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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)

New tracks worth checking out: October 2017

Yes, I am aware of the fact that we are already halfway through November. University once again sabotaged my plans to post this on time. But it won’t stop me from sharing some of the best tracks released in October now. Better late than never!
It is safe to say that my attempt on making this a monthly series that goes online at the beginning of the month has failed. I am, however, determined to bring you my favorite new tracks at the end of every month from now on, mostly for the sake of diversion. There is such a thing as too many album reviews in my book!
October was quite full of new metalcore and modern metal releases – at least this is my impression. Ergo, you should definitely check out the bands and respective songs below if you are searching for new music from this category.
Without further ado, enjoy the following tracks.

Good Tiger – Blueshift
This is a very interesting track. Good Tiger in general are an interesting band I am willing to devote myself more to. “Bueshift” is a fairly new track off their upcoming second album “We Will All Be Gone” and clearly quite different from anything I have ever heard. Just listen for yourself.

Helloween – Pumpkins United
Helloween was one of the very first bands I started listening to as a teenager when I got into heavy music. I used to listen to Helloween every time I went for a run because their music really pushed me. Since then, a lot has changed: I haven’t been listening to Helloween a very much and I also gave up running. But now, as I am listening to this amazing new track, it feels as if I am beamed back in time. “Pumpkins United” is the perfect song to rise your energy levels, and I need a lot of that right now.

Attila – Three 6
Attila, one of the most successful metalcore bands at the moment, released a brand new song on Halloween 2017. There is no information on a new album yet, though. However, “Three 6” is a track that pleased many Atilla fans, and I do enjoy it a lot, as well. From time to time, everyone needs a little kick of energy, and that’s exactly what Attila are delivering with this track.

Polaris – Lucid
I have become a lot more open-minded when it comes to modern metal music. Polaris is a band I probably wouldn’t have checked out a couple of years ago, but little did I know that I would have missed out on some superb music! Polaris offer some of the angriest and simultaneously some of the most soothing vocals I’ve ever heard. The track “Lucid” combines everything I love in a metal song: Energetic, technical music, dynamic structure and powerful vocals, harsh or clean (in this case, we get both!).

Crystal Lake – Apollo
Another quite unique metalcore band – Crystal Lake are from Japan and I think that people outside the metalcore scene have never heard of this band before. On the same note as the aforementioned track “Lucid” by Polaris, “Apollo” feels like a fresh breeze of air. While being heavier, it still contains sprinklings of melody. Now who says modern metal is just bullshit! They clearly haven’t heard of Polaris or Crystal Lake.

Review: Arch Enemy – “Will To Power”

Release date: September 8, 2017
Rating: average (3)

Line-up:

Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – guitars
Jeff Loomis – guitars
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

How do you introduce a band like Arch Enemy? It’s actually really easy: You don’t have to. They are on nearly every rock and metal magazine cover right now. If you haven’t heard of this band to this day, please allow me one question: Have you been living under a rock for the last three years?

Arch Enemy are truly known and loved for what they do. Their new album Will To Power has been really successful so far, but the release of this record hasn’t turned the world upside down. Alright, sarcasm aside: I won’t complain about a more than solid new record by Arch Enemy just because they haven’t drastically changed since their last record. No one is expecting any kind of major shift in style from this band. At this point, I am happy if their songs stay consistently high-quality.
So as I mentioned, the essence of Arch Enemy stays the same and probably will for the years to come – however, adding different elements into their music allows them to move with the times and to offer their loyal fans new and exciting music without changing their style completely. And that’s exactly what they intended with Will To Power. I will, though, complain about the fact that this album could have turned out better than it actually did.
The intro “Set Flame To The Night” sounds pretty mediocre to me. The next song, “The Race”, a quite fast and straight-forward song, seems to be doing the job as the first “real” track on the record, not more and not less. “Blood In The Water” just isn’t memorable. It is quite likely that you will forget this song very quickly, as it is way too packed with quite unimpressive riffs and unnecessary guitar tootling.
From this point on, the record starts to become enjoyable. “The World Is Yours” is the first track on this record that finally stands out. It isn’t nearly as catchy as “War Eternal” was, but it is really solid, quite dynamic for an Arch Enemy track and the bass sounds really cool. Next up is “The Eagle Flies Alone”, aka “You Will Know My Name 2.0”. I mean, the song is really good. I assume that at least one medium paced, epic track is part of every Arch Enemy record now. But the interesting thing about Will To Power is that they decided to put another slower, “ballad”-like song right after an already relatively slow track like “The Eagle Flies Alone” – it’s called “Reason To Believe”, and this really is the kind of song that gives you strength and hope. I really enjoy it. It is definitely something completely different for Arch Enemy, but oh, is it splendid! Thank God Alissa got to use her full vocal spectrum on this album, particularly on this track and also on some other songs to come. It seems that she has a lot more saying in the songwriting process now, as some melodies and singing styles are very reminiscent of older The Agonist material, which makes absolute sense. I have been a fan of The Agonist with White-Gluz, so I really don’t mind hearing some parallels to her old band. On the same note, Arch Enemy’s frontwoman is starting to form a personality of her own and, luckily, is not trying to copy her predecessor Angela Gossow. People can say whatever they want about Alissa White-Gluz, but thanks to her talent and hard work, she has risen to the very top of the metal scene, and rightfully so.
The album continues with “Murder Scene”, a quite classically structured heavy metal song that also sounds quite personal if you listen to the lyrics. “First Day In Hell” and “Dreams Of Retribution” are surprisingly dark, but well-done. In general, the following tracks stand out in comparison with other Arch Enemy tracks in the sense that they are less epic and more straight-forward and higher-paced, which is nice to hear for a change. “My Shadow And I” highlights my last point, as well as the cover “City Baby Attacked By Rats” originally performed by GBH. “A Fight I Must Win”, technically the last track off Will To Power, on the contrary, sounds like a classic Arch Enemy song again. The lyrics sound kind of unspectacular, but that’s nothing new about Arch Enemy either. I also see what they did with the violins at the end, which I find really unnecessary. Write an epic guitar riff, Amott. God damn it, it’s your final track!

Despite this record being solid, I can’t change the fact that to me, it is “only” solid. I can’t rate it as “outstanding” as it isn’t to me. What is presented on Will To Power is the least you would expect from Arch Enemy. I think it’s great that they are experimenting a little bit with different sounds, but I’m missing true hits on this record other than “Reason To Believe” and “The World Is Yours”. Fans will like it. But Will To Power will most definitely not blow anyone away who knows what Arch Enemy are capable of.

Tracks:
01. Set Flame To The Night
02. The Race
03. Blood In The Water
04. The World Is Yours
05. The Eagle Flies Alone
06. Reason To Believe
07. Murder Scene
08. First Day In Hell
09. Saturnine
10. Dreams Of Retribution
11. My Shadow And I
12. A Fight I Must Win
13. City Baby Attacked By Rats

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