Random Roundup: July, 2021

Again in May

Again in May is a relatively new emo-type band from Annapolis, MD that recently issued their debut EP, Feels Like Home. The material immediately brought to mind that early-2000s timeframe when bands like Armor for Sleep and Spitalfield were getting more prevalent, which is a high compliment, as far as I'm concerned. Their sound is super polished and professional, but still pretty heavy at times, and as usual I'm just a sucker for such catchy and emphatic material. That opener, "Falling Out," is an absolute masterpiece. Tons and tons of potential here, I'll be curious to hear more.

There's no Again in May Bandcamp page that I can find, but you can digitally purchase the EP through their website or Amazon, and of course it's streaming on Spotify.


I wrote about Queens, NY's Ayanyss back in April's roundup, but they just dropped their full eight-song debut via the mighty Upstate Records, so I'm mentioning 'em again. Expect groovy metallic hardcore with some post-hardcore atmosphere and a unique vibe—not to mention a crazy collective résumé! The lineup on the recordings includes vocalist Chiqui Rodriguez (Dmize), Frank Smarra (25 ta Life) on bass, and now-former members guitarist Nick B. (Cold Front) and drummer Harry Minas (Ocean of Mercy, 25 ta Life, etc.). Since then, they've swapped in guitarist Rob "Beto" Rosario (Dmize, 25 ta Life, Madball, etc.) and John McClellan (Thulsa Doom, etc.) on drums, so it'll be interesting to hear how that impacts future material. Their first show is scheduled for September, so I'm glad they're not planning on slowing down!

At least for now, it's looking like this one's digital-only, so make a purchase through Bandcamp or stream away at Spotify.

Chain Gang Grave

Chain Gang Grave is back as a duo after a stint as Cement Mind, which also happens to be the name of CGG's debut full-length, released back in April. Parting ways with their former vocalist hasn't really altered their sound much—if anything, the vocals are now a bit more direct in attack. I'm still picking up on a pretty linear songwriting style that tends not to loop back and repeat itself; so expect more raw, basement hardcore/punk packed with a crawling, blackened dissonance and controlled sense of noisiness. There's a certain chugging, sludge-soaked doom feel to some of the riffing, too, so there's a wide range of influences that are all kind of twisted and deformed into the unit's own patented aesthetic.

While it may deserve otherwise, Cement Mind is digital-only at the moment. Downloaders head to Bandcamp, streamin' types fire up Spotify.

Hamad Balanayed

A friend sent me a link to Peruvian guitarist Hamad Balanayed a few weeks ago, and I was pretty impressed by Into the Game's djent-y progressive shred metal. The album cover looks like it could represent synthwave, but those types of influences are very tastefully executed within. My initial old man reference points are detecting emphatic melodies reminiscent of In Flames and the heavy churn and synth flourishes of a toned down Fear Factory, all wrapped up in the more modern sheen of acts like Intervals and such. It also feels like it could fit it on labels like Sensory/The Laser's Edge or Inside Out Music or whatever, so... also "for fans of" those rosters, I'd say. Strong writing is key: this isn't just senseless guitar (nor keyboard) acrobatics all over the place for no reason, there's flow and force, and a number of passages stand out and draw specific attention.

Acquire Into the Game digitally or on CD (I still need to grab a CD myself) at Bandcamp, or settle for a stream through Spotify.

In Cold Blood

Also from the ever-busy Upstate Records is another raging standalone single from Cleveland bruisers In Cold Blood. "In Time" offers a minute-and-a-half of brooding, pessimistic metallic hardcore that of course carries with it the legendary aesthetic for which the band/locale are known. While the succinct running time might imply speed, in fact the composition relies mainly on churning mid-paced rhythms that simply maximize efficiency.

A more substantial new In Cold Blood EP or full-length can't come soon enough, but until then, buy this track on Bandcamp or stream it through Spotify, and wait to see what comes next!

Zero Trust

Zero Trust is another of my favorite new bands, and "Portraits" is their third excellent single thus far. Melodic metallic hardcore with a mind-blowing lineup that boasts ties to Train of Thought, Agents of Man, GMK, Ghidrah, Coheed and Cambria, Bulldoze, Homicidal, and numerous others. I had plenty to say when I wrote about their two-song debut back in March, and their inventive sound can really only be accurately compared to some of the bands that the members have previously been involved with—many of which I view as absolutely crucial and indisputably underrated. Do some digging, folks!

Purchase the track on Amazon, or you can stream it on Spotify. While it's not included on their 7", there are still a few copies remaining of the yellow pressing limited to 125, which benefits The Coalition for the Homeless, so snag one before they're gone! Hopefully we'll get a full-length from Zero Trust before the year ends...