All Tomorrow's Funerals, Part II

2017's Most Anticipated Records

2 weeks ago   By: Last Rites

A few days back, the Last Rites crew started the 2017 edition of our annual "What We're Looking Forward To" list, and here's the second installment. (The first can be read here.) So without further ado, here are more upcoming releases that have our interest piqued...

• • • • •


JEREMY MORSE: MORBID ANGEL

It's more than a little sad what has become of Morbid Angel. The group was, at one time, the most successful death metal band on the planet, a foundational pillar of the style that enjoyed unprecedented commercial success. Even after the departure of its charismatic frontman, David Vincent, the group made strong, even classic records in Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and Gateways to Annihilation. However, an ill-fated eleven-year-long reunion with Vincent bore but a single rotten fruit in the form of the insultingly awful Illud Divinum Insanus, and now we find the band at a critical point: Morbid Angel is thirteen years removed from its last listenable record, 2003’s decent, but self-indulgent Heretic. Steve Tucker has once again replaced the once-again-departed David Vincent, but the band is still without a drummer following the official exits of both Pete Sandoval, and fill-in/replacement drummer Tim Yeung. In a best case scenario, Sandoval and sometime second guitarist Erik Rutan rejoin the band, and the group creates another album in the vein of Gateways to Annihilation. I don’t think I need to spell out the worst case scenario. Hopefully Trey Azagthoth is grounded enough to know that he screwed the pooch with the “I” album, and he’ll get back to making the type of death metal that made Morbid Angel legendary.

Quality Confidence Factor: 50%

• • • • •


MANNY-O-WAR: TAU CROSS



We don’t have a name. [Note: well, we do now, and it's awesome: Pillar of Fire.] We don’t have a tracklist. All we have is a promise from Tau Cross that they are back in the studio working on more of their crossover heavy metal / crust punk genius. Their only release to date, the self-titled effort released in 2015, was a shoo-in for almost every top list that season -- which is not surprising given their credentials (Amebix, Voivod, War//Plague, and Misery). Their 2017 release will no doubt be another chapter in the lengthy and celebrated career of Rob “The Baron” Miller. I’ve already put aside a fresh pair of shorts for the day this one drops. 

Quality Confidence Factor: 80%

• • • • •


ANDREW EDMUNDS: SAXON

If it's true that you can't teach old dogs new tricks, then it's equally true that sometimes you don't need to -- sometimes old tricks still work just fine. NWOBHM giants Saxon are living proof of that. There's really nothing new in their approach; it's just that they've gotten it down pat (and you'd hope they would, after forty years). Coming off a string of good-but-not-great releases earlier in the new millennium, they've managed to capture fire twice on their last two records, Sacrifice and Battering Ram. The riffs are there; the energy level is amped up; and Byford's voice has aged beautifully well. I was once scolded for calling Saxon something other than "pure heavy metal," and I learned my lesson: That's what they are, and that's what this new album will undoubtedly be.

Even bad Saxon is good, and good Saxon is great, so here's hoping that it's closer to the latter than to the former. Based on the roll these old dogs are on, I'm pretty confident it will be.

Quality Confidence Factor: 80%


• • • • •


MATTHEW COOPER: ARDUINI / BALICH + Argus

The dog days of summer will bring the fourth effort from long-time Last Rites staff favorite Argus.  We’re looking at an August/September release for From Fields of Fire, making it almost a full three years since predecessor Beyond the Martyrs.  Since then the Americans have been to Europe several times, pausing long enough to give us the 7-inch “Death Hath No Conscience” single, with a smoking version of Diamond Head’s “Streets of Gold” on the flip side. They’ve also had some shakeups, with bassist Andy Ramage and guitarist Erik Johnson moving on and making way for Justin Campbell and Dave Watson (Icarus Witch). Argus’ work has created a very high bar but there’s no reason to think they won’t again produce one of the best albums of the year.

Frontman Brian “Butch” Balich is also working on an album with his Molasses Barge project, but the first strike in 2017 will be the new partnership of Balich and original Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini. Arduini/Balich’s Dawn of Ages is due for a February 24th release via metal stronghold Cruz Del Sur (also home to Argus). Expect a massive collision of early Fates’ sorta-prog traditional metal and Argus’ sorta-doom traditional metal that finds a hell of a sweet spot in its common ground.  All early reports are that Dawn of Ages is flat out massive.

Quality Confidence Factor: 90%

 
• • • • •


EVAN THOMPSON: CALADAN BROOD

Those who would dismiss the SLC self-described "epic black metal" group Caladan Brood as nothing more than a tribute to Summoning are missing out. Echoes of Battle was one of the biggest surprises of 2013. The obvious similarities to the Vienna duo are hard to deny, but their impassioned emulation of Summoning serves well to carry their project. Drawing inspiration from author Steven Erikson's expansive Malazan Book of the Fallen series, there is certainly no shortage of narratives to translate to record. Shield Anvil and Mortal Sword had a busy end to 2016, recording a cover of "Farewell" for Wolfspell Records' In Mordor Where the Shadows Are - Homage to Summoning. They have confirmed that they are currently working on new material and that meeting the deadline for the Summoning tribute has helped streamline their process. Whatever they come out with next, I'm optimistic it will be well-produced, moving, and evocative. 

Quality Confidence Factor: 75%

• • • • •


DAVE PIRTLE: DRESS THE DEAD

I’m sure there are dozens of albums already planned for 2017 that would be more appropriate to include here, but I’m going with a less obvious and more personal choice. The new band featuring vocalist Peter Dolving (ex-The Haunted) and guitarist Craig Locicero (ex-Forbidden) began to take shape not long after the abrupt dissolution of the latter’s Spiralarms project and the former was throwing his hat in the ring to be the new vocalist for Stone Temple Pilots. (He really nailed “Interstate Love Song”, I tell you what.) Also featuring ex-Forbidden drummer Mark Hernandez, bassist James Walker, and guitarist Dan Delay, the group recently recorded three songs with Robb Flynn producing and also made their live debut opening Death Angel’s annual Christmas shows. Based on the already released track “1969”, expect a sound that draws upon everything the particulars have done previously while not conforming to any one thing you might expect from them. 

Quality Confidence Factor: 80%

• • • • •


DAN OBSTKRIEG: DODECAHEDRON

Y'know, there's something to be said for a band that takes its sweet time. With the ease of self-recording and distribution at an all-time high, plenty of bands opt for a strategy that tilts toward market saturation. If the music is still good, of course it seems churlish to complain, but even the best songs need time to grow, and breathe, and test the waters. The Dutch band Dodecahedron appeared mostly out of nowhere with 2012's brilliant self-titled album, and since then, they have lived in total radio silence. By some social media reckonings, that absence is akin to death, but with a new album finally on the horizon, it feels more like an intentionally shrouded gestation.n

Five years ago, Dodecahedron's sideways, sort-of-industrial black metal easily sidestepped the failings of too many black/industrial bands, which can so easily sound stuck on a vision of the future that may as well have eaten halfway through its latest 500 Hours Free! AOL CD-ROM trying to cyber with some nubile nymph (read: overweight software engineer trying to invent the next Duke Nukem-styled blockbuster). Point is, Dodecahedron sounded both sinister and sophisticated, electronic and organic, off-the-rails and carefully plotted. Here's hoping that the next one is a just-as-welcome return; after all, there are twelve sides to every story...

Quality Confidence Factor: 75%

• • • • •


MIRELA TRAVAR: SANCTUARY

There are several factors to take into consideration when discussing a new Sanctuary album. First, Sanctuary is an acquired taste, mostly due to Warrel Dane’s vocals that are hard to digest for people, but that are simultaneously one of the most memorable and recognizable vocals in heavy metal today. I love the shit out of them. Second, Sanctuary is one of those bands that released a damn near masterpiece back in 1990, Into the Mirror Black, merging thrash, power and traditional heavy metal in the then-Seattle scene that was blooming grunge at the time. After Mirror Black, Sanctuary disbanded, thus ensuring a cult status among fans. Fast forward 24 years and you have a much-hyped The Year the Sun Died being released, proving the band lost none of its magic. Third, Sanctuary’s first album, Refuge Denied is something you wanna listen to if you wanna brush up on your music history, ‘cause there aint a whole of other reasons to put that on your headphones.

Now, the new Sanctuary album, Inception, isn’t new material, it’s demos and lost studio recordings (remixed and remastered) that were created in 1986. So, it’s material from before the pivotal Mirror Black, and before the not-so-great Refuge Denied. This leaves us veeerrry careful about what to expect from Inception.

Quality Confidence Factor: 50%

• • • • •

Tune in Friday for the third and final installment of metal that we hope won't suck in 2017!