Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing
There’s not much I can say about this album other than it is a masterpiece from start to finish. Steve Wilson takes you on a progessive rock journey with a group of amazing musicians including of course a Guitar Noize favourite, Guthrie Govan. I’ve said it before but I think this is the perfect band for Guthrie, his playing is understated yet with moments of absolute brilliance and his contributions really enhance an already amazing album of music. Steven Wilson is a musical genius in my opinion.

Check out the video to the song Drive Home which has an amazing outro solo from Guthrie Govan

 

Feared – Vinter
I’ve always been a fan of Feared since the debut album but Ola has really taken things to a new level with Vinter, the riffs are catchy yet heavy and the production is fantastic. I know gruff death metal vocals aren’t for everyone but even if that isn’t your thing at least listen to the free stream below.

Hear the official full stream of Feared – Vinter here:

 

Uneven Structure – 8
Last year (or was it 2011?) I was blown away by Uneven Structure’s album Februus which is cinematic metal at it’s best, well thankfully they decided to re-record and release their original eight track album called ’8′. Lots of odd time signature riffs and extended range goodness on this album.

Name Your Link

Hear the official full stream of Uneven Structure – 8 here:

 

David Maxim Micic – Bilo 3.0
Bilo 3.0 by David Maxim Micic kind of came out of nowhere for me a couple of weeks ago recommended by Ola Englund of Feared and instantly became one of my favourite releases of the year. This album combines the compositional complexity and textures of Steven Wilson with vocals similar to Epica and the 7 or 8 string Metal riffs of Uneven Structure, there is also some scatting. Guitar contributions are courtesy of the amazing Jeff Loomis and Per Nilsson! There are also hints of Japanese classical music in the tracks despite David being from Belgrade, Serbia, maybe my brain is confused but who cares this album is amazing buy it!

 

Tesseract – Altered State
With Altered State Tesseract have created a brilliant concept album which if you were to use a classical music analogy is broken up into four movements, Of Matter, Of Mind, Of Reality and Of Energy which is then subdivided into 2 or tracks within each movement. Each track within a movement is linked in some way, many segue into each other and each movement has a very different sound. One of the biggest surprises to me was the inclusion of a Sax solo on the track Of Reality – Calabi-Yau and you might think that a Sax solo in a prog metal track is a weird choice but it sounds absolutely amazing, it just fits the track so perfectly! When I think of an album being “Progressive” I think Tesseract tick all of the boxes and definitely push the boundaries, along with Bilo 3.0 these albums have raised the bar in this genre of music.

 

Alter Bridge – Fortress
Fortress is in my opinion the best release from Alter Bridge and I think they have benefited from Mark Tremonti releasing his own album Tremonti which had a much harder edge to it, this seems to have been carried across into the songwriting for Fortress and Mark himself also sings on the track Waters Rising, I actually prefer his vocals over Myles Kennedy.

Check out Addicted To Pain from Fortress – http://youtu.be/sAYrAu-jnMY

 

James Norbert Ivanyi – Aphasia
If you haven’t heard of Aussie Progessive Metal guitarist James Ivanyi I highly recommend you head over to his bandcamp page and preview the album Aphasia, a stunning debut solo album from a guitarist who is going to be a huge name in guitar circles. Also check out my review of his album here.

You can preview the track ‘Ubuntu’ from Aphasia here.

 

Nick Johnston – In A Locked Room On The Moon
Nick Johnston is carving his path in the guitar world by releasing solo albums that don’t conform what people expect from solo guitar instrumentals much like Mattias IA Eklundh (although stylistically completely different). Nick has amazing chops but still manages to craft catchy and quirky tunes all based around melodies or rhythmic motifs. ‘In A Locked Room On The Moon’ has some tracks that I don’t know how to categorise, here’s a taster that Nick uploaded to his YouTube channel, this is the title track from ‘In A Locked Room On The Moon’ – http://youtu.be/1oZKO5NEx_E.

 

Chimaira – Crown Of Phantoms
The last album released by Chimaira ‘Age Of Hell’ was at a time when the band was in complete disarray with all but singer Mark Hunter remaining in the band after the release. Mark re-grouped with an entirely new band featuring the amazing Emil Werstler on guitar and after touring for a while finally hit the studio with the new line up and produced one of the best albums Chimaira have ever written. ‘Crown of Phantoms’ definitely stands up with ‘Resurrection’ and ‘The Infection’ and Emil’s guitar solos give the tracks a new dimension with his jazzy influences.
http://chimaira.com/

Circles – Infinitas
I don’t think of this album being Circles’ debut because I always thought of The Compass EP as a full album but they did go all out on Infinitas with 12 tracks of progressive Metal that feature catchy percussive heavy riffs and electro synth stabs and effects. Circles seamlessly blend electronic influences into their form of Metal which give the tracks a bit of a unique twist on the genre. The final track on the album Verum Infiniti has one of my favourite Circles riffs to date, a great little rhythmic motif that is doubled up by the bass drum that then switches to a funky metal riff. There is also a great half time riff in this song too that takes it in a totally different direction. Circles love a good break down in a track they do it very well.

 

Honourable mentions
Pomegranate Tiger – Pomegranate Tiger
Martin Taylor & Tommy Emmanuel – The Colonel & The Governor
Martin Miller – The Other End