The 10 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2018

Legends and descendants unite to forge an unforgettable year for the genre


    2017 was a year where fear of nuclear annihilation went from arcane worry to “Ugh, Mondays, am I right?!”. So, of course, it was a great year for metal. And while there wasn’t much of a response to the surrounding conditions, as most of the good stuff was recorded before things really went south of heaven and/or hell, the ensuing madness helped the genre resonate now more than ever.

    This year is shaping up to be even more insane and fruitful, if you can imagine that. We’ve got a handful of legends returning from dormancy — including one of the bands responsible for creating metal itself (sadly, Black Sabbath remains a done deal) — in addition to several young bucks bouncing back to make an even bigger impact.

    Metal continues to splinter and diversify, as its wont to do, and 2018 will run the gamut from glam-goth to abstract death metal to “turn up hardcore,” whatever that is. Hell, even Diplo managed to wriggle his way into the fold as you’ll see ahead. Now, the question is whether or not it might lead to Metallica headlining Ultra Festival.


    Eh, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross, No Crown

    Release Date: 1/12 via Nuclear Blast

    In the three-plus decades since their initial uprising from the Raleigh, North Carolina underground in 1982, Corrosion of Conformity have blossomed from an underground punk band to one of the world’s premiere sludge-metal outfits, trafficking in southern-fried riffs and gnarled breakdowns with relish. Their latest effort, No Cross No Crown, marks the band’s first album with powerhouse vocalist Pepper Keenan (who famously hails from Down, another storied sludge outfit) in over 12 years. Previously-released singles “Cast the First Stone” and “Wolf Named Crow” reveal a welcome return to grizzled, melodic form for the Southerners. –Zoe Camp

    Mammoth Grinder — Cosmic Crypt

    Release Date: 1/26 via Relapse

    If you only know Chris Ulsh as Power Trip’s drummer, you don’t know that he’s Austin’s metalpunk savant. With Power Trip’s heavy touring schedule, his main project Mammoth Grinder was on ice for a minute, but they’re back with their first album in five years, Cosmic Crypt. Though he’s added Iron Reagan members to his lineup, Crypt is still Ulsh’s signature blend of Swedish death metal and American hardcore toughness. And with him leading the way, you’ll know what Texans have known for years: the riffs and the carnage never end. Lean? Yes. Mean? Do you even have to ask? –Andy O’Connor

    Machine Head – Catharsis

    Release Date: 1/26 via Nuclear Blast

    Robb Flynn and his comrades in Machine Head can always be trusted upon to deliver melodically-driven, dread-laden rippers that stay in your head long after they’ve assaulted your eardrums. Judging from what we’ve heard so far of the group’s upcoming album, Catharsis, LP number nine most certainly qualifies as due diligence where the din is concerned. But as Flynn pointed out in a SiriusXM interview, fans who head into the experience hoping for a rap-spiked thrashfest, à la 1994’s debut Burn My Eyes, are only setting themselves up for a major letdown. “Keep your expectations low for the heaviness,” he warned. Thanks for the heads-up, Robb! –Zoe Camp


    Portal — ION

    Release Date: 1/26 via Profound Lore

    Australia’s Portal are on the cutting edge and outer edge of death metal, filtering Morbid Angel’s splattering chaos through modern classical and a lot of murk. A recipe for stardom? Maybe not, but former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo is a noted fan, elevating their profile with an appearance at his Housecore Festival in 2014. Their fifth album ION is brighter and rawer than their bass-heavy albums before, but just because there’s some clarity doesn’t make them less harrowing. ION further destroys the boundaries between metal and experimental music, now that you can hear all of their contorted skronk. –Andy O’Connor

    Tribulation — Down Below

    Release Date: 1/26 via Century Media

    Sweden’s Tribulation are one of the few metal bands where a string of eggplant emojis is an accurate description. They’re not only model vampires and vampire models, they’re also one of the best goth metal bands going on now. Down Below continues the path away from their death metal roots and towards silky, hook-laden spiderwebs. There’s a hint of glam in the album’s production, yet Down still has enough grit to satisfy those who still miss Type O Negative. After tours in support of Cannibal Corpse and Deafheaven in 2015, it’s time they got some star power too. –Andy O’Connor

    Turnstile – Time and Space

    Release Date: 2/23 via Roadrunner

    The irreverent sonics of Turnstile are frequently described as “turn-up hardcore,” punchy, playful, shamelessly jubilant punk for the most open-hearted among us in the pit – and they’re not wrong. Just ask anyone fortunate enough to have witnessed one of the Baltimore band’s shows, which resemble pogo-dance parties soundtracked by a more youthful incarnation of Rage Against of the Machine. Having made their breakout on 2015’s affable Nonstop Feeling, the group are set to take their good-time beatdowns global with Time & Space, a taut suite featuring collaborations with Sheer Mag vocalist Tina Halladay and – wait for it – A-list producer Diplo, who counts himself as one of the band’s biggest fans. –Zoe Camp

    Ministry — Amerikkka

    Release Date: 3/9 via Nuclear Blast

    Is Al Jourgensen trying to bring back rap-metal? Ministry recently brought out Death Grips on tour, turntablist DJ Swamp has joined them, and their upcoming record Amerikkka not only recalls Ice Cube’s Amerikkka’s Most Wanted in its title, but also features former NWA member Arabian Prince. “Antifa” is a somewhat clumsy ode to the ideology of the same name, but given how the metal and MAGA crowds overlap just a little too much, it might count as defiant. With a more focused target in Trump, akin to Ministry’s Bush Trilogy in the 2000s, did Al get his rage back? –Andy O’Connor

    Judas Priest – Firepower

    Release Date: 3/9 via Epic

    Forty-some years in, British metal pioneers Judas Priest show no signs of slowing down – then again, with the band’s most recent enlistee, guitarist and songwriter Richie Faulkner, supplying so much new creative energy, how could they? Firepower, the follow-up to 2014’s Redeemer of Souls and the band’s 19th effort overall, reunites the group with longtime producer Tom Allom, who manned the boards on iconic Judas Priest albums like British Steel (1980) and Screaming for Vengeance (1982). New blood, old friends, loud riffs, fuckin’ Rob Halford … count us in. –Zoe Camp


    Pig Destroyer — TBA

    Release Date: Summer via Relapse

    When Pig Destroyer are about to drop a new record, you know they’re not fucking around. They don’t tour frequently, only playing weekend runs they can fly out to, and take their time between records. Ever since 2001’s Prowler in the Yard, their second record that’s gone on to become a modern grindcore classic, Pig Destroyer are one of the few grind bands where anything they put out is appointment listening. The debate over the record won’t be whether it’s any good or not, it’ll be what’s nastier in the five years since Book Burner: Scott Hull’s hulking riffs or J.R. Hayes’ deranged lyrics? –Andy O’Connor

    Immortal – TBA

    Release Date: TBA via Nuclear Blast

    It might seem difficult to fathom, what with their name and all, but Immortal were practically on death’s doorstop not too long ago. More specifically, back in early 2015, when co-founding multi-instrumentalist Abbath, a figure considered by many as the band’s creative nexus, quit the the storied Norwegian band amid an ongoing trademark dispute. The horde may be marching into 2018 one corpse-painted man down, but they plan to make those blows count on their ninth full-length (the followup to 2009’s All Shall Fall), which puts original member Demonaz at the helm. –Zoe Camp