Tag Archives: Metalcore

Devil You Know – They Bleed Red

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Quick fact about myself: ever since I got into Killswitch Engage around 2009, I’ve become quite a huge fan of their music. Naturally, I was a bit devastated when their singer Howard Jones left the band in 2012 due to medical reasons. It turned out to be be a blessing in disguise, when their original vocalist eventually returned to the band, but that’s the point of this story. Jones was officially no longer in the music business, and I was quite saddened because I consider him to be one of the most unique and strongest singers in metalcore. Fast forward to 2014, when I learned that the man himself was back with a new band called Devil You Know, who were about to release their debut record, The Beauty Of Destruction. Despite my high hopes for the record, I wasn’t really convinced by the instrumental side of it, since it was a bit generic and lackluster, only being above average due to the vocal performance. Little did I know that merely a year later, the quartet would surprise with a fresh album called They Bleed Red, which is the subject of today’s review!

After that lengthy introduction, I should really just cut to the chase: it’s a major step up from its predecessor! The songwriting has vastly improved and actually has numerous memorable riffs and hooks that embedded themselves in my head even after the first listen. The heavy parts are truly in your face and guaranteed to instigate many vicious moshpits as well as enthusiastic headbanging! The technical level has also definitely been raised, providing more than just mere background noise to the vocals. The same goes for the melodic side of these eleven tracks, which frankly has a much catchier aspect to it.

The fact that the production packs a by far fiercer punch than before is just an added bonus to these already neckbreaking forty-seven minutes. All this provides the perfect stage, so to speak, for the afore-mentioned vocal prowess present on this record. It goes without saying that HoJo nails it and actually delivers, what I feel is, his strongest performance to date. The amount of face-melting screams and growls on TBR just can’t be put into words, it’s that good.

To sum things up, Devil You Know have definitely saved face with their new record and proven that they are a force in the making to be reckoned with. At the time of writing this review I am, as a matter of fact, going to see them live in three days, so I’m twice as excited as before to witness their performance! Check out the song below, which admittedly is one of my least favorite on here, and visit the band’s Facebook profile for more info!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG8DzO1gJ4g]

Trivium – Silence In The Snow

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After BMTH have drastically changed their style, it is now time to write about yet another band that has strayed quite far from its roots. Trivium has always been an ensemble whose music I’ve greatly appreciated for the most part, but their new record Silence In The Snow has taken a very different path from what I was expecting. Let’s see what has happened, shall we?

The quartet started in metalcore, and has constantly expanded its musical range by adding new elements and also removing some…but never in their fifteen year history has the evolution been this drastic. Well…almost. The band’s third record The Crusade had the lead singer mostly refrain from screaming, especially live, because he blew his voice while constantly being on tour and not having a proper technique. Along with that, the music felt a bit too much like a cheap Metallica copy and it is with no doubt my least favorite release of the band.

On subsequent albums he had not only regained his screams but also vastly improved his range and vocal power, resulting in amazing works of art and live shows. But apparently he damaged his voice again in 2014 and was thus forced to refrain from screaming again. Which is why, I suppose, the band chose to go a different route with their seventh release: no screams at all. The reaction to this decision has been very mixed so far, as was mine at first…but Superman damn it: it works! And how!

Logically, this also has a small influence on the instrumental side of things, but not as much as you’d think. Trivium still very much sounds like the fans have grown to love them, but the focus is clearly more on melody and, for lack of a better word, grandeur. The eleven songs all have this majestic feel to them, while at the same time remaining heavy; albeit having less of a “mosh-along” vibe. The only minor gripe I have is that some more technical aspects have gone missing in the process.

Now, onto the main change: the vocals. There is not a single scream, growl, shout or anything alike during these forty-three minutes and everything is kept in clean singing. However, the sheer vocal range of the singer has so vastly improved that it doesn’t feel like that much of a loss. But I have to admit that there were a handful of passages where I would have expected and loved the guitarist to maybe add a little growl here and there, simply because I kept waiting for it. On the other hand, I have to quote the latter: “you don’t need screams to be heavy”, and I have to agree 100%.

At the end of the day, there is no doubt Silence In The Snow will divide the ranks of Trivium fans, but to the naysayers I can only say: the old records did not disappear from the face of the earth, so feel free to go back and enjoy them! I, on the other hand, embrace this change wholeheartedly and while it probably won’t be my favorite record by them, I will fully support them! So be sure to listen to the track below and head over to their Facebook page if you want to do the same.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVpU-OXrg1c]

Everwaiting Serenade – No Harbor

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Ten years. Unless you speak of the earth itself, that’s a long time. Even more so if a band reaches that milestone in its existence, since in today’s music industry that’s becoming more and more rare, with many formations splitting up after a record already.  Which is why I am delighted to write a review about Everwaiting Serenade, who are celebrating that achievement with the release of their new record No Harbor on October 17th!

I must admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of their previous record All Rise, which dates back to 2011, since it didn’t have any real musical highlight to me…but a creative break of four years has definitely remedied that and has helped the quintet (re)define their style! While the metalcore elements have taken a step back, and made way for a more hardcore-orientated sound, they are still found in the essence of the ten songs in the form of melodic riffing and the genre-typical breakdowns.

EWS have always been fond of chugging rhythms and that hasn’t changed either but, especially due to the truly massive production, it’s very well-blended with the various instruments, allowing a clear distinction of the other things going on in a song. Sadly, my only gripe with these thirty-six minutes stems from said chugging though. I’ve said it numerous times in conversations, but I don’t recall ever bringing it up in a review: Luxembourg has tons of amazing musicians, but very few good songwriters. While the songs all have a clear structure and even some truly memorable parts, I was constantly waiting for the massive hook or chorus to come and hit me in the face.

However, this doesn’t mean that No Harbor is your standard uninspired hardcore release either, quite the contrary actually. Especially since the vocals contribute a lot to the variety, since there are numerous sing-along parts in the form of crowd chants and catchy one-liners. While the vocalist has refrained from any vocal style other than screaming, I feel that he has vastly improved and it elevates the ensemble to a new level.

All in all, I’d say that Everwaiting Serenade have managed to capture that which makes them a local force to be reckoned with: raw energy! It might just be personal preference but I’m more than confident that if they iron out the above-mentioned part, they will be here for at least another ten years. Either way, I’m excited to follow their future and if you want to do the same, be sure to head over to Facebook and watch their new video for the title track of No Harbor! Last but not least: Melusina is the place to be on October 17th if you want to experience them live and get your hands on the record!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_sxsNJ0NX8]

An Elegy – Embrace The Rain

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I don’t know if it speaks for or against me, but I remember the exact moment the metalcore scene was flooded by dual vocal bands. There were obviously some that were meant to stay and that have proven their longevity through evolving their sound over the years and had brilliant songwriting to begin with…but a whole plethora of them simply disappeared in the vast ocean that is music. Since this medium is a very eclectic one, there are regular resurgences of this style in newer bands, and I always give them a go to judge the current state of things. Which is what lead me to today’s band: An Elegy! The quintet is about to release its debut EP, Embrace The Rain, on July 27th and I’m here to tell you whether you should give them a chance or just move on.

Let’s get one thing out of the way that hit me right from the get-go: these Brits must love Upon This Dawning. Their sound is very European, even though I couldn’t explain to you what I mean by that if you held a gun to my head, and it reminded me very much of the aforementioned Italian’s first major release…which is a good thing, to me, by the way. Throughout the eleven songs, down-tuned guitars, and chugging rhythms are ever-present, but usually overlaid by mildly technical elements, before exploding into purely melodic parts for the choruses. Obviously, the drumming goes hand in hand with that, while alternating between fast-paced and groove-laden play.

Next up are the vocals: as mentioned at the beginning of this review, there are two different types of vocals, provided by two different people, that intertwine during the nineteen minutes, as is tradition for this style. The unclean vocals are fairly diverse and cover deep growls, screeches and regular screams; while the clean vocals, that are provided by one of the axemen, stay rather constantly on an enjoyable level of melodic goodness.

All in all, I would say that Embrace The Rain is an ambitious first step in the right direction but, despite all the musicians being talented, that it’s missing that little extra something to distance itself from the masses. Now, maybe I’m just too critical or over-saturated, but nevertheless I am very confident in saying that An Elegy has the potential to go big, when they find their own sound and manage to execute it well. Either way, your time will not be wasted by giving them a listen, so please do so below and head over to their Facebook page for more information.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDopwe0Y1Yo]

August Burns Red – Found In Far Away Places

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In 2013 I had a tough time choosing my top five albums of the year…so I just picked four as my number one. Two years later, one of those four bands has released the follow-up to their previous masterpiece and my excitement couldn’t have been greater: I am talking about August Burns Red, who have released their sixth full-length, Found In Far Away Places, on June 29th!

What can I say? The quintet has definitely found its sound on the predecessor, that much is certain, because these eleven songs are very much in the same vein, albeit a bit more akin to their old material: the experimentation and diversity factor are two things that were maintained, but chugging parts are back with a vengeance; creating a truly eclectic feeling, with a ton of depth.

I could go over how well the Pennsylvanians master their instruments…but that’s as much of a known fact than that the sun sets in the west. So let me just reassure you: nothing that changed in that department…every musician pushes his technical prowess to the limit and the songwriting is very multifaceted. But, at least that’s what I think, what ABR has mastered over the course of the past two records, is the implementation of atypical instruments, without them sounding out of place or even breaking the flow of the other instruments. It is a rare feat in my opinion to make a trumpet, a clarinet, a cello, a violin, and a piano feel right at home in a metalcore song…but it works so well during these fifty-two minutes.

The vocals and lyrical themes are also in line with the band’s previous works, featuring a strong performance from both screamers and highly interesting topics, with a hint of Christianity, that are just a blast to listen to. This is something I have mentioned previously, but it’s one of the major reasons why I love this band: even though they are openly religious, I have not once felt like they try to force their faith on their listeners, be it through their lyrics or anything else. Another fact worth mentioning is that FIFAP contains the second vocal guest appearance in the band’s twelve year history…and they got none other than Jeremy McKinnon from A Day To Remember to perform on Ghosts.

All in all, to me this new record does not exceed Rescue & Restore but it is a very worthy equal…but I think that this is mostly due to the fact that I connected more with the themes on the previous record. Musically-speaking, Found In Far Away Places is just as strong and will bring many hours of discovery to fans and newcomers alike. So, be sure to listen to the song below and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqBLyF94esg]

Motionless In White – Reincarnate

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When I reviewed today’s band’s previous record I mentioned that many fans would probably be outraged by the new direction Motionless In White took…and I was absolutely right. The amount of bitching I read on the internet was mind-blowing, and two years later it multiplied when they announced that their third record, Reincarnate, was to be released on September 15th…to my great delight.

Especially when the guys released the first single, I knew that they had ignored all the bitching from their “fans” and took the route they wanted to, which was mainly sticking to their new-found sound: electronic-industrial-black-metal-core. Yeah, I totally just made that genre up, but it describes the band’s sound so well that I don’t even feel bad about it. The Pennsylvanians have even further incorporated the above-mentioned styles into one delicious mix of a one-of-a-kind sound.

All the elements I mentioned in my Infamous review are still ever-so-present on these thirteen songs: two different instrument “tunings”, occasional breakdowns, diverse riffs, complex drum patterns and almost no repetition whatsoever. Even though I just mentioned it a couple of sentences ago, I have to repeat that the fact that the quintet stuck to this, admittedly, weird mix of musical styles makes them stand out from the vast amount of bands that are trying to get somewhere.

Two years later, the vocal repertoire on Reincarnate is just as crazy as before, with the addition of even more vocal techniques and effects. The variety in the singing gives each song its distinctive feel and guarantees an all-around enjoyable listening experience. Fun little fact: I talked to the singer a couple of years back when they played here in Luxembourg, and I can honestly say that I’ve rarely met someone as self-critical as him. The guy’s a true perfectionist and it can absolutely be felt during these fifty-six minutes. On top of that, MIW have gotten help from four guest vocalists: Dani Filth of Cradle Of Filth, Maria Brink of In This Moment, Dessa Poljak of Silencio and Tim Skold!

In closing, what can I say? Is Reincarnate a record that will please everyone? Sadly, no…it’s just too much “all over the place” for some. But for those that actually dive into the music and keep an open mind, I can honestly promise that they will have a pure blast. I, for one, did! Head on over to the band’s Facebook page and give the video below a spin to get an idea!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVQC3bx_AXs]

Capture The Crown – Reign Of Terror

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Before you read today’s review I’d suggest reading this one first, since it’s of the first album of today’s band and it saves me a bit of back story here. Moving on: a bit less than two years after their debut record, Capture The Crown are back with number two: Reign Of Terror!

The, mostly, Australian guys have kept true to their sound but, as I hoped back in 2012, have given it their own flavor which definitely gives them a right of existence in the metalcore scene. To elaborate: this means that the down-tuned guitars are still ever-present, breakdowns are never far and the music still has electronic parts. On the other hand, the drums have become a bit more diverse and more technical, but their main function is still clearly to keep the other components together.

The ten songs do sound more mature and the songwriting in general has greatly improved, while it’s no Beethoven or whatever, the album does have a lot more structure to it. Generally-speaking, it’s also become a lot heavier, featuring less poppy melodies except for the clean-sung choruses. On the predecessor, there were many different styles of songs, whereas this time around the whole endeavor sounds more stream-lined, which is the strongest and at the same time the weakest aspect of the record. While you are not thrown off by a completely different sounding song, they all sound almost too similar. Definitely a matter of taste.

The vocals are still as diverse and well-executed as before, and therefore I can’t report a major improvement. The lyrics have also ripened and feature a lot less profanity, which I welcome even though I didn’t mind the barrage of “fuck”s on ‘Til Death. To spice up the thirty minutes, CTC have gotten two guest vocalists: Alex Koheler of Chelsea Grin on the song Make War, Not Love and rapper Cheyne Truitt on Beating The Blade.

Time to come to an end. Is Reign Of Terrror a must-have album of 2014? Definitely not. Is it worth checking out? Abso-fucking-lutely! While the quintet doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it has managed to cement its position in the scene and come up with a fairly enjoyable record for fans and newcomers alike. Head over to Facebook to get more insight on the band and listen to the song below!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hqn7loflXE]

Crown The Empire – The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways

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Today’s band put out one of my biggest surprise albums of 2012 and on July 22nd of this year they released the follow-up to it. In case you haven’t deduced it by the artwork above, I’m talking about Crown The Empire‘s The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways. Over the course of the past two years the sextet from Dallas, Texas, has managed to establish itself as one of the biggest names in the metalcore scene, at least in the US, and with this new release they have managed to prove that they do deserve it.

The reason why CTE stands out from the vast majority of the band’s in the genre, is the fact that they have a very theatrical approach to their songwriting, akin to a soundtrack of a movie, and so far every album has been an entire story in itself; with the new one continuing the events of the predecessor. They also have a very distinct sound, which is purposely over-produced and very electronic-sounding. It definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it fits their music perfectly, in my opinion.

The thirteen songs are divided into three acts, which are always started by an atmospheric interlude, and cover many different directions, from ballads to your typical metalcore sound, to industrial-sounding songs. There is a lot of chugging, but also equally many melodic parts, thus creating an enjoyable symbiosis of both worlds. Generally-speaking, the material has a greater variety and has a more mature feel to it than previously.

Vocally, it’s still the same deal as usual: dual vocals, with one singer covering the clean and one the unclean parts. Both are noticeably auto-tuned to a certain extent, but go well with the plastic-y sound of the instruments. As mentioned earlier, the lyrics tell an interesting story set in a post-apocalyptic world.

To sum things up, I’d say that The Resistance is definitely worth checking out and all in all delivers on many levels, but it’s also not for everyone, since this is taking the modern sound to the extreme. I, for one, do enjoy it a lot but this band is one of the few where I ignore my personal preference in terms of how a record should sound, simply because the result is truly satisfying as a whole. Listen to the song below to make up your own mind and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information! And last but not least: in case you want to experience what they sound live, move your ass to den Atelier on Monday, the 20th of October, where they will be opening for Asking Alexandria, alongside Secrets and The Ghost Inside!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVLOa592jgk]

Betraying The Martyrs – Phantom

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When I first heard the name Betraying The Martyrs back in late 2012, I didn’t really pay much attention to the band. In early 2013 I saw them live for the first time and their energetic live show convinced me to give their debut album Breathe In Life a chance. I haven’t regretted it to this day. I saw them again a bit later that same year and if anything, their stage presence had improved further. Naturally I was very excited when the guys announced that they were working on a new album, and when Phantom was finally released on July 15th, I was blown away by the result.

The sextet from France, which features a singer from the UK and a drummer from Russia, has a very distinct style that is easiest described by a made-up term: epic metalcore. Let me elaborate: the technical level of the musicians is very high and the arrangements of every song just have a purely symphonic feel to them, while still being relentlessly heavy.

The heaviness is assured by the very low, B tuning I think, guitar sound and crushing riffs, coupled with the almost robot-like precision of the drumming. To be honest, I could write a paragraph each about the skill displayed on every single instrument. But I’ll condense it a bit: the drummer is, in my opinion, one of the best in the genre despite his rather basic drum setup. The groove that this guy unleashes is just pure insanity, coupled with the above-mentioned tightness, speed and a mind-blowing amount of fills, it’s just a pure joy to listen to the forty-four minutes of madness.

The guitarists are in a similarly awesome sphere of grandeur, since their feel for melodies coupled with neck-breaking parts is eargasmic, yeah I just made that word up. Another very atmospheric layer is added by the keyboards, which are featured prominently but not to the point where it sounds like one of those electro-core bands. To top it all off, the production is exactly what I think a modern metal record should sound like: a clean but ear-drumming sound, which does in some places border on the over-produced but manages to walk the fine line between a genuine and a tweaked sound.

If BTM were an instrumental band, the thirteen songs would already be close to perfection at this point but they feature dual, triple during some choruses, vocals…so the epicness continues. The cleans have two major things going for them: their very skillful handling of melodic singing and something I just love, on a personal level: the very distinct Frenglish accent. The unclean parts cover pretty much every aspect of the spectrum, ranging from growls, to deeper growls, to even deeper growls, as well as screams and a few screeches for good measure. The small cherry on the pie are guest vocals by Gus Faris of Volumes on the track Phantom (Fly Away).

If by now I haven’t managed to convince you to give Phantom a shot, let me just finish off by saying that they covered a song from the Disney movie Frozen, which you can listen to below. While it sounds a bit ridiculous on paper, it sounds incredible when played and shows off the band’s sound perfectly while still maintaining the feel of the original song. This second record should be in every metalcore fan’s collection, since it will keep you entertained for hours on end, trust me. You can find more info about the band and their busy touring schedule on their Facebook page. Enjoy!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtkGluLhnGU]

For All Those Sleeping – Incomplete Me

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Moments like these always bring a smile onto my face, because it means that I’ve been doing this for a while, since one of my first reviews I wrote for El Gore was about the second album of today’s band: For All Those Sleeping! A bit more than two years later, they have just released their third one Incomplete Me, and I obviously couldn’t get around writing about it. So let’s see what has changed and what hasn’t!

The quintet has mainly stuck to what their sound evolved into on the predecessor, which in itself is not a mistake, since it felt to me like they had managed to find just the right direction. However, there is the small addition of industrial-sounding parts, which avoids a complete copy-paste of Outspoken, so rest assured that you won’t feel like you put on the same record. So far so good.

This means that the riffs will come flying at you in alternation of heavy neckbreakers and melodic goodness. The drums are, more or less, on the same level as previously and deliver a diverse mix of groove and straight-forward drum-skin pounding. I do have the feeling that, generally speaking, the twelve songs are heavier than what you’re used to by the Minnesotans, with the exception of one song, but more on that in just a second.

The vocal performance has not seen a major improvement, but there was none necessary in the first place since it was quite tight to begin with. As mentioned before, since the songs are heavier, the growls are much more predominant however and cement these forty-eight minutes as a strong metalcore album. The lyrical horizon has also been broadened and features experiences from the band’s extensive touring schedule of the past two years. The biggest addition are the guest vocals by Jessica Ess on the afore-mentioned song, Hell Or Heaven, which is as close to a ballad as you can get on here.

All in all, the strong production and the few new elements make this FATS record possibly the best one so far…but I must admit that I’m still on the fence whether I prefer album number two or this one. Incomplete Me is more of a grower than an instant killer, and I’ve only started to appreciate it after probably my fifth listen. If you do give it a chance to wrap itself around your brain, I can guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed. So be sure to give the song below a go and check out the band on Facebook.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpSkQlV1w1A]