Heavy Forecast: The Most Anticipated Albums of 2023 - Knotfest

Heavy Forecast: The Most Anticipated Albums of 2023

Posted by Ramon Gonzales in Culture on January 31, 2023

See the comprehensive list of pending releases due from long-tenured veterans and heavy music’s emerging new school.

Now that the first month of the new year has come and gone, the greater picture of the upcoming release calendar is a bit better in focus. With regards to the heavier end of the spectrum (and of course we have a few wild cards in the mix too), the forecast for 2023 suggests the health of the culture is not only on the uptick – its thriving.

With eagerly-awaited releases from long-tenured veterans and emerging sensations alike, the variety and diversity spanning from post punk to blackened deathcore is a promising indicator that the heavier stuff is far from one-dimensional.

While there are likely a few glaring omissions here, the wealth of releases admittedly makes it tough to narrow down the focus. In short, 2023 has a fuckload of great tunes in the queue and we tried as best we could to highlight the entries that our staff is most stoked about.

Here is a look at what’s to come.

200 Stab Wounds – TBA (Metal Blade Records)

Cleveland death metal practitioners 200 Stab Wounds have been at the head of an emerging class of extreme musicians that toe a fine line between tradition and progress. The band’s stylistic signature tips its hat to the greats of the genre, while still maintaining an identity all its own. Announcing they had signed with Metal Blade Records last year, the band release a preview of the punishment to come in “Masters of Morbidity” and reaffirmed that the hype was indeed, very real. Violent, vehement and venomous, the future of extreme music is bright with bands like 200 SW at the helm. – Ramon Gonzales

Loathe – TBA (SharpTone Records)

The reality is that Loathe’s 2020 effort, I Let It In and It Took Everything was such a phenomenal record there is a real concern that the band might not be able to capture that lightning in a bottle twice. However, last year the release of the single “Dimorphous Display” offered clear evidence that Loathe’s greatness is a product of consistency rather than coincidence. Devoting real focus to the next full length, the band has even opted to cancel tours to continue to get the details right on this next album. For a band that was already noted for their ability to execute heavy music with some sophistication, that kind of concentration suggests something special is progress. – Ramon Gonzales

Depeche  Mode – Memento Mori (Columbia Records / March 17th)

This is the band’s 15th full length studio album and follows the tragic and untimely death of founding member and keyboardist Andrew Fletcher last year. This will be one hell of an emotional piece for sure, but then again when is anything DM anything but. The duo of Gore and Gahan have said in press interviews this album was written during the lockdown from the pandemic with the music and lyrics reflecting as much. Coupled with the news of the band’s highly-anticipated world tour, new DM will prove bittersweet as fans and the remaining members with celebrate the life and legacy of their fallen conspirator. – Alex Distefano


Brand of Sacrifice – TBA

There is room to argue that Brand of Sacrifice’s 2021 opus Lifeblood played an integral part in jumpstarting the current resurgence deathcore is enjoying right now. The Canadian crew’s almost surgical exactness in tandem with compositional intensity transform deathcore tunes into something truly cinematic. Since then, fans have been clamoring for anything new they could get their hands on. With the recent release of “Exodus”, it would seem as though the band are ready to pick up right where Lifeblood left off. – Ramon Gonzales

Hellripper – Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags (Peaceville Records / February 17th)

The fastest and the most evil…Scotland’s blackened speed heavyweights are back with their third full length, Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags, due February 17th via Peaceville. As always the album was conceived & created by the band’s mastermind, James McBain, who composes and performs every element of the record from start to finish (don’t worry, he has a live band so you can go see them tear shit up in your town). This band really nails that first wave of black metal meets teutonic speed sound & stands out from the rest by keeping it perfectly rough around the edges, being melody sensible, & including shredding guitar solos. FFO: Venom & Bathory but also Sodom, Midnight, & Bewitcher. – Daniel DeKay

Zulu – A New Tomorrow (Flatspot Records / February 3rd)

When a powerviolence band can channel the aesthetic of A Tribe Called Quest and deliver a sonic clobbering, there is something magical happening. The LA-bred collective is breath of fresh air in the world of hardcore, implementing breakdowns, poignant samples and articulate social commentary into brief, albeit fiery bursts. The band’s debut full length serves as a promising indicator of the full potential of the culture, while still highlighting all of it’s current shortcomings. Stylized heft is coming in hot and Zulu is delivering. -Ramon Gonzales

Sanguisugabogg – Homicidal Ecstasy (Century Media Records / February 3rd)

If sludged out caveman riffs rule your world then this is the death metal you’re looking for. These dudes from Ohio bring nonstop thumpy grooves and mid tempo stomp that pairs chunky riffing with thick and slow guttural vocals in the most fun way possible. It’s the type of music that just makes you want to wreck your entire neck and destroy everything in sight by the end of the first song. The ‘bogg has gotten a lot of attention since their birth in 2019 and really proved themselves as an unfuckwithable force with their debut record & the touring that followed. The leading singles released thus far are a strong indicator that Homicidal Ecstasy, due February 3rd via Century Media, is going to be the follow up record that the entire extreme music scene has been violently awaiting. FFO: Mortician & Six Feet Under but also 200 Stab Wounds, Frozen Soul, and Incantation. – Daniel DeKay

Ne Obliviscaris – Exul (Season of Mist / March 24th)

Ne Obliviscaris fans have been waiting (im)patiently for nearly 6 years for the follow up to their 2017 release Urn. Their 4th studio album, Exul, promises an eruption of sound and emotion, a flowing expansiveness that encompasses everything from dynamic blasting black and death metal, to softer, classically-influenced progressive tendencies. The heartbreak of the past few years definitely left its mark on the album and Exul is sure to be well worth the wait. – Cori Westbrook

Jesus Piece – …So Unknown (Century Media Records / April 14th)

Bridging the volatility of hardcore with the band’s penchant for early 2000’s metalcore, Jesus Piece continues to be championed among fans of all walks for good reason. The combination of David Updike and John DiStefano on guitars, set to the crushing cadence of Luis Aponte on the beat, create an all out barrage, further emphasized by vocalist Aaron Heard’s unhinged spew. The band’s Century Media Records debut positions Jesus Piece properly in the spotlight they so well deserve, especially with bangers like “An Offering To The Night” to show for their efforts. – Ramon Gonzales

Fires In The Distance – Air Not Meant For Us (Prosthetic Records / April 28th)

Melo-death will always hold a special place in my heart. From the first tastes of the new Fires in the Distance album, I can tell it will be both brutal and beautiful. Haunting guitar melodies, visceral but legible vocals, and symphonic elements that enhance rather than overpower give this album so much promise. – Cori Westbrook

Enslaved – Heimdal (Nuclear Blast Records / March 3rd)

Alright, this has got to be one of the most consistent bands to ever walk this planet. Active since 1991 and based in Norway, this will be their 16th (!!!) record and it can truly be said that through all their musical changes & artistic experiments that this band has never had a misstep. Whether you seek a traditional black metal sound, something a little more rock progressive, or just want some pure Norse Mythology worship there is legitimately something for everyone in this bands spice cabinet. They’ve got this way of knowing exactly how much of each ingredient to use and where to use it, whether it’s a blast beat or an atmospheric acoustic passage, and the result is a fully immersive experience that you never want to end. Heimdal is due March 3rd via Nuclear Blast & I can guarantee it will be another very carefully constructed masterpiece of a record. FFO: literally anything blackened but also Emperor, Opeth, & Borknagar. – Daniel DeKay

Enforced – War Remains (Century Media Records / April 28th)

When this bands demo first started popping up I was instantly grabbed by whole metallic hardcore-ness of it all and made sure to keep a close eye on what they would do next. It’s been cool to watch them develop from that early sound into a furious machine of tight thrash riffing, punk mindset drumming, & insanely charismastic screaming vocals. These guys have put in the work in the studio and on the road over the last few years and it’s really showing. Go catch up on their last record Kill Grid and get ready for this new one…I can already tell you it slays front to back and that there will be more details about it coming VERY SOON. FFO: Power Trip & Iron Age but also Sepultura & Vio-Lence. – Daniel DeKay

Judiciary – Flesh + Blood (Closed Casket Activities / March 10th)

It’s been four years since the Texas aggressors landed a direct hit with their show of strength in their full length debut Surface Noise. Taking a healthy amount of time in between releases to better refine their brand of brutality, the band has teamed with producer Arthur Rizk for a presentation that combines hardcore sensibilities with metallic heft. If “Engulfed” is any indication, prepare to get your ass kicked. -Ramon Gonzales

Drain – TBA (Epitaph Records)

Here’s the facts – the band has shared photos stating that LP2 is done, they’re debuting new songs in their live set, and according to the band the single they released is “the weakest song on the album”. Whether you’re into hardcore or metal or just want something you can dance to I highly recommend you spin their full length debut California Cursed and patiently wait for something to drop from the Drain camp. A good source tells me we might be getting some news on this highly anticipated record sooner than you think… FFO: Leeway & Cro-Mags but also Pantera & Slayer. – Daniel DeKay

Cattle Decapitation – Terrasite (Metal Blade Records / May 12th)

Cattle Decapitation’s Death Atlas dropped in the dying weeks of the last decade, ushering in an era that followed that made it all too obvious for everyone to recognise the horrific humour in their single Bring Back the Plague. Now the belated touring cycle for that album has concluded, it remains to be seen what a band so obsessed with the downfall and annihilation of humanity will make of the pandemic-ravaged world their next album will be borne into. That perverse irony unintentionally marks this specific record from them, but the next step in their evolution as the leading death metal band of the 21st century would be a must regardless. – Perran Helyes

Metallica – 72 Seasons (Blackened Recordings / April 14th)

The biggest metal band in the world is about to bless us with their first studio album since 2016. ‘Nuff said. -Ryan J. Downey

Baroness – TBA (Abraxan Hymns)

Baroness put a bow on their chromatically-themed albums with 2019’s Gold & Grey. So where does the band go from here? Who knows, and that’s what makes the next record so enticing. They certainly aren’t lacking for ideas.

In early 2021, frontman John Baizley told Full Metal Jackie each of the band members wrote 10 to 15 songs during the first year of the pandemic alone. They’ve all but confirmed a new album will be coming in 2023

Quibbles about the production aside – you know who you are – Gold & Grey was filled with instant classics to the Baroness set, and showcased the immense chemistry between all four members. That they’ve had years to build on that, as well as hone their must-see live show through relentless touring in 2021 and 2022, is proof enough that their next release can’t come too soon. – Jon ‘Stay Puft’ Garcia

Ov Sulfur – The Burden Ov Faith (Century Media Records / March 24th)

Even with the subcategory of deathcore in the midst of a real renaissance, Vegas brutalizers Ov Sulfur have managed to separate themselves from the pack. Vocalist Ricky Hoover’s delivery is downright demonic, reiterating the relentlessness of band’s instrumental fury. The combination of power and precision makes for an auditory experience that is not for the deathcore casual. Following the same trajectory of bands like Lorna Shore and Brand of Sacrifice, Ov Sulfur are very likely to have a big year.

Royal Thunder – TBA (Spinefarm Records)

Photo by Justin Reich

It’s been nearly six long, lonesome years since Royal Thunder last released an album. Thankfully, that musical silence was broken in late 2022 with “The Knife,” a bluesy, brutally honest earworm that can go toe-to-toe with any song in their discography. After so many years away – and all the things we’ve all been through in that time – the track was like a beacon in the dark. Not only are Royal Thunder back, they’re back.

In an interview with Metal Hammer’s Rich Hobson, the Atlanta rockers confirmed album number four is on the horizon. Few bands can match the raw passion of Royal Thunder, anchored by Evan Diprima’s emphatic drumming, Josh Weaver’s melodious and captivating guitar lines, and the sheer, emotive power of Mlny Parsonz’s voice. One of the best in rock, full stop.

If “The Knife” is just a taste of what to come, put on your bibs and ready the silverware, because the main course is going to be worth savoring. – Jon ‘Stay Puft Garcia

Dying Wish – TBA (SharpTone Records)

Portland’s Dying Wish have been on the heavy radar since vocalist Emma Boster stole the show with her guest spot on Knocked Loose’s “A Serpent’s Touch.” Since then, a string of successful singles preceded their emphatic 2021 debut Fragments of a Bitter Memory, and they’ve spent possibly more time on the road than any band not named Escuela Grind. But when you’re supporting the likes of Limp Bizkit, Motionless in White, The Acacia Strain, The Devil Wears Prada, and Currents, who need the comforts of home?

Dying Wish have proved they have the chops to deliver 00s-inspired metalcore belters, and the determination and work ethic to carve out their own destiny. The sky is the limit for this band, and their next record is going to be one everyone should be paying attention to. – Jon ‘Stay Puft’ Garcia

Unto Others – TBA (Roadrunner Records)

Another Portland band to pay attention to. Maybe this gets pushed to “Most Anticipated Albums of 2024,” but with the Strength touring cycle in the rearview mirror, Unto Other are now starting work on its successor.

The band’s goth-rock meets heavy metal stylings have proven an infectious formula that boasts some of the best metal anthems in decades. Across two albums, two EPs, and a Halloween-themed 7″, the band have exactly zero bad songs. They’re the rare band whose music can immediately grab a listener on first listen, while also making repeat spins even more rewarding. Just sample any track from a recent live set to experience it for yourself. 

In the two years between Mana and Strength, the band went from a small but successful underground record label (Eisenwald) to getting snapped up by Roadrunner Records. That they’re now peers of the likes of Gojira, Trivium, Code Orange, and Turnstile should not be lost on anyone.

This is at the bottom of the list strictly because of uncertainty of whether we should expect anything from Unto Others this year. But make no mistake, whenever album three comes, it should be a priority listen of any heavy metal lover. -Jon ‘Stay Puft’ Garcia

Insomnium – Anno 1696 (Century Media Records / February 24th)

Masters of the melancholic, Insomnium have created a concept album telling the story of one of the bleakest times in human history. Based on a short story by Niilo Sevänen and held together with sorrow and wrath, 1696 is a year of great famine in the North and the witch hunts in Europe. The gruesome trials of which reached Finland and Sweden, leading to the beheading of 70 women in a small Swedish parish. If anyone needs me, I’ll be weeping that day. – Cori Westbrook

Grave Pleasures – Plagueboys (Century Media Records / April 23rd)

Grave Pleasures’ ethos of dancing through the apocalypse amidst the skeletons and the nuclear fallout has only become more apt and morbidly magnetic in the six years(!) since their last absolute masterpiece of an album Motherblood, and so with its follow-up finally primed to emerge very soon indeed it almost feels like they’ve had to wait for the global climate to get on their level. For fans of such darkly seductive bands to have broken through in the over half-decade that they’ve been absent, whether it’s Rope Sect in the underground or Unto Others on the world stage, 2023 should be a year with some serious catching up to do. – Perran Helyes

Queens of the Stone Age – TBA

The rumour mill has been bustling for a while around Queens of the Stone Age emerging from a longer than average slumber for them, and where the current line-up has in the last ten years produced such great works as 2013’s vulnerable …Like Clockwork and the Mark Ronson-produced dancefloor-dominating yet fiery Villains, it would be wonderful if 2023 could mark that decade of creative stability with another singular slam dunk from one of the most blood-pumping great American hard rock bands we continue to have. – Perran Helyes

Babymetal – The Other One (Cooking Vinyl / March 24th)

Since their inception in 2010, Babymetal have unapologetically paved their unique path in the scene and have never failed to keep things interesting. The Japanese metal outfit demonstrate their musical progression and maturity as a group in powerful singles “Monochrome” and “Divine Attack – Shingeki -” off their upcoming record, The Other One. The 10-track record is Babymetal’s first-ever concept album, where each song will represent a “separate parallel world.” The Other One marks the next chapter of Babymetal that is sure to be an epic journey. – Yvonne Villasenor

Host – IX (Nuclear Blast Records / February 24th)

Darkwave fans, this one’s for you. Paradise Lost’s vocalist Nick Holmes and guitarist Greg Mackintosh flex their versatility in their new project with a debut full-length album that’s as catchy as it is somber. Based on the singles alone, IX is a brilliant blend of goth, rock and electro bound to get your head bobbing. – Yvonne Villasenor

Gorillaz – Cracker Island (Parlophone/Warner Records / February 24th)

Gorillaz have spent over two decades dedicated to the original — and initially, mind-bending — concept as a virtual band constantly transcending genre, evolving with the times and remaining one of the most popular and interesting groups to ever exist. Their discography? Timeless. Music videos? Fascinating. Every album release is highly anticipated by fans, and Cracker Island is no different. The 10-track album features an array of artists, including Beck, Stevie Nicks, Thundercat, Tame Impala, Bootie Brown, Bad Bunny and Ade Omotayo. – Yvonne Villasenor

Malokarpatan – Vertumnus Caesar

Photo by Vladimír Pavelka

One of the great cult underground metal bands of the last few years have been Malokarpatan, a band almost chemically concocted in their strange and obscure reference points to appeal to a certain kind of occult metalhead. Their inflection of archaic and dusty sounding Mercyful Fate, Bathory and Venom-derived heavy metal with sights and sounds of Slovak forests and folklore makes for music that’s as evocative and mystical as atmospheric black metal but with the po-faced meditativeness swapped for the fun of kickass riffing, and 2023 will see their now concluded folk horror trilogy followed up with a concept album around Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. – Perran Helyes

Dodheimsgard – TBA (Peaceville Records)

Once at the precipice of evolving Norwegian black metal from its primitivist origins to keeping it vital at the end of the 1990s after the initial hype wave had imploded, Dodheimsgard have continued to plough the outer regions of this music’s avant-garde potential emerging since the iconoclastic 666 International like particularly patient clockwork every eight years with 2007’s savagely individualistic Supervillain Outcast and 2015’s bewildering and labyrinthine A Umbra Omega. With a release date pinned for around March and a recent preview track on Peaceville’s Dark Side of the Sacred Star compilation, Dodheimsgard seem to sure to once again make one of contemporary black metal’s densest statements.  – Perran Helyes

Godsmack – Lighting Up The Sky (BMG / February 24th)

We recently covered a story about Godsmack’s future on Heavy Conversations. We discussed their decision to stop releasing new music and solely focus on performing their greatest hits live instead. Knowing that their days are numbered on the “upcoming releases” lists, I am very curious to see what their final iterations will sound like. Will they go out with a bang or a fizzle? My hope is that they will use their upcoming eighth studio album to remind us why rock fans regard them as being one of the greats. – Tori Kravtiz

Fear Factory – TBA (Nuclear Blast Records)

This still to be titled release will be the band’s first without original singer Burton C. Bell, who exited the band under less than amicable circumstances in late 2020. It is the follow up to the 2021 album Aggression Continuum. Fans everywhere are eagerly waiting to learn the identity of the new vocalist, which has been kept under wraps by founding member and guitarist Dino Cazares.Cazares, despite doing press interviews for the past 2 years. Expect the music and themes to most likely continue the sci-fi dystopian signature under a crushing sound of mechanical industrial metal that Fear Factory pioneered. Luckily for fans, Fear Factory is headed out on a winter tour with Static X, Dope and others, across the United States, and the band is sure to play some new tracks, but more importantly there will be a face to the mystery of the new singer. – Alex Distefano

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