OK. 2015 is now officially over and what an insanely great it has been. Like all years however, it is followed by another one (unless induction isn’t a thing in which case, we’re screwed) and it’s time to start turning our eyes towards the one which awaits us now. 2016 has its bar raised high but, like the year before it, we hope it will blast through that benchmark and show us things we never even imagined we’d see. But to be surprised one must first have expectations. And so, we present you with our short primer of what to wait for in 2016. The list is made up of three parts: the first, “Confirmed Releases”, are albums which are pretty much done and have a clear release date. There’s no real, line in the sand definition but you’ll get the feeling for what we consider “confirmed” as you read the list. The second category is “Releases in Progress”. It’s made up of albums we know are coming but are also somewhere in production, either being written, tracked, recorded, whatever.
The last category is our wishlist. There’s very little chance that these albums are even coming because there’s no news about them yet; however, we know that bands like to be mercurial, for marketing reasons and for their own, personal reasons, and so there’s no need to give up home. Last thing: it’s obvious that we’ve missed a ton of releases that are coming out next year. Some we’ve ignored on purpose: you don’t need us to tell you to be hyped for the new Metallica. We’ve focused on smaller bands or more niche sounds, trying to draw attention to those unique voices. In addition, there are probably some bands that do fit the bill but we had to choose an arbitrary length for this article. There’s a lot of good music coming out soon and if you feel like we’ve missed something that people simply must know about, let us know in the comments!
Let’s get to it. Here’s to a great 2016.
Black Tusk – Pillars of Ash (1/29 via Relapse)
Death is not the end. Thus screams loudly the news that Black Tusk, recovering from the tragic death of Jonathan Athon (bass), are planning an album for 2016. The two tracks already are monolithic, massive and immediately engaging sludge. This album is set to make plenty of speakers combust, so make sure to keep an eye out for Pillars Of Ash come January 29th.
Borknagar – Winter Thrice (1/22 via Century Media)
Is it melodic death metal? Is it black metal with folk influences? We don’t really care; bottom line is that this supergroup breaks the often shabby mold of supergroups, creating addicting music for years now. We’ve gotten our hands on this release already and we can tell you: it’s amazing. ICS Vortex over moving, emotional riffs, heavy songs that hit hard and lyrical content that shows thought and depth. What more could you want or need?
Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule (1/29 via Profound Lore)
Profound Lore truly outdid themselves in 2015 with a myriad of top-tier releases ranging from noise (Prurient) to funeral doom (Bell Witch) to post punk (Gold) to death metal (Abyssal). It’s this last genre that will kick of another solid year for the label, as Canadian filth-mongers Chthe’ilist are slated to drop a sickening slap of old school genre veneration. Lead single “Voidspawn” bears hints of Demilich, Autopsy and Incantation with a murky assault that should leave DM fans thirsty for more.
Devil Driver – Trust No One (5/13 via Napalm)
Ever since they released their self-titled debut in 2003, DevilDriver settled into a relentless cycle which saw them constantly touring around the world whilst still releasing an album every two years. The nu metal aspects of their sound disappeared quickly after the release of their debut, and since then DevilDriver have found their home marrying Gothenburg-inspired riffing and soloing with the punishing grooves which have been their hallmark since day one. Yet, whilst we’re unlikely to see a host of experimentation from what has become their signature sound, this album is the product of significant change within the DevilDriver camp. 2014 was a year of flux for the band, a year which saw two of their three remaining founding members, Jeff Kendrick (guitar) and John Boecklin (drums), depart the band before a hiatus was announced so that the third, vocalist Dez Fafara, could concentrate on the reunion of his former band, Coal Chamber. Thus, it will be interesting to see how the additions of Neal Tiemann (Midwest Kings, The Anthemic) on guitar and Austin D’Amond (ex-Chimaira) on drums affect the band’s songwriting and arrangements as the band return from their longest studio break to date. They won’t ever be considered giants of metal, but DevilDriver are nothing if not consistent. As one of the few bands who, six releases into their career, can truly say they’ve never had a bad release, fans will be hoping that doesn’t change with the release of Trust No One on May 13 2016. Despite what their new title suggests, we can certainly trust DevilDriver to hit back in 2016 with what everyone wants: snarling vocals, thunderous drumming and earth-shaking grooves.
Dream Theater – The Astonishing (1/29 via Roadrunner)
Over the past decade, respect for Dream Theater has waned as they’ve become increasingly irrelevant in the metal world, their fall all the more hastened following Mike Portnoy’s departure in 2010. Yet, it must not be forgotten that these veterans of thirty years (yes, thirty!) have survived and thrived through various phases and trends within both progressive and metal music, and that they have risen to past challenges with truly exceptional albums. Their discography has influenced countless bands which have come after them, yet they must now prove that they’re more than just a legacy act, and that they can still create music which inspires their peers and those that follow. It is thus fitting that their latest offering, The Astonishing, is perhaps their most ambitious record to date – and looking into the history of the band that’s really saying something! A double concept album with a monstrous 34 tracks, the record follows a group of rebels, the Ravenskill Rebel Militia, rising against the oppressive Great Northern Empire of the Americas. Their website is already allowing fans to immerse themselves in the concept, detailing the final track listing and exploring both the map of the world in which the story takes place, and most of the characters that will be involved. Thus far, one track has been released and it’s pretty standard fare for Dream Theater, LaBrie’s recognisable vocals adorning the first half of the track, before Petrucci and Rudess begin playing off each other in the instrumental passage which concludes the song. Whilst it won’t inspire reactions of awe, it is also unfair to judge such a monolithic project from a single track which has been taken out of its context. Such an ambitious project is naturally a high risk, high reward proposition, and so we must wait with baited breath for the impending release on January 29 2016, the date we learn whether they can still be invigorating and fresh, or whether they should be written off as relics of a past age.
Jesu & Sun Kil Moon – Jesu/Sun Kil Moon (1/21 via Calo Verde/Rough Trade)
This is one of those collaborations that no one saw coming but now has everyone waiting for with intense anticipation. All of the tracks released thus far have exhibited an even split between the two projects’ dabblings in shoegaze, drone and Americana, and it will be interesting to see how some recurring lyrical themes will play out over the remainder of the record.
Lycus – Chasm (1/15 via Relapse)
One one of the best modern funeral doom acts by far, Lycus is finally back to follow up 2013’s exceptional Tempest. The record appears to be longer, with four tracks versus Tempest‘s three, something that will hopefully hint towards an even more lush and fleshed out approach this time around.
Magrudergrind – II (2/12 via Relapse)
It’s been 7 years since Magrudergrind’s last full length album, Magrudergrind, and those seven years have been some of the most painful in existence for grind-violence fans everywhere. Luckily for those grind-violence nerds though, 2016 will come with a new Magrudergrind record, titled II. The first single from the record, Sacrificial Heir, shows the band doing what they do best; ripping through a furious assault of d-beats/blast beats before a pummeling sludge breakdown. It is a promising sign of what the album may have in store, and an apt reward for the fans after waiting so patiently.
Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us (TBA via Nuclear Blast)
If their exclusive 7” flexi disc for Decibel Magazine is any inkling for what Nails has in store for us in 2016, then color me excited and full of anger that must have been suppressed all this time. You Will Never Be One Of Us is due out sometime in 2016 through Nuclear Blast Records. Not only should you be excited for this new release because it’s another album by Nails, but that it’ll be 3 long years since its predecessor, Abandon All Life, and that was a short album of pure hatred and terror. Vocalist Todd Jones seems to sound different on each Nails release (including their Obscene Humanity EP from 2013 and the 7” flexi), and my prediction is that he won’t be doing his higher pitch shriek-style vocals like on Abandon All Life, but that his vocals will be darker and more guttural like the 7” flexi (or who knows, maybe he’ll go even lower). I know that I keep mentioning the 7” flexi, but at this moment, it’s really all that we have in terms of new Nails material. Will those two songs be on You Will Never Be One Of Us? Who knows, but either way, this album is highly anticipated by those who love hardcore, powerviolence, grindcore, etc.
Obscura – Akróasis (2/5 via Relapse)
After a pretty big lineup shuffle, Obscura are finally on track to release their fifth album Akroasis. The two singles released so far have been on pretty different edges of the progressive death metal spectrum, with the title track having a lot of ambience and slow, melancholic chords, and the second single “Sermon of the Seven Suns” more along the lines of the band’s older sound, being melodic tech death with Cynic influences and weird soloing. Regardless, both sounds are quite exciting and the teasers from the album have sounded excellent. All that we need to know is that Obscura are back, and they’re still excellent.
Sarah Neufeld – The Ridge (2/26 via Paper Bag)
Violinist Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire) made a name for herself this past year with her collaboration album with saxophonist Colin Stetson Never were the way she was (which we named our 48th favorite album of 2015). Her meditative style of playing combined with her ethereal vocal cooing produces a highly potent and affecting emotional sound that’s guaranteed to tug at at least a few heartstrings. Right on the heels of that, she will be releasing her second solo LP, The Ridge, February 26, which will feature herself and drummer Jeremy Gara. The single that’s been released, the cathartic title track, gives us every reason to expect The Ridge to be one of the best post-rock/indie classical albums of the year.
Steven Wilson – 4 1/2 (1/22 via Burning Shed/KScope)
Can this man please slow down? It hasn’t been a year since the amazing Hand.Cannot.Erase and Wilson is already planning to release a new album. Granted, this will be stuff from the editing floor, but 4½ will also feature a remaster of one of Porcupine Tree’s best songs, “Don’t Hate Me”. Does this hint at Wilson’s pining for more Porcupine Tree? One can only dream. Expect this release on the 22nd of January.
Tortoise – The Catastrophist (1/22 via Thrill Jockey)
The Chicago post-jazz-electro-rock veterans released the first single off of their 7th studio LP The Catastrophist, “Gesceap” way back in October, and they’ve been pretty quiet since. The album is dropping January 22 though, and although “Gesceap” felt more like a longform build towards something great rather than something great in itself, Tortoise’s proven track record should give every fan faith in the band to deliver something unexpected and terrific.
Ulver – ATGCLVLSSCAP (1/22 via House of Mythology)
The ever mercurial Ulver are planning to once again shatter our perceptions of what they are. Composed of live improvisation, some of old tracks and some of new material, ATGCLVLSSCAP (that’s actually the name of the album by the way) will push the boundaries of what Ulver are all about. It remains to be seen if we’ll be able to parse or will the band finally reach their limit. I’m betting on the former but we’ll see on January 22nd.
Vektor – Terminal Redux (3/11 via Earache)
Vektor are almost single-handedly holding the torch for the progressive thrash genre. Yes, there are other bands in the genre, but Vektor are definitely the most visible of them. Their third album, Terminal Redux is slated for March 2016, and after Black Future and Outer Isolation both being excellent, expectations are high for their upcoming work. The material we’ve heard from it so far verifies that they are showing no signs of slowing down, and the wait for March will be a long one.
Wormed – Krighsu (3/18 via Season of the Mist)
Dear lord, yes. Exodromos, the band’s previous effort, is still very much my go to album when I need to be pommeled into the ground by riffs, technicality and just plain brutality. This album is sure to bring the technical death metal in the extreme but hopefully it maintains that signature, chunky and larger life Wormed sound. Get your ears ready for this one because it will surely require at least tens of listens to fully grasp. Krighsu releases on March 18th so mark that day in your calendars as “get crushed day”.
At this point, these guys are the undisputed masters of deathgrind. Hot off the heels of their newest EP, Termination Redux, this fearsome four-piece (following the loss of guitarist Danny Tunker to Alkaloid) is gearing up to conquer best-of lists yet another year. Their last album, The Necrotic Manifesto, was a gore-infused romp through the some of the best tunes this blazing fast, inhumanly brutal group has written so far, and, if Termination is anything to go by, their prowess and cohesion as a unit has only gotten better from there. Prepare for these dudes to melt your face off this coming year.
After the Burial
After the Burial were dealt a pretty heavy blow when their guitarist and friend Justin Lowe passed away in mid 2015. The band were very close, and he was essential to their team. A few months after his passing they revealed that before the unfortunate tragedy, they actually completed recording an album and would be releasing it in 2016. They have redoubled their touring efforts as well, as they wanted to carry on as they think he would have wanted them to. They’ve also gone with a more natural approach with this album using live drums and analog guitars instead of simulation. The single they released so far, “Lost in the Static” is more of a chugger than a shredder, but the band have a tendency of putting out their live crowd-pleaser songs out first and then following up with an album full of diversity, so there is no need to worry yet. The sound is much better as well, so their recording approach has done well for them. It will be interesting to see where they will go with this album and beyond that now.
In 2012, Ancestors released In Dreams and Time, one of my all time favorite albums. It’s this blessed mix of stoner, doom and melodic metal, utilizing tools from all three genres to create an album whose scope is on a whole different level. The band have been silent since then but lately have started posting images from the writing and recording process. One can only hope that something actual comes from that in 2016 because I want, nay NEED, new material from them. Please.
Arms of Tripoli
This LA instrumental post-rock group continues to be a sleeper favorite among the more post-inclined of us on staff. Their debut album, Dream In Tongues, was a masterclass in blending jazz-infused post-rock sounds from the likes of Tortoise and Do Make Say Think with more cerebral mathy grooves, all wrapped up in California sunniness. The band posted a photo to their Facebook page back in October of them tracking the new album, so it’s very likely we’ll see new music from them sometime this year.
Black Crown Initiate
2014 was a stellar year for progressive death metallers Black Crown Initiate, wherein they were unanimously agreed upon to be the year’s best and most promising new band upon the release of their punishingly heavy debut album The Wreckage of Stars. Between the crushing riffs, massive choruses, and technical songwriting, the band delivered in spades on the record, and also made quite a name for themselves with the ensuing relentless touring. I’m firmly of the opinion that BCI can do no wrong, given that their one-and-a-half releases (preceding EP Song of the Crippled Bull stands as one of my favourite musical pieces of all time) are practically flawless, and I’m certain I’m not the only one who cannot wait to see how they will outdo themselves on their second LP.
Can we please have this album already? It seems like it was ages ago (because it was) that Corelia released any new material. For one of the most original names in melodic/progressive metalcore, that’s a damn shame. The genre needs their voice, a possible boost of originality. The band already hinted towards a release in 2015 but that obviously didn’t happen. Once more details surface of a possible 2016 release we’ll be all over it but for now all we have is our hope. Don’t let us down dudes.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
The fact that the masters of aural chaos are working on new material is enough in itself to send chills down one’s spine, given that there’s never any guessing what kind of new ground they may tread. All we know is that given the veterans’ track record, the end result is bound to be an impossibly sharp, unpredictable, and occasionally terrifying listen, hopefully peppered with their now-signature jazz moments to boot.
Do Make Say Think
The Toronto jazz-inflected post-rock enclave, like Tortoise, have been relatively quiet since 2009 when their last album, Other Truths, was released. Other Truths was definitely not the band’s best work, but their absence can be felt, even as countless other bands attempt to occupy the sonic territory that DMST tread so well through the 2000s. Ringleader Justin Small has been busy with multiple other projects in the interim, but he’s been teasing news and progress on LP7 at times this past year. No firm release plans have been announced, but a 2016 release seems well within the realm of possibility.
East of the Wall
There is just an obscene amount of talent and diversity running through NJ progressive group East of the Wall, which can explain why their sound can be so difficult to pin down. It’s a sound that is undeniably their own though, and it’s one that’s been sorely missed the release of their 2013 album Redaction Artifacts. The band have been posting sporadic pre-production updates through the fall and seem likely to at least be recording early this year. Hopefully we can expect new music second half of the year.
It would only make sense of Ever Forthright to return next year; alongside SikTh, they were one of the originators of the “djent” sub-genre and perhaps one of the best and most refreshing instances of it. With Nicholas Llerandi successfully releasing his amazing Stimpy Lockjaw album in 2014, the stars are right for new Ever Forthright. If they can pull off the sort of comeback that SikTh did this year, we might be forced to declare djent alive again. That’s probably too much butt his album can still kick some major ass and we can’t wait for it.
These guys are a bit divisive around here, and it’s easy to see why: The Flesh Prevails, 2014’s follow-up to the excellent first LP The Harvest Wombs, was a bit of a mess. The production was sloppy, the “wall of noise” aspect didn’t fit their genre, and the whole atmospheric component was a bit played out and forced that time around, as opposed to the natural, organic feel it had on the first album. It’s going to be interesting to see how this new release handles those aspects, seeing as the band has decided to go in a “more melodic and less technical” direction. At the very least, the production that hampered The Flesh Prevails is no more, and hopefully the band has learned from their mistakes. I, for one, am keeping a close eye on Fallujah to see if they’ll get back on track after their misstep and put out a worthy followup to The Harvest Wombs.
God of Atheists
Formed in 2008, God of Atheists is one supergroup truly deserving of such a title. Founded by guitarist Asgeir Mickelson (Spiral Architect, Borknagar), he is joined by Carl August Tidemann on lead guitar (Arcturus), ICS Vortex on vocals (Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus, Borknagar), Vibeke Stene as the soprano vocalist (Tristania), Trym Torson on drums (Enslaved, Emperor, Zyklon), Lars K. Norberg on bass (Spiral Architect), Sareeta on violin (Solefald) and the legendary Ihsahn on keyboards (Emperor, Ihsahn). The band have started to become somewhat of a Tool-like running joke within metal circles, having featured in such lists for the last several years without any concrete news on when their debut will finally be released. They’ve been tentatively stating it will be ready next year since at least 2013, but if their Facebook page is anything to go by, they’ve almost finished recording and so 2016 may finally be the year! Slated as extreme metal, the one-minute teaser below indicates we’re in for some atmospheric black metal with elements of folk and classical music, so here’s hoping that our next piece on them is a review to their brilliant album, and not their inclusion on anticipated albums of 2017.
Originally slated for release in 2015, Gojira fans worldwide collectively groaned when the band announced their sixth release would be delayed until early 2016. Yet, there was a silver lining to be found in their reasoning, one which will make fans very excited for their follow-up to the brilliant L’Enfant Sauvage. The first reason was that the Duplantier brothers spent significant amounts of time designing and building Silver Cord, their very own recording studio in New York which, hopefully, will lead to an even better sounding record from a production point of view. The second reason was even more exciting. According to drummer Mario Duplantier, they usually write their ten songs and then record them for the album; job done. This time, the band have become much more selective as they’ve spent more time than ever crafting each song, sometimes throwing away entire tracks to start from scratch and deliver something better. Whilst Australia’s Gojira Sanzu helped sate our desires in 2015, there is only one Gojira, and one can only hope their sharpened focus on songwriting will yield a stellar release, one full of the monstrous grooves and explosive drumming we’ve come to expect.
If These Trees Could Talk
This one has been a long time coming. We were actually anticipating LP3 from the Ohio-based moody post-metal group to arrive sometime in 2015, but the year passed and no release, so we are now eagerly awaiting official release news for this year. As of November, the band posted that they were in the mixing phase, so all signs point to new music either late winter or early spring. In the meantime, go back and listen to Metal Blade’s re-issues of their first two albums, Above the Earth, Below the Sky and Red Forest!
I’ll be honest with you; Red Fang’s latest album didn’t really catch my ear. However, the first two albums were so good that I still save a fair amount of grace for these guys. I’m excited to see if they can recapture the energy, attitude and sound that made Murder the Mountains such a joy to listen to. Only time will tell but I hope that the lessons of yesteryear were well learned and implemented and that we’ll get an album digging back into their past, bringing groove and intelligence back into the riffs rather than a nonstop chugging machine without real variation. That’s what made Red Fang great and can make them so again: deceptively simple and massive riffs that hide plenty of variation and interest below their surface.
A Sense of Gravity
If there’s any band that can be called a “blog favorite”, it’s these guys. The Seattle based band smashed all our expectations with their phenomenal, 2014 Travail, blending progressive metal, death, djent, 70’s progressive and so much more into one compelling, perfectly executed package. Recording and writing for this album are well under way and while we haven’t heard any snippets yet (guys, come on) we are more than convinced that it will be another trend setter, building on the firm, progressive grounds of their debut release. Expect this album to continue the strong trend of the past few years back towards progressive metal, bringing you complex, epic and yet somehow accessible melodies.
Swans have always released quality albums, but something about their post-reformation output truly feels as though Gira had celestial aspirations when he got the band back together. With The Seer and To Be Kind receiving well-deserved critical acclaim and introducing a new generation of listeners to one of music’s greatest bands, it was bittersweet to hear Gira announce that the next Swans record would be the last with this iteration of the band. Then again, that announcement included news of a new Swans record, which is still fantastic news in its own right. The band has clear, distinctive periods/sounds within their discography, so it will be interesting to hear what the closing act in this apocalyptic quartet (which includes the aforementioned two records and My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky) will have to offer.
This name should be familiar to regulars of the blog: we’ve been pouring endless praise on these guys ever since their album came out in 2014. And with good reason, seeing as they’re one of the most refreshing bands to come out of this new wave of post-metal we are experiencing. The band have been touring non-stop but are now planning to give us new material in 2016 and we couldn’t be more excited: expect depthless riffs, churning drums and an overall heady, musty and downright oppressive feel. If this comes out as good as the last one, it should be the instrumental release of the year.
We NEED this album. It’s been coming for so long, with teasers, postponements and announcements all over the place. Point in fact, Februus is one of the best albums to emerge from the “djent” sub-scene if not the best. Its dark, brooding nature was an immediate refreshment and has since left us hungry for more. It was so long ago; we’re well overdue for our fix. If the teasers and studio reports are anything to go by then we should get this album soon, early next year. About time if you ask us, we can’t wait.
According to the Weekend Nachos’ twitter, a new record is underway and is expected to have a mid to late 2016 release date. Along with Magrudergrind’s new record, the release of a new Weekend Nacho’s record would make for a wonderfully blast beat, breakdown filled 2016, sure to inspire mass moshing and spin kicks everywhere.
This has been a long time coming, for sure. Cosmic Dissonance, the 2013 EP from this Bay-area techdeath group, was the product of masterminds Justin McKinney (now also of The Faceless) and Greg Hampton, displayed a fresh, spacy, and captivating take on technical death metal, and this follow-up has been in the works for quite some time now. Having seen them play two of the songs from this upcoming album live, “The Luminary Singularity” and “Simulated Reality” live, I can promise that these guys are sure to deliver, especially with a couple more years of writing and playing experience under their belts.
The British post-rock quartet have proven to be one of the most adept at blending EDM and trance with electrifying post-rock, particularly in the past 6 or so years as they’ve moved much more towards more dark electronics. Their previous album, 2013’s Wild Light, took a long time to grow on me because of that, especially since We Were Exploding Anyway is one of my all-time favorites. Looking at it now though, it’s a hugely successful and more subtle piece of work, one that the band may be intent to explore further for their next album, which has not been announced or teased yet but may very possibly be coming this year as the band wrap up their recent tour with Deftones.
Cobalt faced a slight set back after the release of their phenomenal 2009 album, Gin, but 2016 may just be the year the band finally releases their long teased new album, Slow Forever. The album will feature Charlie Fell (Nachmystium/Lord Mantis) taking over vocal duties for Phil McSorely who was booted from the band as a result of unsavory comments. Long time drummer/songwriter for the band, Erik Wunder, hinted at a 2016 release date, and hopefully this ends up holding true.
At this point, it seems cruel for Converge not to release any new material in 2016. After teaser after teaser (that always ends up being something to do with live shows/live releases), as well as it being 4 years since the phenomenal All We Love We Leave Behind, the entire hardcore and metal scene is thick with anticipation over this release. Not to mention every member except vocalist Jacob Bannon stating that new material was being written, it just seems right to release a new record in 2016. Please don’t let the world down, Converge. Please don’t make us wait any longer.
I know, I know, there’s not even a rumor about this yet but come on. It’s been almost three years since the brilliant Asymmetry and it’s time for us to get a new Karnivool album. These guys have been at the spearhead of Australian progressive music for years now, leading the charge with their dark, emotional and progressive metal. The shift between the critically acclaimed Sound Awake and their latest album makes us wonder: who are Karnivool now? Are they the acoustic versions they seem so fond of playing? Are they the more complex iteration of their last release or the more straightforward, in your face version of Sound Awake? All of the above? We can only speculate what the future will bring but it’s high time we heard new music from Karnivool. The very thought excites us.