2011 had some really good music, but 2012 may just top it with some potential returns and brilliant up and comers. So, here it is in no particular order:
1. Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline - The Italian six-piece hits stores for the first time since 2009's Shallow Life. In a move that surprised many older fans, they returned to the studio with Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Bullet for My Valentine) in an attempt to return to their (In a) Reverie roots. Cristina and company claim that the album (out January 24th) is their heaviest album to date. "Trip the Darkness" and "Kill the Light" seem to suggest a much darker record (no pun intended) than the glammier Shallow Life.
2. Shinedown - TBA - Shinedown attempts to recreate the magic of The Sound of Madness with their upcoming fourth record. They returned to the studio with Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) and "Bully" the upcoming first single off of their new album impacts radio at the beginning of next year. It'll be interesting to hear whether the album is an extension of the über-successful Sound or whether they go back to the sound of Leave a Whisper, that first netted them a platinum record.
3. Nine Lashes - World We View - The five-piece Birmingham, AL band goes major in 2012, putting out World We View, joining Tooth and Nail while hitting the road on Redvolution 2012 with Red and Thousand Foot Krutch. Songs like "Anthem of the Lonely" and "Adrenaline" give a glimpse into an album that is sure to be on top of year end lists as their independent Escape was in '09.
4. Fireflight - Now - Fireflight returns with their fourth album and will dominate Christian rock radio yet again when their album hits on March 6th. They've consistently put out a record every two years since their existence and have consistently rocked with every release. "Stay Close" is no different. All secular rock radio needs to do now is give them the break they deserve.
5. Hurt - The Crux - After a critically acclaimed acoustic tour, Hurt will put out their sixth album on March 27th. Hurt is an anomaly in the world of major labels. Most bands would crumble after leaving or getting dropped from a major label. Hurt's response was 2009's independent release Goodbye to the Machine, an album that I consider their best release to date. Hurt moves to Carved Records for this release and I'm happy their new single "How We End Up Alone" will be one of my first music purchases of the new year.
6. Valora - I Waited For You - After a successful remix of Breaking Benjamin's "Blow Me Away" featuring lead singer Syd Duran's vocals and after following the workings of this band for the last three years, Valora finally releases their highly anticipated Hollywood Records debut on April 3rd. I Waited For You is a multimedia concept record of sorts that features a free downloadable comic book with the accompanying upcoming record.
7. Trapt - Reborn - After No Apologies and an independent album featuring a collection of re-recorded past hits, Trapt returns in April with yet another independent release. Trapt recorded "Bring It", that will likely appear on the upcoming release and it's sounds as if Trapt is going back to the sound of their self-titled that netted them their biggest hit to date, "Headstrong".
8. No Doubt - TBA - After two solo Gwen Stefani records and over 10 years on the shelf, No Doubt attempts to reclaim the throne with their upcoming sixth record. A successful tour with Paramore in 2009 inspired them to return to their ska and reggae roots for their upcoming record which should be out by next year.
9. Halestorm - TBA - Halestorm returns next year with their female-fronted classic rock flair. The four piece from Pennsylvania has been recording since the end of the Avalanche Tour and have already given fans bits and pieces of the sound of the next record with songs like "American Boys".
10. Oh No Fiasco - TBA - After tour dates with bands such as Red and Framing Hanley in 2010, Knoxville outlet Oh No Fiasco will be releasing their debut with Eleven Seven Music sometime in 2012. Their catchy synthy rock will be sure to gain the attention of droves of new fans.
11. Nine Inch Nails - TBA - After holding the last live show almost two years ago and having successful stints in movie scoring that landed Trent Reznor a Golden Globe AND an Oscar, Reznor intends to focus on bringing Nine Inch Nails back in 2012. Most fans will be happy with just about anything as it was thought that Nine Inch Nails was pretty much never going to release any more new music.