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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
Probably the only torch-bearers of the “new wave of American Heavy Metal” ,Lamb Of God(LOG) have managed to create a new passage with this new release.
Despite the feel being similar to Wrath,the song writing is much heavier and relies more on melodic choruses and more “old-school” guitar magic.LOG also goes more “Thrashy” with this release and has some brilliant orchestral backgrounds for few of the songs which make it a complete new-yet-old eargasm.USP if you ask ? – Randy’s bone shattering vocals.
With him the album sounds their heaviest work till date (excluding Burn The Priest)
The album kicks off with a painful but heavy intro and proceeds straight into a “in-your-face”kinda track – DESOLATION.
GHOST WALKING (superb acoustic riff) and GUILTY are for hardcore LOG fans, nothing unique musically but quite the punch from their previous albums.
For the people like me ( tastes gone haywire because of recent tech metal bands) – the REAL album starts after THE UNDERTOW.
Superb song structuring and mean drum-fills by Chris Adler pace up the album to infinity.
LOG have pepped up their feel by being more thrashy as well as groovy- which makes them even more tasty!
THE NUMBER SIX, INSURRECTION and TERMINALLY UNIQUE are tracks which tell you the calibre of the band,technically.
Guitars swing ridiculously and pedel-presses are bad-ass, specially in INSURRECTION.
TO THE END marks the perfect foreclosure with aggressive but groovy and flowing choruses.
The closing track KING ME is what is the highlight and probably the most versatile track in the album. Comprising of the aforementioned orchestral arrangements and female backing vocals , it literally dilates your pupils.
Randy Blythe (Vocalist) is one member who stands out in this album.
Delivering his most melodic choruses and rage-driven growls at the same time.
The surprise element is the small patch of a song which has his clean vocals!
I wont be more of a spoilt-sport and leave the anxiety to work its magic when you hear every song.
A great start to the new year – this album definitly is going to gather more lambs to slaughter before their metal gods!
RATING : 9/10
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Apart from their mouthwatering cuisine and romantic hotspots , the french have yet again offered us – Uneven Structure.
They came out with their EP in 2009 – time when the Djent scene was picking up pace – and it wasnt untill a year later that their efforts got the credit(globally) it deserved. These guys have been on my ipod for almost a year now and their musical brilliance still baffles me.
Two words to describe this album – Heavily Ambient
Right from the first track “Awaken” to the aptly named “Finale” you are made to bow down before this pagan-god themed album. The echoing screams and the crystal clear vocals blend in effortlessly into each track.
The beauty of Februus is that even when the songs reach their climax in terms of heaviness – the atmosphere created is nothing short of serene.
“Frost” – my pick from the album- has its atmospheric passages which make you feel you are actually coming in terms to something that is beyond words and celestial . The influence of Tesseract is quite audible but the dark ambient passages which throw a bright light of maximum “djenty twang” is something that is signature Uneven Structure.
With the saturation of bands trying to go over-board with Djent guitar tone – Uneven structure preserves their progression from their EP and add up brilliant atmospherics and insane drum rudiments to their debut LP.
Fans of ANY sub-genre of metal can seamlessly fit into their style of music as it caters to ears that crave for melody as well as musical complexity and brutality.
This album is a sure winner in the slew of releases of the similar genre (as of yet – we still have Vildhjarta to surprise us) and marks the beginning of a band which knows exactly HOW to harness the power of Djent .
…and the whole album!
Five Finger Death Punch – American Capitalist
Love them,hate them – they will be going with evil grins to their bank accounts.
3 albums old and these guys have made a mark and probably a new genre in the metal scene. Touted as “Modern Metallers” , their approach focuses on mainstream melody packed with realist lyrics and quintessential metal elements
“American Capitalist” is a perfect gift to a oven-fresh metalhead friend of yours . It is nothing new – musically. But it packs the punch in terms of melody and catchy songwriting and has the essential “RAWRRR” element to it. The songs are easy to pick in the first listen itself and you might find yourself humming them unknowingly.
Their first release “Way of the fist” lacked the mainstream sound that they were trying to find (i think) . But after their 2nd album “War is the answer” they finally found what they actually wanted to make.
Songs like “Under and Over it” and “Coming Down” are good getaway if you have saturated your head with complex bands like Meshuggah or Opeth and will leave you pleasantly surprised with their heaviness yet catchy outline.
“The Pride” could be America’s national anthem in these difficult times since the lyrics and song production seem government funded – superimposing the goodness of America.
When you have commercial success in just two releases bands tend to either crack in pressure or come out with “just another album”. FFDP did manage to up the ante a little bit but doesn’t give fans a reason to look forward to their next release. The brutality combined with chunky melodic patches in “Way of the fist” or the brilliant war-ballad “Far From Home” in their 2nd album “War is the answer” would make fans revisit their prior work rather than give this one a second listen. Although the vocals are the BEST part of this band . Every album they just get getting better and better – probably the only reason why i go back to their previous work and could pass comfortably through this one.
1.Under and over it
Last year saw the rise of this unique band from USA . Their debut LP “Aquarius” stunned critics and masses alike with the seemless progression and extreme rhythmic highs and lows.
Many listeners initially called them “Dream Theater with a different drummer” but their “Aquarius” proved everyone wrong. They made an album and stuffed in a solid punch with their soothing yet solid vocals and versatile drum rudiments.
Visions takes these young boys to musical puberty. The transition from their previous to this one is perfect. Blending high vocal scales with the keyboard and trippy segments in between heavy ends , Haken take you on a ride right from the first beat to the last note.
“Nocturnal Conspiracy” would be my pick of the lot. Groovy and heavy it packs all the necessary HAKEN elements you would look as a fan of their previous work. “Insomnia” and “Portals” easily tells you Opeth and DT are their gods. Some solid odd-time signatures and tight songwriting is evident in these two tracks.
On the down side – the signature Haken moments are totally absent. The small but powerpacked growls of “Streams” from their “Aquarius” are badly missed. The album is total clean vocals ,which is NOT a disappointment, but considering fans who praised their heavy moments in their previous album would be a bit disappointed .Although the keyboardist makes most out of this one – they have not given up the metal-ness just for the sake trippy style of music that they have a penchant for.
In conclusion ,for every progressive rock/metal fan Haken is a must listen but my suggestion would be listening to BOTH their albums back-to-back as it would make a greater impact and leave you wanting more.
1.Nocturnal Conspiracy –