Time is relative. For us Australians, ahead of most of the world on the clock face, the final weekday is the prime slot for most record releases. Again for us Aussies, Friday’s are also typically the new song release date for many bands and labels. So there can be a real sense of excitement seeing that Thursday night tick over into the early hours of Friday morning and soon having a host of new content to officially dive into on YouTube, Spotify, or on whichever streaming poison that you pick. Recently, whether it was hot new tunes from Loathe and Spiritbox or a comeback track from tech-death crew, Beneath The Massacre, a lot dropped onto listeners laps last Friday, November 29th. Let’s get into some of ’em.
Loathe – ‘Aggressive Evolution’
There’s just something so refreshing about a band like Loathe. Many bands now attempt this darkened, freaky, Deftones-inspired metal style yet very few do it as well or as excitingly as these U.K. lads. Nothing makes that fact more apparent than the latest glimpse we’ve gotten into their universe (and next album) with ‘Aggressive Evolution.’ It doesn’t only make for a solid hat-trick from the Liverpool act by gracefully following up their killer dual-single of ‘Gored‘ and ‘New Faces In The Dark‘ from back in September, it also feels and sounds like a great sister follow-up to that of 2017’s mentally good ‘White Hot‘ hit. In fact, ever since that particular banger stormed into the world two years ago, Loathe has started to exist within their own lane.
The heavy savagery of the verses, with Kadeem France’s deep growls and fiendish screams leading the charge around pitch-rising guitars, pinching riffs and demented pick-scraping, are complemented wonderfully by the instrumentally atmospheric and ethereally-sung choruses from guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe; the kind that sees the track fully bloom. One part cannot exist without the other, though. Hell, as the song itself mentions: “two worlds collide.” ‘Aggressive Evolution‘ works because all of these extreme contrasts of melody and brutality operate in tandem, existing as a singular entity. All with drummer Sean Radcliffe’s perfectly fitting percussive lashings suiting the track at any given point, no less; whether it’s under those stunning refrains or right on over to the grumbling, monstrous breakdown that closes shit out. (With a neat little Sekiro reference; “As our shadows die twice.“)
There’s just something really fucking special about what Loathe does, and this is only the beginning. This isn’t just some of the best Deftones worship out there right now, but also some of the most visceral modern metalcore going currently, with hints of progressive metal, djent, experimentation, and a grim mood of creepy samples and movie-score aesthetics tying everything together seamlessly. With their upcoming LP, ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything,’ dropping February 7th, 2020, we could very well be looking at the future of heavy music in the U.K.
Spiritbox – ‘Rule Of Nines’
After discovering the glory of Spiritbox via ‘Belcarra,’ and later falling head over heels in love with their singles EP collection – there’s a very good reason as to why I named that five-track as one of my favourite releases from 2019’s first half – this new Canadian band have seriously been ones to watch. Formed by two ex-members of the crazed prog-metal/mathcore unit, Iwrestledabearonce, Spiritbox is a lung-expanding breath of fresh air for where so much djent, metalcore and prog-metal is at right now. Hearing songs like ‘Bleach Bath‘ and ‘Trust Fall‘ is akin to taking your blinders off, like wiping the dirt and smut from your eyes and finally seeing the light; crap that first covered your vision due to an uncountable amount of average and forgettable prog-metal releases of late.
‘Rule Of Nines‘ – named after the process in which burn victims are treated and how their wounds and pain is measured in order for treatment procedures to be assessed – is another sublime, longing and emotionally honest single from Spiritbox. It’s a lyrical shrine to an unfair world and personal schisms; a musical effigy for death; a sign of future healing and strength. The artsy, pinging guitar chords paired with deadly chugging and slick tapping is well done; the thumping bass rhythms decimate the track; the haunting ambience and subtle use of synths take a necessary backseat; the smooth screaming and singing vocal transitions from Courtney LaPlante are so impressive; and then there’s that fuckin’ awesome off-beat cymbal pattern that hits at 0:38 that goes so hard. There’s so much to love!
This is an easy top three song for Spiritbox’s slowly growing catalogue of stellar music. As ‘Rule Of Nines‘ is just a premonition of what will no doubt come in the new year and later down the line. With Spiritbox (and Loathe), the future of heavy music in 2020 is in the palm of capable hands.
Beneath The Massacre – ‘Autonomous Mind’
From 2004 up until 2012, Canada’s Beneath The Massacre wrote ridiculously heavy and super technical death metal, spanning the course of three full-lengths. But after that supposed doomsday year, things soon went eerily quiet from the Beneath The Massacre camp. According to their manager, they never actually broke up; they just became inactive and went away for seven years. As one does. But forget all of that, because now they’re back!
Their fourth LP, and subsequent comeback effort, ‘Fearmonger‘ is set for release on February 28th, 2020 via Century Media and its first cut has arrived: ‘Autonomous Mind.’ The low and bellowing death metal growls and grunts, the insane snare and cymbal blasting, and those hectic guitar sweeps and rapid taps are all par for the tech-death course for these guys. However, when just over the three minutes in length, this track doesn’t overstay its welcome, and that’s a real blessing for often exhausting metal like this.
‘Autonomous Mind‘, even with it’s over the top nature and that chopped-up guitar/synth ostinato, is a mostly safe and expected returning effort for the deathcore group, but one that eager, starving fans will no doubt love. Because for many out there, this new song will seem as if BTM never left us. For me, however, it’s just merely fine. If anything, though, this new single is also a great example of what other, newer techy deathcore groups like Rings Of Saturn try to achieve in their own songs but routinely fail at.
Lovers of Job For A Cowboy, As Blood Runs Black, and Decapitated right to the front.
Currents – ‘Poverty Of Self’
There is no ethical chugging under capitalism. At least, that’s what Currents latest song, ‘Poverty Of Self,’ tells me. Written about billionaire shit-heels like the transatlantic Sackler dynasty – who helped fuel the opioid epidemic in America over the last two decades and who now buy up endless positive PR via running charities, making donations, and putting their name on most U.S. art galleries and museums – ‘Poverty Of Self‘ is about ruling class enterprises that divide an already divisive world any way they can. It’s about busting out the guillotines when us down here in the ever-separating low and middle classes finally say that enough is enough with this bleak reality. Eat the rich, but chuck a sick mosh first.
On one hand, Currents hit hard, growl deeply, blast fast, and tune low with ‘Poverty Of Self‘, making for a brooding, aggressive and dark “fuck you” sounding metalcore track that’ll erupt pits whenever and wherever its played. It keeps the breakdowns and heaviness up high and nearly completely ditching any ideas of melody and clean singing. Yet on the other hand, while I back the song’s message, it just feels and sounds like most other Currents tracks, only a little darker and heavier, with plenty of dissonant riffs. As I said in my review of 2017’s ‘The Place I Feel Safest,’ metalcore is as metalcore does. And that’s also the case here with the bands latest work. In terms of instrumentation and arrangement, this is just turn-your-brain-off, chugging metal that’s only meant to be head-banged to and very little else.
Bury Tomorrow – ‘The Grey (VIXI)’
Since day one, Bury Tomorrow have never broken the norms of their sound, yet they’ve often competently written and solidly delivered the usual aspects of modern metalcore. They’re one of those bands that’s moved in sync with the genre over the last ten years, meeting its various changes in tones, tuning, production and what not every step of the way. Maybe that’s why they’ve always been around – the U.K. band have always been somewhat relevant for their scene: year-in, year-out. Even if they are far from the biggest or best band in this particular metal sub-category.
Their first release since 2018’s mostly solid ‘Black Flame‘ LP, Bury Tomorrow keep up their djenty, groovy, melodic metalcore trade-marks with ‘The Grey (VIXI).’ With the shiny polish that dominated the mix of that last album, ‘The Grey‘ is yet another hopeful, hooky, riffy and bouncy metalcore tune from the English band; written about finding one’s own way through solitude and isolation, and the impermanence of life and our memories. The dual-vocal back and forths between screamer Daniel Winter-Bates and singer/guitarist Jason Cameron is classic Bury Tomorrow (and extremely typical metalcore), yet the energy of its melodic leads and the jumpy riffage more than makes up for it.
However, there’s really not much else I can say about Bury Tomorrow’s latest jam, the first taste of a new album that’s coming in 2020. While it hasn’t got anything on ‘Knife Of Gold‘ or the title track of their previous effort, it’ll be sure to go down well with their biggest supporters. It’s a decent enough track, just nothing that different or that special for not only their own releases but also for the genre they reside within. If you want some cool riffs and a memorable chorus or two but not much else, this is it, chief.
Blood Youth – ‘Playing The Victim’
Nothing quite embodies the mentality of where nu-metalcore and metalcore music and its fans are at right now then this comment from the user, Numetalcore_blogger, on this new Blood Youth video: “Dudes keep changing the game. This is an absolute banger and that chorus though!”
Now, if people think that ‘Playing The Victim‘ is a banger, more power to them! I’m glad that they enjoy the song, but I sure as shit am not going to fall over myself in praising something so generic and bog-standard. If people love its chorus, then that’s totally fine too. I personally don’t think it’s anything that unique or that memorable and have heard much better, honestly. However, when people start throwing around insane hyperbolic statements such as “changing the game,” when so many of the bands that get hit with these phrases aren’t actually changing any kind of musical paradigms, then its time to log off and take a fucking seat. Good lord.
Bodysnatcher – ‘Black of my Eyes’
If there’s one aspect that defines the vast majority of releases on Stay Sick, it’s how hard and how frequently you can hit listeners with a filthy breakdown. That’s where Melbourne, Floridian outfit, Bodysnatcher, come in with ‘Black of my Eyes.’ Because they’ve taken that mentality to heart immensely so with their latest release, taken from ‘The Heavy Void,’ which drops January 31st, 2020.
Bodysnatcher have some of the meatiest, most obnoxious hardcore/beatdown songwriting of any band going right now. For those out there who want that stuff, and only that in their heavy music diets, ‘Black of my Eyes‘ is absolutely for you. At its core, this song pairs some dirty-ass, heavy hardcore and deathcore-laden songwriting with a lyrical message of battling self-doubt, anxiety and mental illness is a pretty fitting combo. Dark and heavy music that focuses on dark and heavy thoughts, go figure. And I do have a small soft spot for any band out there whose drummer drops big beats behind the kit whilst singing or screaming. Yet that’s all not really enough to make me like new Bodysnatcher overall.
Slow-paced groove sections that soon snap into deathcore blast-beats and growled vocal sections, before another chugging breakdown strikes? That’s ‘Black of my Eyes‘ to a T, folks. This band knows what they are, what they do, and they keep it simple. For some, there’s an art to that. However, if you want anything musically deeper or something more sonically interesting, don’t even bother hitting play on the link below. For me, this one got old incredibly fast and after only two listens to Bodysnatcher’s latest track, I almost feel like I’ve heard their entire release history boiled down to a single song. So it’s a no from me, dawg.
Static Dress – ‘Adaptive Taste.’
You cannot deny that there’s no new talent coming up these days. One such younger, newer band existing in underground alternative and heavy circles right now is Static Dress. That’s not to say that I think they’re going to be the next big thing or anything of the sort, but the potential for bigger and brighter things is definitely there with a new track like ‘Adaptive Taste.‘
With ‘Adaptive Taste.,’ we get a decent mixture of discordant metalcore, angsty post-hardcore, groove-heavy nu-metal, and 2000’s alt-rock makes for a semi-interesting new single that sounds like it just walked straight out of 2004 and 2016 respectively. Even if it does seem like this band took their entire aesthetic and a huge portion of their sound from My Ticket Home, with hints of Funeral For A Friend and From First To Last. The song really hits its stride when it reaches that emotive, well-layered, melodically explosive bridge and subsequent final chorus. But everything else before this solid second-half is a little so-so, a little bit up in the air. Nonetheless, keep tabs on this band to see where they go in 2020. I think the best could very well be yet to come from Static Dress.
Black Veil Brides – ‘The Vengeance’
Looking past the dated 1980s glam-metal aesthetic, forced religious undertones, and shoe-horned “hey” gang-vocals and cheap sing-alongs of “whoa-oh” that makes up ‘The Vengeance,’ Black Veil Brides are clearly very talented musicians. Shit, they’ve always been highly competent players and performers, and Andy Biersack is one hell of a vocalist too. Fan or not, I don’t think anyone could legitimately deny those cold hard facts.
Yet a big distinction I’ve always felt with Black Veil Brides is that those performing and playing skills don’t always translate into good songwriting abilities. So much of their material feels like the safest, most basic arena hard-rock and modern glam-metal you could find these days, and that’s because it practically is. But that’s obviously intentional; they didn’t get as big as they are now doing otherwise. With ‘The Vengeance,’ however, it sounds so lifeless. No matter how much shredding or how many duelling-guitar solos the band throws down, it doesn’t change how soulless this all feels. I’m clearly not the intended audience demographic for this song, let alone this band as a whole, yet every generation of rock music needs bands like Black Veil Brides. For better and for worse.