Given the abundance of quality music already released during 2015, it is hard to believe that we are only halfway through the year. It has been that good, I already have a quality top 20 albums that could easily populate my end of year list. But for those who broadly share my tastes in music, strap yourselves in because there’s a ton of new material coming our way. Here’s a quick guide to the albums that I am looking forward to hearing – not all are guaranteed to see the light of day during 2015, but many are and the rest are best guesses/dreaming on my part. Nevertheless, here goes:
Symphony X – Underworld
First up is a bit of a cheat seeing as I’ve already heard it and submitted a review elsewhere. However, for many, this is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year. American progressive metallers Symphony X are not the most prolific of bands when it comes to new material, so every album is greeted with huge excitement and massive expectation. All I will say, rather cryptically, is that if you’re an existing fan of any era of Symphony X, you’re very unlikely to be disappointed. Trust me.
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
A band that I’ve got into in more recent times, I’m extremely excited to hear this new album from progressive rock band Spock’s Beard. Never ones to release music that is in any way substandard, the band are consummate professionals with an attention to detail within their warm, welcoming and complex compositions. Those who have heard the first track to be released off the album will no doubt share my well-placed optimism.
Soilwork – The Ride Majestic
Swedish melodic metal stalwarts Soilwork rarely disappoint and, regardless of the numerous line-up issues that they have experienced of late, their output has remained of the highest standard. Again, I’ve been lucky enough to hear this album ahead of it’s release and, as with Symphony X above, the results are impressive. I can say no more ahead of my official review elsewhere except to say that I’m enjoying the listening experience.
Wolverine – TBC
There are few acts out there that manage to offer progressive rock/metal that is so complex, rich, grandiose and full of gritty melancholy. Their last album, ‘Communication Lost’ is a marvellous album that is dark, sombre and very poignant, to the point that it can sometimes be a difficult listen depending on your mood. However, the music itself is fantastic, managing to be heavy and complicated yet subtle and very beautiful. No official word of a 2015 release, but I remain ever hopeful.
Swallow The Sun – TBC
Upon releasing the news that they have joined the Century Media label, Finnish purveyors of gloom, beauty and despair, Swallow The Sun confirmed that a new album would be released before the end of the year. And within the announcement came the quote: “We are currently working our hearts out in the studio recording an album that will come out later this year. All we can tell you at this point is that this is something that has not been done many times before, and maybe for a good reason.” Cryptic indeed, but very exciting also.
Riverside – Love, Fear And The Time Machine
After a couple of albums that failed to grab my attention, release number five, ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ blew me away. Chock full of brilliantly crafted, emotional and atmospheric progressive rock, it thoroughly reignited my enthusiasm for the Polish quartet. Can album number six, entitled ‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’ match or exceed its predecessor? I certainly hope so, but we’ll have to wait until September 4th to find out.
Earthside – A Dream In Static
I have had the distinct pleasure to interview Earthside and listen to a couple of tracks from this rookie band’s upcoming debut album, scheduled for release before the close of 2015. Everyone I have given the heads-up to has listened to the tracks and had the same reaction as me: ‘wow’! If the entire album, entitled ‘A Dream In Static’ matches up to the quality of what’s been released thus far, we have a contender for album of the year. I kid you not. These guys are special.
Omnium Gatherum – TBC
“Melancholic Finns laying down some last melancholic notes for the new album. Heads down, we’re almost there at the end of the road.” It’s an announcement from the band that would suggest a new album will be with us very soon. My second favourite album of 2013, the new disc will have to go some to beat the melodic death metal perfection that was ‘Beyond’. However, in Omnium Gatherum, I trust and expect nothing but magnificence. No pressure then guys.
Katatonia – TBC
Is it foolish hope or fanboy enthusiasm to hope for a new Katatonia record during the latter stages of 2015? Whatever definition you give it, my fingers remain firmly crossed that the Swedish masters of dark and melancholic metal return with another collection of original music before the year is out. There’s been nothing official, but I have a hunch that something is in the offing.
Haken – TBC
Is it too much to ask? Probably. I know that album number 4 is in the writing stage, but I think even the magicians within Haken will find it tough to release another monster album in 2015. Still, I mention them because they’re brilliant and a chap can dream, surely?!
My Soliloquy – TBC
Created from the mind of Threshold guitarist Pete Morten, it comes as no surprise that My Soliloquy 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 well as a great guitarist and songwriter, it turns out that Pete can sing well too. You can go off some people sometimes. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to hear what My Soliloquy offer up on their second album.
Sound of Contact – TBC
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. I still really enjoy their debut album ‘Dimensionaut’ and I’m hoping for another record of equal or superior quality; given the protagonists involved in the band and a return to their original line-up, this certainly isn’t a futile hope either.
Darkane – TBC
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. The more I listen to this band, the more I like them and realise what an impossibly brilliant band they are. Darkane’s new album has become one of my most eagerly anticipated.
Cloudscape – TBC
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. Vocalist Mike Andersson has taken to social media over the past few months to confirm a 2015 release and 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, as each album up to now has been.
Darkwater – TBC
The follow-up to the thoroughly excellent ‘Where Stories End’ from Swedish metallers Darkwater was scheduled for a 2014 release but has slipped into 2015 and there’s still no official release date as far as I can see. Oh well, 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.