Yesterday, we offered part one of our most anticipated albums of 2018, and noted some of the reasons why we spend so much time in anticipation of new music and art.
Today, a word of caution: anticipation also brings with it the curse of expectations. When something doesn’t fit expectations for what we personally wanted, arrogantly predicted in our critical hubris, or feel is “allowed” by the band, we revolt. The revolting isn’t universal, mind you — there are surely folks out there that still try to find virtue in St. Anger (or worse, Lulu), Illud Divinum Insanus, or Cold Lake, but public outcry is a real thing. Words like “betrayal” get thrown around by fans and critics alike, and in some cases that’s the truth of the matter, but in the vast majority of cases, bands just screwed up. They made a mistake, a bad album, a stinker, a toot. It happens, to err is human yadda yadda we all do it.
Such rational thoughts, however, are the benefits of hindsight. In the immediate aftermath of a disappointment, emotions tend to win over rationality. One only needs to observe the absolutely bonkers levels of fan backlash to The Last Jedi to witness the curse of expectations. Whether it was due to their theories not coming true, or because a fictional space wizard that they’d held up as a borderline religious icon for decades ended up behaving human, folks got pissed. (Note: I quite enjoyed the movie.) The point is that because we invest so much in art and entertainment, and because we take a kind of ownership of all of it, we want it to fit those rules or predictions. And when things that out of our control don’t turn out the way we have long expected, well, nerds start petitions.
Maybe it’s a good idea to temper those expectations just a little. Odds are that only about half of our (and your) most anticipated albums will end up being good, and less than that will be great. Such is the reality of art. A whole lot of it sucks.
With all of that optimism in mind, here are some more albums we hope don’t suck!
JUDAS PRIEST – FIREPOWER
You guys know the Judas Priest, yes? Anything these godfathers do has our attention. They are nothing less than royalty. But soooometimes they trip on all them fancy capes and scepters and whatnot and do a face plant. It feels a sacrilege to say so, but perhaps the departure of KK Downing has ultimately been a positive for the band. New kid Richie Faulkner has been a kick in the ass. He was at least partially responsible for some of the best moments on Redeemer of Souls, is the sparkplug of the band’s gigs (think Janick Gers without the Rockettes bits), and he helped them recover from the plain disastrous Nostradamus. Also? The rest of the band is pretty good, too. So bring on Firepower. Really, can a title be any Priestier? [MATTHEW COOPER]
It’s no small secret that I’m as big an Absu devotee as you can imagine, but even I’m starting to get impatient with the wait for the third entry in Proscriptor’s “self-titled trilogy.” As was thoroughly discussed in our Devil’s Dozen of the band, there is absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt, no one like Absu in metal. The black/thrashing fury, uncanny vocal cadences, uncannyer drumming, and unabashed escapism of it all is a welcome change from the typical machismo (or outright misogyny) of so much of the style. Besides, Absu is just better at it than the rest, and we need more of what they do. It has now been about seven years since part two of the trilogy, Abzu, nearly as long as the band’s downtime between Tara and the first self-titled album. And it isn’t as if they’ve been inactive. There has been touring aplenty the last couple of years, accompanied by plenty of “the new album is almost done!” promises.
So yeah, I’m getting a little impatient for this one. But such is another effect of anticipation. [ZACH DUVALL]
Given new life by the addition of vocalist Todd LaTorre, the once-deflated Queensrÿche has released two strong albums in a row now – and since the last one was the better of the two, it would appear they’re on an upswing. Who would’ve thought that simply doing what you’re great at would yield such positive results? (Everyone. Everyone would’ve thought that. And they’d have been right, clearly.) With most of their new material fitting snugly somewhere in the Mindcrime–Empire–Promised Land mold, I’m sure this will be more of the same – that is their commercial peak, after all – but of course, old farts like me wouldn’t mind a few bones tossed towards the classic metal mastery of The Warning… Either way, based on Condition: Human’s excellence, I’ll be happy with what I get, I’m sure, and damn, it’s just great to be excited about a new Queensrÿche record again… Makes me feel like a kid.
When Agalloch’s primary source of inspiration — I’m talking about Don Anderson — decided to take the remnants of the band and splice them together with Giant Squid’s Aaron Gregory, excitement was met equally with skepticism, as fear began to grow that too many cooks were hired to run the same kitchen. Thankfully for Anderson and his current bandmates Jason Walton and Aesop Dekker, Gregory comes to the table having other creative outlets in his back pocket, and will presumably not take the lead while still bringing a ton of extra ideas to the table.
Khôrada is being treated as a completely fresh concept, and it seems as if it has been allowed to come slowly to fruition much unlike the powerhouse rush jobs that are not uncommon as far as heavy metal is concerned. Will the world have another Mantle or Ichthyologist on its hands? Probably not, as part of the beauty of those classics came from the unexpected nature of them. However, the band’s first album is guaranteed to send waves through a wide swath of both die hard and just plain curious members of the metal community. [KONRAD KANTOR]
SOLSTICE – WHITE HORSE HILL
If you have a keen memory, you will recall that Solstice’s supposedly forthcoming album was as one of our most anticipated albums of 2017. Here we are with 2018 upon us, and still we have no new Solstice album. Bear in mind that the first demo track for this album “White Horse Hill” emerged in 2014 and another quite polished-sounding demo, with some rather spiffy songs on it, To Sol A Thane, was released in 2016. Bear in mind also, that this album, if it ever comes out will only be Solstice’s third full-length album since the band was founded in 1990. However, Rich Walker, the band’s guitarist, leader and principal composer, is a self-admitted perfectionist, so it was not entirely surprising that 2017 came and went with no new album. That the band had to play shows this past summer, because they ran out of money to finish the recording, was also a large red flag. Perhaps creating epic doom metal simply requires an epic struggle. In any case, I am assured by folks in-the-know that the upcoming album album, titled White Horse Hill, should see the light of day very early in 2018. I wouldn’t put money on it, but I’m hopeful, and if it’s half as good as 1998’s New Dark Age, it will have been worth the wait. [JEREMY MORSE]
ATLANTEAN KODEX –
(THE COURSE OF EMPIRE)
Atlantean Kodex has assembled what essentially amounts to two full-lengths and one proper EP’s worth of material throughout twelve years of existence. That’s not meant as a criticism or complaint, it’s an affirmation of the truth that these particular Germans ain’t exactly in a huge rush to sew their unique pattern within heavy metal’s conglomerate fabric. They’re slow, meticulous knitters, and the decidedly rich thread they work with takes nearly as long to fully unravel as it does to weave, which means their records have a wonderfully long and gratifying shelf-life. Case in point, 2013’s magnificently absorbing The White Goddess, which left the sort of indelible stamp on epic heavy/doom metal that necessitates anticipation, apprehension and joyful jitters when hints at a new record finally surface.
*whispered on the winds in the age of sail* “Abendland (The Course of Empire) is coming…”
PESTILENCE – HADEON
Patrick Mameli is in a tough spot: He was at one point a death metal visionary to rival Chuck Schuldiner, and with his band Pestilence he pushed the young genre to new frontiers in both technical and progressive realms before disbanding in ’94. The band’s three album run following its reformation in 200, found the group embracing a modern aesthetic, looking forward, as it always has. Clunky, quasi-djent riffs, however, didn’t exactly light a fire in the hearts of the group’s primarily old-school fan base, which probably would have preferred Pestilence look back rather than forward. Those three albums did prove, though, that Patrick Mameli still had the chops and the hunger to make some heavy, weird-assed death metal. Mameli has resurrected and reconstituted Pestilence yet again after a brief lay-off, and the first single, “Multidimensional”, off the forthcoming album, Hadeon, sounds promising. “Multidimensional” still has that Pestilence other-worldliness and technical flash, but there is a streamlined, thrashy nimbleness to the riffs that brings to mind the group’s brutal late-80s work. Hope springs eternal. [JEREMY MORSE]
Regarding Absu and giving a glimmer of hope…
At the Beyond the Gates fest in Bergen this last August I bumped into Zbigniew Bielak and we struck up a short conversation when he noticed I was wearing an Absu shirt. He noted the design on it (tour shirt from 2016) would be included in the artwork for the new album which should be out in 2018 (according to him).
Aaaaaah… eagerly awaiting Craft’s followup to Void.