Album Review – Ways. / Aftermath EP (2018)

One of the most promising alternative bands from France returns with another powerful, dynamic and melodic display of modern-day rock and metal music.

After a promising career start with the release of their debut EP Watching From Afar, in 2016, Paris-based Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. is back with the second installment of their always-evolving musical path, entitled Aftermath, an 8-track EP that brings all the band’s characteristic elements from their previous release, sounding powerful, dynamic and melodic throughout its almost 27 minutes of music.

Featuring a minimalistic and stylish artwork by Maxime Larrouturou, Aftermath once again presents an inspired band mixing several influences and styles in their music, from Alternative Rock and Metal to Post-Hardcore, while at the same time maintaining a very cohesive and solid core essence. Comprised of Clément on vocals, Bruno and Nico on the guitars, newcomer Niko on bass, and Tony on drums, Ways. are ready to strike once again with their uncompromising, unrelenting and modern music, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time listening to their unique creations in Aftermath.

Sheer melancholy flows from the guitars by Bruno and Nico in the introspective intro Twilight Until Dawn, before the band begins firing an acid message together with their aggressive, adrenaline-fueled instrumental in the modern-day Alternative Metal tune Death Row, with Clément growling the song’s lyrics in a desperate and anguished mode (“But the people around me / Don’t seem to want to play with me. / My neighbors, day after day, / Are caught, / The cages emptied and filled, / The door is closed behind me, / I believe in a game full of life and joy”). In However…, Rock N’ Roll riffs are blended with the more aggressive lines of Alternative Metal, with Tony smashing his drums and, consequently, giving the song a stronger vibe, while Clément presents some cleaner vocals amidst his furious screams; whereas in And Nobody Cares, Ways. accelerate their speed and increase their electricity, bringing hints of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore to their characteristic sonority. In a nutshell, this is the song tailored for banging your heads nonstop, thanks to the crushing riffs by Bruno and Nico and the violent beats by Tony.

So Far So Good brings forward a belligerent sound led by the razor-edged riffs by the band’s guitar duo, while bassist Niko joins Tony to create a beyond dense background. Then we have a somber, pensive instrumental bridge titled Thirteen, setting the tone for the also fierce With Love, the most alternative of all songs from the EP, ignited by the metallic bass by Niko and with Clément delivering his piercing clean vocals as well as his deranged growls while the rest of the band fires melodious and heavy sounds from start to finish. And lastly, as a bonus track the band offers us all I See No Beauty, showcasing more of their slashing Alternative Metal and Rock and presenting austere lyrics about ecology, global warming, poaching and animals mistreatment (“Dropped in the jungle, / Still so young, / I try using violence, / I test, / I experience, / I grow up and feed myself / I see no beauty in the species that made me”).

To sum up, the second step in the career of Ways. is beyond solid and promising, showcasing a band that’s even sharper and more focused than before, and if you want to show your support to this French quintet go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on YouTube, and purchase Aftermath (which is available for a full listen on Spotify or on YouTube) from the band’s own BandCamp page. I’m certain that the next step for this talented Post-Hardcore/Metal act will be the release of their first full-length album, which will represent the combination of a lot of hard work, dedication and energy, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes for that to happen, if it’s as half as good as the music found in Aftermath it will certainly be worth the wait.

Best moments of the album: Death Row and And Nobody Cares.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Twilight Until Dawn 2:01
2. Death Row 3:14
3. However… 3:13
4. And Nobody Cares 3:32
5. So Far So Good 3:44
6. Thirteen 2:20
7. With Love 6:02

Bonus track
8. I See No Beauty 2:41

Band members
Clément – vocals
Bruno – guitar
Nico – guitar
Niko – bass
Tony – drums

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Album Review – When Ashes Are Rising / Of Earth and Men (2017)

Witness the fall of everything the virus called “man” has created through the eyes of a raging five-piece Italian Metalcore act.

“You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Formed in 2014 with ex-members of underground Italian bands Absence (Torino), Cybercage (Sassari) and OxC (Sassari), here comes Italian Death Metal/Deathcore act When Ashes Are Rising, commonly referred to as W.A.A.R. or WAAR, and their brand new album, titled Of Earth and Men. After a more Hardcore-oriented first self-titled EP, the band decided they wanted to go for a more old school Metalcore sound heavily influenced by the Swedish metal scene, with bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquility, and, above all, At The Gates, being the source of inspiration for this promising Sassari-based group.

And their music is more than just your regular Metalcore, being a strong and austere social and political message for all mankind. W.A.A.R. believe in the total collapse of all the powers that make every human being a slave, from the very moment you are born until you die; they believe in the destruction of all the systems that enslave us through imposition and violence, and in the fall of everything the virus called “man” has created, constantly raping Mother Earth. Featuring a classy artwork by Emanuele Gutierrez, Of Earth and Men is the perfect musical representation of the band’s core essence and beliefs, with its mix of aggressive sounds and a very cohesive narrative sending a powerful and disturbing warning about the imminent doom of our decaying society.

The instrumental intro Of Earth And Men, featuring futuristic elements mixed with some gentle piano notes, is a good warm up for the belligerent Gaia’s Revenge, a Deathcore onrush with xZEDx as a guest vocalist and blending the melody of Metalcore with the sheer aggressiveness of Death Metal, all led by the rabid riffs by guitarists Giuseppe and Delio which end up supporting the maniacal growls by frontman Afshin in a powerful way. The following tune, titled W.A.A.R., presents a violent instrumental with the pounding drums by Nico elevating the song’s hostility to a whole new level while Luca smashes his bass guitar, generating a tempestuous sounding perfect for Afshin to explain to the listener who W.A.A.R. are through his deep guttural (“When Ashes are Rising. / I used to watch you walk among the trees / while they offered you their fruits / and now I see you abuse each other / You live on materialism / the true richness of the soul / you forget you erected / physical and mental cages / in a world with no borders / has this eternal misery killed your compassion?”).

In Dust Diamonds, featuring guest musician Blasi (Strength Approach) on additional vocals, their demented assault of Deathcore goes on in a fast-paced turmoil of nonstop beats and fills, crushing riffs and endless stamina, highly recommended for slamming into the pit; whereas Extinction, featuring guest guitarist Zack Cignetti (Tomorrowillbeworse), is another melodic tune where Afshin sounds possessed while Giuseppe and Delio continue to pierce our ears with their venomous strings, not to mention the song’s menacing aura. And this amazing quintet knows how to externalize their fury and hatred against what’s wrong in our society through their unrelenting metal music like what we see in After Tomorrow. In other words, get into the circle pit or simply bang your head nonstop to this solid tune full of metallic guitar lines, precise beats and unfriendly growls.

Then in Prelude To Life we’re treated to a futuristic instrumental bridge that connects to the final chapter in Of Earth and Men, the thoughtful and demolishing chant Life Will Find A Way, which not only showcases interesting and somewhat melancholic lyrics (“Our sacrifice was inevitable / but filling the void of a loss is hard / for she lost her children / and is left alone to cry. / They raped her, robbed her / she fed them anyway to sustain their reigns. / They raped her, robbed her / she fed them anyway, life will find a way.”), but its sounding also gets closer to pure Death Metal before becoming a modern display of Metalcore. Moreover, Afshin goes absolutely mental with his deep growls, while Nico’s double bass adds tons of fury to the musicality.

You can find all details about W.A.A.R. on Facebook, and buy Of Earth and Men through their BandCamp page, as well as through the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore. As time goes by, I feel more and more convinced that our society as we know it is coming to an inevitable and unpleasant end, and perhaps the extinction of the human race is exactly what needs to happen for the world to restore its peace and balance, especially because our current situation is far, far away from being sustainable. In case you agree with that concept and you love heavy music at the same time, the music by W.A.A.R. might become the perfect soundtrack for you while you witness our society crumbling to pieces.

Best moments of the album: Gaia’s Revenge and Extinction.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bound By Modern Age Records

Track listing
1. Of Earth And Men 1:56
2. Gaia’s Revenge (feat. xZEDx) 4:20
3. W.A.A.R. 3:46
4. Dust Diamonds (feat. Blasi) 3:02
5. Extinction (feat. Zack Cignetti) 4:16
6. After Tomorrow 3:04
7. Prelude To Life 1:32
8. Life Will Find A Way 5:02

Band members
Afshin – vocals
Giuseppe – guitar
Delio – guitar
Luca – bass
Nico – drums

Guest musicians
xZEDx – additional vocals on “Gaia’s Revenge”
Blasi – additional vocals on “Dust Diamonds”
Zack Cignetti – guitar solo and outro section on “Extinction”

Album Review – Ashes To Fire / Still Waters EP (2016)

A sea of complexity and groove thoroughly presented by an auspicious French quintet that definitely knows how to craft high-quality Djent and Metalcore.

Rating5

cover-ashes-to-fire-still-watersThe subgenre of heavy music known as Djent, a development of progressive metal named for an onomatopoeia for the distinctive distorted, low-pitch guitar sound first employed by Swedish icons Meshuggah, with bands like After The Burial, Sikth, Animals As Leaders and Born Of Osiris becoming some of its biggest exponents, has been also represented worldwide since 2013 by a dexterous quintet hailing from the charming city of Bordeaux, France named Ashes To Fire. Fans of Metalcore, Djent, Hardcore and Post-Hardcore will have a great time listening to the music by these French metallers, in special the six potent compositions from their brand new EP entitled Still Waters.

Featuring members of local French bands such as Hate To Eleven, Defeat The Foe and Heaven Can Wait, Ashes To Fire offer the listener a very professional and punchy fusion of all their metal inspirations. The artwork in Still Waters, designed by French artist Serge Cleoron, features an ocean that represents the harmony among all band members while the octopus and its tentacles depict some of the band’s main influences in music like August Burns Red, Thy Art Is Murder and Born Of Osiris, among others, continuing the musical path initiated with their 2014 self-titled demo and their 2015 debut EP Karmalogy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of Djent or not, you’ll certainly sense elements from all those bands in Still Waters, and will probably start banging your head to Ashes To Fire’s powerful compositions without even noticing.

Modern sounds together with heavy guitars in the EP’s Intro kick things off in a thunderous way, before guitarists Nico and Dylan lead the Metalcore massacre Real Life, with lead singer Yas growling like there’s no tomorrow. In addition, the song gets less violent and more melodic at times, keeping the sonority always fresh in an awesome display of what this French quintet is capable of. The violence of Hardcore turns Dad And Mum into the most electrifying and complete track of the EP, where once again again Yas demonstrates all his vocal potency while Corekie and William generate a true storm of metal music with their respective rumbly, noise bass and dense beats.

photo-ashes-to-fireBringing elements from Melodic Death Metal the likes of In Flames mixed with the modern American Metalcore from August Burns Red, To Disappear displays a flawless sync between the heavy riffs by Nico and Dylan and the roaring bass by Corekie, whereas in Roots To Sheet, the sound of guitars grows and is complemented by bass and drums in another solid exhibition of Djent and Metalcore by this awesome band. Moreover, a constant, heavy ambience keeps the music at a truly dark level perfect for Yas to fire his distressed harsh vocals. Finally, a sinister intro ignites the last track in Still Waters, titled Sara, being sharply joined by the intricate bass wallops by Corekie, with Nico delivering his solid guitar solos in a sea of complexity and groove that goes on until the song’s abrupt and effective ending.

In summary, the excellent Still Waters, available at Ashes To Fire’s BandCamp page or at M.U.S.I.C. Records’ webstore, is definitely your go-to album for contemporary high-quality Djent and Metalcore, and if you want to explore the already mentioned groovy sea of heavy music created by those French metallers simply visit their Facebook page and YouTube channel, consequently showing your support and appreciation for a music style that keeps reinventing itself, proudly carrying the flag of modern metal music all over the world.

Best moments of the album: Dad And Mum and To Disappear.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 M.U.S.I.C. Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:11
2. Real Life 2:45
3. Dad And Mum 4:25
4. To Disappear 4:28
5. Roots To Sheet 4:18
6. Sara 5:04

Band members
Yas – vocals
Nico – lead guitar
Dylan – rhythm guitar
Corekie – bass
William – drums

Album Review – Ways. / Watching From Afar EP (2016)

Mixing several influences and musical styles from Alternative Rock to Post-Hardcore, this up-and-coming French quintet might be exactly what you’re looking for in modern heavy music.

Rating5

ways_watching-from-afarMixing several influences and musical styles, French Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. might be exactly what you’re looking for in alternative music, offering a wide variety of genres in their compositions that will please fans of heavier groups such as Deftones, Marilyn Manson and Killswitch Engage, to radio-friendly bands like Foo Fighters. And that harmonious but still fierce fusion of styles can be easily witnessed in their debut EP entitled Watching From Afar, a six-track album that nicely summarizes what Ways. are capable of, their main influences and their goals with their music.

Formed in 2013 in Paris, France, this talented quintet brings forward dynamic and melodic music displaying elements from Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Post-Hardcore, among others, always keeping their musicality fresh and vibrant throughout the almost 20 minutes in Watching From Afar. You’ll be positively surprised by the band due to all their sudden tempo changes and variations, going from harsh and desperate screams to gentle vocals and smooth guitar sounds. Featuring a sexy artwork by French photographer Sebastien Bessac, Watching From Afar can entertain you at a pub, at home, in your car or anywhere else good music is required.

In the opening track, titled My Blue Stain, a melodic beginning quickly turns into a blend of Metalcore and Alternative Metal, with lead singer Clément smoothly transitioning from harsh screams to clean vocals. Furthermore, it’s easy to notice influences from Deftones and In Flames, among other bands, in all instruments, which is also the case in As A Duty, showcasing a lighter side of the band with Bruno and Nico doing a great job on guitars, firing gentle lines and heavier riffs in sync with the vocals by Clément. Overflowing anguish and melancholy, this nice composition displays hints of Alternative Rock (in special during the song’s calm passages) that add an extra flavor to the overall result. And in Misty Hope, despite starting in a calm and relaxing way, vocal lines keep fierce and deranged, being recommended for fans of Foo Fighters and Deftones in pursuit of a higher level of aggressiveness in music. In addition to that, drummer Tony leads the song’s pace with his rhythmic beats, increasing its effectiveness and appeal for the delight of the listener.

waysThe title-track Watching From Afar is an instrumental track that’s more progressive and introspective than everything else in the album (and also the shortest of all songs), a nice display of dexterity by all band members leading up to the melancholic tune Something To Say…, where the groovy and smooth lines by session bassist Thomas Houche, together with the atmospheric riffs by Bruno and Nico, provide all the support for another passionate performance by Clément on vocals. Watching From Afar closes with Twenty First Sectuary, the heaviest and in my opinion the best composition of the album, getting closer to Melodic Death Metal without losing the harmony of Metalcore. Not only all guitar lines by Bruno and Nico sound amazing in this chant, but Tony also pounds his drums harder than in any other song of the album, translating into more electricity and consequently accrediting it to be one of the best options for the band’s live performances.

You can get more details on the music and career by Ways. by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram, and if you want to purchase Watching From Afar, simply go to their BandCamp page for a preview of the album and to get a physical copy of it, or you can also get it on iTunes, supporting not only Ways. but the entire heavy music independent scene. As previously mentioned, Ways. can offer you a wide range of heavy, classic and soft rock in their compositions, making your day better with their pleasant musicality and showing you that Watching From Afar is just the beginning and a nice sample of what’s coming next for those talented French musicians.

Best moments of the album: My Blue Stain and Twenty First Sectuary.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. My Blue Stain 3:17
2. As A Duty 4:48
3. Misty Hope 3:17
4. Watching From Afar 2:13
5. Something To Say… 3:11
6. Twenty First Sectuary 3:39

Band members
Clément – vocals
Bruno – guitar
Nico – guitar
Elo – bass
Tony – drums

Guest musician
Thomas Houche – bass (session)