Having spent the best part of twenty years immersed in a rich and complex sci-fi concept, a break was long overdue, and 2015’s ‘The Colour Before The Sun’ was a refreshing opportunity to hear Coheed and Cambria let loose on something different. That said, in the same way that Star Wars fans get an overwhelming sense of emotion when a new film hits and that iconic yellow text starts to scroll up the screen, the moment Claudio Sanchez’s guitar kicks into ‘The Dark Sentencer’ and a narrator proclaims “It begins with them, but ends with me. Their son, Vaxus”, I can’t help but get excited for another space-epic.

I haven’t been this impressed with a new single since ‘Welcome Home’, and in fact, this riff-led, epic, prog rock procession wouldn’t feel out of place on the band’s superb third album ‘Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV’. The groove of the central riff, to the way the vocal melodies drive the song onwards, mirrors the style of their older material, but with a layer of sophistication shaped by the band’s experimentation on more recent material.

Coheed and Cambria have been perfecting their craft for twenty years now and ‘The Dark Sentencer’ is the perfect way to celebrate the sound that’s gifted them their lengthy career, while still generating excitement for what they’ve got left to show.

When Night Verses announced they’d split with singer Douglas Robinson back in September 2017 and intended to carry on as an instrumental act, my interest level in the band suddenly piqued. The band have always been bursting with musical talent, but the vocals never really did it got me, so the prospect of hearing the unrestrained talents of the remaining – and unbelievably talented – members, had me excited. When the trio gave us a sneak peek of material with 3-track teaser EP ‘Copper Wasp’ earlier in the year, the idea of a full-length became a mouth-watering proposition.

With latest track ‘Phoenix IV: Levitation’ managing to somehow sound even more epic, my salivation levels are now flood-worthy. Atmospheric, heavy, ambient, clever, inventive – so many adjectives come to mind as the track progresses and warps into a sprawling, captivating journey that defies genre boundaries. Despite being ten minutes in length and having no vocals to anchor to, there’s not a single moment that feels too long or unfocused, each section feeling like an essential part of this wonderfully crafted composition. Here, three hugely talented musicians have been given the freedom to mine the depths of their creativity and the result is spectacular. ‘From the Gallery of Sleep’ is out on June 29 through Equal Vision Records.

‘Going on hiatus’ is never a statement you want to hear from a band you love and Underoath’s announcement was devastatingly timed. Their final album ‘Disambiguation’ managed to consolidate everything they were best at, while still offering a fresh new angle, with Spencer Chamberlain getting the opportunity to showcase the unbelievable progress he’d made as a vocalist since the start of his career. Throughout the band’s hugely emotional, tear-inducing documentary ‘Tired Violence’, you could sense unfinished business between the band, but as much as I wanted to hope for more Underoath in the future, the healthy thing to do was move on and celebrate what they’d achieved. That was until they toured last year and stoked up all those emotions again, but even though it was a highlight of last year for me, I still didn’t dare to dream.

But now it’s officially happening. Underoath’s brand new album ‘Erase Me’ will be released on April 6 through Fearless Records and ‘On My Teeth’ gives us an explosive insight into what to expect. When you’ve waited this long for a revered band to release new music, it’s common to be apprehensive, but such has been the consistency and superiority of Underoath over the years, that it never crossed my mind that a new track could be anything but superb. And I wasn’t wrong.

The opening, with its build up of electronic effects, is a perfect segue from ‘Disambiguation’ until returning sticks-man Aaron Gillespie tears it to shreds with his signature, pummelling drum style. Though Gillespie is back in the fold, Chamberlain still dominates the vocal melodies, picking up where he left off on the previous record, with the help of some excellent harmonies from his old vocal partner. The abrupt ending makes me desperate to hear more; it’s amazing how quickly you can go from thinking you’d never get another Underoath record, to impatiently demanding the whole thing. The next six weeks are going to be painful.

In January I placed A Sudden Burst of Colour on our Ones to Watch in 2018 list, and it hasn’t taken long for the Scottish quartet to prove that they thoroughly deserve to be there. ‘I Am The Storm’ is a fantastically warm, uplifting slice of post-rock that now has a video to match its instrumental beauty.

Featuring stunning panoramic shots of eye-catching scenery, the video is a perfect accompaniment to a track that’s musically grand and expansive. With luscious tones and driving drums, this is an adventure that doesn’t stop to take stock along the way, but continues to build and grow from start to finish. ‘I Am The Storm’ is a visual and audio treat and hopefully we’ll be treated to more as the year progresses.

Australian quintet Thornhill have produced the first record of the year to truly blown me away. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, and with only one previous EP to their name, ‘Butterfly’ is a sophisticated, refined package of brilliance that brings a breath of fresh air to a genre that can be stale and predictable at times.

‘Sunflower’ is packed with intricate riffs and drum patterns that merge with unusually crafted, but hugely impressive vocals, covering the whole spectrum from heavy to atmospheric. Think Northlane with the dynamics and intrigue of Black Peaks and the breakdowns of Architects.

For more on the incredible ‘Butterfly’ EP, check out my review here.

Sharptone Records have signed some fantastic bands over the last year or so, including Loathe and Holding Absence – two bands I’ve already mentioned extensively in the POV section. Joining this increasingly impressive roster is Maryland-based five piece Savage Hands. ‘Red’ is a perfect way to advertise the variety in the band’s sound and generate intrigue ahead of the release of ‘Barely Alive’, an upcoming EP due out on March 2.

Amongst their Sharptone peers, Holding Absence are a decent barometer; ‘Red’ carries the same momentum, dynamism and impact as their label-mates. Throw in the crunching breakdown towards the end and an obvious ability to write catchy melodies and you have plenty of reasons to be excited for what this band can deliver in 2018.

You won’t find too many pop punk entries from me in our POV hall of fame, but though it might not be my usual playground, I’m not immune to an upbeat rhythm, feel-good vibes and damn catchy hooks, and that’s exactly what Chief State manage here.

Like Roam back in their early EP days, Chief State manage a few flashes of instrumental cleverness that makes ‘Broken Eyes’ stand out against an otherwise overcrowded and homogenised genre. The nifty stop-start intro grabbed my initial attention and the infectious vocals and guitar lead lines kept it held to the end. The track comes from the band’s upcoming EP ‘Nothing More Than This’ and in the words of the band themselves, hopefully “I’ll keep coming back for more and more.”

Fresh out of Detroit, four-piece Sincerely have only been around a few months, but are already on a healthy trajectory. In September 2017 they released their first EP and played their first live performance, played a show with A Lot Like Birds, and will soon be hitting the stage with Eidola.

Though not intending to be an instrumental act at first, the band refused to let their momentum slide after a fruitless search for a vocalist, and decided to release their EP ‘Sweet Talk’ in instrumental form. Their math-rock tinged post-hardcore sounds anything but incomplete; the plethora of intricate and interesting instrumentals entice you onto your feet to soak up the groove. With so many dynamics on display, it’s questionable whether the band need a vocalist, having mastered the art of interesting compositions with instruments alone on this EP, but wherever Sincerely decide to go next, I’ll be waiting in line to hear it. Consider me hooked.

PHOTO: Aaron Barton

The combination of acoustic guitar and soulful, emotive vocals has produced many of my favourite soundbites in the past and Cory Wells can add his name to that list with latest track ‘Walk Away’. What begins as a soothing melody over a gentle, finger-picked pattern, bursts into life in the choruses as Wells’ voice builds with intensity and cracks under the weight of pure emotion.

Wells released three track EP ‘How to Tear Apart the Ones You Love’ last year which showed a lot of promise, but ‘Walk Away’ sees him really hit his stride. Put Cory Wells on your radar because if his next wave of material is anywhere near as good as this, you’re not going to want to miss out.