Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve made it. The golden time of the 2016 release calendar is upon us, and it brings us a tidal wave of amazing new music that has been heralded for months on end. The next few weeks of New & Noteworthy are going to be can’t-miss content, so that you don’t miss a single one of these top-notch albums. Let’s get started!
Devin Townsend Project, Transcendence (InsideOut)
Sky Blue, the DTP portion of 2014’s Z²: Dark Matters, received incredibly positive reviews upon its release, continuing the trend set by Ghost and Epicloud. Thus, it makes sense that the hype behind Transcendence is already at peak levels. Although Townsend has been light on details, he does say that the theme of this album is getting past the things in life that hold you back, part of which was inspired by his own need to get past himself. Check out the deluxe edition for two completed bonus tracks and a host of demos.
Of Mice & Men, Cold World (Rise)
After the praise that 2014’s Restoring Force received en route to a #4 debut on the Billboard charts, the buzz surrounding Cold World was already high when the album was announced. The buzz only intensified after the release of three impressive singles, as well as the use of the song “Relentless” as one of the themes for WWE’s event NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II. All signs point to Cold World being another release for Of Mice & Men that lands in the top 5 of the charts.
Norma Jean, Polar Similar (Solid State)
After a two-album stint with Razor & Tie, Norma Jean re-signed with their original label, Solid State, late last year. The five years spent with Razor & Tie were some of the most tumultuous for Norma Jean, as the band’s entire lineup changed during that time except for frontman Cory Brandan Putnam. The first three singles released from Polar Similar show that the band is still in top form, though, which may be enough to eclipse the #37 debut of 2013’s Wrongdoers.
Evergrey, The Storm Within (AFM)
2014’s Hymns for the Broken saw Evergrey reunite with two former members, as guitarist Henrik Danhage and drummer Jonas Ekdahl rejoined the band after both left in 2010. The reunion was a favorable decision for everyone, it seems, as Hymns for the Broken received very strong reviews and Evergrey earning prominent touring slots all over the world. Now with a stronger foundation in place, the band looks to ascend to even greater heights with The Storm Within.
Rev Theory, The Revelation (Another Century)
It’s been awhile since Rev Theory was on the radar, with their last big release Justice coming in 2011. Since then, the band has left Interscope Records and moved to Century Media imprint Another Century, and the band has gone back to being a four-piece with the departure of guitarist Rikki Lixx (although they still have a second guitarist solely for live shows). Rev Theory looks to regain a piece of the spotlight with The Revelation, a solid album that shows growth and evolution from the veteran rockers.
Pain, Coming Home (Nuclear Blast)
Five years have passed since the last release from Peter Tägtgren’s industrial metal project Pain. 2011’s You Only Live Twice received strong reviews and managed to chart in several European nations, peaking at #26 in Finland and #36 in Sweden. The Hypocrisy frontman is looking to expand on those numbers with album number eight, which he describes as being “more experimental than anything I’ve ever done before.”
Breakdown of Sanity, Coexistence (Self-released)
Slotting in somewhere among the likes of Miss May I, Parkway Drive, and Chelsea Grin, Switzerland’s Breakdown of Sanity have been a Cinderella story of social media. Releasing three albums without any label help, this young group worked their way through the European underground and organically developed a following on their own. Coexistence, the group’s fourth album, is a testament to the will and determination of the band to create success on their own terms. The whole album is available to stream on YouTube.