Cryptic Shift are a technical thrash/death group from Leeds, Yorkshire. After encountering them opening for the legendary Exodus in 2016, I was instantly won over with their aggressive, technical brand of sci-fi metal. They’ve toured and performed with bands such as Vektor, Lost Society, Mithras, Ingested, and will soon be opening for the death American metal juggernauts Suffocation in Leeds. After their monstrous 2016 EP ‘Beyond the Celestial Realms’, in April they released their new digital single ‘Cosmic Dreams’ through UKEM Records. Read on for an interview with their guitarist and vocalist Xander on death metal, sci-fi, and touring with Vektor.
I first came across Nexion at their performance at Oration Festival MMXVII in Reykjavik. A friend of mine knew them, and made me aware that they were well worth seeing. Their blistering show suggested a band with real experience on stage, despite having not yet released any recordings under the name Nexion. As it transpires, vocalist John Rood is also in Fenrismaw, while guitarist Jóhannes Smárason used to perform live with Svartidauði, and fellow guitarist Óskar Rúnarsson plays in Blood Feud. As with many of Iceland’s bands, there is cross-pollination. But Nexion‘s new music differs quite substantially from much of the black metal that has erupted from the little Island in its approach to blackened death metal. Read on for the review, as well as an interview with vocalist Josh Rood. Continue reading “Review and Interview: Nexion”
Putting aside much of what happened politically in 2016, this has been one of the best years in recent memory for metal. There were many, many albums I loved this year, far too many to squeeze into an end-of-year list. So I have limited myself to picking my ten favourite albums, as well as five ‘runners up’. And by imposing this particular format on myself I had to think quite carefully about my choices and what it is that makes that particular album stand out to me. And really what it comes down to, most of the time, is whether an album moves me. If an album inspires some sort of reaction from me on an emotional level – whether that’s in an emotionally resonant song or idea, or by crafting such a rich and powerful atmosphere that the listener is transported away from their everyday life – that’s what really makes an album stand out to me. So there were many albums which I enjoyed but which you won’t find on this list precisely because, even though they might have some great riffs or something else, if I didn’t connect with it then it’s not something that’s going to figure into my list of the best metal albums of the year.
That Cambridgeshire simply didn’t have any good metal bands was a sad fact I’d come to accept. When I’m not at university here in York, I live in the small cathedral-city of Ely, a short drive from the county’s namesake and hub of Cambridge. Musically, it’s an utterly desolate landscape. Friends of mine who live and study in Cambridge have confirmed as much. So when I learned that Cambridge was now the home of TERRA, an atmospheric black metal band along the lines of Wolves in the Throne Room or Ash Borer, my heart leapt. And while TERRA certainly do draw on these bands, they forge their own path on their second full-length album ‘Mors Secunda’. Continue reading “TERRA: Interview and Album Review”
Tasmanian metal band Départe’s expansive sound draws on the most powerful elements of black metal, death metal, and even post-metal. While comparisons with bands like Ulcerate and Zhrine are inevitable because of the band’s penchant for dissonant, unsettling guitarwork, Départe carves out their own sound on their debut album ‘Failure, Subside’.
Stylistically the focus is much more on the atmosphere and flow of the songs than on heaviness or riffs, and the band frequently operate at a bulky, sludgy pace.At the core of their sound is unrelentingly heavy, technical death metal – in this sense, comparisons to Ulcerate are justified. Long sections of atmospheric doom offer some respite from the heaviness of their assault, but frequently simply seem to render the atmosphere even more suffocating.
The opening section ‘Grief Echoes (Golden Scars)’ is one of my favourite on any song this year, the incredibly heavy percussion and eerie melodic guitars working creating a deeply unsettling, brutal sound. And the use of clean vocals throughout the album are a real highlight. They don’t feel like an afterthought, they feel like a really strong tool to provide some release from the utter gloom of much of the music. Used towards the end of the ‘Ashes in Bloom’ they’re a really beautiful touch. The lyrics certainly invoke imagery of despair and grief, suffering and loss, but they also evoke a sense of hope and optimism. It’s in some ways a real treat to read lyrics in such a bleak, poetic style from a musician that has clearly put some real thought into them. It’s a very human, emotionally powerful album, and one very worth experiencing for yourself.
After enjoying the album so much, I reached out to guitarist, vocalist, lyricist, and songwriter Sam Dishington to talk about Départe’s music as well as the experience of being a metal band from Tasmania. Read on for the interview!