This column breaks down five recently released singles in progressive, hardcore, and heavy music to add to your radar. This time the selections range from post-black metal to melodic metalcore to other styles. Whether from a newcomer or established act, we think you should give these songs a listen.
Downfall of Gaia – “Bodies as Driftwood”
While Downfall of Gaia began as a crust punk band in 2006, their earliest release Salvation in Darkness also incorporated melodic instrumental breaks, which eventually became key to their sound. Throughout the course of their career, they’ve added more elements of black metal and post metal, especially on recent albums Atrophy and Ethic of Radical Finitude. “Bodies as Driftwood” progresses between an atmospheric instrumental and fast-paced black metal. The track is the first single from upcoming album Silhouettes of Disgust, which releases on March 17.
Guitarist Dominik Goncalves dos Reis stated, “With this record we wanted to return to our roots and the earlier days, but without taking a step back. We wanted to incorporate both worlds into our new album, where we came from – the DIY/crust punk scene – and the direction things have taken over the past few years, organically growing from release to release.”
Ocean Harvest – “Undeserving”
Ocean Harvest is an independent metalcore band from the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona. They formed in 2014 and have opened for artists such as Soulfly, Oceano, Nile, and Carnifex. The band is part of a growing number of underground metal artists coming from indigenous communities in the Southwestern United States. This scene is largely DIY, with artists distributing music and playing shows themselves without the backing of a label. For smaller unsigned bands, promotion can make a major impact.
For that reason, Ocean Harvest’s lead singer Winston Jose also runs a page called Native Heavy with the goal of promoting and sharing other underground metal bands with Native American members from the area and getting their name out there. “When my band Ocean Harvest first started out, we had zero help in the beginning,” he explained. Some bands he’s promoted range from the melodic hardcore of Heart Museum and Graves of the Monuments, to the raw black metal of Ends Embrace and deathcore of Celestial Exile, to name just a few. As the first in a series of new songs Ocean Harvest is releasing from February to April, “Undeserving” is a hard-hitting single.
Periphery – “Atropos”
Following a 5-day countdown, Periphery released two singles – “Wildfire” and “Zagreus” – together on January 12. A third song, “Atropos”, is now out ahead of their upcoming album scheduled for a March 10 release date. This specific song portrays “a person who lives, and leans into, a completely superficial lifestyle, and the destructive aftermath of what doing so brings about, not just in that person’s life, but in the world around them.” All three songs are technical and lengthy yet catchy, with massive hooks sung by vocalist Spencer Sotelo. Guitarist and founder Misha Mansoor continues to be an unstoppable force.
“Atropos” is instrumentally complex and dynamic – there’s a lot going on in this progressive metal track ranging from blast beats and screams to ambience and an upbeat chorus. At the same time, it’s also very cohesive, transitioning naturally from one section to the next. Periphery continue their streak of tongue-in-cheek album titles, with their upcoming one letting us know that Djent is Not a Genre. It’s a way of having fun with the label of a sound that band helped popularize in the early 2010s.
The Amity Affliction – “I See Dead People”
Thought “Show Me Your God” was heavy? While that song also used blastbeats, Amity Affliction go even harder on new single “I See Dead People.” This track ventures into deathcore territory and is as heavy thematically as it is musically. Lead singer Joel Birch has said this track explores “the ongoing and nebulous struggle that comes with dealing with the pain of friends killing themselves while myself dealing with passive suicidal ideation.” That sense of desperation is conveyed in his vocal delivery, opting for something raw and visceral rather than sheer brutality. The track incorporates a spoken word section near the end, which blends well into the song’s heavy sound. There’s an additional personal meaning behind the sample, as it’s from a late friend of the band, Louie Knuxx, who died in 2021 due to a heart attack.
It’s pretty clear that The Amity Affliction’s upcoming eighth album Not Without My Ghosts will be their heaviest to date. The band has not announced the release date yet, but with two singles out now we can expect one soon.
Imminence – “Jaded”
For the Swedish band Imminence, the use of violin (played by lead singer Eddie Berg) is a key component of their sound. That instrument is prominent on this tumultuous, expressive hard rock track. “Jaded” was originally a lost demo track from the sessions of their 2021 album Heaven in Hiding. When Imminence included that demo in their series of walkthrough videos – which you can watch for yourself here – the track received so much support from fans that the band finished and released it as a single. The instrumentation has elements of symphonic metal and melodic metalcore, while the vocal progression and massive chorus are reminiscent of alternative metal bands like Red. The end result is a metal song that’s accessible, even rock radio-friendly, without ever sounding trite or cookie-cutter.