My most anticipated releases of 2018 – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my annual mini-series gazing into my crystal ball and rounding up my most anticipated album releases of 2018. Part 1 brought quite a few comments and excited exclamations about my choices, so it is clear that there’s an appetite for these posts. As such, I shall continue.

Long term readers might begin to notice a few ‘deja-vu’ moments this year because many of my picks from 2017 failed to come to fruition. Therefore these bands have to be mentioned again in the hope that the stars finally align and we see the new material that I, and so many others, crave.

So here we go:

Andromeda – TBC
Release date: TBC

In my identical series last year, I was convinced that 2017 would be the year that we’d see a new album from progressive metal band par excellence Andromeda. After all, by then we’d waited five long years since the release of the exceptionally strong ‘Manifest Tyranny’. It is an album I still listen to on a frequent basis and I’d dearly love a follow-up.

In May 2017, the Swedes took to social media to apologise for a lack of updates and to confirm that vocal recordings for a new album were scheduled. But since then, it has been yet more silence.

So why am I so desperate for more new material from Andromeda? Well, as I said last year: “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’.” I’ve not changed my mind in the interim and so I’m still hoping we see something in 2018.

Subsignal – La Muerta
Release date: TBC

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This magnificent German progressive rock band has been teasing us for well over a year now. They originally promised a new album in 2017 but that never materialised. That means that we must surely have the finished product with us in 2018. There is no release date as yet but all of the posts on social media suggest that the album is just about done. A post released today even gave us what I believe is a sneak peek at the booklet artwork, together with lyrics for a song called ‘When All The Trains Are Sleeping’.

I just love the way that Subsignal manage to create such rich and beautiful music whilst also making it sound sophisticated, intelligent and quite often very moving. With a mature ear for melody, the ability of these Germans to craft elegant music with heart is astounding. Ever since Subsignal emerged from the more progressive ashes of Sieges Even, they have barely put a foot wrong. I can’t see ‘La Muerta’ being any different when it finally sees the light of day. In the meantime, enjoy the snippets below to whet your appetite.

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Swallow the Sun – TBC
Release date: TBC

Gloom. Beauty. Despair. These three words perfectly sum up the musical output of Finnish melodic death/doom metal band Swallow The Sun. I have followed the career of this incredible band since the very beginning and as such, I have seen them mature and grow into one of the finest bands of their ilk on the planet. In fact, if I want to listen to some sophisticated and beautiful, yet crushing heavy metal, Swallow The Sum are my go-to band.

They released the sensational ‘Songs From The North’ in 2015 so you’d think we should be in line for a new record. However, given that this record was a triple-disc affair with the better part of three hours of new material, I’m not so sure. I might cut them some slack. Unfortunately, I’m such a huge fan of Swallow the Sun, that I’m itching for some new material. There’s absolutely no mention of a new record during 2018 but I can live in hope, can’t I?

Pagan’s Mind – TBC
Release date: TBC

I remember being blown away by ‘Celestial Entrance’ when first I heard it. I loved the blend of technical, progressive material that sat shoulder-to-shoulder with plenty of melody and an intriguing sci-fi feel. Fast forward a few years and it would be ‘God’s Equation’ that would be the first recipient of a perfect score whilst writing for Powerplay Magazine. It is fair to say that I highly regard this band from Skien in Norway.

Over the years, the music has become a little less progressive and a little more melodic, certainly as far as these old ears are concerned. However, what hasn’t changed is the quality of the music that the band writes and performs. And the icing on the cake is vocalist Nils K. Rue, who owns one of the most powerful and striking voices in heavy metal.

On Christmas Eve, the Norwegians posted the clip below alongside a promise to release their new album in 2018. No release date, album title or other information has been given to us, but the promise of a new record is enough for me right now.

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The Neal Morse Band – TBC
Release date: TBC

A few years ago and I’d have not really given this band a first thought. To be honest, the religious content would have been enough to put me off. However, a few years ago, I checked out ‘The Grand Experiment’ and liked it. Then, in 2016, I put my prejudices aside once and for all to check out ‘The Similitude of a Dream’ having yet again heard some positive noises about it. As a prog rock fan, I felt I had to see what all the fuss was about. It was a decision I did not regret as I found it to be a very high quality record full of epic progressive rock that resonated with me more than I thought it would. It also helped that Neal Morse was surrounded by a cast of hugely talented musicians including Mike Portnoy and guitarist Eric Gillette.

It was a good day when I stumbled upon the following post by bassist Randy George a couple of days ago: “On my way to Nashville to write and record the next Neal Morse Band album… it will be great to see everyone again!” Of course, albums like these don’t come quickly, so it remains to be seen whether or not a 2018 release is even possible. But the fact that the writing and recording process is underway gives me reason to hope.

My most anticipated releases of 2018 – Part 1
An early sneak peek at what’s coming in 2018

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