Rather than spending the holidays relaxing, eating far too much, and drinking even more, I’d planned to spend my denominational festival of choice (Satanmass: part Christmas, but with 30% more pentagrams and at least two goats) holed up, scouring the web for the tiniest whispers of music to come so that we can bring you the definitive list of what to expect from underground music in 2016, both confirmed and rumoured.
Naturally, that all went up the shitter when the ancient laptop I use when away from Monolith Towers gave up the ghost, and January has been a case of wrestling this beast into shape when time permitted, and constantly rejigging it as information gets updated.
So this is as accurate as we can make it at the time of publishing, but things are changing quickly, so keep your eyes on the bands in question.
Let us know what you like the look of, sound of, what we’ve missed, and anything else you want to hurl our way!
We start with:
Abbath – Abbath
Due: 22nd January
Act one and we already missed the release date. Damn.
Since splitting from Immortal in 2014 – kind of a big deal, as he was one of its founding members, and they’d been going since 1989 – Abbath has been putting together a new band. One of the most iconic faces in extreme metal, this is going to have turned a few more heads than normal if nothing else. That London photoshoot with Abbath, bassist King Ov Hell and drummer Creature in Metal Hammer a few months back gave some indication of the anticipation, but as ever the proof of the pudding is not in the corpse paint, but the corpses laid waste by the music. Or something to that effect.
The album is out, but here’s “Winter Bane“. Expect more cold, wolfy, Norwegian adventures in corpse paint and general misanthropy, if you’ve not heard it already.
After The Burial – Dig Deep
Due: 19th February
Last summer’s absolutely devastating news was a shock to pretty much everyone. To lose a founding member, and such a well-respected guitarist in the scene, in such a horrible fashion was unconscionable, and it’s clear that Justin Lowe will never be forgotten – but to their absolute credit, the remaining members of After The Burial decided to push on with the release of their new album.
It’s title is as clear a message of strength as you’re going to get; they’ve really had to Dig Deep over the past six months. Vocalist Anthony Notarmaso commented “We went through hell to finish this record, and the music translates that,” and it absolutely does; it’s a vibrant record and a real testament to the work that’s gone into it.
Even if you’re not a fan of chunky polyrhythmic riffs on 8-string guitars, it’s definitely worth giving this a listen when it drops, out of sheer respect if nothing else.
Here’s the album’s second track “Lost In The Static“:
Alaya – TBC
Early last year, Basick Records posted eight pictures to their Facebook page, effectively announcing the eight planned releases they were aiming for in 2015. Now, circumstances dictated a scaling back of this, but what it means is that any that didn’t drop during 2015 are fair game for 2016.
The first of these is Alaya, and we know for sure this one is coming. Chicagoans Evan and Dave travelled to the UK to celebrate Basick’s 10th birthday towards the end of last summer, and told us things were coming along nicely for the follow-up to 2014′s Thrones – provided Evan can stop tinkering with it, of course.
Jokes aside, they were set to record final guitars in November, and have been posting snippets of lyrics over the past few months, so this is as good an indication as any that we’re not too far off.
The Algorithm – Brute Force
Due: 1st April
The Algorithm have officially announced that third album Brute Force will at the beginning of April. A real gem, the young French producer and king of beep-boop Rémi Gallego showed marked progression between debut Polymorphic Code and 2014′s Octopus4, and so when Brute Force was announced late last year, our interest was piqued.
There’s not much else beyond that yet, but as well as track called “Neotokyo” that dropped last year (unconfirmed to be on Brute Force), The Algorithm did just sign to U.S. label FiXT, dropping this song in the process:
Aliases – TBC
Due: hopefully by summer at the latest
Our first hangover from last year’s list, Aliases have been taking their sweet time with the debut LP. Originally scheduled for 2014 (!), currently delays might just have a little something to do with guitarist Pin’s involvement with the SikTh revival, but they also parted ways with drummer Darren Pugh, and recruited Jof Walsh, so bedding him in has likely been a priority (he filled in for their Euroblast set admirably last October).
Things are looking good though. A particularly meaty update in October saw this video going up via their Pledge campaign update feed, and the sections on display sound fucking great, whilst there was also confirmation that the record was going for mastering in the first week of November. Going by their social media feeds, Jof has also been filming drum playthroughs, art is being finalised, and December saw completion of a photoshoot (a necessary inclusion in any good press pack), so hopefully Basick will announce very soon.
Of course, maybe don’t hold your breath just yet, and we’ll pencil in their slot for The Shape Of Music To Come 2017 just in case…
Until then, here (again) is “Exasperated“, and its (still) dead cool video:
Amia Venera Landscape – Vision I: (The Great Mystery)
Due: 30th April
It’s been just over five years since Italians Amia Venera Landscape‘s incredibly intense The Long Procession. We knew the follow-up was coming, thanks to our chat with frontman Alessandro Brun in January of last year, but it was nice to get confirmation of an April release as the year closed out – as well as a new track. As they elaborated themselves:
“This is our first work to be totally self produced, and we couldn’t be more excited and satisfied about the new songs!
Expect more news in the next months and in the meantime check out this live video of “Hiraeth”, one of the 15 songs that will be present in the album.
Thanks to all of you for your patience and constant support.”
Fifteen songs! Crikey. Here’s that video, to get your hype train started:
Anti-Clone – The Root Of Man
Anti-Clone started a Pledgemusic campaign for their debut album in November, and by all accounts it went very well – in fact, it’s been successfully funded.Hooray
We were impressed with their 2014 EP Hands Sewn Together, but they’re promising their first full-length will be no copy:
“This debut album will be our first official footprint on the music industry. The EP was an early test, an experiment and we’ve learnt so much from the whole process. As soon as we started writing for the album earlier this year, we knew immediately we wanted Matt Hyde involved”
Matt Hyde has worked with some big bands, including Slipknot on All Hope Is Gone and Machine Head on The Blackening, so he knows his stuff, and he’s been very complimentary:
“The step up in musicianship and song writing is immense and as a producer you can’t ask for anymore than the band to be willing and open to trying new ideas. Anti-Clone push themselves and it’s no surprise that they have gained a lot of fans along the way. I can’t wait to have the record completed, there is no doubt in my mind that 2016 is going to be a big year for them.”
Well then. The Pledgemusic campaign closed on January 31st, so don’t expect anything for a few months, but we expect they’ll be wanting to play as many festivals as possible, so hopefully before then.
Avantasia – Ghostlights
Due: 29th January
Tobias Sammet clearly loves what he does. Alongside main band Edguy – which has been going for a mammoth 23 years – he’s had fingers in a variety of places over the years, and released a lot of music. And he still ain’t bored.
His current focus is symphonic side-project Avantasia, for which he plays bass and sings, as well as being a main composer, along with long-time collaborator and guitarist Sascha Paeth.
New album Ghostlights includes a lot of collaborators, with no fewer than ten guest vocalists, as well as a couple of musicians (in the main Bruce Kulick, formerly of KISS)
01. Mystery of a Blood Red Rose
02. Let the Storm Descend Upon You
03. The Haunting
04. Seduction of Decay
06. Draconian Love
07. Master of the Pendulum
08. Isle of Evermore
09. Babylon Vampyres
11. Unchain the Light
12. A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies
So proud of it is Tobias that he sees a good six or seven of the Ghostlights tracks making their way into their live set.
Here’s opening track “Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose“, released December 9th:
And our official review.
Black Peaks – Statues
Due: 8th April
Black Peaks have been so busy it’s a wonder they even have time to release a record – they’ve been playing a ridiculous amount of shows lately – yet the Brighton quartet had Statues pencilled in for the end of February via Easy Life/Sony Red. It was recently pushed back to April to allow for some last-minute polishing, but that’s likely for the best.
Often compared to Deftones, Black Peaks have a more punk-rock edge to them, and this is going to be an interesting one. Statues will feature previous singles “Glass Built Castles“ and “Crooks“, with the full track list as follows:
01. Glass Built Castles
03. Say You Will
04. Hang ‘Em High
05. Set In Stone
07. Statues Of Shame
09. White Eyes
10. To Take The First Turn
There was a recent video for new song “Saviour“, so in the interest of keeping up to date, here it is:
The Black Queen – Fever Daydream
Due: 29th Jan
The Black Queen is a really interesting project for a number of reasons. The draw for most of you will be the presence of Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan on vocals, but the band’s other members are Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv, sometimes of Puscifer, and one time touring member of Nine Inch Nails, and drummer Steven Alexander (who has teched for TDEP and NIN).
In dealing with a wealth of negative emotions – particularly for Greg – Puciato and Alexander started The Black Queen as a more melodic, shoegazy outlet, but the addition of Eustis – as both band member and housemate – changed things. This interview with Rolling Stone explains much better, but this sounds like a massive endeavour in catharsis for all, and no mere distraction.
The full album came out at the end of January via Bandcamp, and can be ordered here digitally, on CD, and 2LP vinyl.