Tag Archives: metalcore

Review: Centiment’s Streets of Rage

Centiment are an electronica/metalcore crossover band that are infamous for being the band Greg McPherson formed prior to him joining British rockers InMe. Their current incarnation now features Dave McPherson (vocals) and Gaz Marlow (guitar) from InMe who are joined by Neil Howard on bass and Mark Shurety on drums. The band draw influences from similar crossover acts like Crossfaith and Enter Shikari and their début album ‘Streets of Rage’ marks their first release with their current line-up.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room; Centiment are definitely riding the wave of popularity that three of the five members share with InMe. InMe even cross-promoted the release on their respective pages meaning that an enormous amount of appeal the band are going to have is shared equally with InMe. This is by no means an attack on the way this release was promoted and it certainly isn’t meant to disrespect Howard and Shurety’s talents, but it certainly can’t be ignored.

It also says a lot about ‘Streets of Rage’ that the album succeeds when it channels the melody and massive choruses that InMe are so well known for. Highlights include the incredible opening three tracks of ‘S.O.S.’ with its brilliant chorus, ‘Defenders of Oasis’ which showcases Dave McPherson’s soaring vocals and the daft, Essex gang chant on ‘The Kraken’. More has to be said about ‘The Kraken’ and equally ‘Bloodshot’ which both employ Dave McPherson’s Brentwood accent. The silliness of hearing the man scream “get up pussy, it’s just a flesh wound” and “just take my money you wanker” might sound a bit immature on paper but it infuses the songs with something you wouldn’t be familiar with if you’ve been following InMe all these years. Centiment deal with humour as much as they deal with riffs and beatdowns.

Speaking of Dave McPherson, we can’t ignore his entire vocal performance on ‘Streets of Rage’ because it’s the most diverse he’s put forward on any record he has appeared on to date. Dave’s vocal range is one of the widest in British rock and metal and his soaring croon on ‘Victor Frankl’ is married with a varied display of screaming techniques which are delivered masterfully. Fans of the man’s vocals are in for a real treat here.

Centiment’s ‘Streets of Rage’ stands out among metalcore albums because despite not being anything particularly ground-breaking, the songs have been written in a way that means you won’t be forgetting them any time soon. Riffs are plentiful, the choruses are huge and the electronic elements add some impressive texture to the songs. This really is an accomplished record.

The only time things go a bit astray is when guitarists Greg McPherson and Gaz Marlow get a bit obsessed with chugging a single chord. I’m sure it sounds great when you marry these palm-muted chords with a bit of double-bass drumming to maximise your beatdown quota, but it’s a tiresome and overused technique that’s simply a bit dull to listen to. Centiment really are a much better band when they deal with melody instead of breakdowns.

Luckily, the majority of Centiment’s ‘Streets of Rage’ is a wonderful slab of massively enjoyable metalcore. It’s not going to win an Ivor Novello but if you’re a fan of modern metal and jumping in mosh pits then this is an album that will satisfy that craving. Centiment’s ‘Streets of Rage’ is a great start to a new chapter in the band’s career and hopefully it will lead to even better things.

7/10

Centiment’s ‘Streets of Rage’ is available to purchase direct from the band now.

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Live Review: Coldrain at Camden Barfly 31/1/2014

Cytota

Cytota are a very young band with a big sound. The band instantly brought to mind metalcore luminaries like Asking Alexandria, Rise to Remain and Bury Tomorrow and put on a great performance that was incredibly accomplished considering their years.

Unfortunately I couldn’t escape the feeling that I’d seen this band before despite the fact I actually hadn’t. Cytota fall into the trap of being metalcore by numbers. The band have screaming, sung sections, double-bass drumming and breakdowns aplenty, but as we’ve said frequently on this website we’ve heard all of this before. Metalcore is a genre that has run out of steam and more needs to be done by bands like Cytota to add more interesting and unique elements to the existing formula.

But as I’ve already mentioned, these lads are only just beginning their career and there’s plenty of time for them to improve. A promising start.

Coldrain

Before we touch on Coldrain’s performance I need to address some concerns I had with this crowd in particular:

  • The Rising Sun flag is rather offensive to a large majority of Japanese people. Bringing one to a live concert featuring a Japanese band is an extremely bad judgement on your part.
  • If someone is in danger especially at a concert with a prominent mosh pit, don’t just stare at the individual. Alert venue staff as soon as possible.
  • If you’re going to drink, do it responsibly. Strangers don’t want to have to suddenly support you because you are now so drunk your legs can’t hold your own weight.
  • If you’re going to use your phone during a concert, doing so on the edge of a mosh pit is probably not the best idea. What did you think was going to happen?
  • If you want to mosh please consider that other people don’t want to mosh. Swinging your rucksack around your neck is not only inconsiderate to others but also incredibly dangerous to others in the mosh pit. You massive twat.
  • If it isn’t clear already, all these things happened during Coldrain’s performance at the Barfly and it greatly hampered my enjoyment of the evening. This is obviously not the band’s fault but come on people, this is simply out of hand.

    Now, Coldrain; they were good. Despite this being the band’s first appearance on UK soil they commanded the audience in the Barfly like professionals. Vocalist Masato is a compelling individual who towered over the audience, singing and screaming his lungs out. Masato didn’t miss a note throughout the entire performance and his energy was extremely engaging.

    Coldrain have a lot of great songs and tonight proved just how brilliant they are in a live environment. The set highlight had to be ‘Die Tomorrow’ which set the room on fire and sparked the biggest pit of the evening and rightly so. Coldrain deliver massive riffs and even bigger choruses by the bucket load and it was a joy to finally hear them live.

    The band promised to come back for another run of dates in the future, but luckily they’ll be back this summer at the Download Festival. If anthemic metalcore/screamo is your cup of tea then you’ll definitely want to check the band out if you get a chance. Just be a little considerate to your fellow gig-goers in the future. You massive twat.


    Review: The Valiant’s Empress Heights

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    The Valiant’s sound came as a real surprise especially after I noticed Lewis Johns was on production duty for their debut album ‘Empress Heights’. Anyone with a vague interest in UK hardcore will recognise Johns’ work on records by Bastions, The Catharsis, Pariso, Palm Reader and Vales so it was a bit of a shock to the system to hear that The Valiant are a metalcore band. This is not to say that Johns’ production isn’t great on ‘Empress Heights’, but my interest was certainly piqued when I started my first play of the album.

    Speaking of the album, let’s speak about the album. As a metalcore band The Valiant are ticking all the boxes. We’ve got double-bass drumming, breakdowns, one-chord riffs, screamed verses and sung choruses. This is shaping up to be a standard day at Metalcore Camp and the band definitely draw comparisons to Malefice, early Sylosis, Bring Me The Horizon and we can’t mention metalcore without comparing the lads to Killswitch Engage. It’s safe to say that The Valiant aren’t exactly breaking the mould here.

    Luckily the band are showcasing some decent musicianship and a range of all-important melodies that will stick with you long after you stop listening. Stand out tracks include ‘Changes’ (no, not the Ozzy song) with its enormous chorus and ‘In Memory Of’ which marks the only point on the record when a song diverges from the usual metalcore template. It’s a lovely little ballad as well, complete with strong melodies and a great vocal performance by Si Phillips.

    Special mention has to be given to the guitar work by both Phillips and Gavin Mahal who bring some huge grooves to every song on ‘Empress Heights’ and also manage to prove that there’s more to metalcore than breakdowns and chugging a single chord. Unfortunately, it’s for these reasons that it’s such a shame to hear a lot of songs get stuck in the tried-and-tested metalcore formula that doesn’t make the best use of everyone’s talents.

    The big problem with ‘Empress Heights’ is how predictable the entire thing is. As we’ve already mentioned, The Valiant tick all the boxes on the metalcore check-list and if you’ve been following the genre since its inception then you’ll find nothing new here that’s worth your time. It’s also a massive shame that guitarists as good as Phillips and Mahal are being forced to play stupid breakdowns like the ones featured in ‘Alive’ and the album’s title track.

    It’s clear that The Valiant have serious chops and ‘Empress Heights’ could have been an album that put the band’s song-writing at the forefront, but we’re sorry to say this is another by-the-books metalcore album that adds nothing that wasn’t already done over 13 years ago on Killswitch Engage’s debut album. Fans of the genre will appreciate the fact that the band are clearly great musicians as the guitar work features some brilliant grooves and leads. We can’t end this review without giving Si Phillips another nod for his singing which adds some much needed melody, but I just can’t stress enough how predictable this record is. Fingers crossed that The Valiant can return with another record that really shows the world how talented they really are.

    6/10

    The Valiant’s ‘Empress Heights’ is released independently by the band on the 20th of January. I can’t actually find any pre-order links for the album (come on lads), so if you’re interested you might want to keep your eyes on the band’s Facebook page.


    Year End: The 10 Best Albums of 2013 Part 1

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    Before we start our list of the 10 best albums of 2013, please remember that this list was decided by one person and therefore represents the opinions of one person. This will likely not reflect your own opinion but that’s okay; there’s room for more than one opinion in this crazy world of ours and your’s is just as valid. As per the theme of UK Scumscene, this list also contains releases by UK bands ONLY. Okay then, let’s get this show on the road:

    10) Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature Nurture

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    Dinosaur Pile-Up proved they were much more than the British equivalent to Weezer with their second album ‘Nature Nurture’. This is an astounding tribute to the days when pop-rock was made with riffs and overdrive pedals. You can hear a much larger cross-section of bands penetrating Dinosaur Pile-Up’s sound with ‘Arizona Waiting’ sounding like Foo Fighters, ‘Peninsula’ sounding like Ash and ‘Start Again’ sounding like the best Feeder song Feeder never wrote.

    9) Subset – Loverdose

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    What we said:

    “Ignore the issue of flow and you have one of the most exciting and down-right inventive rock albums of the year. Subset are one of the most enjoyable and bizarre rock bands doing the rounds and missing this album would deprive you of one of the most creative rock albums in existence.”

    Read the full review by clicking here.

    8) Funeral for a Friend – Conduit

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    ‘Conduit’ has been a strange record for me in that it didn’t instantly click as the Funeral for a Friend I know and love. This is an immediate, hardcore-influenced FFAF that aren’t bothered about taking longer than 3 minutes to get their ideas across. ‘Conduit’ clocks in at just under 30 minutes and it’s absolutely thrilling to hear the band back with a reinvigorated energy that makes the whole record spark and fizz. Many have commented that FFAF sound like a much younger band on ‘Conduit’ and they’ve even managed to prove this on the big stage. ‘Conduit’ is a welcome return to the no-nonsense thrills of the band’s ‘Between Order and Model’ days.

    7) Jamie Lenman – Muscle Memory

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    What we said:

    “So how the hell do we sum up such a bizarre and challenging record? ‘Muscle Memory’ is very literally an album of two sides and while the heavy side of Jamie Lenman’s music can sometimes fall flat without his trademark melody, the side of the record which focuses solely on his beautiful song-writing succeeds on many, many levels. There’s an awful lot to love about Jamie Lenman’s ‘Muscle Memory’ and while not all of it works, a far higher margin of songs do and it reminds you exactly why this man’s music is so special to so many people. Welcome back Jamie you crazy bastard.”

    Click here to read the full review.

    6) Bovine – The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire

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    What we said:

    “Bovine’s The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire is an exciting, brash and surprisingly interesting record that manages to balance its’ visceral elements with excellent melodies. The whole record flows naturally from one song to the next and offers one of the most solid listening experiences a rock fan could ask for. Bovine have put together a stunning debut which sets the bar for the rest of their career extremely high. No pressure or anything lads.”

    Click here to read the full review.


    Review: Desolated’s Disorder of Mind

    This might be the most difficult review I’ve ever had to write because it’s amazingly frutstrating thinking of different ways to say ‘bland’, ‘generic’ and ‘boring’. If you haven’t already guessed I wasn’t too thrilled by Desolated’s Disorder of Mind and over its 5 tracks the EP did very little to make me think Desolated had any interesting ideas of their own.

    Desolated make metalcore but they do it with the sort of metal-meets-hardcore swagger that bands like Hang the Bastard do so well. The difference is Desolated have hardly any melody on display and it’s because of this that the band end up churning out 5 very samey, very dull metalcore songs.

    The band structure their songs like this: a constant, one-chord breakdown plays and each chord is punctuated with a bass-drum hit. Vocalist Paul Williams screams some words over everything and in between the one-chord breakdowns guitarist Rich Unsworth occasionally writes something that’s almost like a thrash metal riff. Every song on Disorder of Mind follows this pattern and the almost complete lack of melody and over-reliance on breakdowns makes it a tiresome experience.

    The big issue I have with it is Unsworth proves he can write memorable guitar riffs as those small glimpses of thrash-metal are quite promising. Sadly it isn’t too long before we’re back in one chord territory. I can almost visualise the band posturing on stage and shouting at the audience to “open up this pit”. My face is thoroughly in my palms.

    Desolated have worked themselves into a rut on Disorder of Mind. Because Williams relies on screaming, this EP needed some catchy riffs to give the listener something to sink their teeth into. What we get is breakdown after breakdown and it’s a repetitive and unvaried slog through music that wasn’t really made to be listened to. This is mosh music through and through and while that’s fine for the sort of audience Desolated are attracting in a live environment it doesn’t make for a compelling listen on record. If Unsworth moved away from the breakdowns and showcased exactly how good his riffs can be this EP could have been saved, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait until next time to see if that hope can become a reality.

    3/10

    Desolated’s Disorder of Mind is out now and available to buy direct from the band on 12″ vinyl and CD.


    Review: All to Ruin’s Parables

    I am perplexed as to how metalcore has managed to have so much mileage. Isn’t everyone sick of double bass drumming, one-chord guitar work and vocals which are screamed in the verses and sung in the choruses? Didn’t Killswitch Engage and Bullet For My Valentine and Bring Me The Horizon and 36 Crazyfists and As I Lay Dying and the hundreds upon hundreds of metalcore bands that have been and gone over the last 15 years or so already satisfy everyone that cares about this genre?

    Enter All to Ruin who make metalcore with double bass drumming and one-chord guitar work and have verses with screamy bits and choruses with sung bits. Sigh. The thing with metalcore is we’ve all heard this style of music done so many times before with varying degrees of success, so if you’re a metalcore band in this day and age then you better have something memorable to your name or you’ll end up trampled under the feet of every easily distracted music fan looking for the “next big thing”.

    So what about All to Ruin’s Parables EP then? Surprisingly it almost delivers a memorable metalcore release that fans of the genre will enjoy, but there’s no denying it doesn’t suffer from sounding like something we’ve all heard before in an incredibly over-saturated market.

    The big pull on this EP is the vocal work from Aaron Roberts which is extremely powerful. The man has a great set of pipes on him that helps deliver some massive choruses and his screaming is natural and flows into the sung sections effortlessly.

    The guitar work actually delivers a few surprises as well. The leads are impressively melodic and their delivery is nothing but exemplary throughout. The King is Dead brings the strongest lead with it and it’s a stunning performance that the band should be hugely proud of.

    All to Ruin’s Parables is a decent slab of metalcore loaded with big choruses. It’s also an EP that can’t escape the confines of a genre that is predictable and overpopulated. There’s plenty of talent in the All to Ruin camp, but they really need to break out of metalcore shackles and explore some new ideas if they want to be identified as themselves and not just another Killswitch Engage.

    5/10

    All to Ruin’s Parables EP is released digitally on the 23rd of September.


    Review: All She Wrote’s Riven

    All She Wrote are a four piece metalcore/emo crossover act who sound like A Day to Remember and Asking Alexandria. This is the band’s first EP ‘Riven’ and it sounds like A Day to Remember and Asking Alexandra. What fun.

    Let’s not beat around the bush with this one; All She Wrote have made an extremely polished EP here, but it lacks passion. The whole record sounds like it was phoned in with everyone doing an admirable job, but that’s it. There’s no crunch to the guitar work, the vocals float around in that inoffensive mid range and the drumming is so overproduced that it sounds like a drum machine.

    There’s some decent work here with some great leads appearing on the title track and the whole thing opens with a beautifully dramatic introduction that sounds like it was plucked straight from a Hollywood film trailer. It’s just a shame that the band really don’t sound like they particularly care. There aren’t any melodies that wriggle their way into your psyche and vocalist/guitarist Connor Crooks just doesn’t sing like he means it.

    The big issue comes in the guitar department. While the music is perfectly acceptable, the bass is too low to give anything a proper impact and the guitar often gets buried behind the double bass drumming like on Weathered. If a little more effort was put into the production work on Riven the band could have sounded enormous, but unfortunately the whole EP comes across as a little flat.

    All She Wrote are a really difficult band to write about because they’re unfortunately a bit bland. These four men aren’t having any trouble making music and Riven is quite a tight sounding release, but it’s also unremarkable and unimaginative. All She Wrote lack the intensity of a band that perform with conviction and unless they address this on future releases they’re going to fall into obscurity.

    4/10

    All She Wrote’s Riven is out now and available to buy from iTunes.


    Review: Gravil’s Thoughts of a Rising Sun

    Despite following that classic rock tradition of taking a word and spelling it wrong on purpose, Gravil managed to surprise me straight off the bat with a brilliantly misleading opening. The first track on their album Thoughts of a Rising Sun is called Structurally Unsound and it begins with a jaunty, almost folky piece of guitar work and just as I thought I needed to grab my nearest tankard, pour a pint of ale and do a little jig, the song absolutely annihilates my ears with the biggest thrash metal riff I’ve heard in ages.

    Structurally Unsound continues with frantic speed-metal shredding, some exemplary double bass work and that modern-metal staple of screamed verses and huge, memorable, sung choruses. Gravil have my attention and it’s brilliant to hear such expertly crafted thrash that would give bands like Evile and Sylosis a run for their money.

    But then something bizarre happens; second track Enemy Within opens with a metalcore “eeeee-yup” and we enter a world of poor melodies and dull, one-chord riffs that are unashamedly synonymous of metalcore. What on Earth happened Gravil? Where’s the melody, the shred, the catchy choruses?

    The rest of Gravil’s Thoughts of a Rising Sun continues in a much similar way. Thrash metal riffs are employed sparingly across the entire record, but generally the whole thing becomes a rather predictable yet serviceable metalcore record.

    Thankfully Gravil are pretty enjoyable even when they’re making metalcore and their catchy choruses manage to stick around for most of the eleven songs on Thoughts of a Rising Sun, but we just can’t get over how utterly exciting the band sounded on the first track and how the record dramatically turned into pretty standard, modern-metal territory.

    There’s talent in this band and they can definitely create more melodic and memorable tunes. We even get to witness some amazing leads on tracks like The Wanderer, so it’s a massive shame to hear the band waste so much of their album chugging on a single chord. Thoughts of a Rising Sun is an album that could have been so much more.

    6/10

    Gravil’s Thoughts of a Rising Sun is available to purchase direct from the band now.


    Music Video: Malefice’s Blueprint

    Malefice have dropped a new music video for Blueprint which comes off this year’s Five album. Check it out below:

    Five is available to purchase directly from the band for a measly fiver. That’s a bargain for one of the best metalcore releases this year. You know what to do.


    Review: Ursa Major’s Old Bones

    Ursa Major are a 5 piece metalcore band from Shepperton making noise in a similar fashion to Atreyu and The Devil Wears Prada. Their debut album Old Bones is a no-nonsense, modern metal record that plays off all the idioms that come with a metalcore record; a prominent use of double bass drumming, screamed verses, sung choruses, single chord riffing and a liberal use of breakdowns.

    It’s these elements alone that put Ursa Major in the difficult position of offering the listener an incredibly familiar experience. Every metalcore band under the sun sounds like this so if Ursa Major aren’t going for originality they damn well better be catchy and enjoyable in their own right.

    Luckily, Ursa Major are definitely one of the better British metalcore bands to rear their head in recent times. Black Lights showcases exactly what the band is about with a huge, sung chorus and some memorable riffs that don’t rely on chugging a single chord. There are also some fantastic leads present on songs like The Two Hundred which help give the band an accomplished and layered sound that could have come from anyone of metalcore’s luminaries.

    Metalcore fans are definitely going to find a lot to like with Ursa Major as they’re a big sounding band with some solid songs. The unfortunately obvious problem is that the band are going to find it very difficult attracting anyone else to this album because quite simply, we’ve all heard this done a million times before. How many more single chord riffs and breakdowns do we need before metalcore bands start incorporating more interesting ideas in their sound?

    This is always going to be Ursa Major’s biggest problem; there is absolutely nothing original about them. The band cannot offer anything that a hundred other metalcore bands aren’t already doing and quite frankly I’d rather put a Killswitch Engage album on because at least I know they’re full of classic, mosh-pit anthems. If Ursa Major could find some more unique elements to include in their sound they’d be onto something special because it’s apparent from Old Bones that these guys have considerable chops and a massive sound to boot. It’s just a bit of a shame that it’s wasted on another standard metalcore record.

    5/10

    Ursa Major’s Old Bones is available to buy on CD direct from the band now.