It has been two years (feels like more) since I posted my review of Phinehas' third album, Till the End, which marked the first time I wrote/posted a full review of an album. I absolutely loved Till the End, it was an amazing album, but it did depart from the band's traditional side in favor of a heavier, darker feel. The darkness and heaviness was extremely well-done and enjoyable but I did find that I missed many of those "wow" moments with the beautiful, catchy melodies and guitar shredding. In the band's fourth album, Dark Flag, all of that makes a triumphant return showcasing Phinehas' most refined, hard-hitting sound to date.
It has been five long years since Les Friction released their debut, self-titled album. The band -- consisting of former E.S. Posthumus composer Helmut Vonlichten, joined by long-time colleague Nihl Finch and the enigmatic vocalist only known as "Paint" -- forged their own path with spacey orchestral progressive rock in a way that had never been done before. Expectations were high for that album, as fans of the late, great E.S. Posthumus flocked to this new band hoping to have a continuation of what E.S. Posthumus did. While the roots are undeniably present in Les Friction's sound, this band has one of the most unique sounds in modern music, even over the work of E.S. Posthumus. Even Brian May of Queen remarked, "Nobody, but nobody, out there, is doing stuff like Les Friction is doing. Nobody dares!" The silence of waiting these past five years has felt like being lost in space, just hoping that you'd receive another transmission from home. That transmission is almost here, and it was truly worth the wait.
Everything In Slow Motion is a project whose name fits its sound, in my book. It's the solo project by Shane Ochsner, former vocalist and guitarist of post-metal band Hands. Combining rock and metalcore with atmospheric, post-rock ambiance, this is a project that I've recently come across after discovering Ochsner's previous band, and they've been a great opening to a genre that I've begun to explore and deeply enjoy which has led me to bands like their labelmates, A Hope for Home or Your Memorial.
"There's no ocean floor, you sink until you learn to swim" // Rival Choir's I believe, Help My Unbelief
One particular phrase has essentially been my life's motto for the past two years or so: "I believe, help my unbelief." I began hearing that phrase in my head many times particularly in 2015, as I continued to struggle and fight emotional disconnections and even doubt. It was in mid-2015 that "progressive ministry metal" band, Mouth of the South announced that they were rebranding as Rival Choir and releasing a new album in early 2016. The title of that album? "I Believe, Help My Unbelief".
Phinehas is a band that really stands out among their peers in a genre that tends to lean towards staleness. Metalcore has, for several years, been getting more and more stale, with many bands sounding like each other, to the point where it is sometimes hard to distinguish which bands are which. Ever since their incredible 2011 debut, Thegodmachine -- an instant masterpiece of the genre, up there with Killswitch Engage's Alive or Just Breathing -- Phinehas has been showing the world how good metalcore can be if the bands would write each song as if they were creating a masterpiece of art. Complex guitar and bass work, beautifully encouraging (and sometimes brutally honest) Christian lyrics, thunderous drumming, and incredibly dynamic vocals are always the centerpiece of this band's efforts.