Welcome to what I fully expect is the final part in my series looking at my most anticipated albums due out during 2016. You’d think that the quality would be drying up now having already picked 30 potentially great albums. But not a chance – as Part 4 demonstrates, there are still some top quality bands who are likely to release something new this year. And this is without all those great albums that come from leftfield and deliver the goods when I’ve not anticipated it.
If you missed parts 1-3, check them out via the links below:
And now, here we go with the final batch that I’ve selected for special attention in 2016:
Rotting Christ – Rituals
I’ve been a moderate fan of Greece’s Rotting Christ for many years but previous album, ‘Do What Thou Wilt’ turned me into a real fanatic. Crushing riffs, Sakis’ distinctive vocals, relatively simple song constructions and ominous atmospheres are all present and correct but in a number of ways, the ante was upped significantly to create a killer album, worthy of a place in my Top 20 of 2013. The inclusion of even more ethnic influences in a great improvement in my opinion, as is the honing of the melodies which help to counteract and soften some of the aggression and ferocity throughout. Rotting Christ may not be the most overtly technical band in extreme metal realms but where some bands follow, Rotting Christ, to their immense credit, can genuinely be described as leaders.
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Anyone who has heard the most recent album from the Neal Morse band will be familiar with the name of Eric Gillette. Joining Morse in 2012, the sickeningly talented guitarist has made quite an impact. Not only can the guy play the guitar brilliantly, he can also tinkle the ivories and has a pretty decent voice as well. The guy isn’t even ugly to make up for it. I hate him! But seriously, backed up by a stellar group of musicians including Haken’s bassist Conner Green and keyboardist Diego Tejeida, as well as Thomas Lang on drums, this is one of my dark horses for 2016 and if it’s half as good as it sounds on paper, prog rock fans are in for a treat.
Ne Obliviscaris – Title ‘TBC’
I would venture to use the word ‘peerless’ when describing Australian extreme metallers Ne Obliviscaris. I know not of any other band that manages to create music as ambitious as this but with such apparent ease. The output from these guys is stunning; simple as that. The brutality of death metal duels with quieter, more subtle moments. Warp-speed tempos dominated by frenetic double-pedal drumming are juxtaposed by slower, more relaxed and soothing passages where a violin will make a welcome appearance, creating almost a folky vibe to the music. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, the music is often littered with some great prog moments and even more gorgeous melodies. Trust me, this needs to be heard to be believed and what better way than with a brand new album in 2016? It’s not guaranteed, but I live in hope.
Brutai – Title ‘TBC’
This is a new name for me, but one that has quite recently piqued my interest. I’ve been lucky enough to hear a little of what this promising young UK band has to offer and I like what I hear. On a first listen, I’d suggest that the music of Brutai is an interesting mix of Soilwork and Voyager wrapped up in just a little hint of metalcore to create that more modern-sounding sheen. The guitars are big, the rhythms huge and the attitude would appear just right to enable Brutai to come along in 2016 with a debut release and force large sections of the metal community to sit up and take notice. Watch this space…
Distorted Harmony – Title ‘TBC’
Israeli progressive metallers Distorted Harmony were one of the big surprises of 2014 for me. Their sophomore release, ‘Chain Reaction’ made an appearance high up my ‘best of’ list and rightly so. The debut was practically a Dream Theater clone but with ‘Chain Reaction’, it was as if the band threw away the rulebook from the days of the debut and promptly reinvented themselves. The results were rather stunning and so I am really excited to learn that there will be even more new material in 2016, via a brand new album. I’ve heard just a snippet of one track but given the quality that oozed from ‘Chain Reaction’, I am confident that the end result from Yoav Efron and Co. will be something rather special indeed.
Nothing More – Title ‘TBC’
Nothing More were an utter revelation for me a couple of years ago as it’s not the kind of music I’m normally into. It’s actually difficult to pigeon-hole Nothing More into one single genre, but for brevity, I’d say it’s modern hard rock that contains elements of nu-metal, djent and demonstrable pop-rock sensibilities. I’d normally, rather cruelly dismiss as plastic teenage ear candy, the likes of which can be heard on commercial radio stations the world over. I have been proved wrong, by Nothing More at least. What made their last self-titled album so strong in my opinion, was the combination of cocksure conviction from the band, a great song-writing nous and the inclusion of some of the biggest and catchiest choruses I’ve heard for quite a while. As a result I’m looking forward to the follow up immensely.
Alcest – Title ‘TBC’
Alcest began life as a post black metal band with plenty of atmosphere and a rawness at its heart. However, over time, things have changed to a point where you can only really hear fleeting glimpses of those black metal and post black metal roots. Instead, with ‘Shelter’, Alcest’s most recent album, the duo of Neige and Winterhalter experimented more with shoegaze, post-rock and a much more chilled-out, subtle and downright beautiful approach. So much so that Sigur Ros would be the most immediate reference point rather than any black metal bands. If you’re looking for something poignant and memorable, I’m placing my bets that this will be the band to check out sometime in 2016.
Andromeda – Title ‘TBC’
Another unsung and criminally underrated progressive metal band, Sweden’s Andromeda must be due a new album in 2016. It has been nearly five years since they released the jaw-droppingly fabulous ‘Manifest Tyranny’ and I for one cannot wait to see what they deliver next. The thing I love most about Andromeda is their ability to sound quirky and properly progressive yet somehow pull it all together and put the complexity into compositions that have surprising amounts of metal crunch, hooks and melodies, giving the tracks a feeling that they are songs and not just self-indulgent virtuoso workouts. Technical they may be, but impenetrable they are not and the whole thing just screams ‘class’.
Pain Of Salvation – Title ‘TBC’
Now this is a strange one. I adore the first handful of albums by Sweden’s Pain Of Salvation, so much so that I would refer to ‘The Perfect Element Pt.1’ and ‘Remedy Lane’ as progressive metal masterpieces. Since the release of these two records around the turn of the millennium however, things have taken a turn for the worse in my opinion. Ditching any pretence of metal in favour of a softer sound, the band has experimented in areas that don’t generally interest me. Upon the release of ‘Falling Home’ a couple of years ago, I declared that Pain Of Salvation were no longer of interest to me. I think I was a little premature though because however far they have strayed from the blueprint I like, it’s Pain Of Salvation and I will always be curious to hear new material. It’s more like curiosity as opposed to anticipation however.
Mercenary – Title ‘TBC’
All I have by way of confirmation of a new Mercenary album is a quote from their facebook site that says ‘good things are coming in 2016’. Coupled with the fact that we’ve had no new material from the Danish metal band for around three years, I’m putting everything together and hoping it means a new Mercenary album sometime this year. I certainly hope so because I love the blend of aggression, groove and melody that this melodeath band creates. It’s brutal yet catchy, not to mention frequently epic and anthemic. If this isn’t a winning combination, then I don’t know what is.