Oct 212021

(Andy Synn brings forth another terrific trio of releases from his green and (un)pleasant homeland)

It’s pretty appropriate that I’m doing another “Best of British” column this week, as I just got back from playing a festival in Manchester featuring a wealth of good/great/excellent bands from the UK underground scene.

Of course, since we were there as performers rather than just punters we weren’t able to catch as many bands as we’d have liked, but I encourage you all to keep an eye out (and at least one ear open) for more from up-and-coming Thrash-core whippersnappers Tortured Demon, groove-driven and harmony-laden Post-Grunge metallers Scare Tactics, and cinematic Symphonic Death-dealers Ghosts of Atlantis (whose latest album was covered by our own DGR not long ago), as what we caught from each of them proved very promising indeed.

However, today isn’t about those bands, today is about God ComplexGreen Lung, and Still.


The first of today’s entries is, sadly, a posthumous one, as To Decay in a Deathless World is both the first, and last, album from now-disbanded Metallic Hardcore crew God Complex.

But, you know what they say… the band that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and there’s no denying that GC burned extremely bright, and extremely hot, during the four-ish years they were active, with the eleven tracks of abrasive aggression and borderline-abusive heaviness which make up To Decay… serving as a fitting, and face-melting, epitaph to the group’s short-but-savage career.

Songs like the jagged “Death Trip” and the blunt-force trauma of “Red Chord” riff and chug and blast with the sort of panic-inducing urgency and punishing intensity that helped turn Nails into a household name (before their own boneheadedness came back to bite them, obviously), while the absolutely humongous guitars and gut-wrenching grooves of “Season of Blood”, “Dopesick”, and “The Alter” stomp and surge like some monstrous amalgam of the crushing momentum of latter-day Xibalba and the calculated chaos of Pig Destroyer.

And while God Complex aren’t exactly “subtle” songwriters, they clearly know the value of a bit of dynamic, hence you have the eerie clean vocals injected into “Deeper Form of Sleep” to give the song a bit of a Deftones-esque feel in those moments when it’s not simply trying to bludgeon your brains out, as well as the welcome breathing room provided by the calmer, creepier interlude tracks “Forbidden Love” and “Gathering Dark”.

All of this, of course, is delivered with the same sort of throat-scraping vitriol and ear-scraping, bone-breaking, bowel-shaking production that made last year’s To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse by Leeched (with whom GC share several sonic similarities) such a brutal beast of an album (which, considering the two records are products of the same studio, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise).

The band save the very best for last though, as closer “Worthy Host” grooves and broods, grinds and gurns, with equal parts massive metallic muscle and moody melodic menace, while also providing room for some boomy, bombastic bass work and some seriously vitriolic (and varied) vocals (shifting from harsh, Hardcore snarling to deep, deathly growling, to cool, cathartic crooning) along the way.

At just under twenty-five minutes To Decay… definitely doesn’t outstay its welcome (honestly, I could easily have gone for a little bit more) but nonetheless makes a real impact, and stands out, at this moment in time, as one of the most visceral, volatile, and downright violent albums I’ve heard all year.


As you may or may not know, I was lucky enough to invite to attend the Sunday of Bloodstock Festival this year, which just so happened to be headlined by the one and only Judas Priest.

Halford and co. weren’t the only band I was keen to see of course (even if they were the day’s biggest draw), as I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about Green Lung… and with good reason, as it turned out, as they were absolutely electrifying live, and it only took me one listen to “Old Gods”, the first proper/full song on the band’s soon-to-be-released second album, to realise that they were just as good on record too.

And while “Old Gods” is a near-perfect example of the band’s brand of proggy Stoner Doom – delivering just under four minutes of shameless, swaggering riffs, bombastic drums, and vibrant melodic vocals, all absolutely drenched in rich, reverberant organ tones, that sits somewhere between Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult (or maybe Dio and Deep Purple) – I’m happy to say that, almost without exception (neither the intro or interlude instrumentals really add much to the record), Black Harvest is made up of one audacious anthem after another.

“Old Gods” is followed in swift succession by the ridiculously catchy, riff-driven “Leaders of the Blind” (a future classic if ever I’ve heard one) and the huge hooks and hefty riffs of “The Reaper’s Scythe” (which I’ve seen compared elsewhere to a grittier Ghost), followed by the slightly Zeppelin-esque “Graveyard Sun”, which breaks up the momentum nicely by introducing an extra dash of doomy glamour and gloomy grandeur into what was already a rich and heady brew of grandiose doom ‘n’ gloom.

The second half of the record is just as packed with potential hits too, with both the insanely infectious “You Bear the Mark” and the moody melodies and heroic guitar work of closer “Born to a Dying World” being the two biggest stand-outs, and I can definitely see why people have been referring to Green Lung as “the UK’s answer to Khemmis” (although, to be honest, I far prefer Black Harvest to the latter’s upcoming Deceiver).

They say the biggest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Well, the biggest trick Green Lung have pulled here is taking a tonally familiar sound and making it appear totally fresh again.

I guess it’s true what they say – trends may come and go, but Heavy Metal never dies.

STILL – { }

Let me tell you something, the second I heard the opening song from { }, the full-length debut from Hull-based hellions Still, I knew it was going to wind up being one of my favourite albums of the year.

Said opener, which goes by the name of “Droves”, is just such a perfect introduction to the band’s dense-yet-dynamic sound, equal parts wrenching Post-Hardcore, bruising Post-Sludge, and scathing Post-Black Metal, whose emotional intensity is matched only by its sheer sonic ferocity and aching, atmospheric intimacy.

Perhaps the closest (and best) comparison I can think of would be to the similarly “post-genre” stylings of France’s Celeste, with whom Still clearly share a love of both bracing blastbeats and brooding atmosphere along with a clear aversion to being easily and simplistically categorised.

However, I also hear quite a bit of Poison The Well too (“Continued Suffering of An Endless Night” being a perfect example), as well as some clear influence from early Cult of Luna in both “We Were Ghosts (All Along)” and “Blear, Amidst”, and even some stuff (“Half Hands Won’t Hold” and “Drift” in particular) on the level of last year’s stupendous Devouring Ruin by Wake (which, to be clear, is very high praise indeed).

But even though these comparisons are, in my opinion at least, pretty damn accurate (and will hopefully make even more sense once you’ve finally given the album a listen) it’s important to note that – just as they’re not willing to be pinned down to one particular genre – Still aren’t content just to ape their influences, but rather seem to want to take them, twist them, and transcend them, to create a sound that’s wholly their own.

And while they’re not quite there yet, the passion and conviction behind this album is absolutely undeniable, nowhere more so, in fact, than during colossal closer “Ever { I.I.MMXVI }” which runs the gamut from blazing blasts to moody ambience to sludgy heaviness, and back again, over the course of just under eleven minutes.

Mark my words, { } is unquestionably one of the best debut albums of 2021, and is quite likely (and rightly) going to make its presence known on a number of end-of-year lists come December.


  1. FUCKING HELL !!!! That God Complex is some really good shit.. thanks for the heads up! Sucks that I heard a killer new band but they have already broken up

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