Tuesday, 24 February 2015

2014 Round-Up: 2015 Top Prospects

      Since we're already almost a sixth of the way through 2015, it's about goddamn time I got part 2 of my 2014 round-up posted, right? Lucky for me, none of the records I anticipate below have come out yet, but there's one or two that are right around the corner, so you'd better get reading!

Tool - ??? (???)
     I thought I'd get this one over and done with right off the bat. Everybody and their mother's dog knows that Tool operates on a much longer album cycle than virtually anybody else on the planet, but since it's been almost nine years now since the release of 10,000 Days even Maynard and company are getting to be about due for some new material. The last year or so has seen a number of rumours and vaguely enticing social media posts that seem to suggest work on a new record is ongoing, perhaps even nearing completion, but just when we might get to hear any of this new material is anybody's guess. I'll believe this one's coming when I'm holding a copy in my hand.

Uneven Structure - La Partition (summer)
     It's been nearly four years since France's Uneven Structure blew me and a lot of other listeners away with their so-much-more-than-just-djent debut LP Februus, but the band is finally putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to this masterwork of dense groove and atmosphere. The internet buzz seems to think that this one will be out by the summer, and I for one hope the internet is right for once. La Partition could well be a monster, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Chimp Spanner - ??? (???)
     Regular readers will know that I'm a fan of progressive instrumental music, so the prospect of new material from everybody's favourite one manimal army Chimp Spanner is something I'm 100% onboard with. 2014 saw a new track called "Aurora" unleashed upon the interwebz in demo and playthrough form, but Mr. Ortiz was otherwise largely silent, studio-wise, instead spending the year playing shows and festivals around England and across Europe. That's all well and good, but Chimp Spanner fans elsewhere in the world (read: me) are due for their own dose of Paul Ortiz, and a new record would be the perfect way for us to get it.

Blotted Science - ??? (???)
     Speaking of instrumental prog, tech supertrio Blotted Science also seem to be working on some new jams. Their 2011 EP The Animation of Entomology was an absolute beast, a labyrinthine slice of technicality and compositional virtuosity -- guitarist Ron Jarzombek utilized a "Twelve Tones in Fragmeneted Rows" system of his own design to cook up all the weird and wonderful riffs and chord progressions on the EP  (ask your music-nerd friends to explain it to you). Of course, you don't have to have a graduate degree in music theory to appreciate the madness contained on this EP, or to be excited about the prospect of further experiments from the Blotted Science laboratory.

Dance Gavin Dance - Instant Gratification (April 14th)
     By any standard of modern music you'd care to name, Sacramento post-hardcore act Dance Gavin Dance have had a pretty prolific run so far. Five studio albums, an EP, and a live record in the last eight years or so would be a good track record for any band in any genre, but for band that writes stuff that's a little heavier, a little more technical, it's downright impressive (even if DGD aren't the heaviest or the most technical band in the world...). DGD has undergone several line-up changes over the years, particularly in the vocalist department, so it's always good to get the news that the guys are back at it again with new material.

Coheed and Cambria - ??? (spring/summer 2015)
     Times flies when you're having fun, doesn't it? It seems like Coheed's stellar (pun sorta intended) double album The Afterman came out just yesterday, but second installment Descension is already two years old. Seen in this light, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that Claudio and company are gearing up for another record. Coheed and Cambria's catalogue has its ups and downs, but The Afterman was a bit of a return to form, so the prognosis (pun kind intended yet again) for album number eight looks good.

The Fall of Troy - ??? (???)
     Like Dance Gavin Dance, this is another one of those bands that tr00 metalheads might look down their nose at a little bit, but I've been a Fall of Troy fan a long time. As such, the news that they were getting back together definitely piqued my interest. The subsequent news that they might be working on new material hooked me even more. There's not a whole lot of word on what form new material might take, or when we might hear it, but the fact that singer/guitarist Thomas Erak has left his gig with Chiodos seems to bode well for a return to full-time TFOT recording and touring. The stars fell out of alignment for me a few years back when I had tickets to one of their farewell shows and the couldn't attend, so here's hoping that I'll get another shot to catch them on the road, preferably supporting a new record.

Deftones - ??? (???)
     A new Deftones record is always something to get interested in, if not excited about, and this one should be no exception. The chances of this one being the "lost" album Eros, the last recording the band did with late bassist Chi Cheng, may be slim to none, but the fact remains that Chino and Company have been pretty strong on their last couple of outings. Assuming that the band's next effort is more Koi No Yokan or Diamond Eyes than Saturday Night Wrist -- which might be a pretty big assumption, who knows -- new Deftones material could kick a surprising amount of ass.

Mandroid Echostar - ??? (???)
     As is the case with so many of the entries on this list, there's not much information to go on here -- no title, no release date, no single, nada -- but Facebook tells me that the actual recording process is indeed complete and the band has moved on to the mixing stage. These guys are not only "friends of the blog" (oh how I love being able to say that, even if it's only very loosely true), they're also stupidly good at crafting catchy, shredtastic pop-prog. Keep doing Canada proud, boys.

letlive. - ??? (???)
     I got into The Blackest Beautiful in a big way. Chief among the reasons for this is definitely the fact that, as I've said umpteen bazillion times before, letlive. feels like the successor band to perennial tease Glassjaw, and boy do I loves me some Glassjaw, especially Worship and Tribute. That album's got such a vibe, such an energy, and letlive. manages to tap into that same kind of vibe and energy in spades. I've have no idea what direction the follow-up to The Blackest Beautiful will take, nor do I even know what direction I want it to take, but I can't wait to hear it.

Tesseract - ??? (???)
     A new Tesseract record. With Dan Tompkins back in the mix. Need this Tesseract-loving, Dan Tompkins fanboy say more? No word on when this one's dropping, but in my opinion it can't be soon enough. For now I'll just have to content myself with waiting for the live album/DVD Scala/Odyssesy that's still, at the time of this writing, "coming soon".

The Ocean - ??? (???)
     I may be a bit of a latecomer to the 'The Ocean' party, but I got into the band's last record Pelagial pretty hard. Progressive post-metal with a veritable fuck-tonne of groove, and a high concept to boot? Sign me up. The guys in The Ocean have some pretty deep shoes to fill (see what I did there?) with a follow-up to Pelagial, but if they can pull it off, it would very likely be an Album of the Year contender.

Plini - The End of Everything (March 11)
     Last but most certainly not least is another "friend of the blog", namely Australian guitarist Plini, whose third EP The End of Everything will be coming out in just a couple of weeks' time. Since Plini's previous work is some of the most badass-yet-chill songwriting I've ever heard, the culmination of his trilogy of EP's is definitely something I'm looking forward to -- I've got my preorder in and everything. If guitar-based instrumental jams in which songwriting doesn't take a back seat to technicality but is rather served by it are your thing, The End of Everything should be perfect for scratching your itch. Now all Plini needs to do is stop going to school and traveling around helping people long enough to write an LP already.

     And there you have it: a small selection of upcoming and possibly upcoming albums that I'm looking forward to this year. I'm sure I've probably missed scads of records-in-progress by scads of great bands, but these are some that I've read about, or at least heard rumours about, that have got me stoked up for the next ten months or so.
     Now, you may have noticed a trend in the entries above, namely the profusion of question marks sitting in for actual album titles and release dates. You may also wonder why this profusion is so...well, profuse. In a nutshell, it's because that's the sum total of the information I have about these records. Contrary to what you might think, I have very little insider information about any of the above (read: none).
     But rather than just write about the few albums I do have solid title-and-date information for, I thought it'd be more fun to give you a cross section of some of the stuff I'm looking forward to, or just hoping for, in 2015. If even half of the aforementioned new material ends up coming out this year, 2015 is going to be nice and heavy.

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