Those few days without us must have been almost too tough to handle, but you knew we wouldn’t leave you without our special combination of unmatched metal expertise and unbridled stupidity for too long. Today, we’d like to help you with your new years resolutions, because we know whatever combination of eating better and exercising more and reading that book or finally taking that trip is going to fail. You’ll have given up on those goals before the end caps at your favorite Walgreens get covered in hearts and pink candy boxes.
So instead of setting yourself up for personal failure, be like us! We’re merely putting all of our hopes in a bunch of bands young and old as we look forward to the records that will (probably) be released in 2019. Of course, we understand that it isn’t smart to put all of our hopes in one place, so we’re going to spend a full three days talking about the records for which we’re most excited this year.
As is tradition, we’re rating our level of confidence that each of these records will actually hit the mark. Some of these will probably flop worse than your commitment to doing 50 sit-ups each morning, but others will likely be among the best stuff hitting our ears in the near future. Only time (and you know, the records themselves) will tell.
In the comments, please share your most anticipated albums of 2019, those records in which you’re investing all of your personal happiness because you just know you’re never going to finish training for that Tough Mudder in May.
Be like us. Live vicariously.
ETERNITY’S END – UNYIELDING
Eternity’s End play a notably brisk, heavy and shreddy form of power metal that has a way of drawing attention from folks who don’t normally associate with the genre. The band’s 2016 debut, The Fire Within, was an absolute scorcher, and its follow-up, Unyielding, is the album I thought had a chance of dropping in late November / December and would therefore throw a particularly tricky wrench in the works for the We Have the Power top power metal albums of the year list that dropped early last month. I suppose it actually did come out—Japan only, through Marquee/Avalon records, on 12/26—but the majority of us will have to wait a bit longer to get a copy that doesn’t attach $20 in shipping alone. It’ll be worth the wait, for certain—the addition of Phil Tougas on guitar, Mike LePond on bass and Iuri Sanson on vocals ties in perfectly with the band’s approach to explosive power, and all three songs that have been released as teasers are amazing.
The always reliable Adam Burke is responsible for the totally fitting and absurd artwork, and let’s just go ahead and run through the pedigree behind the players to properly gauge the overall urgency behind Unyielding: GUITARS // Christian Münzner (Alkaloid, ex-Spawn of Possession, ex-Defeated Sanity, ex-Obscura, ex-Nader Sadek, ex-Necrophagist, and 100 other bands), DRUMS // Hannes Grossmann (Hate Eternal, Alkaloid, Blotted Science, Triptykon, Dark Fortress, Howling Sycamore), KEYBOARDS // Jimmy Pitts (Equipoise, The Fractured Dimension), GUITARS // Phil Tougas (Chthe’ilist, First Fragment, Equipoise, Zealotry, and 100 other bands), BASS // Mike LePond (Symphony X and 100 other bands), VOCALS // Iuri Sanson (ex-Hibria). This will be one for the Power Metal Ages, guaranteed. [CAPTAIN]
Quality Confidence Factor: 99.99999%
CANDLEMASS – THE DOOR TO DOOM
Christmas came a little early for doom fans when it was announced that Johan Längquist had resumed his position as lead singer in Candlemass after a 32-year hiatus. While previous singer Mats Leven had proven himself a much more dynamic frontman than his predecessor, Robert Lowe, I was personally never sold on Leven’s voice for Candlemass. The fellow can sing, for sure, but he was not “the voice of doom”—at least not for me. Längquist, on the other hand—a singer on arguably the greatest Candlemass record and, indeed, the greatest doom metal record of all time—has a brief but proven track record. While a strong argument could obviously be made for Messiah Marcolin returning to the fold, that ship has apparently sailed and is unlikely to return to port, so Candlemass has the best man for the job with Längquist behind the mic again.
Here’s the thing, though: Vocals haven’t been the real problem in Candlemass for the past decade or so. Robert Lowe might have been a lump on stage, but the son of a bitch is still one of the best voices in doom, and his performances on the three albums he made with Candlemass were more than just solid. No, friends, the fate of The Door to Doom lies not in the vocal cords of Johan Langquist, but rather it’s in band leader, bassist, and principal songwriter Leif Edling. If Leif continues to pursue the softer-edged, more melodic sound of the past few Candlemass records, Längquist’s return will go down as a tragically wasted opportunity. However, if Leif can dig deep for some real crushing doom riffs—and I mean RIFFS like the ones he wrote in the eighties—well, it’ll be epicus doomicus metallicus, so to speak. [JEREMY MORSE]
Quality Confidence Factor: 50%
QUEENSRŸCHE – THE VERDICT
After bottoming out by the end of the Geoff Tate era, the culmination of a long and slow decline, Queensryche returned with a new vocalist and a second solid (if not quite amazing) self-titled effort, and there was much rejoicing. (Well, in my house, at least.) Flash forward a few years, and these long-time favorites of mine finally got another dinger with the follow-up Condition: Human, the first high-quality Queensryche outing since the mid-90s. Todd LaTorre sounds more than enough like (read: nearly identical to) Tate — a feat I would’ve told you is damned near impossible, had you bothered to ask me a decade ago — but really, what’s rejuvenated our (well, my) favorite Seattle power-trad kings is a re-embracing of their metallic roots. Gone are most of the alt-rock tendencies that plagued bombs like Dedicated To Chaos and American Soldier, and good riddance. So Queensryche had returned, perhaps not entirely to their roots, but at least to the territory that surrounds their greatest successes, the land of soaring melodies atop moody traditional-tinted vaguely proggy metal. Now with founding drummer Scott Rockenfield on hiatus, the ‘Ryche may not be at full strength, but it turns out that LaTorre is no slouch on the drums, either, so let’s hope the rejuvenation continues. The album art might be a little … well, below average, but if the quality of lead single “Man The Machine” is any indication, all will be right in the ‘Ryche for awhile yet. [ANDREW EDMUNDS]
Quality Confidence Factor: 80%
CRYPT SERMON – TBD
Good, pure doom can be hard to come by. So much of it tends to be derivative of its predecessors, and most rarely live up to the quality of the pioneering artists. Not the case for Crypt Sermon, an epic doom band that skyrocketed to the top of their class with 2015’s Out Of The Garden. While the Candlemass influence is obviously present, Crypt Sermon managed to make it their own without sounding like a clone or a ripoff act. And it’s not like the band has been completely silent since it’s debut, having recorded a complete reworking of Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” (under the title De Mysteriis Doom Sathanas, see what they did there?) for Decibel’s flexi series back in mid-2017. While it was a collaboration with TT of Abigor, it showed signs of a band willing to tweak their sound and evolve, introducing some well-fitting lower register vocals and darker, sinister synths. It works extremely well, and I’m hoping touches of it remain with the band on their upcoming sophomore album. [RYAN TYSINGER]
Quality Confidence Factor: 80%
OBSEQUIAE – TBD
It just so happens that a certain knucklehead here at Last Rites crowned Obsequiae’s second album, Aria of Vernal Tombs, the best metal album of 2015. News that 20 Buck Spin will release the band’s third album at a yet-to-be-announced date in 2019 was thus received with much joy and exclaiming throughout the many Last Rites fiefdoms. The beguiling thing about Obsequiae’s medieval-tinged melodic death metal is that it sounds both familiar and alien at the same time. Yes, the harp interludes are reminiscent of fire-thrown shadows dancing in stone monasteries, but the twinned guitar leads often have an unswerving internal logic that feels transported from a history that never quite existed. Since Aria of Vernal Tombs was released, Obsequiae’s Andrew Della Cagna has made at least five other albums as a member of Coldfells, Ironflame, Nechochwen, and Icarus Witch. The band’s prime mover Tanner Anderson, however, has by all appearances been quiet. Obsequiae shares a bit of the core tonality of Anderson’s ambient funeral doom project Celestiial, as well as its preoccupation with the mystical power of nature. If Anderson’s methodical recording history is anything to go by, album number three from Obsequiae has every likelihood of being another magical summoning of effortlessly ancient-sounding beauty. [DAN OBSTKRIEG]
Quality Confidence Factor: 80%
KING DIAMOND – TBD
The only thing that stands in the way of us getting a new King Diamond album in 2019 is Kim Bendix Petersen’s boundless capacity for thoroughness. On March 29th, 2018, King conducted a very lengthy interview with Eddie Trunk where it was revealed that 80% of the new album’s storyline was complete and Andy LaRocque was on the way to Texas to commence work on the music in King’s home studio. Nine months could be enough to see a full record’s worth of new material finalized, but I’d still say there’s about a 50% chance that the album won’t see the light of day until December or early 2020 because Andy and King are voracious sticklers. Regardless, the wheels are in motion and have been for quite some time, and there remains a distinct possibility that 2019 will put a new King Diamond horror story in fans’ hands for the first time since 2007’s Give Me Your Soul… Please. The timing is right, too—King is healthy, they’re about to release a brand new live album/blu-ray DVD (Songs for the Dead LIVE, due January 25th), the band has a new management company that’s booking a TON of KD shows for 2019, and Metal Blade really needs something juicy to keep the train hustling down the tracks. One thing for certain: There are enough true life horror shows out there today that we could really, really use a King Diamond horror distraction to help keep us all sane. Give us a new record… Please. [CAPTAIN]
Quality Confidence Factor: 90%
Part 2 continues tomorrow!