Last Rites Presents: Our Most Anticipated Albums Of 2024, Part 1

Happy Monday, friends, we hope the week without us wasn’t too difficult on you. [Ron Howard: “It wasn’t.”] As a team, we needed a bit of a recharge from writing our 2023 listicles and reading/deliberating/screaming at about 100 others. Oh, and a recharge from all the indulgence and possible family drama that comes with (shudders) The Holidays.

But nah, time off is great, both from jobs and these types of more fun responsibilities. Did you all enjoy your time off? Did you use it to digest the approximately 450 albums from the previous 12 months held in very high esteem by all the zines and blogs and social media superfans? Of course you did. Otherwise you wouldn’t be ready for 2024, and we all know the turning of a calendar represents a hard reset in all aspects of life and that you’ll definitely stick to those exercise goals and cut out sugary sodas and everything else you promised yourself when you woke up on January 1st feeling like your head had been t-boned by a version of the Mustang from Bullitt souped up with a warp drive.

Regardless of whatever promises we all keep to ourselves, we hold out a ton of hope that bands and artists and movie directors and game makers and the like keep promises to us. We’re a little selfish like that, but we also need things to keep us looking happily forward when there are so many external factors creating what can generously be called a rather palpable sense of constant dread. So we’re spending the week looking forward with bright eyes, hoping not just for long-anticipated new albums from legends (and we mean long-anticipated in the case of one guy and his two bands) but also follow-ups from promising youngsters and everything in between. Part 1 is below, with Part 2 following on Wednesday and the finale on Friday. Please share the albums that have your Spidey Anticipations all lit up as well. There’s gonna be a lot of tunes this year.

Will these albums touch our souls? Are these visions of future dreams come true? Welcome to… 2024. [Zach Duvall]


TBD; Willowtip

So far, the only hope we have of a new Slugdge album coming our way is this very vague tweet (yes, tweet, I will not say xeet or whatever-the-fuck) from their label Willowtip listing “possible 2024 albums.” We were teased with similarly nebulous announcements last year for Slugdge to no avail. We have, however, written about King Diamond in these pieces every year for 37 years, so I think we can let Willowtip slide for one year of false hope.

After a killer run of putting four phenomenal slabs of weird death metal out in five brief years, Slugdge has been mostly silent for another six. That’s too long to go without fresh slug puns in song titles like “Transilvanian Fungus,” “Salters of Madness,” or “Spore Ensemble.” While the slug theme may seem silly on the surface, the music itself is anything but. The duo of Kev Pearson and Matt Moss craft from a bevy of death metal resources, creating a rather unique brand of modern heaviness. They crush, noodle, explore, hook, groove and so much more in their own space cadet way. The transition from the infectious, clean chorus of “The Spectral Burrows” into the absolutely crushing opening of “Slave Goo World” was one of the best moments in death metal in 2018. Moss, in particular, does not get enough credit for how impressively varied his vocals have been, particularly since he even includes the occasional monk-style throat singing.

Since the release of Esoteric Malacology, Slugdge has gone from being a two-man passion project to a full band, having recruited the likes of Matt “Moat” Lowe (Novena, ex-Bleeding Oath) on bass and Alan Cassidy (The Black Dahlia Murder) on drums. It will be interesting to see what influence those additions have on the next release. While we eagerly await our next communication from our slime-ridden overlords, don’t forget to always praise Mollusca! [SPENCER HOTZ]

Quality Confidence Factor: 90%


TBD; Season Of Mist

Welp, 2024 is another presidential election year here in the U, S and A, and with that comes all the madcap cranial train derailments and carelessly hurled gloom grenades a person could ever expect to encounter when political empty-headedness slithers into the spotlight. And hey, what better way to face the literal defeat of all sanity than with a brand new Defeated Sanity! Defeat our insanity even more defeatedly, Defeated Sanity, because we’re all gonna need it. Defeat our sanity to the point where we show up to work one morning wearing nothing but the bottom portion of a gorilla suit. Or, if we feel like Winnie the Poohing our way out of a job, just the top portion of the gorilla suit. Just… please, please, please mince our gray matter with them endless riffs, twists and synaptic fire bombs.

The four years that have passed since 2020’s excellent The Sanguinary Impetus have been… interesting. You know, if you consider suffering grossly regressive biases around nearly every corner amidst a deadly pandemic “interesting.” I have no clue how much of that time has been spent carving out the details for Defeated Sanity album number seven—the band’s first dip with Season of Mist—but the inclusion of a new permanent second guitarist (a fellow named Vaughn Stoffey) makes it seem possible that things could return to heavier pastures? Not that Sanguinary could ever be considered “DS-lite,” but maybe the new record will find some way to force the modern face of the band that underscores an even more sorcerous form of tech to collide with the unmitigated thiccness of Disposal of the Dead. That prospect sounds as wonderful as it does… fatal, no? Which is perfect. One thing we know for sure, though: No matter what path Defeated Sanity ends up taking, chances are very good that the results will be great, because these guys have never actually missed the target.

So, yeah, get in our heads, new Defeated Sanity! And DIE, BRAIN! DIE! [CAPTAIN]

Quality Confidence Factor: BRUTALLY CONFIDENT


TBD; Underground Power

With the studio update at the beginning of this past December, it seems as though Finland’s Angel Sword will bring their rough steel cut oats to battle once more in 2024 with as-of-yet untitled third studio album. While recent years have shown an uptick in the general interest around traditional heavy metal, Angel Sword is one of those mighty few who stand apart for me. Hearty, burly, blue collar metal with a heart of gold and a thirst for all the glory hard rockin’ dive bars can bring.

As much as I appreciate the huskier, rebar and concrete production of 2019’s Neon City, I’d love a bit of a return to the warmer, open road tones found on 2016’s Rebels Beyond The Pale. Still though, the band have already proven their strengths at writing infectious and empowering tunes. A little 70s rock, a bit of the pub rock end of the NWOBHM, plenty of classic Nordic metal might ‘n melody go a long way for Angel Sword in crafting albums chock full of clever and earnest anthems regardless of how the music is presented. There’s an emphasis on the character of the music that isn’t so easily replicated–perhaps that’s part of the “X” factor.

Here’s to hoping for a killer album with enough reception for a Hells Heroes 2025 appearance followed by a U.S. tour that will make the tens of people here that can’t put down their prior works absolutely ecstatic. Count me among them, this is a preorder without having heard a note of music.  [RYAN TYSINGER]

Quality Confidence Factor: 1983%


Release date TBD; Label TBD

Wormed has been not-so-quietly doing their cosmo-brutech death thing for over a quarter of a century now, and in all that time has managed… three full lengths. Note that this is not remotely a complaint; all three of those albums ‒ along with the various EPs, demos, and singles ‒ add up to a rather impeccable legacy to this point despite numerous lineup changes (including the tragic death of Krighsu drummer Guillermo Calero). In fact, no two Wormed albums feature the same lineup, and yet they’ve managed to retain their quality, sci-fi vibe, and immense heft (like taking a body splash from Sagittarius A*).

It’s now been nearly eight years since Krighsu and almost five since the Metaportal EP, and our favorite brutal Spaniards should have a new record about done, based on posts they were making last May about hitting the studio in Basque Country. Or as they put it, a “sonic metamorphosis into a celestial array of quantum disharmonies” that will paint “the very fabric of the cosmos.” Seems right. As usual, this album will bring with it some change, as guitarist Daniel “D-Kazar” Valcázar joined the group in 2021, and as usual, there’s little worry that they’re bringing in the perfect guy for the job. Wormed deserves every benefit of the doubt, as they’ve been basically free of mistakes to this point. Bring on the spaghettification. [ZACH DUVALL]

Quality Confidence Factor: 99%


February 16; Atomic Fire

For nearly forty years, Mark Reale guided Riot through a lifetime of line-up changes, label changes, slight stylistic shifts… all the generally turbulent seas of making a living playing in a heavy metal band. When he passed away in January of 2012, Riot was coming off a stellar effort in Immortal Soul, a reunion of the Thundersteel era line-up, and one of the strongest records they’d made in a long time. Reale’s death was a tragedy in so many ways, and one of those was that it seemed like Riot would be lost without his guidance.

But, thank the seal-headed gods of battle, that has not been the case. In Reale’s honor, Riot shifted into Riot V (since that marked the fifth era of the band), substituting vocalist Todd Michael Hall in place of the again-departing Tony Moore, and re-adding drummer Frank Gilchrist to the throne he’d vacated for Thundersteel’s Bobby Jarzombek. Under the guidance of longtime guitarist Mike Flyntz and returning bassist Don van Stavern, Riot didn’t lose a bit of the spark they’d recaptured, releasing two strong efforts in Unleash The Fire and Armor Of Light, both of which hew far closer to Thundersteel’s speedy USPM-leaning side of the Riot sound, and to good result.

It’s been five years since Armor Of Light, but now, once again, Johnny’s back, and I’m excited. If lead single “High Noon” is any indicator, Riot V is still shining on and brightly, with Hall’s soaring vocals and the fire-dancing guitars of Nick Lee and Flyntz propelled by Gilchrist and van Stavern. The world is often a dark place, and the world of heavy metal can just as often be even darker, so bands that put a smile on your face should be cherished, bands like Riot (with or without the V). I’m guessing this will be one of my Feel-Good Albums Of The Year, and I’ll be very happy if that’s the case.

And seriously, how much does that album art rule? Johnny’s got himself a seal-headed ladyfriend… [ANDREW EDMUNDS]

Quality Confidence Factor: 85%


TBD; 20 Buck Spin (he assumes)

It’s 2024, and I’m sick of being unenlightened. In fact, someone selling mood rings at my local farmer’s market last summer told me I must become more in tune with my spirituality before I die. And I trusted them! At first, I was a little skeptical—mainly because I’m not so sure spirituality is my forte. But as I thought about that advice from my fellow Hoosier, I was reminded of the gnarly Lunar Chamber EP, Shambhallic Vibrations, that dropped just months prior.

The technical, progressive death metal outfit, comprised of Brandon Iacovella, Kyle Walburn, and Thomas Campbell, ascended from the unknown in 2023 thanks to backing from the revered 20 Buck Spin. Unapologetically influenced by bands like Blood Incantation, Chthe’ilist, Demilich, Gorguts, Lykathea Aflame, VoidCeremony, and Atramentus, Lunar Chamber released a work filled with technically crushing riffs, leads, solos, progressive bits, melodies, and a thick fretless bass tone. It was rumored that the EP had been in the works since 2018, but clearly, it didn’t see the light of day until last spring.

Upon its release, the EP was described as “a tale of a journey eastward in search of enlightenment and what may lie beyond,” with themes of self-analysis and, again, attaining enlightenment. And they nailed the atmosphere with the layering, clean guitars, and synths. These dudes created a super sick listening experience that—to this day—drags me back in for more listens. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Iacovella and Walburn and their project, Tómarúm, are responsible for one of my favorite releases from the last few years, the progressive black metal masterpiece Ash in Realms of Stone Icons. Considering that, and the high praises I alluded to, I fully expect the debut full-length album from Lunar
Chamber to be a stellar release. [JOSH HEATH]

Quality Confidence Factor: 95%
Will It Actually Release This Year Confidence Factor: 50%

Posted by Last Rites


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