Due to the way we’ve decided to divide up the time zones, correspondence with an international audience from the humble southern continent of Australia often feels akin to looking into the past. Yet, despite this perceived futurism, Australian culture often trails its American and European counterparts by some distance. So it is that, while the northern thrash revival has come and (more-or-less) gone, the Australian metal scene is currently experiencing the biggest genre boom it has undergone since thrash metal originally emerged in the mid ‘80s. Back then, we brought our own quality acts to the fold, most notably in the form(s) of Mortal Sin and Hobbs Angel of Death, and the Allegiance in the ’90s. Yet, while the style had effectively remained dormant since then, the last five-to-ten years have seen an explosion in the amount of world-class thrash metal bands to have emerged from these southern shores.
Sydney’s Polaris have quickly become one of Australian’s most promising acts. The melodic metalcore crew certainly aren’t reinventing any wheels, but the sheer vigour and precision songwriting they bring to those templates previously laid down by the likes of Architects and Periphery render them entirely refreshing nonetheless. The band have just announced their debut, full-length album, The Mortal Coil, which is set to be released in November, and if the two singles they’ve release off the album so far are anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute rager.
Do you like exclusively clean vocals? Do you like progressive rock with a bit of a groovy, even djent-y edge to it? Will you listen to anything that comes out of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene? Well then, have I got the band for you! They’re called Sea in the Sky and though they liken themselves to Periphery, CHON and Polyphia, I hear flashes of swancore bands like Dance Gavin Dance, Stolas and Hail the Sun. They’re releasing a new album on September 29th called Everything All at Once, but luckily we can listen to two singles from it right this very moment!
Wow, both Eden and I are together again! And it’s a long episode! It’s like back in the old days. This week we have some news, some new music, some old music, and some other random stuff. Spawn of Possession call it quits, Nolly leaves Periphery, Hip-hop/R&B has surpassed rock, Trent Reznor puts his foot in his mouth. Then we have stuff from Trivium, Dyscarnate, First Fragment, Primus, Caligula’s Horse, Adimiron, Ne Obliviscaris. We talk about Fractal Cypher, and Roadrunner United and Nuclear Blast All-Stars. Finally, cool people time regarding Pyre, PUBG, Total War, and more. Enjoy!
By the way, the teaser for the NYN album Entropy: Of Chaos And Salt is finally here, so check it out!
Djent had an explosive entrance into the world of heavy music, around the start of the decade. It was a truly exciting occurrence, with first-wave acts like Periphery, Animals As Leaders and Cloudkicker filtering the technically-driven progressive sound of acts like Meshuggah, Sikth, and those of the budding “Sumeriancore” movement, into something altogether more accessible, while still retaining much of their forebears’ technical and progressive edge. Yet, like most new sub-genres, djent quickly devolved into pastiche and gave way to over saturation—perhaps a little bit quicker than most. Djent, it seems, has had a propperly ballistic trajectory, and—in 2017—as its momentum trails off, it’s hard to get excited about this once-promising phenomenon.
Icaria remembers to have fun and, thus, we are fortunate to have an exclusive stream of their upcoming debut album, Transcendent, here on Heavy Blog Is Heavy. This five-piece progressive metal outfit from Atlanta packs a serious punch with their flashy compositions, tight production, and relentless intensity. The band sounds like a cross between Periphery on their most recent poppier albums, Coheed and Cambria, and just a hint of shreddy power metal. It’s an absolute blast. There’s nothing mind-bending here and nothing that will change the face of progressive metal but that is not a bad thing. Icaria is making thoroughly enjoyable metal that has a lot of pop appeal but still maintains its musical integrity and complexity.
Another homegrown project we are immensely fond of comes straight from our dear editor-in-chief, the aforementioned Eden Kupermintz, and our good friend Greg Greenberg (Seven Circles), who, with guitarists Doug Van Bevers and Nick Maini and drummer Travis Orbin (ex-Periphery, Darkest Hour) form Instar, a beautiful fusion of post-rock, math-rock, jazz/metal fusion, and spoken word. Those who are at all familiar with Eden know that he is an ardent lover and connoisseur of sci-fi and a writer himself, and he lends his own illustrative prose and mellifluous voice to give the project a distinctly cosmic post-y feeling. The last time we mentioned the band on this site it was to recommend their debut EP, which featured Eden on one track and other guest vocalists on the other two. Eden has since joined the project as a full-fledged member, and if the lead track from their upcoming album Ex Nihilo Cycles “Stepping Stones” is any indication, Instar is prepared to take an enormous leap for their first full-length release.
For all the ubiquity it enjoys today, our current, ‘mainstream’ iteration of progressive metal was hardly all that visible before the turn of the last decade outside of a few relatively tight internet circles. The community around it remained constrained to a few forums, as current ringleaders such as Misha Mansoor and Acle Kahney quietly uploaded bedroom recordings to relatively small audiences.
“Sumeriancore” was an interesting genre. A highly specific brand of progressive metalcore that coincided with the rise of Sumerian Records, lead by prominent bands on that label, it was very popular for a few years and then dissolved into djent shortly after. Born of Osiris were at the forefront of this, if not the main driving force. Being part of the original “big 4” of the genre along with label mates Veil of Maya, The Faceless and After the Burial, they’ve inspired many other artists and headlined many tours. They’ve had some wildly acclaimed albums, and some that are borderline ridiculed. A decade after their debut, where are they now? Where is the genre? And what’s their future? That’s what we’re here to discuss today.
Last time we reviewed SikTh, we were full of questions regarding their return. The future was clouded with fog, given that bands are prone to announce returns only to flare into action briefly before disappearing again, unable to recapture the spark that once motivated them to remain active. Even if bands do return, it’s unlikely that they’ll release material fast, gathering strength and getting into the beat of things. However, it appears that SikTh are quite done messing around and the period between their dormancy and their return to the waking world is set to be very short. Hot off the heels of their “mini-album”, Opacities, the group gives us The Future in Whose Eyes? which, where Opacities was good yet “safe” or “natural”, challenges their sound and mixes it with a lot of new. Lo and behold, it works, and the first true release of their comeback should return SikTh into the forefront of the community, if it knows what’s good for it.