We're not even 2 weeks into 2016, and already it seems like there is a ton of great new music to look forward to. The old trend whereby Jan/Feb would be quiet for new releases because everyone targeted a Nov/Dec release window to maximise Xmas sales seems to be over, and thank god for that because I for one was a little tired of having to wait months into the new year for some half-decent new music to arrive. Anyway, here's a run-down of a bunch of albums I'm excited about this year...
Megadeth - Dystopia (Jan 22)
After the dreadful SuperCollider I had a bit of break from Megadeth - and when guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover announced their departure I wondered if the wheels were falling off. And then MegaDave Mustaine announced new members, guitarist Kiko Loureiro, and drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God), and a new album. The three tracks out thus far, Fatal Illusion, The Threat is Real and Dystopia are all very promising, largely eschewing verse-chorus-verse in favour of an inspired combination of old-school thrash attitude and musicianship and new-school thrash songwriting.
Anthrax - For All Kings (Feb 26)
Anthrax were pretty much my new band obsession in 2015 (much like Overkill in 2014 and Testament in 2013...). For All Kings has been some time in the making since 2011's Worship Music, but one upside of drummer Charlie Benante's carpal tunnel syndrome (which has limited his touring appearances) has been the time it's allowed Benante, Scott Ian and Frank Bello to put into songwriting. Anthrax are a band that have had their ups and downs, but they seem seriously excited about this one - and when it includes tracks like Evil Twin and Breathing Lightning (and omits a track as good as Soror Irrumator), I think it's fair to say this could be a career highlight for the zaniest of the Big 4 acts.
Tremonti - Dust (early 2016)
Dust was recorded alongside Tremonti's excellent 2015 album Cauterize - clearly he was on a huge creative trip as enough songs were recorded for two albums. With Cauterize, Tremonti's songwriting stepped up from good to great and frankly the guy has never been anything less than phenomenal on the guitar - so Dust promises to be another very good effort.
Rob Zombie - The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (April 29)
Well, if the album title wasn't enough to get your attention, the 1 minute teaser of the title track that has been floating certainly should be - it's super-heavy and industrial in a manner we haven't heard since the White Zombie days. Rob Zombie is claiming this is the most effort he's put into an album since Hellbilly Deluxe; even at this stage the title and tracklist alone justify a pre-order!
Alter Bridge - Untitled 5th studio album (mid 2016)
Currently in recording, the hugely under-rated Alter Bridge - probably the best hard rock group to emerge in the past decade - will release their 5th studio album sometime in the middle of this year. Expect more melodic hard rock excellence, and hopefully a decent tour including this part of the world.
Other (definite) albums to look forward to but which we know less about (or which I care less about)...
Death Angel - TBA (recording completed)
Deftones - TBA
Nine Inch Nails - TBA (but definitely 2016)
Black Stone Cherry - Kentucky (April 1)
Throttlerod - TBA
Dream Theater - The Astonishing (January 29) - this is last-chance saloon for DT with me, their material post-Mike Portnoy's departure is like a lame imitation of their better material
Holy Grail - Times of Pride and Peril (February 12)
Alice in Chains
Sidenote - if you had told me in 2000 that Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and AIC would all be active and would all release albums in 2016 I would have laughed at you very, VERY loudly
Rumour that comes around every year but has amounted to a grand total of nothing since 2005