The Anatomy Of: Harbinger

For all the shit I give the UK for it’s inherently inbred scene politics, there are some ridiculously suave acts plying their trade in the home nations right now. Harbinger have been slowly amassing a following verging on screaming teen girl fandom (I’m a Harbingal, what can I say) and on their recent Basick Records debut Human Dust they’ve cemented their place in the new elite of UK metal. Their sound is awash with technical flair, hair whipping groove and solid death metal riffing. 99% of bands trying to incorporate stylish leads and crushing breakdowns end up falling victim to the ten-ideas-at-oncecore that isn’t pleasing on the ear whatsoever. Not Harbinger. The riff and lick factory that they operate produces seamless and wholly satisfying modern death, even with the wide array of influences present in the band; an array of influences which each member of the band gives us an insight into below. Enjoi.

The Celtic Connection – Scottish and Irish Tunes, Eh

It’s been awhile since I knocked out a Best of British feature for you, the dedicated Heavy Blog reader. This isn’t because there has been a lack of quality content coming outta the island, actually far from it. Being “British” doesn’t really mean anything anymore though. You’ve got yer English bands and then there’s everything else. Because I feel like our two nations have been poorly under represented elsewhere, I now give you The Celtic Connection. I’m gonna rant and rave about the best music coming out of Scotland and Ireland, leaving England and Wales (sorry Wales) to the side, because they get plenty of coverage as is. This isn’t me being a nationalist or picking a fight, I’m just keeping it in the family. And who else is closer to us Scots than the proud, fighting Irish. Pour yourself a beverage of whatever variety you fancy and strap in for some hearty dispatches of ginger, pale skinned sounds.

Cut Up – Wherever They May Rot

Sweden has quite the reputation for crusty, gruff death metal. Familiar legends like Entombed and Dismember are eternally inscribed in the brains of metalheads but they might not be as well acquainted with Vomitory, a band with a string of brutal, gory minor classics in the 1990s. Before breaking up 2011, Vomitory was signed to Metal Blade Records, so they aren’t exactly unsung heroes. Nonetheless, they are certainly still overshadowed by their more famous fellow countrymen. Two long time members of Vomitory, drummer Tobias Gustafsson and bassist/vocalist Erik Rundqvist, returned in 2015 with a new project, Cut Up, who are now releasing their sophomore album.

Hollow Earth – Dead Planet

It seems as if 2016 is a fantastic year for science fiction themed metal. From the gnarly, twisted tales of Vektor to the bombastic space opera of Khonsu, metal about science fiction is seemingly everywhere. Well, the time to draw up the data-tablet and add one more name before the year is done has arrived; Hollow Earth are set to release their Dead Planet on the 2nd of December and boy is it science fiction. It’s also a damn good album, offering a strange mix between metalcore and sludge, of all things. This seemingly paradoxical mix yields a uniquely aggressive album, channeling the different and often opposite timbers of the two genres into an impossible, astral beast.

Serpentine Dominion – Serpentine Dominion

Supergroups are almost always a tricky endeavor. It’s inevitably impossible to not have incredible expectations attached to them, especially when they involve members of some of Metal Blade Records’ biggest acts like Killswitch Engage, Cannibal Corpse, and The Black Dahlia Murder. Add to that the fact that Serpentine Dominion has been in talks for almost five years now in some shape or form, and it’d seem almost impossible for this project to live up to the expectations fans have built up for it. Thankfully, this self-titled debut doesn’t falter and delivers a concise yet brutally-appropriate slab of melodic death metal that feels like each of these three musicians’ best work in quite some time.

Good Vibrations — A Day To Remember Are More Metal Than Your Band

2009 was a landmark year for me when it came to music. Releases from Every Time I Die and The Black Dahlia Murder were the soundtrack to my first experience of living on my own and, slotted somewhere between the two, Homesick by A Day To Remember became a “guilty pleasure”. The dyed in the wool metal head in me was conflicted. Torn even. I knew that the pop driven choruses and “she left me, boo hoo” lyrics were something I should have already got past but the songs were just too catchy to ignore. What business did a pop punk band have dropping savage, infectious breakdowns all over their material? Why do I still listen to this band, unironically? Because A Day To Remember are metal as fuck and I’ll fight you after class on the football field if you disagree.

Stepping Stone: Killswitch Engage’s Alive Or Just Breathing

Jimmy Two’s first edition of this column was great and had me harking back to the glory days of browsing CD’s for hours and stressing because I only ever had enough money for one. One album kept coming to mind when I was considering what to pick for this feature. The album in question is the often heralded Alive Or Just Breathing by Killswitch Engage.