No rankings this year; just a load of heavy records from UK bands and artists that I’ve enjoyed and think are worthy of your time. Please enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lewis xxx
While The Spark features Enter Shikari at their most laid back and inoffensive, it also showcases how wonderful their song-writing can be when their focus has shifted towards a more positive attitude. For fans of the band’s previous fusion of techno and hardcore, you’re probably not going to find much to hold your attention, but if you’ve stuck with the band throughout their evolution then you’ll be rewarded with a record stuffed full of stadium-sized anthems, tongue-in-cheek metaphors and a generally positive atmosphere that will lift your spirits. Enter Shikari continue to be one of the most exciting bands in UK rock.
How have Employed to Serve only been a band for five years and amassed such an enormous discography already? On their second long-player, the band show so much confidence that you’d be mistaken for thinking they’ve been together for over a decade. This is one of the greatest metallic hardcore sophomores to come out for quite some time and it’s structured in a way that allows it to ebb and flow between moments of unbridled, hardcore fury and long-form, lurching grooves. One of the most accomplished metallic hardcore albums to come from these shores and an absolutely essential listen for fans of heavy music.
Grand Collapse continue to hold nothing back on their sophomore album Along the Dew. This is a flat out, thrashy, monster of a punk rock album with heart-on-sleeve, politically charged lyrics that never sound false or pretentious. The fact that Grand Collapse have made it to a 2nd album and aren’t one of the biggest punk bands in the country is quite frankly ridiculous. We should be rallying behind bands like this. Grand Collapse care and so should you.
Sitting in a similar space to bands like Gnarwolves, Darko’s debut album Bonsai Mammoth is stuffed with no-nonsense, sing-a-long, punk rock anthems that demand your attention. There’s so much energy and confidence in here that you can’t help but be reminded of so many classic punk rock debuts that this deserves a space next to. Debuts like this are wonderfully refreshing because you’re reminded of how much unfound talent is lurking around the UK’s indie circuits.
“The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.”
OHHMS’ debut album The Fool is a real turning point for the band because it finally sounds as big and engaging as their live show. While their previous 2 EPs weren’t exactly bad, they didn’t really capture what it’s like to see them live, which is an experience unto itself. The Fool is a wonderful sludge metal release that keeps you on your toes. Songs twist and turn with wild abandon and despite being mainly a low tempo stomper, there’s enough moments of visceral punk rock and psychedelia in here to highlight how bizarre and unique OHHMS really are. An essential listen.
“Helpless’ Debt is an extremely dense and unrelenting record that makes no apologies for being ridiculously heavy. Helpless use some extremely creative guitar work to create a dark and isolated atmosphere to make an absolute racket in. It may not be the most nuanced long-player you’ll hear, but it certainly delivers one of the most powerful and devastating heavy music experiences of 2017. Lord knows Helpless have a serious task ahead of them if they want to best this record with their next release.”
“Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is an instant recommendation. If you want to hear a passionate, exciting hardcore band putting all their cards on the table and never putting a foot wrong then this is the album for you. Sure, it’s over pretty quickly, but any more time spent with music this visceral would be exhausting. It’s the perfect length for one of the most diverse and relentlessly savage debut albums in recent memory.”