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New tracks worth checking out: July 2017

The Contortionist – Absolve
Ah, The Contortionist. I still remember listening to them for the very first time when I received the promo for their 2014 release Language. Already one minute in, I knew that I would adore that album, and I still do. It is safe to say that The Contortionist are amongst the most exciting acts in progressive music, and they continue to please their fans with this new track. “Absolve” is the second track off The Contortionist’s new record Clairvoyant out on September 15. Same as on Language, they continue to play intricate, yet very calming, ethereal music. Trust me, you need this band in your life, and you definitely need to throw this new track onto your playlist.

Hallatar – Mirrors
Hallatar’s debut album No Stars Upon The Bridge is one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. Equally, I was really excited to listen to the first song off the new record. The band is featuring Juha Raivio of Swallow The Sun, Gas Lipstick of HIM and Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis, so if you know these bands, you probably can imagine how “Mirrors” might sound like. It is the darkest shade of dark, powerful, and, similarly to Juha Raivio’s previous project Trees Of Eternity, hauntingly beautiful.

Arch Enemy – The World Is Yours
Unlike many other Arch Enemy fans, I am really happy with the band’s new work with vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. She brings her own influences as an artist into the band while trying to stick to the classic Arch Enemy style without sounding fake. After the last album War Eternal, the first one with White-Gluz, Arch Enemy is about to release their new, highly anticipated album Will To Power and “The World Is Yours” is the first taste of the new record. There is not a lot to say about Arch Enemy, only that they deliver every single time, period.

Ne Obliviscaris – Intra Venus
Ne Obliviscaris is one of those insanely good bands that everyone and their mama lose their minds when they announce anything new. Long ago, the Australian prog band released the first track off their new record URN due in October. People lost their minds. I lost my mind.
One thing I have always loved about this band is that despite the fact that very instrument has a place to shine, the music never sounds overdone or too much. These guys probably just can’t write bad songs. However, let’s wait for the entire record and for now, we can enjoy this beautiful new track called “Intra Venus”.

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.

2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 1

I will be honest with you: For the most part, the first half of 2017 consisted of me passing a lot of time in the library trying to study, then studying all I should have studied during the last two years in three weeks, exams and sleeping a lot. Apart from that, it also consisted of me singing in several basements and attics, singing on bigger and smaller stages and screaming at people. There has not been much room for even more music otherwise. However, I’ve been catching up and today, I am very happy to present my top picks of 2017 so far. The following releases really impressed me. This does not mean that they will necessarily reappear in my yearly favorites – I can’t know which of these albums I will actually listen to for a longer period of time – but for now, I have really been enjoying them. So if you are still on the hunt for new music, feel free to check out these awesome releases!

Unleash The Archers – Apex
Release date: June 2, 2017
If you are into traditional heavy metal and melodic metal with a little twist, you will adore this record. Unleash The Archers play a very refreshing mix of those genres and aren’t afraid to add some power and folk metal elements on top. The songs on Apex are very well-written, but also catchy enough to remember and to sing along. Apex is also one of those albums that you listen to once and don’t really get excited about it until you listen more closely. I remember not even liking Brittney Slayes’ vocals at the beginning until I realized that she is a total badass and absolutely unique. I already know that this record will appear in my yearly favorites! Some of my favorite tracks are “The Matriarch”, “Cleanse The Bloodlines” and “Apex”.

Slug Comparison – IIa (EP)
Release date: May 27, 2017
I’m a sucker for great vocals, probably because I sing myself. I also really love good, short songs. Sometimes it’s just that simple. And for that, I quite enjoy Slug Comparison’s music, Doug Harrison’s solo project after playing and singing in the progressive rock band Fen. Slug Comparison’s sound is fresh, diverse and innovative, but not too fancy. Additionally, I could probably listen to Harrison’s vocals all day – as a singer, he’s definitely up there with Jim Grey or Tommy Karevik for me. His latest EP, IIa contains three new songs: “Let Some Light”, a beautifully arranged (mostly) acoustic song, the more energetic “Exactly What To Do” and the mellow, almost ballad-like finishing track “Becoming”. IIa still has Slug Comparison’s signature sound while offering something new as compared with the debut album. I’m already looking forward to IIb!

River Black – River Black
Release date: July 7, 2017
River Black was founded by guitarist John Adubato and drummer David Witte of Municipal Waste after the breakup of their former project Burnt By The Sun. River Black is their debut album, and what an album it is! There aren’t many bands out there that combine thrash, death metal and hardcore so effortlessly. Every track is overflowing with energy and fury. However, River Black manage to keep their songs versatile and musically challenging. For example, “#Victim” is a very interesting track when it comes to rhythm. I also love “Jaws” and “Honor” for their hardcore influence. The song “River Black” even contains some string passages, which shows that this band is not afraid of using whatever elements suit their songs best, no matter the genre. If you like classic thrash metal and hardcore, but feel the need to listen a more modern interpretation of these genres, give River Black a try!

That’s about it for now. Keep an eye out for part 2!

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