Sure, 2010 was the year of metal dreams come true -- especially the Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax) burying all their weapons to tour overseas this year -- but what we're looking forward to is that tour finally hitting the States in 2011. It's already been confirmed that the thrash legends are headlining Sonisphere festival in the UK this coming summer with a tour surrounding it, so there should be nothing holding back an announcement of US dates at this point. But until then, we're just going to have to wait.

This year, the death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray rocked the metal world, and until the recent announcement of European festival dates, like Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium in June, UK's Sonisphere in July and Brazil's Rock in Rio in September, there was no clue about whether the band members were going to hang up their masks due to the loss of their longtime friend and fellow founding member. There's still no concrete answer as to who will take Gray's place on stage and if that person will actually join the band or act as a touring bassist hanging back in the shadows. No matter what the situation decided upon, that first performance in 2011 will be the most passionate and hate-filled set from Slipknot that anyone will ever see.

Don't call it a comeback -- or a reunion, for that matter -- because the enigmatic rockers of System of a Down never technically broke up. They just went their separate ways until the demand to take the stage became completely undeniable. The foursome will be doing a complete festival tour in Europe in June, but hopefully we won't have to wait too long for one of hard rock's best live acts to come to a city near us.

After all the drama that came from Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy leaving the band he founded, it's high time for his replacement to be named, as the band is slated to begin recording a new album in January. Guitarist John Petrucci has already said the prog outfit has found its new drummer and is "bursting at the seams" to let us all know. Whoever has been chosen to man the kit has big shoes to fill. Taking the place held by one of metal's best drummers is not going to be an easy transition for the band or the fans.

It seems bittersweet, but we're looking forward to seeing the iconic Judas Priest next year. Nothing compares to seeing metal beasts Rob Halford and company laying stages to waste, but it'll be tough since this is going to be Priest's last tour. With members bearing down on 60, this time had to some. So this year we're going to raise the horns and send one of metal's forefathers off in celebration.

There are already a lot of albums speculated to be out next year. With conflicting reports and schedules seemingly being filled quickly with tours, we should be looking forward to these potential records in 2011: Members of Megadeth, Lamb of God and Tool have all commented that writing has begun for their next releases. It's been close to five years since Tool unleashed the hauntingly powerful '10,000 Days' upon us. It seems the time for a new record is near, so now it's a question of the planets and schedules aligning to make it happen.

What we can bet on is new releases from space rockers Cave In, their first full-length since reuniting, the long overdue Joey Belladonna-fronted Anthrax album since 'Worship Music' was shelved, an EP from French technical masters Gorija and the new Devin Townsend release, 'Z2,' which is said to be a musical sequel to his 2007 album 'Ziltoid the Omniscient.'

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