If there’s one thing we love in rock and metal (generally speaking), its a great comeback. Whether its nu metal champs Mudvayne returning to headline US festivals, NWOAHM stalwarts Shadows Fall reuniting for a one-off show or prog metal icons Porcupine Tree reappearing after a decade in the wilderness to headline Wembley Arena, there’s an undeniable magic to seeing classic artists back in the saddle, giving us another chance to either revisit songs we grew up with or otherwise experience something we might have missed the first time round.
Since surprise releasing the EP Gothica Fennica in March 2020 – a release which felt decidedly in-tune with his past life as goth metal heart-throb – Ville Valo has been auspiciously absent from well… everything, not making a peep since the pandemic hit. Whether that’s because he is working on a big new project that he doesn’t want getting sidelined by the lack of touring remains to be seen, but we can still hope that somewhere in a dark room in Finland plans are being hatched for the return of His Infernal Majesty in all their gothic splendor.
2. Big Black
Steve Albini has never particularly expressed much interest in revisiting his breakthrough band Big Black, preferring instead to focus on his career as a much-sought after producer while indulging his creative inclinations in Shellac. The noise rock legends’ only reunion came in 2006 as part of the 25th celebration for label Touch And Go, with Albini expressing a distaste for any future returns even then. Even so, Albini has been more open in recent years about the problematic nature of Big Black’s lyrical content, adding that although always intended with humor, such subtext was often lost in translation. With the band now passing the four-decade mark (and the 40th anniversary of their debut release Lungs looming), it would be fascinating to see Albini bring his old band back for one last ride to address past wrongs.
Back when Isis came around in the late 90s, post-metal was barely past its ‘metronomic Neurosis and Swans yard-sale riffs’ stage until Oceanic helped define what we know now as post-metal. Since disbanding in 2010 the band’s only hint of any major reformation was when they came back together as ‘Celestial’ (the title of their debut record) to play a benefit show for the family of Cave In bassist Caleb Scofield, who had died in a road accident in March 2018. Back in 2010 the band said they had ‘done all they wanted to do and said all they wanted to say’, but over a decade on we wouldn’t say no to the grand-daddies of the genre coming back to claim their throne.
4. Celtic Frost
With each year it seems more people become aware of the utter genius of Celtic Frost, Hellhammer and Tom G. Warrior. With the passing of bassist Martin Eric Ain in 2017 it seemed a ‘full’ Celtic Frost reunion would never be on the cards. But Warrior did make allusions to some ‘tribute’ shows in a late 2021 interview, stating “it would not be a permanent project, nor would it be ‘Celtic Frost,’ in spite of the fact that it would only comprise of Celtic Frost alumni. It would simply be a means to pay deference, perhaps for one or two concerts, to the deceased co-founder of the band. Will it ever happen? Only Satan knows right now.” Either way, we’d take it for one last chance to celebrate one of the most innovative bands in extreme metal.
5. The Dillinger Escape Plan
The Dillinger Escape Plan’s decision to disband in 2017 was a shock – after all, the band had neither fallen out of favour nor reached a vintage where a quiet retirement seemed on the cards. Instead, the band’s decision was made on purely creative and pragmatical grounds, deciding to go out on a high note before any rot could set in. Considering the vastly different directions the musicians have gone in since the group disbanded (from composing and managing other bands to working as session musicians and establishing their own individual projects), it doesn’t look like DEP would have any reason to reunite in 2022, but we can but hope to see their idiosyncratic brilliance come around again.
Speaking of hyperactive scene-kings, Heck came and went like a flash fire, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake that had many clamoring for more. Part of a vanguard of incredibly exciting bands to emerge in the UK in the early 2010s, Heck’s only full-length Instructions was a tantalizing hint to what could have been. With so many of those bands having either officially split or otherwise disappeared in subsequent years, we can’t help but wish to see them come back around again, if only for a victory lap. Drummer Tom Marsh and vocalist/guitarist Matt Reynolds have kept the racket going beautifully with Haggard Cat, but we wouldn’t say no to having a double-dose of brilliance given the chance.
So it may be a bit premature, hoping that letlive. come back in 2022, but we’d absolutely take them up on even the announcement of a reunion ahead of the tenth anniversary of the groundbreaking The Blackest Beautiful. Jason Aalon Butler’s breakthrough group seeming more vital and ahead-of-their-time with each passing year. While Butler has stayed busy with projects like Fever333 and Pressure Cracks, letlive. always looked to be a band on the cusp of breaking through to the mainstream in a huge way and we certainly wouldn’t begrudge a second coming from the incendiary group.
On indefinite hiatus since 2018, stoner metal pioneers Sleep seemingly missed any chance to mark the 30th anniversary of their debut album, Volume 1 in 2021. But, as most Sleep fans will tell you, the band didn’t truly come into their own until 1992’s Holy Mountain, that album effectively crystallizing a shift from doom metal traditions to their own spin on the stoner sound. Matt Pike already has a busy 2022 on the cards with a solo debut to promote and work apparently underway on a follow-up to High On Fire’s Grammy award-winning Electric Messiah, but as the adage goes ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it’.
Pre-pandemic, British prog/doom legends Anathema appeared to be gearing up for the release of their twelfth studio album, only to announce they were going on ‘indefinite hiatus’ in September. Their statement explained that they had “faced unpredictable challenges, which impacted both out professional and personal situations. In this hardest of times, events over the last year have left us with no option to go on indefinite hiatus.” It was a grim forecast, but in the time since its members have begun rumbling with new projects, vocalist Vincent Cavanagh focusing on The Radicant while guitarist Daniel Cavanagh announced new solo album Cellar Door. With shows steadily coming back and its members staying active, there is hope that Anathema may still come back in the near future.
10. Twisted Sister
In the five years since Twisted Sister were put to rest, Dee Snider has continued to wave the flag proudly for heavy metal, his fifth solo album Leave A Scar delivering the goods with anthemic fist-pumping brilliance. Even so, we wouldn’t say no to a return from his flagship band, Twisted Sister bringing exactly the kind of feelgood anthems we need after everything that has happened in the past two years. Snider has suggested a reunion isn’t entirely off the cards, but also that the band wouldn’t be coming back as a full force. “I would absolutely reunite with the guys for a song or two for a charity or for a moment[…] Go out and do a 90[-minute] or two-hour set as Twisted Sister again? I don’t see that happening.” Cheers for clearing that one up, Dee.