Band: Afraid of Heights
I'm sure people will want to dismiss this album outright as soon as I mention that Afraid of Heights play a very trendy sounding version of metalcore, complete with clean/growl vocals, breakdowns, clean production, and somewhat simplistic song structures. Even with all of that against them, this is a very listenable album. It reminds me a bit of a combination of The Air I Breathe and Blessthefall (the modern incarnation, not the awful early albums) in that you get the heavy as hell moments along with the post-hardcore "softer" passages. Heck, you can even hear a bit of mid-career A Day to Remember here and there. If you haven't given up on the genre, give this album a shot. It's worth a few listens, at the least.
Death metal group Wretched has released the first song from its upcoming fourth full-length. Cannibal will be released on June 10th via Victory Records. You can stream "Morsel" at this location. Pre-orders are available now.
Fans of thrash-inspired technical deathcore (it's not all that common, but you get the idea in theory) should eat this song up. "Morsel" reminds me a bit of one of my favorite death metal bands, Woe of Tyrants, so hopefully this is a sign of good things from the album.
Want to see a performance by Rage Against the Machine a year before they dropped their self-titled debut? Then check out the video below.
Band: I Built the Sky
Is it possible to call a progressive metal band playful? If so, then I Built the Sky are the most playful djent band I've heard in ages. From the laser beam flourishes of "Undulatus" to the upbeat, winky post-rock tint of "Fibratus", there's a ton of fun in I Built the Sky's form of instrumental metal. Don't mistake this album as a joke or throwaway release--it's almost completely, legitimately awesome; it's just also brimming over with a sense of fun, which seems to be so sorely lacking in the djent realm today.
Instrumental-rock outfit Comrades have made their new album Safekeeper available to stream over at Blood & Ink's bandcamp.
With all of the ways that bands can mask their imperfections today or use studio magic to make everything come together oh so perfectly, it's a rare surprise to find a band such as Herskin who recorded their album together in a live session. You'd never probably notice this unless told since the band members feel so in tune with each other. I was also surprised by the various moods that were conveyed throughout the course of this effort's 45 minutes. You have your standard post-rock format for a few songs, but Herskin aren't shy about getting really melancholic, but then can turn on a dime and have surging, hopeful crescendos that counterpoint the dark valleys previously traversed. Also, and this is just a personal note, I love the addition of the piano into the mix. I've always wondered why more post-rock bands don't employ the use of a piano... *shrug* In this case, thankfully, it's a subtle addition that adds more to the songs than you may initial think.
Steve Albini recently talked to Quartz about the current state of the music industry, updating some of his thoughts on his famous "problem with music". He interestingly isn't too down on streaming radio and seems much more upbeat on the current state of things than he has in the past.
So what does everyone think of the new clean vocal style (even though it's pretty under-utilized on this song)?
If given the option of choosing whether or not my djent has vocals, I often choose to go vocal-less. I find myself listening to the instrumental version of Altered State nearly as much (if not more) than the version that has fake-Dan Tompkins... err, Ashe O'Hara, singing. I'm sure that if you share the same mindset as me, you'll fawn all over Curve. I don't want to focus too much on the TesseracT similarities, but they're so noticeable that I have to talk about them. From the atmospherics to the methodical progressions to the devastating heavy moments... it's unavoidable. But when you look beyond that, you'll find a band that has an astute mastery over how to create modern djent that doesn't get too self-indulgent (*cough*Animals as Leaders*cough*) or too bro-y (*cough*Structures*cough*).
So Much Light, solo project of The Speed of Sound in Seawater's Damien Verrett, has released a bizarre music video for "Stomping Ground" off his upcoming EP Summoner. Check the video below, and preorder the EP over at yon Bandecamp.
Post-hardcorers Here Lies the Hero have debuted "Hold Fast" from their upcoming EP Adrift. You can listen below.
Band: The Return South
Album: The Return South
It's not often that a release manages to surprise me, but The Return South definitely did. You often see progressive metal or rock bands saying that they integrate other disparate genres like jazz or funk or soul or what have you into their music, and it's never really the case. With The Return South, however, it IS the case. They have bolted on funky grooves, Clutch-esque riffs, mathy progressions, 80s styled keys, and more to their particularly intriguing form of progressive rock. I really don't know how to classify this album other than to say it'll keep you entertained for a solid 30+ minutes.
Head over to Piss Poor's bandcamp to listen to their new single "Enslaved."
Head over to Headbang n Buttonmash to hear the thrashy City of Ifa b-sides "Jack Pelicanakis" parts 1 and 2. Definitely closer in spirit to the more aggressive math rock of yore.
Remember that time I wrote a negative review for Comrades' Collection: 2010-2011 as a one-act play, and while the band took it well, some fans called it straight libel? That was the genesis of Russian Circles disease. Good times. Well the band is dropping a new full-length Safekeeper on May 6 via Blood & Ink Records, and you can sample a track over at Brooklyn Vegan. While I don't agree with the article's author that just adding vocals to this would make it sound like The Fall of Troy, I think "Severance" is a huge step up, and I can get down with this as something As Cities Burn or Thrice would put out.
After a small string of teaser videos, post-hardcore group Emarosa has released the debut single from its upcoming album, Versus. You can stream "Mad" below.
Band: Lucent & Say I Am
Album: Penguin for the Sake of Penguin
Today we've got a charming split full-length featuring two one-man bands from Columbus, Ohio. Lucent's side of the split straddles both sides of Tera Melos' discography, combining the discordant mathy experimentation of their early work with the more chilled out indie of X'ed Out. Say I Am, on the other hand, sound a lot like what I imagine alternate universe math-rock Dead Letter Circus would be. And of course, more gorgeous artwork courtesy of Yvette Young.
Hop over to Rosetta's website for the details on their new EP Flies to Flame. The post-metal outfit from Philadelphia promises lots of grit, experimentation and improvisation, as the four EP songs were recorded in a garage with different instruments during the writing of The Anaesthete.
Those hungry for new Emarosa material with their promising new vocalist must look no further than the new video they've shared. His voice sounds huge.
The DC-area progressive metal band Wings Denied has released details on its debut full-length album. Mirrors for a Prince will be self-released on May 13th. You can pre-order the album digitally or physically (just don't get too physical...), and the album teaser can be streamed in the comments. You can stream the previously released single "In Search of Sunrise" at this location.
Unlike most progressive metal bands that are discovered on Bandcamp, Wings Denied doesn't really fit that well into typical tropes. The music will certainly appeal to fans of "djent" bands like Intervals or TesseracT, but it has a lot in common with Mandroid Echostar or the heavier moments of Coheed and Cambria. We'll see what the full album is like in a few weeks.
Australian metalcore troupe In Hearts Wake has released the second single from its upcoming sophomore record, Earthwalker. You can stream "Sacred" at this location. The album is due for release on May 5th via UNFD.
The song continues the environmental themes from the past single, "Divine" (stream here), which is more than a tad fitting to celebrate Earth Day. Also of note, "Sacred" is more hard-hitting, lyrically and musically. Here's hoping these two tracks are a good sign for the album to come.
Band: Arms of Empire
Remember when August Burns Red were just starting out... they were so raw and rough around the edges, but you could hear that they could really come together in time. I get that same vibe from Arms of Empire, not just because some of the songs have the feel of early ABR, but because the album is a bit unfocused, yet filled with energy. They've got the ABR-ish riffing down, but they also throw in some pretty well done cleans that soar when called upon, sounding akin to something that would come from Garrett Rapp's or Johnny Craig's pipes. There are a few moments where there is some obvious straining, but given time I think the range will come. This is a band that is on the cusp of breaking into the metalcore mainstream; they just need a bit more time, focus, and some chipping away of the rough edges.
Check out "Kings of John Payne" from Close Your Eyes below. It's from their album Line in the Sand.
The members of As I Lay Dying that didn't plead guilty for attempted murder, have created a new band with Shane Blay (of Oh, Sleeper). Wovenwar has signed with Metal Blade Records and will release its debut record some time this Summer. For now, you can stream "All Rise" at this location.
To no one's surprise at all, the song is stupidly catchy and reminiscent of past As I Lay Dying. Shane's vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to mid-career Dustin Kensrue (of Thrice). Let us know your thoughts in the comments.