I had only intended to write a couple of quick posts about the best upcoming albums due out during 2015. The only problem is, there are too many potentially strong releases to fit into just two posts, so here’s a third. 2015 really does look like a monster.
A rising star in the UK prog scene, the youngsters came almost out of nowhere in 2013 and wowed me with their impressive debut album, ‘Rubidium’. So much so, I felt compelled to interview them. I loved the blend of technicality, melody and sheer variety, that was occasionally reminiscent of early Pain Of Salvation. Utilising both male and female vocals was a master stroke, providing a relatively unique flavour to an already impressive recipe. To say I’m looking forward to album number two is an understatement.
Yet another band that came out of nowhere a couple of years ago and impressed me with a cracking debut, ‘The Interpreter’. The brainchild of Threshold guitarist Pete Morten, it comes as no surprise that here is a band that can write sophisticated and properly engaging progressive metal that’s satisfyingly intricate but that has more than enough earworms to reel listeners in time and again for repeated listens. As such, it goes without saying that I’m very much looking forward to a sophomore release in 2015.
It feels like an absolute age since Swedish metallers Darkwater released their last album, the thoroughly enjoyable ‘Where Stories End’. The follow-up was scheduled for a 2014 release but has slipped into 2015. I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait though and we’ll be treated to another excellent album full of synth-heavy epic, memorable and darkly-tinged melodic progressive metal. This band are so good, I even wrote an entire blog post about them!
Swedish melodic progressive metal band Cloudscape have been plugging away in the relative underground for a number of years now, having released four albums to date. For those in the know, the name Cloudscape has become synonymous with extremely solid and enjoyable melodic hard rock/ metal with a slightly progressive edge. And, having watched Mike Andersson teasing us on social media of late about the upcoming 2015 release, it has made me realise how interested I am about hearing some new material – I’m certain that it’ll be of a high standard.
I’m not normally the biggest thrash metal fan to be perfectly honest. However, UK based Triaxis are one of the exceptions to my rule that if it’s not the big four it’s not worth listening to. Triaxis are a female-dominated thrashy heavy metal band that delivers very well written and professionally executed music, full of power, passion and tons of enthusiasm. Most recent album ‘Rage And Retribution’ was a belter and so the bar has been set very high. However, I am certain that the bar will be cleared in 2015 and with it, Triaxis might just break into the big time where they belong.
I think I must be one of a very small group of prog metal fans that doesn’t count Dream Theater as one of his favourites. Arguably the inventors of the modern prog metal genre, I enjoy much of the American’s extensive back catalogue, but not all of it. Maybe I’ve got Dream Theater burn-out? I didn’t listen to last album, the self-titled ‘Dream Theater’ very much but loved ‘A Dramatic Turn Of Events’ before it. Nevertheless, I always greet a new album with interest and hope that 2015 brings with it a reignition of my love for Dream Theater.
If you’re after a band that can combine melodic death metal, thrash and a healthy dose of prog-laced technicality, then Darkane are the no-brainer choice. Savage, brutal, majestic and subtly melodic, the Swedish extreme metallers have delivered quality music time and time again over their six album career. ‘Expanding Senses’ released in 2002 remains my favourite but only by a gnats whisker. And it’s entirely possible that the new album out this year will push it closer than ever, delighting us all once again.
Sound of Contact
Rather foolishly, I omitted the debut album from Sound of Contact from my top 20 albums of 2013. In my defence, time constraints meant that I didn’t get a chance to listen to it as much as I wanted. But over the last year or so, I have consistently returned to ‘Dimensionaut’ and love it more and more each time I listen. Sound of Contact offer some of the richest, most memorable and indulgent progressive rock of recent times, meaning that a new album in 2015 has to be a highly anticipated event to pencil onto my calendar.
My Dying Bride
My Dying Bride are quite possibly my favourite Gothic doom metal band and have been a big part of my extreme metal-listening life ever since I discovered ‘Like God’s of the Sun’ back in 1996. I love the mixture of bone crushingly heavy slow riffs and the morose yet rather romantic imagery. Add in both growled and clean vocals as well as a well-placed sombre violin and the whole thing is very special indeed.
For very good reason, Omnium Gatherum’s last album ‘Beyond’ came a very close second in the race for my favourite album of 2013. It was a superlative album that brilliantly juxtaposed brutal death metal with sophisticated and instantly memorable hook-laden AOR melodies. It perfectly scratched my itch for both heavy and anthemic music. I really can’t wait for the next installment from these highly talented Finns.
I remember reading a quote for Arcturus’ 1997 album, ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ that described the music as ‘idiosyncratically beautiful’. I bought it, loved it and have kept that description in my mind ever since. Arcturus are vaguely black metal but try their best to disguise it with progressive and avant-garde leanings. In so doing, Arcturus really do manage to create a unique sound that genuinely defies pigeon-holing. You never know quite what you’re going to get and, for me, that makes the prospect of a new record very exciting indeed.