Can 2013 beat the stellar crop of albums that were released this year?
UG readers recently voted on their most anticipated releases of 2013.
And judging by the resulting list, there's plenty to look forward to.
10. 30 Seconds To Mars
Jared Leto says their forth studio album will be "stronger, better and more evolved" than previous efforts. Speaking to BBC Radio 1, he said it will be "a complete transformation for us... I really think that this could be the best thing that we've ever done." A sensible goal - let's hope they live up to his promises.
9. Them Crooked Vultures
The supergroup of Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) will return with a second album, though it's not guaranteed for 2013.
"We may be a year or so [away from completing the album]," he said in November. "It will mainly be excess material from the first album, material we started and never finished because we had to go and play the stuff we already recorded!"
8. System Of A Down
Alas, a new SOAD album might be hotly anticipated by UG readers but in May singer Serj Tankian said there were no concrete plans for a new record. That doesn't mean it won't ever happen, though, and drummer John Dolmayan keeps hinting that something will come together eventually. Let's hope they get a burst of inspiration and figure something out before 2013 is over.
7. Pearl Jam
If everything goes to plan, the long-awaited new Pearl Jam album will be out in the first half of 2013. Back in May they said it was 3/4 finished and were aiming to complete recording sessions by the end of the year, but there's been no update so far. Of course, we're happy to see them take their time over something so important.
6. Rage Against The Machine
Bassist Tim Commerford has been teasing journalists with plans to record a brand new RATM album, but guitarist Tom Morello has been explicit in saying it wouldn't happen. Then again, he later said some members of the band are up for it, which means there's some hope that he'll eventually come around to the idea.
"When bands make albums, it's because everybody wants to, and that's not the case with Rage Against The Machine at the moment," he said in November. "Everyone in the band gets along very well, we consider each other friends and comrades in arms, but people sometimes don't feel ready to do it... If at some point Rage were to get it together to work more, I would be open to that, but that's not on the table right now."
Live in hope, eh?
It's been more than 6 years since the last Tool album "10,000 Days", which is long even by Tool's standard 5-year album cycle. Drummer Danny Carey said they were hitting the studio in June and would take around four months to finish everything, but here we are five months later with our noses still pressed to the proverbial window.
Fortunately, their friend and webmaster heard some of the new demos this week and described what he heard:
"Dare I say that it sounded like Tool (some of it reminiscent to earlier Tool stuff, with other parts pushing the envelope), and I assume that it will sound even more like Tool once the vocal melodies, etc. have been added."
He guesses that the album is more than half finished, but the band are so secretive that we probably won't hear the final announcement until the last minute.
The guitar masters will be back with their 14th studio album soon, after the band went back to work on it this month.
"Some of it's a little darker, some of it's a little faster," said Dave Mustaine. "Being in this position right now, not knowing where we're gonna go or what we're gonna do, it's kind of like the world's ours to do what we want.
"Are we gonna go back to the speed and thrash metal roots that made us who we are? Are we gonna experiment and rely on the melody that we've discovered in Megadeth songs?"
We don't know, Dave. Tell us, please!
3. Black Sabbath
It could be one of the most eagerly anticipated metal records of all time (though to be fair, it only made it to number 3 on this list). Since announcing their reunion, they've battled through a legal drama with founding drummer Bill Ward, and guitarist Tony Iommi has been fighting cancer since his diagnosis last January.
But they're pressing forward with the recording with producer Rick Rubin, and have most of the album recorded already. Let's hope it arrives soon.
2. Alice In Chains
Production on their first album since "Black Gives Way To Blue" three years ago was completed this month.
It's been a slow process; they were busy on it in 2011 until guitarist Jerry Cantrell had to undergo shoulder surgery, but they got back on track and it's set for a 2013 release.
Cantrell says fans have a lot to look forward to: "In my opinion, [our last comeback record] stood up to anything else we've put out in our career. And this new one is right up there as well."
1. Queens Of The Stone Age
Said to be their strangest recording yet, the new QOTSA album was supposed to be finished in 2011. It's not clear what caused the hold-up, but a cryptic letter from the band last week tried to explain:
"In our grand plan, we envisioned our lives and recordings running like clockwork [sic]," it said. "However, the reality has been manic and unpredictable. These songs aren't recollections of times we had. They are depictions of what we are going through in real time." Ooh, the drama!
Frontman Josh Homme's legal battle with his former bandmates in Kyuss in early 2012 probably didn't help matters, but now they're back on track and have a blinding cast of rockstars on the roster. Dave Grohl is on drums, Trent Reznor is helping out with electronic sounds, former bassist Nick Oliveri is back on the team and they just announced that Scissor Sisters singer Jake Shears is taking part too.
In our minds, this album has been the most anticipated record of both 2011, 2012 and now 2013. Please Josh, let us hear just one song!
That's the end of our roundup of anticipated releases. What else have you heard about that you're looking forward to next year? Let us know about it in the comments.