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Top 10 2019 by Yannick

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And yet another year comes to an end. 2019 has been an exciting musical year and it definitely allowed this decade to go out with a bang. As usual I put together a small list of records that particularly stood out to me, which you can either use as inspiration for a last minute gift or just to pass the time during the (boring) holidays!

#10 Andrés – Once Upon A Time In Bakersfield

Andrés is one of those artists that can’t really be put into a specific genre and so far each of his three records sounded fairly different. The style of this one appealed less to me than the other ones’, but nevertheless it still is a killer record for those sad boy moments. Also, added bonus: I got to experience him live in London this year, which was an absolute blast!

#9 Kurt Travis – There’s A Place I Want To Take You

I was very excited when it was announced that one of my favorite vocalists was finally releasing the follow-up to his 2014 solo record. The fact that it includes a studio version of one of my favorite songs (It’s You) by him, which he only performed live thus far, definitely added immensely to how much I liked this album.

#8 Sleeping With Sirens – How It Feels To Be Lost

I’ve been a SWS fan for quite a while now and I stuck to them even through their two less-stellar records, this year it all paid off because their sixth record might just be my favorite one thus far. A real retour-de-force and an absolute beast live!

#7 Fusion Bomb – Concrete Jungle (review)

While there were quite a few very solid Luxembourgish releases this year, I think it’s safe to say that Fusion Bomb trumped them all. The ferocity of their debut full-length is just out of this world and the immense success they’ve had locally and internationally speaks volumes. If you haven’t jumped into the Slam Tornado yet, what are you waiting for?

#6 Thank You Scientist – Terraformer

Despite writing reviews and “having to” listen to new music regularly, I am usually very reluctant to get into new bands. But when a friend of mine sent me the title track of this record, I immediately fell in love and went ahead and ordered it immediately. The video clip alone is worth your while, and the whole album will keep your ear holes busy for a while.

#5 Bring Me The Horizon – amo

Ever since their style change BMTH have been either loved or hated by the music scene. Their newest release saw some more musical experimentation and, at least in my eyes, it led to a beautiful result. Nihilist Blues has such a spacey vibe that when I first heard it, I had to check if I was still on planet earth.

#4 Knocked Loose – A Different Shade Of Blue

I had first properly noticed Knocked Loose in 2017 when I saw them open for Comeback Kid & Every Time I Die and they definitely delivered a powerful show, but it wasn’t enough to win me over. However, when they released the first single off their second record this year it blew me away completely. I recommended the record to friends as the most genuinely hate-filled record since IOWA, and a high-speed ride on the highway while being dragged behind the car, naked, while somebody punches you in the face simultaneously. Don’t ask.

#3 Emarosa – Peach Club

Another band that strayed very far away from their post-hardcore roots, and opted for a much more pop-orientated sound, where it absolutely paid off. Peach Club is an experience from start to finish that will have you shaking your butt and crying your heart out just minutes later. Give it a listen!

#2 Issues – Beautiful Oblivion

Headspace was a nearly perfect record, which is why it landed so high on my list back when it was released. The follow-up is something else for sure, since it lacks screams almost entirely, but this to me is the definitive Issues sound. While it is not for everyone, I would recommend a listen to everyone!

EP-Special
Nova Charisma – Exposition I & II
Origami Button – Button Season
Unimagined – Friendless
Wolf & Bear – Wolf & Bear EP

Continuing the tradition of the EP shout-outs: Nova Charisma is a side-project of Hail The Sun‘s Donovan Melero on vocals and Royal Coda‘s Sergio Medina on guitar that is very experimental and their two EPs are very varied releases. Origami Button is a band that really caught me with their melodic approach to post-hardcore and their EP has been in my playlist at different times all throughout the year. Unimagined is a horror-themed post-hardcore band that has a very unique vibe and is a perfect pallet cleanser. Finally, Wolf & Bear are a band that have enormous potential and it is, once again, proven on this amazing EP.

#1 Royal Coda – Compassion
Secret Band – LP2
Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

I said it once before: if Slipknot release a record, it is a given that it will land on my top ten somewhere. This year they managed to make it to my number one spot because We Are Not Your Kind was definitely what I wanted after a, in hindsight, mediocre fifth record. Secret Band released their second full-length by surprise on 4/20 this year and when I first listened to it on my train ride from Vienna to Bratislava, I smiled the entire time. This is, by far, the most ferocious album of the year for me, despite being with filled with utter nonsensical lyrics, and if you do not like this record, I do not like you. I kid. I think. Last but not least, Royal Coda followed their fairly good debut with an amazing album this year and it’s been on heavy rotation since its release a bit more than six weeks ago.

All in all, 2019 was a super interesting musical year, with many unlisted records from all sorts of genres that I discovered and thoroughly enjoyed. However, I am salivating when I’m thinking about 2020, because it will see the release of the tenth studio record by my favorites Dance Gavin Dance, the new Eidola record is also finally due to be released, as well as a new Every Time I Die album. Locally, most likely the new Scarred record at some point and some other interesting releases fairly early in the year. So, with that being said, I hope to be able to welcome you back next decade! Party hard and be safe!

Top 10 2018 by Yannick

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As 2018 draws to a close, I’m happy to continue my annual tradition of presenting you ten records that stood out to me during the year and that have been on repeat for most of it. A handful of those I got to review when they were released, but the vast majority will be “new”. So enjoy the year end festivities and if you feel like discovering some fresh music, give my list a little peak!

#10 Slaves – Beautiful Death

While the third full-length of Slaves is without a doubt a great record, it didn’t stay on my rotation as long as its predecessor was, and it was more of the (good) same basically. Which is why I’m putting Beautiful Death lower on my list than what’s about to follow.

#9 Sinsaenum – Repulsion For Humanity

Now, the exact opposite is true for Sinsaenum: their debut really fell flat for me, then they released their Ashes EP, which gave me a glimmer of hope…and I was rewarded. Because Repulsion For Humanity is one really solid, modern, death metal record. I also had the pleasure of seeing them live in Milan this year and they completely blew me away!

#8 Ghost Spirit/Frail Hands – Split (review)

Ghost Spirit have been on my radar since last year, when they released their self-titled debut: an eighteen minute avalanche that left me feeling drained and overwhelmed. This year round they teamed up with Frail Hands, who were unknown to me but I’ve since grown to love, for a Split…and the only thing that changed is that the time of the aural assault has increased to twenty-eight minutes. This might be the biggest “it’ll grow on you” record, for me, this year.

#7 Royal Coda – Royal Coda (review)

Royal Coda might be one of the most experimental records to come out of the Blue Swan camp in a while, and it does something to me, when I let it. It’s not a record I put on all that often anymore, but when I do, it hits hard.

#6 Night Verses – From The Gallery Of Sleep

This year marks the discovery of bands that I slept on in the past. Night Verses is one such band, but it’s also the odd one out: the trio parted ways with their singer and decided to keep going as an instrumental piece…and, to me, they’ve improved so significantly that I don’t regret waiting so long before giving them a proper listen.

#5 Andrés – Heroes, Villains, And All That Jazz

A year after his debut, Andrés is back with a new record and just like its predecessor it does everything right: it has a fresh and unique sound, it doesn’t have any fluff piece songs and it has relatable lyrics (for the most part). And let me not forget to mention one of the coolest interludes in the form of Boys In The Van.

#4 Silent Planet – When The End Began

The second band that I slept on released a new record a few weeks ago and it completely blew me away. The intense performance of the vocalist, the lyrics, the instrumentation, the vibe…When The End Began has it all. I went ahead and bought Silent Planet‘s back-catalogue without hesitation and I was rewarded with two additional phenomenal records.

#3 Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream

Final band that I slept on, is Ice Nine Kills. I did check out their previous record back when it was released and shrugged it off as generic, but it turns out I was just not paying attention to it, because I since went back and I totally dig it. However, The Silver Scream, which was released this year, immediately sucked me in from the first listen. It’s theatricore at its finest and the horror movie theme that goes through the entire record is just so well executed.

#2 Hail The Sun – Mental Knife (review)

I had high hopes early on for this one, and they were very much fulfilled. Mental Knife is a perfect continuation, and evolution, of Hail The Sun‘s sound and delivers a great listening experience from start to finish…but it didn’t quite make it to the top, for fairly obvious reasons for the most part though.

EP-Special
Animal Jam – Animal Jam
Boygenius – Boygenius
Brent Walsh – Are You Even There At All
Thomas Erak And The Shoreline – The Whole Story

I liked last year’s idea of giving some EPs a quick shoutout, for those that can’t get themselves to invest time into a full-length, so I’ll throw in four that stood out to me this year. Animal Jam is one of the most promising newcomers in the post-hardcore genres and their self-titled EP is well worth checking out. Boygenius is a supergroup with Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus and their debut EP is just a feelstrip from start to finish; give it a go if you want to be sad. Brent Walsh, vocalist of I The Mighty, released a solo EP this year and it is a fun blend of various styles, and emotions. Last but not least, Thomas Erak, singer and guitarist of The Fall Of Troy, released a solo project this year where he played everything himself, which I can strongly recommend to fans and non-fans of the band alike.

#1
Dwellings – Lavender Town
Dance Gavin Dance – Artificial Selection (review)

As I said above, the reason why Hail The Sun didn’t make it into the my top spot, is because Dance Gavin Dance released their eighth full-length this year. I was convinced that their previous record could not be topped, but boy was I wrong: Artificial Selection is -even better-. However, one band came out of the blue this year and took me by surprise: Dwellings! Their debut full-length Lavender Town is just the perfect post-hardcore record and if it’s any indication of what is in the band’s future, I can’t wait for what they have in store.

This year definitely held a lot of surprises for me and I got to witness so many amazing concerts in many different countries, but I also managed to write twenty-one reviews, which I’m fairly happy about. 2019 already has two local records on the horizon, that I’ve had the pleasure of pre-listening and I can’t wait to put my thoughts down about them. On the international front there is also the new Bring Me The Horizon that I’m looking forward to and a new Eidola is also in the making. So, again, have a blast and enjoy the end of the year! And most of all: read you next year!

Royal Coda – Royal Coda

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One of my favorite aspects about art in all of its forms, is that it’s dynamic and malleable: what might start as one idea, can end up being something completely different once it’s reached its final form. Today’s candidate is a prime example of such a metamorphosis, since Royal Coda, as it’s called today, was once destined to be a solo project, then turned into two-man-project and finally ended up as a three piece…but more on that in a bit. I was fortunate enough to get an early listening opportunity to the band’s self-titled debut album and I’m absolutely stoked to give you thoughts on it!

To get things rolling, let me sum up real quick what, or rather who, the band is: Sergio Medina, guitarist of Stolas, Sianvar and, very recently Eidola, had been working on a solo record for quite a while, before asking Joseph Arrington of A Lot Like Birds and Sianvar to perform the drums on it. At the time the former was also providing vocals, but as time grew he was less and less sure of his performance and, as the stars aligned, that was when he saw the potential of recruiting Kurt Travis, formerly of Dance Gavin Dance & A Lot Like Birds, as a vocalist…and that was the birth of Royal Coda.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the meat of it! The trio’s musical direction is best described as experimental rock with a very progressive touch, which doesn’t come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the individual members’ previous work. One thing that is clear, is that each one of them brings their A-game to the table and while you can clearly recognize their unique style in their performance, none of the ten songs feel like a rehash, or even like something that would fit in any other of their projects, in the past, present or future.

From an instrumental point of view, the record has a fairly melancholic and pensive feel to it, while never truly going down a somber path, which is mostly due to the slightly more upbeat melodies and rhythms that are thrown in fairly regularly. However, the lyrics and also general vocal performance add a whole other layer of loss and separation to the spectrum.

I am fairly certain that this debut album will not appeal to everyone at first, but I can promise you that if you let these thirty-four minutes sink in, you will be rewarded with one brilliantly composed, and produced, emotional ride. I think a prime example of that is the track See Them Faceless, which has an incredible build-up with extremely complex drum patterns, a catchy guitar melody before and one of my favorite vocal melodies during the chorus. Still gives me goosebumps after the umpteenth listen.

I feel like that this debut album must have been of a mostly (self)therapeutic nature to the involved musicians and while I do love that type of record a lot, I am even more excited to see what the future holds for Royal Coda! In order to keep in touch with what’s going on with them, head over to their Facebook page and make sure to give the song below a play, to tide you over until April 27th, when this beauty is unleashed.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzqsML-hDpo]