Last release: The Evolution of Chaos (released January 25, 2009)
5 years, 10 months and 6 days ago (and counting…)
Thrash metal doesn’t really factor into the equation for me anymore but I’ve always had a soft spot for Heathen. Even though I generally prefer my thrash on the harsher side, Heathen always managed to win me over with their more melodic and technically inclined take on the genre, with 1991’s Victims of Deception a mainstay on my list of thrash favorites. The band went into a long period of hibernation following the aforementioned album before coming back with a brilliant little demo in 2005 and, eventually, The Evolution of Chaos full-length five years later. With amazing talent at their disposal — David White’s instantly recognizable clean singing and the always impressive Lee Altus on guitars — it’s disheartening to see them once again falling into a protracted period of inactivity (understandable given that Altus is currently devoting his full attention to Exodus and Kragen Lum is preoccupied with Psychosis and Prototype). Still, is it too much to ask for a new album? Seems that way.
Last release: Cybion (released January 1, 2009)
6 years, 11 months and 31 days ago (and counting…)
Another band prone to lapsing into extended periods of inactivity, it took French progressive metallers Kalisia an unbelievable 14 years to follow up their 1995 demo with a proper full-length. And they haven’t released anything since. Their sporadic activity is made all the more frustrating considering that they are hands down one of the most interesting and technically gifted bands making (or not making) the rounds. Imagine a musical whirlwind of influences ranging from Devin Townsend/Strapping Young Lad to Into Eternity to Ayreon and you’re about halfway there. 2009’s Cybion consists of an hour+ long song split into shorter ‘movements’, and it definitely needs to be followed up by fresh chapter of prog metal only they can churn out. It doesn’t look likely, however, as the band’s Facebook has been dormant since 2013. One can but hope.
Last release: Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa (released February 21, 2011)
4 years, 10 months and 10 days ago (and counting…)
Truth be told, I always found Finland’s Moonsorrow to be a classic example of style over substance. Yes, yes, sacrilege, but prior to 2011’s Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa I was never able to fully ‘get’ this band’s brand of epic folk metal. That last album of theirs was a doozy, though — riff-heavy, emotionally charged and dripping with atmosphere. Nobody can really fault the band for taking their time to deliver a follow-up, but it has to be said that the wait is going on five years now, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that a new fix of Moonsorrow is desperately needed. By Odin, a new album (purportedly titled Jumalten Aika) is slated for release on April 1, 2016. That better not be an April Fool’s joke!
Last release: Stained Glass Revelations (released January 17, 2011)
4 years, 11 months and 14 days ago (and counting…)
A band as innovative as they are mysterious, Negative Plane’s habit of mixing obscure Hellhammer-Celtic Frost-isms with an almost free-form style of guitar and bass-heavy black metal always manages to sound invigorating (and more than a little demonic). There was a five year gap between their debut (Et in Saecula Saeculorum) and 2011’s Stained Glass Revelations, and all signs point to an even longer wait for a third full-length to surface. The Negative Plane camp is eerily quiet at the moment, with mainmen Bestial Devastation and Nameless Void keeping themselves busy in Funereal Presence and Occultation respectively (check out Funereal Presence’s The Archer Takes Aim for something that is very much in the vein of classic Negative Plane).
6 years and 5 days ago (and counting…)
The East European/Slavic variant of pagan/folk-tinged black metal has sadly degenerated into something that’s as creatively stagnant as it is predictable, but long-running Ukrainian outfit Nokturnal Mortum deserves special mention for largely bucking this trend. Arguably their creative zenith, 2009’s The Voice of Steel combined all the expected Slavic pagan/black metal trappings (folksy rhythms, synth-laden riffs, a generally murky atmosphere) with a heretofore unknown sense of emotional gravitas and subtle sense of playfulness, resulting in one of the very best albums of its kind. They do it well, and they do it with unbridled conviction. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be doing it anymore — they’ve been quiet for a number of years now, with only the occasional live gig signalling they are still an active band). Mainman Knjaz Varggoth recently stated that a split with Graveland is in the works and that there is no release date set for the follow-up to their 2009 masterpiece.
More on the next page.