Metal Update – 17 February 2018

Welcome to today’s newsletter style round-up of the most exciting happenings in the world of metal in the last few days, specifically regarding new albums and new material.

If you are interested in checking out any of the previous posts in this series, click the link here.

Otherwise, dive in and I hope there’s something new or of interest here for you.

Kingcrow – The Persistence
Release date: TBC

The silence remains deafening from the Italians in terms of a possible release date for ‘The Persistence’, but you know me, I have persistence too – see what I did there?! – and so I’ll keep mentioning Kingcrow’s new album until I get some firm news. That way, my dear loyal readers, you’ll feel the hype and be just as psyched as I am when this finally sees the light of day.

In the meantime, allow me to remind you of the teaser clip that the band released some time ago:

A.C.T. – TBC
Release date: TBC

Just a day or so ago, a new video was released to give us a real teaser taste of new A.C.T. material. What we get is the isolated backing vocal tracks from a portion of a song but even this sounds really great and intriguing too.

A.C.T. have always been a band that pride themselves in lacing their progressive art rock with layers of vocals – to me, this is one of the aspects of their sound that sets them apart from others. As this clip demonstrates, the Swedes are in a class of their own in this regard.

I loved ‘Circus Pandemonium’ concluding my review of it in the following manner:

“…put as simply as I am able, this is art rock at its very best. Progressive in nature, it flits from idea to idea with gay abandon but manages to keep the central core intact, namely creating memorable music that defies labels but which is memorable, entertaining and technically superb. You can’t do that and pull it off so sensationally well without being a very special band indeed. And that’s exactly what A.C.T. are: a very special band indeed.”

Whether or not the band can eclipse ‘Circus Pandemonium’ remains to be seen, but I await further news of this currently un-named follow-up extremely eagerly now.

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Soilwork – TBC
Release date: TBC

I mentioned Soilwork in the first part of my ‘most anticipated of 2018’ series, such is my love for this band. Alongside the likes of Dark Tranquillity and Omnium Gatherum, they are at the very top of the melodeath genre as far as I am concerned. Led by vocalist extraordinaire Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, each of their albums contains something that I love. Be it the more accessible albums such as ‘Figure Number Five’ or the more extreme output within the likes of ‘The Panic Broadcast’, the Helsingborg-based band always seem to deliver high quality material.

At the turn of the year, we were greeting with a message: “HAPPY NEW YEAR SOILWORKERS!!!
WHO’S READY FOR NEW MUSIC IN 2018?”

Since then, we’ve had a post to state: “Drum parts for the new album are taking shape…”, alongside this photo:

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And then, just a couple of days ago, came the following picture alongside the caption: “Writing sweet melodic tunes for you all! Who’s ready for a new Soilwork album?” I can’t wait to hear what these superb Swedes have in store for us with their new album now!

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Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Release date: 23 March 2018

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Out of the ashes of the mighty Bolt Thrower, Memoriam has risen. And, almost a year to the day since they released their hugely impressive debut album, ‘For The Fallen’, the UK death metal juggernaut return with their sophomore album, ‘The Silent Vigil’.

And very recently, the band released the artwork above, courtesy of Dan Seagrave, along with a new trailer video. Carl Willetts discusses the artwork and the lyrical content, which I found very interesting and worthy of sharing:

There is also the small matter of a new song too. Entitled ‘Bleed the Same’, I am convinced that it will set the juices flowing of most, if not all fans of brutal death metal. It’s a hefty slab of extreme music that ensures I am very excited about getting my ears around the full album in the fullness of time. Check it out here:

Alcest – TBC
Release date: TBC

The last two Alcest albums, ‘Shelter’ (2014) and ‘Kodama’ (2016) blew me away. Mind you, pretty much all of the band’s five albums have made a hugely positive impact upon me. I am a sucker for the ‘blackgaze’ movement, where the ambient, soothing melodies of shoegaze are juxtaposed with the raw intensity and heaviness of black metal. When done well, it can be sensational and, in my opinion, Alcest have blossomed into the very best exponents of the genre.

‘Kodama’ made such an impression on me, that it easily bagged a spot in my top 10 for 2016. As I stated in my review:

“‘Kodama’ truly is one of the most bewitching and beautiful albums I have heard in quite a while, full of sublime melodies, juxtaposing musical ideas and rich textures, pulled together through powerful themes that touch on the conflicting emotions of sorrow and joy. ‘Kodama’ is stunning.”

So when Alcest mastermind Neige took to social media to publish the photo below and announce that he was ‘Working on new music’, I was delighted. I have no further news to bring you right now, but the mere fact that we have confirmation that new material is being written, that’ll do for me. I hope you agree.

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Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – ‘Hugsjá’
Release date: 20 April 2018

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I’m not normally the biggest fan of this kind of music, but when Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved and Einar Selvik of Wardruna are involved, I am willing to make an exception. And then when I heard the first single from the new album, ‘Hugsjá’, I knew that this was something I had to mention in this newsletter post.

I will admit that I missed out on their first collaboration which went by the name of ‘Skuggsjá’. As such, I can’t really compare them. But what I am struck by with this song is just how incredibly honest, atmospheric and beautifully raw it is. The power within the music is very intense too and if this is a fair marker for the entire record, I can’t wait to hear more and be able to offer you my thoughts on it. For now though, enjoy the title track, ‘Hugsjá’:

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