(As he is want to do from time to time, Andy Synn has selected three new releases by three UK bands to spotlight in this collection of reviews and streams.)
While the main purpose of this column – to highlight and hype up some of the best and brightest bands in the UK Metal scene – is pretty obvious, the process has also forced me to take a long hard look at its many faults and failings at the same time, in particular its unfortunate tendency to favour familiarity and celebrate mediocrity over supporting bands who might actually have something unique or interesting to offer.
Now, unsurprisingly, statements like that are unlikely to endear me to the self-declared gatekeepers and “defenders of the faith” who interpret even the mildest criticism as a sign of disloyalty and grounds for instant excommunication… but then I’ve been considered persona non grata by a lot of them for a while now, so what else is new?
Of course every year there’s a handful of break-out acts who, through a confluence of fortunate timing and hard-fought graft, manage to win over the hearts and minds of the record-buying public without pandering to the lowest common-denominator, but these are definitely the exception, rather than the rule, and the number of painfully generic bands I’ve encountered attempting to (misre)present themselves as “the next big thing” – all without a single interesting or original riff to their name – vastly outweighs the number of artists out there who actually possess a real voice and vision of their own.
That being said, the three bands I’ve singled out here all definitely have that special “x-factor” which makes them stand out from the crowd, and it’s albums like these which makes winnowing through all the sound-alikes and also-rans worth it in the end.