10 heavy metal bands that took incredibly long to release a new album

Album art by Guns N Roses, Black Sabbath, Possessed and Coven
(Image credit: Press)

Is there anything more frustrating in life than the anticipation of your favourite artist taking aaaaaages to release a new album? The gaps seem to get bigger and bigger these days: if you’re a fan of stadium acts like Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold, you could be waiting close to a decade for fresh material. And if you’re a Tool fan… well, don’t hold your breath.

Then there are some bands that take almost a lifetime to give people that elusive followup. Whether caused by breakups, real-life tragedy or the inability to just sit down and write, here are 10 of the longest waits for a new album in heavy metal history.

Metal Hammer line break

Guns ’N’ Roses (15 years)

We all know this one, don’t we? The making of Chinese Democracy became something of a meme over the exactly 15 years it took for Guns ’N’ Roses to follow up 1993’s The Spaghetti Incident?. The lineup changed constantly, the band entered a bizarre merchandising bet with Dr Pepper and then, ultimately, the album was met with mixed reviews. Still, 15 years is tiny compared to other entries in this list…

Black Sabbath (18 years)

After 1995’s Forbidden, Tony Iommi put Black Sabbath on hiatus to make a solo album eventually released as 2004’s The 1996 DEP Sessions. Then, in ’97, the band were able to reunite with the classic ’70s lineup of the guitarist alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. Due to Ozzy’s solo career and reality show, plus the formation of offshoot band Heaven And Hell, however, comeback 13 wouldn’t be out until, well… 2013.

At The Gates (19 years)

Slaughter Of The Soul remains one of the finest heavy albums ever released, not to mention a key influence on 21st-century metal, so we can understand At The Gates dragging their heels when making its successor. However, the wait became an agonising 19 years after the band broke up in ’96, then reunited in 2008 and refused to rush their creative process. At least At War With Reality was ultimately another melodeath masterpiece.

Exhorder (27 years)

New Orleans crew Exhorder were mostly known as the band that predated the groove metal sound of Pantera in the early ’90s. They released The Law in 1992, and, whilst Pantera were filling arenas, they split in 1994. They reformed in 2008, but disbanded again before they could release any material, until getting back together and finally reaping some of their dues with 2019’s Mourn The Southern Skies album. 

Acid Reign (29 years)

After snagging an indie chart top 10 album with their debut The Fear in 1989, UK thrash metal band Acid Reign followed it up within a year by releasing Obnoxious in 1990. It didn’t do much business, unfortunately, and the band split in 1991. Thus concluded a brief but exciting first stint. That wasn’t the end though: in 2015, Acid Reign “rebooted” and finally released their much anticipated The Age Of Entitlement in 2019.

Possessed (33 years)

Having released what was possibly the first-ever death metal album, Seven Churches, in 1985, Possessed were in fine form when its followup, 1986’s Beyond The Gates, arrived. That all changed when frontman Jeff Becerra was paralysed from the chest down following a shooting in 1989. It’s credit to his fortitude and love of music that Possessed managed to reform in 2007, and third album Revelations Of Oblivion finally saw the light of day (and serious acclaim) in 2019.

Toxik (33 years)

New York thrash band Toxik put out a pair of well-received albums on Roadrunner Records in the ’80s: 1987’s World Circus and 1989’s Think This. They split in 1992, then had a go at reuniting in 2007 – however, not much happened before they broke up again in 2010. They were much more fruitful when they got back together once more in 2013, given that they eventually released Dis Morta in 2022.

Alcatrazz (34 years)

Alcatrazz are best known for once having guitarists Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen and ex-Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr in their ranks. They split in 1987, a year after the release of third album Dangerous Games, but different versions of the band were touring under a variety of names from 2007 and onwards. It wasn’t until 2017 that three-fifths of the classic lineup got back together under the original title, with Born Innocent getting released in 2020.

Coven (39 years)

Speak to certain people and they’ll tell you that it was Coven, not Black Sabbath, that invented heavy metal. Regardless of who came first, they were there at the very inception, but split in 1975, a year after the release of their third album Blood On The Snow. Such was the obsession with the band in the intervening years that they reformed in 2007, releasing their first new material in nearly four decades with Jinx.

White Spirit (42 years)

White Spirit were one of the original NWOBHM bands. Unfortunately, while Maiden and Def Leppard went on to massive things, they made one album, then had guitarist Janick Gers poached by Ian Gillan before splitting up. When frontman Brian Howe passed away in 2020 though, demos of the band’s second album were recovered, restored and turned into 2022’s Right Or Wrong. The 42-year gap between releases is one of the longest in music history.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.