Tag Archives: Metalcore

Upon This Dawning – We Are All Sinners

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A bit more than a year and a half after their debut album, the Italian metalcore band Upon This Dawning released their follow-up to it last week. Back when I reviewed the predecessor, I said that the band has potential, but still needs to find their sound…and I’m very happy to say that they managed to do so with We Are All Sinners!

The first thing that you notice when you pop in the new record, is that the production has become vastly more massive: every note packs so much more of a punch than before and it’s a true joy to listen to. The second thing that will catch your attention is that the entire ensemble’s, metaphorical, balls have dropped…which means that the guitars are way more down-tuned, the drums are much more aggressive and, most noticeably, the growls have reached an incredible low sound spectrum…but more on that later.

In the opening paragraph I mentioned that the quintet has managed to find their sound, meaning that this sounds a lot more genuine and heartfelt than their previous endeavor, but there aren’t necessarily any new elements to the genre. As a matter of fact, it sounds a lot like Betraying The Martyrs, a French band that I absolutely adore, but the end result doesn’t have to fear the comparison since the eleven tracks have a lot of variety to offer. While the majority is composed of groove-laden songs with a number of seriously heavy breakdowns, there are some surprise songs that have a very interesting industrial vibe to them.

The instrumental front in general has improved quite a lot, both in terms of face-melting brutality but also in terms of entrancing melodic parts. The songwriting is not the only aspect that has reached new heights, however. The one factor that completely blew me away on my first listen-through of these thirty-eight minutes is the fact that the growls are so purely vile and evil now, that it’s simply a pleasure to have your eardrums bombarded with them. The clean vocals have also changed quite a bit, with the arrival of a new singer, and I must say that I prefer them to the old ones, since they are much more diverse and fit the style of the music perfectly.

All in all, I’m glad that Upon This Dawning have, luckily, disproven my initial fears of being a one-album-band and have actually by far surpassed their debut record with this new one. Here’s to hoping that they’ll tour in my general vicinity and that album number three is going to be even more insane. If you are into this kind of music, you absolutely cannot go wrong here…so be sure to check the video below and visit the band’s Facebook page if you like what you hear!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNw7SmjlO8w]

Devil You Know – The Beauty Of Destruction

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to welcome back one of the arguably best and most distinguishable metalcore voices out there after a break of two years! Following his departure from Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones took some time off from the spotlight but now he’s back as the lead singer of the new band Devil You Know! Composed of members from All Shall Perish, Devolved and Bleeding Through, the quintet has just released their debut record The Beauty Of Destruction!

The band plays metalcore, very comparable to the sound of the bands the members come from, which covers some really heavy songs and some softer ones as well. The heavy songs of the twelve tracks all have serious headbanging potential and will satisfy all your needs with their fast-paced rhythms and crazy riffs. The slower ones all have that sing-along potential as well as earworm quality, making the record quite diverse.

The definite highlight throughout the forty-eight minutes is, without a doubt, the brilliant vocal performance. The screams are as powerful as ever, ranging from high-pitched screeches to deep growls, and the cleans are just as soulful as what you’re used to. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s Jones’ best work to date, but his output has been constantly close to perfection over the years…so that’s not saying much.

In closing, I’m going to say that if you’ve missed the incomparable voice of Mr. Jones, you will feel right at home with Devil You Know, and there is really no reason you shouldn’t give this record a thorough listen. For those of you who are, for some unbeknownst to me reason, unfamiliar with him…what are you waiting for? Listen to the song below and visit the band’s Facebook page so you can get started!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3qVww8s_a4]

Adestria – Gilded Hearts

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Today’s review is very special to me since, almost to the day, two years ago I wrote my first review for El Gore and it was about the US band Adestria‘s debut album Chapters. Exactly one hundred reviews later, they just released their second full length album Gilded Hearts!

Where should I start? Not much has changed in the quintet’s sound, but that’s just as well, because they were one of the, if not the, strongest newcomers of 2012. Their powerful take on metalcore has kept up well over the times and still sounds as fresh as ever. I have the feeling that they have become slightly more technical in their riffing but, as I mentioned before, they were already at a high level to begin with.

The ten songs all have these diverse arrangements to them, where they change from balls to the wall mosh parts to super melodic passages with a very epic feel. The major improvement on this record is definitely the production, everything sounds a lot more crisp and especially the bass guitar is so massive and can be distinguished quite easily among the barrage of instruments. While it does have a very modern sound, it’s not overdone to the point where you’re wondering what you’re listening to.

The vocal front also remains largely the same: the screams are still as massive as before, the screeches, even though less prominent this time around, are still bone-shattering and the clean parts are still as melodious as ever. As opposed to the predecessor, there are no guest vocals this time around, which I don’t mind at all…since it leaves more time for the vocalist to shine on these thirty-five minutes.

To round things off, I can only say that Adestria have managed to put out yet another brilliant record and I’m really glad that, just like me, they didn’t lose any of their drive over the past two years! Be sure to visit the band’s Facebook page for more info and to check out the song below! Here’s to the next celebration in two years!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBuEp3JjB5k]

Memphis May Fire – Unconditional

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Despite only being around for five years, Memphis May Fire have just released their fourth full-length on March 25th which might evoke the question how such a tight schedule affects the quality…and the answer is simple: not at all. Some bands are simply full of inspiration and creativity. The Texan quintet is a prime example of this because, even though Unconditional was released less than two years after its celebrated predecessor, it knows how to impress.

While the sound itself is very close to Challenger, the third album, the whole eleven songs on this record sound as fresh and tight as never before. The riffs are way more intricate and much faster-paced, allowing almost no time to breathe safe for the occasional breakdowns. The drums are almost identical in terms of technicality, but that’s just as well because there was not much to improve on to begin with, in my opinion.

DAT BASS, however…holy fudge. The bass guitar, always a major element in the vibe of this metalcore formation, is even sicker than on any of the other records…delivering a face smashing performance all throughout the forty-four minutes. It’s literally impossible to not groove along to the excellent interplay between the percussion and the four-stringer…I love it.

Much similar to the drums, the vocals have not gone through a major change, but again: there was no necessity since both the screams and cleans were and are near perfect…the only minor change I noticed is that they have a slightly higher melodious vibe to them, especially during the chorusses. Contrary to the previous record, there are no guest vocals this time around, which I begrudge in no way at all because I can’t imagine a song where they would have fit in.

Another important point, to me, are the lyrics. They are heavily inspired by the singer’s experiences with panic attacks and the resulting (re)discovery of God. While some might now roll their eyes at “yet another Christian metalcore band”, I can assure you that they are not obtrusive at all. As a matter of fact, there is very little actual mention of the man in the clouds and most of the words can be applied to many other life situations…a fact that I welcome very much. So don’t shy away from that fact.

As a closing statement, I’ll say that if you liked Challenger, you will absolutely love Unconditional and in case you are completely new to the band, this is an ideal way to discover them. Be sure to give the band’s Facebook page a visit and listen to the song below!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKqG2EVzUrg]

Architects – Lost Forever // Lost Together

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Less than two years after their last record, Daybreaker, the guys from Architects are back with their sixth full-length Lost Forever // Lost Together! Right off the bat, I can say that despite a relentless touring schedule and them shrinking down to a quartet, they managed to record a true return to form.

While the predecessor already distanced itself from the softer fourth endeavor, The Here And Now, the new record almost completely drops that facet of the Brightonians’ sound and delivers an all-around heavy experience with intricate guitar parts and equally mind-blowing drum patterns throughout the eleven songs.

Connoisseurs know, of course, that the origins of Architects lie in mathcore and therefor they shouldn’t be surprised that these structures can be found again this time around…the tuning however is much deeper and almost submits a djent vibe. The production is, as should be for this type of music, glass clear during these forty-four minutes and pounds on your eardrums right where it feels good.

Logically, the vocals are much more scream-based than in the past three years and clean-sung passages are a rarity on LF//LT. However, they are yet again a beautiful display of the vocal capabilities of the frontman, who, by the way, is equally good on stage as in the studio. Lyrically, it’s still very socio-critical with an emphasis on the man in the sky. Last but not least, there are guest vocals on Youth Is Wasted On The Young by Murray Macleod of The Xcerts.

All in all, I would say that Architects managed to expand their old sound while still maintaining the evolution from previous records and will surely please fans and other music enthusiasts with this output. For more information, be sure to check the band’s Facebook page and give the song below a listen!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MHTy_dcSKE]

More Than A Thousand – Vol. 5 Lost At Home

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They’re finally back! The Portuguese quintet More Than A Thousand has been working on their new record for quite a while and at some point it seemed that it might become the next Chinese Democracy. However, in early 2014 the band announced that Vol. 5 Lost At Home was going to be released on February 24th and thus put an end to the wait of fans! Let’s see what it has to offer and whether it can meet the high expectations following the general praise of its predecessor.

For those that have never heard of the band, their sound can be described as melodic metalcore, but I like to put them in a made-up category called bounce metalcore, since their songwriting is strongly aimed toward making the listener want to jump around and freak out. This can especially be observed in their energetic live shows, which to this date have never failed to impress me. Said formula is strictly kept during the forty-five minutes of the album but executed on a new level, with catchier melodies and choruses.

Literally every aspect, that makes MTAT what they are, has been further improved: the heavy parts are more aggressive and brutal than ever, the melodic parts are bound to be stuck in your eardrums after the first listening and the “bounciness” has reached incredible heights. To the point where I’ve personally found it difficult to resist jumping around in public while listening to it on my headphones.

While the thirteen songs are for the most part straight-forward, there are a handful of surprises. Like the almost-ballad I Am The Anchor which is completely growl-free and is in my opinion the catchiest song that the guys from Setúbal have written to this day. Furthermore, there are some pretty sick guest vocals by Robert Ljung of Adept on the song No Mercy For The Weak, which gives it that extra little something.

All in all, it’s safe to say that Vol. 5 is the band’s strongest record so far and does not have to hide from international competition in any way. So, be sure to give the record a listen when it comes out and be sure to catch them whenever they’re on tour, since they always put on quite a show! Visit their Facebook page for additional info and listen to the song below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nHsFhRsV4Q]

Close Your Eyes – Line In The Sand

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When I rediscovered Close Your Eyessecond record earlier this year and subsequently fell in love it, I looked up what the band was up to these days and found out that they were recording a new album, but with a new singer. Now, especially since the vocals played a huge part in me adoring Empty Hands And Heavy Hearts as much as I do, I was quite worried. But as I always say: change doesn’t always have to be bad, even for a change-fearing person as myself. Line In The Sand is proof for that.

The band has taken a step back from the melodic hardcore that defined its predecessor and gone back to the pop-punk-ish metalcore that was We Will Overcome, their debut release. While that style dominates on most of these fifteen songs there are some nice surprises like the hard rock-ish Frame And Glass or the bonecrusher that is Skeletons. These few deviations guarantee a non-repetitive experience, which is a definite plus.

On the instrumental side there is not much to say…it’s all flawlessly performed and demonstrates the songwriting that the band has perfected over the past three years quite nicely. A handful of riffs did, however, completely blow me away…because they simply didn’t follow the rest of the set-up of the songs they were in. The drums are, due to the style change, a bit more straight-forward than before but absolutely fitting.

Onto the big elephant in the room: the vocals. To be brief: the new bloke, Sam Ryder Robinson, does not fill the shoes that were left behind by his predecessor…he throws them away and wears his own, which is a definite plus. Let me explain: it’s always aggravating when a band specifically looks for a singer that sounds exactly like what they had before, since it prevents them from growing as a band, in my opinion, and it’s mostly fan-service. Such is not the case on LITS because, even though they have a similar timbre, the new clean vocals are more melodic and just better fleshed out. The other upside in the vocal department is that the backing growls by the bassist are more prominent.

All in all, I’d say that, objectively speaking, this third release is Close Your Eyes‘ strongest output. I have listened to it quite often so far and I suspect that I will do so in the future, however I’d say that their melodic hardcore stuff struck more of a long-time chord for me personally. I recommend making up your own mind which style of the band you prefer. You can do so by listening to the song below and check the band’s Facebook page. Have fun!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Urgc_LJZSUM]

Trivium – Vengeance Falls

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When Trivium released their first record, many people dismissed them as just another band that followed the trend. Two years later, they released their, to this day, amazing Ascendancy and people were still skeptical; a year later the skeptics were strengthened by the release of the mediocre The Crusade…but in 2008 when Shogun came out, these voices quickly died away and it was clear that the band was back with a blast. Today, ten years after their inception they have released their by now sixth album called Vengeance Falls and there is no doubt that they are among the most talented people of the genre.

One thing is absolutely clear: the quartet has reached the peak of their evolution, and I can hardly imagine how they want to become even better, both in writing and performing their material. The mixture between whiplash-inducing parts and almost symphonic passages is simply breathtaking, leaving you in awe at the talent that the band possesses.

As hinted at previously, the guitars range from your finest headbang riffs to purely melodic solos without being repetitive at any point during these thirteen songs that can be found on the limited edition, which I highly recommend since the three bonus songs are well worth it. The bass plays a rather important role too since it mostly plays separate lines, thus giving the mix an additional depth. The drumming has a rather wide reach as well, encompassing intricate double bass work, groove-laden beats and the occasional blast beat.

The vocals have not really improved in quality, but that’s almost impossible since they have already been at an extremely high level on the predecessor In Waves. The influence of producer David Draiman, of Disturbed, can definitely be noticed however, since the singing has vastly improved in terms of melodic diversity.

The only “negative” part, to me, is that the first four tracks of these sixty-two minutes are among my less favorite tracks on the record resulting in a dragging beginning…but the momentum quickly picks up after that and makes the remaining forty-four minutes an absolute joyride. A different track order would have made it an even better package in my opinion. Nevertheless, Vengeance Falls is a very strong entry in the band’s catalog and I can honestly recommend it to any fan of heavy music. Visit the band’s Facebook page and listen to the first single below…and if the band is ever playing in your vicinity: GO!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIvSXocE6YY]

Asking Alexandria – From Death To Destiny

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I am a person that is very fond of routine and I dislike sudden major changes in my life, while that might be considered a strength or a weakness depending on your personal attitude, I am absolutely in favor of change, read evolution, in music. There is nothing I like more than a band stepping out of their comfort zone and writing an album that sounds, almost, nothing like their previous endeavors. Earlier this year Bring Me The Horizon did a phenomenal job in that domain, and now it’s the turn of another rather influential band of the genre to do the same. If you haven’t guessed by the cover, I’m talking about Asking Alexandria who recently released their third record From Death To Destiny.

While the twelve songs do still bare the signature AA sound, they are so different from especially the debut record, Stand Up And Scream, that I was wondering whether there had been a mix-up in the pressing. After the intro which, fun fact, features soundbites from the singer’s drunk escapades at one of their early concerts, you are confronted with very melodic riffing and singing. While there is still the typical “chug-chug” stuff, the songs just sound way more mature and structured.

It goes further than that however, because so far my description might as well be of their second album Reckless & Relentless. Personally, the entire forty-seven minutes remind me of eighties rock and heavy metal in many and more passages with a healthy dose of metalcore. If I had to describe it in one, alas made-up, word I’d say: rock-core. To fans of the first hour this mix will certainly seem strange at first, but if you give it a chance to seep in, you might come to same conclusion as me: this is what Asking Alexandria should sound like.

Another aspect, that seems to be a trend this year, is that the vocals (and lyrics) have vastly improved in comparison to previous works. Singer Danny Worsnop damaged his vocal chords in late 2012 and subsequently went through rigorous vocal training, resulting in a noticeable change of his screams and growls. His clean vocals on the other hand sound very similar to before but simply better executed. Again, the “new” heavy vocals might scare some people off at first but they fit the music perfectly.

As a closing statement I can only say that this album is definitely the band’s musically soundest release and while they have strayed far from their original sound, it is the best thing that could have happened since these days only the daring bands can survive. And trust me: these guys will survive for a long time. Check out the band’s Facebook page and give the song below a listen; I picked a non-single track on purpose to better illustrate what I mean.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92gKGj-9aUI]

August Burns Red – Rescue & Restore

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If there is one sentence that I’ve heard too often from bands it’s: “this new record is the best one so far, etc etc”. More often than not, this promise is not kept. In the case of August Burns Red‘s new release Rescue & Restore however, it is more than just true…it’s an understatement: their fifth album is nothing shy of an absolute masterpiece.

In their early days the band were a pretty standard metalcore band, a good one admittedly, but with their third record Constellations they slowly started expanding their sound. Number four, Leveler, broke new ground with the occasional addition of certain atypical instruments and polyrhythms which added a certain epic feeling to their music. However, their newest endeavor goes even further and broadens the entire spectrum of what metalcore can be.

The guitars and drums are absolutely insane and I can guarantee you that you will find new licks and fills each time you re-listen to the eleven songs. While that has already kind of been the case on the predecessor, it is even more pronounced this time around. The same goes for the use of unconventional instruments…I’m not sure if I managed to identify all of them correctly but here is a, possibly incomplete, list: marimba, trumpet, flamenco guitar and violin. I am aware that this sounds ridiculous when you read it…but it fits so well into the song structures that the ingenuity is hard to deny. But you will have to be judge of that for yourself, I for one completely dig it.

The vocals have not changed a lot, nor has the production value: both are still at extreme high level. There are now certain spoken word passages that help quiet the songs down and thereby make the sonic array more diverse during these forty-eight minutes. If you know the band, you know that their lyrics are generally-speaking influenced by their faith without them being too much “in your face” about it. This has not changed, which I welcome because they are a major part of what ABR is all about.

All in all, as mentioned above, I’d say that this is definitely the band’s strongest record to date and I can only recommend every metal(core) fan to give it a go. One thing’s certain: June has brought forward another strong contender for my personal top 5. You can find more information about the band on their Facebook page, and you can listen to a song below. And just because I can: this has been my fiftieth music review, here’s to another fifty!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkLttNn7dhU]