Every single year there is a recurring problem. We get a truckload of promo’s and press releases in our mailbox and together with those we don’t get anything on but are still worthwhile, we can’t give all of them the attention they deserve. So this time around we’re doing something new in which we take a look still at some of the releases we missed out on covering earlier and would hope you don’t miss out either.
August Burns Red – ‘Guardians‘
(3/4/2020 – Fearless Records)
August Burns Red is in the mean time an institution of the American metalcore scene. In the almost 2 decades they’ve existed, they released their 9th album called Guardians in 2020. It turned out to be a high quality album again that opens with The Narrative. My personal favorite on this album has to be Paramount with its topnotch metalcore sound. Lighthouse is yet another beauty with some heavy breakdowns and a catchy chorus. Extinct By Instinct, on the other hand, shows us what a great drummer Matt Greiner is. And we get a beautiful ending with the 6 min long Three Fountains. Truly an exemplary metalcore release again from one of USA’s greats.
Heaven Shall Burn – ‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’
(20/3/2020 – Century Media Records)
About 4 years after the critically praised ‘Wanderer’, the German metalcore giants of Heaven Shall Burn were back with their 9th album ‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’. Clearly not trying to take it easy, they turned it into a double album with 19 tracks. With 97 min of runtime, it’s their longest album yet. You might have to listen to the 2 sides separately. It’s a huge job otherwise. On the first part you recognize the furious sound we know Heaven Shall Burn so well for. Thought And Prayers, Eradicate,… with Übermacht they yet again have a German titled song. The 9 minute long Expatriate is a love it or hate it song. It is something very special. An intermezzo with some spoken words.
The second part is somewhat more experimental where in Children Of A Lesser God we can hear some As I Lay Dying influences. La Resistance is another very special track. It being a dance song, it’s not my cup of tea but intriguing that they dare to do this. There are even some death metal songs like Tirpitz or Truther. Even their own rendition of a thrash metal classic in the form of Nuclear Assault‘s Critical Mass.
What Heaven Shall Burn accomplished with this release is quite impressive with on the one hand a very solid metalcore release true to their form and on the other hand showing their more experimental side with the second release. Definitely worth your time!
Polaris – ‘The Death of Me’
(21/2/2020 – SharpTone Records)
Having caught the Australian metalcore outfit Polaris in Helsinki, they blew me away quite a bit with their live performance (read the report here). All too curious if they could match the energy I witnessed on record, I had to check out their sophomore release ‘The Death of Me’. And it more than delivered. The album is a great combination of both heaviness, strong melodies, inventive guitar playing and an almost sickening catchiness. Some of the songs are almost too catchy/poppy, but through some of the absolutely crushing metalcore tracks that all gets balanced out. Just check out the highly popular earworm ‘Masochist‘ that could turn some people off followed by ‘Landmine‘ that simply grabs you by the face and drags you through an explosion of metalcore heaviness. Overall, a great record from a promising band that most likely will quickly rise to be among the greats in the genre. And if you can catch them live some time in the future, please do NOT hesitate.
The End At The Beginning – ‘Elements‘ EP
(1/6/2020 – Antigony Records)
This was apparently the first release since the line-up of The End At The Beginning had changed. And despite these circumstances and the shortness of the release, they really managed to somewhat reinvent themselves and hit in hard with one of the most inventive metalcore releases I had the pleasure to listen to during 2020. ‘Elements‘ holds 4 tracks, each covering 1 of the 4 elements you can find: ‘Fire‘, ‘Air‘, ‘Earth‘ and ‘Water‘. And while there is a certain consistent sound throughout the tracks, every track has its own identity that matches the specific element and meaning that it holds for the band.
‘Fire‘ holds some of the more brutal and destructive parts on the album with touches of black metal and deathcore, supported by some impressive symphonics interwoven through the music. ‘Air‘ follows with a quite literally more “airy” disposition through more melody, atmospheric and soaring parts. ‘Earth‘ comes in heavy as fuck again while still creating a sense of the openness of the majestic landscapes our ancient planet holds. ‘Water‘ comes in more melodic and melancholic again, with at first an almost palpable ocean breeze in the atmospheric intro, slowly flowing into a heavy, gloomy maelstrom of metalcore. What these guys managed to do by combining the standard metalcore elements with a huge concept and bits and pieces from other music genres is simply impressive. I’m looking forward what these guys will do when they get to work on something longer/bigger.
Sharptooth – ‘Transitional Forms‘
(10/7/2020 – Pure Noise Records)
The American band Sharptooth is one that brings a kind of metalcore that more clearly is based in hardcore with more of a hardcore punk bounce than your average metalcore outfit. On their second full-length they fire one after the other absolute banger at you in a relentless barrage. It’s the most personal album to date for vocalist Lauren Kashan, who is a beast belting out damn impressive and aggressive vocals song after song. Some of the highlights on the album are tracks like the scene conscious ‘Say Nothing (In The Absence Of Content)‘ and more punk infused ‘Evolution‘ with a guest vocal appearance by Justin Sane from Anti-Flag. But to be completely honest, there is not a single track that doesn’t destroy and work. This is quite the step up on many levels compared to their debut full-length and they’re firing on all pistons for sure. Sharptooth is a hardcore/metalcore band that is here to stay and that has something to say that seems deeper than many of their contemporary colleagues. Killer.