Today I bring you the second part of my “Half-Way Through 2013 – The Best So Far” series. The aim is to re-cap on the year in rock and metal so far by highlighting some of the best releases so far.
If you want to check out “Part 1”, it can be found here: Half-Way Through 2013 – The Best So Far – Part 1
So, today’s choices:
Kingcrow – “In Crescendo”
If you’re looking for some melodic progressive metal that is both intelligent but not mind-bendingly complex, Kingrow could be for you. Unbelievably, given their undeniable quality yet relatively unknown status, “In Crescendo” is album number x for the Italians. However, quite rightly, their reputation is starting to really grow in prog circles.
“In Crescendo” is brilliant. The album is chock full of interesting tempo changes and intriguing song structures and there’s also plenty of drama too. However, the strength of Kingcrow is two-fold. Firstly the band writes fantastic songs full of emotion, power and melody. Secondly, the in-house production means that this is one of the best sounding progressive metal albums that I have ever heard. This collection of excellently written songs is delivered with a clarity that adds a whole new dimension to the music.
Dark Tranquillity – “Construct”
This is one band that needs no introduction. One of the very first bands to dabble with the idea of a more melodic form of death metal and thereby a co-creator of what has become known as the ‘Gothenburg Sound’ Dark Tranquillity return with the tenth album of their lengthy career.
After a couple of darker, more technical and arguably less accessible releases, “Construct” sees the Swedes take a more straightforward and atmospheric road. It is an album that shares much in common with “Projector” in that the vocals stray more readily into clean territory and the core of the tracks are more simply constructed. Nevertheless, there is plenty in the way of aggression to calm those who may have thought that Dark Tranquillity had lost their rough edges. Feedback thus far has been mixed, but in my opinion, “Construct” is a fantastic record, one that delivers enjoyment on each and every listen.
Big Big Train – “English Electric Part 2”
Anyone who kindly read my review of “English Electric Part 1” will not be surprised to see “English Electric Part 2” feature in this series of posts.
This album picks up where its predecessor left off in so far as the music is best described as quintessentially English pastoral progressive rock that takes the listener on a journey from beginning to end. And, if anything, “English Electric Part 2” ups the bar even further. For my money, the compositions are slightly more melodic and accessible than those on “Part 1” although the complexity remains as does the passion and dedication from each and every member of the band.
You may hear nods towards the likes of early Genesis in some of the compositions, but genuinely, Big Big Train have their own unique and special identity. This really is classic English progressive rock at its very finest.
W.E.T. – “Rise Up”
This band, along with a couple of others, is the main reason why I have embraced melodic hard rock over the last couple of years. I always thought it was a little cheesy, something that firmly belonged in the 80s unless you were of a certain vintage. Well, I admit that I was wrong. Yes, there is a lot of cheese to be found within the genre but when it’s done properly, it can be a great source of feel-good music.
Featuring the immense vocal talents of Jeff Scott Soto as well as basist/keyboardist Erik Martensson and guitarist Robert Sall, the band was named after the musician’s other bands, namely Work Of Art, Eclipse and Talisman.
“Rise Up” continues where the self-titled debut left off. As such, the album benefits from excellent song writing which delivers huge choruses, hooks big enough to catch the Loch Ness Monster and allows for great, yet understated musicianship all round. And Soto’s voice…if you’ve not heard the guy sing, you’ve been missing out, trust me.