What’s in store for metal in 2017? Not much has been announced yet, but we do know some serious heat is coming out. We’ve got a mix of critically acclaimed bands coming back for victory laps, old-schoolers who still punish their students, new voices from the fringes of the genre, and folks who just don’t know how to stay off the road. Thrash and doom are looking to have good years, though there’s some promising death and black metal to look forward to as well. With this mix, metal’s renaissance isn’t stopping anytime soon.
Click ahead to see the 10 metal albums we’re anticipating most in the year to come.
Kreator — Gods of Violence
Release Date: Jan 27th via Nuclear Blast
German thrash legends Kreator aren’t intimidated by newcomers — hell, they relish a challenge. They ushered in a more extreme wing of thrash in the ’80s alongside countrymen Sodom and Destruction, and save for some misdirections in the ’90s, they haven’t let up. “Satan Is Real” proves they still have all their ’80s energy, and the rest of Gods of Violence is sure to live up. Like Immolation, this will be among the cream of the elders in 2017.
Power Trip — Nightmare Logic
Release Date: Feb 20th via Southern Lord
Power Trip are still the hardest thrashers in the game right now, and Nightmare Logic will cement their status as the new thrash band du jour. Like Manifest Decimation, it’s filled with NYHC crossover filtered through a distinctly Texas attitude. “Firing Squad” is their most intense song yet, almost designed to wear out even the most athletic moshers. Their intense touring schedule hasn’t worn them out either; it’s only made them even more vicious. Logic also features noise interludes from Dom Fernow, the mastermind behind Prurient and Vatican Shadow, a connection made by producer Arthur Rizk, who’s worked with both artists. If there’s a metal band appropriate to call “fucking lit,” it’s Power Trip.
Darkest Hour — Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora
Release Date: Feb 24th via Southern Lord
Remember when the joke about Southern Lord was they were signing way too many hardcore bands? Those complaints don’t feel like they’re six years old. And if you thought Greg Anderson was pushing it with signing the crusty likes of Dead in the Dirt and The Secret, you’ll find it heretical that he’s signed Darkest Hour. The Washington, DC group were among the wave of bands who fused hardcore and Swedish melodic death metal, which was huge in the mid-’00s thanks to bands like them, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Shadows Fall. It introduced a lot of people to At the Gates and In Flames, and it also ushered in metal’s newfound popularity. Darkest Hour operated on the somewhat more commercial side of this, as opposed to doomier groups like Torche and Harvey Milk, who were part of a million “metal is back” blog posts back in the day. This is mostly a nostalgia trip for Summer Slaughter types, but Southern Lord taking them on is interesting nonetheless.
Immolation — Atonement
Release Date: Feb 24th via Nuclear Blast
After streamlining their labyrinthine death metal to a fault in the 2000s, the New York death metal legends began to embrace complexity again at the beginning of this decade, resulting in some of their strongest material yet. If “Destructive Currents” is any indication, Atonement will stand high not just in their discography, but death metal as a whole. The apocalyptic album cover and use of their classic logo also signal back to their debut, Dawn of Possession, and that can mean only good things. Three of Immolation’s classic albums — Here in After, Failures for Gods, and the absolutely unfuckwithable Close to a World Below — will also be reissued on vinyl soon, and they’ll also tour with Max and Igor Cavalera, formerly the core of Sepultura, in February. If any veterans deserve another come up, it’s Immolation.
King Woman — Created in the Image of Suffering
Release Date: Feb 24th via Relapse
San Francisco label The Flenser knows how to pick ‘em, whether it’s post-guitar metalists Wreck and Reference, the black metal mindfuck of Mastery, solitary gloom master Planning for Burial, or dream-doom band King Woman. Created and fronted by Kristina Esfandiari, they knock doom off its axis into murkier, more psychedelic territory without explicit psych signifiers such as excess flanger and reverbed vocals. Her hazy presence drives the group and gives them their identity, a dominating voice that isn’t about conquering, but exploring. They’ve graduated to Relapse and could be one of the label’s breakout bands in 2017. Doomy enough for those who still wish High on Fire were on the label, yet weird enough for people who only know Relapse through S U R V I V E, Suffering is bound to go places in the metalsphere and beyond.
Planning for Burial — Below the House
Release Date: March 10th via The Flenser
If you follow Thom Wasluck, the creator of Planning for Burial, on Twitter, “LP3” became sort of a running joke. He would post snippets here and there of progress, but no word of when it was actually going to be done. Well, “LP3” has been done since the summer, and Below the House is coming sooner than any of us anticipated. It draws upon Wasluck returning to his childhood home of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and further refines the mix of doom metal, slowcore, and shoegaze that he really began to command on his sophomore album, Desideratum. “Whiskey and Wine”, the leadoff track, leans more on the doom than ever, and much of the album feels rockier while maintaining his signature gloom. Planning for Burial has always felt huge and small at the same time — Wasluck pours everything into his releases (Desideratum credited “whiskey,” “bad sleep,” and “hardwood floors” as instruments), and it’s also the music that works best in DIY space and house venues. House defines that and adds new dimensions to it as well.
Pallbearer — Heartless
Release Date: March 24th via Profound Lore
There wasn’t an agreed upon metal critical darling in 2016. Cobalt came close, but they didn’t gel the faithful and the casuals like Pallbearer did back in 2014. When was the last time you heard about a band with eight-minute-plus songs, slow tempos, and somber themes, not to mention open Boston and Genesis influences, get profiled in Grantland? Heartless, like Foundations of Burden before it, doubles down on the gloss and progressive influences. You thought Brett Campbell’s vocals couldn’t get any smoother or that the guitars couldn’t get any more Gilmour-esque, but they have. Also, it’ll be nice to have lavender accepted as a metal color, much like how Saint Vitus made hot pink with Born Too Late. Let’s hope they print some lavender shirts.
Harm’s Way — TBA
Release Date: TBA via Metal Blade
Chicago’s Harm’s Way are the ultimate in no-frills metalcore, beating you down first and asking questions never. In the past, they’ve applied a Hatebreed-like toughness to Swedish death metal and even nu-metal — if you haven’t heard Rust, nu-hardcore is a lot better than it sounds on paper. They’ve never met a breakdown they didn’t like. Now that they’re on Metal Blade, where will they go from here? Might they make their sound more … complicated? We hope not. There’s value in simple, pummeling hardcore when done right, eschewing subtlety for strength, and Harm’s Way are a testament to that.