Review: Do us a favour plug us into a Zega... The man, the myth, the dubstep don, J:Kenzo lands on Metalheadz and not one of us are surprised... He's been teasing us with his D&B appreciation and craftsmanship on his radio shows and through releases on the likes of 31 for some time now. Naturally this is the summit of his 170 explorations so far and it's an exhilarating peak. Highlights include the glacial tension and rolling drum thunder of 'Tiger Moth' and the stripped-back curmudgeonly grizzles of 'An Uncharted Vision' but the whole EP is pure ice. What a crucial way to kick off a new year.
Review: Following massive albums 'Orkyd Project' and 'High Fives & Devil Eyes', Script and Survival return with their third LP and it's an absolute hoot. Maintaining their high benchmark for journey-like experiences that are rich in emotion and soaked in big references that celebrate the last 30 years of D&B culture, 'The Road Less Travelled' is a whirlwind trip around some of the most exciting and uncompromising corners of drum & bass. 'Caterpillar' doffs its cap to Virus, 'Bravo Tango' is all about the big old bruising classic Bristol sound while 'Santa Cruz' winks saucily at movements like Creative Source... these are just three examples. Complete with a range of interesting and experimental skit-like shorts, there's a real flow and timeless feel to this. The way an album should be!
Review: Having appearing on their line-ups and various sublabels, Toronto tear-up artist Peter NC-17 finally gets his full Headz debut with 'State Of Grace', an uncompromising four-piece that leaves no stone unturned and pulls no punches. The title track says it all with its savage riff and rattling techno-like drums. Deeper into the EP we hit pure drumfunk magic on 'Jimmy The Great', we go full heads-down mode on 'Act Of Rage' and Christmas comes early with the pure drama of 'Santa Sangre'. Gracefully aggressive.
Review: There's a time to live, a time to die and a time to drop some insane science on the dancefloor courtesy of some of the most consistent and dedicated breaksmiths of the game; Ink, Loxy and Resound. Three cuts, each from a different combo... Loxy and Ink set the scene with the ice cold 'Irrelevant' before Resound joins the fray for the haunted creeper 'Token'. For added funk and good gully measure, Ink's crucial 'Mahogany Jazz' is also included on this heavyweight EP. Massive.
Review: Having previously released on the likes of Icarus Audio, P Lab and Subplate, Aussie artist Jaise levels up with this massive debut on Metalheadz. Hitting the label spot perfectly with a precision balance of soul, emotion and hardcore futurism, the drama is palpable from the off as the chords ease us into submission on 'Backwards Step' before 'In Conversation' takes us into cinematic overload. Deeper into the EP we glide to hit the ravy stabs and cataclysmic pressure of the title track 'The Client' before 'Delete Completed' closes the EP with vast swathes of tension. What a label debut!
Review: In case you're new to this drum & bass malarky, or you've been asleep for the last 30 years, when it comes to D&B albums then Metalheadz is one of the best. Dealing strictly in journeys, adventures and detailed peaks into the artists' psyche, they're built to last and work well on both dancefloors and on headphones / at home. Take Phase's long-awaited debut here. Following opuses from the like of Mikal, Blocks & Escher and Agzilla, the Belgian talent whips up a creative storm that ranges from the hard rave KOs of 'Stress Out' to the wonderful ambient bliss of 'Flowstone' and back again. Essential.
Review: Not to be confused with Mufasa's evil bitter brother in Lion King, Survival and Script's Scar alias is one of the flagship acts in Metalheadz premiership and this is their first new material since their pre-lockdown album High Fives & Devil Eyes. Heavyweight as ever, each track punches with both emotional and physical energy. Highlights include the toxic sludge bassline on 'Why', the pristine Good Looking dreaminess and gorgeous flutes on 'All I See' and the hurricane soul of the finale track with Ella Sopp 'Falling Down'. High grade material.
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.