The Year Ahead 2015: Return Of The Millennials

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As we head into another new year, of course, it may be helpful to look back to give us some idea of what might happen going forwards. A decade ago, heavy metal, in its more traditional form, had been awoken from its grunge- and Brit-pop-induced slumber by the hugely exciting New Wave Of American Heavy Metal movement. These were the bands to lead us forward into the New Millennium and pick up where the likes of Pantera and Metallica had left off. Only it didn’t quite work out like that…

With the majority of the also-ran’s scene having split up (God Forbid, Chimaira,) or continued through gritted teeth to diminishing returns (Unearth, Shadows Fall), it’s now left to the leaders of the pack to drag themselves back to former glories. Although there have been a multitude of misfires, lineup changes, drama and the odd touch of apathy, there are signs that 2015 could be the year that the likes of Trivium, Killswitch Engage and Bullet For My Valentine attain the kind of status that they so richly deserve./o:p

On the surface, the band that have the most to be confident about for the upcoming 12 months are Killswitch. Still riding the wave of their near-career best Disarm The Descent album and the stunning main stage demolition job that they performed at last year’s Download festival, it would appear that the love that was reawakened by Jesse Leach’s return to the band is in rude health.

But this is the acid test; after delivering a record that lived up to modern classic Alive Or Just Breathing, KSE now also need to deliver a follow-up that can match the mainstream-denting impact of The End Of Heartache./o:p

“We’re starting to have that discussion, which is exciting,” confirms Jesse. “We’re starting to demo, starting to get some ideas for the record. That’ll be early this year, when we start reviewing some of that stuff. So that’s something that’s definitely in the works!”

Trivium, too, have spent much of the decade slowly rebuilding; after 2005’s awesome Ascendancy and that Download mainstage debut turned them into the biggest young band in metal, the rather mixed response to The Crusade the following year seemingly derailed their momentum a tad. That said, everything was very much back on track with what came after, as both Shogun and In Waves pulled them back near to the kind of level they looked destined to belong at./o:p

The divisive, David Draiman-produced Vengeance Falls in 2013, however, left many scratching their heads, which means that the follow-up has plenty riding on it. Frontman Matt Heafy says the band will begin working on the opus in earnest this month, adding: “Even during the Vengeance Falls cycle we were creating new music. It wasn’t the intent to start writing, but when inspiration strikes, one must take advantage. This month we finetune the tracks as a band; in February we get into the studio to begin tracking our seventh record.”

Of course, the one thing you can always guarantee with Trivium is a killer live show and, according to Matt, the band has their schedule “built up properly”, with festival dates that include a much-deserved headline set at Bloodstock giving them the right kind of platform. Could that first UK festival headline performance be the start of many more?

America’s New Millennials are certainly not alone in needing 2015 to be a return to form. It seems odd to fret so much about a band that have firmly established themselves as an arena headlining act, but Bullet For My Valentine’s stock has fallen drastically in the eyes of many metal fans after the disastrous Temper Temper album.

Seen to be pandering to a more ‘rock-lite’ audience, the band’s efforts were roundly panned, yet still they played huge shows, such as Wembley Arena, toward the end of the record’s touring cycle (tellingly omitting almost all of the material from Temper Temper in the set). It’s an admission that the one post-Temper Temper track unveiled so far, Raising Hell, seemed to highlight; clearly more in tune with the sound of The Poison and Scream Aim Fire-era BFMV, it promises a return to heavier sounds for Bullet, and frontman Matt Tuck reckons the rest of their new material is following suit. “It’s more aggressive, edgier,” says Matt of the album. “It’s stepping back into the heavier side of what we’ve done in the past.”

If producer Terry Date (Pantera, Bring Me The Horizon) can help to inspire something special from the band, then it’s possible that the ‘future headliner’ tag that followed them around everywhere earlier in their career may well return with a vengeance in 2015. If not, then it could a long road back for a band that once seemed so well primed to carry the torch.

With the legends that came before them ebbing closer and closer to retirement and a crop of young guns nipping at their heels, 2015 looks to be a hugely important year for the ‘Class Of The 2000s’. After all, as the likes of Maiden, Machine Head and Judas Priest have shown, metal loves a second chance.

ONES TO WATCH

Limp Bizkit

Limp Bizkit have endured a rather mixed career since Chocolate Starfish… sent them supernova in 2000. A victorious showing with a returning Wes Borland at Download back in 2009 and a solid reunion album in Golden Cobra two years later reinstalled the nu metal heavyweights as one of metal’s favourite party bands, but on the evidence provided so far, new opus Stampede Of The Disco Elephants is going to be the most experimental album of the band’s career. Whether they bounce back to arena status or stack it once again, we’re backing this to be one of the most talked about albums of 2015./o:p

DARKWATERS

Here’s what’s primed to set metal’s murky underground alight in 2015…

The hottest property in the underground is hard to predict, with trends and fads coming and going faster than crusty grind songs, but we’re willing to stick our necks out and say the tour we hear WATAIN have planned will have everyone in subterranean realms talking.

Given how every black metal pundit on and under Earth has been predicting it to come out “this year” for the last three years, if IMMORTAL finally get the follow-up to 2009’s exceptional All Shall Fall out in 2015, that is also one pretty much guaranteed to cause a buzz.

Similarly, if the long-awaited album returns from DØDHEIMSGARD and ARCTURUS appear, expect them to have the prog BM fans making big noises.

As far as less established names go, however, the undoubted buzz-band of the underground right now is BÖLZER, and if the excellent Swiss duo get their debut album out in 2015, expect major attention.

TRIBULATION may have been around longer, but it was 2013 album The Formulas Of Death that stoked the flames of excitement around them – a fire that has only grown since. Expect album three from them this year.

New music from Iceland’s brilliant SVARTIDAUÐI should also appear to enhance their fast-growing reputation, while the awesome power of USBM masters COBALT is expected to produce its first studio album for six years and should be well worth the wait.

The right musical achievements (and the requisite slices of luck) in the forthcoming year could also see some bands break out of the underground – none more so than ROYAL THUNDER, who could easily follow SÓLSTAFIR’s path, and the rapidly growing INQUISITION.

Also expect the much-talked-about THE BODY and ASCENSION to continue to grow in profile. Remember where you read it first…/o:p