With the recent release of Nola sludge legends Crowbar’s much anticipated new album, Sever The Wicked Hand, I started to think about what other huge albums 2011 has to offer the metalheads among us. With new albums from genre heavyweights like Atheist, Fear Factory, and Agalloch turning last year into a seriously stellar year for metal, 2010 is going to be hard to top, but here are 10 (+2) albums that I think will give 2011 more than just a fighting chance. Children Of Bodom – Relentless Reckless Forever (March 8)
With their unique brand of power metal infused melodic death metal, Children Of Bodom has quickly become one of the biggest names in extreme metal. Since the release of Follow The Reaper in 2000, Children Of Bodom’s popularity has been increasing exponentially with each new album, and with anticipation growing for Relentless Reckless Forever, I don’t think they’re going anywhere but further up the ranks. Even though the song-writing displayed on predecessor Blooddrunk may have been spotty, as long as Children Of Bodom are delivering the reckless attitude and relentless technical instrumentation they’re known for, I’ll be excited to hear whatever they come up with next.
Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising (March 29)
Just look at that album cover. It makes me feel like Amon Amarth are demanding my excitement, and wants me to know that this is a band that will pull out all the stops to deliver an incredible album. Amon Amarth have never really deviated from crafting crushing death metal war anthems, and yet every new album they release has left me wanting more; even though I know exactly what this album is going to sound like, I still can’t wait to get my hands on it. Besides, these guys claim to have Odin on their side, so it’s probably in your best interest to get behind these guys while you still can. Trust me, it’s the side you want to be on.
In Flames – Sounds Of A Playground Fading (May/June)
I think it’s safe to say that if you’re reading an article about anticipated metal albums, you’re probably familiar with In Flames. The band started off by releasing one of the melodic death metal genres defining albums in The Jester Race, and have since worked alternative rock influences into their sound to become one of the most commercially successful metal bands on the planet. While this stylistic shift has condemned the band in the eyes of purists, I can’t help but enjoy the catchy, synth-laden songs that comprise their latest output. To make this album even more enticing, it is also the first In Flames album to not include founding guitarist Jesper Stromblad, leading the other members to state that this album might be the lightest and cleanest album they’ve released so far. Curious? Me too.
Control Denied – When Machine And Man Collide (TBA)
Control Denied was the progressive power metal band created by metal legend Chuck Schuldiner after the demise of death metal pioneers Death. With their last few albums, Death was becoming more of a progressive metal band than a death metal band anyway, so Control Denied was the natural progression for Chuck. When Machine And Man Collide was in the process of being recorded in 2000/01, but the album was scrapped when Chuck lost his battle with cancer in December of 2001. Suffice to say, metalheads have been waiting for this album for a long time. Finally, to mark the tenth anniversary of Chuck’s passing, all parties involved have set aside their differences, and Chuck’s last contribution to metal will finally be released. I, for one, can’t wait to hear the master at work one last time.
Dream Theater – TBA (TBA)
I have to admit, I’m not normally the type of person to get excited over a new Dream Theater album. They have the progressive metal genre down to a science, but science can get pretty boring when variables aren’t changing; sometimes, you just wish gravity would take a day off or something to spice things up. Well, following the high profile resignation of a founding member, drummer Mike Portnoy, all of a sudden I don’t know what to expect from a new Dream Theater album. A new face behind the kit could be just the spark the band needed to put together a fresh-sounding new album, and I’m excited to see if they can do just that.
Napalm Death – TBA (TBA)
Napalm Death is a band that has accomplished more than any extreme metal band should be allowed to accomplish. You would think that their list of feats might stop after releasing what many people consider to be the quintessential grindcore album (their debut album Scum) and after becoming one of the all-time best selling death metal bands, but Napalm Death, now well into their third decade of existence, are still turning heads. Their fourteenth album, 2009’s Time Waits For No Slave, recently came in at #60 in Decibel Magazine’s top 100 albums of the last decade. I can’t really think of another death metal band that has enjoyed as much critical and commercial success as Napalm Death, and they show no signs of slowing as they prepare to unleash their fifteenth death metal masterpiece. You might want to hide your children.
Opeth – TBA (TBA)
Okay, confession time: I’m probably the biggest Opeth fan you’ll ever meet, and have been for nearly a decade. Every time a new album is announced, the release date is literally marked on my calendar and that day basically becomes a religious holiday for me. I’m not alone in my high opinion of this band though; their releases consistently appear near the top of metal critics’ year end lists, and even in respectable slots on lists that aren’t metal exclusive. For anyone unfamiliar with the band, Opeth blends a variety of genres ranging from progressive rock to death metal into songs that are so beautifully complex that, even after 60 spins of an album, I’m still discovering new sounds and layers. I hope you can excuse my extreme bias here, but, if you’ve enjoyed anything from Opeth in the past, I’m sure you can easily relate to my excitement for this album.
Baroness – TBA (TBA)
Baroness is a relatively new progressive sludge metal band that has been making waves in the metal community since the release of the Red Album in 2007; both that album and its successor, Blue Record, picked up a number of album of the year nods from publications like Revolver and Decibel. Hell, we even saw Sam Worthington sporting some Baroness gear during promos for Clash Of The Titans. As far as I’m concerned, these guys have a perfect 2 for 2 record going right now, and, as long as they don’t pull a Mastodon and give into commercial pressures, you wouldn’t be a fool to put an early bet on this album for metal album of the year.
Morbid Angel – TBA (TBA)
With bands like Atheist and Cynic releasing new albums recently, it’s a really good time to be a fan of old school death metal. But, the most anticipated comeback album of all is the new album from death metal pioneers Morbid Angel. The upcoming album will be the first from the band since 2003, and the first album to feature original bassist and vocalist David Vincent since 1995’s Domination. During Vincent’s first stint with the band (lasting from 1986 to 1996), the band managed to release one album that captured the coveted number one spot on Terrorizer Magazine’s top death metal album list, as well as another album that is possibly the best selling death metal album of all time. It goes without saying that these guys are the real deal, and I can’t wait to watch them try to append a new album onto the end of one of the most storied discographies in the genre. And, for what it’s worth, its title is also likely to start with the letter “i” (take a look at their discography if you don’t believe me).
Meshuggah – TBA (TBA)
If you’ve been keeping up with the trends in metalcore lately, you’ll have noticed a sudden emergence of a sound referred to as djent. I’m no equipment buff, so I have no idea how to get a guitar to make the djent sound; however, I can tell you that if you have no idea what “djent” could possibly mean, you could school yourself quickly by spinning through any Meshuggah record. These progressive metal purveyors of djent have been at it since 1987, and have released a number of albums acclaimed for their unique tones and insane polyrhythms. New bands can’t touch the brutality of Meshuggah’s music, but I hope the increasing popularity of lighter bands like Periphery will give Meshuggah a well-deserved boost when the new album drops later this year.
Honourable Mentions: Albums I Hope Will Finally See Release In 2011
I just want to give a nod to a couple of albums that would have definitely been on this list if we could just get some confirmation that they’re actually coming. The first is the new album by thrash metal legends, Anthrax. As far as I know, the album will be titled Worship Music and will feature the band’s best-known singer Joey Belladonna. Problems filling the vocalist slot in the band have been the main factor delaying the album’s release, but hopefully with Joey back in the fold, they’ll get it out this year.
The second album isn’t actually a metal album, but every metalhead I’ve ever met appreciates this band. The band I’m referring to is My Bloody Valentine, the Irish band that was instrumental in creating the shoegaze genre. They’ve been working on an album on-and-off since the early 1990’s, and I really do hope there is truth to rumours that it might come out this year. Without My Bloody Valentine, post-metal giants like Isis and Pelican wouldn’t exist. If a world without Isis and Pelican isn’t horror, I don’t know what is!