The latest effort from these Twin City metallers is a refreshing break from the standard “Sumeriancore” already put out this year (no offense intended, but the new Veil of Maya sounds nearly identical to Born of Osiris’s release earlier this year, at stylistically speaking…). There is a way to make progressive metal, or dare I refer to it as “djent”, without sounding just like everyone else doing that style, and ATB pulls it off, while still maintaining the aspects, both musically and in terms of production quality, that have come to be identified as their own unique sound. This album also features the lowest tuning they’ve ever tried out, giving it a deeper, lower overall sound on the album, and a different feel from past records. Wolves Within just came out today (Dec 17), pick it up and check it out!
Tragically overlooked (in my opinion) by the metal masses, this record was an amazing leap forward for Alabama natives, Erra. Progressive metalcore, with an emphasis on the progressive aspects, their music relies less on breakdowns than on frenetic, unpredictable changes of time signature, and expertly executed syncopation of drums and guitars. Lyrically, the album is kind of a hodgepodge of different ideas and concepts, but seems to consistently lack any real deeper meaning, or at least anything that might be relatable to listeners. This isn’t a huge deal, not all bands have a deeper message to their lyrics, and that’s fine, but those that do have one tend to stand out (for better as with #’s 2 and #1 below, or for worse with bands like For Today…). As only the second full-length release from the band, Augment is a huge accomplishment for such a young band. If this album doesn’t end up being their big break, their next release, assuming they continue to progress as they did on this record, will undoubtedly be.
I feel like there isn’t much to explain for why this is #2 here. Volition was not only a huge crowdfunding success, which is cool in its own right for demonstrating the feasibility of this type of business model, but was also such a huge evolution in sound for this group of crazy Canadians. Songs like “Drumhead Trial” and “Mist” (it’s really hard to choose standout tracks on this because most, if not all are amazing) demonstrate the heightened level of musicianship on this record, which is almost unparalleled by any contemporary progressive metal band. The only reason this isn’t #1 on my list is because I do sometimes find it a tad unlistenable, and vocally, I’m still not the biggest fan of Rody Walker’s vocals.