During 2017 most of heavy music's biggest names were on tour or between albums — which opened the doors for a cabal of young and/or willfully underground acts to make their mark on our 20 Best Albums of the Year list. 2018 looks to be a very different story. Even if Slayer, Tool, Ozzy Osbourne and others don't resurface with new records, there will still be plenty of well-established acts — as well as more than a few worthy ambitious up-and-comers and merciless extremists — dropping new LPs on fans' ears. Here are 30 albums we're particularly looking forward to.
In 2015, pioneering crossover-thrash/sludge-metal outfit Corrosion of Conformity reunited with vocalist Pepper Keenan for an extensive run of European and North American tour dates. Turns out their link-up wasn't a one-time deal: On January 12th, the band will drop No Cross No Crown, its first LP with the Down co-founder in over 12 years and the follow-up to 2014's IX. Judging from the new songs the group has released thus far, "Cast the First Stone" and "Wolf Named Crow," it will be burly, surly and southern-fried — basically, everything fans could hope for.
Swedish metal outfit Avatar have always been a hard band to pin down, and that task doesn't look to get any easier with the January 12th release of their new album Avatar Country. As singles "A Statue of the King" and "The King Wants You" — as well as their epic music videos — suggest, the group has only gotten weirder, wackier and more ambitious, not only pushing the over-the-top, operatic boundaries of their sound, but also creating a whole imaginary "country" in the process.
Zakk Wylde is no fucking slacker. The hirsute shredder reunited with Ozzy Osbourne last year and headlined festivals, and toured more intimate venues with Zakk Sabbath, his Black Sabbath cover band. He'll roll into 2018 with a new Black Label Society album, due January 18th. The follow-up to BLS' 2014 album, Catacombs of the Black Vatican — as well as Wylde's solo album Book of Shadows II, released last year — may be called Grimmest Hits, but lead single "Room of Nightmares" promises that it will be at least as rowdy and rollicking as it will be grim.
Swedish prog-death group Tribulation will kick off the new year with a killer new album, Down Below, their fourth overall and first to feature drummer Oscar Leander (ex-Deathstars), who replaced Jakob Ljungberg. "More than one year has passed since we did the last tour of The Children of the Night. During this long period of silence an intense creative process has taken place," the dapper, corpse-paint-adorned band said of the album, which is set for a January 26th release. "It contains some elements from all our previous releases but is also taking a step into uncharted waters." Preceding the full-length release, the group issued a new single, "The Lament," as well as a 7-inch EP, Lady Death, with artwork by guitarist Jonathan Hultén; the EP includes the title track as well as the B-side "Skärselden."
The first words Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn utters on the band's ninth album, Catharsis (out January 26th) are, "Fuck the world!" The song itself, " Volatile," is thrashy and nihilistic, yet Flynn says the rest of the album is far more tuneful. "'Keep your expectations low for the heaviness,'" Flynn told SiriusXM, though the cuts released so far, the title track and "Beyond the Pale," are plenty heavy. "It's a very grooving, very melodic record, and it's kind of freaked people out — understandably, I guess."
The eerie teaser video and gnarled single "Phreqs" leading the way for the next album by experimental extreme-metal band Portal — their first in five years — suggest that these Aussie's haven't chilled over time. The mysterious and theatrical group will drop its new, nine track full-length Ion on January 26th and it looks to be filled with tinny, lo-fi songs flush with howling noises, nonstop blast beats and guitars that sound like detonating minefields — just the thing that earned the group its diehard cult including one Phil Anselmo.
In 2015, Baltimore hardcore band Turnstile shook the gates with their full-length debut Nonstop Feeling. Following exhaustive touring, the quintet will return with its second album, Time & Space, produced by Will Yip. The record, which is due February 23rd and features contributions from Sheer Mag's Tina Halladay and EDM producer Diplo, will include the previously released singles "Real Thing" and "Generator." Vocalist Brendan Yates told NPR that the latter song, "is about near-death experiences, out-of-body happenings that really open you up to see your true self without the noise of the world."
Eighteen full-length albums into their career, British metal pioneers Judas Priest are still defending the faith with a fire and hunger unheard from most veteran outfits. Credit that in part to their newest member, guitarist Richie Faulkner, who excitedly worked with band veterans Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton to write the band's new album Firepower, which is expected in the first quarter of 2018. From the explosive opening of the title track to the majestic ending of the closing ballad, the record features energized anthems and guitar workouts that most closely recall Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith without aping either.
Now that three-quarters of the post-rock/shoegaze band has released the debut album by synthpop/new wave side project Death of Lovers, Nothing are dedicatedly digging into their next full-length. The group recently entered Dreamland Studio in Woodstock, New York, with producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Murder City Devils, Kurt Vile, etc.) to record the follow-up to 2016's heralded Tired of Tomorrow — and likely to play the bass line to Alice in Chains' "Dirt" more than a few times.
"We started playing music because we wanted to develop our own rulebook, and change those rules and adapt those rules and evolve and grow when we needed to," Baroness main man John Dyer Baizley told Metal Hammer in June 2017 when asked about progress on a new LP, the follow-up to 2015's stellar Purple. And grow and evolve is just what the Savannah prog-sludge outfit has been doing, most notably in the addition of new lead guitarist Gina Gleason, who brings a shreddy technicality and full-on metal energy to the group. Of course, the big question is, what color will the album be?
This Grammy award-winning Swedish Satanic doom-pop outfit spent much of the year touring and just released the surprise live album Ceremony and Devotion. Yet it's no stopgap — Ghost plan to release the follow-up to 2015's Meliora in the spring. The band has a good idea about its thematic direction, too, as one of the group's Nameless Ghouls made clear to the Albuquerque Journal. "Having in mind that the previous record was about the absence of God or the absence of deities, this new one is going to be about the return of God," he explained. "You know God's wrath cast upon the suffering humans, so it will be a little bit more biblical in that sense, which in turn makes it darker, a little bit more apocalyptic, I think."
A Perfect Circle's first new studio album since 2004's mostly-covers LP eMOTIVe will no doubt be atmospheric, experimental, heavy, melodic and, yes, political. "There was something that needed to be said and we have a lot, musically, to say right now," frontman Billy Howerdel told Razor 94.7. Lead singer Maynard James Keenan feels the same way. "A new release is long overdue," he said when the group released lead single "The Doomed." "In light of this current difficult and polarized social, spiritual and political climate, we artist types need to open our big mouths and share the light a little louder."
Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson plan to spent much of early 2018 writing songs for the follow-up to 2016's Dystopia, perhaps the thrash pioneers' best-received album since 1992's Countdown to Extinction. It will be the first Megadeth record to feature drummer Dirk Verbeuren (ex-Soilwork) and Ellefson says he's looking forward to working with his new bandmate. "It's fun to be able to now start thinking about writing some music, and especially writing together with this lineup in mind," he told The Right to Rock podcast.
While Killswitch Engage resident guitarist/producer Adam Dutkiewicz and vocalist/lyricist Jesse Leach are currently working on the second album from their side project Times of Grace, the demo process has also already begun for the Massachusetts metalcore powerhouse's follow-up to 2016's Incarnate. Leach posted on Instagram in September, "Rad new KSE track just about done. It's a single so it'll be out sooner than waiting for a record to be competed ... however it's still a wait so as the kids say, the hype is real!"
Kerry King told Revolver earlier this year that it's "conceivable" there would be a new album from the thrash group in 2018. In fact, there is a wealth of material left from the sessions for the band's last record, Repentless. "There are six or eight songs that are recorded — some with vocals, some with leads, but all with keeper guitar, drums and bass," said King. "So when those songs get finished lyrically, if the lyrics don't change the songs, they'll be ready to be on the next record. So we already have more than half a record complete, if those songs make it. This is actually the most prepared we've ever been for the next record in our history; there's no reason to not do more work, because it's already more than halfway done. Just write four or five new songs, and give the others some attention, and we'll be good to go."
L.A. industrial duo Youth Code have won over famous fans from the Deftones' Chino Moreno to Lamb of God's Randy Blythe with their hardcore-inflected take on old-school EBM. 2016's Commitment to Complications, the group's most mature and dynamic offering yet, will be hard to top, but if the group's high-energy live sets on one of 2017's finest tours, opening for Chelsea Wolfe, are any indication, they are more than up to the task.
After wrapping up his career with Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne seems to be heading for the finish line as a solo artist as well, having recently announced a farewell world tour. Right now, he's torn between putting out individual singles next year or releasing them collected as a new album. He recently told the Orange County Register he's got "four or five ideas" for new songs. Whatever he does with them, it'll be great to hear them with Zakk Wylde handling the guitars again.
Fans of Dimmu Borgir should expect the band's next album to be more extreme than 2010's Abrahadabra, the group has said in several interviews. Currently, the Norwegian symphonic black-metal band is in the final stages of recording and hope to have the release out by mid-year. "We are using a big choir on this new record, and it's also darker, more atmospheric, more primitive, more black metal," vocalist Shagrath told Antihero magazine.
Matt Pike was busy in 2017 working on a new Sleep album, which would be the trailblazing stoner-metal band's first in almost 15 years, but has yet to get a release date. Now, he's working on songs for his main band High in Fire's next record, which will coincide with the group's 20th anniversary. A commemorative tour dubbed Twenty Sunless Years is being scheduled to celebrate and, hopefully, they'll showcase tunes from the new LP on the trek.
The Swedish melodic death-metal standard bearers' next album will be the first not to feature co-founding guitarist Anders Björler, who left the group in early March. Jonas Stålhammar (the Lurking Fear, Crippled Black Phoenix, Bombs of Hades) replaced him for the group's follow-up to 2014 comeback record At War With Reality. Titled To Drink From the Night Itself, the album is due May 18th, and, according to singer Tomas Lindberg, "sounds hungry and mean." "Right now we are getting the mastering done, and every new song that is bounced to us produces huge grins on our faces," he reported in January.
Adam "Nergal" Darski was last seen onstage with the demonic country-folk outfit Me and That Man — which doesn't mean he's gone soft. His main band, the relentlessly crushing Behemoth, are back in the studio working on its first new music since 2014's The Satanist. The group has around 12 songs finished and is working on other material. "Magick is happening," he reported on social media.
It's unclear how much material Alice in Chains have in the box for the follow-up to 2013's The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, but it could be quite a bit. The band reportedly entered Studio X in Seattle in June 2017, and in August guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell told Sirius XM that AIC were "in the process of cobbling together some tunes, and hopefully, in the very near future we'll have something out for you guys."
We'd never promise that rock's most meticulous psych-prog masters will definitely release their first album since 2006's 10,000 Days next year — even though drummer Danny Carey said the record should be done by mid-2018. But we do guarantee they're on their way. The band's longtime friend, Rage Against the Machine/Prophets of Rage guitarist Tom Morello received an advance listening to work-in-progress tracks, and while he didn't hear anything featuring vocals, he described the music as, "epic, majestic, symphonic, brutal, beautiful, tribal, mysterious, deep, sexy and very Tool." Fingers crossed.
Following a 17-year hiatus, Swedish post-hardcore band Refused released their well-received reunion album Freedom in 2015. Now, they're back in the studio working on their fifth full-length. In November, Refused posted on social media that they were "working on some new music." The post was accompanied by a photo of four large stacks of recording gear. "All these different boxes are needed to create the sound that we are after," the band explained. Whatever it takes, guys.
Finland's leading melodic death/power-metal export Children of Bodom have written about half of the follow-up to 2015's I Worship Chaos and they plan to start recording in March. Once again, frontman Alexi Laiho will lead COB through an immaculate web of heavy, technical musicianship and howling vocals. Bassist Henkka Seppälä told The Salt Lake Tribune, "We've been already writing the whole fall, actually. We have almost half the new album. So we'll go back and do some more new songs. And then, in the spring, we're gonna start laying the tracks."
In addition to embarking on a highly successful tour with Killswitch Engage last year and scheduling another with the Massachusetts metalcore pioneers for 2018, Anthrax have been writing material for the follow-up to 2016's For All Kings. "I've sent some stuff to the guys, and Scott [Ian] was really supercharged," drummer and main songwriter Charlie Benante told Milwaukee's 102.9. "I'm just going to continue." Please do, Charlie.
After dropping a new album from his solo project Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals in January, the erstwhile Pantera and Down frontman will debut his next side project, En Minor, in the spring. The album, which he's been sitting on for nearly two years, is steeped in the goth and gloom of the Eighties and Nineties, he says — think the Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Nick Cave and Joy Division. During a recent appearance on Jimmy Cabbs' "5150 Interview Series," the vocalist said of the project, "I'm just trying to broaden my horizons, write some harkening songs. But I think they have their own life, honestly. It's retro only to a certain degree — I think, within me, because I know where it's coming from. I hear the word 'cinematic' a lot, and I hear, 'This is the best record you've done in 30 years,' or some shit like that."
In 20 years, Pig Destroyer have learned much about rhythm, tempo and structure, but their priority remains the same as when they started — to assault listeners with torrents of off-kilter cacophony. Their sixth studio album and follow-up to 2012's Book Burner will be recorded by guitarist Scott Hull at the band's home studio, Visceral Sound in Bethesda, Maryland, and will be the first PxDx release to feature John Jarvis, cousin of drummer Adam Jarvis, on bass. All we can tell at this point is it's gonna fucking destroy.
Richmond, Virginia's Windhand have quickly established themselves as some of the finest purveyors of doom metal active on the underground circuit, courtesy of Dorthia Cottrell's distinctive otherworldly wails and her bandmates' deceptively catchy sludge reworking of Seattle grunge hooks. The band's recently released new cut "Old Evil" harks back to the sublime druggy death crawls of its 2013 breakthrough Soma and bodes of good things to come on the group's forthcoming long player.
Shit is heating up in Rammstein land — and not just because of their never-ending array of pyrotechnics. The German industrial-metal outfit hasn't released an album of new music since 2009's Liebe ist für alle da, but according to keyboardist Flake, the band will be hitting the studio in February to do preproduction work on a follow-up LP, with a late-2018 release date being eyed. It could be a bittersweet release for fans, however, as guitarist Richard Kruspe has previously indicated that the album might be the band's last.