Welcome to my third and final post summarising the best releases during the first half of 2016. If you’ve missed parts 1 and 2, here are the links:
But onto the main event – the final six albums worthy of an extra-special mention at the half-way point of the year.
Frost* – Falling Satellites
It has taken around eight years for a new Frost* album to surface but all is forgiven, because ‘Falling Satellites’ has proven to be well worth the wait. Blending progressive rock with flashes of the mainstream and a rich, cinematic vibe, this record demonstrates just how accomplished Frost* really are as musicians and songwriters. It’s not always immediate, but when it grabs hold, it doesn’t let go.
“For my money, I’d have to say that ‘Falling Satellites’ could just be Frost*’s best album to date. It has a little of just about everything that I want in my progressive rock; it’s well-written, excellently performed and is just a little bit odd and quirky too. In a year that has delivered plenty of quality already and threatens to continue the trend to the year end, ‘Falling Satellites’ has really caught my attention and thoroughly deserves to be in contention for a spot in my end of year ‘best of’ list.” – read my full review here: Frost* – Falling Satellites
Long Distance Calling – Trips
The more I listen to ‘Trips’, the more I like it, to the point where I have serious difficulties in removing it from my stereo. Returning with a new singer and a slightly new approach, German quartet Long Distance Calling have created something quite magical and utterly addictive. ‘Trips’ is a bold album, rooted vaguely in the post-rock genre but adds textures, tones and sounds that are fascinating, absorbing and thoroughly unique.
“…‘Trips’ by Long Distance Calling is easily one of the best albums I have had the pleasure of hearing in 2016. Genres be damned, it is the music that counts and the feelings it invokes. On that score, ‘Trips’ is a resounding success, a masterpiece and easily the best of their career to date.” – read my full review here: Long Distance Calling – Trips
Be’lakor – Vessels
How had I never checked this band out before? I am still kicking myself about this massive oversight on my part. Aggressive riffs, an uncompromising rhythm section and wonderfully gruff growls combine with subtle progressive tendencies, elegant melodies and synth-driven atmospheres to create a multi-layered and hugely engaging sonic experience that has impressed me immensely from the very first spin.
“Be’lakor and ‘Vessels’ is the biggest and most exciting melodic death metal discovery I have made in the last year or so, maybe longer. They do everything that I like in my metal and they do it extremely well. I am well and truly converted to the Be’lakor cause and I cannot sing their praises highly enough…” – read my full review here: Be’lakor – Vessels
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Any band that features ex-members of Katatonia has to be worth checking out, right? But nepotism aside, October Tide are the real deal if ‘Winged Waltz’ is anything to go by. This is sophisticated melodic doomy death metal that pulls you in to their dark and bleak world with stealth and guile, not to mention a fair amount of fragile beauty.
“If, like me, you have a weakness for doomy death metal with melodic and subtle progressive leanings, make ‘Winged Waltz’ a priority, because it demands your immediate attention.” – – read my full review here: October Tide – Winged Waltz
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
As a huge fan of Headspace’s debut album, ‘I Am Anonymous’, I couldn’t wait to hear the long-awaited follow-up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t love at first listen. In fact, I distinctly disliked some of the songs. It wasn’t heavy enough, the instant melodies were not there…and then I listened some more. Now, I love ‘All That You Fear Is Gone’; there is a certain something about it that shines through the more I listen. It is progressive, intelligent and ultimately very rewarding.
“After a very rocky start, I have finally and fully fallen under the spell of ‘All That You Fear Is Gone’. It isn’t a part two of ‘I Am Anonymous’ and for that reason some will go away disappointed. I was nearly one of those people. However, if you’re willing to persevere and listen to ‘All That You Fear Is Gone’ on its own considerable merits and accept that it has an identity all of its own, the chances are that you too will end up loving it and will willingly take it to your heart.” – read my full review here: Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
When a musician within an already established and well-respected band puts out a debut solo record, you hope it’ll be good and match the quality of the day job. In the case of the Redemption drummer Chris Quirarte, this is exactly the case. Sufficiently different yet rooted in prog metal, Quirarte shows off his skills as a percussionist, singer and songwriter to great effect.
“‘I’ve always been in the back, in the shadows. I’m ready to take a step forward.’ So says Chris Quirarte on his Kickstarter web page and accompanying press release. I couldn’t agree more because with ‘Mending Broken Bridges’, he has transformed himself from just a drummer into a solo artist and song-writer of real quality. If you’re a fan of progressive music, do yourself a favour and check this debut record out as soon as possible.” – read my full review here: Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges