Salvation Jayne: S/T (Self Released)
Salvation Jayne are a four piece alt-rock band from Kent who take as much from blues as they do from grunge. This EP is the six track affair with five fully plugged in rock outs and one stripped back version. The song that appears twice is the thumping Juno on the electric version it's driven by Dan Lucas' disco bass but on the stripped back version that comes at the end, it's got more of a trip hop sound similar to Portishead with a reverbed guitar and vocal on top of airy electronic drum beat. You've probably seen the opening salvo of this record on YouTube the thumping Cortez, the records first single the filthy top tapping beat showcases the rhythm section of Dan with Tor Charlesworth locking in for some fist pumping grooves, Holly Kinnear's Black Keys' styled riffage is excellent as the electronics undercut the song.
Letting Chess Smith use her versatile vocals that have an air of Lady Gaga especially on the aforementioned Juno. It's an EP with a some pretty dark lyrical content that fits well with the bands Alt-rock sound, listen to the gritty Black Heart and you'll hear what I'm on about, there's a sense of danger here and almost predatory Chess sneering on top of the fuzzed up instrumentals. There's a lot going on here different styles merge meaning that Salvation Jayne keep you guessing throwing pop into Tongue Tied but bringing in some powerful emotions on moody The Art Of Falling. A cracking little EP from a band who you'll need to watch out for, they have a glittering career ahead of them. 8/10
Nine Miles Down: Fractures (Self Release)
A prog metal band based in South Wales/South West comprised of Andy Makin (vocals/guitar) who have tread the boards with Psycho Motel (Adrian Smith's grunge rock project) and Uriah Heep's Phil Lanzon, along for the ride is guitarist Eddie Marsh who is a guitar tech for Maiden as well as guitarist for one of my favourite UK prog/power metal bands Intense and drummer Tom Williams of Black Light Machine. This is their debut album and it's bloody brilliant balancing the heavier end of progressive metal with Fates Warning a particular a influence with a more alternative sound of Tool (Icarus). The songs are heavy duty, thick riffs meet with melodic solos on Long Way Down which is buoyed by orchestral touches and gives you the best example of Makin's excellent vocals, which made Psycho Motel one of the best Maiden solo projects.
There's a neat duality between the emotive cleans and harsh vocals that puts this record in a similar style to James LaBrie's solo records, although final track My Last Fire is a song worthy of Dream Theater with its moodiness, the stirring stings and darker tone. The record opens with Mockingbird a song released in 2017 that really sets the tone for the record with its thick grooves, a heavy bassline that explodes into a superior solo as the synths sit below everything, then in a reversal Where We Belong is a groove-driven number with shades of metalcore. This is a brilliant debut record from Nine Miles Down just the kind of progressive metal I like and I'll recommend this record to everyone I see. 8/10
Prognosis: Definition (Self Released)
Progressive metal by definition is there to defy what seems normal, Prognosis have not really defied much throughout their debut record but they have put their own spin on these tracks adding some unique touches to every song. The four piece from Manchester have mainly focused on extreme groove metal that's similar to Gojira or Mastodon with triple vocals that brings cleans and harsh together across their their 9 songs, like the Atlanta foursome there is a mix of heaviness and melody especially with the thick Downfall and the explosive High Road which has some massive breakdowns.
However with The Sycophant they add more classic metal influences filling the album with the kind of guitar solos and thrashy runs of Trivium while Waste has some djent mixed with Anselmo-like aggression in the vocals. Danny Daemon (bass & vocals), Phil Weller (guitar & vocals), Christian Hickson (guitar & vocals) and Dan Webster (drums) make up Prognosis and together they have created some modern aggressive prog metal that will appease fans of the bands mentioned earlier. 7/10
Saarkoth: Jera (MSH Music Group)
Debut album from Staffordshire black metal band Saarkoth has more than just a hint of Winterfylleth, in fact the band themselves acknowledge this drawing lyrical inspiration from nature and the pagan rituals of the old world. They, like their biggest influence balance gentle atmospheric acoustic textures such as the instrumental A Wound In The World with blistering black metal assaults like the explosive Beyond The Horizon and the more progressive Awake In Eternal Sleep which has the frenetic arpeggiated riffs, one minute but then more melodic percussive breaks the next, it's the best song on the record by a stretch having a broader stroke than some of the others. When they're playing at full power there's very little chance of a rest-bite just blastbeats galore and croaked vocals. They bring atmosphere to the songs with Dreams Of Emerald having the stirring violin at it's end. The production is a little rough but Jera is good slab of pagan black metal. 7/10