‘Kin Hell Fest announces five more bands + early bird tickets still selling!

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The ever rising juggernaut of extremity that is ‘Kin Hell Fest went and announced another five crushing bands to the line-up recently, and it was a corker. The biggest news is the confirmation of two of the UK’s finest acts, at polar ends of their careers and indeed for speed. Welsh death metal legends Desecration will be hitting Leeds to flay and slay the audience. As will rising Liverpudlian merchants of doom Conan; widely appraised by new and old fans alike, they will surely be one of the highlights of the weekend’s activities. Also appearing will be Portugal’s seasoned goregrind maniacs Holocausto Canibal, London snuffers Basement Torture Killings, and New Surrey based metallic hardcore crew Palm Reader.

They join a heap of awesome bands in what is set to be the nastiest, heaviest ‘Kin Hell Fest yet. There’s still more bands to be announced including two headliners to go alongside the already confirmed big name draw of Anaal Nathrakh.

Meanwhile early bird tickets are still on sale until the end of November, priced at £49 for all the above bands and more to be confirmed over three days, plus merch stalls, food & drink.

For early bird tickets and more information, head to the official ‘Kin Hell Fest website and hit them up on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news and updates and other wholesome meaty chunks!

Peter Clegg

Killswitch Engage – Disarm the Descent

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Killswitch Engage
Disarm the Descent
Roadrunner

Back in 2003, when Killswitch Engage dropped ‘Alive or Just Breathing’, it marked the dawning of what some described as the NWOAHM – the New Wave of American Heavy Metal – as bands such as KsE, Lamb of God, Chimaira, God Forbid and more surged forth into mainstream consciousness and helped to recover the genre from the precipice of nu-metal. While most of the bands of that time haven’t managed to sustain the momentum from that surge, Killswitch have remained up there at the top, despite losing then vocalist Jesse Leach. With Howard Jones at the fore, they still managed to shift records and build an astounding fanbase. Yet personally, I found Killswitch Engage becoming staler with every record, as they moved further away, it seemed, from the sound that won them their original admirers, becoming more and more formulaic in structure and sound. I personally didn’t find anything memorable about their second self-titled record at all.

Yet Leach’s return to the band after ten years away marks something of a watershed moment, a new dawn etc. for the band, and I certainly hoped ‘Disarm the Descent’ would recapture some of the fighting spirit of the band that seemed to have been lost in recent years. It does just that and more in spades. Leach has not been quiet over the last ten years, having plenty time to develop his vocals on last year’s Times of Grace album (with KsE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz) and prior to that with the criminally underrated Seemless. His vocals are markedly stronger than they were back on ‘AoJB’, and while only time will tell whether this album will produce anthems the size of ‘Life to Lifeless’, ‘My Last Serenade’ et al, you can’t argue they haven’t tried. Musically, this is the most intense Killswitch have been for a while, particularly on tracks like ‘The Hell In Me’ and ‘A New Awakening’, the latter of which Leach counts in with an aggressive ‘1, 2, 3, 4!’ which alone is sure to liven up any future circle pits, itself providing an extra level of intensity to the song. The more melodic side has been reupped as well – ‘You Don’t Bleed For Me’ and ‘A Tribute to the Fallen’ are all worthy singalongs but by no means guilty for doing so, each brewing with thunderous beats. Sure, they can’t resist digging out the metal lighter anthem in ‘Always’, but its far from turgid and to be honest, it sticks with me more than Killswitch have in recent years, in a good way.

Even if you threw the towel in on this band years ago, now is the best time to start rediscovering them, just as with Leach on board, the band seem to have rediscovered their best form, mucking around far less and really getting their teeth into the shred. As my tastes expanded I seemed to enjoy the relative simplicity of metalcore less and less, but its undisputed flagbearers have shown there’s still a fire inside the veterans of the NWOAHM charge. For all the hype Roadrunner pump into their releases, ‘Disarm the Descent’ pays it back gratitiously, and then some.

Peter Clegg

Killswitch Engage – In Due Time

Buy ‘Disarm the Descent’ here

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Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

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Between the Buried and Me
The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Metal Blade

Space. Space. Glorious space. Spaaaaaaaaaace. The subject of the moment, within rock and metal circles at least. Not too long ago I praised Krallice’s ‘Years Past Matter’ for its space-tinged black metal attack towards and beyond the stars. Between the Buried and Me, continuing on from ‘The Parallax I: Hypersleep Dialogues’, are more conceptual in their approach, but gaze at the stars no less than their contemporaries. Indeed, the shackles of the metalcore scene from which BTBAM arose were broken long ago, and despite the odd flourish here and there, BTBAM transcend their old roots time and again to confound genre labellers everywhere.

Now seven albums in, ‘The Parallax II: Future Sequence’ is a continuation of BTBAM’s upward trajectory; not really breaking away from anything they’ve done before, just continuing to do what they do so well. As ever, they open with an introductory clean track, the dreamy and contemplative ‘Goodbye to Everything’, which segues into ‘Astral Body’ which continues the skyward motion in still ethereal fashion before the growls and the riffery come in. Aside from ‘Bloom’, which appears later in the album, that’s the only regular song to come in sub-9 minutes, with most songs after that regularly clocking ten or eleven minutes in length. ‘Lay Your Ghosts To Rest’ in the first of these, once again displaying the band’s knack for being able to turn the song on a sixpence into a different direction. The band saunter, thrash and angle their way through every turn, and all at complete ease.

Between the Buried and Me – Astral Body

The further into ‘Parallax II’ we go, the more apparent this is their most ambitious album yet. Interludes are getting their own space – three in total (not including the intro and outro), through the instrumental ‘Autumn’, the title-track (with Tesseract’s Amos Williams providing the narrative), followed quickly the third, ‘The Black Box’ – more or less a standard but short BTBAM track. It all leads into the stunning second half of the album, led by ‘Telos’, which is perhaps one of the most brutal tracks I’ve heard, with some pretty mean breakdowns in the latter half of the song; followed by the completely bonkers ‘Bloom’, which initially sounds a little like a Sparks jam at first and morphs into the Surfaris ‘Wipe Out’ halfway through. There’s a really epic feel about how the album closes, and that’s not using the word lightly, on ‘Silent Flight Parliament’, particularly as it builds towards its dramatic close with the lines ‘Jet propulsion disengage/Dance towards our future/A future of nothing/a future towards nothing’. It brings everything back around to the beginning of this album, at which point the future of nothing was precisely a dream to the protagonists (Prospect 1 and Prospect 2) of the story, at which point they finally arrive at the end of their journey (through the reprise of ‘Goodbye to Everything’), complete the ‘Parallax‘ story. Or so the philosopher in me considers.

I won’t go as far to say that this is BTBAM’s best album yet, but they’re making it harder and harder to split hairs. It’s certainly an improvement on ‘The Great Misdirect’, which was good but really sat in the shadow of ‘Colors’. The stopgap release of ‘Parallax I’ was an excellent idea in hindsight. It was excellent in its own right, but for that to be the primer for the kaleidoscope of ‘Parallax II’ is a bountiful gift to be bestowed with. The concept isn’t always apparent simply due to the sheer volume, but this is as much a concept record as any other BTBAM record, through its continual segue from one track to another, making each track, however outstanding, much more essential to listen to as part of its whole.

Moreso, its staggering to think that BTBAM have been around for twelve years now and still have a heck of a lot more to give, seemingly arriving in the last few years at the higher echelons of the metal pyramid. Detractors may think they’re playing it safe having not tinkered too much with their sound over that time, but this couldn’t be further from the truth – BTBAM have simply embraced their progressive tendencies more and more over time and the ‘Parallax’ story is their most ambitious yet. Though still not quite a band for everyone (unless death metal becomes universally popular), no self-respecting metal fan should be devoid of this opus. Let’s dance towards this future of nothing with them.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘The Parallax II: Future Sequence’ here 

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Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

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Converge
All We Love We Leave Behind
Epitaph

As I write this review for Converge’s latest album, looking back at it retrospectively, I feel like I needed this album like I needed no other. As in, its so uncompromising, with at times absolutely vicious guitars, and with lyrics of the heart that seem so bleak, so cutting, and yet refreshing honest. Yes, it’s a little weird for me to write this intro for the upcoming review as though it’s a summary, but I genuinely have to put how I felt about it into context. Its full potential didn’t quite hit me at first, until one day, stressed out and in a state of chaotic commutive flux, that it’s full power roared through me.

But make no mistake; Converge have returned here still relevant, still influential, now on album number eight. They go through fourteen tracks inside thirty eight minutes and there’s not a bad moment to pick out from them. Sure, many will consider 2001’s ‘Jane Doe’ as their magnum opus, but there’s plenty here to more than satisfy even the neediest Converge fan. From the regretful sorrow of ‘Aimless Arrow’ to the savage beatings of ‘Trespasses’ and ‘Tender Abuse’, ‘All We Love…’ starts off with a bang and showcases the Massachusetts crew’s mastery of their craft through its versatile approach to their style. Kurt Ballou further proves himself to be one of the most dynamic guitarists around, whether throwing in sledgehammers on the likes of ‘Shame in the Way’, or the athletic boardwork on the title-track. And Jacob Bannon yet again proves one of the best hardcore vocalists around, shifting around the deep of ‘Coral Blue’ and exemplifying his ferocity in numerous other places, with every howl and wretch.

All We Love We Leave Behind’ is a surefire contender for album of the year, words to easily banded around these days. But I genuinely expect this album to be in the shake-up come the year end, in many people’s lists. After the relative disappointment of ‘Axe to Fall’, a largely good album simply bloated by too many guests, Converge have gone to a back to basics approach which pays dividends all ends up, leaving a trail of contemporaries and young wolves in the dust.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ here 

Stream it below:

Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind (album stream)

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