Welcome to the second instalment of my series looking ahead to some of the music that is still scheduled to come our way in the remainder of 2016.
If you missed Part 1, it can be accessed via the following link:
Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 1
However, on with the show and here are another few highlights that should be heading our way in the next five or six months…
Andromeda – TBC
Inner Wound Recordings
Another unsung and criminally underrated progressive metal band, Sweden’s Andromeda must be due a new album, their sixth, in 2016. Their social media updates suggest that the bass is fully recorded and this cannot be a bad sign. After all, 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’.
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Century Media Records
Mention the name of Dan Swano to most metal heads and it is guaranteed to provoke a response, with most going misty-eyed and weak at the knees. The ex-Nightingale bassist, vocalist and drummer has also had roles with Edge Of Sanity, Katatonia, Bloodbath and Pan.Thy.Monium to name a few. But above all, he is a multi-instrumentalist of real talent and there is precious little that he puts his name to that I and many others don’t instantly love. In fact his solo effort from 1998, ‘Moontower’ is utterly magnificent. With Witherscape, he is the drummer, keyboardist and vocalist and, having been lucky enough to hear ‘The Northern Santcuary’ in its entirety, he has yet again hit a home run. It is the blend of deep growls and impassioned clean voice on top of highly melodic but heavy death metal that hits a nerve for me and is sure to delight many in the coming weeks.
Seventh Wonder – TBC
Could 2016 be the year that we see a new album from this uber-talented Swedish band? Heck, I certainly hope so. Since the start of the year, they’ve announced a new record deal with Frontiers Records, and more recently we received confirmation that the new record is currently being recorded. so things appear very promising and exciting. With ‘Mercy Falls’ in 2008 and more latterly ‘The Great Escape’ a mere six years ago, Seventh Wonder have announced themselves as one of the very best prog metal bands on the planet. Blending tons of technicality with memorable melodies and almost pop-like vocal melodies, Seventh Wonder tick all the boxes and deliver a more than satisfying listening experience each and every time. There are some bands that can seemingly do no wrong and Seventh Wonder are one of those without doubt…except maybe releasing albums more timely of course!
Cynthesis – TBC
As I’ve gone on record as saying before, seemingly everything that the Tipton brothers touch turns to gold and Cynthesis is no different. Mind you, when you’re as sickeningly talented as these guys, that’s hardly surprising. We’ve already seen two albums under the Cynthesis moniker and when I spoke with the infectiously happy and friendly Jasun Tipton last year, he confirmed that the third Cynthesis album was written, thus completing a dystopian trilogy in the process. Cynthesis is the most atmospheric, melodic and sensitive of all of the bands that feature the Tipton brothers and I absolutely adore the atmosphere and the lashings of gorgeous melodies that are a feature of both ‘DeEvolution’ and ‘ReEvolution’ respectively. Given the preposterously brilliant technical prowess of the musicians involved, including vocalist Erik Rosvold, I expect nothing short of a sonic treat when finally the third Cynthesis instalment sees the light of day.
Pain Of Salvation – In The Passing Light Of Day
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. However, since making that rather sweeping statement, whispers have reached me to suggest that Pain of Salvation might be making a return to their heavier roots despite Daniel Gildenlow stating to me in interview that he couldn’t ever see a return to metal with PoS. If this is true and the rumours turn out to be true, this could be a very special release indeed. I can’t wait.
Brutai – 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. I have also witnessed the Londoners’ live show and have been equally impressed with the energy and passion of the band. In interview, this drive and hunger shone through, as well as a genuine sense of fun and excitement. 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 their attitude is laudable. I have a strong feeling that Brutai are a name that will turn many heads upon the release of their debut album, hopefully later in the year.
Alcest – 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, particularly now that we have confirmation that the new record is currently being mastered.
Nothing More – TBC
Eleven Seven Music Group
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, a smattering of djent and demonstrable pop-rock sensibilities. I’d normally, rather cruelly dismiss this sort of thing 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, even if a 2016 release remains touch and go.