2012 was a year filled with massive albums, massive eps and massive controversies as well (yes, im talking about Rings Of Saturn and Attack Attack!). But the overtly saturated djent scene did see some star studded releases which can easily call this year as ‘Year of Modern Prog/Djent Metal’. The debate that djent is a genre yet or still just a guitar sound over power chord play , is still unresolved but there is no denying that the bands incorporating this sound INNOVATIVELY , do sound amazing.
It took quite a few days, opinions of friends and tons of album spins and digging into the scene deep – Presenting the top 10 Modern Djent albums of 2012.
10.Cloudkicker : Fade
Starting the descending list with one of my most loved ‘one man projects’ is B.M Sharps Cloudkicker. Each release kicks you in the sweet spot with a unique production and theme each time.This album musically is more inclined to mellower landscaping. Certain songs like ‘Seattle’ and ‘From the balcony’ have really groovy ,proggy and contain emotionally stirring sections. Categorizing Cloudkicker is nearly as impossible the music is largely based on what goes on in Sharps mind before he makes it, but one thing is for sure- you DON’T miss out on a Cloudkicker release because it will be in every top 10 list.
9.Elitist : Reshape Reason
Their previous Ep titled ‘Earth’ had the most amazing guitar wizardy at display and the eyes were set on their new record. The expectations were met precise as their record goes into the depth of synth laced ‘core’ .
Reshape Reason could’ve been the ‘death/djent-core’ record of the year if they actually were an instrumental project. The vocals are top notch no doubt, but apparently, after their EP, I really felt they could do better wo vocals.
8.Intervals : In Time
Canadian badass project, which blew up the minds of prog fans with their debut Ep, are back and how. With guest solos by David Micic of Bilo fame and Olly Steele of Monuments, the album boasts of heavy djenty sections and warm clean ambient parts. Especially the track Epiphany has been written in a completely unique way, which makes you pleasantly surprised at this bands abilities. And the best part – it’s a 100% instrumental project!
7.GlassCloud: The Royal Thousand
Joshua Travis makes an entry 2nd time into the list with GlassCloud. Basick record’s most amazing find from the saturated death-core scene, it takes you to through the clean-growl-clean trip with elegance. ‘White Flag’ is how I found them and there is no stopping since then. The band boasts of catchy choruses coupled by sick breakdowns all packed in a very concise album. Joshua does his ‘tones’ a lot more justice in this record as it blends more easily I would say than the Tony Danza record.
6.The HAARP Machine : Disclosure
This band. Musicians go extremes in finding weird instruments and add them in their albums under the pretext of making an ‘experimental release’ and ruin the foreign instruments repute and sound. THM on the other hand, did the simpler deal, they took the usual western scales and played it the Eastern way. The bands trump is Mike Semesky who has heavenly cleans and shuddering growls . His other project Vestascension is equally a treat to the ear. THM has elements of thrash, experimental, eastern music and ofcourse prog and super techy production holds the songs as one.
5.The Korea : Chariots Of The Gods
The Korea’s reciepe includes : take some nice straightforward grooves, mix a pinch of deathcore vocals, add strategically placed super-catchy high pitched cleans and you have a winner. Mass appeal and class appeal combine on this immensely talented album, yet ridiculously underrated. The language comes across as a surprise (Russian) but kicks in like their Vodka.
4.Skyharbor : Blinding White Noise
hailing from the league of Internet-bred bands, Keshav Dhar picks up on of his best songs written in span of 4 years and makes them even more epic with collaborations from Dan Tompkins (ex Tesseract) , Marty Friedman (ex Megadeth) Vishal J Singh (Amogh Symphony) and Sunnieth ‘sunny’ revankar of Bhayanak Maut (Check these lads out).
Warm landscaping guitars with Dan’s soulful lyrics capture the essence of life n beyond on ‘Illusion’ CD . Sunny lends his angst and powerful growls and screams on ‘Chaos’ CD to complete this epic , two part concept album.
3.Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza: Danza IV
‘Give a black man a guitar and he will make it purr’ .
Tosin Abasi and Joshua Travis do exactly the same. Joshua has gone full throttle on this epic release. Its gorgeous and its heavy. The 8-string madness with his signature motor-sound has made this THE heaviest release of this year in my opinion. If you are going for an interview or a break-up, make sure you plug this in for jumpy grooves, battering brutality and short sweet clean sections.
2.Periphery II: This time it’s personal
Words cannot express how much the periphery lads have progressed in one album. The vocals have gone a level ahead, with inclusion of Mark (Mraky) from Haunted Shores on guitars and Nolly from Red Seas Fire made this band beyond perfect.
With guest solos from Guthrie Govan and John ‘jesus’ petrucci , it was bound to hit the sweet spot. The album boasts of sick groove with electronic interludes that mix perfectly and give you a djenty,heavy yet proggy trip .
AND FINALLY THE ALBUM OF THE YEAR!!!
1. Monuments – Gnosis
The band which has John Browne , has to be special. After all,most of the rip-off bands ‘FELLSILENT’ when asked where their djenty riffage came from (pun intended). The pioneering modern djent band Monuments , after a painfully long wait after their EP , came out with an album that smashed all charts.
With one listen catchy choruses and yet prog influences, the album is a delight from start to end. Although the inclusion of their new vocalist did gather a bit of mixed reviews, the overall album is on top of many lists.
It was obviously difficult to choose the first position because ‘this time it’s personal’ (yes pun intended) but these guys go up solely because of the edgy production. To be honest, it was really impossible to pick between Monuments and Periphery but HEY! there can be only one winner and i chose them solely because they started as a heavy band, and maintained that root direction, whereas Periphery experimented and kind of let me down with more clean vocals (my opinion).
2.Chimp Spanner – All Roads Lead Here
3.Sithu Aye – Invent The Universe
4.Sectioned – Monotonne
5.Novallo – Novallo EP
The Oxford Dictionary defines Evolution as the gradual development of something.Well we can always replace that ‘something’ with matters more relevant to us.In terms of music this term is probably the most ‘thrown around’. Be it the ‘scene’ or entire fraternity, genre irrelevant.The second most thrown around term would be the term ‘Poseur’ which is something more subjected to the heavy-metal genre/sub-genres.Evolution in terms of music is exactly the way Darwin would have put forth if he was in the death-core scene and not the science ‘scene’.
The drum kit that we all see now is an amalgamation of different smaller instruments which were used in the orchestra of the early days.The bass guitar that we enjoy being slammed and plucked was first a huge instrument which needed one person to hold and one person to play.So basically the change or ‘compactness’ that was induced in the music fraternity was to ease the making/playing of music. So is Evolution in the music fraternity solely subjected to making everything easy? 90% of us would disagree saying that the drum kit is now even more complex as well as a limitless instrument in terms of variation. The advent of electronic samples/programmed instruments and recording wizardy makes the making of music easy but subsequently difficult to churn out something worth cherishing.
So does Evolution mean ‘to grow out of something’ ?How many times have you heard someone making a straight face and saying ‘Oh i was into this band/artist ,but then i grew out of it’ .Or the shame that engulfs when you find a old-school track in a new-age playlist and the person defensively says – ‘ baaah! long time back bro! ‘The time when Linkin Park hit Indian shores everyone was engulfed into the Nu-metal rap-rock marriage that the guys brought.Korn which is credited to lot of nu-metal along with Limp Bizkit are also loved by all and equally scorned at for going ‘dub step’.With the modern music desperately trying to go more ‘different’ and going ‘odd-time’, how many times have we gone ballistic on bands which ‘sucked at production’ or ‘are a thing of the past’.knowingly or unknowingly we all have done it. We may not accept it but masking our rants under the word ‘Evolution’ we ruthlessly bash out bands who’s music we once relished and downloaded for free.
Music is definitely evolving. But this evolution is like different people in different parallel universes.Categorizing people (although it is a wrong ritual) , into Musicians, Listeners and Producers – each have their special share in shaping up this evolution in their own universe.While some may shed a tear going back to a band which carry nostalgic memories , some may laugh at their musical choices they nurtured few years ago – all in their own space.
The moral of the whole term is how you use it. Defaming bands/musicians/artists just because they have not gone ‘new’ or staying ‘old school’ is wrong. Calling new-age crusaders as ‘stupid and art destroyers’ is also wrong.But if we actually look at Evolution of Music as a gradual process similar to the Human Life-Cycle it would do nothing but benefit the fraternity.Its like , music is made, music dies, but the ones who made a mark – are always remembered and cherished.
For ears like mine who would love the mere thought of sludgy rusty guitars and modern day tech-metal song structuring – Sectioned is here. The music is not just a refreshing turn to the constantly saturating, trend following bands that have been coming out lately but also a very good example as to how the right kind of music should have the right kind of production. Sectioned is one of the many bands that have come from Europe (Scotland precisely) which have truly revolutionized the way we look at music making, structuring and groove. UK is one particular country (along with Sweden ofcourse) – that has been churning out band after band with really top-notch music making skills . With Chimp Spanner,Tesseract and many more , Sectioned is another uniquely sounding and yet pleasurably heavy band that has emerged in the recent years. The have recently released a 3-track EP called ‘Monotone’ which , according to me, is a very ironic name for their sound. The 3 track EP spells madness. The sound is unique in itself but distinctively has influences from Between Buried and Me, Sikth,Isis and a overall spread of Post-Rock feel (God Is An Astronaut , Explosions In The Sky) . The track ‘Dog’s Blood’ is a perfect example of the bands capability (and my personal favorite) to hold to the groove and yet induce heavy madness from start to finish. The tracks ‘Monotone’ and ‘Rot’ are punishingly heavy and have the signature rusty/sludgy guitar tone which works perfectly with the bands sound. Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge’s influences are most heard in these two tracks. The production value is perfect. Most of the bands spend months trying to figure out how to make it ‘awesome’ when the trick according to me lies in the fact that production should be ‘supportive’ of the sound and not overriding it. The bouncy transitions and post-rockish feel is tightly captured by Pedram Valiani who has deliciously produced the album. Talking about the band – formed in since 2009 , the band emerged as a fully touring ,5 piece outfit after the release of their first EP ‘Wake Up,Its Starting’ in September 2011. The band played with some really marinated bands in the scene like Textures,Aliases and Ocean Collective.
In conclusion, the year 2011 to the beginning of 2012 seemed a very eventful one for the metal fraternity and most of the unique music ive heard – is free and unsigned . Same applies to Sectioned and I am sure that record labels should definitely be signing bands like these and not rip-offs and trend-followers.
You can hear their tracks on their bandcamp page – Sectioned
Like their Facebook page –Sectioned
Safar (Journey) as a word – is a mashup of everything between good and bad. Journey of life , which can literally flash before your eyes consisting of bitter-sweet memories , is easily refreshed by this one word.
India’s latest offering is a band named ‘Safar’ which puts you into this very strange situation when you hear their debut single ‘Khoye Hain’. Musically speaking the band is three piece with a session drummer and taps on the feelings which everyone goes through at some point in their life.
Easy-listening , which is most of the time considered or looked at as ‘easy music making’ is entirely a myth.
The song Khoye – Hain is a soft yet trippy number which has an equally challenging solo, vocal variations .
It is really difficult to maintain the mainstream ,easy listening aspect of the track and yet make it extremely foot-tapping and musically strong at the same time.
The (obvious) reign of Pakistani sufi-oriented bands like Jal ,Junoon or even Strings might have a really tough competition when it comes to Safar. High expectations mounting on these guys after the release, the bands style and ease of making music which grows in you is a reciepe for success.
Im hugely influenced by prog-rock and prog-metal and love it when any particular song slowly makes its space in my head after few listens – and these guys have managed to do the same even though the music is not particularly heavy or proggy .
Whats striking is Jimmy Bhore’s vocals . Being the frontman of a successful groove-thrash band Zygnema (India) , his ability to ‘sing’ is really commendable. The song features his effortless approach and what i personally dug is the way he sings as to convey not to rule – there is no unneccesary variations or layering. Plain,simple melody .
The band consists of Jimmy Bhore (Vocals/Guitar), Asxem D’lean (Bass) and Akash Sawant (Guitars)
They released a really captivating music video with gorgeous visuals and production with Ari Sam (Imaginarium Media) along with Shubham Kasera as the Director of Photography.
The band will be touring soon across the country to spread the music – which is available for free at
Music Video –
A late night email like this made me fall off my chair.
” thanks for your contribution to the Alcest review . we want to honour your efforts, we’d like to send you a “Les Voyages De L’Âme” poster and a buch of Alcest postcards for free. If you would like to receive this as a “thank you” from Alcest and Prophecy, please give us your postal address. ”
Alcest is nothing short of brilliance but it reached out on a completely different level by this gesture. 🙂
The review link on the blog – https://metalmyreligion.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/alcest-les-voyages-de-lame-2012/
Chimp Spanner never lets you down – be it the musically diverse and rebellious ‘At The Dream’s Edge ‘ or the latest offering ‘All Roads Lead Here’. As a listener, i always wanted and imagined music breaking the barriers of genre – how bands would one day come up with music that is just impossible to classify into a particular genre. Something that music lovers could just absorb , and find something new to savor with every listen,relate to their own taste.
With bands like Animals As Leaders and Chimp Spanner making music which isn’t just musically advanced and brilliant , but also spans an array of sounds and musical elements.Paul Ortiz a.k.a Chimp Spanner does exactly this with the latest release.While recent bands who are cashing on the ‘Djent’ scene go haywire with the ‘low tuned’ guitar sound – Chimp Spanner sticks to standard tuning , incorporates ‘Djent’ and yet does full justice to other elements which are used in the songs , all at ease.In terms of production value – its priceless.
The album starts off with ‘Dark Age Of Technology’ which travels to your ear from a distance (Literally!) and comprises of Paul’s guitar wizardy backed by some amazing bass grooves. To be honest the first track sounded like an Animals As Leaders track and got me thinking of how the rest of the EP would sound like .But to my surprise , it proved to be amazing.’Engrams’ is an relaxing interlude that follows and builds up for the ‘Mobius series( Parts I, II and III).Mobius – which mathematically means a 3D rectangular strip which starts from one point and ends at the same point.
Why the need for the above statement? The sheer brilliance of the 3 track series lies in the fact that Paul creates a musical ‘Mobius’. The series is aptly ( and intelligently) titled ‘Mobius’ – where Mobius Pt I builds up the tempo with a constant and looped shred-fest. Mobius Pt II is where the same sound builds up into a beast and has some really insane time-signature swings.The track culminates into a mellow ambient sound and the Mobius Pt III combines best of both. Notable is how Paul manages to keep the riffs looped in the same tempo and yet travels through each track ,varying the ambience and heaviness effortlessly.I would go far by saying this but musically it does rival Tesseract’s ‘Concealing Fate’ series.Paul leaves the best for the last – the closing track ‘Cloud City’ is by far the most ‘musically delicious’ track my ears have bit on. The tones ,the riffs the song structure is worth million praises. It is a cocktail of jazzy atmospherics and Paul’s unique style.
Though it is an EP , ‘All Roads Lead Here’ does have the presence of a full length record. It encompasses such variety in so little time which is also something not every artist/band can do.
For the fans of Chimp Spanner – this is an album which takes you into a completely different mystical and orgasmic world and does not sound anything like Chimp’s prior works.
For the new ‘Chimps’ – finding bands from a similar genre and then listening to each is mostly the strategy all of us follow ,but if you wish to hear something that is practically ‘beyond genre’ and fits every mood of yours into one tight album effortlessly, then – ‘All Roads Lead Here’.
Rating – 8.5/10
Anup Sastry – Drum Wiz-kid, Protege , ‘Next-Big-Thing’ – has many aliases but stands out as a ‘Young- Adult’ making waves in the music industry.
Anup started his drum pounding pretty early and secured his own unique playing style which shows clearly in the two bands he plays for – Intervals and Skyharbor( With Keshav Dhar).
He flew down to India to perform with Skyharbor on their NH7 gig in Pune (India).On the tour he grabbed many eyeballs and showed effortless mature playing.
The Debut EP of his band Intervals earned many accolades and Skyharbor signed with Basick Records in the last year – making him a sought after drummer.
In between his hectic schedule i managed to grab few minutes for an interview.
Hey Anup! glad to have you on board, so whilst you are beating the hell outta your kit – tell us how did you and Drums meet ?
We have seen the obvious tilt towards Djent -what other genres do you love playing?
Skyharbor – how did this wonder happen?
Your other band ‘Intervals’ gathered lot of critical acclaim – how would you describe the ‘sound and feel’ of the band to our readers who are yet to experience its awesomeness?
A little beyond music – tell us about the Anup we dont know ( don’t worry we will just print it ! :D)
Young drummers worship you – who does Anup worship as a drummer? your role-models?
What was your biggest hurdle while you were in your learning stages as a drummer? any particular pattern,notes etc?
You performed recently in Pune at the NH7 Weekender , how was the experience like? Any indian bands which amazed you?
If you were not a drummer what would you have been?
Any advice/message to the budding drummers/musicians ?