Upcoming Devastation

A Look Ahead At 2013's Most Anticipated Releases

posted on 1/2013   By: Last Rites

One of the few benefits of the unstoppable forward march of time is that each new year brings a fresh crop of new records. At least on paper, 2013 has in store releases by some of metal's greatest: We'll hear the first new Black Sabbath album with Ozzy on the mic since the 1970s, plus the first true post-Piggy Voivod effort, which is also the first since Angel Rat to feature bassist Blackie. The first track from the forthcoming Darkthrone is already stirring up mixed emotions. Beyond that, 2013 sports scheduled releases from favorites like Suffocation, Amorphis, Helloween, Clutch, Saxon, Scorpions, Deep Purple, Shai Hulud, and the ever prolific Devin Townsend. Hell, there's even a 10-disc Blind Guardian box set for the pomp-metal completist. And one thing is certain: 2013 will surprise us with new bands to love, and thus new releases to anticipate in years to come.

As we look forward and gear up for this year in heavy metal, some of the staff at Last Rites took a few moments to talk about just a scant few of the upcoming records they're each most anticipating. Take a moment in the comments below and let us know what you're most looking forward to, and here's to another great year of metal...



Dream Death

Somnium Excessum [March 2013, Hells Headbangers]

Released in 1987 by the often under-appreciated New Renaissance Records, Dream Death's sole full-length Journey Into Mystery found its way into a scattering of diehard metallers' hands who were willing to overlook what still stands today as the puffiest sleeve to have ever graced a metal album cover. Thankfully, the music was about a thousand miles away from 'puffy' and delivered precisely what one might expect to hear following a head-on collision between '85-era Slayer and Celtic Frost. Sadly, that was pretty much all she wrote, as the band quickly folded and subsequently launched a few members forward under the more "traditionally doomy" guise of Penance. Now, following renewed interest and a handful of fresh shows, the band has decided to reform and deliver a brand new album entitled Somnium Excessum. And if the lovely cover and working song titles such as "You're Gonna Die Up There" and "Bludgeon" hold any indication of what's in store, I think we're in for a pummeling affair.  [Michael Wuensch]



Sunbather  [May 2013, Deathwish Inc.]

Last we heard from Deafheaven, they were running Mogwai through a My Bloody Valentine filter in the name of black metal futurism on their late-2012 split with Bosse-de-Nage. Theirs is, to some, a galling approach to a style that doesn't cotton to meddlers. But meddle this San Franciso quintet must. Their sophomore album, Sunbather, will be recorded in late January with producer Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden studios and vocalist George Clarke has suggested that this one's going to be all sorts of "lush" and "pop-driven." Their 2011 debut, Roads to Judah, was less a melding of black metal and screamo than it was a communication of the two genre's unspoken bonds. As the band promises to incorporate more styles into Sunbather, my hope is that they can again pull off the rare and difficult trick of finding more of those unifying frequencies within the margins.  [Ramar Pittance]

Complete Failure

The Art Gospel of Aggrevated Assault  [February 2013, Season Of Mist]

Pennsylvania punk-metal outfit ComFail's last record was a monster -- 2010's self-(and-then-Relapse)-released Heal No Evil was a blistering mash-up of hardcore and grindcore, an absolutely raging beast of a disc that doesn't let up. Making the switch to Season Of Mist for this one, the band is back in action, and I'm certainly hoping for more of the same skull-cracking intensity. After separating from Today Is The Day mastermind Steve Austin's label and production (the latter of which audibly marred the band's debut), Complete Failure channeled their righteous fury into Heal No Evil, and here's hoping they've found something else to be equally pissed-off about, because these guys dorage beautifully.  [Jeremy Witt]



Democratic Solution  [release TBD, label TBD]

Instead of becoming the future, The Obliteration of Humanity somehow ended up as a cautionary tale, forever tossed in the bucket of bands labeled Should've Made it Scraps. More Voivod than Death, !T.O.O.H.!'s quirky cuts on Pod Vladou Bice and Rad a Trest gained them a cult. Yet, capitalist horseshit torpedoed their dreams before they could surface in the mainstream metal conscious. And, for six years, that was it; just a faint pulse when fans dropped by YouTube tombstones to pay their respects. But, here's what we know: The brothers Vesely, Humanoid and Schizoid, are actively performing with plans to cut an album. More excitingly, we also see space reserved on the books for this year. Shrinking back down to a deathly duo, !T.O.O.H.! comes now with more questions than answers: Will the glorious polyphonies of Trest disappear without the independent guitar and bass lines provided by the full quartet? What unique timbres have been sucked up by the vacuum during the six-year hiatus? What kind of scars are leftover from the Earache disaster and how does an extended creative coma affect an outfit? And, will this turn into another Lykathea? Another unique, revered band unable to get out of its way and leaves fans holding the bag? Either way, the promise of having such an individual voice coloring the global metal harmony is worth hanging our hopes on, even if the rack is again burgled by otitis suffers before we return.  [Ian Chainey]


Manilla Road

Mysterium  [February 2013, Shadow Kingdom]

Few bands in the towering pantheon of heavy metal elicit the level of excitement and perpetual dedication amongst undergrounders as Wichita's venerable Manilla Road. I suppose over three decades of regular activity will do that, particularly when the band in question is so steadfast in what they're committed to delivering - in this case, 100% classic epic heavy-fucking-metal. 2012 dished out the surprise gift of Hellwell, a side project that gave fans a glimpse of Mark the Shark's darker side, and 2013 will continue the favor by returning to more familiar Manilla waters with album #16, Mysterium. As confessed by Shelton late last year, the album will apparently flash more of a "classic Manilla Road touch," and also ties a few tunes together with a concept loosely based on some of Mark's family heritage and travels through Scotland. The samples are, unsurprisingly, quite promising, and we simply couldn't ask for a more inviting album cover. "Sold my soul to Manilla Road" - Fenriz, you sure as Hell ain't alone, old-timer.  [Michael Wuensch]




Title TBD  [release TBD, label TBD]

As a pioneering act in both grindcore and melodic death metal, the shadow of Carcass’ influence looms over an impossibly broad swath of extreme metal. Unfortunately, an ill-fated major label deal caused the band to break up before it could reap the rewards of its labors. In the intervening fifteen-plus years Carcass’ legend has grown ever larger, and so, as the band prepares its first new album since reforming, it works under a brighter spotlight than it ever has before. For fans the prospect of this new album is fraught with questions. Carcass has never before recorded without founding drummer Ken Owen; how will replacement Daniel Wilding fill his shoes? Similarly, how will Bill Steer fare without long-time co-guitarist Michael Amott? Furthermore, as Carcass never made the same record twice, the new album’s stylistic direction is a complete mystery. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, does the band still have “it”? Soon, we will have answers.  [Jeremy Morse]


Twilight of the Gods

Title TBD  [release TBD, Season Of Mist]

Twilight of the Gods originally formed for the sole purpose of a Bathory tribute tour, but now includes in its ranks Primordial’s Alan Averill on vocals, Rune Eriksen (aka Blasphemer, of Aura Noir, Ava Inferi, and formerly Mayhem) on guitar, Nick Barker (of approximately every band) on drums, and members of Einherjer and Thyrfing. Averill has said in interviews that the album will be “straight forward heavy metal,” but the most thrilling prospect to this particular listener is that I have no goddamn idea what this is going to sound like. That’s a pretty strong black/folk/Viking metal pedigree, though, so look for it to keep the Bathory flame burning strong. Götterdämmer-rific!  [Dan Obstkrieg]



Ghostly White  [release TBD, label TBD]

This band just rules, plain and simple, and any mention of a potential new Deceased album should pique the interest of even the most jaded metalhead. The band's first release in six years, 2011's Surreal Overdose showed the band is still on top of the game, their slicing and dicing death / thrash still doing equal parts of both with merciless glee, even some thirty years into their career. Few metal bands can claim to be pure unadulterated fun, but Deceased is just that. Only the scantest of information has been mentioned of a forthcoming record -- drummer / vocalist / leader / awesome metal guy King Fowley announced via Facebook his plan to write and record the album through the summer and hopes for a winter 2013 release; he mentioned some potential titles and that the lyrical content is once again based on classic literary tales of horror and suspense. Even just that little hint of forthcoming Deceased is enough to get me (figuratively) salivating because Deceased never disappoints.  [Jeremy Witt]




Life Sentence  [March 2013, Listenable]

Like literate lyrics, we have a tendency to under-appreciate a damn good vocalist because it's not high on the headbangin' hierarchy. We'll give bad singing a pass if the guitars are good, if the drums are dependable, if the bass is, well, there. But, when we encounter someone who can pleasingly peel paint? It's like infusing gravy with a kilo of coke. Brian Ross has those kinds of pipes, formally of NWOBHM burners Blitzkreig, and now back with the nom-restored Satan. In an era of incredible comebacks from those once considered MIA, it's not inconceivable the speed metallers could once again shine like '83's Court in the Act. And, if it's truly great? Well, everyone in earshot of your shower will plan errands around it. Fuck 'em, twist the dial towards H, and welcome the return.  [Ian Chainey]



Western Front  [release TBD, Nuclear War Now!]

Overall, the best of all worlds might be a bit too much to require from anyone or anything, but Australia’s Sacriphyx might offer just that on their debut full-length, Western Front, which, by the way, is just around the corner. Based on the three sample tracks, we can expect a mélange of riff-thick black metal paying heed to the early Greek scene, raw growls that would feel at home on something recorded in Sunlight Studios around the early 90s, and those cutis anserina inducing, mournfully atmospheric leads which only few of us have the ability to give life to. Fittingly, the whole shooting match is created to give an epic setting for bleak tales of real war where the green plains of Europe were turned into a burning, blood-red slaughterhouse of brave yet long-forgotten men. This, undoubtedly, will be one of the mandatory records for any underground fanatic in 2013.  [Juho Mikkonen]



Rotting Christ

Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy  [March 2013, Season Of Mist]

Rotting Christ
has been on a pretty stunning upward trajectory in recent years. Sanctus Diavolos was surpassed by Theogonia, which in turn was surpassed by Aealo. Whether these anchors of Greek extreme metal will continue their ascent to Olympus or branch off in some totally unexpected sideways direction remains to be seen, but lead-off track “In Yumen / Xibalba” is a brooding, promising start. In any case, few bands have proven themselves able to gather in so many disparate strands of dark heavy music and produce something that sounds both like no other music, but also like every music: the keening cry of a people marked equally by determination and lamentation. 

(Oh, and a real “fuck yes!” bonus shout-out to Debemur Morti for its recent announcement that it will be handling a long-overdue reissue of Supremacy, the sole full-length by Blut Aus Nord side-project The Eye. I have some money, and I have long wanted to give someone some money for this album; here at last, a market failure is rectified.)  [Dan Obstkrieg]



Meir  [March 2013, Indie Recordings] 

Resistance was futile. Kvelertak's charms were just too magnetic, too powerful. Initially, it was all too easy to dismiss these guys as underground capitalists, concocting an overtly addicitve brew of beloved (and oft-conflictiing) styles that amounted to heavy metal's version of Oscar bait. (Do you like raucous hardcore? HERE, MOTHERFUCKER. Do you like black metal? HERE'S A GUEST SPOT FROM HOEST AND SOME BLAST BEATS, BITCH. Do you like riffs? UM, WE HAVE THREE FUCKING GUITARISTS.) Eventually, you just had to give in and let yourself be entertained.

So, if their self-titled record was their turbo-violence Forrest Gump, there's hope that Meir will be their slightly-ham-fisted Godfather Part II, freed from the cheese-shackles of Sonny Corleone's knuckle-biting and fortified with the will to be awesome.  [Jordan Campbell]



Byzantine [February 2013, self-released]

Thrash/groove/prog alchemists Byzantine have long been the victims of either bad luck or bad timing. Whether it was 2005’s …And They Shall Take Up Serpents not quite fitting into the then-thriving New Wave of American Heavy Metal (probably a tad too smart for the cavemen), or the breakup that followed the release of 2008’s monstrous Oblivion Beckons, something always killed the momentum. In the years since, more folks have caught onto Byzantine’s unique blend of brutal and shreddy, technical and brash metal, but can their upcoming eponymous fourth album recapture the lost momentum? If it shows yet another level of growth, it should, but the underground is not always fair. What is known is how much the small but dedicated fan base is chomping at the bit to feast their ears on another skull splitting platter of metal delivered like only these West Virginians really can, so here’s hoping the wait was worth it. [Zach Duvall]



Title TBD [release TBD, American Recordings]

American thrash bands have taken turns teasing us with something good after over a decade of anything from pure shit, to recordings that were simply less-than-memorable for anyone who isn't simply a fanboy or fangirl of (insert 'Merican thrash band here). Testament's The Formation of Damnation had us all going, as did Megadeth's Endgame. Hell, even Metallica had people excited for the first time since The Black Album with the release of Death Magnetic. Could 2013 be Slayer's turn? An EP is in the works for the summer, and one can only assume King and Co. will have something for the Fall/Winter. While I wouldn't go so far as to say they're due for a "comeback" album, as the other albums mentioned here are far from being that... but they were fucking fun before their legs eventually weakened. Slayer is still capable of a fun album, right? What is a horse shoe? What does a horse shoe do? Are there horse socks?..... [Konrad Kantor]



Title TBD  [release TBD, label TBD]

[Doug Moore]