“Finding God Before God Finds Me” by Bad Omens (Album Review)

Finding God Before God Finds Me

I’ve only recently discovered this band through the 4 tracks they have released ahead of their new release in 2022 so decided to delve into their discography and have fallen in love with their prior release from 2019 “Finding God Before God Finds Me”

This Los Angeles metalcore group were founded in 2015. The lineup is Noah Sebastian : Vocals (2015-present). Joakim “Jolly” Karlsson : Guitars, Vocals (2015-present) Nicholas Ruffilo : Bass, Guitars, Backing Vocals (2015-present). Nick Folio : Drums (2015-present)

Bad Omens

If I hadn’t known prior to listening to the album, I could have easily guessed that Finding God Before God Finds Me was released by either Sumerian Records or Arising Empire. The range of styles and sounds, mixing clean rock and crunchy, metalcore seems to be the calling card of many of these labels roster. Luckily, it’s a mix of styles that I throughly enjoy. Some of the bands do this better than others, and Bad Omens falls in the former camp — I only came across them relatively recently, but I’ve grown to like them a lot.

Bad Omens are a hugely talented metal band, switching between the metal and rock spectra quite easily and skillfully. At times they seem to remind me a bit of Asking Alexandria. However, Bad Omens is certainly their own band and have forged their own sound. They’re very difficult to pigeon-hole, given the incredible range of their songs. For some, this may make them seem a bit schizophrenic or disjointed, but I think it makes Finding God Before He Finds Me a very interesting listening experience.

Noah Sebastian’s vocals are very distinctive moving seamlessly between rock/pop-worthy clean singing to rasping screams and this offers a great contrast. The rest of the band are clearly gifted, and deliver some pretty good riffs, fills, etc. In addition to the crunchy metal that they do very well, the albums has moments of melancholia usually found on more gothic-rock/metal albums which is typically delivered on keyboards. It adds some interesting colour and even more depth to an album that is otherwise stylistically incredibly diverse. (I can’t think of another album that moves between sub-genres so much as this one does.)

The more I listen to this album the Asking Alexandra comparison I mentioned earlier should be taken with a pinch of salt, their differences became and I grew to like the songs more and more. Bad Omens are a heavier band, however their more melodic moments are truly excellent and keep the album fresh. Each song is pretty unique, and they don’t blend into each other in a way that a lot metal(core) albums do. This is certainly not metal elevator music. In a genre that features many cookie cutter bands and albums, I try to seek bands who are refreshing and try to forge their own path and from my past reviews I hope this is demonstrably obvious.

The first track on this album is “Kingdom of Cards” and it takes back to the American west with almost country like feel to it in places as we see the first showcasing of experimentation on this album. During this song lyrically we hear about struggles of having to choose between your family and becoming a famous musician. Noah Sebastian explains about how he had to leave family behind in order to pursue his music dream. He mentions the fame and legacy he gets being nice, however he reflects on always having to live with the fact that he possibly lost all those close to him. The latter part of the song features a powerful choir singing the chorus and it just makes the song that much more intense and heightens the feeling.

Next up is the second track “Running in Circles” and it seems for the majority of the song to explore the feeling of not being afraid to die as well as the notion of thinking we’re going to live forever. It’s a very energetic song with a chorus that is extremely catchy and is sure to get embedded in your head upon the first listen. It’s by no means my favourite song on this album, but it manages to hold its own.

The first video release that came from this album is third track “Careful What You Wish For” where Noah conveys the feelings he has towards the people he’s lost over the years. It also acts as an all too forgotten reminder to not hold on to the weight of other’s mistakes and that you need to learn to forgive yourself when it’s too late to forgive someone else. Gulp! It’s really hard not to feel the pain conveyed here. This song opens with a great instrumental that includes violins and leads into a very hard hitting chorus. The bridge is almost euphoric and it finishes it all off with the best elements of this song coming together as one. Wow!!

Careful What You Wish For

“The Hell I Overcame” was the second video release and I feel that it continues where the last track left off with many similarities to the previous track when it comes to the overall feel of the entire song. However, during this song Noah sings about how he hopes that God will forgive all the people who have been skeptical of him and his life choices especially after everything he’s been through. There is a lot of emotion in this song and a very powerful video shown below.

The Hell I Overcame

All aboard the Heavy Train as next up it’s by far the heaviest song on this entire album, “Dethrone” and a definite favourite as it just gets your adrenaline pumping. The lyrical content is very compelling. It seems to be written from the point of view of a messenger from hell who would love to show up to the gates of heaven to spit in God’s face. The vocals are as aggressive as ever and has almost a deathcore feel. Lovely stuff.

Dethrone

“Blood” is unfortunately my least favorite song on this album as some of the screamed vocals just feel too feigned and laboured especially during the chorus and sound like they don’t belong as a part of this song. I have no issues at all with the instrumentation. Whilst the verses themselves aren’t too bad, the chorus is meant to be where you capture your audience’s ear but this is the only song on this album where that just didn’t happen for me.

And we are back ladies and gents! We get back on the right track with “Mercy” it is about how if God came down to Earth today and saw what we’ve made of it, he’d certainly not take us back to heaven with him. It has a lovely slow build up to the chorus in the first verse. The vocals mixed with the instrumentals are on point for this song and really gives you a reason to keep listening all the way through. There is real sense of longing and frustration in Noah’s voice in this song that just resonates with me.

Mercy

“Said & Done” conveys the feeling of just not being good enough to be loved by someone no matter how much you’re willing to give that person. It’s a feeling I can really empathise with. My only niggle with this song is that I would have liked a better chorus however the verses and bridge manage do make up for it in return. This song contains an great guitar solo during its’ bridge and just adds on to the many little things that this song was able to do for me. However, I feel if it just had a better chorus that it’d be one of my if not my favourite song on the entire album.

“Burning Out” is probably my favorite song on the entire album. I love it’s message. For me it addresses not being perfect but still being proud of who you are and also trying to find yourself. We have yet another hard hitting chorus that I know I’d be singing at the top of my lungs at a live show if I ever got to see these boys love. Not to mention the guitars that are played in the same melody as the vocals making everything blend so effortlessly.

Burning Out

The album finale is the track “If I’m There” which has the feel of a love song but the band themselves also described it as, “a song of forgiveness and acceptance.” It’s a very strong ending and easily one of my favourites from this entire album as it has such a powerful chorus and of course the return of the choir for the final moments of this album. This is a perfect closer to a great album.

Having only heard the 4 songs pre-released ahead of their new album before scrutinising this album I have to say I’m impressed. You can really hear them coming into their own with the experimentation and different things they did for this album. They’re a fairly young band, they still have plenty left to show us and very well could end up being one of the bigger names in the metal industry in the future. Kudos

Inmenenice Heaven In Hiding Review

Swedish alternative metalcore outfit Imminence have returned with their fourth full-length studio album ‘Heaven In Hiding’, which follows up their 2019 coup de grace ‘Turn The Light On’. After embracing their individuality and exploding onto the scene with a new energy and reconstructed style complete with some newfound theatrics with that album, I was waited with bated breath to hear what was next for the band, who have meteorically risen to being a premier league act in the scene. ‘Heaven in Hiding’ delivers on every expectancy set by it’s first cuts such as the amazingly beautiful title track and the brutal “Temptation”, full of djenty metalcore instrumentation and ambient almost chilled out soundscapes as well as quite possibly one of drummer Peter Hanström’s best performances of his career. Guitarist Harald Barrett showcases some of his heaviest and most technical riffs to date on the album, displayed in all its glory on the aggressive breakdown of “Moth To A Flame” and the outlandish riffage of “Enslaved”.

The band are campaigners for mental health awareness, the band work with Swedish organisation Suicide Zero, by running campaigns and fundraising for them, and will continue to do so on this release.

Eddie Berg cements his place as one of the most talented vocalists (and only violinist to my knowledge) in the scene, with soaring cleans and tortured screams that ooze with unbridled passion and emotion from every pore. This credibility is exhibited from start to finish on the entire release, with the distressing yet moving ballad “Alleviate” being the ethereal outpouring of the desperation and urgency of its lyrics, and is the impeccable portrayal of the record’s main ideology: Soul-searching for hope and relief and answers during times of depression and grief and pain. Berg has always been open about his struggles with depression and mental health in his lyrics, but on ‘Heaven In Hiding’ he feels more susceptible than ever before, with the album proving to be their darkest overall to date and diving deep into the psyche of someone who is consistently bogged down by the hardship of his own reality and lifelong battle with his own mental health. This dark imagery is on display during “Surrender”, questioning if it would take selling his soul to even feel something or the toll of metaphorical and literal war he has waged on himself as doubts settle in, as the record drowns in lyrical depth and the weight of its own subject matter.

The mental and spiritual journey that envelopes this release is summarised and perfectly ingrained in “Chasing Shadows”, a heavy yet melodic track that evokes biblical references to portray the adversity Berg is facing as he hunts frantically for the answers within. Wrestling with the concepts of the Devil and God and longing for direction through “The Valley of Shadow of Death”, the song is Eddie crying out for mercy and salvation from the “Ghost” that haunts his every thought and fear.

‘Heaven in Hiding’ is an profound album, it’s a grower compared to it’s predecessor, it needs time to fully enjoy, comprehend, and process. It feels almost overwhelming at times perhaps due to the flow of it’s tracklist, in addition to the overall content, and notwithstanding the fact that I’m a big fan of the band and it not being too dissimilar from past work, it did take me several listens initially to get into.

The release regardless of all of it’s addictive hooks and pummeling riffs, most of the time follows a fairly straight-forward formulaic approach, even to the point where I may get a sense of deja vu when hearing the closing breakdowns to “Chasing Shadows” or “Heaven In Hiding”. This pattern and structure provides some disappointment in an almost 50 minute-long album, however it makes the songs that don’t follow the formula stand out so much more. “This Too Shall Pass”, also known as “این نیز بگذرد“, is the perfect example of this. A gripping ballad that explodes with experimentalism and creativity, featuring absorbing instrumentation clearly influenced by middle-eastern culture and complex almost cinematic production. It’s a hauntingly beautiful track and certainly one of the most underrated cuts in the band’s discography to date.

As I began to listen more and diving deeper into the release it finally clicked for me that this album is full of nuance and meant to be listened to in its entirety with full concentration. Henrik Udd’s deft production and dexterity for concealed theatrics comes to life in the more pastoral and mellow moments of the record, adorning the sonic experience in a way nobody else could. On the surface, this release can certainly feel same old and repetitive, but that’s not without it’s own elaborateness and intentions. The album is deliberately crafted at times to be more simplistic instrumentally, often times to spotlight and elevate the deep emotional lyrics allowing the vocal performance to steal the limelight.

Once I started really started listening to the lyrics, my perspective on the release shifted seismically. The lyrics broke me down on an emotional level. It reverberated with my soul in a way a lot of releases have in 2021. In the past two years of my life I’ve felt the same exact feelings, had the same exact thoughts, and gone through the same mental processes that Eddie’s lyrics so authentically discuss. The search for Heaven in hiding amidst the tribulations and hardships, desperate for the light at the end of the tunnel. As someone who flirts with depressive thoughts and had my share of upset recently hearing the genuineness and raw sincerity of the lyrics expressed in such a powerful way hit home. The album actually left me bereft and close to tears on a multiple occasions and the emotional connection I discovered even after listening multiple times through is a testament to its strengths and its longevity.

‘Heaven In Hiding’ is a dark and cathartic expression of cinematic poetry tackling the oftentimes unseen or ignored battle within one’s self, searching for light and hope amidst it’s lowest moments and riding on the edge of bitter hopelessness and uneasy optimism. It’s one of my favourite metal releases so far this year and a worthy successor to ‘Turn The Light On.’

Voices-London A Review (In Retrospect)

Voices-London

Voices are formed the ashes of the eccentric, extreme metal titans Akercocke, and three of its former members have reclaimed centre stage. The band are fromLondon, UK and are made up of Dan Abela Bass
David Gray Drums
Sam Loynes Guitar and Piano
Peter Benjamin Vocals and Guitar

This album centres around the main protagonist The Actor as he contemplates his own existence as travels through the cultural melting pot that is London and his increasingly more difficult task of attempting to fit in whilst ridding himself of a female fancy. The alluring the wistful Megan.

Voices

From the purifying somewhat vulnerable opening chords (and our brilliant introduction to vocalist, Peter Benjamin) of the forebodingly titled Suicide Note, we’re first acquainted with to our aforementioned tragic protagonist: The Actor, a pompous flamboyant, egotistical yet jealous megalomaniac. A perpetually warped, emotionally wrecked individual , The Actor’s brutal self-consciousness is captured extensively, in disconcerting , pertinent detail.

If there were a remedy, a magical pill to stop him thinking all the time, then he would surely take it. If there were a way to silence the constant questioning of every action and reaction, the analysis of every decision, then he might find peace. There must be a way to erase every thought from the head, and to drift into an automatic routine bereft of the constant anxiety of deep thought. Indecision plagues his every move, renders him inert, immobile, passive. Unable to summon the courage to face London; locked away, for days…”

The Actor

Evidently, The Actor, gradually driven mad (presumably desensitised through exposure to his overwhelming environment), seems to have developed an unique psychosis, where the city itself has been mentally anthropomorphised, and his every movement is evaluated as a deliberate recital — the script, for which his self-congratulatory mind is always certain to remain two steps ahead of — for an almost ghostly audience. Compellingly self-aware, he experiences seemingly self-imposed trials, finally being poisoned (imagined or otherwise), as his overly suspicious narcissism interprets his immediate surroundings as though they were eyes ensconced in his every movement. His adherence to this performance is so complete that he allegedly tolerates the event.

“…In the hospital light intensity of the café, he gasps bitter coffee, shifting heavily upon rancid furniture. Nobody speaks English here, and he submerges his identity in the anxious cadence of unsympathetic sounding discourse. With time, the ego slowly emerges, and desperation urges his rash exposure to the rancid night air; drinking breaths of sewer sod and smoke, scoring liquorice-black pollution onto the soul. He wretches, and watches the poison hit the sewer grill. Tremulous, he glimpses an artist sketching him from the café window, charcoal tip capturing his trauma on paper. Is this realIs this happeningWhat must he look like to the artist, the observerThe reflection in the window surprises him, he scarcely recognizes himself. Why did they poison himThey left this detail out of the script, the director capturing his real reaction. He’s a professional, and delivers a professional performance; they can’t catch him out…”

The Actor

The supporting role of this maniacal tale is the object of The Actor’s obsessions – The Actress: Megan. A sexual profligate, and a plot device of hedonistic escapism, Megan is the pitiful archetype of an emotionally hollowed, corrupted woman.

“The emptiness kills
So she fucked herself dry
And could no longer try
To feel anything inside
A black and white still
Of the actress at night
Captured in monochrome
For the theater wall

The mirror can not reflect
The beauty she expects…

…Diseased at the core
Unleashed, set free…

…I have no pride, I have no shame…

…When she became all that she became
There was nothing left to
recognise”

Whether or not Megan exists independently of The Actor’s unhinged psyche is never fully revealed, and in all honesty is ultimately insignificant. She is the one significant product of, or deterrent from the sheer schizoid egoism of The Actor’s unraveling mind.

“…He finds his way to the red light again, a beacon of sordid salvation, in the grey pestilence of rain and rubbish bins, where she is waiting, always waiting: Megan…

…For without her, he is without god…
…Yet when parted reduced to a nihilist…”

“Dead London sighs dense anxiety out of black, Westminster lungs, full of sickness. A decomposing clamber infects his every puddle-grazed foot forward, while the population dreams, safely asleep…

…He travels by night, journeys without destination, in cold buses amidst cold patrons without features. He wonders if indeed they are anything like him, without identity or soul; bereft of purpose, condemned to exist in the small hours. Not real people at all, rats and maggots incapable of keeping the rhythm of humanity, sent alone to survive outside the hive. Distinct from the dealers, pimps, burglars and filth, at least they possess a crass purpose, fighting for urban survival amongst themselves; boldly contaminating Lambeth street corners under pestilential night skies, they retreat as dawn light bleeds through clouds, and the city stirs from slumber…”

The Actor

“Dystopian”, you say?Hardly. Whilst London’s Neo-Noir cinematic format, and austere, idiosyncratic themes necessarily emphasises the depravity and destitution of its’ locale, there is nothing wholly disconnected from reality, or entirely imagined about London. In the band’s own words, Voices is “The true sound of London”.

Now I’ve set the scene here is my review of the album itself.

I first listened to this album in 2015 a time when I was still fascinated by living in London. Enchanted by the vastness of its suburbia and it still had that sense of wonder that brought me from Glasgow in the first instance. I knew there was a darkness somewhat macabre feel to the city that if I wanted to at any point I could experience. So this album brought that to life and now revisiting in the soon to be post covid period I wondered if I felt the same resonance to this album.

The album chokes the listener with a cacophony of human voices, from shrieks to grunts, clean singing and monologues from both men and women. It’s as diverse, populated, and claustrophobic as the London which the lyrics obsess over, a city full of hiding places between sharp opposing surfaces. The characters in the narrative are constantly moving through alleys and archways. The iconic Cold Harbour Lane even makes an appearance, and the very geometry of urban living is reflected in the album’s angular and compressed guitar work, precision drumming, and atmospheric electronics. If that sounds like an awful lot to digest, and not entirely comfortable to listen to, well, so is city living.

Claustrophobia is key here, and while the underground seems to be shying away from slick, modern sounds in favour of more pastoral and earthy sounds, London is as evocative of its namesake as any given US folk-black group might be of middle America, though it doesn’t particularly make me want to hop on a flight to the US. That said, the labyrinthine sonic tapestry that Voices are weaving on this album is one I’ve found myself drawn to more than a few times.

And Voices has been weaving for quite some time, even though their first record under this moniker only dropped last year. The band was formed by two remaining members of British blackened death outfit Akercocke, a band whose output I indulged in around the same time as I was discovering Behemoth and Belphegor. Self Indulgent is a great way of talking about Akercocke—the group differentiated themselves from their sex-and-Satan obsessed peers by being immaculately dressed, giving stellar interviews, and playing with more sonic elements than their contemporaries. Still, Akercocke were a blue-balling band. They never quite got me off, though I always knew they had the potential to do so. On London, guitarist/vocalist Peter Benjamin and drummer David Gray finally give up the goods.

A sprinkling of prog influences perfects the Akercocke formula. Where Behemoth are trying to sound ancient, Gray and Benjamin sound unabashedly modern, mixing some light Meshuggah-isms with the occasional acoustic interlude, and clean vocals reminiscent of early period Solefald. That is to say, the cleans are overwrought and dryly intoned, reminiscent of musical theater, but delivering pretentiousness and portents in equal measure. “Music for the Recently Bereaved” blasts and groove with equal aplomb, while “The Fuck Trance,” juxtaposes rhythmic electronic pulses with impassioned vocals and broken piano melodies, each set to drumming with the merciless efficiency of a Sybian machine—at a point in time, all the sensory overload becomes pure catharsis. Most importantly, London feels like a cohesive work. The next song begins before the last song break on the MP3, and the spoken word pieces roughly divide the story of this concept album into three acts.

Not that I’m entirely sure what the concept is. After repeated listens I know only that it concerns the nature of being an artist, the experience of living in the titular city, and a woman. 

Megan. If the album had another title it would be Megan. A woman repeats her name over and over until it becomes a mantra, and then an electronic loop—a functioning piece of the sound’s mechanics—on the song bearing her name. I found myself asking questions less about the nature of art and more about who this character is. Presumably she’s an unsavory lover—the song “Last Train Victoria Line” consists of an extended series of questions: “Do you ever think of him when you’re fucking me?” These interrogatives are met by throat-curdling screams, in a sort of call-and-response not unlike what Eminem employed in the song “Kill You”

The band members have a track record of nonviolent, though distracting, misogyny. In the music video to the Akercocke song “Leviathan,” the band sits in lavish chairs, enjoying a striptease while the song’s chorus implores “I wish to be alone with my god.” The disconnect between music and narrative bugged me then as it bugged me now. I assume that I’m meant to think of Megan as some femme fatale of sorts but something about the delivery leads me to believe that if Megan were a real person she might have more in common with women I’ve dated in the past.

I can’t lay all the blame for this on Voices. The band isn’t responsible for the atmosphere into which they release their album, nor for any baggage of mine which I project onto their work.The album is harrowing as it is evocative, and full of ideas—mostly good ones. It’s even a strong argument that modern production isn’t completely played-out. Here Voices are, convincing me to say nice things alongside my misgivings. Something tells me they’d like that—it’s in the spirit of London. Or maybe, like the Megan that some of the lyrics portray, I just like a real bad good time. In answer to the question I posed at the start of this review I think the darkness is more prevalent in the post covid landscape and I shall cloak myself within said darkness.

The Plot In You-Swan Song Review

The Plot In You Swan Song

Swan songs signify endings. If a swan is singing, or so the story goes, it is using its last breath.

The Plot In You are a quartet from Ohio who play an almost cinematic brand of metalcore on this release. The band are made up of. Landon Tewers Vocals, Lyrics, Programming
Ethan Yoder Bass
Josh Lewis Childress Guitar
Michael Cooper Drums

The Plot In You

Failure. Endings. Demise. Hopelessness. Emptiness. Sadness. Despair. These are emotions that we have all felt, and likely will feel again; Swan Song is a goodbye. It is a reflective glance in the practice in self-applied therapy, a chance for The Plot In You to rinse out the bitter taste from their mouths and lay their cards bare on the table. One can imagine that this is a melancholy forlorn listening experience that spits darkness and recalls the fragility of life, however more importantly it offers a road to recovery, proof that should we need it the darkest periods of our lives are indeed only temporary.

Swan Song is less of an album and more a cathartic release of emotion that ends on a feeling of enlightenment. The album is full of incredible musicianship throughout, as well as hard hitting, very raw lyrics that cut to bone,

Letters To A Dead Friend’ starts things off with the quaint eeriness of a distant school yard set over reversed vocals and modulated synth loops. It’s a captivating sound bed for Landon to croon over and sets the pace nicely for the album’s various mood swings and genre-bending of dark-pop, ethereal rock, and aggro metalcore. Some lowly pitched vocals slip in, as does Landon’s gritty screaming that he does so wonderfully well. A rich tapestry of tonalities, it begins as melodically bright and percussively-driving as Landon ponders what might have happened if a friend of his hadn’t died but had instead lived their full life. As a song, it’s confronting bargaining stage of grief: “Dead wrong or dead right, I should be in the ground a thousand fucking times” he screams in the heavy finale. It’s very much a what-if scenario, a face-thy-self-examination, and is an inexplicably bold first track to unsettle your expectations. The darker change of key to the screams, menacing chugging guitars, and gut-rumbling low-end for its climax is sudden but seamless. When ‘Letters…’ kicks your teeth in at 3:21 for that emotionally dynamic explosion, its powerful enough to move you to tears.

With ‘Fall Again,’ out of the frying pan shoots this signature sound with a dry yet punchy and somewhat glitchy metalcore tune. If you’re one of those people who care about finding THE heaviest song on a record, then this is the track. A more dare I say straightforward track that has a lot of familiarity, it shows off just how characterful Landon’s singing and screaming is. He’s a massively talented though criminally underrated frontman who can hold his own with the best in the scene. A somewhat more dissonant, chug-laden second half gives way to a final elated chorus and one absolutely killer breakdown, where the band’s rhythm section gives it their all. It becomes abundantly clear how this band arrange their songs, how these elements all work in unison. Synths and electronics fly above, heavy guitar chugs and the smoothed-out, bass-heavy mix anchor to the sides Landon’s immensely intense vocals, whilst the drumming fires straight down the middle. It’s a wonderfully effective mix and production methodology, arming to the teeth the already stellar songwriting.

Face Me

Face Me isn’t just one of this record’s best tracks, and not only one of my favourite 2021 tunes, but it’s one of favourite pieces of music of all time. I feel this track was written about a relationship that’s become deeply plagued by mental illness, the toll it took on the couple, and how there’s was a yearning to make it work. Something I can easily relate to sadly (“I don’t wanna be the love you prevail from, I don’t wanna be the waves in your sea” Landon pleads in the second verse.) The immersive layering of Landon’s screams over a woman’s repeating sampled mantra; the tracks lurching rhythmic pace during the emotionally distressing harrowing breakdown; the distorted synths adding some guile to the measures before the downtrodden feels drop; all of the harmonic tension; how the mix withholds certain elements at just the right time – there’s so much to love about this banger. This is it, peak auditory sumptuous musical bliss, featuring everything that makes this band tick and gets me going!

Too Far Gone

Landon and the boys serve up one of the happier, brighter rock songs of their entire career on the 4th track “Too Far Gone”. (Despite the dark lyrical content which I take as being about acknowledging when a relationship has run its course.) If there was ever a song from this album that was destined to tackle the over saturated radio leagues – even with the heartfelt lung bursting high pitched screaming in the second verse –it’s this one. Although that’s not its only quality, nor the only identity it has. It doesn’t feel cheapened or forced in the slightest, but an brutally honest and ambitious rock song for them. When the chunky climax arrives around the three minute mark, with the band backed up by a huge millennial whoop, as Landon offers some brutal insight with perhaps reckless honesty about his love life – “when I try to love, my failures sink through the seams” – and with that it becomes more than just a “radio” song as I elude a few sentences back.

Paradigm

Track 5 is Paradigm and this track definitely has the most traditional Metalcore sound. It’s got that sort of rowdy party vibe throughout and is in my opinion the weakest song on the album in terms of musicality. It’s a fine, if not pissed-off sounding metalcore track with some passable riffs and plentiful screaming but I want more than that these days. However, please do note that filthy, pitch-rising held scream near the end is just dripping with disdain. Lovely! It reads like it’s a track about society’s false worship of public figures, a stark reminder to not idolise people, and the potentially toxic relationships that could stem from that. This is the band trying to remind us that (not all, but most) YouTubers, influencers and content-creators just see their audience as mere numbers. A topic that always makes me want to cringe slightly given musicians themselves don’t probably fully comprehend that they hold the same position and power as those they criticise in such songs, albeit on a smaller platform. Rant over!

Both To Blame

Starting with a repeating “who do you want to be?” vocal line and a melodic synthesised ostinato. It’s a haunting yet very true statement. ‘Both To Blame’ is a reflective look at a relationship ending. In which both parties are far from faultless in things falling apart. There is a lot of reflective sentiments bundled up in this song, without falling into a desperate ‘please take me back’ approach. Instead its more clearing the air for his ex-partner, so that the blame isn’t placed solely on them, conceding he was just as guilty in things turning sour. Landon is admitting his own indiscretions after the fact and is even showing empathy to his ex. That takes guts, and it’s refreshing to hear that. Maybe it’s something I need to learn……Much more insightful than the self-obsessed, personal myopia that’s plagued so much metalcore music over the last 15 years.

Track 7 ‘Too Heavy,’ funnily enough, really isn’t that heavy. Quelle Surprise! A slower, somewhat uplifting yet atmosphere-heavy piece that’s all about that showcases a sweet sincere lighter side of the band. The high-pitched notes and sweet vocal runs that Landon dishes out are evocative with a charming undertone. The atmosphere in the track allows them to knuckle down and push the song towards its most obvious and satisfying pay-off. For example, the slick section layering at the end, as the verses overlap with the chorus hooks and some really heart wrenching screams, with all of the instrumentation firing off. It’s all a bit clumsy and could say very messy, but I think that seems to be by design: that chaos and anxiety when things gets way too heavy in our lives. Even with the glacial pacing of the song, it’s a real album highlight.

Enemy

Track 8 Enemy’, making its presence felt with an eerie ethereal vocal sample and a ringing bass, with subliminal string noises left in for added punch. All before chugging guitars that sound thicker than a full bucket of Greek yoghurt and face-slapping drums touch down with force. One little trick that this album seems to love is using a sole vocal track from Landon hang in the air before things return with a sucker punch and they then hit harder than ever. They do this on ‘Face Me’ and they do it here again to great effect, despite this song having my least favourite chorus off the album. The song’s hellish metalcore passage, with these broken down sounding guitars and the violent voice-breaking screams, is face-melting stuff. The Plot In You, or rather Landon, make such interesting choices with their instrument voicing and section transitions here. Maybe a grower

Penultimate track Whole Without Me’. It’s a happy-medium of their electronic pop and heavier metalcore.With a slightly uneven paced breakdown, basic snare roll build-up, it all seems a bit of an anti-climax (for me), but it still hits hard. A true endorsement to this record’s quality: when it slacks, it’s far still far superior than most of their contemporaries dish out. In this track we see Landon “de-masking” himself and his problems, revealing the man he is. It’s far from the album’s greatest moment by any stretch of the imagination, but you can feel it’s a seriously vulnerable moment for the frontman and that certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.

The album closes with the ticking, nursery-rhyme pitched-percussion of ‘Freed’ starts one of the band’s most progressive compositions yet. With the distorted hi-fi synth rumbles, evocative strings, some trance electronica, and aggressively picked industrial chugs, the band go all four dimensional. It’s a somewhat grim ending with various moving parts, it seems a dark place to end the record on. With Landon admitting that he goes to sleep “with no intention to wake” and also addressing issues with his mother, recalling what he first shared with the world about her on ‘Glad you are gone” from their 2013 opus Could You Watch Your Children Burn In this finale, it feels like Landon is “freed” from all of that negativity in his life. Like a message in a bottle hurled into the sea or, a paper of confessions burnt up by the fire, this was a purge. Thankfully, the band haven’t purged their passion or creativity. On this album, it’s most certainly over-flowing.

1914 Where Fear and Weapons Meet Review

If I said that a new 1914 album is a big deal for me, it would be a huge understatement. The band’s 2018 opus The Blind Leading The Blind, I watched the metalverse collectively lose its mind over what 1914 accomplished on that opus was a quite possibly the one of the most surreal and humbling experiences I have had whilst listening to music. The methodology that the band used to almost flawlessly merge their theme and their music seemed to resonate with people, and it certainly didn’t take long for the band to attract attention and get snapped up by major label Napalm Records. While watching great bands jump to major label oft is a cause for concern, I didn’t seem to be too worried. 1914 have already shown with gusto that they are consummate pros with a clear objective, and I would have been shocked if 2021 follow-up Where Fear and Weapons Meet was anything less than great. Spoiler alert: it’s better than great.

While the 1914 sound has developed on Where Fear and Weapons Meet, it’s instantly apparent that the band has a very individualistic and unique approach to songwriting that makes them almost instantly recognizable. Yes Bolt Thrower and Asphyx parallels persist from The Blind Leading the Blind however, this time they’re allied with the groove-filled melodeath of Amon Amarth and the somewhat ominous symphonic approach of Septicflesh—and yet again, a blackened glaze is drizzled over the top of it all like a sweet balsamic dressing. However, even with these lush new textures, press play on embedded single “Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines),” and you’ll straight away know what band you’re listening to. The classic 1914 war sample gives way to a mammoth epic symphonic blackened death intro, and the rest of the song alternates perfectly between aggression and atmosphere, leaving our a drone like subterranean detonation in our ears from the titular battle resonates across the field. The unique storytelling cadence of vocalist Dymtro Kumar is as potent as ever, his growls and shrieks appearing even more puissant this time around.

Where Fear and Weapons Meet is a masterpiece in the true sense of the word, a thematically and musically harmonious work of art built on tracks that proudly stand on their own unique merits.

As the want of 1914 , “War In” sets the scene, this time in the form of a Serbian song from the era whose pleasing melody predictably devolves into sheer carnage and abhorrence as we witness almost first hand the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife. “FN .380 ACP#19074” follows, it’s like you are imprisoned in the mind of Mr Princip 19-year-old assassin with its almost mournful tremolos and beautiful orchestral swells. “Vimy Ridge (In Memory of Filip Konowal)” is a lesson in groovy yet bludgeoning death metal, and “Mit Gott für König und Vaterland” pulverises us with a bombardment of blackened fury. I guess most people reading this will have by now, most of you have probably heard the immense death/doom single “…And a Cross Now Marks His Place” featuring Paradise Lost lead vocalist Nick Holmes, but it seems to be taken to a whole new level of brutality on the record when it follows “Coward,” a ballad performed by Ukrainian folk musician Sasha Boole that documents the perilous fate of a British deserter. These two tracks form the album’s heart wrenching middle.

1914

A listen to 1914‘s debut, Eschatology of War, demonstrates that the band has influences lurking in sludge metal, while the modern-day 1914 sound may be more polished and melodic, with few shameless leftovers of sludge remaining, those roots still inform everything that they do. Everything on Where Fear and Weapons Meet is doused with a sentiment of sheer density. The regal and pompous symphonic death/doom of “Corps d’Autos-Canons-Mitirailleuses (A.C.M.),” the melodic black/death of “Don’t Tread on Me (Harlem Hellfighters),” the blistering black metal of the aforementioned “Mit Gott für König und Vaterland”—they’re all bolstered by a huge wall of sound that rampantly increases the heaviness quotient. And as a reminder that they can still sludge if notion desires, the album’s last proper track is an absolutely beautifully filthy cover of “The Green Fields of France,” a folk song by Eric Bogle—and (in)famously covered by Dropkick Murphys—that postulates the fate and motivations of fallen WWI soldier Willie McBride. The song’s bleak sludgy intro, blackened middle, and almost electro-industrial doom finale close the album on a breathtaking yet devastating note, the final blast reverberating for a full forty seconds as it bores straight into the listener’s soul.

I’m sure there are some people that won’t be sold on the band’s more polished approach this time around, but then again, some people wouldn’t know good music if it clubbed them over the head with a snow plough. If The Blind Leading the Blind left any doubt whatsoever, Where Fear and Weapons Meet firmly places 1914 at the vanguard of the modern extreme metal scene. These guys conjure more foreboding atmosphere than a thousand other death/doom bands combined, and they do so while writing soul wrenching yet memorable songs filled with even more memorable moments. This is easily one of the most excellent albums of 2021, and potentially one of my favourites of all time.

Our Hollow, Our Home. “Burn In The Flood” (Album Review)

“I feel that I’m going ’round in circles
Trying navigate the progress that I’ve made
And it seems I’ve made a map, but lost my compass
Found my sight, but lost my focus
The never-ending cycle starts again
Again and again and again”

2021 has been a great year for the heavy music scene in the UK just it just seems to get better and better. Big hitters such as Architects and While She Sleeps offering some great slabs of modern heavy music. However I read that one band, Our Hollow, Our Home were also due a new release this year. I had only heard a few songs from previous albums but loved the balance they created between brutal breakdowns and ferocious guttural vocals interplaying with raw emotion and beautiful clean heartfelt vocals.Done with their close to home lyrics on loss and relationships I felt this the perfect album to dissect for my first posted review.

Our Hollow, Our Home are a five piece melodic metalcore band from Southampton, Hampshire, England. The band is composed of lead vocalist Connor Hallisey, guitarist and singer Tobias Young, guitarist Josh White, bassist Bobby Brooks, and drummer Nicholas Taliadoros.

Our Hollow, Our Home

I’m always a firm believer in “Where words fail music speaks” as a mantra. Usually I can find some solace in music.

Opener and title track Burn In The Flood gets the album under way with a ferocious high intensity. The opening riff that just seems to cut through the track’s initial atmospheric intro suggests that this song has something about it right from the offset. This band are the perfect combination of anthemic arena ready metalcore and vocally there is a masterclass in switching between growling screams of the verses to soothing choruses, that detail overcoming adversity and how to fight through what seems to be an often-overwhelming situation, as vocalist Tobias Young melodically sings “Let this rain crash down and wash all over me/Let it soak into my bones, just let it take a hold of me/There’s a fire in your eyes tells me I am not enough”. Wow. This was telling me exactly how I was feeling a few months prior. Uncanny but true. As an opener to an album, Burn In The Flood does a great job of showcasing electronic elements,vocal interplay and soul searching lyrics so we could be on to truly special.

Opening Track

The next track “Failsafe” is follows a similar formula in terms of the music with some stellar musicianship with soul searching lyrics and yet again I find myself relating to these. It’s like a conversation I had with myself so many times over last 12-18 months. Particular resonance was felt during the chorus “ I just wanna feel like I’m not broken
Like I’m just wasting my time

Cause I’m starting to believe this dream’s a fantasy
That I’ve built up in my mind, it’s got me feeling like
Everyday my head is a battlefield
Both sides waging war on how I’m supposed to feel
I just wanna feel like I’m not broken
Like I’m just wasting, I’m just wasting my time.”

Next up is a song called “In Introspect” which dealing with grieving which again I have had to do this year but the songwriter is further down that road that mine as talking about 3 years on in the lyrics. This song starts was brutal introduction with guttural vocals almost ordering you to listen to what the band are trying to say. Lyrics that stood out here for me were. “Coming round from a coma, when I wasn’t asleep
Ask myself what the hell happened to the person I used to be
Things have changed on the outside, why am I stuck looking in?”
It’s like Tobias and the Our Hollow,Our Home boys had been living in my head this last 12 months or so. There is so much raw emotion in this song I can feel their pain and suffering like it were my own.

“If you’ve ever been in a relationship that was so wrong for you, but you were completely blind to it at that point in time, then this song is for you. Coming to terms with those feelings can feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, but the weight that it lifts from your shoulders can be really cathartic, and letting go isn’t just the fairest thing for you as an individual, but for the other person involved too.”

Tobias Young on “Monarch”

“Monarch” is up next and knock me down with a feather this could have easier been detailing my past relationship almost to the letter. I read Tobias taking about this track which I quote above and he has nailed it. Sometimes you are so wrapped in the toxicity you don’t see what is slowly draining everything from you. Musically this song is pretty awesome with some two-step riffs and some syncopation. It’s an absolute banging tune and again the vocal interplay of Connor and Tobias is a delight. Some truly inspirational lyrics here too and I’m sure anyone who has been in a toxic relationship could relate. “Blacked out in the river, and I’m still drowning in the promises I know I can’t deliver
I never meant to be a sinner, but I lose myself through the cracks in mirror
If you need peace of mind, just have a little piece of mine
Cause I’m lost out here to the void of time, you’ve all left me behind”

Wow just wow

Track 5 is entitled “Better Daze” and this sees the music become slightly more upbeat but in a delicate tentative way but there is something about this track that has a sort of feel good factor. You feel a sense of optimism when listening and I know for a fact I when I listen to this a smile is etched upon my face like the good times are just around the corner. Tobias vocally here is top notch with some lovely cleans with Connor delivering some brutal injections. Lovely stuff. I challenge anyone to listen to this without feeling a sense of joy and bounce that I never thought I’d feel from this genre of metal. “I’m alive, and that’s okay
‘Cause we’ve been holding on for the better daze
So we wait for the rain to wash us away

We could start a brand new chapter
I just pray that my hopes and dreams
Don’t become the things that only could’ve been
I guess it plays on my mind from time to time
But I think I’ll be alright.”
There is such a feeling of triumph about the delivery of these vocals that can’t help but be bristling with pride that you’ve overcome the challenges in your life that we’re holding you back.

What a song

“Nerv” is the next song on the album and for some reason I don’t feel this song at all. I find it is the weakest song on the album. It just seems to go past in a blur with leaving any footprints on my heart at all. There’s nothing really wrong with the song but it just seems to lack the cohesion of the songs gone before and the songs which unfold afterwards. There is a guest vocalist slot on this song from ThisCityIsOurs vocalist Oli Duncanson.

A Call To Arms For Male Mental Health Awareness

A blistering attack on your senses is probably the best way to describe the next track that is cleverly titled “Overcast”The intro is pummelling and relentless before Connor’s harsh vocals start talking to your soul in a way to confront your problems in a aggressive forceful yet encouraging way. Which is the message of this song for men to not to be ashamed to ask for some support if they feel they are in a situation that they are struggling with. Believe me when I say that it’s actually empowering being able to talk things through with someone (thanks Suzanne ❤️) Connor’s vocal attack in the opening verse is highlighted in the below “How long to free my mind, find clearer skies ahead,
If every cloud has a silver lining, then by now I should be dead,
Hey, hey, you better give up the ghost before it’s too late,
But it’s much easier to wallow in modest misery,
Hey, hey, where’s your self-worth?
Bout 40,000 fathoms deep buried in dirt.”
Almost immediately Tobias replies to this in what I believe to be the most poignant chorus on the album. There is a delicate vulnerability in Tobias’s delivery here. It was like he had ripped my heart right out as I heard this for the first time and even on subsequent listens I feel so much emotion. It’s a good reminder that no one should need to bottle up feelings and how the current perception of male mental health is them to just “Man Up” but this is as toxic as it is dangerous as witnessed by the amount of suicides in young men these days. Lyrics of the chorus below : “I’ve been coming apart at the seams
Losing track of everything that matters to me

Never did I think I’d become so hollow
I’m not okay, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow
It’s overcast, guess I’m back here again
‘Cause the black clouds overhead just never seem to end
But have peace of mind, in time I’ll be fine
With or without you.”

Brutal yet beautiful

The 8th track on this brilliant album is “Remember Me” and this has another guest vocalist for a segment. Ryo Kinoshita from Japanese band Crystal Lake so this makes for what seems like an testosterone fueled aggression exercise with again some beautiful cleans from Tobias. I firmly believe that the song will help people who are struggling. It reads from the perspective of someone who is struggling day to day and even contemplating ending everything but is given the opportunity to hear their eulogy and this gives them the hope and strength to push through to get the help needed. “Every second feels like a stalemate
And every movement feels like a mile
Swear I’m screaming out, why’s no one listening?
Can I just be happy for a little while? It’s all getting too much to carry, it’s all getting too much to bear
And I’ve never felt more alone, does anybody care? Can someone tell me how to live like I’m not dying?
‘Cause I’m so afraid to die alone
Now that I can feel the pressure rising
I cannot afford to lose control
I just need to know that you’re still with me
‘Cause I couldn’t bear to let you go
Time is short and life is, oh, so fleeting
And in the end, we’re all just dust and whispers in the wind,
I’m so sick of this goddamn anxiety
I swear this isn’t how it’s supposed to be
Another victim of a broken society
I just need help”
Whilst I never quite as low as some of these lyrics I can certainly feel the torment and struggle that’s being talked about.

“Children Of Manus” is track 9 and it’s a good track with some really low guttural vocals and a particularly eerie twangy intro that builds the suspense ahead of the first vocal assault. Also lead to believe there is another guest vocalist on this track. Lochie Keogh from Alpha Wolf lends their vocals to this track. Not a band I am really familiar with other than I know they are from Australia and the scene there is buzzing right now. The theme is be who you want to be and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being you. Well that’s what I got from it. I don’t dislike this song but in the same breath I’m not really sure if I actually like it either. Just doesn’t have the same instantaneous resonance as other songs. “And now I’m nothing but a shadow of my former self
You just can’t fathom how it feels to wanna be someone else. I’m done, feeling like I don’t belong. I’ll take my place as the heir to this hollow throne, Still made from blood and bone.”

Penultimate track is “Blood” which again the boys are talking to my soul with the lyrics here. This is all about giving someone all you can but still they want more from you and even if you managed to give them that extra it still wouldn’t be enough. I know that feeling only too well sadly. Unfortunately when you are in this situation you end up forgoing your own needs and ultimately make yourself riddled with guilt that you haven’t done enough to help. Musically this song is as close to ballad you’ll find on a metalcore recording and it seems almost radio friendly and you’ll find this in your head for days especially if the lyrics resonate. Brilliant. “If I could take myself away from the flood
And bring back every person we’ve ever loved and lost
Then I would give my blood, give you every little thing I’ve got
To rewrite your history ’cause I’m with you, just don’t forget me”

Album closes with “Seven Years (Shine a Light on Me)” which is an awesome ending to this album with a great video. Starts with Connor and Tobias trading off vocals in both the opening verse and the chorus. Lyrics here deal with forming unhealthy habits and not realising the negative impact these have on your life before it’s too late. However it offers hope that if you are faced with this seemingly overwhelming situation there is help if you need it and sometimes recalling advice you didn’t heed is enough to get your mind thinking that nothing is insurmountable. Almost when breaking these dangerous habits or toxicity you are faced with the realisation that everyone else who nagged you or tried to get you to see some sense you ultimately feel that you them down. Been there down that and unfortunately got the t-shirt. Brilliant closing track with really thought provoking lyrics. Massive chills on the bridge prior to the closing guttural response from Connor when Tobias beautifully sings below with such a heartfelt sincerity and I almost felt I was singing these words. Truly exceptional. “I promised you that I would be a better man
I’m taking steps to achieve the master plan
I swear I never meant to let my family down
I think I let you down
I promised you that I would be a better man
Took for granted the things that made me who I am
I swear I never meant to let my family down
I guess I let you down.”

Stunning end to a great album

In conclusion Our Hollow,Our Home have crafted an album with sonic dexterity with lyrics to challenge your way of thinking about how you should deal with difficult situations in life. They were not to know the baggage I would extol on to this recording but it’s very close to home and near the bone. It certainly has helped me gain some perspective on some personal matters and I hope others listening too can take something from this recording. This is beautifully brutal at times with some moments of clarity to make your head think that they are talking directly to you.

Standout tracks for me are Monarch, Overcast, Remember Me and Seven Years (Shine a Light on Me)