Now that I have completed my round-up of the best releases from January to June 2018, it is time to turn my attention to the future and to what’s ahead in the final six months of the year. Judging by the list that I have steadily compiled, there’s some mouth-watering music on its way. So let’s dive in with the first handful of releases that I can’t wait for:
Release date: 7 September 2018
Finally, finally, finally. After months of no news and total silence, I can confirm that the Italian progressive rock/metal band will return with their eagerly-anticipated follow-up to the excellent ‘Eidos’ on 7th September. Entitled ‘The Persistence’, it will be released via the excellently supportive Sensory Records and, from what I have heard of it (i.e. the entire album), it is almost certainly going to feature highly on my end-of-year list.
The thing that Kingcrow do so well is that they manage to combine technicality with a grace and beauty that means that you often don’t realise just how complex the songs are. You find yourself singing along, oblivious to the odd time signature or subtly clever rhythms. And the emotion that the band manages to convey is incredible, adding depth and human authenticity to the music. Just wait until you hear this album – trust me, you’re going to love it.
‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’
Metal Blade Records
Release date: 27 July 2018
It’s all change in the world of Redemption of late, but what hasn’t changed is my love of this band and my anticipation for the new album. Entitled ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’, it is due for release on 27th July 2018 via Metal Blade.
I mentioned change and the biggest, most eye-catching change is in the vocal department. Out has gone Ray Alder and in has strode Evergrey’s Tom Englund. As you know, I’m a huge fan of Englund’s voice and so if Alder had to depart, I can think of no-one better to replace him. The other change sees Vikram Shankar join the ranks of the American progressive metal band, lending his enormous and exquisite key skills to the overall sound that’s always full of blazing riffs, strong rhythms and lashings of emotion. I seriously cannot wait to hear the entire beast, because the clips alone have got me salivating. Bring it on!
Release date: TBC
If new releases from Kingcrow and Redemption are not enough to sate your prog thirst, then there’s also the small matter of a new Haken record to look forward to. This, on its own, would mean that 2018 would be a special year, as Haken are one of those bands that can do no wrong and who astound and delight fans with each and every new release. Never standing still, never willing to settle for second-best or ‘that’ll do’, Haken strive to create something truly unique whenever they head into the studio.
The stable line-up has naturally helped, but at the end of the day, Haken are comprised of some of the most talented musicians right now anywhere in the progressive music world. Their live shows, as evidenced via their recent live release, ‘L-1VE’, are getting tighter and ever-more impressive and their quest to blend old, new and the unheard-of means that they can only become more popular. This is bitter-sweet for me, having been around right at the beginning, but the success is well-deserved and I predict this new album will propel Haken even further into the limelight where their talent belongs.
‘The Burning Cold’
Century Media Records
Release date: 31 August 2018
Over the years, Omnium Gatherum have grown into a formidable force as far as I’m concerned. Their self-coined ‘adult-oriented death metal’ has become essential to me, having started life as just another in a long line of decent melodeath bands. I just love the blend of crushing heaviness and gorgeous, ultra-melodic choruses and the way it is all pulled together by one of the best growls in the business, courtesy of Jukka Pelkonen. No clean singing here, it’s brutal all the way. And I think that’s definitely part of the success of Omnium Gatherum.
I therefore have massive expectations for their new album, entitled ‘The Burning Cold’. From the snippets I have heard so far, the riffs are as excellent as ever, as are the solos and the embellishment that make the music of Omnium Gatherum so special for me. It is due to be released on 31st August via Century Media Records – expect a review as soon as I get my grubby paws on the record. Just take a listen to the first single below and tell me this isn’t a special song…