Metal Strikes Back in 2004
December 31, 2004

2004 will definitely be thought of as a year when Metal made an official "come back" in the commercial world. This is not to say that Metal ever went away, but like any genre, it ebbs and flows, and this year brought a tidal wave of good music. The beginning of the year was dominated by strong releases from Iced Earth, Damageplan, the re-united Fear Factory and Dave Grohl's Probot project, which featured Grohl backing up singers like Lemmy from Motorhead and King Diamond.

In the spring, Roadrunner Records unleashed the one-two punch of Slipknot's Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses and Killswitch Engage's The End Of Heartache. Both records spent weeks at #1 on FMQB's Metal Detector chart and it didn't take Slipknot long to invade the mainstream with their first single, "Duality." Clutch also delivered one of the best albums of their career with Blast Tyrant on DRT Entertainment.

The summer of '04 brought the heaviest Ozzfest that audiences have seen in years, featuring Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Dimmu Borgir, Slayer, Hatebreed, Unearth, Superjoint Ritual and Judas Priest reunited with Rob Halford. It also proved to be a break out tour for Atreyu, who brought in big sales for Victory Records with The Curse.

The fall was marked by the triumphant return of Megadeth with The System Has Failed (Sanctuary Records), as well as a stellar, career-making album from Mastodon, Leviathan (Relapse Records). But in spite of those two powerful releases, Metal radio was completely dominated by Shadows Fall's The War Within (Century Media) and Lamb Of God's Ashes Of The Wake (Epic Records). Those two albums spent a combined 10 weeks at #1 on the Metal Detector, from mid-September to Thanksgiving time. Now both bands are poised to become even bigger as their respective singles - "What Drives The Weak" and "Laid To Rest" - are crossing over into Active Rock territory.

Be on the lookout in 2005 as thrash veterans Overkill and Testament both release new albums on Spitfire Records. The Red Chord will be a big priority for Metal Blade, Darkest Hour will be a priority for Victory, and young Florida headbangers Trivium could be the next success story from Roadrunner. Hatebreed will make their return on Universal, and lets not forget about The Beast that is Judas Priest, coming your way with a new album on Epic in February!

Here are some Metal stats for 2004:

Most Adds in One Week: Killswitch Engage with 74
Most Weeks at #1 on the Metal Chart: Shadows Fall with 7
Most Spins Overall in 2004: Fear Factory with 13,588

- Mandy Feingold

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