I'll let you decide what the last big thing may have been, but I don't know when I've been more excited about a new album by any band from any land, than I am about Volume IV's Long In The Tooth (Ripple Music).
Volume IV will release their debut in March 2014, and from the samples and songs I've heard, they're going to make it as the new act to beat in the upcoming year. Here's the sampler platter from Ripple Music:
The band bills themselves as being 'too rock for metal, and too metal for rock,' but while that may, or may not be true, I'm guessing there's enough to dig for any fan of either. They never grind for too long without becoming melodic and sophisticated, and they have many moments in which chugging chords segue into dynamic instrumental interludes that suggest this is one smart bunch.
There's no nu-technology to be found, the band eschews click tracks, auto-tune, and triggers, instead opting for old school musicality, and their own imaginations.
Looking Low For A High is a tune that wouldn't sound out of place in a world that had ZZ Top forming in 2013 - it's easy to drape the flag of the original 'Lil' Ole Band From Texas' over these proceedings, but while they have obviously listened to a few albums by Gibbons & company, they are also much, much more. The tune evolves into a fun-fest of great drums, syncopated guitars, and a crushing bass groove that explodes into a wicked wah-drenched solo that shreds most melodically. Joe Carpenter growls a bit, but he keeps things clean enough to decipher on the vocal side, and not too gain with the guitars. This should appeal to everyone from 18-60 if the demographic is those who love cool rock.
Starting out with slowly arpeggiated chords and a dirge of a backbeat, Save Your Servant is served well by nicely stacked harmony vocals - it's hard to play this slow and keep the train moving down the track, and Volume IV pull it off as well as anyone since Hetfield. The chorus has some cool propelling chords that keep things melodically interesting until Carpenter unwinds a splendid and all-too-short guitar solo that leads into the second verse. This bunch is wise in the way of dynamics, and this tune just keeps building and building - the drums get more agitated, the guitars louder, and then the harmonies spill out of the Marshall amps on the stairway to somewhere.
KONG is by far the heaviest item on my sample platter, and it's heavy as Hades, but its spoken/rapped verse is still in control enough to not scare off the hard rock crowd, and when the band goes into the majestic interlude between verses they will win a great many hearts within the guitar community. The whole record is chock full of moments where I half thought things were too heavy for my aging ears, but the band always brought me right back with their well tuned towards rock history ears, smarts, and passion - Volume IV have learned their lessons well, and they are going to be hard to beat in 2014.
Here's another couple of samples which explains things better than my words might:
Volume IV - coming in March on Ripple Music.