Welcome to the third and final part of my series looking at those bands & albums that I either know or hope will be released during the second half of 2016.

If you missed the first two instalments, here they are for your delectation:
Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 1
Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2016 – Part 2

So here goes with my final picks…

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
Century Media Records

insomnium coverAnother excellent Finnish extreme metal band, Insomnium put together a truly edifying and highly enjoyable racket. Death metal sits at the heart of what Insomnium are all about but this is then blended expertly with dark, doom and folk metal elements before being topped off with lashings of atmosphere and elegant melodies. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well it is and I’m very intrigued to hear the new album, ‘Winter’s Gate’ which is due out in the early part of September. I am even more intrigued now that I know that the album is a concept and made up of one single 40-minute track. It’s a bold move and extremely brave but I’m confident that the result will be worth the wait.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBZ5SLJmfdw&w=560&h=315]

Amaranthe – TBC
Nuclear Blast

Amaranthe are one of those bands that seriously divide opinion. On the one hand, many metal fans will dismiss the output of this young outfit as vacuous, plastic nonsense, a synthetic hit of ear candy. To a certain extent, they’d not be too far wrong as much of the material owes more to pop music than it does to melodic death metal. However, delve more closely into the music and several things become abundantly clear: the vocalists are actually very good, the hooks and choruses are hugely infectious, the guitar work and strong rhythm section is out of the metal top drawer and the song writing is undeniably slick and nicely arranged. They were a guilty pleasure but more and more, my guilt is subsiding as I realise Amaranthe are a very good band indeed.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxOybZcRXhI&w=560&h=315]

Darkwater – TBC
Ulterium Records

It feels like an absolute age since Swedish metallers Darkwater released their last album, the thoroughly enjoyable ‘Where Stories End’. It also feels like I’ve been putting Darkwater into these posts forever, whilst we wait patiently for new material to see the light of day. The follow-up was scheduled for a 2014 release but has slipped beyond 2015 into 2016…and who knows whether it’ll be released before the year is out. I certainly hope so. Whenever it arrives though, I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait and we’ll be treated to another excellent album full of synth-heavy epic, memorable and darkly-tinged melodic progressive metal.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSph5SDudmM&w=560&h=315]

Sound Of Contact – TBC
Lightyears Music Ltd

Rather foolishly, I omitted the debut album from Sound of Contact from my top 20 albums of 2013 and it is a decision that still haunts me given how often I return to ‘Dimensionaut’ for a dose of high quality melodic progressive rock. In my defence, time constraints meant that I didn’t get a chance to listen to it as much as I wanted at the time, but that’s no excuse. Sound of Contact offer some of the richest, most memorable and indulgent progressive rock of recent times, created by a talented and focused group of musicians. I’ve put this band into these kinds of posts seemingly for ages but solo projects by the members keep getting in the way. It has been confirmed that work has begun on a new album, but even I will admit that a 2016 release is more in hope than expectation. But we’ll wait and see.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVm4uc_zHmM&w=560&h=315]

Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
InsideOut Music

devincd[1]This is a name that needs no introduction. Devin Townsend is one of the hardest working and talented musicians within the rock/metal world. From Strapping Young Lad to the Ziltoid concept and everything in between, Townsend has managed to create some of the heaviest, richest, most beautifully soothing music I’ve ever heard. And none of it is anything short of brilliant. Reading the quotes directly from Townsend himself, he sounds excited by the new record, a release that has been written as a collective effort from all those involved. And, if Devin is excited by it, then I think we should too. The more I read about it, the higher the hopes I have for it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NGQjRMXg28&w=560&h=315]

Dimmu Borgir – TBC
Nuclear Blast

It has been very quiet in the world of Dimmu Borgir in terms of a new album. It has been six years since the Norwegian extreme metallers released ‘Abrahadabra’, so it’s about time! According to their social media updates, the band were undertaking pre-production back in December 2015 but since then, nothing further has been mentioned. I’ve been a fan of Dimmu Borgir and their over-the-top and grandiose black metal ever since discovering the remarkable ‘Enthrone, Darkness, Triumphant’ many years ago. Each release from Shagrath et al is a slick, professional affair where the final product shines through a powerful and crystal-clear production. The symphonic elements and grandiose bombast provide a majestic and theatrical sheen to what is, at heart, pretty bruising and uncompromising heavy metal. I’m definitely not alone in hoping that we see a new album during the remainder of 2016.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jw7yk8hm_0&w=560&h=315]

Hecate Enthroned – TBC
Crank Music Group

Whilst on the subject of black metal, Hecate Enthroned are one of those bands that I have a genuine soft spot for. They were heavily inspired by Cradle of Filth in that their compositions were full of Gothic theatrics, symphonics and more melody than you’d think on a first listen, partly disguised by a raw and challenging production. The band turned all death metal on us in the late 90’s and since then, the output from the UK band has not been prolific to say the least. However, I check in with the band from time to time to check progress and social media updates suggested back in May that the new album is moving onto the mixing stage. So maybe, just maybe I can enjoy some new Hecate Enthroned material very soon…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BWPFebjgQE&w=420&h=315]

Subterranean Masquerade – TBC
Taklit Music

Septet Subterranean Masquerade is a truly international band boasting members from Orphaned Land, November’s Doom and Green Carnation. And as equally eclectic as the line-up in the music itself. The band fuse elements of 70s prog rock, folk, extreme metal, jazz, symphonic metal and world music whilst incorporating both clean singing and death metal growls. As you might imagine, the finished article can appear to be a daunting prospect initially and not for the faint-hearted. And yet, the music flows excellently, underpinned by some strong melodies and clever songwriting from the protagonists led by guitarist and founding member Tomer Pink. Seeing posts from Kjetil Nordhus (Green Crnation) heading off to undertake vocal recordings for a new album has be very intrigued and hopeful for a new album before the year is out.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a1v5dhpe8I&w=560&h=315]