2018: Metal Hammer's ultimate preview

a collage of metal hammer 2018 artists

And here… we… go! 2018 is upon us, ladies and gentlemen, and with it comes a year ahead that looks set to be stacked with killer new music, exciting tours and the chance for some of heavy music’s brightest young names to step up and stake their claim to metal’s throne.

So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the coming 12 months. Be it imminent albums, shows set to blow your mind or our own tips for the bands set to take the year for their own, this is the definitive guide to 2018. It’s gonna be big.

Heavyweight Champions

Here’s what some of the biggest bands in the game will be up to in 2018

Parkway Drive

Not only did 2015’s Ire mark a career-best album, but its jump into more arena-friendly song structures saw Parkway make a measurable step up in venues and festival slots around the world. This year will see the Aussie heavyweights try and make a further claim to metal’s throne – and it’s a chance the guys are grabbing eagerly.

“We are gonna be upping our game,” promises Winston McCall. “The Ire cycle was a massive amount of work, but it’s all been part of a bigger goal. In 2018, everything steps up and moves forward. We have gained so much momentum over the last couple of years, and we not only want to harness it but do it justice. There’s no point in slacking off; I feel as though there are now expectations of what we can do and could be capable of. We don’t want to just coast by – we want to blow everyone out of the water.”

While Ire heralded the most successful chapter in the band’s career, Winston is aware that it came from a place of great risk, and that the band may have to be similarly bold in their next steps.

“With Ire, we were basically walking a tightrope in the dark. We were very careful with the evolution of our sound, but at the same time we had no idea where it was actually leading us. The success that has come out of it has been amazing; it opened so many doors to us and we couldn’t be happier with the risks we took. Creating something that follows that success means stepping out of a great shadow, but the confidence in ourselves and our craft following Ire has been far more liberating than anything we have felt before. It’s given us a focus and drive we’ve never had when it comes to pursuing new sounds, and it was nice to see the validation that you could grow as a band, and still stay heavy, which is perfect for us.”

With the release of the album – which we anticipate coming in late spring – set to be followed by a summer of touring that will include a stop at Download in June, it’s going to be a big year for all things Parkway.

“Our hopes are to create music that represents the people we are and what we enjoy doing. That’s always been the goal from day one,” Winston emphasises. “Secondly, as always, we hope to share the sound with as many people as we can. You can’t force music on anyone; they have to connect with it, so we have no desire to try and manipulate what we do in the hope that more people will accept it. We are at a crazy place when it comes to the amount of people picking up our records and rocking up to see our live shows, and we plan on stepping it up in both departments. We have so much planned for this year.”

Get ready, world. Parkway Drive are coming for you, and they are not fucking about.

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive

Babymetal

With a spate of appearances including a return to Download festival already announced, we expect the Babymetal machine to be back in full swing this year. “We want to maximise every performance, so we hope to continue doing that in 2018,” says Su-Metal. “We also hope to create a new kind of Babymetal, go to places we’ve never been before, and ask the Fox God for more revelations!”

A new kind of Babymetal? Sounds intriguing! We have a feeling we’ll be hearing some new music from the girls very soon… but as for what it’ll sound like, well, only the Fox God knows. Watch this space for more updates because (Metal) Resistance is futile.

Asking Alexandria

With frontman Danny Worsnop now settled back in the fold and a new album stacked with arena-ready anthems in their mitts, Asking Alexandria are ready to get back in the saddle and hit 2018 running. “We’re going full steam ahead,” promises Ben Bruce. “We’ve got a tour with Black Veil Brides, all the festivals… we’re going to tour the world. And we are going to give 100% every single night that we’re up there on that stage. And then, when the time is right, we’ll get to writing another record.

Killswitch Engage

Spreading recording time between San Diego and the band’s native Massachusetts, Jesse Leach says the vibe around the new KSE album is “excited, serious, but always fun.”

“It’s a diverse mix of sounds so far, from thrashy, old-school-sounding stuff to big, epic, heavy metal jams, to some hardcore crossover stuff,” he adds. Having worked with famed vocal coach Melissa Cross, who’s helped the likes of Corey Taylor, Robb Flynn and Randy Blythe up their game in the past, expect the singer to be on career-high form.

Nightwish

While we don’t anticipate a brand new Nightwish studio album coming our way in 2018, there will be a special retrospective tour that will take up most of their year, with the pinnacle being their Sunday night headline set at the mighty Bloodstock festival in August.

“I get shivers of excitement daily just thinking about it!” exclaims percussionist Troy Donockley. “Bloodstock’s a big one, and it’s especially great for me as the only Brit in the band! But England in the summer? Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a World War I trench re-enactment…”

Regardless, it should be one of the shows of the year, and we’ll be down the front, whatever the weather throws at us.

Within Temptation

It already seems like a lifetime since Within Temptation were last in action – with 2014’s star-studded Hydra album taking them to unprecedented heights around the world, including a blockbuster headline show at Wembley Arena. This year not only sees the Dutch symphonic heavyweights get back in the ring, but will also give them some opportunities to indulge in some more personal endeavours.

“All the bandmembers have some sort of side-projects this year, and so have I!” exclaims Sharon den Adel. “My solo project is coming and is called My Indigo, and I will release my solo debut album in 2018, too.” Promising to be a much poppier affair than she’s usually known for, Sharon is keen to stress that the project won’t distract from what will be a big year for her and her bandmates.

“We’re all mainly focused on finishing the new Within Temptation album and pushing ourselves in a new direction once again on a music level,” the singer reassures us. “If we succeed in doing that, the rest of what comes from that this year will follow by itself.”

While saying that “it’s just a bit too early” to confirm where the album will go lyrically, when we brought up the potential of returning to the conceptual heights of 2011’s The Unforgiving, which featured a fully blown plot and accompanying comic book, she didn’t dismiss the idea by any stretch.

“We still have to finish the lyrics for this album,” Sharon offers, “so I can’t tell you much about it conceptually yet. Sorry! But yes, we might do [a return to high concept]. I loved doing it on that album!”

As for the idea of reeling in special guests once again as on Hydra – which saw appearances from former Killswitch frontman Howard Jones, Tarja Turunen and hip hop legend Xzibit (yup, that happened), Sharon is similarly vague but very much open to the idea.

“Well, we’ve still got a wishlist of people we’d like to work with, so who knows… probably?”

If it sounds like it’s still quite early days in the writing and recording process, that’s because it still is, but we should still expect to see the new album land by autumn time, with a mighty, Hammer-sponsored UK tour coming in November (see page 108 for dates).

“We’re actually almost done writing,” Sharon says of the new material, “but we would like to write two more songs. At the moment, it sounds a bit more modern, and it’s heavy in a different way than you are used from us. We like to challenge ourselves in the writing process, and we will also change the setlists a bit more often, and maybe make some new arrangements.”

And when it comes to those shows later in the year – which Sharon says may include another Black Christmas spectacular – the band have some grand plans: “They’ll be something different and special like always,” she grins. “But we’ll be setting more things on fire for sure!”

Within Temptation

Within Temptation

Ghost

When Papa Emeritus III was dragged offstage back in September, it officially signalled the end of the Meliora era and the introduction of the mysterious Papa Zero – but as for his role in the Ghost story and what comes next, it seems those pesky Nameless Ghouls know as little as we do.

“Right now we are just waiting for something new to appear,” offers one. “So I can’t really say. It will be revealed in due time.”

What the Ghoul will tell us is that the new Ghost album will be “darker. The mood is darker. The scenes are darker. The lyrics are darker. It’s a very heavy record. But, just because it’s dark, it doesn’t mean it’s less catchy!”

Ghost also promise to take their always- mesmerising live shows to new heights, with “bigger shows and bigger production. We are gonna do what we did at Bloodstock festival but 10 times better.”

Praise be: Ghost are coming back bigger and better than ever.

Avenged Sevenfold

After touring the United States with Breaking Benjamin and Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold will be hitting up festivals on both sides of the pond, including what will no doubt be a blockbuster showing at Download festival in June. And, perhaps unsurprisingly given its scale and scope, M Shadows feels there’s plenty more life in The Stage, too.

The Stage is the record I’m most proud of, and usually, a year down the line, I don’t think that about our latest record,” the frontman admits of the space-themed behemoth they surprise-released at the tail end of 2016. “We want to do something with Neil deGrasse Tyson [the celeb astrophysicist who appeared on the album]. Maybe we could do some big pieces with him to educate people to dig a little deeper and look at their place in the cosmos. I don’t know how we do that exactly, whether it’s a movie or a graphic novel, but it’s something we want to do…”

An Avenged Sevenfold space-movie? Oh, we are so in on that.

Big guns blazing

More action from metal’s upper tiers

Machine Head

With a brand new album in Catharsis and another round of An Evening With… shows, 2018 is going to be a standout year for Robb Flynn and co.

Stone Sour

While they won’t be hitting Download this year, Corey and the boys will still be hitting the UK for a clutch of dates in June. After that recent UK tour, we’re expecting very big things indeed.

5FDP

With their lawsuit settled and a new album on the way and due out in the first half of 2018, it looks like Five Finger Death Punch can finally get their momentum back and continue rising up metal’s ranks.

Rammstein

As usual, Rammstein are keeping their cards close to their chests, but we would be stunned if we didn’t see something significant from the Germans this year. Could we finally see a new album?

Tool

Fuck knows. Seriously. We just give up at this point. At least there’s some A Perfect Circle stuff going on to look forward to, eh? Maynard will probably have some nice wine out too, so, you know.

Legends prevail

Metal’s greatest icons will be flying the flag high in 2018

Saxon

Fans should know what to expect from a new Saxon album – namely shitloads of vintage heavy metal riffing by the bucketload – but Biff Byford promises the veterans will never just rest on their laurels.

“I’m always aware that we could easily slip into writing the same old stuff,” he says. “We could just rewrite Wheels Of Steel or Princess Of The Night, so I try to make sure we don’t do that! I pick melodies and lyrics that are strong.”

Thunderbolt – landing next month – is Saxon’s 22nd album, and even Biff himself admits that that’s a number he’d never thought he’d see the band reach.

“I didn’t expect a second album to come out!” he laughs. “It’s just rock ’n’roll, you know what I mean? You have to take it a day at a time, and I don’t think we were ever earmarked to be ‘great’. We just came out of nowhere, and we’re really proud of what we’ve done.

Thunderbolt comes off an impressive run of post-2000 albums that has seen the legends become more popular than ever.

“They’ve all been pretty good albums, I think,” agrees Biff of the band’s second ‘golden age’. “We’re back on track again, and we’re not taking any silly side-roads any more. We’re just writing what we write, and it’s fun!”

Covering topics as broad as classical myths, vampires and the one and only Lemmy Kilmister – on the touchingly named Roadie’s SongThunderbolt will once again flex Saxon’s love of lyrics that step outside of the usual rock’n’roll tropes. “I like to write about Leonardi Da Vinci, Einstein, the Wright Brothers and Icarus, all in one song!” he laughs. “It’s quite fun trying to write about all these things that are quite hard to get together. It’s interesting, and it fits the metal genre, I think. We’re having a lot of fun writing.”

Indeed, Biff and the boys are evidently still having an absolute blast on all fronts, and judging by their extensive touring plans for 2018, that won’t be stopping any time soon.

“We’re doing three shows in the UK, then six or seven shows in Europe, and then we go to America with Judas Priest for 10 weeks!” he beams. “Then we’re coming back, doing a few festivals, and then we’re doing a full-on UK and European tour in autumn.”

And then it’s time for a rest, surely?!

“Well, 2019 is the 40th anniversary of Saxon,” Biff chuckles. “I don’t know what we’re going to do for that, but we’ll plan something special. It’s quite a milestone, so maybe we’ll do some shows in some of the bigger cities. And we’ll probably have a cake. Ha ha ha!”

Much like metal itself, Saxon won’t be done any time soon. And we couldn’t be happier about it.

X Japan

After canning much of their 2017 plans to spend more time tweaking and perfecting their first album in more than 20 years, 2018 will see the next chapter of X Japan officially kick off proper.

“We’re about to finish the album and we will release it in spring,” promises mainman Yoshiki, who has been recovering from neck surgery. “And then, hopefully, a world tour!”

On the sound of the record, Yoshiki adds: “I want to believe our songs can last forever, so I want to create that kind of album. That is my challenge. We want to ignore trends while still being edgy enough.”

Promising a variety of notable guests on the album, Yoshiki has also been spending time in the company of Marilyn Manson, with a collaborative effort from the two artists also expected later this year.

“I can’t say much about it, but I can very soon,” he offers tantalisingly.

Megadeth

“We’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now,” says Dave Mustaine of Megadeth’s plans for the year ahead. “Tour dates, festivals, special shows in all parts of the globe. And, of course, we’re going to be getting back in the studio at some point.”

Dave is also keen to stress that they will be looking to help bring through metal’s young bloods in 2018, pledging to take younger bands on tour.

“There are so many young bands that need an opportunity. Either you don’t trust yourself being able to sell tickets and you have to get a bunch of other [big-name] bands to sell tickets for ya, or you let that opportunity go to younger ones. That’s how you keep the music alive.”

It also seems that the arrival of guitarist Kiko Loureiro and drummer Dirk Verbeuren in recent years have reignited Dave’s love of songwriting.

“I feel like the workload has been, maybe not halved, but at least fragmented so that I don’t have to do all the work any more,” he says of Kiko coming in. “I got a great band I’m playing in right now, and I love ’em!”

Gods Of War

More action from metal’s legends this year

Metallica

Yet to bring 2017’s epic US stage show to Europe, we predict metal’s biggest band landing on our shores before the summer’s out, and for it to be big and outdoors-y.

Iron Maiden

Just when you thought they might take a well-deserved year off, the mighty Maiden will instead be trekking around Europe with a very special Legacy Of The Beast setlist in the summer.

Slayer

All is quiet in camp Slayer right now following their voraciously received US tour with Lamb Of God and Behemoth, but we fully expect some live action at some point later this year.

Ozzy

As if we weren’t already reeling from Black Sabbath calling it quits last year, Ozzy says this year’s global trek will be his last proper tour. Rubbish. At least we should get a new album out of it…

Guns N’ Roses

The biggest reunion of the 21st century looks set to plough on across Europe and beyond in 2018. Quite frankly, if you’re not at Download festival on that Saturday night, you’re a maniac.

Future Shock

Metal’s young guard is ready to step up and smash it

Oceans Of Slumber

Joining Myrkur as a support act on the Hammer-sponsored Epica tour in April, Texan progressive metallers Oceans Of Slumber will be looking to build on the success of 2016’s sumptuous Winter album.

“We are gearing up to release a new record!” beams drummer Dobber. “It’ll be called the The Banished Heart, and it’ll be coming out in March through Century Media. It will most certainly be the darkest and heaviest music we have ever released, and poses quite the juxtaposition with Cammie [Gilbert, singer]’s delivery. This is the best work she’s done and she’s absolutely knocked it off this earth. It’s pure soul.

“We’ve tackled more issues from our personal lives,” he adds of the themes running through The Banished Heart. “It’ll have a lot to do with loss and rebirth.”

As well that aforementioned trek with Epica, the band will be looking to “see some new places and meet new people. And we hope to infect some of them with our darkened progressive metal. The world needs more doom and gloom… and we’ve got plenty to give!”

I Prevail

While they’ve been busily shooting up bills across the US in recent years, 2017 also saw I Prevail make strides in the UK and beyond, including a packed show at London’s Underworld in the summer. This year, the campaign continues.

“UK fans are crazy good for I Prevail,” says frontman Brian Burkheiser. “We look forward to coming back to the UK in the summer. We made so many new friends from our shows last year; we have heard the requests to come back and we cant wait.”

New shows will be followed by a new album in the second half of the year. “We’re making an album with big hooks and big sounds,” Brian promises. “We learned a lot on our last album cycle and about what kinds of songs work best live.” It’s not just the UK they have grand plans for, however…

“We would like to visit more places and see more of the world this year,” Brian adds. “Europe, Asia, South America and the Pacific Rim for starters. On a personal note, I’d like to read the Kama Sutra, receive a little enlightenment and find out if there is life on Mars…”

Black Futures

Describing themselves as ‘future punk’, we’re backing industrial London duo Black Futures to be one of 2018’s breakout names. “Our plans for the year? We plan to be great!” states Space. “And by great, I mean a couple of jumped-up wankers being obtuse and illusive whilst making as much noise as humanly possible. We also have loose plans for world peace…”

Priorities sorted, then. Beyond saving the world, the twosome will be flexing their musical muscles with a debut album later this year, with the Nine Inch Nails-meets-Death From Above 1979 mash-up of recent singles Love and Karma Ya Dig!? striking a clear chord with fans who like their music gritty and their trench- coats shiny.

“It’s gonna be walls of synths, walls of amps, walls of drums, shared hallucinations, dystopian party bangers,” says Space of what comes next. “Like all of your favourite songs rolled into one, or some shit like that.”

Cane Hill

The New Orleans groovers finished up 2017 with a well-received video for new track Too Far Gone, which delved into the dangers of addiction and drug abuse. “That theme is sprinkled throughout the new album,” reveals Elijah Witt. “The subject matter goes from addiction and going too far with substances to the refusal to accept that you’ve damaged relationships because of those addictions, and on to the acceptance that you’ve made some mistakes.” As for how it’s sounding? “It sounds like Cane Hill, all grown up,” replies the frontman. “There are songs here that we really stretched ourselves on – especially the song Why?, because it’s a kind of love song, and that’s something that a long time ago I said we’d never write.” A swamp-riffed, nu metal love song? Sounds like Cane Hill will be making a noise like no one else in 2018.

Conjurer

One of the most hotly tipped underground names of 2017, Conjurer will be unleashing their debut full-length, Mire, next month via the reliably badass Holy Roar. “We’ve been compared to a so many different bands – Gojira, Converge and Mastodon to name a few – but, in reality, we probably don’t sound like any of them for more than half a song at a time,” ponders frontman Dan Nightingale. “We like sludge, hardcore, black metal, post-rock, doom and a whole lot more, and like to think that at least a little of all of these influences can be heard in- between our stonking great riffs”

Heading out on a small tour in the wake of the album’s release, expect Conjurer to be appearing all over bills across the UK – and beyond – as the year progresses. “We’d really like to play some more festivals, especially over on the continent – that would be incredible,” adds Dan.

Puppy

After taking their excellent two EPs around the UK last year, 2018 will finally see Puppy release their debut full-length. With the backing of metal powerhouse Spinefarm behind them, we have no doubt that it will have been worth the wait.

“Hopefully we will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame,” suggests vocalist/guitarist Jock Norton of the London trio’s modest ambitions. “But we try to be realistic about these things, so that might have to wait until 2019.”

Of the band’s new material, he adds: “We’ve just pushed everything further in every possible direction, I think. The riffs are heavier, the choruses are catchier. It’s coming along exquisitely.” Given the genre-hopping nature of their material so far, which has resonated with everyone from stoners to indie boppers, this is an album with all the potential to break down barriers like few others in 2018.

Black Peaks

2016’s Statues was one of the standout British debuts of recent years, so to call us stoked for new Black Peaks material is just a little bit of an understatement.

“We’re currently in the studio recording album number two!” reveals vocalist Will Gardner. “We couldn’t wait to get in there and we’ll be here for a few weeks. This is going to be a much more mature, developed progression from Statues. But don’t worry – there’ll still be many fucking awesome heavy riffs… just in case anybody was at all worried.”

Hoping to take their forward-thinking racket beyond the UK this year, Will hopes that 2018 will see Black Peaks play to audiences around the world.

“We want to get back on the road across the UK, plus get to the United States and Japan and give some of those people and audiences across the pond a slice of what we do.”

We have a feeling those people are gonna like it as much as we will.

Our Hollow, Our Home

Last year’s Hartsick debut saw Southampton’s Our Hollow, Our Home bring their brand of well-polished metalcore to bigger audiences than ever, and 2018 looks set to be the year that the young band step into metal’s limelight.

“2018 is looking set to be a real busy and rewarding year for us,” pledges frontman Connor Hallsey, whose band’s blend of big choruses and crushing riffs have earned them comparisons to the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Parkway Drive and A Day To Remember. “You’ll have no excuse not to come and catch us live! Then, when we aren’t hitting the road, we plan on remaining hard at work on our sophomore album, and although we can’t reveal too much about that right now, we can confirm that it is well underway and getting exciting.”

Given the recent rises of Bury Tomorrow and Creeper, it seems like there’s something in the water down on the South Coast.

Forever Blackened

Here’s what extreme metal’s big guns have planned this year

Behemoth

Following up one of the single greatest metal albums of the 21st century is no easy feat, so it’s perhaps understandable that Behemoth haven’t rushed themselves into producing their 11th studio full-length. Plus, there’s been the small matter of Nergal’s Me And That Man project, not to mention a t-shirt controversy along the way. This year, though, it’s time for extreme metal’s modern overlords to reclaim their throne.

“From now on, my full energy goes on Behemoth,” pledges Nergal. “I am super- excited about the lyrics for the new record and it seems like I’ll be writing most of it. I’m very inspired.”

Emphasising that the Polish heavyweights are “not really rushing” to get the new album out, we should still anticipate a new Behemoth record well before the end of 2018 – with a new video expected to land early in the year. Regardless, you can guarantee that when the album comes, it’ll be something truly special.

“We always want to make sure that when an album’s done, you can be sure that we’re proud of it,” he pledges. “As long as we’re super-happy, that’s the moment we’re going to hand it over to people.”

The frontman also admits that dabbling in folkier territories with Me And That Man had an indirect impact on his desire to push forward with what comes next in his day job.

“When I was done with The Satanist, I was pretty much done with any music,” he muses. “I was like, ‘I don’t know if there’s any more extreme metal music in me.’ So I had to level out my energy with Me And That Man, and surprisingly, once I went back to the ‘black metal cave’ after that, I was more creative than ever. I couldn’t stop making songs! Usually, I’m super-burnt-out [after an album cycle], but at this stage, not only am I still full of ideas, I feel like I’m on drugs! I feel pumped. I’m hungry.”

In terms of where this next record will sit in the Behemoth canon, we should only expect one thing: Behemoth moving forwards at all costs.

Evangelion was the most perfectly recorded and perfect sounding record, but then The Satanist was something else,” Nergal remarks. “The new one is going to be something else once again, I’m sure about it. So when people tell me, ‘You need to top The Satanist’… I don’t need to top anything. I just want to make sure we take curves with our career. We’re gonna take a different direction in order not to get stuck in the same pattern.”

On other plans for the year ahead, Nergal points to some “amazing touring plans”, “extra pyro” and “no bullshit”.

“What we’re coming up with,” he finishes, “is gonna be a lethal fucking weapon.”

You have been warned. Watch this space for all things Behemoth over the coming months.

Dimmu Borgir

If you’re getting a touch of deja vu from last year’s preview, you’re not alone. So, fellas, exactly what happened with that new album we were expecting in 2017?!

Shagrath tells us: “When immortalising an art form it’s important to leave nothing up to coincidence. But sometimes, things happen. Hold-ups for whatever reasons, and other unpredictable stuff beyond your control. It’s important to not fall for the temptation of trying to reel that big monster in before you’re in control of it”

Promising that the “album is done” and will come out later this year, Shagrath admits that this may be seen by some as a comeback album, but won’t reveal whether last year’s decision to seemingly drop the corpsepaint will stick.

“We wanted to do a new photoshoot last year and did one without corpsepaint,” he offers. “There’s nothing more in it [for now] than that.”

Expect the new Dimmu Borgir album in the first half of 2018. Maybe.

Zeal & Ardor

One of 2017’s breakout stars, Manuel Gagneux’s Zeal & Ardor project enamoured the underground and beyond. This year, he’s taking his vision even further.

“It’s more an issue of being impatient,” says Manuel of the pressures of recording a follow- up to Devil Is Fine, stressing that he now has the tools to spend more time nurturing his unique sound. “We’ve been playing these new songs since April. We know people like them and we’re all giddy to release them upon the masses in a well-recorded fashion. But these things take time, and now that we have the means, we would like to use them to enlist competent people and equipment that actually works!”

While he’s tight-lipped about how the new material will sound on record, he does list his other ambitions for the year: “My main goals are to tour my butt off, release a record I’m happy with and finally learn how to make a beef wellington.”

We look forward to those tour dates and possibly a dinner invitation.

Extreme Scenes

More things from the extreme world we’re excited about

Heilung

The shamanic sensations have signed to Season Of Mist, and will be reissuing their Ofnir debut before unveiling new music before the year’s end. Definitely ones to watch.

Venom

Having dropped a three-track EP, 100 Miles To Hell, just in time to wreck Xmas, Venom frontman and extreme metal pioneer Cronos is in full-on writing mode for an album due later this year. All hail!

Carcass

It’s been a few years since their outstanding comeback album, Surgical Steel, set our critics poll alight, and the melodeath/grind legends will have a follow-up landing soon.

Immortal

The much-anticipated first album from the new incarnation of Immortal, forged around Demonaz and Horgh, is slated for a summer release. But in true, icy fashion, don’t be surprised if that date slips.

The best of the rest

What else you should be watching out for in 2018

Halestorm

“With every album we make, we go deeper down the rabbithole,” says frontwoman Lzzy Hale of progress on the band’s new album. The rock powerhouses will be unveiling their fourth album around late spring, and Lzzy says working with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Deftones, Korn) has them firing on all cylinders. “He adds an element of danger that has us pushing the envelope. We’ve never worked with someone like that before.” Promising that Halestorm will “bloom to new heights” over the coming year, it’s safe to say Lzzy’s ambitions are as big as their riffs. Be sure to catch them at Ramblin’ Man Fair this summer!

Avatar

How do you follow up a concept album about a war-waging owl that came complete with its own book? Invent your own nation complete with a ruling King. Obviously.

“We were never meant to be a band who did concepts albums,” shrugs singer Johannes Eckerström. “But this is just another idea that grew and grew.”

It’s fair to say that fans will have plenty to get their teeth into when Avatar Country drops later this month, with extensive touring to follow through the year.

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth will be locking themselves away and knuckling down to write a new album over most of 2018, with last year seeing them crown an epic touring cycle by bringing the fire and Viking fury to Bloodstock festival. “How do we top that?” ponders guitarist Johan Söderberg. “Well, we can try to make a better album than the last one! We won’t be doing much touring in 2018, and there’s a bunch of Viking epics left for us to adapt. It’s an endless source of inspiration!”

The Amity Affliction

The Aussie metalcore mob say there’s “no rush” for the follow- up to 2016’s This Could Be Heartbreak, but we should expect a “big leap forward”. Screamer Joel Birch says fans shouldn’t expect the album to reflect his politicised social media presence, however. “I have strong views, but I’m not interested in this band being the vehicle for that,” he states. “There are people hurting on both sides of politics.” Expect more emotional gutpunches near the tail end of this year.

Tesseract

Promising a hark back to their heavier first album but with plenty of progressive flourishes, Tesseract look set to consolidate their position as the djent generation’s great white hopes.

“We’re staying grounded,” says frontman Dan Tompkins in response. “It’s nice when big opportunities arrive, but we don’t want to get carried away. But, we are trying to reach people, and it feels like everything is going up to the next level.”

Bank on the Milton Keynes quintet to make some giant strides in 2018, and keep an eye on these pages for festival dates – we’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Power Wolf

“We are entering the studio this month,” offers Powerwolf guitarist Matthew Greywolf, of the band’s plan of attack for 2018. The new album has a tentative release date of this summer, with touring to follow. The band also promise to beef up their already impressive stage show, with Matthew adding: “As we speak, we’re planning and constructing several options for our 2018 stage set, which will be more varied and flexible than ever!”

Our prediction: loads more gung ho heavy metal madness. Bring it on!

Joey Jordison

After getting solid reviews for his work with extreme metal project Sinsaenum, Joey Jordison will be back in Vimic mode for most of the start of 2018, with debut album Open Your Omen finally ready to drop – almost two years after Joey first put the band together. “Some of the songs are from the ashes of what Scar The Martyr were doing,” Joey reveals. “But we also had to wipe some of the slate clean. I think people are really going to dig what we are doing with this album.”

We suspect you’re right, Joey.

Skindred

Following on from dropping thumping new single Machine, the Welsh ragga metal warriors will drop their new album, the brilliantly titled Big Tings, later this year, and will follow that by embarking on a UK trek that includes a stop at London’s Brixton Academy – a venue they’ve already smashed to bits on a number of occasions. “The album’s sounding really big!” says drummer Arya Goggin. “With that name, you have got to deliver big songs. There will be lots of twists and turns – nothing’s off limits.” Of headlining Brixton once again, he adds: “It’s a blessing. To headline Brixton at any time is a dream come true. We are gonna shake our tail feathers!” Expect to see a few thousand fellow Brits shaking their tailfeathers with Skindred throughout 2018.

Epica

Another band heading up a Hammer tour this year – supported by Texan progressive metallers Oceans Of Slumber and underground sensation Myrkur, no fucking less – Epica will be bringing their brand of synthy spectacle to our shores in style, and will be making the most of taking a step up to some big venues. Expect big, bombastic songs from across their back catalogue, a bigger show than we’ve ever seen from them in the UK and a few extra surprises thrown in to boot.

“We’re looking forward to this very much. Back in the day, we had to work hard to make it work for us in the UK, but now we have a solid fanbase there,” says guitarist Mark Jansen of the band’s steady road to greatness on our isle. “That’s a great feeling. All the hard work is paying off now and the UK has turned from a difficult territory into a paradise for us to play!”

And of those epic-looking shows themselves, the axeman adds: “We haven’t put the setlist together yet, but we always try to play different sets during a tour for the people that visit more than one show. Additionally, we invest a lot in our production in order to give the people a great visual and aural experience. We’ll also be going to Ireland for the very first time – something we are very excited about! Besides that, most people know that we are an energetic band onstage, but for those who don’t know yet, come see us – you won’t be disappointed. We always go for it and put 100% into each show.”

When it comes to Epica’s rather stellar tourmates for this Hammer-approved jaunt, Mark admits that he’s yet to see Oceans Of Slumber or Myrkur in all their glory, but thanks to some insider knowledge, he’s confident that all three bands will come together to bring a show no one will be forgetting any time soon.

“Rob [Van Der Loo, bass] knows their music very well and he’s enthusiastic about them, so I trust him on this one,” he grins. “I am also curious to see them both live and see how it sounds. I plan to set some time aside to check out both bands properly!”

Believe us (and Rob) when we say that Mark, and anyone else coming to these shows, will not be disappointed. And as for the rest of their year, Epica will be pretty damn busy, with a special, unique project coming in the first half of the year that will fascinate fans of a certain iconic Japanese franchise.

“Also in 2018, we are releasing an EP for [monster comic/anime] Attack On Titan. A Japanese anime score! That was a lot of fun to work on. In December we also recorded a song with the famous Dutch Metropole Orchestra, which we are releasing as a single. Plus, directly after our UK and Ireland tour, on April 14, we will celebrate our 1,000th show with a show in Tilburg, in The Netherlands!”

Put short, 2018 is going to be a landmark year for Epica. Make sure you’re a part of it when those Hammer-sponsored shows roll through town in April.

Paradise Lost

The English goth-doom veterans will tour the UK in support of last year’s awe-inspiring Medusa, which permeated our critics’ poll at Number Five to cap off an excellent 2017 for the extreme music innovators. “We’ve played a London show, but we’re going to now go to places we haven’t played,” says frontman Nick Holmes, rather matter-of-factly, of Paradise Lost’s plans for the year ahead. “We’re going to try and cover just about every era of the band.”

2018 also marks the 30th anniversary of Paradise Lost – something that Nick has admittedly mixed feelings on. “I feel it’s a sense of achievement as it’s a long time, but the fact it’s 30 years reminds me how old we are, and I don’t like that!” he laughs. Nonetheless, the band plan to do something special to mark the occasion.

“I’d be happy to go for a curry, but I’ll probably have to do more than that!” jokes the singer. “We’re going to do a special concert for it, but I’m not sure what yet. We’d like to make a mini-festival.” A fully fledged Paradise Lost-fest for 2018? Count us in, chaps.

King 810

“Flint, killing, guns, sex, death, murder, drugs, crime, prison, bloodshed, crack, destruction, felonies, heroin, homicide, manslaughter, shooting, stabbing, scars, coke, suicide, murder, murder, murder.” When we ask David Gunn what he’ll be writing about for the new King 810 album, we relieved to find the Flint warriors won’t be taking a drastic left-turn and pumping out pop-punk songs about pizza and shit. “Last year, we got some time to think, make plans and do a little writing at home.” 2017 did include a stop at Bloodstock with a depleted line-up. As ever, David is bullishly philosophical on the subject. “My Mom drank castor oil to force me out ahead of schedule, emergency C section, umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, probably already trying to kill myself,” he says with a mischievous look. “I can’t even fathom a point in time where there weren’t roadblocks present. That bullshit is nothin’.” Whatever King do this year, we guarantee nothing will get in their way.

Epica headline the first Metal Hammer tour of 2018