Check out the video for "The Fractured One" from Black Crown Initiate below.
Band: Reason to Care
Melodic hardcore can be an amazing genre to experience. The anger, angst, yearning, and all those other strong emotions are so often worn on the sleeves of the bands in this genre--just give a listen to Verse or Modern Life Is War and tell me they don't have something going on deep inside. Reason to Care come to us from Germany and fit in alongside those aforementioned bands, playing a mid-tempo melodic hardcore style that has a ton of heart. It's this earnestness and sheer effort that helps the band overcome some vocal missteps (at times they come across a bit too strained) and the occasional blandness. They're giving it their all, and that's a hell of an endearing trait in a hardcore band.
We're going to start a new Friday tradition over at Decoy Music: highlighting an under-the-radar band on everyone's favorite day of the week.
Nothing's more under the radar than a band you've just heard of who is releasing its 11th (!) album. Norwegian group Årabot is definitely an interesting breed. There's absolutely a love of The Melvins- or Unsane-style of noise rock, but there's also a decidedly evil twist to the sound. It seems like Årabot is well-versed in its homeland's black metal roots. I Modi is named for the famous Italian book that was allegedly destroyed by the Catholic Church (because sex is ewww). So, Årabot decided to record an album about Renaissance porn in an abandoned Church because why not, right? This all adds up to an album that just sounds massive. Plus, just look at that album cover.
However, that doesn't tell the whole story. The first two tracks have a swampy, sludgy sound with an oddball touch. "Annul" features an almost sermon-like introduction that ends with a holy choir climax. "Protomartyr Thekla" has a deranged circus undercurrent that's fairly terrifying. So, yes, Årabot absolutely brings the riffs, but it also brings the weird in heavy doses. There's nothing wrong with that.
Album: World of Hate
Widower may call themselves melodic hardcore, but don't let that fool you into thinking they're soft in any way. With most songs on this EP coming in under 3 minutes, each one is rocketship paced, gritty, distorted, and in your face. And if you think the vocals are the part that's "melodic" about the band, think again. They're searing and yelled out with authority. It's probably not even close to a good way to describe these guys, but it feels like somehow Sick of It All and Modern Life Is War punched each other out and left Widower in the aftermath.
"Feels Like Forever" comes from Of Mice & Men's 2014 album, Restoring Force.
Band: Adrian van den Broëck
Album: Alchemist Hans Blomberg
This is one weird-ass album. It's half spoken word story and half progressive metal album. You'll find yourself alternating between bits of the story of Hans Blomberg's search for the fountain of youth (in space, of course) and some very Devin Townsend inspired, djent leaning, progressive metal. There will no doubt be many comparisons to Ziltoid, The Omniscient (and they're valid comparisons), but there's more of a distinct separation between the 6 story tracks and the 6 songs on this album. The story... it was interesting enough for a single listen. The songs, though, are what will keep you coming back. When played together without the story interludes, these tracks make for a really tight EP of out-there djent & metal. Definitely unique, Adrian van den Broëck shows a lot of promise for future endeavors.
Band: Verse Vica
There are really few surprises left in progressive metal anymore. A band is going to sound quite similar to its heroes (especially in its infancy), so it's usually a matter of sticking close to favored paths. North Carolina-bred prog metal band Verse Vica clearly didn't fall far from the Between the Buried and Me tree. Hell, Jamie King's typically masterful production work is very present on Endeavor. However, this young band showcases a surprising appreciation for breaking the mold. Most obviously, the band employs a heavy (in breadth) emphasis on post-rock cinematic soundscapes. This allows what could otherwise have been throwaway tracks ("Marumari" and "Koholint") to carry an impressive impact, while the influence weaves its way into other tracks as well. Also, Verse Vica prefers to scale the summit more than most, so the heavier moments have more heft. While initial listens belied the obvious influences (including The Contortionist), Verse Vica's charm shows through after multiple listens. There is supreme talent here, even if the apple hasn't fallen that far from the tree just yet.
Album: The First Harbinger
It seems like djent has become a sub-divided sub-genre of progressive metal (yeah, I'm really doing some deep genre diving) over the last few years. Either a band is focused on bringing heaviness to the genre (a la Vildhjarta) or they want to make the genre thoughtful and clean (a la TesseracT). There is rarely a meeting in the middle. However, Deadfall have tried their hardest to bridge the gap. They are able to play some ridiculously heavy riffs with throat searing vocals yelled over the top, but they can also be mellow, introspective, and controlled. Adding to that, the switch to soaring clean vocals in these times makes for an almost completely different band. It's quite the testament to them that they can keep one foot in each sub-genre and pull it all off in stellar fashion.
Band: Ghosts of Glaciers
Nearly 45 minutes of music, but only 3 tracks long? Hmmm... it's got to be either post-rock, doom, or progressive metal (or some combo of the three) right? Well, I was almost right. Ghosts of Glaciers are definitely as epic as any band in those genres, but they come to us from the post-metal realm (which is a subset of post-rock, if you ask me). Basically, if you've been a fan of classic Pelican or Russian Circles, you'll want to get all over this. Ghosts of Glaciers display all the skills necessary to succeed in this genre. When they want to crush you with powerful riffs, they do. When they want to give you a breather, they do it expertly. When they transition, it doesn't sound forced in the least. And in comparison to the more recent releases from either of the aforementioned bands... Ghosts of Glaciers has them beat, easily.