Category Archives: AOR

My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 1

Welcome to another annual tradition on the Blog of Much Metal, a small series where I take a look at the albums that I am most looking forward to during the coming year. Some of these releases are already confirmed, some I have even heard (with reviews coming soon) and some are just my own fantasies in hope rather than expectation that they might see the light of day in the coming 12 months. Some you might even recognise from previous series’ as I have been wrong about their impending release – in which case, you’ll get the idea about how excited I am about hearing them.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the first five releases (in no particular order) that I’m excited about:

Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light Of Day
Release date: 13 January 2017

pain_of_salvation_-_2017_coverThis is one of the releases that I know for sure will be released in 2017. In fact, the date is set for 13th January 2017 and I have already had the opportunity to hear it.

Pain of Salvation have always been an important band for me, ever since I started discovering progressive music around the turn of the millennium. Albums like ‘Remedy Lane’ and ‘The Perfect Element: Pt.1’ are firm favourites within my collection. However, over recent years, the output has been patchy and as far removed from their early heavy roots as it could possibly be. Nevertheless, some of the content was very nicely written and performed, albeit not to my personal taste.

And then, just as I was about to lose all hope of a heavier Pain of Salvation record, along comes news of ‘In The Passing Light of Day’, an album which is lauded to see a return to heavier climes. I have heard it and believe me, the hype is real. I cannot wait to complete my review and then hold the finished article in my hands.

My Soliloquy – Engines Of Gravity
Release date: TBC

15095691_1306793379351630_731123106189415054_nThe brainchild of Threshold guitarist Pete Morten, My Soliloquy arrived with a bang in 2013 with their debut ‘The Interpreter’. It was a classy progressive metal record, full of intricacies and complexity but never at the expense of the songs themselves. Strong melodies and excellent song-writing combined to create a highly commendable and thoroughly enjoyable debut.

The follow-up, entitled ‘Engines Of Gravity’ has been a long time coming. Indeed, it should have been released in 2016 but due to some difficulties, it has been put back to 2017. However, I am sure that the record will be worth the wait and I’m convinced that it will deliver something even more mature and refined now that the band have found their feet even more since the debut.

Vanishing Point – TBC
Release date: TBC

Ah Vanishing Point. My favourite melodic, symphonic, progressive metal band, the creators of ‘Tangled In Dream’, one of my desert island discs and in the top 5 of all time without any doubt. After a slightly sticky patch for one reason or another, the Australian metallers returned in 2014 with ‘Distant Is The Sun’, an album that pushed their 2000 classic right to the wire in all respects.

The band have been sneaky with their studio updates, not releasing too much for us to get our teeth into, but just enough to fire our enthusiasm. I’d expect nothing else from the cheeky guitarist Chris Porcianko and co. though if I’m honest. The net result is that I am chomping at the bit to hear the latest instalment from these guys, a band that are blessed with one of my very favourite singers in Silvio Massaro.

Darkane – TBC
Release date: TBC

I feel like I mention Darkane every single year in this series. Their last record was ‘The Sinister Supremacy’, released back in 2013 but since then, we’ve only had a live album to enjoy. Now, three or four years isn’t so bad I suppose but this is such a great band, I’m now desperate for some new material.

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.

Voyager – TBC
Release date: TBC

Another Australian band in this list, I can’t tell you how psyched I am to hear a new album from Voyager. I am a little late to the party having only really taken to the melodic, progressive metallers with the release of ‘The Meaning of I’ in 2011. However, I have since made up for it and they are frequent visitors to my stereo and rightly so. This band is a class act.

I am ashamed to admit that I am yet to see these guys on stage, given how amazing their live shows are rumoured to be. But I dearly hope to make up for that in 2017; it is one of my biggest aims for the year.

Their previous album ‘V’ was a classic, full of killer tunes delivered with style and panache. In fact, I can go weeks without listening to it but I will suddenly get one of the hooks or choruses pop up in my head and like the very best earworms, I am compelled to listen in order to release it from my brain. ‘V’ was beautifully produced, gloriously executed and so damn addictive…I can’t believe that the new album will be any different, especially how the band seem to be at their most inspired of late and on a hugely deserved upward trajectory.

The best individual songs of 2016

What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. Having spent the last month counting down my favourite 30 albums of 2016, I thought that it would be a great idea to shine the spotlight on the best individual songs of 2016.

If you’re interested in checking out my top 30 albums of 2016, here’s the link:

Top 30 albums of 2016

These songs are in no particular order, except my first choice below, which has turned into my anthem of the year, the song that I have been far and away most obsessed with.

So here goes:

Borknagar – Winter Thrice

This is my song of the year without any shadow of doubt. When I first heard it even ahead of receiving the promo, I listened to it about five times back-to-back. And it was around midnight. That should tell you something about it.

The four vocalists, the huge melodies, the extreme bombastic sections, the atmospheres and the lyrical content…this song has it all. It is arguably the most perfect and accessible extreme metal song of the year, if not longer. Even now, I get the urge to listen to it from out of nowhere and when I placate the cravings, I enjoy it as much now as I did at the very beginning.

Katatonia – Takeover

The masters of dark melancholy had to feature on this list somewhere. There are many contenders but it has to be ‘Takeover’. It is an exquisitely-crafted piece of music that sums up Katatonia perfectly for me. The bleakness, the serenity and the feelings of darkness, loneliness, despair and anger are all encapsulated here. The ebb and flow as well as a bittersweet recurring melody make it an addictive listen.

Haken – Earthrise

The sound of my ringtone for the last few months, I love the gorgeously melodic opening and the way in which this track has a refreshing positivity about it. Others might have chosen ‘1985’ or ‘The Architect’. However, it is this track that puts me in a good mood and gives me goosebumps the most.

Maschine – Make Believe

This was the first song on this impressive album that gave me the chills and had that ‘wow’ factor for me immediately. The entire album is staggeringly good with time but this track remains the stand-out for me. I love the almost ethereal female vocals and the strong melodies, as well as the dark undercurrent that accompanies this sumptuous piece.

Odd Logic – Lighthouses

Like an oasis of calm in an intense progressive metal concept album, ‘Lighthouses’ is a luxurious neo-prog-meets-AOR-meets pop workout with serene melodies and expressive lead guitar work. It’s beautiful and begs to be repeated.

Enbound – Feel My Flame

Quite frankly, this is the ultimate melodic metal track. Nothing in 2016 even came close and I seriously wonder when a contender will challenge for the honour. I hope there will be something in 2017, but I’m not convinced. It is just so damn catchy with one of the most upbeat and catchy choruses I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Big Big Train – Brooklands

On an album where there are some many strong compositions, this is, for me, the very best. The way in which the music so eloquently fits the subject matter and then also delivers one of the stand-out melodies of the year. What a cracking song.

Witherscape – Marionette

I love the way in which this song builds from quiet beginnings with clean softly delivered vocals before erupting with a massive catchy chorus. The fact that the music explodes with a keyboard drenched AOR-esque chorus overlaid by guttural death vocals is inspired and just adds to the sense of the epic.

Evergrey – Disconnect

Given that it is my number one album of the year, Evergrey had to have a representative here. So many options but I have plumped for a slow-burner that has become my favourite track on the album. It comes out of the blocks with heavy intent before opening up into one of the most cinematic and epic tracks on the album. It brings something new whilst being faithful to the old days and the vocals from Tom are just so impassioned. Killer.

Frost* – First Day

It might be a tad controversial to pick an intro song as one of my favourites of the year, particularly when it is only around 90 seconds in length. However, I find it a hugely rich and emotional piece of music. It sets the tone for the album perfectly, but it moves me too – to the point when I press repeat frequently.

Sadly, I can find no link to embed, so you’ll have to buy the album or just trust my opinion!

Airbag – Broken

When I first listened to ‘Disconnected’ by Airbag, I was convinced that the opening track, ‘Killer’ would feature on this list. As it turns out, as good as that song is, ‘Broken’ has become even more captivating to me. The poignant and heartbreaking lyrical content marries with some of the most beautifully elegant music to create something very special and rather moving in the process.

Alcest – Onyx

To quote my review: “Given the effects, sounds and textures at play, this instrumental track is claustrophobic, dark and menacing, verging on noise at times. However, underneath the apparent tumult is a softer, more haunting and somber underbelly that sends shivers down my spine every time I listen. The melody conveys such loneliness, emptiness and melancholy that it strikes straight at my heart.” I stand by every word. This is spine-chilling.

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 9

Welcome to day 22 of my ‘Album of the Year 2016’ top 30 countdown. Thank you for sticking with me over the past month or so, the support has been brilliant and it gives me the inspiration to keep going.

From 30 to 10 so far, every single album featured so far has been worthy of a spot in this list, regardless of their size or popularity – that’s the Blog of Much Metal way! However the series is getting very serious now as we are nearing the final few hurdles to discover which album has made it to the summit of this year’s list. Who do you think will feature from here on in? What are your thoughts so far on the choices I have made? Are you beginning to think that there may be some glaring omissions from the list? Whatever your thoughts, please get in touch and tell me what you think – I love a good debate and a little good-natured banter too.

As always, if you are new to this series or if you just happen to have missed one or two of the instalments, you can find links to numbers 30-10 at the bottom of this page – please check it all out, you might just like it and even better, you might just discover your next favourite album.

And with that, let’s turn our attention to the main event – who has taken the number 9 slot?…

Number 9

OG cover

 

Omnium Gatherum
Grey Heavens
Lifeforce Records

 

“Ah, Omnium Gatherum. A band that have gone from being an ok melodic death metal band to arguably my most favourite band within the genre. These Finns really are a special outfit and with ’Grey Heavens’ they have once again proved how peerless they are.

What I particularly love about Omnium Gatherum is the way in which they don’t ever overdo the clean vocals. They do have a soft and gentle side and they do inject plenty of warm and memorable AOR melodies into their music. However, they never seem to lose sight of the fact that they are also an extreme metal band.

There’s really not much more to say about this record. It is exactly the kind of album that I hoped for from this talented group of musicians, a band that continue to grow and go from strength to strength. With ’Grey Heavens’, Omnium Gatherum have just increased their stock further and, for me at least, stand at the very summit of the melodic death metal genre.”

Read the full review here

15541671_1504274419586686_2592469374723010645_n

 

2016 has been a hugely strong year for metal of most styles. However, one of the best-served sub-genres this year is, without question, the melodic death metal scene, with a plethora of superb albums being released on an unsuspecting world. This is nectar to my ears though, because melodeath and I have a very healthy relationship. Some might even call it a love affair. But who am I to comment?

Call it what you will, but Finnish sextet Omnium Gatherum find themselves high up my insanely strong list this year thanks to their latest opus ‘Grey Heavens’. As has become their modus operandi, this cracking release reprises their unique blend of properly extreme metal and smooth, hook-laden AOR melodies. For someone like me, it’s a match made in heaven and yet again, Omnium Gatherum have delivered a masterclass. ‘Grey Heavens’ is the sound of a band at the height of their powers and manages to push their previous masterpiece, ‘Beyond’ all the way, something I thought would be virtually impossible.

The keyboard-driven atmospheres smother this release beautifully, helping to accentuate those huge melodies and counterpoint the extreme metal foundations to superb effect. There is a depth in the compositions as a result that helps to heighten the enjoyment and take Omnium Gatherum to the next level. From all-out extremity, to full-on groove and from mature songwriting to soaring melodies, ‘Grey Heavens’ has it all and it keeps on getting better too.

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2016 – number 13
Album of the Year 2016 – number 14
Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 11

Welcome to day 20 of my ‘Album of the Year 2016’ top 30 countdown. I’m exactly two-thirds the way through this mammoth annual undertaking and the quality music just keeps on coming and keeps on getting better and better.

To those of you who have been with me since the beginning, I thank you. To those of you who are new to this, where have you been? Only kidding, it’s great to have you on board – I hope you stick with me for the remainder of the countdown. Links to the previous 19 posts can be found at the bottom of this page, along with links to previous years as well.

But with that, here’s my choice at number 11 in 2016…

Number 11

enbound_artwork

 

Enbound
The Blackened Heart
Inner Wound Recordings

 

“2016 has been a strong year for melodic metal as far as I’m concerned but this record is arguably the very best. Yes it is genuinely that good. Addictive, rich-sounding, slick, entertaining, anthemic – it literally has it all.

To put it bluntly, there isn’t a weak second on ‘The Blackened Heart’, let alone a weak song. Each of the ten tracks offers something of real quality and enjoyment, be it a catchy chorus, bombastic riff, killer vocal or a moment of real ostentatiousness in the form of a guitar or bass solo for example. The result, as I alluded to earlier, has to be that with ‘The Blackened Heart’, Enbound have delivered the best melodic metal album of the year.”

Read the full review here

enbound_band

This is an album that came from nowhere to seriously floor me. As I’ve said before, 2016 has been a good year for melodic metal but ‘The Blackened Heart’ is the best of the bunch and is a firm favourite of mine. Everything about it is right on point, I can’t really find a weakness with it. I was aware of this Swedish band’s debut, so I knew that they had the raw talent. What I hadn’t expected was something this good if I’m honest.

The biggest compliment I can give ‘The Blackened Heart’ only dawned on me a week or two back. It gives me the same thrill-ride as the early days of the Khan/Kamelot partnership. I can remember being so excited on hearing tracks like ‘Center of the Universe’ or ‘Karma’, both of which remain form favourites. Well, the up-tempo, melodic and bombastic nature of Enbound’s music has exactly the same impact upon me. Enbound are not a Kamelot clone band, far from it in fact as they have their own distinct identity. However, there are a few similarities, albeit mainly around the keys and the more cinematic nature of some of the pieces. What Enbound have done though, is eclipse Kamelot in my eyes. Honestly.

Put this on, turn up the volume and be prepared for what is ultimately a breathless ride that is utterly addictive, intoxicating and criminally addictive. You want music to make you feel good, make you feel alive and happy? Well, I suggest you start right here and start with ‘Feel My Flame’, the best melodic metal song of the year by miles.

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2016 – number 13
Album of the Year 2016 – number 14
Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

Album of the Year 2016 – Number 13

Another day arrives and with it, comes another album in my ‘Album of the Year 2016’ top 30 countdown.

For a change, I’m going to go straight into the main body of this post without any delay other than to remind readers that you can get links to all of the other posts in this series at the bottom of this post. Please read, enjoy and spread the word, the Blog of Much Metal needs you!

And with that said, let’s delve into today’s album of choice:

Number 13

neal-morse-band-the-similitude-of-a-dream-640x480

 

The Neal Morse Band
The Similitude Of A Dream
Radiant Records

“I’m now on my umpteenth spin and I’m thoroughly smitten. Yes I can hear words like ‘God’, ‘Satan’, ‘Father’, ‘Mercy’, ‘blessed’ and others sprinkled throughout the record and yes, I do flinch a little at their use but I’d have to be a prize idiot to let that stand in my way. Why? Because ‘The Similitude Of A Dream’ is a phenomenal body of work that cannot be ignored.

It is way too early to say whether ‘The Similitude Of A Dream’ will eventually stand alongside the likes of ‘Quadrophenia’ and ‘The Wall’. However…there can be no denying the fact that this recording is a magnificent achievement and deserving of high praise. To my mind, ‘The Similitude Of A Dream’ is definitely one of the musical highlights of 2016 and a masterclass of progressive rock.

Read the full review here

15078556_10155177354461416_2599884851136855063_n

The number 13 is often viewed as an unlucky number, but not in this case for Neal Morse and his band. I never thought I’d see the day when an album with overt Christian lyrics and themes would find its way into my end of year ‘best of’ list, let alone be so high up the list. However, the unthinkable has happened thanks to Neal Morse and co. Mind you, given the quality of the musicians involved and the collaborative song-writing ability, it’s hardly a surprise. Perhaps, had it been released earlier in the year, it might have climbed even higher still.

‘The Similitude of a Dream’ is an extravagant and ambitious affair that embraces everything that you could ever want or need from a progressive rock album. It is well-written, well-executed and contains a huge plethora of influences from across the musical spectrum, bringing them all together in one triumphant package. It isn’t always the easiest of listens, but that’s exactly how it should be with prog – some aspects hit you right out of the blocks, whilst others take longer to be deciphered and work their magic. Plus there’s the sheer length of the record; make sure you set aside a good two hours to appreciate it in its entirety.

Each time I listen, I seem to discover something new to enjoy and that’s always a positive as far as I’m concerned. Be it a subtle instrumental flourish, a vocal harmony, a riff, a beat or an overall vibe or atmosphere, each listen throws up something new, making each listen a unique experience. I can’t profess to like every single second of ‘Similitude…’ but what I admire about it is the fact that nothing is seemingly off-limits. If it fits the musicians’ vision, it is included in order to create a richer tapestry and a less one-dimensional story.

‘The Similitiude of a Dream’ is a fantastic album and, whether or not it becomes a genre classic in time, it has provided me with huge enjoyment during 2016.

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – number 14
Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

Enbound – The Blackened Heart – Album Review

enbound_artwork

Artist: Enbound

Album Title: The Blackened Heart

Label: Inner Wound Recordings

Date Of Release: 18 November 2016

If I’m honest, I thought Swedish melodic metallers Enbound were one of those bands that had been sadly consigned to the ‘one album wonders’ dustbin, having released the marvellous debut ‘And She Said Gold’ back in 2011 only to be never heard of again. Thankfully, this isn’t the case as five long years later, in which time the band has maintained almost total radio silence, they are back to deliver their sophomore album, ‘The Blackened Heart’.

Casting my mind back half a decade, I remember receiving the Enbound promo and, knowing nothing about the band at the time, I was blown away by the music that confronted me. Melodic metal is not generally a genre known for pushing the envelope and trying new things. As a result, if you’re not generally a fan of melodic metal, you are free to look away now. For everyone else, stay exactly where you are.

You see, if it is done right, the melodic metal genre can produce some of the most entertaining and satisfying music anywhere within the rock/metal world. And so was the case with ‘And She Said Gold’ – in my Powerplay review, I remarked that the debut was a great blend of power metal, AOR and melodic hard rock that came together to create ‘pure melodic metal gold’.

As you can imagine then, I was delighted to eventually be confronted with the follow-up effort from ex-Zonata Drummer Mike Cameron Force and co. I’m even more delighted to be able to report that ‘The Blackened Heart’ proves that the debut was no flash in the pan. In fact, it is fair to say that Enbound are an even better proposition five years on than they were in the beginning. Mike Cameron Force alongside guitarist Marvin Flowberg, vocalist Lee Hunter (Work Of Art) and bassist Swede Odén have together constructed something very special with ‘The Blackened Heart’. 2016 has been a strong year for melodic metal as far as I’m concerned but this record is arguably the very best. Yes it is genuinely that good. Addictive, rich-sounding, slick, entertaining, anthemic – it literally has it all.

To begin with, if you can forgive my boldness, ‘Feel My Flame’ has got to be in the running for best melodic metal song of the year. It is a superb piece of music full of power, emotion and the chorus is nothing short of a killer hook-laden masterpiece. Hunter’s vocals are superb, displaying an impressive range, akin to Lost Horizon’s Daniel Heiman, another personal favourite of mine. I challenge anyone to listen once and then not press repeat, it is so wonderfully addictive. Plus, the Seventh Wonder-esque progressive-sounding bass line in the breakdown in the middle of the song is a very nice, sophisticated touch, courtesy of a guest appearance from Symphony X’s Mike LePond.

enbound_band

In fact, the bass work overall is one of the highlights of this album. Jacob Hansen has mastered this record and he has done a great job, enhancing an already impressive production to ensure that all of the individual instruments get their time to shine. And the bass is one of the big winners here. Aside from the aforementioned ‘Feel My Flame’, take a listen to the grandiose symphonic majesty of ‘Twelve’ to hear Odén work his four-string low-end magic. Or the power metal meets commercial rock of ‘Holy Grail’. Or…well, you get the idea.

‘Falling’ kicks off the album with a Sonata Arctica vocal intro before it truly bursts to life with the strength of a Rhino on heat. The song benefits from some modern layered effects and a properly muscular rhythm section led by Force’s drums. And the chugging riffs that act as a counterpoint to the melodic vocals of Hunter and guest vocalist Linnéa Wikström (Kamelot, Therion) are gratifyingly heavy and ensure that the instantly catchy chorus is surrounded by music of real gravitas and substance.

More huge riffs and expressive drumming usher in ‘Give Me Light’, another anthem of massive proportions. Again the layers of synths give the track a more modern edge and enhance the richness of the music but it is the chorus that steals the show. Or it would have, had it not been for the unexpected and flamboyant acoustic guitar and bass-led breakdown in the latter stages.

Following the up-beat ‘Crossroad’ that features yet another catchy chorus, ‘Get Ready For’ takes over and pushes ‘Feel The Flame’ close for the title of my favourite track on the album. It begins quietly and ominously, building up the cinematic symphonics in classic Kamelot style, before veering off in a full-on melodic hard rock direction complete with a pumping, sing along chorus of gigantic proportions. The lead guitar solo from Flowberg is a thing of extravagant beauty and entirely befitting of this song, whilst vocalist Lee Hunter continues his impressive performance, hitting all the notes, from quiet and reserved to all-out power.

Have I mentioned ‘Feel The Flame’ yet? I have? Oh. Well, it’s really good, trust me.

Elsewhere, ‘HIO’ keeps the speed and drama at full pelt, whereas ‘They Don’t Really Know’ is a truly beautiful ballad. I can take or leave ballads but when they are executed like his, they are irresistible. An elegant piano melody is eventually joined by an acoustic guitar and then layers of synths as the intensity is increased, led by an emotional and heartfelt performance from Hunter.

To put it bluntly, there isn’t a weak second on ‘The Blackened Heart’, let alone a weak song. Each of the ten tracks offers something of real quality and enjoyment, be it a catchy chorus, bombastic riff, killer vocal or a moment of real ostentatiousness in the form of a guitar or bass solo for example. The result, as I alluded to earlier, has to be that with ‘The Blackened Heart’, Enbound have delivered the best melodic metal album of the year. But please don’t leave it so long for album number three, guys, you hear me?

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Blind Ego – Liquid
Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
Hammerfall – Built To Last
Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake
Crippled Black Phoenix – Bronze
Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape
Hanging Garden – Hereafter
Theocracy – Ghost Ship
Arkona – Lunaris
Oddland – Origin
Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
Edensong – Years In The Garden of Years
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Alcest – Kodama
Opeth – Sorceress
Negura Bunget – ZI
Epica – The Holographic Principle
Amaranthe – Maximalism
Eye Of Solitude – Cenotaph
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
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