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Top 10 2016 by Yannick

It’s that time of the year again, where people recap everything and in the case of 2016, I think we can all agree that it’s been one of the shittiest ones in recent memory. Countless deaths of famous people, a plethora of social and ethical injustices and numerous acts of terrorism that shook the world. But at least 2016 has granted music lovers like myself a wide array of safe places to disappear to, which is why I’ve decided to make sure to share my top 10 with you in order to maybe get you away from the shitfest that has been 2016.

#10 Serpentine Dominion – Serpentine Dominion
Serpentine Dominion - Serpentine Dominion
Let’s start this off with a little nugget that surprised me toward the end of the year: Serpentine Dominion is a side-project with Killswitch Engage‘s Adam D on guitar, Cannibal Corpse‘s George Fisher on vocals and ex-The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Shannon Lucas on drums. It’s a really interesting take on classical death metal with a somewhat modern feel to it. So much fun to listen to!

#9 Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
Childish Gambino - Awaken My Love
Gambino is without a doubt my favorite rapper, and I spent hours on end listening to Because The Internet. When it was announced that his next record would be drastically different I was both worried and excited to hear what he had come up with. At first I felt that he had strayed too far from the path with this funk-groove-soul sauce that is AML, but it turns out that the record is quite the grower!

#8 The Majestic Unicorns From Hell – A Matter Of Less In More (review)
The Majestic Unicorns From Hell - A Matter Of Less In More
Since 2015 didn’t have a local spot, I figured I’d honor my favorite instruMENTALists, The Majestic Unicorns From Hell, with a spot on my list. Not out of courtesy or pity, but simply because their latest release rocked the socks of me every time I listened to it. Feel free to read my review for more infos.

#7 Emarosa – 131
Emarosa - 131
I’m a huge Jonny Craig fan, and have ended up seeing him twice this year, so naturally I love the two records he did with Emarosa. Which is why the first record with the new singer in 2014 was so-so for me, but with 131 the band has proven that they’re far from being dead!

#6 Every Time I Die – Low Teens
Every Time I Die - Low Teens
Does this band need a reason for being in this list? I sure hope not. ETID continuously improves and delivers ferocious quality time and time again. Low Teens is no exception and could even be considered the band’s strongest record. Listen to it!

#5 Artifex Pereo – Passengers
Artifex Pereo - Passengers
A band that I checked out a couple of yours ago, enjoyed, but quickly forgot about, Artifex Pereo caught my attention again this year with the release of their second full-length. The record is pure genius in terms of pretty much everything there is when it comes to complex post-hardcore.

#4 A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations
A Day To Remember - Bad Vibrations
Can’t have a new ADTR record and not include it in my top 10. While some people didn’t enjoy this one very much, in my humble opinion Bad Vibrations is the band’s most solid record, with barely any weak songs. Without a doubt it includes the catchiest song of their career in the form of Justified.

#3 The Fall Of Troy – OK
The Fall Of Troy - OK
Aside from the reunion gigs of At The Drive-In, the release of a new The Fall Of Troy album and a subsequent world tour (where I got to see them absolutely kill it!) was probably the biggest musical surprise of the year for me! OK is a record that I’ve listened to way too often and still enjoy every bit as much as the first time.

#2 Hail The Sun – Culture Scars
Issues – Headspace
Pierce The Veil – Misadventures
Sianvar – Stay Lost
Top 5 2016 - Top 2
What is this? A four-way tie and it’s not for the first place?! Well, what can I say? This year simply had a clear winner for me, but more on that in just a second. These four records have been on heavy repeat when they were released and should be checked out by everyone. Ironically, both Hail The Sun and Sianvar feature the same singer and are (or were) Blue Swan Records bands, while Pierce The Veil has managed to build on the success of its previous record (not quite surpassing it though) and Issues simply putting their debut record to shame with their newest masterpiece.

#1 Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership
Dance Gavin Dance - Mothership
There is nothing as clear as the fact that 2016 has been the year of Dance Gavin Dance for me. First the release of their live record Tree City Sessions, which blew me away; then the release of the milestone Mothership, and last but definitely not least: getting to see them live! I’m still baffled how a band can manage to release such a strong record barely a year after a nearly perfect record, but the guys did it and deserve to be heard by more people, so get on it!

Despite 2016 was a truly lazy year on my behalf, with only eleven reviews written, I’ve decided to continue El Gore, with my focus remaining on the local metal and rock releases. 2017 can come!

Decipher – Intuition

Decipher - Intuition

Despite no longer writing as often as I used to, I always try to stay up-to-date when it comes to the local music scene, but I have to admit that the mere existence of today’s band completely eluded me until they contacted me to do some minor videowork for them. Fast forward several months and the release of Decipher‘s debut album, Intuition, is only a couple of days away, which is why I figured I’d end the year with one last pre-release review!

The young quintet has chosen technical death metal to be their playing field and have taken the time since their inception to refine their sound by adding various elements and fine-tuning it to create an interesting take on the genre. While the addition of djenty riffs and atmospheric parts is not an entirely new approach, I feel like the guys are pulling it off without sounding like a re-hash of every other band you’ve heard before.

This is, in my opinion, largely due to the simply remarkable level of musicianship that each member brings to the table. The harmonic interplay between the spot-on drumming and the tight bass lines makes for a solid foundation on which the two guitars battle in tandem of who can play the most intricate riff or the craziest solo. While there is also a healthy dose of chugging, it never feels overly mind-numbing and merely gives you a short breathing pause.

The vocals are the one aspect where I’m not one hundred convinced yet, but still see a ton of potential: the singer has a respectable range and technique, but I feel like for a majority of the parts in the different songs, he chose the wrong one at the wrong time. His main modus operandi are deep growls, that could almost be used in a grindcore band, which made it very hard to understand the lyrics for the most part of these thirty-six minutes. However, in other parts he uses screams or screeches that are fairly well articulated and might have been the wiser choice.

On the other hand, the vocal department also holds the biggest surprise of these seven tracks, in the form of a guest vocal appearance by the local singer Anna Felke on the song Soulbound. While the song is fairly untypical while compared to the rest of the record, it fits in perfectly into the concept of the entirety and, aside from the closing track L’or Bleu, is definitely marks the highlight of Intuition.

In closing, I can only say that I’m convinced that Decipher will manage to make a splash in the local music scene once they start playing shows and get their name out there a bit more. One thing is certain: they don’t lack talent. So do yourself a favor, listen to the track below, check out the band’s Facebook page and head on over to Rocas this Friday, December 16th, for a cozy listening party marking the release of the band’s firstborn.

Kitshickers – III.0

Kitshickers - III.0
Instrumental music: you either love it or you hate it. Generally-speaking, it’s difficult for that type of music to win me over, which is why I wasn’t a huge fan of today’s band in recent years. But as chance has it, the Luxembourgish progressive veterans, Kitshickers, are returning to their roots and have a proper vocalist again, instead of guest appearances. For their seventh album, III.0, they’ve recruited Yann Dalscheid, who was the singer of An Apple A Day for quite some time and has recently been added to the Scarred roster, to add a fresh but familiar layer to their complex sound spectrum.

For the second time in a row the band has decided to use the crowdfunding model, in order to cater to the exact needs and wants of their dedicated fanbase, and thus set out to best their previous effort. To cut to the chase, spoiler warning: they absolutely achieved that goal and then some. While their sound is still recognizably them, I feel like they’ve shed some of the overly experimental fluff in favor of a more concise and, for lack of a better word, streamlined style. Don’t get me wrong though: these six tracks are anything but simple and boring. Massive riffs coupled with hard-hitting drumming hammer you into the ground, just to pick you up again and repeat the process.

No need to lie here: the concept, birth and death, behind this new record is one that has been done a million times and yet the quintet managed to captivate me on my first listening session and have kept doing so even after the tenth time through. But be warned: if you’re going to take this ride, you better bring some spare time and the ability to let music have an effect on you, because at one hour and one minute, III.0 is not the type of record you put in while you run and grab some bread from your local shop. At least in my opinion, this is the kind of album where you only get the full experience if you listen to it with headphones and are able to forget about your surroundings.

No small part of this beautifully immersive journey is due to the resurfaced (almost) permanent use of vocals. When I first read that Kitshickers got a new vocalist I was slightly excited, then upon learning who it was going to be I was initially skeptical…since I was definitely underestimating what the guy could do. Finally, when I got to listen to the finished product, I was totally blown away: I knew he could scream, growl, shout and pretty much do everything in the repertoire of a “typical metal vocalist” to a T…but when he switched to perfectly sung clean vocals after an initial scream at the beginning of the first song, I had total goosebumps that lasted for the remainder of the track.

What can I say? III.0 is not a record for everyone, especially in today’s fast food world…but if you allow yourself some time off and dive into the trip that the band has cooked up for you, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. And if for some reason you are not into the vocals, there is the possibility for you to listen to the entire record in a purely instrumental form also. Head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information and do yourself a favor and move your butt to the Rotondes in Luxembourg this Saturday, October 22nd, since that’s where the guys will be holding the release show for their new baby! See you there!

 

Fusion Bomb – Pravda

Fusion Bomb - Pravda
Little history lesson: about three years ago, there was a surge of new young bands emerging in the local scene and playing a lot of small shows. The vast majority of those bands were of the same genre: something-core; be it hardcore, metalcore or deathcore. A fact that I have nothing against, since I enjoy most of those genres, but there was one gang of youngsters that stood out to me. Simply because they decided to go against the grain and play an “unpopular” genre, because it was what they loved: crossover thrash metal!

If by now you haven’t figured it out, the quartet that I’m talking about is of course Fusion Bomb, who finally have actual recorded music to show in the form of their debut album called Pravda! Depending on your general knowledge, the name might give you an idea of what this concept album might be about, but just in case: it’s about the history of the Soviet Union and its eventual downfall. Well, except the last song, Beertroopers Of Death, which on one hand is a homage to genre pioneers S.O.D. and on the other an instant-classic drinking hymn!

In the guitar department, the six tracks, including an intro, are generally-speaking very fast-paced and straight-forward, with one gallop riff fading into the next, but manage to infuse just the right amount of groove and technicality in the form of intricate solos to keep you interested as a listener. Throw in fairly organic sounding drums that know exactly how to go along with that vibe by bombarding your eardrums with blast beats and double bass attacks, and you’ve got yourself quite an enjoyable package. I do have to mention that the songwriting isn’t exactly diverse and many passages are repeated ad infinitum during the individual songs, but to be fair: that is a staple in the genre.

However, I do have one partial gripe with these twenty-eight minutes: the vocals. While they sound very powerful and well-performed, it is almost impossible to make out any of the lyrics because the enunciation is at times really horrendous. I wouldn’t have a real issue with it, if it wasn’t a historical concept album, where the lyrics are potentially a major factor of enjoyment.

To sum things up, what can I say? Is Pravda a breath of fresh air in the fairly repetitive Luxembourgish scene? You betcha! Is it flawless? Definitely not. Is it worth your time though? I would say so, yes. Fusion Bomb have a lot of potential and talent, and this respectable endeavor is perhaps the first step toward greatness! Be sure to listen to watch the lyric video below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more info on the release of the album next Saturday, September 24th, at Angerfest in Kulturfabrik!

Soulhenge – Anachronism

Soulhenge - Anachronism
One of the biggest new phenomena of the past ten years in the realms of heavier music is hands down djent. While its roots lie in even earlier times, there has clearly been a very steep increase in its popularity, and almost every new band seems to at least have djent elements in their sound. Sadly, it’s never guaranteed that with quantity, there also comes quality, since a lot of new bands seem to follow a “djent-by-numbers” scheme, where it’s the same uninspired open palm-muted note over and over again, followed by a breakdown, and so on. You get the idea. This is mostly the reason why I’m not a huge fan of this kind of music, and I must admit that I tend to ignore most of its new releases these days.

However, since I set myself the goal of covering the majority of local releases, and I had already skipped their previous album, I decided to give Soulhenge‘s new EP a chance. So let’s see if Anachronism will let me add “djent” to the list of things that I enjoy from my hometown, besides beer.

Right off the bat, one thing I appreciate here is that the quintet chose not to include a separate track as an intro, but instead incorporates a (possibly shortened?) version in the opener. It always annoys me when an EP is artificially inflated with uselessly long intros that add nothing to the big picture, so this is a clever approach. Throughout the four tracks, the djent formula is clearly recognizable, but at least to me there are enough ideas and variations thrown in at the exact right moments to make the listening experience very enjoyable.

The other major positive aspect is that there is an actual singer. Doing clean vocals. In a metal band. In Luxembourg…and they’re fairly good too! It’s always been a big complaint of mine that our local metal scene had no good clean vocalist, a fact that I remained convinced of until a bit more than a year ago, when I was taught better. During the seventeen minutes, Soulhenge‘s vocalist also displays very respectable screams and fairly deep growls, that go hand in hand with his clean vocals. The only problem I had during all my listening sessions, is that I’m having a hard time understanding almost half the things he’s saying despite being fairly well-versed in scream-decyphering.

Even though the Diekirchers don’t reinvent the wheel in any shape or form, I really like their approach and I would say that while their songwriting is at a good level already, that’s the only point they can and should improve on…because talent is not amiss here. Anachronism is definitely an evolution in comparison to its predecessor and is a solid and fresh entry in an over-saturated genre. Check out the teaser below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information. And last but not least, if you want to experience them live, head over to Rockhal on May 20th for the release party!

Ferium – Behind The Black Eyes


Ferium: the name alone has the word metal in it, subliminally at least, so it comes as no surprise that the quintet lays down some truly heavy tunes! But let’s rewind a couple of years here, to when I first discovered them and was surprised by their debut Reflections, an experience you can read up on…right here…I’ll wait. …ok, welcome back. Back to the present: the guys are back with their second full-length Behind The Black Eyes and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it with you guys!

Essentially, the Israelis have not changed their style a lot and remain true to their groove-infused modern death metal…but it’s hard to deny that they’ve fine-tuned it a lot and everything simply sounds even more massive! Each and every riff has the potential to knock your teeth out and the drums feel like incessant cannon-fire on your eardrums.

While I don’t feel like any individual member has vastly improved in comparison to the predecessor, simply because there was little to no room left to do so, the end result is of higher quality. What I especially appreciate about it, is the fact that the band stuck to recording, producing and releasing in-house, because it gives them complete artistic freedom with zero compromises, while at the same time having enough faith in their fans to support them.

When I first listened to BTBE, I was scared that the album would be too straight-forward and lack in diversity, because that’s often a danger that bands in this genre face, but I was pleasantly surprised to find two songs among the nine tracks that do things (a lot) differently. I would consider them atmos(h)pheric almost-ballads, that just serve the purpose of building up the final two songs of the record in all their grandeur…and it works, really well.

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that the length of an album can sometimes have an impact on my liking of it, and I find that with Ferium‘s new release, the thirty-five minutes hit the exact spot for me, since it’s just long enough to leave me wanting more but not so short that I would feel cheated out of my money, had I not received a digital review copy.

All in all, I’m impressed by the evolution the band has undergone, and I really hope that even more people will recognize them for what they are: a very promising newcomer! So, do yourself a favor and check out Behind The Black Eyes when it’s out on April 21st! And in the meantime, head over to their Facebook page and check out the video below to whet your whistle!

King Goat – Conduit


One of the biggest surprises in 2014 for me was a relatively new band from Bristol, that played a genre that I was never really familiar with, and still can’t claim to be, who simply blew me away with its atmospheric doom metal. The band in question is called King Goat and the quintet is about the release their first full-length entitled Conduit on March 25th, so naturally I’ll give you my two cents on it beforehand!

Essentially, the guys have stayed true to their genre but the two years in between the self-titled EP and this have definitely managed to make the creative juices flow in abundance. Everything sounds more mature and elaborate, and especially the riffs deliver a sense of grandeur that aid in creating a dense atmosphere throughout the forty-two minutes that can’t even be compared to the predecessor.

The one thing that is similar to the previous effort, is the build-up phase during the first two songs before exploding on the third one and maintaining it on the last two. While track one, Flight Of The Deviants, and two, Feral King, are sung completely in clean vocals and have a somewhat heavy-metalesque touch, the title track goes into overdrive with a crushing main riff and growls and screams left, right and center. It is about here where I get the chills while listening to these five tracks…and they don’t disappear until the end.

The fact that this middle track also features additional (female) vocals during the “chorus” just makes it even tastier in my opinion, because it creates even more depth. Not that the singer needs it, because he definitely shines on his own at every moment of the listening experience. Every line, no matter the singing style, hits just where it’s supposed to hit and combined with the fairly epic lyrics, it might not be the sing-along record of the year, but it’s absolutely a blast to enjoy.

To sum things up: THIS is how you make a follow-up to an EP that has received wide praise. You keep the good, you improve the not so good, and you put your heart and soul into it! Conduit does all that and then some…so be sure to head over to King Goat‘s Facebook page and listen to the song below, even though it should ideally be enjoyed along with the rest of the record, to get your metalhorns ready for the release tour in the UK!

DarkRise – Fear, Hate & Corruption

My musical journey has been a long one and I’ve undergone quite a few changes of taste but I believe that I found my “calling” in the form of post-hardcore. Despite that, I love going back to my previous loves every now and then. Today is one of those days. DarkRise is a fairly unknown Swiss death metal band that is about to release a new album entitled Fear, Hate & Corruption, which I’ve been jamming on repeat for a couple of weeks now…so logically I want to share my impressions.

At first glance the quintet plays fairly “classic” death metal, but the more time you invest in listening to them, the more you are confronted with technical aspects and the ever-so-present groove that flow through the ten songs. Don’t get me wrong: there are far too many blast beats and double bass assaults to even start counting them, but at no point does it devolve into mindless hammering. Ferocious fast-paced riffs go hand in hand with intricate solos and playful licks, giving your ears plenty of opportunities to discover the record a bit further on every playthrough.

The vocalist delivers a fairly diverse performance, covering all the different styles that are generally present in the genre, without any problems. In terms of lyrics, I’ll let you take a wild guess by looking at the title of the album…nothing new, but it doesn’t bother me personally.

To be honest, I wasn’t too convinced by the sound of FH&C, but at the time of writing this, I wonder what kind of substances I must have been on…because everything is exactly how it’s supposed to be: the guitars spit fire, the bass is earth-shattering, the drums make your bladder lose water and the vocals will block the wind to your lungs. Add in a healthy dose of lo-…hate, I mean, and in unison they form Captain Headbang!

All in all, DarkRise certainly don’t reinvent the wheel at any point during these forty-six minutes…but they do deliver a record worthy of your attention! So be sure to listen to the song below and do the usual social media routine on their Facebook page! Fear, Hate & Corruption is out on March 19th!

Sleepers’ Guilt – Kilesa


It’s been almost three years since one local band underwent a line-up change that made them go from “OK, I guess” to “Nice, I do declare!” in my book. This change was in the form of their lead singer, who was previously of the power metal variant, but was replaced with a growler and thus changed the entire dynamic of the quintet…if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m going to write about Sleepers’ Guilt today! The guys are about to release their first full-length, or should I say overfull-length, called Kilesa on February 27th!

While the line-up is the same as on the 2013 released EP Road Of Emptiness, this marks the first real release in the current line-up, since the aforementioned record was written with the ex-singer in mind and even though it worked out quite well in the end, you can definitely tell what the true potential of the new sound is this time around. While the Sleepies are staying true to their symphonic and melodic roots, the songwriting is a lot heavier this time around, and almost a one-eighty degree turn, because instead of having the occasional mosh-worthy part among the progressive tunes, these thirteen songs are almost non-stop headbang extravaganza.

But fear not, SG have not descended into bland death metal or hardcore or whatever you’re picturing right now…no, no: they created a, in my opinion, perfect blend of brutally heavy and dreamy melodic parts. If I had to explain it to a stranger, I’d say that they sound like Amon Amarth, but with actually well-written and diverse songs. There’s one for the album sticker, people.

In the opener I mentioned that Kilesa was an overfull-length album…let me delve into that a bit more: the crowd-funded record is a double album which amounts to a total playtime of seventy-eight minutes! Ambitious, to say the least. Ingenious too, though. In order to avoid boredom and repetition, the second half of this opus, is a concept album that features guest vocals of Noémie Leer, of Elysian Gates, and that has a slightly more orchestral and progressive feel to it. The three songs are all around the ten minute mark and provide a wonderful listening experience.

However, this zest for action also has a negative side to it…at least for me. I am simply not a huge fan of albums that are almost as long as a friggin’ movie! I always try to listen to a record at least twenty times before reviewing it…but with a playtime like this, it’s a sheer impossibility. Maybe I’m showing signs of the fast-food society we live in, but I fear that it’s just too long for some. …and that’s what she said.

In all seriousness and in closing: Kilesa is a brilliant work of art that will capture everyone that takes the time to be absorbed by it. And if you are, like me, apprehensive about the playtime…take it one disc at a time. Trust me, it’s worth it. You can visit Sleepers’ Guilt‘s Facebook page for more information, watch the video below for a first impression and last but not least, swing your butt to KuFa on Saturday for the release show of Kilesa!

The Majestic Unicorns From Hell – A Matter Of Less In More


“How can less be more? It’s impossible. More is more.” Never has this sentence been more accurate and more false at the same time than in the intro of the new record by a band that is definitely in the top 4 of all the instrumental bands that we have here in Luxembourg. I’m a terrible liar: it’s actually on the new record, A Matter Of Less In More, of, hands down, my favorite one of the genre: The Majestic Unicorns From Hell. The band that is guaranteed to cure any illnesses you have in exchange for a hefty dose of tinnitus and whiplash. So let’s dive in before the actual release date of February 12th!

When I reviewed their debut, Valde Purgamentum, in 2013 my first reaction was “holy fuck!”. Well…not much has changed in that regard this time around, except that the sentence was slightly more articulate, in the form of: “holy fucking shit, they did it again, those bastards”. Mainly because, as stated in the intro, the quartet followed the recipe of more is more: instead of just cranking those dials to eleven, they yanked them to forty-two, sixty-nine and finally six hundred and sixty-six.

The intensity is constantly present and each musician explores the limits of the sonic spectrum in their own regard, be it in speed, technicality, atmosphere or groove. And let me tell you something about these ten songs: the groove is strong in this one! But, here’s where the Teenage Mutant Music Turtles also contradict themselves! Less is sometimes more, because the number of songs and the playtime of thirty minutes is definitely less than on the predecessor…but it works, it works so damn well!

Level with me here: I think my playcount of AMOLIM (so catchy!) is probably close to fifty times, and I still feel like I’m listening to the soundtrack of a movie! I can’t really tell you which type, because it ranges from psycho thriller, to horror flick, to seventies porno, but the atmosphere is always palpable. A very good example of this cinematic feel is on the song Green Thursday Mr Beast, during the last two and a half minutes when this riff sets in that just screams despair and I picture a 28 Days Later-like scenario where humans are being chased by zombies, before erupting into an almost catatonic melody interlaced with a sampled speech, giving me a feeling of hope. Pure joy.

To sum things up, I can without a doubt claim that the magical equestrian beasts from the very deep south have not only outdone themselves this time around, but also hands down found their sound and I’m confident that, with a bit of luck, their future will be a bright one…and if not…remember: less is more! If I managed to spark your curiosity, be sure to head to their Facebook page and don’t forget to listen to the new TMUFH album below! But beware: you touch, you buy! Thank you, come again! Oh, and if you like what you just bought, be sure to move your sweet cheeks to De Gudde Wëllen this Friday, where the fellas will play a concert that somehow coincides with the release of new music…but it’s not a release show, I swear.