We can officially say that the new year in music is off to a great start, as the final two weeks of January have given us more big-name releases than we normally get in the entire month of January. I’m hoping that the rest of the release calendar is this good in 2016, because that will make for a solid year of metal. In the meantime, check out the greatness we have for you today!
Dream Theater, The Astonishing (Roadrunner)
Dream Theater’s thirteenth album is a two-disc concept piece that will enrapture the inner geek in all of us. The story of the album tells of a band of rebels trying to oppose a powerful empire, and music plays a central role in their defiance. Inspired by the likes of Star Wars and Game of Thrones, this story was the brainchild of John Pertrucci, with the rest of the band adding their creative efforts as it was developed.
Primal Fear, Rulebreaker (Frontiers)
Germany’s Primal Fear has proven over time to be one of the most consistent and impressive power metal bands on the planet, delivering high-quality material on each album. Their eleventh full-length Rulebreaker is no exception, delivering an excellent balance of speed, melody, and technicality that only a veteran group can create. Check out the track “Bullets & Tears” to hear it for yourself, and check out Primal Fear on tour with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody this April.
Avantasia, Ghostlights (Nuclear Blast)
Avantasia’s existence has been broken down into different periods, based around the storyline and theme of the material presented. Ghostlights marks the end of the third stage for Avantasia, and it’s an impressive way to close things out. Whether observing the incredible songwriting of Tobias Sammet on the group’s seventh album or the stellar guest cast that have joined on this effort, Ghostlights is an excellent addition to Avantasia’s history.
Toothgrinder, Nocturnal Masquerade (Spinefarm)
We here at Metal Insider have been excited about Toothgrinder since their 2014 EP Schizophrenic Jubilee hit our radar, enough so that they got to play our CMJ showcase that year as well. Now the New Jersey group is dropping their full-length debut, and it’s a barn burner of a debut. This is the kind of technical metal that is rarely seen, but blows the roof off every time it shows up. Check out “The House (That Fear Built)” and “Diamonds for Gold” if you need proof.
Serenity, Codex Atlanticus (Napalm)
This is a great week for power and progressive metal! Austria’s Serenity has really hit their stride in the past few years, making their presence felt in the European market over the course of four album. Codex Atlanticus is the band’s fifth effort, and it is a concept album following the life of Leonardo di Vinci. Check out the video for lead single “Follow Me” to hear what Serenity is all about.
Black Tusk, Pillars of Ash (Relapse)
This is Black Tusk’s first album since the tragic death of bassist Jonathan Athon in 2014, following injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. Needless to say, that makes this album a much more hard-hitting affair for the sludge group, especially since Athon had already recorded the bass tracks for Pillars of Ash before his passing. Check out the full album stream over on Noisey, along with a tribute to Athon from Black Tusk’s road associate Kim Kelly.
Bury Tomorrow, Earthbound (Nuclear Blast)
Bury Tomorrow’s last album, 2014’s Runes, earned them critical recognition all over Europe, including a nomination at the 2014 Kerrang! Awards for “Best British Newcomer”. Following that album, the band spent most of 2015 on the road before re-entering the studio to record Earthbound. If you’re looking for an album about the eponymous video game, this is not it, but you will be satisfied if you’re looking for a healthy dose of Killswitch-inspired melodic metalcore.
Conan, Revengeance (Napalm)
Doom metal sounds dark by nature, but Conan takes it to the next level. The British three-piece group made a name for themselves by distorting and downtuning their instruments even further than most bands in the genre, taking their sound to an otherworldly level of evil. Revengeance, the band’s third album, will certainly fulfill any need you have for bowel-shaking riffs.
Exumer, The Raging Tides (Metal Blade)
German thrash history is dominated by the Teutonic Trio, but just like with the American thrash scene, there are a plethora of other German thrashers still making an impact today. Exumer is one such group, coming back into existence in 2008 following a seventeen-year hiatus. The Raging Tides may only be the group’s fourth album, but they have the ferocity and chops of a group half their age. This album will assuredly wreck your neck.