Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Rick's Discoveries Volume XXII

This is a pretty straight-forward Discoveries article. All 10 entries are heavy, hard-hitting, and focused on making you nod (or bang) your head. There is no diverging into post-rock, hip-hop, dubstep, alternative, or any of those "soft" genres. This time around it's only about smashing face and rocking out. That's it. Now go listen!

When Our Time Comes - Test the Waters

In most cases, I'm not a fan of EPs. It's easy to string together a couple good songs; making a full album that's engaging is tough. But when an EP is as good as this one, who gives a rip if you're only getting 4 songs? These 4 tracks are catchier than just about anything being put out today by your average Rise Records or Victory band. When Our Time Comes melds together the polyrhythmic style of djent bands like Periphery, the progressive rock sound of Dead Letter Circus, and the (high-quality) nu-metal leanings of Sevendust into one tight EP. These guys have officially planted themselves on my radar.

Reflections - The Fantasy Effect

I think I've finally exhausted myself on the standard djent sound. If bands aren't adding something to the mix I space out when listening. Thankfully Reflections add a significant amount of deathcore to the djent mix, as well as a few slight atmospheric tinges (they're not obvious, but accentuate a few songs). I hear a bit of Reflux throughout a few tracks, which is a refreshing throwback. The TesseracT influenced moments are very heavy in nature and give the guitars full focus. The occasional solo also keeps things from stagnating throughout the course of the album. All in all, this is a solid djent-core album.

The Dead Wretched - Anchors Down

I love the Australian music scene more and more every month. Here we have another solid band flexing their metalcore muscles. If you enjoy metalcore in the least, you're going to get a kick out of this album. And don't worry, this isn't any of that trendy mallcore metalcore bullshit that you find being pushed by the likes of Rise Records; it's simply a solid album that would fit alongside efforts from the best of Facedown's roster. The only weakness I see is the sometimes spotty clean vocals. With a little work, though, I think they can easily iron that out.

Sirena - The Past that Haunts You

So I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Rise Records and their breed of artists. Mostly, I guess, I hate that I love some of their bands. They have been able to, as a label, create a "sound" that's very distinctly associated with them. Because of this you usually know exactly what you get with any band that signs to their label. Sirena isn't a band on Rise's roster, but I'll be damned if they wouldn't fit in perfectly. They have the deathcore breakdown infused melodic metalcore pegged perfectly. Think The Air I Breathe mixed with some Of Mice & Men or The Color Morale.

New Vegas - Overseer

How do I classify this EP? I suppose it's technically a post-hardcore album, but it's a very progressive style of post-hardcore with songs that often take their time getting where they want to go (5 of the 7 songs are 5 minutes or longer). I hear elements of Hands, Dead Poetic, La Dispute andThrice throughout the course of Overseer. These guys really want to hit a lot of emotional notes, often succeeding, but at times it feels a bit overwrought. Still, the depth of this EP is really something to behold. The earnestness of many of the songs shows a band passionate about what they're creating.

Lithium Dawn - Aion

Because djent has become so popular lately, many people (including myself) have often started just assuming that when a band says they're "progressive metal" what they really mean is "djent." Lithium Dawn are progressive metal, but they're probably only 30-40% djent-y. Yes, some tracks such as "Destroyer" lean heavily in the djent direction, but there are just as much Tool, Dream Theater, and Porcupine Tree influences to be found as there are from TesseracT. It's this conscious effort to stay decidedly in the traditional prog arena while only utilizing djent influences from time to time that makes Aion stand out from all of the rest of the "progressive metal" albums I've listened to lately.

Nott - Devouring Deities

Devouring Deities is a single 22 minute song, but is broken up into 5 tracks for those of you with short attention spans. When taken as a single composition, you have a very well constructed progressive metal (in this case, read that as saying "djent") song that has a solid helping of progressive death metal leanings (mostly in the vocal department). There's obviously some nods to Meshuggah throughout, but it's not as blatant as you'd imagine. Definitely give this EP a shot as it shows a lot of promise from a new, ambitious artist.

Atoma - Skylight

I can almost guarantee you that you'll find this album on my top 10 list at the end of this year. It's an album you can throw under the progressive metal umbrella, but it is so much more than that. Even though that is the template loosely used by the band, they coat it with hefty use of post-rock (in the vein of God Is an Astronaut), lots of atmosphere, achingly beautiful vocals, tasteful electronics, and symphonic elements. There's not really a band to compare Atoma to. You could maybe think of them as an amalgamation of Katatonia, Dream Theater, Anathema, and the aforementioned God Is an Astronaut. You'll be hard pressed to listen to anything similar to this album this year. It is truly a unique experience.

Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I

Yes, we have yet another "progressive metal" album in this Discoveries article, but Ne Obliviscaris takes things in yet another direction, though.Portal of I is a showcase for sprawling, epic, moving songs that encompass a myriad of subgenres from folk metal to black metal to technical metal to even a bit of blackglaze. And, just for the hell of it, why not toss in a violin? Portal of I is the shining offspring of a love affair between My Dying Bride, Agalloch, Opeth, and Borknagar (yeah, imagine what that four-way must have been like…). Much like Atoma, expect to see this on some year end lists.

Appollonia - Crimson Shades

I can't help but imagine that Appollonia sound a lot like what Mastodon might have sounded like during their Leviathan era if they added a bit more sludge to their sound. Crimson Shades has no shortage of distorted, buzzsaw riffs and they're complemented nicely by the combination of screamed out, yelled, and clean vocal approaches. The wall of sound that Appollonia creates is quite deafening at times, so make sure you're prepared for the assault they'll perform on your ears.

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