Album Review: A Hill to Die Upon // Mental Cruelty

Mental Cruelty are a death metal band from Germany. Formed in 2016, they have just released their new album A Hill to Die Upon in May. The band enlisted producer Sky Van Hoff (Kreator, Rammstein) to work with them on the album. This results in an album that is full of brutal riffs and pummeling deathcore action. It has you on the edge of your seat throughout.

On hearing this album, even though the deathcore influences are still present, there are also orchestral arrangements. You notice this on ‘Ultima Hypocritica’ which is the first song to introduce these elements. And it works. There is everything on here, catchy riffs, disgusting screams, and huge strings which would suit a battle scene.  

‘Eternal Worship’ is another song that shows the band’s versatility because it contains some filthy vocals, and the instrumentation is heavy. The orchestral bits work very well, however one criticism is that there’s no space in the mix, so the sounds are a bit muffled.

Overall, A Hill to Die Upon is an album packed with brutality and fierce instrumentation. It shows that their sound is very diverse, and is a solid listen.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: I Don’t Believe (In the Summer Of Love) // Gabriel’s Dawn

Gabriel’s Dawn is an up and coming band from the Midlands. Formed in 2020, They blend folk and indie-pop effortlessly, and are back with a new song, ‘I Don’t Believe (In the Summer of Love).’

The song is a wonderful splash of summer. The soft vocals are beautiful, while the guitar reminds me of The Coral. There are some big hooks in this song that work because they keep the listener on their toes. It would sound great in a big outdoor venue with the sun beaming down on you.

The production on ‘I Don’t Believe (In the Summer Of Love)’ is astonishingly good. It’s polished, clean, and all the sounds are balanced beautifully. I hope that this leads to bigger things for Gabriel’s Dawn in the future. A new dawn, indeed.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Fame // Margot

Margot are a South London based band consisting of five friends. Their sound is inspired by jangle pop, while also having feel-good qualities that boost your mood. They released their brand new song  ‘Fame’ last month.

‘Fame’ is a great song because it is dark and haunting. Atmospheric guitars and a disco drumbeat dominate the song, which works well because it could get the listener grooving. However, the lyrics take a darker tone entirely. Because they are about the culture surrounding reality TV. I think it captures the atmosphere really well because it focuses heavily on how it’s overrated and portrays a misleading representation of reality.

‘Fame’ is a good song because it fuses relatable lyrics with a psychedelic edge. The guitar is catchy because it worms its way into your head, and the vocal delivery is emotional and honest.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: 2 Shots, No Chaser // Youthstar and Miscellaneous

Youthstar and Miscellaneous (who is from Chill Bump) have released a brand new song, ‘2 Shots, No Chaser.’ The song comes from a joint album and it’s very colourful. It gives off a party vibe with its electronic fused production.

The production is full of wobbly dubstep synths and hard-hitting drums. It reminds me of the weekend and nights out. While the instrumentation screams partying, the lyrics are much more grounded: “I will never put my feet down.” This shows that there is a lot of respect for the daily grind because there is a lot of humility in the lyrics. Listening to this song will help people stay grounded, while at the same time get them dancing. It’s very uplifting and will boost your spirits.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: I Am // Marlounsly

Marlounsly is a singer-songwriter who has amassed millions of views and streams. She has garnered plenty of attention from outlets including MTV and Flaunt Magazine.

Her brand new song ‘I Am’ is an R n’ B banger that will make you feel good about yourself. The production is upbeat and colourful. The smooth piano and rumbling bass makes you think of summer, which is really awesome because it brings out a confident attitude.

I love the playful vocals because they’re full of life and colour. They work well with the affirmative lyrics, demonstrating a feel-good song that will make your day better.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: We // The Gabriels

The Gabriels formed last year through a shared love of melodic, jangly indie pop. The band consists of Gudg (vocals), Fran (bass), Leon (guitar), and Stuart (keys). Their music evokes a warm nostalgia because it reminds me of youthful innocence. The band are back with a brand new song, ‘We’.

‘We’ is great because it makes me think of sitting in the sun at a festival watching a band. It is a beautiful indiepop song because the buttery vocals are so smooth. They worm their way into your heart. When they combine with the jangly guitars, this makes for a joyful listen.

The band is currently recording their debut album, and if it is anything like ‘We’, then you are in for a treat.

Listen to ‘We’ here:

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Under // Bethany Ferrie

Bethany Ferrie is influenced by the likes of Lewis Capaldi and Ed Sheeran. I already knew her from her last single ‘Stayed’, which had a big sound. Its chorus could easily be sung in arenas. She wrote new material in lockdown, and is back with a new song, ‘Under’. The song will be released on July 10th.

‘Under’ is about a relationship breaking down and the heartbreak that follows it. The sad guitars work well with Ferrie’s tender vocals because they pull you into her situation. This allows the listener to feel the emotions with Ferrie, creating a peaceful atmosphere.

I really enjoyed listening to ‘Under’ because it is a beautiful song. The lyrics resonate with anyone who is in a difficult period of trust, while Ferie’s emotional delivery will reach more people.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Album Review: Colourwave // Belau

Belau are making waves. Having been featured both on MTV and KEXP,  the electronic duo from Budapest are back with a new album, ‘Colourwave.’ It’s a beautiful listen, with plenty of ambient textures.

I think what makes this album shine is the colourful production. There’s African-influenced sounds on ‘Risk It All’ which make me think of a walk in a sunny area. The handclaps also work very well because they could demonstrate unity and togetherness.

It is clear that Zero 7 influence Belau’s sound. Sophie Barker lends her voice on ‘Essence’. It has a beautiful guitar line running through the song, while Sophie’s voice is phenomenal on this track. The chilling vocal production works because the reverb and echo represent the protagonist being trapped.

The drum production is phenomenal because they make the tracks sound big. On ‘Breath’ it makes the song sound huge, with the bells and xylophone. There is also a huge array of vocal talent, with Sophie Lindinger’s vocals making the song shine brightly.  ‘Natural Pool’ is an instrumental song with samples of flowing water. This fits in with the ambience, while I love the chopped up samples because they make me feel relaxed.

Overall, ‘Colourwave’ is a calming listen and perfect for anyone who has had a stressful day. The production is immaculate because it draws from a variety of influences, and the vocal talent is exceptional.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

Track Review: Daddy (No Way) // Up the Bug

It’s not too often you hear some batshit new music. Up the Bug are this band- but they’re also fighting a good cause. Beneath their unreal ska bangers, they’ve also released a new EP, which raised money for the NHS. Now, as a key worker myself, I think it’s great that bands are supporting the NHS during this critical time, and very inspiring.  The band also released their new song ‘Daddy (No Way)’ which is a fun listen.

I love this song because it is upbeat and has a strong energy. But in comparison, the lyrics are angry. The protagonist doesn’t like how his lover has treated him like shit. But he isn’t going to back down to her tactics: “Na na na na na no way / won’t play na na na your games.” The “na na” bits are interesting because they already encourage a singalong and bring a big vibe.

I’d love to hear more from Up the Bug because their songs make me feel really happy and positive.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos