Novena – Secondary Genesis – EP Review

Novena cover

Artist: Novena

Album Title: Secondary Genesis

Label: Independent Release

Date Of Release: 22 July 2016

Novena is the name of another band that you will want to have firmly on your radar if your musical weapon of choice is prog and progressive metal to be more accurate.

Novena, are a five piece that formed back in 2013 and is based in the south of England. Within their number, they boast one of the hottest properties in prog circles behind the mic, namely Ross Jennings of Haken. Completing the line-up is guitarist, keyboardist and principle songwriter Harrison White (ex-Bleeding Oath, ex-Tradjectory), guitarist
Dan Thornton (No Sin Evades His Gaze), bassist Matt “Moat” Lowe (No Sin Evades His Gaze, ex-Bleeding Oath) and drummer Cameron Spence (ex-A Deeper Dreed)

The word ‘novena’ apparently means an act of religious pious devotion originating in ancient Christianity, often consisting of private or public prayers repeated for nine successive days in belief of obtaining special intercessory graces. Based on the content of this debut EP ‘Secondary Genesis’, I certainly wish that the amount of tracks reflected their moniker because three just doesn’t feel like it‘s enough. Admittedly the running time of the EP extends beyond the half-hour mark but when faced with quality, I always want more. And that’s definitely the case here.

With the instantly recognisable voice of Jennings leading Novena, it is hard not to hear those Haken influences and similarities at points throughout the EP. I also hear nods towards the output of Devin Townsend which is never a bad thing either. However, this is in no way a copycat band as Novena certainly have their own identity.

Theirs is a modern progressive metal that flirts with all manner of different influences, from extreme metal complete with confrontational growled vocals, right through to serene acoustic guitar-led passages that are soothing, melodic and maintain a sophisticated air. Djent is never far away and neither is a touch of metalcore or a descent into more quirky territory, like the almost maniacal laugh or the jazzy lounge music breakdown that both figure within the 14-minute title track.

novena band

However, ‘Secondary Genesis’ also has the sound of a band very much a band in its infancy, finding its feet and its way in the world. So understandably there are a few rough edges here and there that will, no doubt, get ironed out as the band grows.

The only real bone of contention I have is entirely subjective but it is the way in which the songs occasionally feel like they are trying to cram everything in, in an effort to demonstrate their musical prowess. It sounds bizarre that I’d criticise a prog band for being overly ambitious but it’s the manner in which the ambition is presented that’s very important. Whilst I really enjoy the vast majority of this EP, there are a few moments that come across as being cluttered, unnecessary or that don’t fit the overall vibe of the song.

But enough of being critical, let’s focus on the numerous positives.

Firstly, as previously intimated, Novena are a talented bunch. The execution is very slick as is the surprisingly strong production. I do enjoy the feeling of exuberance that permeates the output, as if the five musicians are thoroughly enjoying the freedom that this afforded them with this band and style of music. Jennings is joined by guest vocalist Gareth Mason (Slice The Cake) who is allowed to release his growl with regularity as the heavier and more aggressive djent-like sections demand. I like growling vocals but it is Jennings’ commanding clean delivery that I like best and which can’t help but raise a smile with me.

The keys are subtle, never threatening to overpower the music. And yet, they really accentuate the compositions, offering a certain warmth at times and dramatic flair at others.

Melody plays an equally important part, particularly in the first half of the excellent ballad-like ‘Breathe’. And, when the music is so chock full of different ideas, it is the glue that holds everything together. More so, the relatively understated melodies that are not overly prominent on a first listen gradually begin to work their insidious magic and draw the listener in for repeated spins.

On the basis of ‘Secondary Genesis’, Novena do have a bright future ahead of them. With a little more focus, a little more in the way of exacting quality control and a little less unnecessary extravagance and we may have the very next big thing in progressive music. As it is, ‘Secondary Genesis’ is still a debut release that should turn heads and get people talking, not to mention creating impatience for a debut full-length.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.0

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary – Album Review

Witherscape_-_The_Northern_Sanctuary_-_Cover

Artist: Witherscape

Album Title: The Northern Sanctuary

Label: Century Media Records

Date Of Release: 22 July 2016

Despite loving melodic death metal, I have to admit that there are very few bands within the genre that write music that stays lodged in my head for hours and hours after the music has stopped spinning. Early In Flames, mid-era Dark Tranquillity and recent Omnium Gatherum are a few of these artists but, to that list, you can now add the name Witherscape. Sophomore release ‘The Northern Sanctuary’ is one of those records that I find myself humming and whistling with great gusto long after I have reluctantly pressed the ‘stop’ button. Mind you, that’s hardly surprising, not when I offer a bit of context around this particular band.

You see, Witherscape is the latest band that the hugely talented multi-instrumentalist Dan Swanö has put his name to. The chances are that if you are a fan of extreme or underground metal, this name will already be familiar to you. The drummer, keyboardist and vocalist has been around the scene for a while now, involved in the likes of Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath and Nightingale .On top of this, Swanö has also assisted in some form or another with a frighteningly impressive list of artists, including Katatonia, Ghost and Incision. And that’s without mentioning the amazing solo album ‘Moontower’ or his impressive resume as a producer (Unisound). The guy’s talents literally know no bounds.

With Witherscape, Swanö has teamed up with fellow multi-instrumentalist Ragnar Widerberg (Shadowquest) who offers his skills with the guitar and bass on this record. And, rather unsurprisingly, the results are nothing short of marvellous.

However, to refer to Witherscape as purely a melodic death metal is a little misleading and slightly disingenuous as well. Theirs is a hybrid of styles that borrows from 90s death metal, melodic rock, AOR, progressive rock as well as classic metal and even an occasional touch of thrash for good measure. Blend into the mix a fair amount of atmospherics courtesy of Swano’s bold keyboard style and it’s fair to say that my mouth begins to water at the prospect.

After a short, eerie intro that segues into a slow and menacing section, ‘Wake Of Infinity’ suddenly burst into life in furious fashion. Led by some great riffs a pleasing tempo and some gruff vocals to die for, this is extreme metal nectar with an unashamed feel of yesteryear. Swanö really is blessed with a fabulously gritty and rumbling gruff delivery, the kind of sound that all of us wannabe growlers wish we could create. But then, as the track develops, out of nowhere comes a melody to raise the hairs on your neck dominated by a commanding and melodious clean croon. That’s not all because there’s time for an atmospheric and contemplative section that borders on ambient minimalism before the heaviness is reintroduced. The class of both Swanö and Widerberg is stamped all over this track and it sets the album in motion in superb fashion.

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‘In The Eyes Of Idols’ follows and it’s a no-nonsense, adrenaline-fuelled romp of a track with strong extreme metal-meets-hard rock overtones to it. Once again, Swanö blends his growls with his rich cleaner delivery whilst Widerberg offers more super riffing to get my head nodding forcefully, as well as injecting some tasty and soulful lead guitar work. The chorus has more hooks than a fishing trawler and the synths come to the fore much more.

This high quality continues throughout the remaining seven tracks with no filler material whatsoever. ‘Rapture Ballet’ for example, reminds me a little of the early material from the much-loved and much-missed Sentenced in terms of the melodies, the guitar tones and the vocal delivery.

That said, what follows is arguably even better. ‘The Examiner’ is an absolute beast of a track that sees Swanö utilise his clean vocals almost exclusively to devastating effect. This track is a ballad of sorts that enters on a delicate piano melody and is soon joined by Swanö’s passionate voice that sends shivers down my spine. The introduction of Widerberg’s acoustic guitars is a lovely touch that adds an added layer of textured sophistication whereas later in the song, the riff is fantastic and highly memorable. There’s even a demonstrable progressive feel to the piece as it gathers together an interesting collection of ideas, delivering it in a smooth and unfussy manner. But again, the high point of the composition comes courtesy of the chorus which I simply can’t get out of my head as much as I try.

‘Marionette’ follows and is perhaps my favourite track on the album currently. Again it begins in quiet fashion accompanied by some delightfully soft and sensitive vocals. And then the chorus hits. I love the juxtaposition within it between some of Swanö’s most brutal vocals and an insanely catchy melody, which borders on AOR and that’s drenched in almost romantic-sounding synths. The entire song is utterly magnificent and completely addictive.

The other big highlight on ‘The Northern Sanctuary’ is the near 14-minute title track. It is here where Widerberg and Swanö really unfurl their songwriting wings. A direct response to none-too-kind social media comments and apparently inspired by some of the epic tracks from Helloween and Queensryche, it is frightening how quickly the track runs its course. Incorporating more strong melodies with a more adventurous all-round structure, it is the most progressive that Witherscape have ever sounded. And yet, once again, it sounds homogenous and smooth.

Ushered in via sounds akin to a baby’s lullaby and then followed by some creepy synth sounds, the song flirts with a myriad of different styles and textures in very clever fashion. Passages of quiet introspection are bulldozed out of the way by frenetic and savage-sounding guitar riffs whilst flamboyant lead guitar and keyboard work segues into powerful melodic sections complete with more soothing clean vocals. Drama drips from every pore whilst there’s an almost childlike joy that permeates the composition as if the duo are revelling in the removal of the shackles and the subsequent controlled excess that surrounds them. 14 minutes long it may be, but blink and you miss it. Or so it feels anyway.

The album closes via a short but satisfying piano instrumental by the name of ‘Vil I Frid’. And, although I’d have loved more, this feels like the perfect ending to a fantastic record. ‘The Northern Sactuary’ contains a little bit of everything that I like in my metal these days. Yes it’s heavy but if you take the time to take a close listen to the music of Witherscape, you’ll hear so much more. ‘The Northern Sanctuary’ is a beautiful album that blends the extremity of death metal with so many wonderfully engaging sounds and textures. Oh and I guarantee you’ll be humming several of these tracks for weeks on end. You have been warned.

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.2

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of my series looking at those bands & albums that I either know or hope will be released during the second half of 2016.

If you missed the first two instalments, here they are for your delectation:
Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 1
Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 2

So here goes with my final picks…

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
Century Media Records

insomnium coverAnother excellent Finnish extreme metal band, Insomnium put together a truly edifying and highly enjoyable racket. Death metal sits at the heart of what Insomnium are all about but this is then blended expertly with dark, doom and folk metal elements before being topped off with lashings of atmosphere and elegant melodies. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well it is and I’m very intrigued to hear the new album, ‘Winter’s Gate’ which is due out in the early part of September. I am even more intrigued now that I know that the album is a concept and made up of one single 40-minute track. It’s a bold move and extremely brave but I’m confident that the result will be worth the wait.

Amaranthe – TBC
Nuclear Blast

Amaranthe are one of those bands that seriously divide opinion. On the one hand, many metal fans will dismiss the output of this young outfit as vacuous, plastic nonsense, a synthetic hit of ear candy. To a certain extent, they’d not be too far wrong as much of the material owes more to pop music than it does to melodic death metal. However, delve more closely into the music and several things become abundantly clear: the vocalists are actually very good, the hooks and choruses are hugely infectious, the guitar work and strong rhythm section is out of the metal top drawer and the song writing is undeniably slick and nicely arranged. They were a guilty pleasure but more and more, my guilt is subsiding as I realise Amaranthe are a very good band indeed.

Darkwater – TBC
Ulterium Records

It feels like an absolute age since Swedish metallers Darkwater released their last album, the thoroughly enjoyable ‘Where Stories End’. It also feels like I’ve been putting Darkwater into these posts forever, whilst we wait patiently for new material to see the light of day. The follow-up was scheduled for a 2014 release but has slipped beyond 2015 into 2016…and who knows whether it’ll be released before the year is out. I certainly hope so. Whenever it arrives though, I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait and we’ll be treated to another excellent album full of synth-heavy epic, memorable and darkly-tinged melodic progressive metal.

Sound Of Contact – TBC
Lightyears Music Ltd

Rather foolishly, I omitted the debut album from Sound of Contact from my top 20 albums of 2013 and it is a decision that still haunts me given how often I return to ‘Dimensionaut’ for a dose of high quality melodic progressive rock. In my defence, time constraints meant that I didn’t get a chance to listen to it as much as I wanted at the time, but that’s no excuse. Sound of Contact offer some of the richest, most memorable and indulgent progressive rock of recent times, created by a talented and focused group of musicians. I’ve put this band into these kinds of posts seemingly for ages but solo projects by the members keep getting in the way. It has been confirmed that work has begun on a new album, but even I will admit that a 2016 release is more in hope than expectation. But we’ll wait and see.

Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
InsideOut Music

devincd[1]This is a name that needs no introduction. Devin Townsend is one of the hardest working and talented musicians within the rock/metal world. From Strapping Young Lad to the Ziltoid concept and everything in between, Townsend has managed to create some of the heaviest, richest, most beautifully soothing music I’ve ever heard. And none of it is anything short of brilliant. Reading the quotes directly from Townsend himself, he sounds excited by the new record, a release that has been written as a collective effort from all those involved. And, if Devin is excited by it, then I think we should too. The more I read about it, the higher the hopes I have for it.

Dimmu Borgir – TBC
Nuclear Blast

It has been very quiet in the world of Dimmu Borgir in terms of a new album. It has been six years since the Norwegian extreme metallers released ‘Abrahadabra’, so it’s about time! According to their social media updates, the band were undertaking pre-production back in December 2015 but since then, nothing further has been mentioned. I’ve been a fan of Dimmu Borgir and their over-the-top and grandiose black metal ever since discovering the remarkable ‘Enthrone, Darkness, Triumphant’ many years ago. Each release from Shagrath et al is a slick, professional affair where the final product shines through a powerful and crystal-clear production. The symphonic elements and grandiose bombast provide a majestic and theatrical sheen to what is, at heart, pretty bruising and uncompromising heavy metal. I’m definitely not alone in hoping that we see a new album during the remainder of 2016.

Hecate Enthroned – TBC
Crank Music Group

Whilst on the subject of black metal, Hecate Enthroned are one of those bands that I have a genuine soft spot for. They were heavily inspired by Cradle of Filth in that their compositions were full of Gothic theatrics, symphonics and more melody than you’d think on a first listen, partly disguised by a raw and challenging production. The band turned all death metal on us in the late 90’s and since then, the output from the UK band has not been prolific to say the least. However, I check in with the band from time to time to check progress and social media updates suggested back in May that the new album is moving onto the mixing stage. So maybe, just maybe I can enjoy some new Hecate Enthroned material very soon…

Subterranean Masquerade – TBC
Taklit Music

Septet Subterranean Masquerade is a truly international band boasting members from Orphaned Land, November’s Doom and Green Carnation. And as equally eclectic as the line-up in the music itself. The band fuse elements of 70s prog rock, folk, extreme metal, jazz, symphonic metal and world music whilst incorporating both clean singing and death metal growls. As you might imagine, the finished article can appear to be a daunting prospect initially and not for the faint-hearted. And yet, the music flows excellently, underpinned by some strong melodies and clever songwriting from the protagonists led by guitarist and founding member Tomer Pink. Seeing posts from Kjetil Nordhus (Green Crnation) heading off to undertake vocal recordings for a new album has be very intrigued and hopeful for a new album before the year is out.

Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown – Album Review

greatunknowncover

Artist: Eric Gillette

Album Title: The Great Unknown

Label: Radiant Records

Date Of Release: 2 June 2016

The name of Eric Gillette came to my attention just last year thanks to his role within The Neal Morse Band as guitarist and backing vocalist. I was mightily impressed by ‘The Grand Experiment’ and so it seemed only right and proper to check out Gillette’s new solo album, ‘The Great Unknown’, especially because it promised to deliver more in the way of progressive rock/metal, one of my favourite musical subgenres.

Apparently, Gillette did release a solo album back in 2013 called ‘Afterthought’ but given the lack of waves it created and my lack of knowledge about it, I can only assume it failed to set the world alight. Thankfully though, Gillette seems unfazed by the response to that debut effort as he has gamely returned for another go. Equally adept atop the drum stool and behind the keyboards, Gillette has instead chosen to focus on the guitar and lead vocals for this record.

Things quickly got tastier as far as I was concerned once the line-up for this record was unveiled. Joining Eric on this venture are some very exciting musicians, namely drummer Thomas Lang as well as Haken duo Conner Green on bass guitar and keyboardist Diego Tejeida. As a Haken whore, this was suddenly something that I couldn’t afford to miss.

That said, a few spins of ‘The Great Unknown’ and there is no doubt that Gillette is the star of the show. Each member of the ‘band’ puts in a brilliant performance but thanks to Gillette’s rich and effortless vocals as well as his unbelievably slick skills with the guitar, he cannot help but dominate the listener’s attention.

The first thing that strikes me about ‘The Great Unknown’ is the heaviness of it. The album opens up with the title track and right from the off, it takes no prisoners. This is a full-on hard rock track that veers wonderfully and unequivocally into heavy metal territory. The song packs a real punch, dominated by some deliciously chunky riffing and an impressive rhythm section that’s as powerful as it is clinically precise. It bounds along with real gusto and with a demonstrably modern, bang up-to-date feel, before easing into a surprisingly simple but hook-laden chorus that’s rather addictive.

Credit: unknown

Credit: Joel Barrios – Norrsken Photography

I don’t know whether it was a deliberate decision to distance himself from the prog associated with The Neal Morse Band but ‘The Aftermath’ follows swiftly and it is another heavy metal monster from Gillette. The drumming from Lang is sensational, full of flair and panache, Green’s bass work is intelligent and intriguing, whilst the keys of Tejeida come more to the fore, giving the song a much more dramatic, almost cinematic sheen. As I listened in the early stages, I noted ‘Dream Theater meets Haken’ and largely, thanks to the instrumental prowess on offer from all quarters, I’d stick with this appraisal by way of a reference point. Again, there is a strong chorus and plenty of guitar histrionics to enjoy.

This latter comment is even more true of ‘Escape’, an 18-minute prog behemoth that sits majestically mid-album. It begins with some truly beautiful lead guitar work that’s both dextrous and highly melodious. There is then a moment to draw breath as the hectic pace and power of the preceding two tracks is slowed in favour of a quieter, more atmospheric section where Gillette’s voice really shines. It really is sickening how talented this guy appears to be. From then on, ‘Escape’ explores multiple directions to great effect, with the highlights being the intense interplay between the various protagonists during an extended instrumental mid-section, not to mention the rousing lead guitar-led conclusion.

I really like the way in which ‘Damage Is Done’ is dominated by an intriguing chorus, a real grower that took a lot of time to really latch onto. It also builds in clever fashion to a dramatic midpoint before easing back off again towards the end. In direct contrast, ‘Empty’ is the unapologetic ballad, complete with emotionally-charged vocals, rich piano and more gorgeous lead guitar work as it builds in intensity.

Interestingly, it takes until the penultimate track for the real Neal Morse influences to come to the fore. As a result, ‘Runaway’ is much more in the ‘classic’ prog rock vein than the remainder of the album and yet it fits beautifully and not for a second does it feel out of place. Tejeida is clearly in his element here, bathing the track in all manner of sounds and textures. But it is Gillette that stands front and centre by virtue of a fantastic vocal performance which accentuates a marvellous, sprawling chorus that is easily one of my favourite moments on this record.

The album closes with ‘All I Am’, a properly epic and fitting ending to such an impressive album. The guitars are properly menacing, complimenting the cinematic synths to great effect, creating yet more drama and intensity. Gillette’s vocals once again soar with real intent whilst Lang’s drumming once again catches the ear.

Unlike this record, Eric Gillette can no longer be referred to as ‘the great unknown’. This body of work, these seven compositions should rightfully thrust Gillette into the spotlight because they demonstrate beyond doubt that here is a musician that has the talent and the conviction to succeed at the very highest level. Very impressive indeed.

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.0

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 2

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

Witherscape_-_The_Northern_Sanctuary_-_CoverMention 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
Frontiers Music

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
Sensory Records

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
InsideOut Music

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
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
Prophecy Productions

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.

Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 1

This time last year, I was waxing lyrical about how strong 2015 had been by the half-way mark, stating that I had already compiled a strong Top 20, perfectly strong enough to stand up to scrutiny at the full year end. Well, if it’s possible, 2016 has been even better. It’s like all of my favourite bands have sat up and, as one, said ‘let’s make this a year to remember for Matt, the Man Of Much Metal’. If only that were true!

But true or not, this is by and large what has happened. Two of my all-time favourite bands (Katatonia and Haken) have already released astounding albums, deservedly in receipt of a perfect 10 from me. And, as the year develops further, there are even more potential gems to get my teeth and ears stuck into.

So, what are those albums and bands? Allow me to elaborate:

Evergrey – The Storm Within
AFM Records

evergrey storm withinThis band goes without saying and frankly, regular readers will be bored of the name Evergrey, such is the love I have for this band. They are my favourite band. Ever. Theirs is the exact kind of music that I want to listen to. It is heavy, passionate, melodic and with enough of a progressive edge to keep things interesting. And, in Tom Englund, Evergrey are blessed with one of the very best vocalists that heavy metal has to offer. I like every album they’ve ever released but two years ago, after a period of uncertainty, Evergrey returned with a bang. Welcoming back drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage, they released ‘Hymns For The Broken’, arguably the best album of their career, full of power, emotion and majesty. I will admit at this point to having already heard album number 10, ‘The Storm Within’, which is due to be released on 9th September 2016. I won’t give too much away at this stage but, suffice to say, I have a problem. I gave the superlative ‘Hymns For The Broken’ a perfect 10/10 when I reviewed it. So what score do I give an album that might, just might, turn out with a few more spins to be even better? Watch out for my review and the answer to this conundrum in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here’s a reminder of how amazing ‘Hymns For The Broken’ was…

Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
InsideOut Music

FW coverThis is a bit of a cheat to be honest, because it came out on 1st July and I have already offered my review of the album – read it here – However, so good is it, that it deserves a quick mention here. This album offers a little bit of everything that a fan of progressive metal could ever want; chops, riffs, solos, technicality, complexity, memorable melodies and great vocals. ‘Theories of Flight’ is the sound of one of the best bands of the genre firing on all cylinders.

Wolverine – Machina Viva
The Laser’s Edge

IMG_1283As with Fates Warning above, I have already written a review of this album. And, by the time you read this, ‘Machina Viva’ will be out to buy. But again, it is a storming release that is worthy of another mention and a reminder to any of you who might have forgotten that this was on the horizon. There are few bands that can create such deep, emotional and bleak music and even fewer that manager to couple this with truly beautiful and memorable progressive music. Put the two together and you have a listening experience which can be truly heartbreaking. As I said in my review, ‘…there are few artists out there that have the unnerving ability to break hearts with just one note. And Wolverine do it with such style…’ – read the full review here

My Soliloquy – Engines Of Gravity
Sensory Records

My Soliloquy is the brainchild of Threshold guitarist all all-round top chap Pete Morten. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that here is a band that can write sophisticated and properly engaging progressive metal that’s satisfyingly intricate but that has more than enough earworms to reel listeners in time and again for repeated listens. Pete’s singing on the debut was great too, so I’m intrigued to see how he has developed as a vocalist on this new record, particularly given his lead vocal role within the band Nightmare World recently. According to the updates from Pete on social media, the album is being mixed ahead of a 1st September release. Not heard anything yet, but I have very high hopes if the debut ‘The Interpreter’ is anything to go by. Just check this track out if you don’t believe me:

In The Woods – Pure
Debemur Morti Productions

In the woods coverIt has been nearly 17 years since Norwegian extreme metallers In The Woods released their third album ‘Strange In Stereo’. In 2000, the band broke up but they are now back and ready to unleash their fourth album, the simply-monikered ‘Pure’. Always pushing boundaries, trying new things, theirs was always a more progressive and avant-garde style of black metal. However, ever since hearing a track on a compilation disc I bought many years ago, I have been hooked. I can’t wait to hear the full album but, if ‘Cult Of Shining Stars’ is anything to go by, this could be a very interesting and special release indeed.

For a stream of a full track off the upcoming album, click the link: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/content/372-in-the-woods-premiere-cult-of-shining-stars#.V3JWqyX5NYl.facebook

Darkane – TBC
Massacre Records

I keep mentioning Darkane in these posts, but the reasoning is simple: my admiration and love for this band never diminishes. If you’re after a band that can combine melodic death metal, thrash and a healthy dose of prog-laced technicality, then Darkane are the no-brainer choice. Savage, brutal, majestic and subtly melodic, the Swedish extreme metallers have delivered quality music time and time again over their six album career. ‘Expanding Senses’ released in 2002 remains my favourite but only by a gnats whisker. And it’s entirely possible that the new album hopefully out in the next six months or so will push it closer than ever, delighting us all once again.

Maschine – TBC
InsideOut Music

A rising star in the UK prog scene, the youngsters came almost out of nowhere in 2013 and wowed me with their impressive debut album, ‘Rubidium’. I loved the blend of technicality, melody and sheer variety, that was occasionally reminiscent of early Pain Of Salvation. Their musicianship and approach to songwriting was both familiar and a breath of fresh air, whilst utilising both male and female vocals was a master stroke, providing a relatively unique flavour to an already impressive recipe. And, despite a change of female vocalists in recent months, I’m still looking forward to album number two immensely.

Dark Tranquillity – TBC
Century Media Records

Of all of the ‘Gothenburg’ bands, Dark Tranquillity are probably my absolute favourite. Unlike many of their compatriots and competitors, every album with very few exceptions has been a positive experience where their love of the music and their hunger and desire has shone though. It seems almost impossible for Dark Tranquillity to release a substandard album and on that basis, I see no reason as to why a new record shouldn’t be a genuine contender for the best melodeath album of 2016.

Tilt – Hinterland – Album Review

Tilt cover

Artist: Tilt

Album Title: Hinterland

Label: Tilt Music

Date of Release: 30 June 2016

Out of the shadows of a progressive rock great, comes a brand new band that will, without any doubt at all, capture the attention of the prog rock genre. Their collective name is Tilt but individually, they number five talented musicians. At the core of Tilt is Steve Vantsis (guitar, bass, keyboards), David Stewart (drums), Robin Boult (guitar), better known as the band behind the legendary vocalist Fish. This trio is joined in Tilt by Paul Humphreys (guitarist) and vocalist PJ Dourley, with guest appearances from John Beck (It Bites) and John Mitchell (It Bites, Lonely Robot, Kino, Frost*) who also offered his studio skills by creating the final mix to this record.

And this record in question is the debut from Tilt, entitled ‘Hinterland’. As you might imagine, it has been eagerly anticipated but alongside anticipation there has had to be patience as ‘Hinterland’ has apparently been in the making for over five years. But finally, here it is the fruit of those considerable labours.

Having lived with this record for a few weeks now, I have to say that ‘Hinterland’ is a most fascinating and intriguing album. So clearly rooted in the progressive rock genre but with strong electronic sensibilities, the album isn’t however overloaded with excess and frivolity. Neither is it needlessly bloated or weighed down by unnecessary instrumental posturing. Instead, ‘Hinterland’ knows exactly what it is all about, what it wants to achieve and although it weighs in around the hour mark, does it surprisingly succinctly and with some style.

Listen carefully and each track has its own subtle but distinct identity as the members of Tilt explore their range of musical influences within the unconfined and loose structure of progressive rock. And indeed, whilst some might question whether Tilt are indeed ‘progressive’, it is the manner in which each track offers something different that leaves me in no doubt as to Tilt’s prog credentials.

But above all else, whatever the band attempts, ‘Hinterland’ feels smooth throughout and the eight compositions come together with a wonderful flow. Nothing feels out of place or disjointed. Much of this has to do with a really fine production that allows the instruments and the vocals to each deliver their parts with real clarity, precision and not a little richness.

Tilt band

‘_Assembly’ opens ‘Hinterland’ and, quite honestly, it is rather fabulous. It begins in slightly foreboding, discordant fashion, where electronics and strange sounds dominate a bleak-sounding industrial landscape. But gradually the song settles down and begins to unleash some of its magic. Strong melodies, rich atmospherics and some fantastic vocals from Dourley underpin a lengthy track that packs a punch and captivates despite being rather measured in its tempo and deliberate in the way it builds to a heavier conclusion. It is thoroughly addictive and right now is vying for a spot in my ‘best songs of 2016’ list.

The title track follows and is immediately a more up-tempo number with more mainstream appeal. The acoustic guitars are really nice and the rhythm section is both solid and pleasantly flamboyant when the need arises. And, as the composition nears its conclusion, I love the tension that’s built via some edgy riffing and the synths and electronics beneath.

‘Against The Rain’ is another big favourite. The piano that leads this emotionally-charged ballad into existence sounds equally vibrant and sorrowful, accented by more beautiful acoustic guitars, minimalist synths and another spine-tingling and vocal performance from PJ Dourley.

‘No Superman’ is a shorter, punchier and straight-forward rocky number with, dare I say it, a hint of alt-rock or even grunge to it, courtesy of the dirty lead and rhythm guitar tones as well as the execution of the riffs. Acoustic-led ‘Growing Colder’ meanwhile features a real grower of a chorus that ends up being one of the strongest earworms on the entire record.

It isn’t often that a prog rock record will feature the name of an extreme metal band but ‘Strontium Burning’ begins in not too dissimilar fashion to Agalloch of all bands. The acoustic guitars and the evocative and haunting percussion sounds create similar images in my mind of wild open expanses of nature as the now-defunct American as I listen. The similarities don’t last for long as the track erupts into an urgent acoustic-led number with more exquisite melodies and clever synths to add layers of atmosphere to proceedings. Oh and the guitar solo towards the back end of the song is a thing of beauty.

‘Bloodline’, the first song to be aired on the album is another massive composition, that is urged on by a persistent and rich bass line. The keys and synths yet again create multi-layered textures whilst the melodies become deceptively strong with repeated listens.

‘Hinterland’ is then brought to a close by ‘Disassembly_’, without doubt the most electronic-focused composition on the album. It is eerie, melancholy and extremely bleak in places yet as the post-rock, ambient and electronic composition develops, so does a poignant melody that grips me, particularly when accompanied by the words ‘is there no God?’

And with that, ‘Hinterland’ is at an end. I liked much of the record from the beginning but even so, I wasn’t expecting to end up liking it this much. I love the richness and the vibrancy of the material but most of all I love its subtlety and the bands’ willingness to explore interesting and compelling soundscapes. In ‘Hinterland’, Tilt have surely produced one of the most compelling prog rock albums of 2016.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.75

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld