Alright, so we spend a lot of time reviewing albums, right? And by ‘we’ I mean ‘the internet’, not just Nine Circles. But I’ve never expressed anticipation for certain albums before they drop. I mean, sure, between the podcast (R.I.P.) and the blog, we have at least kept you apprised on upcoming releases fairly consistently. However, as we kick off 2017, I want to focus a little more on the hype behind some of things soon to come our way. There are a number of albums slated to drop in the next year that I am unquestionably excited for. So why not introduce some of them? Below you will find five albums that I am highly anticipating in 2017. Better put, below you will find five albums or artists I really, really hope don’t blow it in 2017. I already spend way too much time in a state of disappointment.
Wintersun… and whatever it is they are actually doing these days
To put it bluntly, I am simply ‘over’ Wintersun. Yes, Time I was a masterful work of Finnish folk metal, but that was almost five years ago. They’ve fallen off the radar. Sorry. Considering the fact that the mixing for the sequel, Time II, began back in 2013, any patience from the fanbase they’d acquired from Time I‘s release has understandably dissipated. We’ve already covered the drama behind Time II and everything, but I think I speak for a number of people when I just assume it is just never, ever going to happen. But fret not! Wintersun dropped a bomb on us last week when they announced a new album would be out in 2017. No, not Time II, that would make too much sense. But something called The Forest Seasons. And then, just like that, I remembered how good their first two albums were and saw the intrigue start to grow. Will I be waiting in line at the record shop for midnight the night before release? No. I’ll be a disgruntled asshole upon first listen as usual because my excitement for this band gone and nothing but apathy and skepticism has been left in its wake. But… those first two albums were that good. So I guess I’ll be awaiting this release on some level regardless. No release date… as I’m sure you inferred.
Tau Cross – A Pillar of Fire
This, however, is an album I cannot wait for. Some may call them a supergroup, some may not. I do. Either way, the crusty metallic punk collective (featuring Rob “The Baron” Miller and Michel “Away” Langevin, among others) dropped an absolutely killer album in 2014. The self-title debut took me — and I’m sure many others — off guard with just how catchy and cohesive it was. My only complaint? I wanted more. The varying energy levels and weight made for an album that absolutely flew. Naturally, I can’t help but expect equally great things from their sophomore release. Sure, their own debut is a tough act to follow, but knowing the minds at work in this project, we shouldn’t have any reason to doubt that this effort will be anything short of amazing. As of now, the recording of the new album is completed. No specific release date yet, but it looks like it will drop sometime in the summer by way of Relapse Records.
I honestly can’t believe Pelagial came out four years ago. I still revisit it frequently and I’m pretty sure I mentioned it here once or twice in the past year or so for some reason or another. Not that I would really need a ‘reason’ per se. That album was simply perfect, but we can look further back in the prog metallers’ discorgaphy as well. I similarly enjoyed Heliocentric and Anthropocentric, which dropped back in 2010, for different reasons. In short, this band can do no wrong by me. At least recently. Furthering that point, I still consider their live performance a few years back to be one of the more memorable shows I have attended in recent years. So the idea of a new album naturally introduces the idea of a new tour and that’s just the kind of excitement I need these days. Anyway, no real release date has been announced. In fact, I know virtually nothing at this point. This is all just hopeful guessing. I believe they were planning on entering the studio early this year, even though the majority of the writing had already been completed. I have literally no idea what direction they are going in conceptually, either — which is another entertaining element to their albums as well. I’d guess we can expect this in the later half of 2017?
Der Weg einer Freiheit
It should be inherently obvious that the creators of my favorite album back in 2015 would make this list. It’s also about time I brought black metal into this particular equation, and the Germans are right at the top of my list in that category. Simply put, Stellar was one of the best black metal albums to come out in the last handful of years. And as excited as I am about new stuff from Der Weg einer Freiheit, I am also curious to see how and if they can better that release. They’ve always been good, but Stellar really put them on notice — at least with me. So we’ll see. Also, remember when they couldn’t tour the United States because of visa issues? Yeah, I do too. Even though I tried really hard to black that memory out. Let’s hope a new album brings a new tour and those issues don’t surface again. That would just be the best. They are tracking in the studio now. No idea when this thing will drop, but the sooner, the better as far as I’m concerned.
Me and That Man
There was no way I was going to exclude any projects by way of Behemoth frontman Nergal from this list. While I admit that it is a bit strange for me to prepare for a ‘stripped down’ project from one of the gods of the current extreme metal scene, I trust Nergal’s abilities enough to know that we won’t be disappointed. I hope. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to expect here in terms of stylistic categorization… a little folk, country, blues maybe? It doesn’t matter. You see, you can only explore so much darkness through the metal outlets. A different kind of project offers up new territory with which Nergal can project his emotional inspiration… and given how complex he can be creatively, that can only mean good things. There is a lot to keep in mind when January 13th rolls around, so I’m planning on staying open minded and immersing myself in whatever creative direction this ends up going in. I hope you all do that same.
Oh, and maybe new Behemoth in 2017? Do I really need to get into that little tidbit though? The rumors are out there, I swear.
So that should just about wrap it up. Needless to say, there are countless other albums from big names preparing to drop in the coming year. I’ve hand picked these five for a reason, however. Either marked by curiosity or just sheer excitement, these are the ones I’ll be keeping an eye out for. So let’s see where we stand once this year is all said and done. In other words, let’s see how much these albums let me down once we hit the other side of this calendar.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”