the first bar is done; a blistering statement of intent that leaves you with absolutely no doubt as to what’s to come, ‘Miscreation’ is up next, and is basically one long beatdown interspersed with soaring screamalong vocals. ‘Turmoil I – Wolves’ is a masterpiece of metalcore chug with shades of Killswitch, following into ‘Turmoil II – The Weak Inherit The Earth’ which sounds like early Chimaira injected with a heavy dose of groove.

‘Anti-Life’ and ‘Grain of Sand’ are triumphs of production, successfully replicating Devin Townsend‘s “Wall of Sound” to crushing effect. Absolutely superb before ‘Mouth Of Madness’ slows things down a touch with a Slipknot-esque opening and a chorus that features the first appearance of clean vocals on the album. ‘Deliverance’ is the most outwardly djent entry on the line-up and the song that most closely resembles their prior work. It would be wrong to call ‘Skeletal I – Mourning Repairs’ a slow song, but it’s an immersive, soulful number that’s up there with Filter or Porcupine Tree for heavy shoegazing. ‘Skeletal II – Arise’ follows straight on as an extended outtro and a melancholy end to the album.

In summary, Deliverance is a stunning piece of work that can only be criticised for coming to an end.

More of this please lads.

 

9.5/10

 

PHILIP PAGE

 

A Forest of Stars – Beware The Sword You Cannot See

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Given Britain’s tendency to produce eccentrics, the emergence of Leeds troupe A Forest of Stars in 2007 may have caused a few heads to turn, but their glorious weirdness, even in a scene as narrow and regimented as black metal, has always worked to their advantage. Existing in their own interpretation of Victorian England where decadence, occult magick and narcotic experimentation reigned supreme, the septet’s three previous albums were all well received, with plaudits given for their enthralling storytelling and atmosphere as well as explorations into psychedelic territory and pastoral folk amid the crushing black metal dynamics. Further accolades look set to follow, for fourth effort Beware the Sword You Cannot See (Lupus Lounge/Prophecy) is an unabashed masterpiece.

With a concept heavily focused on death and rebirth, this is the album that shows A Forest of Stars transcending the rigid parameters of their earthly shackles and soaring off into the unknown with aplomb. The thunderous tremolo picking and double-bass assault evident on tracks such as ‘A Blaze of Hammers’ leaves the listener in no doubt that the band aren’t going to do an Opeth on us, but it’s the surging progressive flourishes and sense of ambition that makes this such a special listening experience, as demonstrated by the ascending chords and lush female vocals courtesy of violinist Kathryne Queen of the Ghosts on the magnificent album opener ‘Drawing Down the Rain.’ Speaking of ambition, the six part odyssey that is ‘Pawn on the Universal Chessboard’ which comprises the latter half of the album is mind-boggling in scope, ranging from spacy Tangerine Dream style synths on ‘Mindslide’, masterful dark prog on ‘Have You Got a Light, Boy?’ to pummelling black metal orthodoxy on ‘Lowly Worm.’

Special mention must go to vocalist Mr Curse for a truly astonishing performance where he shrieks, yelps and dips heavily into theatrical spoken word delivery to tell the story of the album, producing some fantastic lyrics (“Fuck you and the worms you rode in on!”) and acting as demonic ringleader to this spectacular carnival of unearthly delights. It may be too early to call A Forest of Stars the British answer to Enslaved but if they keep on producing records as excellent as this then their status will be in no doubt.

Early contender for one of the albums of the year.

 

9.0/10

 

JAMES CONWAY

Winterfylleth, The King Is Blind confirm March London show

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Hot on the back of their 8.5/10 rated album The Divination of Antiquity (Candlelight), leading British Black Metal act Winterfylleth have announced a one-off show at The Black Heart, Camden, London on Wednesday March 11.

The show, coming shortly after the ‘fylleth supported Primordial to some acclaim on the Irish bands recent tour, will be the Mancunians first headline show since the departure of guitarist Mark Wood. 

Support comes from rising UK Death/doomsters The King Is Blind, who released their debut EP The Deficiencies of Man (Mordgrimm) last summer and hit the studio later in the year with Scott Atkins (BehemothSylosis) to record their debut album.

Both bands play Hammerfest on March 13.

Sylosis – Dormant Heart

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For me, Sylosis have always made more sense as a live band. Their swirling combo of brutal riffs, intricate solos and breakdowns made perfect sense in the midst of a mosh pit, but on record that intensity is lost, and most of their records end up being enjoyable but lacking the killer spark.

But on their new album, Dormant Heart (Nuclear Blast), the band have finally added the missing element to their sound: killer songwriting. The usual mix of thrash, and melodic death metal with progressive elements have all been retained, but what sets this apart from prior releases is the ambition. The songs are better, the already impressive solos are tighter and the vocals more thought-out.

Where previous albums were pretty much all played at breakneck speed, the band bring down the tempo for much of the album. The likes of opener ‘Where the Wolves Come to Die’, ‘To Build a Tomb’ and second single ‘Leech’ are all slow, deliberate crushers and throughout Dormant Heart, you can hear the band moving on from pure aggression and adding a heavy, almost gloomy atmosphere.

There are still plenty of all-out thrashers though – the likes of ‘Victims and Pawns,’ ‘Indoctrinated’ and ‘Callous Souls’ would have been stand out tracks on any of the previous albums, but the record has far more variety in tempo and style than what’s come before. And of course the solos are breath-taking, it’s always been a strength, but here everything been taken up a notch. Every song features moments of fret-busting brilliance, and it’s hard to pick a standout moment.

As well as stellar music, this is frontman/guitarist Josh Middleton’s best vocal performance by far; the usual deathly growls are present, but he also pushes into clean singing at various points, showing off a side of Sylosis not heard since 2008’s Conclusion of an Age (also Nuclear Blast). On lead single ‘Mercy’ he combines the shred and scream template with a darker melody for the chorus.

The nine-minute closing track ‘Quiescent’ opens with a clean vocals and acoustic guitar, and is so at odds with what you expect from the band that it’s almost enough to question whether you’re still listening to the same band. From there it builds to a heavy and haunting finale.

Since their inception, Sylosis have been one of the brightest hopes for UK metal – few band can combine the fury and hook-laden riffs in the way these Reading boys can.  But previous efforts often felt like a collection of awesome riffs and solos with no cohesion. With Dormant Heart, they’re finally starting to cash in on all that potential.

 

8.0/10

Sylosis on Facebook

 

DAN SWINHOE

Sylosis Announce New Album, Dormant Heart

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UK Technical thrashers Sylosis have announced their new album, Dormant Heart, coming soon from Nuclear Blast Records. Although the band has had some bad luck, such as their tour van crash last month in Canada that forced them to drop off the Trivium, Devildriver, After The Burial Tour, things are looking up for the upcoming fourth full-length release of their career. Still, the band is one of the leading lights of the current UK metal scene, amidst a sea of death, doom and black metal bands populating the map. They have proved to be a standout act live as well.

From The Press Release:

Dormant Heart will be the title of the fourth studio album by the U.K.’s modern thrashers Sylosis. Despite the title, it’s not a peaceful album: It’s about a powerful force unleashing anger against everyday injustice and a sleeping society that lets these things wash over them.

“It’s the most pissed-off, aggressive and intense album we’ve done, yet it still retains the epic, progressive and melodic side we’re also known for,” reveals Sylosis frontman Josh Middleton. “It’s a very gloomy and atmospheric album. We’ve been through a lot as a band and individuals and we’ve made our darkest album to date.

“The title refers to people going through life on autopilot and being one of the herd, how a lot of people simply accept the way things are just because it’s ‘tradition’ as opposed to taking a good look at the world around you and thinking for yourself. Sometimes there are catalysts that happen and change our perspective or consciousness.”

The album was produced by Middleton with the help of engineer Scott Atkins and is mastered by TesseracT guitarist Acle Kahney.It was great doing some of the recording with Scott again,” Middleton shares about the band’s studio time. “We’ve got a good working relationship and he’s really dedicated to what he does. We like to strive for a very earthy and organic sound. It adds to the human element and brings out the intensity and vibe in the music.”

Sylosis began tracking the new album back in March 2014, working away secretly alongside touring commitments. Drum tracks were recorded in May at Monkey Puzzle Studios by original drummer Rob Callard, who parted ways with the band last month due to time restraints. After filling in for some live shows during Sylosis’ Spring 2014 tour, Bleed From Within’s drummer Ali Richardson is now a permanent member of the band.

Watch the official “Fear The World” video from 2012’s Monolith album on the Nuclear Blast YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tocEwt4HHOg

Sylosis are:

· Josh Middleton – Vocals & Guitars

· Alex Bailey – Guitars

· Carl Parnell – Bass

· Ali Richardson – Drums


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