All Tomorrow's Funerals, Part III
2017's Most Anticipated Records2 weeks ago By:
This week is all about the other fifty-one this year -- make New Year's resolutions; join the gym; plan ahead... Well, if you've noticed, we've been planning ahead, too, about what great metal we're going to listen to in 2017. We've already covered Part I and Part II of this feature, and here's the final wrap-up of all that we're excited about in the coming months...
Read on, and take time to tell us what you're looking forward to that we may have missed...
ANDREW EDMUNDS: IMMOLATION
Any time there's a conversation about the Greatest Death Metal Band Of All-Time, Immolation is certainly in it. These New Yorkers just keep on cranking out the goods, and there's no reason to think that they'll stop now. Between Dolan's Christ-killing growl and Vigna's seemingly endless supply of twisted and killer riffs, Immolation never disappoints. (Well, except maybe sometimes in the production department... and maybe sometimes in the album art department. This one, by Zbigniew Bielak, is... well, something... but it does bring the old-school logo back.)
Titled Atonement and due in February from Nuclear Blast, this newest record has been in the works for awhile -- it's been nearly four years since Kingdom Of Conspiracy -- but according to Dolan, the band suffered some writer's block that delayed the process. From the sounds of the first track, Destructive Currents, the band didn't have as much trouble constructing solid-as-hell death metal as they thought -- just listen to those interwoven guitars during the chorus...
Whatever may have held it up, Atonement is coming now, and it's easily one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year around these parts.
Quality Confidence Factor: 90%
MICHAEL WUENSCH: PROCESSION
Doom found its legs again in 2016, and 2017 is already showing signs of continuing the course. Solstice will drop a new full-length through Dark Descent, Dread Sovereign will release For Doom the Bell Tolls, and it’s looking pretty likely that Sorcerer will follow up 2015’s excellent In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross with new material as well. As much as I’m looking forward to those elbows off the top rope, however, I’m most curious to hear what’s on deck for long-player number three from Chile’s masters of dark, epic doom, Procession. The band’s last foray, 2013’s To Reap Heavens Apart, was a huge achievement crafted amidst true tragedy (read more about it at Bardo Methodology), and the looming Doom Decimation seems poised to finally vault these champs of lamentation into the same stratosphere occupied by the kings responsible for first putting epic doom on the map 25+ years ago. Being crushed by the heavy-hearted is something doom fanatics enthusiastically seek out, and Procession plans to put a doomed-as-sin boot to all of our necks come October/November.
Quality confidence factor: 90%
ZACH DUVALL: CORONER
During their original run in the 80s and 90s, Switzerland’s Coroner never made the same album twice. From their raw thrash beginnings, into their quickly-adopted sophistication and technical mindset, through to the odd prog/groove of Grin, they were always in a state of self-imposed evolution. Each album included the roots of what came after, even if hearing each new step could be surprising. But what was not surprising was the quality. All five albums are good-to-great to a certain extent, and the run of Punishment for Decadence, No More Color, and Mental Vortex place the band squarely within the halls of thrash royalty.
The band -- bassist/vocalist Ron Royce, guitarist Tommy T. Baron, and new(ish) drummer Diego Rapacchietti -- is expected to soon release its first new material since the tracks they wrote for the Coroner compilation in 1995. With their history of evolution and this multiple decade studio layoff, it is virtually impossible to predict what kind of metal we will get from Coroner in 2017. My personal prediction is a bit of a Coroner hybrid, never going full into Grin’s weirdness or the raw aggression of the early days, but a combination of most things in between. This is, of course, a total WAG, but even getting in the mode of guessing about NEW CORONER MATERIAL has me all giddy and a-flutter.
Quality Confidence Factor: 65%
EVAN THOMPSON: BISON
Vancouver's most pissed off metal band is slowing down a little as they settle into fatherhood. After keeping a relatively regular release schedule with 2008's Quiet Earth, 2010's Dark Ages, and 2012's Lovelessness, the new material started to trickle, rather than flood forth from the Bison camp. 2014 saw the release of the Ten Thousand Needles EP, which saw the band slowing themselves down, darkening their sound significantly. Small snippets of recorded material on social media, as well as new tracks I had a chance to hear live last year indicate that Bison is continuing to explore this darker, brooding side of their music. These guys haven't disappointed yet; I'm confident they will do it again.
Quality Confidence Factor: 85%
DAVE PIRTLE: LIFE OF AGONY
Its been over a decade since Life of Agony released Broken Valley. I don’t remember what the critical response was, but it didn’t matter. One of the most important bands from my youth was back, and it was glorious. Plus, I finally got to see them live, then I got to meet Keith Caputo and Joey Z after the show, and THEN…
Sorry, that was spiraling out of control. The point is, I freaking love this band, and I’ve missed them dearly. In the interim, I’ve changed jobs, gotten married, had a kid, watched River Runs Red turn 20, and followed along as Keith transitioned into Mina. All the while, and amidst various reformations and splits, I’ve held out hope that LOA would once again come together. That hope will at last be realized in 2017 when they release A Place Where There’s No More Pain in the Spring.
Musically, it sounds like this will follow the Soul Searching Sun / Broken Valley path. Lyrically…that’s where things should get interesting. The biggest question is how Caputo’s transition will affect things, if at all. She has already bared her soul on a couple of solo albums in the time since, but her lyrics have always been deeply personal, and that seems unlikely to change based on the project. While the specific struggles of a transgender may not be relatable to the average fan, the core feelings are universal. Hell, I was “Lost at 22” when I was only 18.
Wow, that spiraled a bit out of control, as well. At any rate, I cannot wait to hear A Place Where There’s No More Pain. The mere fact that it is on the horizon is a bright light that gives me hope as I leave the terribleness that was 2016 behind.
Quality Confidence Factor: 90%
MIRELA TRAVAR: HORISONT
Can you say Swedish retro-rock? YES! (Not talking about Opeth here.) The Swedes started a glorious trend a decade ago – that of Jethro Tull and Blue Oyster Cult-y music that injected new life in that beloved musical time of the 70s. Witchcraft was the first band to start creating this proto-metal, psychedelic frenzy, and many bands followed (Graveyard, Dead Man, Burning Saviours), but Horisont seems to be the only band out of the lot that manages to keep making sweet love sounds with quality. (Witchcraft went down the shit creek, Graveyard disbanded, I have no clue what the fuck Dead Man is doing these days.) Horisont’s every release thus far was a pleasure to listen to, especially for a gal that was raised on late 60s, early 70s rock.
Horisont’s About Time is set for release on February 3rd and judging by the two released singles -- and here's one -- it’s gonna rock yet again.
Quality Confidence Factor: 85%
DAN OBSTKRIEG: TANAGRA
Friends, you should know that any band which takes its name from the (scientifically proven) greatest Star Trek episode of all time will already have a hefty leg up when it comes to winning my affections. Portland's Tanagra upped the stakes by also releasing a pretty killer debut of turbocharged but heterogeneous power metal with 2015's None of This is Real, mixing some of the pomp and bluster of stereotypically European power metal with a more muscular, occasionally trad-leaning punch. (Side note: American bands, more of this, please.)
None of This is Real was released independently, and last year the band launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the recording of their second album, Meridiem. The campaign was successfully funded last summer and is (according to the band) on track to be released this year. I'm hoping to hear a few more of the multi-part epics (such as the masterful "Antietam") that graced the debut, but I also wouldn't complain if Tanagra took things in a zippier speed metal direction. Either way, this young band came out of the gates so strongly that album number two looks set to be another boon to American power metal.
Quality Confidence Factor: 85%
ZACH DUVALL: ENSLAVED
I’m not so much hotly anticipating a new Enslaved album as I am cautiously optimistic. On one hand, the Norwegian masters are coming off what is likely the worst album of their career with In Times. It wasn’t bad, it was just painfully uninspired and formulaic, which is not what we have come to expect from these boys. But on the other hand, moves and shakes are afoot.
To start, long time keyboardist/clean vocalist Herbrand Larsen has left the fold. While it seems odd to celebrate the departure of a key member, In Times showed how much Larsen’s chorus vocals had become a crutch in the formula, so a shakeup might be just what they need. Secondly, Ivar Bjørnson just released a really cool record with Skuggsjá that featured his most adventurous and off-kilter riffage since at least Isa, a promising sign for his upcoming creative output. Finally, Enslaved is coming off a huge 25th anniversary show at New York’s Gramercy Theatre during which they played a set that had no shortage of early material. This might not be indicative of anything at all, but it also might show a renewed interest in their more purely blackened roots.
Listen, odds are that none of this means anything for the next album. The highest likelihood is that they simply hire a replacement for Larsen and continue with the blackened arena prog that they perfected on Axioma Ethica Odini. A major shakeup would be glorious, because for years, Enslaved’s unpredictability was matched only by their consistent excellence, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Quality Confidence Factor: 60%
So there you have it -- those aren't all we're looking forward to, but they're among the most-anticipated. What all records are you waiting for?