Welcome to 2015! Or, to be more exact, welcome to week three of 2015, as I’m a little behind the times at the moment. Nevertheless, it is still early enough in the year to take a look at the coming twelve months to identify those releases that we’re most excited about. As is always the case with the Blog Of Much Metal, my focus is on those bands that might not be in the mainstream eye or, if they are, those bands that are particularly special to me.
As such, in this post, you’ll hear no further mention of the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden or those of a like size, popularity-wise. These albums will be written about ad nauseum elsewhere and I’m happier to leave it that way. Of course I hope that Metallica will release something equally as good as ‘Ride The Lightning’ or that Iron Maiden will produce a record to rival ‘Seventh Son of A Seventh Son’. And only time will tell where they are concerned.
With that in mind, here’s my initial list of those bands whose new albums I’m immensely excited or intrigued about, along with a sample track from their respective back catalogues to give you a better idea if you’re new to them:
The band that rose from the ashes of Sieges Even and the subject of a whole ‘Unknown and Underrated’ post a year or so ago, Subsignal are scheduled to release the enigmatically-titled ‘The Beacons Of Somewhere, Sometime’, probably around September 2015. Expect expertly crafted, highly memorable and powerful melodic rock/metal with a nice splash of prog. This is one of the big excitements for me this year.
A firm favourite with yours truly, the UK’s Paradise Lost have released a good few albums that I deem as classics. The last outing, ‘Tragic Idol’ was, in particular, rather special and with news from the band that the new album, ‘The Plague Within’ has a death metal edge to it, I’m even more excited to hear the latest chapter in this impressively gloomy band’s career.
Norway’s Leprous have been getting better with every album, culminating in the highly impressive ‘Coal’ which charted in my 2013 ‘Album Of The Year’ series. Their brand of avant-garde progressive metal is executed with amazing dexterity, youthful exuberance and with a songwriting nous that far exceeds their still tender years. It’s no surprise that these guys act as Ihsahn’s backing band, such is their abundant talent. This threatens to be a genuine progressive metal highlight for 2015.
‘I Am Anonymous’ is one of the best debuts I’ve heard for a long time and remains a firm favourite to this very day, deserving of a place in my end of year best for 2012. Boasting the vocal talents of Damian Wilson and backed up by a group of seriously talented musicians, Headspace offer epic prog metal that blends technicality with extremely memorable song writing. Album number two should be a belter.
Germany’s Vanden Plas released ‘Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld’ just last year. At the time it was mooted to be the first of a two-part concept piece and rumours are rife that part 2 will see the light of day during 2015. Inspired more and more by the theatre and creating rock-based musicals, this album will go some to beat the rich and flamboyant ‘Netherworld’, an album that charted in my 2014 ‘Album of the Year’ series. However, I suspect that Vanden Plas will be well up for the challenge.
It has taken me a long time to fully appreciate Myrath. However, the epiphany came with their latest release entitled ‘Tales Of The Sands’. The Tunisian band really impressed me with their clever blend of progressive metal, strong melodies and traditional African instrumentation. I have really high hopes for the upcoming release and am awaiting further news on its progress eagerly.
There are no two ways about it, Enslaved are a special band. Beginning life as a more traditional black metal band, the Norwegians have morphed gently over the years into a much more intriguing prospect. Still extreme in many senses of the world, this is then tempered by a more progressive edge, encompassing elements of post rock, ambient and avant-garde into the process. Every new album is an event and I expect this new album to be no different whatsoever.
After a great debut, I had begun to lose interest in Polish progressive rock band Riverside as their output failed to excite me in the same way. That was until they released the superb ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’, one of my favourite albums of 2013. Their modus operandi is to beguile the listener with sophisticated and atmospheric progressive rock that, when done to the full extent of their powers will enthral and delight in equal measure.
Dutch metallers Textures hold a special place in my heart as being the first real djent/tech metal band to make a positive impact upon me. Most recent album ‘Dualism’ sparked my enthusiasm massively thanks to some very technical, complex extremity that they mixed with breathtaking melody, seemingly with consummate ease. That album remains as the genre benchmark to these ears and as such, I’m highly anticipating a follow-up to further cement my love for this band.
Since the departure of Tarja Turunen, I have to say that Nightwish have been a big disappointment for me, both vocally and in terms of the song writing. Their last outing took many plaudits but failed to grab my interest and I was ready to relegate the band from being a blind purchase artist. Whilst I will remain cautious, my interest has once again piqued now that they boast the enormous vocal talents of Floor Jansen. I have a feeling that this next release could be rather special; I certainly hope so.
Cradle Of Filth
I will readily admit to the fact that Cradle Of Filth are special to me, not just because they’re from Suffolk but because they were one of the first extreme metal bands to find a place in my heart. Without them, I’d probably not have discovered half of my collection. And, whilst recent albums have been a little sub-par to these ears, rumours abound that maybe, just maybe, the new album has a few more links with their masterpiece, ‘Dusk…And Her Embrace’. I don’t want a clone album but if the rumours are true, I cannot wait!
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 contender for the best melodeath album of 2015.