Dead of winter: New music to warm your cold bones

What upcoming releases are we dying to hear?
By Peter Lindblad

Venom will release 'From the Very
Depths' on Jan. 27, 2015
January can be a cold, barren time in the music business, such as it is.

After the frantic run up to Christmas, with a fall full of notable releases from high-profile artists singing for their holiday suppers, the whole industry often seems to go dark at once – at least temporarily.

The silence doesn't last long, however. Soon, the factories that feed the music-consumer beast will begin humming again, and in no time, a steady stream of news regarding upcoming albums, EPs, DVDs and tours will flood an already well-saturated market.

Even now, though, in this very bleak mid-winter, there's a trickle of news coming out regarding some hotly anticipated releases and other events for 2015. Just this week came word from the Nuclear Blast label that metal heavyweights Slayer, Testament and Meshuggah will all be issuing new material in 2015, as well as new tour dates for Helmet's 20th anniversary celebration of their landmark LP Betty. At the end of "Wilma's Rainbow" is a pot of gold, and this is it.

Here are some more upcoming releases we're salivating over:

Venom - From the Very Depths 2015
Venom – From the Very Depths: Satanic imagery and punk-fired black metal will bring the thaw, as Venom returns with From the Very Depths on Jan. 27, coming via Spinefarm Records.

Front man Chronos has a message for his followers.

"This album is perfect," he said. "All three members are totally over-the-top confident with the new songs and the production. We had a great atmosphere in the studio while we were recording – Dante created pure thunder from his drums, while Rage tears the flesh off your face with his riffs, making everything fall into place so well ... it's a strong release and really shows the band maturing into an unstoppable force of pure Black Metal. We can't wait to play the songs live for the legions ... Hell yeah!"

Having just recently received an advance copy – expect a review very soon – my initial reaction is From the Very Depths sounds like classic Venom. It's fast, dark and rugged, an incendiary hell broth of seething guitars and explosive rhythms.

Revolution Saints - S/T 2015
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints: Super groups seem to be a dime a dozen these days, what with your Rated Xs and your Kings of Chaos all doing their thing.

Here's another one, featuring guitarist Doug Aldrich – fresh off his leaving Whitesnake – and Night Ranger's Jack Blades, as well as Deen Castronovo, the drummer from Journey. A self-titled LP is due Feb. 24 from Frontiers Records.

There won't be any EDM found here or any of that bearded folk-rock melancholy that all the kids seem to love. Expect melodic hard-rock of the highest order from industry pros, with an emphasis on songs that are all heart and soul and top-notch musicianship. And, on top of that, Castronovo will be handling lead vocals. Didn't see that coming, did you?

U.D.O. - Decadent 2015
U.D.O. – Decadent: U.D.O. is preparing for class warfare, and Decadent drops a bomb of hard-charging traditional metal and blistering social commentary on the wealthy and the entitled.

Keeping up with his old band Accept isn't easy, considering what an unbelievable roll they're on with their last three records. Still, Udo Dirkschneider and those legendary teeth-gnashing vocals of his take a backseat to no one, and his most recent studio effort, the titanic Steamhammer, was simply unstoppable, a unsinkable battleship of a record that found glory in tumult. A live release that followed brought to bear all the power and majesty of this version of U.D.O.

The hope is Decadent, album No. 15 from U.D.O. and the second since the departure of longtime collaborator Stefan Kaufmann, will make Steamhammer seem like child's play, as Dirkschneider looks to eat the rich – metaphorically speaking, of course.

"Decadent behavior by privileged society exists in the whole world in completely different shades," says Udo. "Decadence is almost like a universal language. What bothers me the most is the egocentrism that goes along with that. People who have everything seem not to really care about the world around them anymore; it's like they use their own privileged status as an absolution for that. Also they do not seem to see that there's a correlation between their own luxury and the poverty of others."

Those are, indeed, fighting words. Decadent drops Feb. 3 via AFM Records.

Toto - Toto XIV
Toto – Toto XIV: On the softer side of things, there's Toto. Some may scoff, but we've missed their sterling musicianship, their ability to craft memorable pop-rock ear candy and their grandiose arrangements. And quite frankly, we all could stand some romance, some adventure and some positivity in our lives. I do sorely miss the rains down in Africa.

It's been almost 10 years since Toto's last opus, Falling in Between. A date's been set for the release of Toto XIV (they do love their roman numerals, don't they?), with the glorious event taking place March 24, courtesy of Frontiers Records Srl. It'll be coming out in all kinds of different formats, a two-LP vinyl set among them.

Guitarist Steve Lukather can barely contain his excitement. "When you put us in a room, and everybody brings in their pieces, the next thing you know it all fits together," says Lukather. "Everybody's performances are top-notch. We are really bringing our best out, forcing ourselves to make personal best choices, what's best for the music. I'm really excited to hear what people think."

Lord Dying - Poisoned Altars 2015
Lord Dying – Poisoned Altars: Time to restore some street cred. Poisoned Altars is the second outing from Lord Dying, one of the most fearsome and powerful new doom-metal outfits out there. Its churning riff magma will undoubtedly cause fiery, blackened, aural devastation and destruction on an apocalyptic level.

Will Lord Dying be able to avoid the sophomore jinx, after 2013's monstrous Summon The Faithless? That's a given, considering Toxic Holocaust's Joel Grind is handling the production end of things. Let's just go ahead and give Lord Dying a spot on the Best of 2015 list right now. Poisoned Altars comes out Jan. 27 on Relapse Records. Great cover by the way. Lord Dying, you've really outdone yourselves.

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