Servants Of Violence
In the small but growing niche of death metal taking liberal cues from hardcore, Casket Feeder already have some big shoes to fill. They’ll undoubtedly be compared to Venom Prison as the standard-bearers of the sound, something which this year’s critically-acclaimed Erebos will likely only make for a steeper climb. And despite some underground love for their Scalps EP, you can really tell that Casket Feeder haven’t had the same extensive period of time to grow as their bigger counterpart. Servants Of Violence is just less refined overall, not quite as in tune with blacker elements in its sound, and for as competent as Matt Downes is as a vocalist, he’s not the same force of nature as Larissa Stupar. That said, it’s not really a fair comparison to make when Casket Feeder are decidedly newer, and plus, they already seem to have their feet planted remarkably stably in the territory. Most of that is down to the sonic palette, the nasty, gnashing death metal riffs that are coated in hardcore’s grime and gristle to great effect. As far as raw, primal heaviness goes, Casket Feeder are hitting a high bar on their own, particularly in Graham Wallace’s monstrous drumming techniques that, on their own, are an elevating factor. Overall, that’s where Casket Feeder bring out the best in themselves, in the powerhouse thunder the likes of Tyranny Culture or the title track will embody. There’s enough outside of the base death metal or hardcore boundaries to make this shine despite a relative lack of fine-tuning; the lyrical sentiment denouncing cultism in modern society and religion can be as pointed as easily as it can bludgeon, off the back of vicious performances across the board and a production style that has grandeur and scale without being too clean. It’s the sort of album that already knows its audience inside and out, one of the purer displays of firebrand fury this year, and a debut that telegraphs the roads to underground metal’s upper echelons rather definitively. Don’t sleep on Casket Feeder; a bit of time cutting their teeth will only make them more vicious.
For fans of: Venom Prison, Heriot, Video Nasties
‘Servants Of Violence’ by Casket Feeder is released on 20th May.
Ever the embodiment of ‘it’s nothing special’ are Imonolith, a band who seem to be banking on the excitement that metal enjoyed around 2005 to withstand for the same sound over a decade-and-a-half later. Those Bullet For My Valentine and Killswitch Engage albums are still great, sure, but they’re also a product of their time in a way that exhuming them almost wholesale doesn’t really factor into. That’s probably a bit harsh given that Imonolith remain technically sound, but an ‘old-fashioned’ approach to metal this cut-and-dry doesn’t inspire much fervour, in the exact same way as their debut a couple of years back. Even just as a physical package, Progressions doesn’t seem to offer that much (throwing on some demos at the end doesn’t increase the value, guys), and thus it becomes even harder to get all that enthralled when the parameters are deliberately limited to just seven songs. That’s not to say it’s awful or anything; Imonolith clearly have talented musicians among their ranks, and outside of the weird Linkin Park pastiche of a title track that might as well belong to a different band, let alone album, there’s nothing objectionable as far as the sound goes. They’re probably best when they lean into their heaviness for Jon Howard to show off a more guttural metal vocal like on Angevil or The Reign, as opposed to Army Of Me’s strained-out butt-rock dalliances that can’t even use heft to mask how dated they sound. The production tends to work in Imonolith’s favour too, at least in terms of strengthening and accentuating the metal angles in what’s easily the most well-prevailing aspect of that mid-2000s era. It’d be nice if they brought something in among that though, to highlight their own identity as a band. There’s nothing about Progressions that feels indicative of personality exclusive to Imonolith, be that in the obviously anachronistic sound, or writing which will settle on similar period-appropriate broadness. That can work overall, but there needs to be something to bring it to a position where that’s possible, not just a process of diving headlong into the old well and hoping for the best.
For fans of: Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, Stone Sour
‘Progressions’ by Imonolith is released on 20th May.
When Be Well released their debut album in 2020, the lack of ripples wasn’t that surprising. It was a serviceable go at melodic hardcore rarely rising above that, and ultimately falling in stasis like so many of its ilk inevitably will. The flair of having producer Brian McTernan at the helm with members of Darkest Hour and Fairweather flanking was ultimately where its momentum crested, which is something that Hello Sun does try to address. Treadless immediately feels like an attempt at striking harder and faster, as it introduces the quicker hardcore bounds that Hello Sun alternates with its melodic punk pool. A brief six tracks means that approach is easier to endear to overall; the piecemeal construction and sequencing is less harsh, and when there isn’t an outright bad song here, the average gets bumped up a couple of notches. But the matter of Be Well not escaping their ‘side-project’ side hasn’t gone away, on what’s another even-keeled display that equates to little more than feeling fine. In The Shadow Of Who You Thought I Was is probably the closest to raising the bar, as the most instantly melodic and hook-centred while bringing shades of classic emo into McTernan’s writing. He’s got the perspective of an older figure within the scene to show off a bit more weight, where intermingled with themes of trauma and depression are those of fatherhood, delivered in an unguarded, plainspoken way. It can also feel tamped down on a bit of intensity though, something that Be Well seem to wrestle with across the board in how they struggle for equilibrium between straight-up hardcore and melodic fare that, right next to it, can sometimes be a bit underpowered. Again, they’re never bad at what they do, but it’s the loose threads that continue to hold Be Well back that prove the most intrusive. For the pedigree and potential on display, it’d be nice to have something that totally lives up to it.
For fans of: Rise Against, Comeback Kid, Hot Water Music
‘Hello Sun’ by Be Well is released on 20th May on Revelation Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall