Pridelands – Light Bends (Sharptone Records/Resist) [Matt Bladen]

Australia is quickly becoming the go to country for modern metalcore. Yet another addition to the glut of emotionally charged metalcore acts coming from Down Under is Pridelands. They are a five piece that features two vocalists, the ferocious screams come from Mason Bunt, while Joshua Cory brings the emotional cleans, both have a glorious unison telling these very personal stories. The band state that this is a therapeutic record, coming from the bands life experiences both good and bad. 

They must have impressed with the demos as they have been snapped up by Sharptone Records and when you listen to their debut Light Bends, you can hear why there would be buzz around it. Building from the repeating radar ‘bing’ atmospheric and bubbling percussion from Joe Lipsam, I Reach Into Your Heart is a slow burn into the raging final part where we have screamed vocals and thick groove riffs. A dramatic opening that is followed by the insistent The Walls, which is driven by the riff from down tuned bassist Daniel Lohery and guitarist Liam Fowler, especially when the palm muting heaviness kicks in. 
It’s a rager that really shows the vocal dexterity of the band the clean/harsh voices working well. Pridelands draw their influences from a number of bands but on Parted Time they sound like Architects or Northlane, the use of atmospheric synths sitting side by side with the stop/start riffs. There is a vein of real emotional depth that cuts through Light Bends, when you’re listening to it, you almost feel the turmoil and experiences the band are going through in every vocal phrasing and every riff. It’s a strong debut that bodes well for a bright future. Pridelands confidently assert themselves against the glut of modern metalcore performers. 7/10
Worm Shepherd – Ritual Hymns (Unique Leader) [Matt Cook]

Devin Duarte is likely a name you should familiarize yourself with. The Worm Shepherd frontman leaves his mark on the deathcore five-piece’s latest album, Ritual Hymns (Unique Leader), punishing and pulverizing his vocal cords for our listening pleasure and flexing an array of abilities. Whether it be blasting a song to life on the opening titular track while nearly bellowing into pig squealing, the inhumane yelping and shrieking heard on Ov Sword And Nail or giving Travis Ryan a run for his money on Chalice Ov Rebirth, Duarte pulls no punches. 

Blood Kingdom is a particularly atmospheric and ferociously technical piece, complemented by damn good riffing on The Ravens Keep. The opener itself incorporates uncharacteristic (for the genre, at least) snare drums before skinsman Leo McClain unleashes a rapid-fire stomp fest. Worm Shepherd meticulously weave strings and orchestrations that whisper throughout the composition, neither overstaying its welcome nor feeling unnecessarily inserted. 
The aforementioned Ov Sword And Nail did, however, incorporate a rather chaotic mishmash that isn’t particularly comfortable on the ears and wandered more into noise territory. Fear not, however, because Ritual Hymns has enough vocal versatility, sensational shredding and death-defying drumming to please any fan of the genre. 7/10

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge (Sumerian Records) [Matt Bladen]

Probably known to most as the guitarist in progressive metalcore act Born Of Osiris, Lee McKinney is one of the creative driving forces behind the band, but like most metal guitarists there is another side to his virtuosity that’s not all down tuning and crushing riffs/expansive solos. McKinney is a virtuoso musician so the other side of his musical mind is revealed through his instrumental solo project. Having already released one record in 2019, In The Light Of Knowledge is the second full length to come out under his own name and it’s packed with incredible guitar playing, off-kilter compositions but also an ear for melody and keeping those who maybe aren’t fans of his main band or instrumental guitar music entertained. 

The musical dexterity on the record leaves moves between blissed out shoegazing, bouncing technical savagery, progressive soundscapes and even some 80’s style melodies on Highmountain. It’s a wonderfully, inviting album that could easily make you think of Joe Satriani as the virtuosity manages to balance with the musicality. As far as songs go Stormrage duels with a sax in a way fans of jazz fusion will love, Vitruvian Park is full of swirling atmospheric synths and piano, building into one of the most impressive numbers on the record. 
The Reason uses luscious classical guitars to lull you into the final song of the record. For Born Of Osiris and guitar instrumental fans, this will be a manna from heaven, however there is also lots to enjoy for those who like well crafted music. 8/10

Enterprise Earth – The Chosen (MNRK Heavy) [Matt Cook]

One of the more compelling aspects involving Spokane, Washington’s deathcore troupe Enterprise Earth is the mere fact there are only four members. I say that because The Chosen (MNRK Heavy) is filled to the brim with 14 blistering tracks of technical prowess on a level one would expect from a more conventional five- or six-person band within the genre. It starts with Dan Watson’s Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque vocal range which flows freely from harsh, pugilistic shrieks to guttural bouts of brutal growls, oftentimes rapidly interchanging in the same sequence. 

He even incorporates clean singing on Unleash Hell and Overpass, because of course he can. Likewise, guitarist Gabe Mangold lays down heavy, labyrinthine riffs, cascading on opener Where Dreams Are Broken. I Have To Escape is straightforward, by-the-book headbanging chug with damn good rhythms. You Couldn’t Save Me sneaks in a hint of groove and one of many electrifying solos. They Have No Honor provides everything you need for a killer live experience: a mosh-inducing sequence and a very breakdown-y line, making for what should be an explosive showcase to witness in person. 
Aside from a few interlude pieces that really didn’t need to be shoehorned into the already-crowded full-length, The Chosen stands as a cogent deathcore effort. It’s technical. It’s abrasive. And it’s a testament to the talent the foursome possess. 7/10

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