24-Dec-2011 Words: Brendan Crabb
Here we are again - another year is close to completion. Aside from a few high-profile disasters (Lulu, and whatever the hell Morbid Angel were thinking by releasing an awful album, and then remixing it) the veterans were on top form, many newer acts delivered the goods, a few stellar “comebacks” occurred and the Australian scene also crafted some great music as well.
Now, with 2012 upon us, it’s time to look ahead to some of the major releases that will be released within the next 12 months. This preview isn’t intended to be comprehensive – more of an overview and dissection of an even dozen of the key records we’ll be listening to next year. There’s also bands which work at their own snail-like pace (Tool) so who knows if new material will or won’t emerge this year. Where possible, we’ve included a release date and any other details known at the time of writing. Once again, feedback is welcome; even if it’s just to tell us how stupid we are for not including a forthcoming release from your favourite band.
Lamb of God- Resolution (due on January 20 via Roadrunner). A few of the folks here at Loud have been fortunate enough to hear this record well ahead of the scheduled release date. The verdict? Fans are unlikely to be disappointed - Randy Blythe’s vocals are as caustic as ever and there’s much groove-laden destruction. There are also a few different little nuances and melodic touches lurking not too far beneath the surface. Already one of the biggest bands in heavy metal, this will make major headlines in 2012.
Lacuna Coil- Dark Adrenaline (due on January 24 via Century Media/EMI). Another early year release we here at Loud have managed to get a sneak preview of. If you can accept that the Italian crew are no longer an underground gothic metal band and have instead gradually morphed into a radio-friendly, chart-bothering Americanised hard rock act, you’re in the appropriate mindset to approach this record. Initial impressions are that Dark Adrenaline is a little darker than predecessor Shallow Life, but still contains plenty of arena-ready hooks.
Psycroptic- The Inherited Repression (due on February 10 via Riot!). The recent posting of a single track and trailers online has Loud as excited about this record as a 13-year-old kid clutching his first porn magazine. Band members have touted this as being groovier and catchier than past releases, with less emphasis on technicality. That works fine for us. This is still nearly certain to be a pulverizing display of death metal from arguably Australia’s premier metal band.
Paradise Lost- Tragic Idol (due on April 24 via Century Media/EMI). While far from mind-blowing, 2009’s Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us hinted that a creative rebirth may be on the cards for the British gothic metal pioneers after many years of meandering, usually middling-at-best releases. According to guitarist Greg Mackintosh it will again be produced by Jens Bogren and is “influenced by classic doom metal and classic metal. I would say it is more melodic than the last record whilst retaining the heaviness”. Could be a winner – and can we have another Australian tour, please?
Airbourne- title unknown. Dismiss the Aussie rockers as mere AC/DC revivalists at your peril. While it’s their sweat-dripping live shows that they’ve rightfully built their reputation on, another series of songs about girls, booze and girls will be greeted as gleefully as a margarita on a Mexican beach during a summer’s day by heavy rock fans worldwide. Or maybe they’ll make a 75-minute rock opera just to mess with everyone. We doubt it though.
Black Sabbath- title unknown. There are anticipated albums and then there’s this one, which is tentatively due mid-year - the first Sabbath record featuring Ozzy Osbourne in 33 years, finally landing after numerous false starts. Thankfully the Dio-era incarnation of the band finally got its due from at least one generation who had written off brilliant albums like Heaven and Hell simply because Ozzy didn’t appear on them. Now the original lineup is back together and will have a sizeable task not only living up to their legacy, but the Dio-fronted version of the band’s excellent swansong, The Devil You Know. Rick Rubin will produce it and Tony Iommi surely has a barrage of killer riffs in his arsenal. What will it sound like? Who knows, but it hopefully won’t be in the vein of another over-produced Ozzy solo record at least.
Fear Factory- title unknown. It’s yet to be confirmed by band members, but it looks like this will also arrive in 2012. Mechanize was a solid, if slightly unremarkable statement from the new version of the band (featuring Gene Hoglan and Byron Stroud alongside mainstays Dino Cazares and Burton. C. Bell), but with the band reportedly keen to visit concept album territory again this could work. While they don’t appear to have the widespread commercial appeal of years past, plenty will still be waiting on Cazares’ latest batch of riffage.
Gojira- title unknown (due for release via Roadrunner). With a freshly inked deal with heavyweight label Roadrunner, a DVD and new album in the works, as well as a still unreleased EP in the can, the environmentally-minded French metallers will likely have little time to wipe their behinds in 2012. Already available track “Of Blood and Salt” from the aforementioned 'Sea Shepherd' EP bodes very well for the full-length. Add them to the list of bands to check out at next year’s Soundwave Festival as well.
High on Fire- title unknown. The ongoing Sleep reunion may delay this somewhat, but at the time of writing recording had reportedly begun, so all signs point to yes. Kurt Ballou being tapped to produce can only be a positive thing, as can claims from the band that the songs are already sounding “absolutely punishing” and filled with “sledgehammer riffs”. Snakes for the Divine was brilliant and set an extremely high bar, but if anyone can manage to top it, we think it’ll be Matt Pike and his cohorts.
Meshuggah- title unknown. 2008’s obZen was a significant step in the right direction for the Swedish extreme metallers. After a couple of albums that seemed to place sheer technicality above all else, their last album appeared to get the balance of complexity, bludgeoning heaviness and actual, memorable songs just about perfect. Guitarist Mårten Hagström said earlier in 2011 that, “it's gonna be a little bit slower and a little bit groovier album”, so take from that what you will. Needless to say, we’d be stunned if it was anything other than relentlessly crushing. This is another band not to miss at Soundwave 2012.
Soundgarden- title unknown. Frontman Chris Cornell told this writer a few months ago that the album would be “not what anyone expected”. Given that it’s been 15 years since their last studio album, what “anyone expects” is a little difficult to determine, but considering the Seattle grunge gods always adopted a somewhat off-kilter approach compared to their contemporaries it will be an intriguing listen. As long as it doesn’t bow to any current trends (unlikely), or (hopefully) sound anything like Cornell’s electro-pop solo abomination Scream, all should be well in the rock world.
The Mark of Cain- Songs of the Third & Fifth (due March). Pre-release single “Barkhammer” absolutely dominates all before it, as only The Mark of Cain can. It’ll be a staggering 11 years since the monumental This Is This dropped by the time this is released. Fingers crossed it’ll be worth the wait, but we’re pretty confident it won’t let anyone down. Expect this one to be another lyrically uncompromising riff-monster from the Adelaide hard rockers. We’re just as pumped about the band hitting the road again in support of the album too.
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