Welcome to Part 2 of my series looking at my most anticipated album releases during 2016. It hasn’t taken much time to compile a long list of records that I believe are due out during the year, meaning that if even 75% of this lot see the light of day in the coming 11 months, it will be one of the strongest years for my kind of music that I can remember.

If you missed Part 1, click here: Most Anticipated Metal Releases of 2016 – Part 1
But without further ado and in no particular order, here’s the next batch of exciting releases due this year:

Wolverine – Title ‘TBC’

Swedish progressive metallers Wolverine are a special and unique band and have been around for a relatively long time and the thought that we might have a new record from them in 2016 gets me more excited than perhaps I should admit. Their debut was released in 2001 but they’ve only managed three further albums since. Social media updates tend to suggest however, that new material should see the light of day this year and news like this makes me very happy indeed. There are few acts out there that manage to offer progressive rock/metal that is so complex, rich, grandiose and full of gritty melancholy. Their last album, ‘Communication Lost’ is a marvellous album that is dark, sombre and very poignant, to the point that it can sometimes be a difficult listen depending on your mood. However, the music itself is fantastic, managing to be heavy and complicated yet subtle and very beautiful. A new Wolverine album is bound to be of the highest calibre possible and I cannot wait to hear it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBFkqa06KbQ&w=560&h=315]

Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens

For very good reason, Omnium Gatherum’s last album ‘Beyond’ came a very close second in the race for my favourite album of 2013. It was a superlative album that brilliantly juxtaposed brutal death metal with sophisticated and instantly memorable hook-laden AOR melodies. It perfectly scratched my itch for both heavy and anthemic music. I will admit to having heard the new album, ‘Grey Heavens’ and I’m certain that these Finns are destined for even bigger and better things as a result.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SIo0VA2lFQ&w=560&h=315]

Dimmu Borgir – Title ‘TBC’

One of these posts wouldn’t be the same without a mention for one of my favourite extreme metal bands of all time. To contextualize this statement, their 1997 release, ‘Enthrone, Darkness, Triumphant’ is one of my top 5 albums of all time. Beginning life as a black metal band, more recent output is probably better referred to as ‘extreme metal’. There are plenty of black metal elements to the Norwegian’s sound but such is the rich tapestry of influences that play a part within the modern Dimmu sound, curt pigeonholing into the black metal genre would be disingenuous. 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. There’s no official confirmation of a new album in 2016, but I think it’s a relatively safe bet…I hope!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw_T9pJ728U&w=560&h=315]

Pathosray – Title ‘TBC’

Here’s a band that require and deserve a lot more love and attention than they get currently. As such, they’re a perfect fit for this post. Italian prog metallers Pathosray are a slightly different proposition to many of their peers in that they are certainly prog but not in the classic, conventional sense. Their compositions are full of the requisite complexity but they’re also full of snarl and bite and more chops than you’d find at a butcher shop. Their melodies are also interesting in that they’re not always what you’d expect. This makes their releases a challenge at times but ultimately very rewarding. Pre-release bravado and puff is always full of hyperbole but the comments coming out of the Pathosray camp ahead of their third album and first for some six or seven years have seriously piqued my interest.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTlSru87z_U&w=560&h=315]

Maschine – Title ‘TBC’

A rising star in the UK prog scene, the youngsters came almost out of nowhere in 2013 and wowed me with their impressive debut album, ‘Rubidium’. So much so, I felt compelled to interview them. I loved the blend of technicality, melody and sheer variety, that was occasionally reminiscent of early Pain Of Salvation. Utilising both male and female vocals was a master stroke, providing a relatively unique flavour to an already impressive recipe. To say I’m looking forward to album number two is an understatement.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxxSq35KIPw&w=560&h=315]

Sound of Contact – Title ‘TBC’

Rather foolishly, I omitted the debut album from Sound of Contact from my top 20 albums of 2013. In my defence, time constraints meant that I didn’t get a chance to listen to it as much as I wanted. But over the last year or so, I have consistently returned to ‘Dimensionaut’ and love it more and more each time I listen. Sound of Contact offer some of the richest, most memorable and indulgent progressive rock of recent times, meaning that a new album in 2016 has to be a highly anticipated event to pencil onto my calendar.

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

Pagan’s Mind – Title ‘TBC’

Pagan’s Mind were the first band ever to receive a full 10/10 from me as a reviewer at Powerplay Magazine, for the amazingly good ‘God’s Equation’ some years ago. Since then, the Norwegians have tweaked their sound to become more hard-rock influenced and melodic, moving away ever so slightly from their more proggy roots. For me, in spite of loving their early incarnation, this subtle reinvention is not a problem because the compositions are so strong and well put-together that you can’t help but get swept up in their personal brand of hard rock and heavy metal.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOkpE9fzLyA&w=420&h=315]

Dark Tranquillity – Title ‘TBC’

Of all of the ‘Gothenburg’ bands, Dark Tranquillity are probably my absolute favourite. Unlike many of their compatriots and competitors, every album with very few exceptions has been a positive experience where their love of the music and their hunger and desire has shone though. It seems almost impossible for Dark Tranquillity to release a substandard album and on that basis, I see no reason as to why a new record shouldn’t be a genuine contender for the best melodeath album of 2016.

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

Darkwater – Title ‘TBC’

From Dark Tranquillity to Darkwater. It feels like an absolute age since Swedish metallers Darkwater released their last album, the thoroughly enjoyable ‘Where Stories End’. The follow-up was scheduled for a 2014 release but has slipped beyond 2015 into 2016. I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait though and we’ll be treated to another excellent album full of synth-heavy epic, memorable and darkly-tinged melodic progressive metal. This band are so good, I even wrote an entire blog post about them!

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

Hecate Enthroned – Title ‘TBC’

When I was discovering the delights of black metal in my late teens, Hecate Enthroned were one of my favourites. 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. 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. However, they are a band that always piques my interest when I hear their name mentioned and I am more than hopeful for a new album sometime in 2016.

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