Sunday, January 2

The Protagonist's Most Anticipated Albums of 2011

Another year, another round of fresh releases by our favorite bands. Metal music is one area of recreation and interest that never fails to disappoint me. If someone releases a poor album, it's just as likely that I'll discover 3 good releases by bands that I've never even heard of. It's nearly impossible to keep up on all the new music that's constantly coming out of nowhere, even when restricting yourself to one subgenre.
I just wanted to collect my thoughts on the releases that I personally will be jumping up and down for this year. Since they're already upon us, I'd better get going now rather than later, so here we go:

Power Quest- Blood Alliance
I've loved Power Quest since discovering them a couple of years ago. To date, my personal favorite release is their latest offering, Master of Illusion, and I'm sincerely hoping that they'll maintain their high caliber of songwriting and the great variety found on that album. However, I'm also approaching Blood Alliance with an open mind after the band's big lineup changes. This is going to sound at least  somewhat different with a new vocalist and guitarist, so be prepared!

Stratovarius- Elysium

Stratovarius have always been a fun and quality band (well, except for maybe at the end when Timo totally lost his marbles), and bounced back after their self-titled album with Polaris, which was nothing short of a miraculous recovery from a stellar and long-standing veteran of the genre. Therefore, I think that it's reasonable to hold the band to their own standard and hold high expectations for Elysium.

Theocracy have an album in the works, and I know that it is to be released mid-late 2011, but there's really little else to go on at this point. However, if Mirror of Souls is ANY indicator of quality at all, we're going to have another monstrously strong and melodic offering from this Christian metal powerhouse.

I don't know the title of this project either, though you can find the trailer on the band's MySpace page. The band claims that their new project is to be even more progressive, orchestral, and bombastic than ever before. That would be saying an awful lot, as anyone familiar with Dragonland should know. The last couple of efforts by Dragonland have been jaw-dropping, and it's about time they got around to releasing something new. :)


Nightwish have been posting updates on recording, etc. all summer and fall for the work on their next studio album. I'm hoping that the band will evolve a bit and mesh the sound of their music a bit better with the still new-feeling voice of Anette Olzon. Maybe writing slightly less poppy music would help? Ah well, I haven't been badly disappointed by Nightwish yet, and I don't think I will be this time around.

I know nothing at all other than there's an album due to be released this year. Given the fairly underground status of this mostly one-man band, I guess the lack of news shouldn't be surprising. Hoping for a follow-up hot on the heels of this year's most excellent Majestic.

Avian- Midnight at the Tower

Avian is probably the biggest thing in the MN power metal scene right now, and for good reason. These guys put on a killer show and have some great musicians. I'm as excited for this album to be released just so I can be in on the local excitement. They may not have the mighty Lance King at the helm anymore, but replacement Brian Hollenbeck is no slouch!

Serenity- Death and Legacy

I don't know how I forgot about this one my first time around. I've been following Serenity since their first album, Words Untold and Dreams Unlived, and they've been pretty consistently good. I've heard some of the audio samples for this, their new album, and it sounds like they're right on track! Another one that I'll be pre-ordering a copy of as soon as possible. The artwork has perhaps gone the way of certain recent Heavenly albums, but the contents seems to be pretty solid.

Cloudscape- New Era

Cloudscape have announced the release of their fourth studio album, entitled New Era. I'm personally a fan of their unique and addictive brand of melodic progressive metal, so I've marked my calender.

Morifade- Empire of Souls

Set for a September 9 release (presumably in Europe), power metal veterans Morifade have been dormant since 2004's DomiNation. I've always appreciated this band's somewhat unique stance and performance of more intellectual power metal.

Crom- Of Love and Death

If you're not familiar with Crom, you should be. Imagine combining the gritty atmosphere and grim lyricism of some viking black metal with the melody, clean vocals, and majesty of power metal. Crom's debut album, Vengeance, is one of the finest folk-inspired metal albums that I've ever heard, and I have supremely high expectations for the new release

There are a few more, and I'm sure I'll enjoy the new releases by Crystallion, Sonata Arctica, Falconer, Paragon, and others as well, but these are the most exciting for myself. The trouble with this is, by year's end, there will be so many bands populating the "best of" list that I haven't even considered. So it goes!


Lugien said...

Hello. I hope you have not forgotten Dreamtale - Epsilon ;)

The Protagonist said...

No indeed. I love Dreamtale very much. I will add that to my list, I've been listening to the samples and it sounds like just what I hoped they'd make next. :)