Review: Two of the scene's most established producers and a pair for whom Metalheadz is a familiar friend, John B & Digital are back on the label with a joint single. This one is proper business and although the elements used are basic, the results are spectacular and prove once more that vibey drum & bass is best left simple, raw and full of energy. That description aptly describes the B-side to this, as Digital and John roll things out amidst a flurry of hats and snares, topped off by an archetypal bassline that stretches its legs in satisfying fashion. The A-side is almost liquid in its lounging atmosphere, but it too has a naughty kick to it that reminds you just what label you're on. Superb.
Review: The 25 years of Metalheadz march continues and this time it's the job of Mark System, one of the label's most reliable stalwarts and an all-round incredible producer. For this single he's gone full old school jungle, and the results are acid-inflected masterclasses in how to construct stripped back drum & bass beats. 'On Top' is the highlight of the single, and the bounciness in the drums moves with clear precision through rolling waves of progression, a true journey through clubland sound that really lives up to the 25 year legacy of this label.
Review: One of several big labels with pivotal anniversaries this year, Metalheadz continue their streak of 25 year releases with this monster, a single by Asylum featuring remakes of his legendary track 'Da Base II Dark'. In its remastered version, the original shines even brighter, as those timeless drums rattle to the beat of the aspirations of the 90s, and subtle yet strong bass notes creep into your consciousness, around funky touches and supreme attention to detail. The Stealth remix takes it to an entirely different place, one of pure violence and unadulterated dancefloor hedonism, a smash and grab raid designed to steal your dignity and leave you in a daze. Pure brilliance from the Headz crew.
Review: This joint release by Inner Terrain and Wreckless is classic Headz from start to finish. The drums are perfect, the basses gargle with other-worldly aggression and the textural quality of every element is daubed in underground material. The title track is an ideal example, as a monotonous and hugely entertaining introduction needles into your soul, a foreboding prelude to a drop that's indistinct and spaced out, the focus here isn't on pure adrenaline but the construction of a journey through industrial soundscapes. 'Big Drama' is one of the dancefloor-facing cuts available, with a suspenseful build that collapses into the sheer ecstasy of punching stabs and shuddering frequencies.
Review: This debut EP from Response goes back to the classic Headz formula; honest drums, basslines that won't quit and stripped back sense of purity. It's more barebones and relaxed than the label's recent work and it's a flip that works extremely well, as Response rolls things out with a feeling of careless abandon. That's not to say there isn't toughness on here, however, as 'Manhunter' pushes growling bass barks underneath an outer layer of crisp hi-hats and back alley snare hits. 'Betrayal' is space-age, Bukem-style luxury, a panoramic journey through celestial tones that makes you feel lighter than air; this is proper liquid. An all-round masterclass!
Review: Metalheadz's march towards twenty five years continues, as does their revisitation and exploration of back catalogue classics, with a twist. Episode number three takes the furious sounds of Kaotic Chemistry's 'Drum Trip' and 'Jupiter' and reworks them, with production courtesy of Detboi, Madcap, Wheeler and Kaotic Chemistry themselves. Madcap's take on 'Drum Trip' is clean and precise, with a rolling drum break that builds through a gorgeous reece line for an instantly classic sound, one that's tied with the Metalheadz aesthetic both past and present. Detboi makes two contributions, and it's his Low Ends and Amens take on 'Drum Trip' that impresses most, with the rhythmic diversity he's become known for on full display, and Detboi sprints through downtempo breaks, stuttering claps and rusty percussive textures in his quest to create something with moodiness at its core. Finally, Kaotic Chemistry themselves turn 'Jupiter' into a fractious version of its former self, one which perfectly straddles the divide between jungle experimentalism and modern toughness. Seminal.
Review: If you like your drum & bass packed with eerie soundscapes and created more with the intention of imparting an experience than packing out a dancefloor, this is the EP for you. It's classic moody Headz, and Quartz channels the hazy smoke-filled vibe of Blue Note and pumps it through an apocalyptic filter, transposing classical breaks onto futuristic landscapes. 'Folding Water' is perhaps the EP's darkest outing, as hypnotic kicks ground a steampunk aesthetic of churning metal and furious percussive energy, one with abstraction at its core but traditional breaks music in its heart. Superb release.
Review: There are few intros as iconic as that of John B's 'Up All Night'. It's the tune which launched the career of drum & bass' glitter adorned, pop fusion superstar, and what a way to make an entrance. Featherweight flutters and foreboding stabs aside, this three-tracker presages a broader 25 Years of Metalheadz release that will surely be one of the year's best, a part-nostalgia, part-future looking release that charts the history of drum & bass' most seminal imprint. 'Up All Night' gets a 2021 remastered relick, whilst Data 3 step up and flip proceedings on their head with a deeply techy, superbly engineered dancefloor remake that's been blowing up the virtual and physical dance for some time now. Finally, John's 'Epic Mix' stretches out the intro and amps up the suspense, as clattering breaks cement his place in the history books. Utterly superb.
Review: Mikal is without a doubt one of the best purveyors of breaksy music around. It's slightly criminal that he doesn't get landed with this title more and hopefully his new album - Metalwork - changes things. It's a sensational album, a truly impressive tour-de-force of halftime and breakbeats, a showcase of just how raw and unfiltered drum & bass can be. It's exceedingly hard to pick out standouts because they all work so well, but 'Metalwork' itself is something special; a spacious, cutting edge track that rests on a monstrous kick-snare combination and just goes from there. The expansive bassline of 'Scrapyard Dub', the furious breaks of 'Breaks & Pads'...it doesn't get much better.
Review: John Rolodex was one of the premier beat merchants of the Noughties, with a string of hit EPs on both Metalheadz and his Machinist imprint. It's been a decade since then, but his recent revival has brought new music to first his own label and now Headz, with The Rainmaker EP reminding all of us just how talented this man is. It's classic Headz and classic Rolodex, as underground percussion collides head-on with subterranean, low frequency shudders. The title tune sets the tone; a fractious, junglist construction that sees tumbling breaks raucously clash below a juxtaposedly smooth vocal hook, a proper crossover breaks number that reminds us of Goldie's previous work. The other tunes stretch things out a bit, as 'Unadorned' bounces through the shadows with an-almost foghorn approach; 'La Bodega' growls its choppy melody; and 'Opulence' clicks in the percussion and snarls in the bassline.
Review: Part two of the Goldie remix album is yet more serene blending of light and dark sounds, with some of the scenes best - including Grey Code, Lenzman, Jubei and Calibre - all pitching in with some of the best music of their career. The Grey Code remix of 'The Mirrored River' has been a long time coming, its debut originally at Outlook Festival in 2018, and what a remix it is; the original's towering vocals being flung headfirst into a cacophony of knife-edge breaks and tumbling basslines. Lenzman ebbs and flows with a typically funky rendition of 'The Ballad Celeste', whilst Calibre has his second contribution with a remix of 'Run Run Run', an utterly brilliant rolller that builds to soaring vocal heights abed a string section from your dreams, before cutting off into quintissential Calibre goodness. The culminatory part to a 2020-defining album.
Review: Goldie's 2017 magnum opus - The Journey Man - has gone under the surgeon's knife of some of the best artists in the Metalheadz roster and the result is a sensational two-part collection of sounds from across drum and bass and beyond. This is the first part, and it kicks off with a classic old-school remix from Digital & Spirit, two artists who have done so much to define the modern Metalheadz aesthetic. Their take on 'I Think Of You' is powerful, underground and fractious in equal measure, a turn-of-the-century roller with wonderfully sharp stabs and a creepy atmosphere courtesy of the original's whispered vocal sample. It contrasts with Zero T's gorgeously nonchalant take on 'Truth', which rests on sunny day guitar flicks, rolling out with abandon and driving away over the horizon on a swell of soul. There are more ambient takes from Mathew Jonson and Subjective, whilst Diemantle get funky with a superb 145bpm take on 'Castaway'. There are many others as well - unmissable.
Review: Artificial Intelligence are back on Metalheadz for their first label EP in three years, a seriously long time considering the foundational role Headz played in their evolution and we're all so happy to see them back. As you would expect, this release takes a step away from the genre of liquid they've been pioneering on Integral for the last few years, and instead blends harsh rolling sounds with lighter flicks to create a diverse, rough and ready piece of work. 'Outer Origins' is certainly tough, with loping drums that flow with restless energy and an expansive, growling bassline that oscillates in the gutter and only goes up from there. 'Good Things' is lovely, spacious liquid that moves through shimmering synth spasms; Satl joins for the minimal soul of 'No Choice'; and title track 'Signs Signs' is warm and evanescent in its movement. Gorgeous stuff.
Review: Metalheadz have been rolling out the artist albums this year, with stellar contributions from Adred, amongst others. This time it's the turn of Friske and he continues the trend of incredibly well thought out, resonant breaks-based music that makes you consider the meaning of life whilst blasting your face off at the same time. A whopping sixteen tracks long, there are too many highlights to mention them all but 'Destination' is certainly up there, as subterranean shudders creep into the arrangement underneath an inch-perfect set of clashing, cracking drums. There are no features on this album, it's pure Friske and all the better for it. Top stuff, and if you're into Mako, Autonomic or anything else clever and crushing, this one is for you.
Review: The word 'seminal' is thrown around with a reckless abandon these days and it's not always used with an appropriate level of respect, but this single from Metalheadz is undoubtedly one of the occasions on which its use is warranted. Throwing all the way back to 1994 is Alex Reece, one of the pioneers of Jungle's early foray into the lighter side of things, and his single 'Basic Principles', which also includes a remix from Dillinja on the flip. It's rough, fractious and reminiscent of the heady era from which Headz first came, a proper journey back in time. Legendary.
Review: It's another Headz special! Bristol's finest Utopian, the man like Mako, delivers his debut solo album and it's every bit as deep, detailed and sense-slapping as you'd expect it to be. From the spacious drums and grizzly bass on the opener "Heartstone" to the rave-melting halftime switching "Flip It" via the bouncy harmonics of "Hoxton Home" and the depth plunge bassline and Subtitles-style rawness of the stripped back arrangement on "Offline", like all Metalheadz albums - and indeed Mako productions - this is a properly considered, thoughtful and detailed body of work. Essential.
Review: Oh gosh. Last spotted on the mothership label in 2015 on Mikal's "Where They At EP", Danger Dutchman Nymfo returns to Metalheadz with his first full EP for the label. It's every bit as heavy and badass as you'd hope it to be. "Sting Blade" rolls out with a skinny-fit break and a bassline so flabby and bulbous it folds over the edges. It's backed by two more monoliths; "What's Happening" sees fellow Dutchy Martyn join the action with just a touch of classic Blue Note style jazziness, "No Choice" settles the matter on some 23rd century twisted Optical style funk and "Lie Detector" shuts things down on a deep purring emotional one. Incredible. Easily one of Nymfo's finest moments so far (which is saying something).
Review: After such a massive year in 2019 with their 25th anniversary celebrations, you could forgive Metalheadz if they took their foot off the gas for a second as we hurtle into a new decade. But no, if anything they're ramping up again. And Adred's debut album is proof. From that introductory headbutt of a tune "Amenity" right through to the turbo-charged emotions and floatiness of the finale "Left Behind", the longstanding NYC artist has created a monster of a debut album here. Dedicated to his father, featuring the likes of Commix, DRS, Jamal, Strategy, Dave Owen and exploring every shade, style and sound that's inspired and drove him for the last 16 years of production, Adred has delivered a quintessential Headz album here. Essential.
Review: Cor blimey governors! Zero T and Beta 2 don't muck around when they get together, do they? Last spotted on a collab flex on Dispatch last year, here the pair lay the foundation smack down on Headz with this massive six track EP. Tapping right back on the classic deep jazz sound the label has always celebrated and championed as the much as heavier stuff (think Hidden Agenda, Sci-Clone, J Majik) each of these cuts will whisk you away to places you didn't even know existed. The gilded Rhodes on "In My Head", the slinky, lithe bassline of "Misdemeanour", the star-gazing poignancy of "Stacks", the list goes on. Yet another exceptional EP from the mothership.
Review: It's almost exactly a year since Grey Code's last EP on Headz and how time has flown, the young Bristolian has clearly matured his sound since Reverie and the result is Helios. Spanning five tracks, Helios is more expansive sound design and penetrating percussion, created not only to damage dancefloors but to excel in its intricacies as well. From the pulsating acid vibes of 'You & I' to the furious, footwork influenced scurrying of 'Dante' feat. Becca Jane Grey, Helios is exceptionally good. 'Juniper' takes the cake for us though, with a ferociously creative beat pattern and absurdly well-made drums that bang even harder than we thought possible. Excellent.
Review: Rene La Vice and Future Cut is, to be honest, quite a strange combination both in terms of their musical history and their stylistic divergence. We couldn't be happier to see them together, though, especially considering how incredible this release is, a three-tracker which packs all the heaviness that Metalheadz has built its reputation upon. 'Nine Strings' lays a soaring vocal over the top of a gully, no-holds-barred junglist break-out, a vibrantly powerful set of elements all working together to create a jagged, punchy track of club-sized proportions. 'Eyes' is incredible as well, a roller with a rolling reece bass and an attitude to match, something carried over into the final tune 'Deenandbee'. Awesome stuff.
Review: Fresh from launching their own label for their collaborations last year, longstanding compadres Seba and Paradox land on the Metalheadz mothership once again with two outstanding lessons in D&B realism. "Hexagon" is glacial and furious. Original late 90s rudiments; the beats are pneumatic, the flavours and cosmic, the vibe is barbed and tense throughout. "Love Or Death" takes us down an even darker drumfunk rabbit hole where the breaks do all the talking. Absolute slap-about business with no holds barred in any element or ingredient. What a way to kick off the new decade for both Paradox, Seba and Metalheadz.
Review: Second albums are meant to be difficult but you tell that to Survival and Script and they'll laugh in your prudy little face: Scar's follow up to The Orkyd Project is another remarkable body of work. The first of a three album deal the London duo have with Metalheadz (the first ever deal the label have ever offered any artist) High Fives & Devil Eyes is a powerful jolt of timeless D&B that dig deep into every corner of the genre. From the alluring intro of "Circle Of Trust" to the deep, introspection of the finale "Eternal" via the wonky-assed "Pauline", the scuzzy gritty bass of "First Sound" and trippy funk of the album title track, the only difficult thing about this second album is working out which tune you want to play in your sets first. High fives all round!
Review: HLZ is one of the slew of producers who have recently been popping up on Headz and releasing amazing music, the likes of Grey Code, Phaction and others. This isn't HLZ's first rodeo however as he first released on the label about five years ago, a pedigree which shines through in the detailed, physical approach he takes to his music. Eternal follows Luther on Dispatch earlier this year and it's as good, if not better, a trend that's set from the start by the title tune. A haunting vocal sample overlays jungle breaks on the intro, but just when you think it's going to be jungle, an amazing pacey main rolling percussive line comes through and blows you away. Proper HLZ, proper Heads.
Review: Metalheadz thrive on dark, industrial sounds, the sort of music that the label was built upon in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with stuttering jungle breaks and rolling beats all placed within an overarching veneer of blackish intent. Jem One has absolutely nailed that sound with this release, and it's deliciously weighty. 'Shaman' is a rolling number with brooding undertones, it's subtle and not explosive but all the better for it, as it slowly creeps up on you with the stealth of a ninja and the weight of a freight train. Title track 'Transpose' is quintessential heads, with foreboding synths and bubbling, grating bass underneath. Top stuff.
Review: Unstoppable Russian artist Black Barrel follows his slew of Dispatch EPs this year with yet another level up: Metalheadz. As any debut on Goldie's blueprint label should, it's a chance for him to reveal even more depths and textures to his nature. Opting for the glacial soul and star-gazing side to the Headz sound, these are BB's deepest tracks to date; the soaring vocal and elastic space bass of "Elevate With Me", the Nucleus and Alaska-style oceanic ripples of "Lost Meaning", the heads-down cosmic grit of "Hear The Sound" and the savagely emotional finale "Leah". Each track hitting right in the feels, Black Barrel keeps on shooting.
Review: Long-time Metalheadz mate AMIT returns to the label for the first time since 2012 with three unruly schematics. "Naked Fuse" lights the touch-paper; necksnap breaks, graveyard pads and groaning low end creating more and more tension on every 32. Deeper again we strike "Divide & Rule", a killer drilling halftimer with those big spacious rolling tank-like drums AMIT is best known for while "Knuckle Duster" closes the EP with a total K.O. Ain't nobody getting up even if the count was 100. No one darks man out quite like AMIT.
Review: It's finally here! After almost a year on dub, man of the moment Benny L and Metalheadz drop one of the most anticipated and distinctive tunes of the year so far. Wheezing under pure reese bass pressure, restrained and stripped back to the barest of bones, every miniscule element from the pranged pads to the skippy hi-hats and funky little double kicks plays the perfect role as Benny takes us darker than ever before.... Not once but twice as Inja joins the fray on "Vanta Blackin" adding a sharp-tongued twist to this unique noir narrative. Actually make that thrice because they've thrown in the even longer-awaited VIP of Benny's breakthrough "Low Blow" for good measure. Blacker than black.
Review: Phase is a Dutch talent who's been doing big things for a few years now, releasing on some of the best labels in the biz and generally being an all-round top guy. His second full-length outing on Metalheadz is here and it's a masterclass in how to balance hard-edged, tough sonics with a sense of sophistication and retrospection. It reminds us a lot of Grey Code's EP at the start of the year and we love it. 'Devotion' features HLZ and is the roller of the bunch, with spacious sampling and wispy pads nailing the breadth, whilst a driving percussive line and subtle yet forceful bass notes nail the depth. Outstanding.
Review: A year has passed since Script and Survival last blessed us with their rugged wares but the wait, as always, has been worth it. Four tracks of authentic, bulletproof block-knockery, it's the sound of two men who love the 90s rudiments as much as they love their machines; "Stalker" lives up to its creepy name, all dark, creepy and persistent. The tension-wrought "Hide In Plain Sight" takes a much more of a cinematic twist with its sample, drawn out strings and grainy synth squiggles while "Sleep Talk" takes us down a much darker, tribal route that nods more towards the Samurai style of the craft. Last but definitely not least, "Hey You" finishes the EP with the most emotional, soul-stirring piece of the EP. Lingering pianos, unhurried, deep-breath pads and bassline so warm and voluptuous you want to live in it; like all Scar releases it leaves us hungry for more... Let's hope they don't leave it a year to wait.
Review: Captivating us since he first emerged on CIA in 2015, US jungle representor Adred fires off another four track flare on Headz, this time on their Platinum series. Once again traversing the widest spread ranging from breath-taking Marcus Intalex remix of the Manos-fronted title track to the gnarled dark rolls and stuttering drums of "Happnast" (with fellow New Yorker Dave Owens), everything about this EP is acutely on point. Elsewhere we find Ant TC1 getting elbow deep on the dreamy steps of "1238" before "New Soul" brings us back down to reality softly in a deep dream haze. D&B bliss.
Review: Critical Impact lives up to his name once again with two big MC cuts that have been doing the rounds for the big boys on dub for a while. "Crazy" brings a little Manchester heat as DRS digs deep into his complexities for a unique chorus hook and class A spitfire bars over an almighty, skin-melting Critical Impact drone bass. "Far Away" flips the vibe for something a lot more soul soothing as Fats does his dreamy dulcet thing over a purring subtly jazz-tinged roll out. Crazy good.
Review: New York's Adred returns to Metalheadz with two outstanding cuts right here. Both of which feature some major league collaborations, too. The wonderfully deep "Valley Groove" takes the lead with Commix on board; dreamy, purring and laced with just a smidgeon of hazy jazzy undertones, it's a total lesson in restraint. "Stuck In Loop" (with Ant TC1) maintains the soulful tendencies but with much more of a barbed touch as DRS lays down his lyrical raw emotion. Both are absolutely stunning.
Review: Phaction is without a doubt one of the most talented producers in D&B at the moment, with a genuinely diverse back catalogue and a talent for deftness that's unmatched by many. This is his debut EP on the legendary Metalheadz and it sees him taking his sound in a darker direction, away from the usual liquid haunts and into proper Headz territory. The title track shows that right from the off, a barrelling mix of wispy sampling and forceful back end construction. 'Aviatrix' seems him returning to business with past collaborator Riya in hugely atmospheric fashion, rumbling sound-scapes abound and grating basses fill in the gaps for a tune that walks the boundary between light and dark. Definitely the highlight of an outstanding release.
Review: Total Science and Jubei releasing a joint single on Metalheadz is about as legendary a combination as you can get, isn't it? The three artists have shaken their heads together and come out with a classic old-school release that relies on a thick sense of rough vibrancy in all areas of production. You can feel the history on this one. 'Reality Check' is the roller of the single and boy, you really can't beat the weight of the drum sounds on this one and the percussion is the main attraction here: rough and ready to roll. 'Redemption' is steppier and more breaksy but no less fluid, with a groaning pulse of a back end and a rave-influenced synth line which contrasts beautifully with the lows. The boys are back.
Review: Metalheadz crack open a fresh bottle of 2019 and spray it all over the shop with the effortless class of Grey Code. Previously spotted on Dispatch and Demand, here the Bristol producer levels up once again with his broadest, most startling release to date. If the big synth flourishes of "Pearl" don't knock you off your feet with cosmic glee, the orchestral swoops and drama of "Kings Rock" most certainly will. You'll stay KO'd for the duration of the EP as he continues to draw out more science; "Saturn" is pure tech wizardry that nods respectfully to the late 90s while "Ethics" is a powerful intergalactic trip with futurist technoid elements. Concluding the generous six track EP are the incredible deep dream euphoria of "Head State" (with Phase) and the planet bounding funk of "Piece Of Me". Outstanding D&B craftmanship here. No reprieve, no surrender.
Review: Metalheadz are back, back again with another jungle EP (what else?), and this time it's the job of Jem-One to be in the hot-seat. We're not overly familiar with this man, but that doesn't stop this release being a non-stop array of steady bangers. The cool sort of bangers too, not the ones you see on Facebook. 'The Volume' epitomizes this and as snarling reeces and blackish suspense conflagrate into bottomed out breaks, you're left wondering how Metalheadz manages to make such forward-thinking music that sounds like it was recorded twenty years ago. That combination of eras and styles is endemic to this release, and that's why it's just so, so good.
Review: Last spotted on Metalheadz in spring 2017, longtime sparring partners Paradox & Nucleus return to the mothership with more timeless examples of precision vibe conjuring. Both weighing in at almost seven minutes, neither "Arcopia" or "Azha" cut any corners. The atmospheric former ripples with restraint, lava-like funk and strong traces of Detroit techno in its DNA. The latter, meanwhile, is a much darker tunnelling piece of work, all tubular, metallic and more haunted than a mucky night on the Ouija boards. Breakbeat premiership class.
Review: Having cut his teeth on IM:LTD, Warm and DSCI4 it was only a matter of time before the ice slab bruises and shards of Quartz crashed down on the Headz mothership. And man do they hit hard. Six tracks in total (with two collabs with Survey and Gremlinz) every cut strikes the soul... The pulsating electrical current of "Hall Of Mirrors", the vicious halftime data spikes and caustic code cascades of "Oblong Druid" (with Gremlinz) and the grumbling, rumbling dungeon echoes of "Ghastly" are just three of the many highlights here.