April 19, 2024

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Territory’s Edge – The Best New Metal and Hardcore of February 2023, featuring To the Grave, Autrest and more

to the grave

It’s rare for a relatively new heavy band to crack the Billboard 200, let alone a blackened deathcore one, but Lorna Shore has defied expectations since Will Ramos became their new vocalist.  The group recently hit a major milestone – one million monthly listeners on Spotify.  Even their most accessible song is nearly 6 minutes long and brutal from a vocal standpoint!

Will Ramos, the charismatic frontman of Lorna Shore, currently the most popular band in deathcore, is known for his brutal vocal delivery.  There’s even a video where a camera was placed in his throat during a performance.  However, he’s a major fan of metal bands without vocals at all.  In an interview, Will Ramos mentions that he listens to a lot of instrumental-only bands, specifically mentioning Chon, Polyphia, Intervals, and Animals as Leaders.  Recently, he’s also displayed another side to his vocals on a cover of the Sleep Token song “Hypnosis”, an anonymous band I covered last month who’s similarly experienced a meteoric rise in popularity.  While blackened deathcore will never be considered the most commercially viable subgenre, it’s great to see a band like Lorna Shore find success while making technical, brutal music.

In addition to this recent accomplishment in the scene, metal music in February offered something for just about everyone.  The selections below attest to that – ranging from blackened thrash to deathcore to shoegaze-infused post metal.  Read on for a sampling of the variety of heavy music out there.

 

 

Palms – “Opening Titles/End Credits”

Ten years after their sole album, we get two previously unreleased tracks from Palms.  This band is composed of legendary Deftones frontman Chino Moreno, and three members of post-metal frontrunners Isis.  Think of the sludgy post metal of Wavering Radiant or Oceanic and pair it with the moody, dreamlike atmosphere of Team Sleep.  “Opening Titles” starts with feedback and gradually builds, showcasing Chino’s soaring vocals and a scream at the climax.   While more subdued, the instrumental “End Credits” follows a similar gradual progression.

 

Svalbard – “Eternal Spirits”

“Eternal Spirits” marks the first new music from the Bristol melodic hardcore/crust band since 2020’s When I Die, Will I Get Better? For listeners new to Svalbard, it’s a good introduction to their distinct, densely layered sound.  The track is a tribute to the legacy and influence of metal musicians gone too soon.  The lyrics are straightforward in conveying that messaging, noting the lasting impact the music of these deceased artists had and continue to have on the current generation of heavy bands.  Vocalist Serena Cherry dedicated this song to the memory of a specific artist who inspired her – former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison.   It’s dark yet uplifting, both lyrically and musically.

 

Autrest – Follow the Cold Path

Autrest is a one-man atmospheric black metal project from Brazil.  Shoegaze and post-rock influences run through the entire album, giving it a sense of ethereal majesty.  The sole member, Matheus Vidor, has also released music in 2022 under a few other names and is currently looking for a record label for physical releases.  The spacey, mostly instrumental Windveill portrays a dreamlike, mysterious atmosphere through its soundscapes.  Dispar is another project of his, emphasizing a Deafheaven-style blackgaze sound.  With only a two-song demo, it is nevertheless impressive, and earned attention and acclaim from another monthly metal column last August.  On Follow the Cold Path, “Time is a River” stands out for its grandeur, building throughout its nine-minute runtime.

 

To the Grave – Director’s Cuts

This Australian band makes brutal deathcore with lyrics themed around animal rights.  Thematically reminiscent of American grindcore band Cattle Decapitation, their latest album is a sonic evisceration of the cruelty of practices such as trapping, factory farming and vivisection.  In the band’s words, “we all the writers and directors of an unending horror film, its actors unwilling and the scenes taking place in every circus, zoo, lab, farm and slaughterhouse that stain our green globe.”  The short but brutal opening track “Warning Shot” sets the tone for the entire album.   As heavy and relentless as this is, To the Grave offer dagger-sharp hooks buried in tracks like “Protest and Sever” and “Die, Rise” that make them very memorable.  “Found Footage” offers a brief bit of atmosphere and respite in the middle, before the onslaught continues.

 

Hellripper – Warlocks Grim and Withered Hags

Hellripper is a one-man blackened thrash metal band from Scotland.  Musically, the project is inspired by formational extreme metal groups such as Venom and Celtic Frost.  Thematically, James McBain wrote his latest album based on the dark side of folklore from his home country.  Both the opening and closing tracks are named for monstrous sea creatures of lore originating from Scotland’s Orkney Isles.  “The Nuckelavee” is based on a one-eyed, fleshlike horse demon, while closer “Mester Stoor Worm” is named for a giant coiling sea dragon with poisonous breath.  The sound of the album is fast-paced thrash metal, with some twists and turns along the way.  One standout is “The Cursed Carrion Crown” in the middle of the album.  This fast-paced track begins as pure thrash metal – complete with a Slayer-esque scream at the beginning – and later emphasizes melodic guitar riffs in the song.

 

Liminal – “Born2Hate”

Led by frontman Wesley Robinson (formerly of Sabertooth), Liminal formed one year ago and released their debut single “Burn” last July.  While that first song was a straightforward opening statement, their latest single “Born2Hate” was one that challenged him and his bandmates to think outside the box as songwriters.  Both songs will appear on an upcoming release, yet to be announced.  This new track is a deathcore rager with its share of nu metal elements, throwing in a rap breakdown near the end.  There’s a bit of Shadow of Intent influence as well – most noticeable on the orchestral flourishes and choir on the outro.  Make no mistake, this is a viciously heavy song with plenty of twists and turns to keep it engaging – and marks Liminal as a band to watch in the future.

 

Heavensgate – And All I Loved, I Loved Alone

This band premiered their first single last October, and this six-song EP – exactly twenty minutes in length – marks their debut.  Heavensgate is very much a new entity, but they have the backing of some familiar names.  Their aggressive metalcore sound incorporates occasional shoegaze elements in a way that’s reminiscent of Loathe – and that band’s guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe had a hand in the production.  The EP is also mixed and mastered by famed producer Buster Odeholm, who should need no introduction.  The guitarist and songwriter of Humanity’s Last Breath has also worked on a number of stellar tracks, including Silent Planet‘s crushing dark and heavy “:Signal:” and Reflections’ redux of The Fantasy Effect last year.

Heavensgate’s sound is relentless, with the first hint of ambience or melody first arriving on track three.  Later on, “GINSICK” and the Deftones-influenced “LOVERSDANCE” add more melody and atmosphere while still remaining heavy.  The intense sound is matched with equally intense subject matter.  Vocalist Nazareth Tharratt wrote the lyrics based on his personal experiences with mental health, addiction and coping mechanisms.  The initial single “CHEMICAL HEAVEN” shines a light on the lingering, devastating effects of abuse, while “SYMBIOTIC SUICIDE” discusses generational trauma.  Heavensgate have made a very strong statement with just one EP, a release as hard-hitting as it is mesmerizing.

 

February Release Tracker

Singles

Currents – “Remember Me” (Feb 1, metalcore)

Invent Animate – “Immolation of Night” (Feb 2, progressive metalcore)

Ocean Harvest – “Undeserving” (Feb 2, metalcore)

Spotlights – “Algorithmic” (Feb 7, shoegaze/alternative metal)

Brand of Sacrifice – “Dynasty” (Feb 8, symphonic deathcore)

Carcosa – “Born to Lose” (Feb 8, deathcore)

Judiciary – “Paradigm Piercer” (Feb 8, hardcore)

Liminal – “Born2Hate” (Feb 8, hardcore/nu metal)

The Plot in You – “Left Behind” (Feb 8, alternative metal)

UnityTX – “World of Malice” (Feb 8, hardcore)

Veil of Maya – “Godhead” (Feb 8, deathcore)

Imminence – “Jaded” (Feb 10, symphonic metal/alternative metal)

Lamb of God/Kreator – “State of Unrest” (Feb 10, groove/thrash metal)

Linkin Park – “Lost” (Feb 10, alternative metal)

The Amity Affliction – “I See Dead People” (Feb 13, deathcore/metalcore)

Jesus Piece – “Tunnel Vision” (Feb 13, hardcore)

The Acacia Strain – “Fresh Bones” (Feb 14, death metal/deathcore)

Nonpoint – “Heartless” (Feb 14, alternative metal)

Viscera – “Carcinogenesis” (Feb 14, deathcore)

Sleep Token – “Vore” (Feb 16, alternative metal)

Acres/Garrett Russell – “Nothing” (Feb 16, alternative metal)

Cattle Decapitation – “We Eat Our Young” (Feb 16, grindcore)

Full of Hell/Primitive Man – “Tunnels to God” (Feb 16, doom/sludge)

Kruelty – “Harder than Before” (Feb 16, grindcore)

Periphery – “Atropos” (Feb 16, progressive metal)

Chelsea Grin – “Fathomless Maw” (Feb 17, deathcore)

Fire from the Gods/Corey Glover – “Thousand Lifetimes” (Feb 17, rapcore/alternative metal)

Frozen Soul – “Morbid Effigy” (Feb 17, death metal)

Gideon – “Take Off” (Feb 17, nu metal)

Predatory Void – “Endless Return to the Kingdom of Sleep” (Feb 17, doom/sludge)

Palms – “Opening Titles” (Feb 22, post metal)

Palms – “End Credits” (Feb 22, post metal)

Downfall of Gaia – “Existence of Awe” (Feb 22, post-black metal)

August Burns Red/Spencer Chamberlain – “Reckoning” (Feb 22, metalcore)

Judiciary – “Knife in the Dirt” (Feb 23, hardcore)

Bodysnatcher – “Dead Rabbit” (Feb 24, deathcore)

The Ongoing Concept – “Unwanted Again” (Feb 24, metalcore)

Vacant Voice – “Roscoe’s Violent Dreams” (Feb 24, metalcore)

Svalbard – “Eternal Spirits” (Feb 27, hardcore/post metal)

Ocean Harvest – “Legends” (Feb 28, metalcore)

 

Albums

Act of Impalement – Infernal Ordinance (Feb 2, doom/death metal)

Anticline – Jagged Type (Feb 2, hardcore)

All Out War – Celestial Rot (Feb 3, hardcore)

Memoriam – Rise to Power (Feb 3, death metal)

Mithridatum – Harrowing (Feb 3, dissonant death metal)

Osiah – Chronos (Feb 3, deathcore)

Sanguisugabogg – Homicidal Ecstasy (Feb 3, death metal)

Thrice – The Artist in the Ambulance – (Revisited) (Feb 3, post-hardcore)

Distant – Heritage (Feb 10, deathcore)

Honest Crooks – The Sounds of Hell (Feb 10, deathcore)

In Flames – Foregone (Feb 10, melodic death metal)

Afterdusk – Fatalize (Feb 17, metalcore)

Avatar – Dance Devil Dance (Feb 17, melodic death metal/heavy metal)

Clint Lowery – Ghostwriter EP (Feb 17, alternative metal)

Code Orange – What is Really Underneath? (Feb 17, remixes/industrial metal)

Graphic Nature – A Mind Waiting to Die (Feb 17, nu metal/metalcore)

Hellripper – Warlocks Grim and Withered Hags (Feb 17, thrash/black metal)

Street Tombs – Reclusive Decay (Feb 17, crust punk/death metal)

Tithe – Inverse Rapture (Feb 17, death/doom metal)

Ulthar – Helionomicon (Feb 17, blackened death metal)

Ulthar – Anthronomicon (Feb 17, blackened death metal)

Autrest – Follow the Cold Path (Feb 18, atmospheric black metal)

Heavensgate – And All I Loved, I Loved Alone (Feb 24, progressive metalcore)

Insomnium – 1696 (Feb 24, melodic death metal)

To the Grave – Director’s Cuts (Feb 24, deathcore)

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