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Tag: hard rock

6 albums you might have missed in 2017

Who doesn’t know the struggle? As soon as one year is over, we start stumbling upon all the great records we have missed in the previous year. Or, we had every intention to check out a certain album, but fail to do so. I am definitely guilty as charged, but as always, I did my homework and will present to you the records I missed to check out in 2017, so this is basically a special edition of the series “Gems of last year”. Be sure to check out everything that sounds appealing to you, as there are some true gems to be found here.

Neck Of The Woods – “The Passenger”
Neck Of The Woods are known to play an intriguing mix of progressive metal, thrash metal, death metal and metalcore. Despite this mix fitting well into the metal music of the present, their debut “The Passenger” nearly sounds “old school” in the sense that it reminds me of Between The Buried And Me, Opeth and Darkest Hour. You just have to love how smart their songs are and how well these guys play. Additionally, Neck Of The Woods’ music will please extreme metal fans and prog lovers alike. Just do yourself a favor and check out “The Passenger”!

Horror Dance Squad – “Leap”
Horror Dance Squad are playing a strange kind of music, but strange in all the good ways. Despite, or rather, thanks to their unique mix of dance and metalcore in the style of Bring Me The Horizon, they have managed to create an equally interesting and addictive record called “Leap”. It’s that type of music that will get you out of bed and going ten out of ten times. I get that you wouldn’t want to listen to this kind of stuff the whole day every day, but a couple of tracks of “Leap” have definitely made it to my “Conquer The World” playlist on Spotify. Make sure to check out Horror Dance Squad in case you’re in need for the right kick out of bed in the morning. Because, you know, motivation is just a myth.

Polaris – “The Mortal Coil”
I can’t say anything negative about this Polaris nor their latest record. “The Mortal Coil” is consistent from beginning to end and it sounds like a heavier Wovenwar with tech metal influences. The vocals in this band are truly among the best in the genre (seriously, don’t miss out on those delightful clean vocals!). Polaris have released one hell of a massive album with “The Mortal Coil” and I’m almost ashamed that I didn’t check it out earlier. It’s addictive, it’s heavy and it’s beautiful: basically the perfect mix of brutal and cheesy. The video below depicts just that, actually. Aggressive music and falling rose petals? Sign me up. Metalcore release of the year!

Ordo Ignis Dei – “Bibliomystikon”
Ordo Ignis Dei is once again one of those bands you can’t put a label on. The band name and the title of their first record “Bibliomystikon” suggest that this is pure black metal, so the surprise is even bigger when you start listening and you get to hear jazz, prog and dark ambient music with black metal influences as well as clean vocals. I have never heard such an intriguing mix, but it turns out to be very well-made. You might not like jazz, just like myself, but “Bibliomystikon” is still very much worth giving a listen, as this is one of the most original releases of 2017. I’m very curious to hear what Ordo Ignis Dei come up with in the future.

 

Cyhra – “Letters To Myself”
Jake E left Amaranthe last year, but continues to delight us with his beautiful voice and lyrics as a member of the brand new band Cyhra. It always seemed as if he got the short end of the stick in Amaranthe, so I’m very glad to hear him presenting his abilities as a vocalist in Cyhra. The modern hard rock/metal band is consisting of other renowned metal musicians from bands like In Flames, Shining, and Rhapsody. I wouldn’t say that their debut record “Letters To Myself” is a game changer, but there are definitely some memorable moments to be found here, and I’m always down to listening to Jake E’s voice. This album is definitely a great listen for all Amaranthe or Dreamland fans out there.

Caligula’s Horse – “In Contact”
Once again, I am attracted to a band because of the singer. I’m getting really predictable. This whole post could have also been called “Great vocals you might have missed in 2017″…
Alright, back to business. Caligula’s Horse was probably one of my favorite bands two years ago. Nowadays, I still enjoy their music, I just don’t understand my obsession with them anymore, nor my obsession with prog rock in general. That’s the main reason why I didn’t check out their latest release until recently. However, “In Contact” is, like the album art, a very colorful record that definitely deserves a mention here. Not much has changed compared to the predecessor “Bloom”: Caligula’s Horse have found their formula for success and only make slight alterations or add new elements here and there. “In Contact” is just one step further for a band that definitely knows what they’re doing.


P.S.: I skipped the annual favorites post this time around. The main issue is that I don’t have a lot of releases to talk about. In case you’re curious, though, I do have some favorites posts from summer 2017:

2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 1
2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 2

Honorable mentions (reviews):
The Contortionist – “Clairvoyant”
Dreamgrave – “Monuments” (EP)

Review: In This Moment – “Ritual”

Release date: July 21, 2017
Rating: average (3)

Line-up:

Maria Brink – vocals
Chris Howorth – guitar
Randy Weitzel – guitar
Travis Johnson – bass
Tom Hane – drums

Maria Brink must be one of the most provocative artists in modern heavy music. While she is easily mistaken for someone who is all about shocking everyone with her looks, I truly acknowledge her genius: Few vocalists express their emotions as openly, very few don’t deter from addressing personal tragedies as directly as Maria Brink. I will always remember the lyrics and the video of the song “Sex Metal Barbie” – In This Moment turned all the hatred that the band ever received into one of their most powerful and equally disturbing songs. I am sure that many won’t agree with me, but I believe that Maria Brink is not technically a role model, but an important female figure in today’s music industry: She has many talents, does whatever she wants, isn’t afraid of criticism and has a hugely empowering impact on women who don’t fit into today’s society.

Alright, after my little sortie into feminism, let’s get into the music. People have very divided opinions on In This Moment, which is no surprise considering their style and their offensive lyrics. Ritual once again falls into that category: The music In This Moment are presenting on this record is very little different from what they usually offer, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, that’s not the case when the music isn’t the best in general. To me, it always seems as if In This Moment have a lot more potential than they actually deliver. The aforementioned single “Sex Metal Barbie” showcases exactly the kind of energy, emotion and musical genius this band is capable of. Luckily, there are some tracks on “Ritual” that go into the right direction, namely “Black Wedding” featuring nobody else than Rob Halford. This song makes you want to dance and sing along immediately and the lyrics and the melodies just go together so nicely. The rest isn’t bad. It really isn’t. On the one hand, I usually can’t get the main melody of “River Of Fire” out of my head for at least six hours after listening to that song. In This Moment have also succeeded with their cover of “In The Air Tonight” originally performed by Phil Collins, as it really is a great mix of the original and their own style. “Joan Of Arc” and “Witching Hour” give me serious American Horror Story vibes, the atmosphere on these tracks is just amazing. “Oh Lord”, the first single off the new record, on the other hand, is a little unspectacular, just like all the other tracks on Ritual.

The bottom line is that this album doesn’t feel like one hundred percent. In This Moment are somehow stuck at seventy-five percent. Ultimately, I believe that if you enjoy In This Moment, you will enjoy this record, period. But after listening more closely, I can only conclude that this record will never satisfy a music enthusiast’s need for creative, unique and sophisticated songwriting. I will continue to listen to those three to five songs by In This Moment that I like and that’s it.

Tracks:
01. Salvation
02. Lord
03. Black Wedding
04.  In The Air Tonight
05. Joan Of Arc
06. River Of Fire
07. Witching Hour
08. Twin Flames
09. Half God Half Devil
10. Me Importa
11. Roots
12. Lay Your Gun Down

2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 2

Some of you might look at this short list and ask themselves “Where is all the heavy stuff?”. Well, a little while ago, I introduced part 1 of this series with the fact that I haven’t had much time to listen to a lot of music in 2017 because of different reasons, and when I did, I have almost always been opting for “softer” music.
Two of the next albums have been accompanying me during most parts of this spring – can you guess which ones?

Kobra And The Lotus – Prevail I
Release date:
May 12, 2017
Having always been skeptical about artists who seem self-publicizing or too concerned about their looks, I avoided Kobra And The Lotus for quite some time. Frontwoman Kobra Paige looked as if she could fit into the aforementioned category of musicians; however, after listening to the latest album by the Canadian band, I learned that she is a gifted vocalist and as I watched some interviews with her, I concluded that she has to be a genuinely nice and down-to-earth person. This is probably another typical case of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Also, shout out to a female in the metal genre that is not a soprano – middle-ranged ladies and altos are way too underrepresented in the metal scene. In a world full of Sharons, Tarjas and Elizes, we need more Kobras!
Prevail I has been growing on me with every new listen: It has the right punch to it despite being full of hits. It also feels a lot fresher than Kobra And The Lotus’ previous releases. Some of the most outstanding songs are the opener “Gotham”, “Triggerpulse” and the semi-ballad “Light Me Up”.

Imminence – This Is Goodbye
Release date:
March 31, 2017
I would say that I normally don’t listen to “this kind” of music, but that would be bullshit. I listen to whatever works for me, and even though this new type of core music is not what I generally opt for, I genuinely enjoy Imminence’s new record This Is Goodbye. It is true that they have changed their style quite drastically; however, both styles, namely classic metal-/deathcore and modern melodic/alternative rock/metal, suit them very well. If this is what a band wants to do, why not?
This Is Goodbye is basically a record that has been written with a broken heart: There are quite a few songs on here that express feelings of sadness, loss, heartbreak, and chagrin. Nonetheless, all tracks are memorable and full of energy.This record soothes the listener and makes him want to party at the same time. “Energetic” is also a term to describe Imminence’s live shows: The Swedes give everything on stage and especially vocalist Eddie Berg is one of the most enthusiastic frontmen I have ever seen live. And to top it all, he even produces all of Imminence’s music videos, and he’s doing a fantastic job.
It is fair to say that I have been playing this record on repeat ever since I bought it at one of their shows as support for annisokay. Also, have I mentioned that these guys are some of the nicest dudes I have ever met? I have never been hugged so much in one single evening. Anyways, if you are into great melodies and don’t mind a little electronic action alongside with guitars and a little cheesiness, give This Is Goodbye a listen. Favorite tracks: “Coming Undone”, “Broken Love” and “Cold As Stone”.

Soen – Lykaia
Release date:
February 3, 2017
When I reviewed this record for progressivemusicplanet.com, I remember liking two songs off Lykaia a lot and the rest sounded rather mediocre to me. Despite that and the fact that Soen sound way too perfect for my taste, I have still being coming back to this album. And now, as I am listening to Lykaia again, I do like it more than a couple of months ago. So that’s why I had to mention it as part of this list. Unmistakably influenced by Opeth and Tool, Soen created an atmospheric and dynamic prog rock record and even added some elements of world music. In my review, I wrote as a conclusion that you should give this record several listens so you could “discover the colors that I tried and failed to find”. Slowly, but steadily, it seems that these so-called colors I tried to find in Lykaia are finally revealing themselves to me.

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