Mixing clean with screamed vocals is nothing new in post-hardcore but often the melodic parts feel shoe-horned in to provide a bit of extra accessibility or an easy-to-digest hook. When it’s integrated well though it’s highly effective, as Essex quintet Create to Inspire prove with ‘Adjust’. The balance between aggression and melody starts with the vocals and cascades through every note of the instrumentation, providing a beautiful blend of both dimensions.

There’s a multitude of layers at play here that give Create to Inspire a wonderfully textured sound. The guitars begin with full-octane strumming before dropping to minimalism in the verses, emphasising the quality of the vocals, before moving into ambient lead lines and uplifting tones in the choruses. When every member of a band works in harmony with each other like this, it’s a pleasure to share in the journey.

‘Adjust’ is taken from the band’s upcoming debut full-length ‘Sickness’ out on May 26 through Basick Records.

It’s not often you find a math-rock band without a guitarist, but that’s exactly what I stumbled across with Mannequin Mishap. When I first heard the track I had no idea that this array of noise was coming from only two people and it took the music video to make me realise I was only hearing drums and bass. I suppose when you play the bass like it’s a lead guitar, you don’t really need another one.

‘Tea Party With My Taxidermist’ is an intricate yet frantic blend of post-hardcore and math-rock, with vocals that have a major Kurt Travis vibe. Based on this comparison and the level of musicianship on show, it’s no surprise that they move in the same circles as Travis – they’ve teamed up with Spirit Vision Records, a label created by Strawberry Girls drummer Ben Rosett, who recently formed the band Eternity Forever with Kurt Travis.

This track comes from the band’s upcoming record ‘Acatalepsy’ which doesn’t have a release date as yet, but based on the quality of this first single, I’ll be at the front of the queue when it’s announced.

If you’ve been wowed by the alt-rock mastery of Arcane Roots and In Dynamics over the past couple of years then you’re going to want to turn your attention towards Rory Indiana. ‘Tough Love’ is the first track they’ve released since their breakthrough EP ‘Ruling Class Crooks’ in 2016 and it sees them at their infectious and memorable best.

Rory Kaye’s interesting vocal arrangements are reminiscent of In Dynamics’ Beau Bolden, particularly during his beautifully controlled falsetto and the song’s second half, with its added bite and punch from the instrumentation, brings the progressive heaviness of Arcane Roots to mind. They bear their influences well, but Rory Indiana are no copy cats: ‘Though Love’ has a character all its own and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more sides to it whenever the band release more of this catchy brilliance.

 

Parting Gift are from Manchester. They have five members. And that’s as far as my knowledge stretches. Judging by the ‘launch date’ on their Facebook page of February 26th, there’s probably not much more to know either. But who needs details? With a debut single this impressive, I don’t care what their back story is, Parting Gift have my attention.

As ‘Be Still’ makes its way through dynamic drums and heavy-yet-melodic guitar patterns, it brings to mind the likes of Crooks and Holding Absence, and with a frontman who’s able to deliver the kind of emotionally captivating performance that’s equal to either of the aforementioned bands, they’re in very good company indeed.

For now the details surrounding this impressive young band are very limited, but based on the quality of ‘Be Still’, it won’t be long before Parting Gift become a well-known name in post-hardcore.

Sometimes I like my instrumental music to be ambient and reflective and at other times I prefer it uplifting and upbeat. Some albums may carry a few tracks of each, but I’ve rarely heard both sides of the spectrum covered in the same song. Vasudeva’s latest track ‘Turnstile’ is filled with gorgeous chords and melodies as well as tapped guitars and off-beat hi-hat rhythms, making it as dancy and infectious as it is beautifully melodic.

Vasudeva are one of those rare bands that are somehow able to make instrumental music feel lyrical; there may not be any vocals but there’s a clear song structure at work that makes me yearn for the next chorus and leaves me humming certain parts for days. New album ‘No Clearance’ is due for release on March 31st and I’ll be hoping for plenty more of this.

Jack Bennett, the mastermind behind Grumble Bee, had a fantastic year in 2016: he released his first EP, played several of the UK’s best festivals and headlined a few of his own shows. Happily, he’s showing no sign of slowing down and ‘Red’ gives us even more reason to be grateful.

Not content with just writing and performing each instrument himself, Bennett has gone further with ‘Red’ than ever before, recording and producing everything himself in his own Lapwing Studio. The result is another huge anthem, complete with the signature Grumble Bee elements of high energy, soulful vocals and infectious guitars.

Not only is Grumble Bee an ultra-talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he’s also one of the most humble, honest and genuine performers you’re ever likely to see. ‘Red’ adds to his already impressive collection of songs (check out the ‘Disconnect’ EP if you don’t know what I mean) and I’m excited to see this project grow even more with new material later in the year.

Every once in awhile a band comes along with a certain aura that attracts special attention. It’s exciting to watch these bands develop, in the same way conducting science experiments was back in school – you knew that certain chemicals would cause an explosion eventually and the anticipation of when that might happen was almost as indulgent as the impact. Holding Absence are simmering away and the substances binding them together are ready to go off at any minute.

I’ve got the same feeling in my bones about Holding Absence that I had when I first fell in love with Crooks almost five years ago, and there are a lot of parallels between the two on ‘Permanent’. From the dynamic drums and atmospheric guitars to the gut-wrenchingly emotional vocals – there’s something beautifully addictive about their ultra-melodic, yet looming and intense post-hardcore concoction.

2017 is going to be a big year for this Cardiff quintet; they’ve recently signed to Sharptone Records, they’ve been added to Download Festival and Camden Rocks and will be heading out on a UK tour in April. This kind of power can’t be contained and you’re going to want to be around when it blows up.

Former Dance Gavin Dance and A Lot Like Birds vocalist Kurt Travis has teamed up with Chon guitarist Brandon Ewing and Strawberry Girls drummer Ben Rosett to create Eternity Forever: an ambitious attempt at merging math-rock instrumentation with R&B vocals. As crazy as it sounds, it works like a treat, making their first single ‘Fantasy’ an absolute delight.

Travis’ sustained falsetto makes his voice almost unrecognisable from his past as a post-hardcore front man, but such is the versatility of his voice, it works almost anywhere. The quick vocal runs interlock with Ewing’s jangling, intricate guitar noodling to create an irresistible rhythm that makes it almost impossible to hold still.

For now, this is the only track we have to enjoy, but I can’t wait to hear more of this math-rock/R&B hybrid in the future.

Given my recent theme of celebrating European tech-metal, it would be disastrous to overlook Ghost Iris. The Danish quartet take the polar opposites of heaviness and melodic to extremes, managing to offer you catchy, irresistible vocal hooks, but wrapped in brutally massive riffs that put you at risk of serious neck injuries. They stretch the possibilities of both sides so far that you can feel the tension build in each song they create and when the inevitable break comes, the payoff is always worth it.  

Ghost Iris manage between the four of them the range and depth of sound that  should be impossible without at least six  members. Quite how front man Jesper Vicencio is able to growl lower than the earth’s core in one breath, and project his voice to the heavens with an angelic melody in the next, is beyond me, but when it sounds this good, I’m happy to just leave him to it.

As well as showing how technically proficient they are with some seriously impressive musicianship, the video for ‘Save Yourself’ also shows off the band’s sense of humour, which endears me to them even more. Ghost Iris’ second album ‘Blind World’ is packed full of similarly heavy, yet melodic, tracks and is out on Friday 17th February.