Notorious Gaps Between Albums: Bands That “Took Awhile” – Tool, Wire, Swans & More

They say good things come to those who wait, and in the case of some artists, that wait can be a very, very long time when it comes to releasing albums. While most bands typically crank-out a new record every 2-3 years on average (or in some cases every year for more prolific acts), other bands have taken upwards of a decade or more to finally deliver a follow-up album to their often impatient/loyal fanbases. Indeed, music history is full of bands who definitely took their sweet ass times producing highly anticipated follow-up albums. In most cases, it was worth the wait, but in others? Not so much.

To investigate further, let’s take a look at some of the longest gaps between album releases in music history, gaps that were so long (decade or more) they left their fanbases shivering with antici…pation!

Dinosaur Jr.

Album Gap: 10 years (1997-2007)

Worth the wait? Yes

Whenever you’re talking about a full decade gap between album releases, chances are many bands underwent some sort of significant lineup change during their hiatus, or in some cases temporarily broke-up altogether. Such was the case with Dinosaur Jr. when they effectively called in quits shortly after the release of the generally lackluster Hand It Over in 1997. 8 years later, the original members of the band reunited and starting touring again, which eventually led to the release of 2007’s Beyond, a triumphant return to form that was met with mostly positive reviews. Dinosaur Jr. haven’t really looked back since, haven released 4 additional (mostly good) albums, which is a pretty respectable cadence for a band that made us wait a full decade from the late 90s to the late 2000s. 

Portishead 

Album Gap: 11 years (1997-2008)

Worth the wait? Yes

Another group that decided to take a long break after releasing an album in 1997, Portishead suddenly came out of nowhere over a decade later with the stellar follow-up to their self-titled album, 2008’s Third. The cerebrally haunting/moody album proved to be very much worth the wait, ranking right up there with both of their classic 90s releases. And yet, here we are again, in 2021, some 13 years later, patiently waiting and hoping Portishead drops another brilliant surprise album on us. Any year now…

Wire

Album Gap: 12 years (1991-2003) and 8 years (1979-1987)

Worth the wait? No/Yes

For some bands, keeping their fans waiting for albums isn’t just a one-time thing. In the case of Wire, the 8-year gap between 1979’s 154 to 1987’s The Ideal Copy just wasn’t long enough, so they had to one-up themselves with another lengthy hiatus between 1991’s The First Letter and 2003’s Send. While most people probably would not have considered their initial 8-year gap worth the wait (apologies to fans of The Ideal Copy), the strength of the industrial-flavored Send that came after their 2nd hiatus definitely was and is arguably the best album they’ve put out since their 2nd resurrection began back in 2003.

Jane’s Addiction

Album Gap: 13 years (1990-2003)

Worth the wait? No

When the band broke-up shortly after the release of 1990’s classic Ritual de lo Habitual, few people ever expected they’d get another Jane’s Addiction reunion. But after some brief/sporadic shows in the late 90s/early 2000s, new album rumors started to flourish, which finally led to the release of Strays in 2003. While the album was generally met with positive reviews, it would have been nearly impossible to capture the magic/energy of their sound from over a decade earlier. That said, while not quite in the same league as their classic albums, its still a let down in an era where many new alternative bands (The Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket) were claiming new crowns.

Tool

Album Gap: 13 years (2006-2019)

Worth the wait? Yes

Perhaps the most infamous of all album gaps, Tool left their notoriously ravenous fanbase aching for 13 long years for a follow-up to 2006’s 10,000 Days. The day finally arrived in 2019 with the release of Fear Inoculum, an album that was met with mostly positive reviews, and surely pleased Tool’s diehard following. That said, it’s difficult to claim that Fear Inoculum ranks up there with Tool’s best albums, but considering the same could also be said of 10,000 Days, technically we could put this one in the “worth the wait” category for Maynard & co.

A Perfect Circle

Album Gap: 14 years (2004-2018)

Worth the wait? No

Hey, speaking of that Maynard guy, he also fronts another critically acclaimed/highly successful band by the name of A Perfect Circle, which actually one-upped Tool when it came to extensive gaps between albums. But while you could make an argument that Tool’s 13-year gap was worth the wait, it’s hard to say the same for A Perfect Circle’s 14-year gap between 2004’s Emotive and 2018’s disappointing Eat The Elephant. While not a wholly bad album, Eat the Elephant definitely left a lot to be desired when compared to everything that came before it, often sounding like an aimless, uninspired, and overall tedious listening experience. Sorry Maynard, they can’t all be zingers.

Aphex Twin 

Album Gap: 13 years (2001-2014)

Worth the wait? Yes

After the release of Aphex Twin’s somewhat underrated Drukqs in 2001, Richard D. James seemingly disappeared into the ether for well over a decade, before finally resurfacing with the critically acclaimed Syro in 2014. Revealing new layers with repeated listens, Syro has proven to be one of Aphex Twin’s best albums, in the same league as most of their classic 90s output, so would have to emphatically put Syro in the “worth the wait” category

Godflesh

Album Gap: 13 years (2001-2014)

Worth the wait? Yes (for industrial-metal fans)

Another electronic-tinged group (albeit of a much bleaker/pulverizing variety) who decided to take a hiatus between 2001 and 2014, the industrial-metal titans finally awoke from their doomy existential slumber in 2014 with the release of A World Lit Only by Fire, which is pound-for-pound one of the best albums in their entire catalog. Worth the wait? If devastatingly dark heavy industrial-metal riffs are your thing, then absolutely!

Swans

Album Gap: 14 years (1996-2010)

Worth the wait? Yes

Speaking of devastatingly heavy dark bands (albeit of a more cerebral/experimental variety), the OG’s of that sound (who were obviously a huge influence on the aforementioned Godflesh) made a triumphant return after a 14-year hiatus with 2010’s My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. Producing a worthy follow-up to the brilliant Soundtracks for the Blind (released in 1996) was certainly no easy task, but as they had done may times before, Michael Gira and company rose to the occasion to deliver another truly compelling piece of 

Eyehategod

Album Gap: 14 years (2000-2014)

Worth the wait? Yes (for sludge-metal fans)

Sticking with ridiculously dark/heavy bands, NOLA sludge-metal legends Eyehategod returned after a 14-year hiatus with their self-titled album released in 2014. While EHG are certainly an acquired taste (to say the least), it’s almost impossible to argue that their long awaited self-titled album was not an improvement over 2000’s Confederacy of Ruined Lives. By contrast, their self-titled album sounded sharper, leaner, and certainly no less meaner, all in all amounting to one of the best albums in their entire discography. Definitely worth the wait (for fans of blisteringly filthy sludge-metal anyway).

Alice In Chains

Album Gap: 14 years (1995-2009)

Worth the wait? Yes (bittersweetly) 

Sometimes it’s difficult to release a timely follow-up album when your lead singer becomes enveloped in the throes of heroin addiction and tragically passes away. Such was sadly the case when legendary frontman Layne Staley left us all too soon in 2002. It took a few years after that for Alice In Chains to pick up the pieces, but when they finally returned with a new extremely talented vocalist in William DuVall for 2009’s comeback album Black Gives Way to Blue, the results were surprisingly good. While not exactly in the same league as their classic 90s albums, the band sounded undeniably rejuvenated and strong throughout most of Black Gives Way to Blue, thanks largely to DuVall’s uncanny ability to channel the late/great Layne Staley’s vocal tone/energy/etc. While it’s somewhat bittersweet to hear and nearly impossible to top the magic of the band’s heyday, you kind of have to admire the band’s valiant effort here. Worth the wait? “Check My Brain” tips it slightly in the “yes” category for yours truly.

Soundgarden

Album Gap: 16 years (1996-2012)

Worth the wait? Barely (R.I.P. Chris Cornell)

Alice In Chains were not the only legendary grunge band to release a comeback album after a long hiatus. Take Soundgarden, who finally reunited in the studio in 2012 to create Kind Animal, the long-awaited follow-up to 1996’s Down on the Upside. All-in-all, while not a bad album by any means, King Animal definitely left a little to be desired, especially when compared to the band’s classic albums like Superunknown and Badmotorfinger. That said, it could be argued (if you’re feeling generous) that King Animal isn’t too far behind Down on The Upside in terms of overall quality, and considering it proved to be Chris Cornell’s swansong with Soundgarden, it makes listening to the album a little more special now that he is gone. That alone tips this one slightly into the “yes” category.

A Tribe Called Quest

Album Gap: 18 years (1998-2016)

Worth the wait? Absolutely!

In the 18 years between the release of 1998’s The Love Movement and their comeback album We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, A Tribe Called Quest’s legacy had truly grown to legendary status and they were considered to be one of (if not the) greatest hip-hop groups of all-time. Mind you, that was before they dropped one of the best hip-hop albums of the entire decade with 2016’s We Got it from Here…an album that was really a tour-de-force of everything that made Tribe such a beloved and critically-acclaimed act. It was an album that was fully embraced by old-heads and the new school alike, and with good reason: it can stand toe-to-toe with any of their classic 90s albums. Quite a feat for a group coming back after 18 years and dealing with the untimely death of Phife Dawg no less (R.I.P.).

Faith No More

Album Gap: 18 years (1997-2015)

Worth the wait? For FNM fans – yes (for everyone else – probably not)

After the release of 1997’s (kind of underrated) Album of the Year, Faith No More promptly called it quits, and Mike Patton seemingly went on his merry way diving head-first into his countless other side projects, keeping quite busy up to the surprise release of 2015’s Sol Invictus. Granted Faith No More had reunited to tour a fair amount in the run-up to that album, so maybe it wasn’t a total surprise when Sol Invictus dropped, but after 18 years, a new Faith No More album couldn’t help but feel like a novel idea. And while Sol Invictus isn’t in the same league as The Real Thing or Angel Dust, it is just good enough to kind of chomp at the heels of albums like King For A Day… and the aforementioned Album of the Year. So overall, after an almost 2 decades wait, it was certainly worth the wait, at least for Faith No More fans anyway

Pixies

Album Gap: 23 years (1991-2014)

Worth the wait? No

Similar to Mike Patton, Black Francis also kept fairly busy in the 23 years between the release of 1991’s classic Trompe le Monde and the Pixies 2014 comeback album Indie Cindy. Unfortunately, Indie Cindy was met with largely mixed reviews (at best), as a lot of folks (myself included) wondered if they were tarnishing their legacy. That’s not to say that Indie Cindy is a terrible album really, but it is safe to say that it was nowhere near the quality of any of their classics. It’s certifiably mediocre (again, at best), and for a band like The Pixies who had released nothing short of great albums in their heyday, the mediocrity sounded particularly disappointing and jarring to listen to, especially after a 23 year wait.

The Who

Album Gap: 24 years (1982-2006)

Worth the wait? Sure, it’s The Who

After the release of 1982’s It’s Hard, The Who effectively broke-up, retiring from touring safe for some partial reunion tours that sporadically occurred over the next decade or two. But for all intents and purposes, their days as a studio band were assumed completely over, until they surprised everyone and released their comeback album Endless Wire in 2006, a whopping 24 years after It’s Hard. But after 24 years, was it worth the wait? The answer to that question probably depends on how big of a Who fan you are, but judging from the generally lukewarm reception from critics, safe to say that is probably not a definitive “yes” to say the least. But hey, this is The Who we’re talking about, one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, so in our book, any addition to their catalog is a nice gift, regardless if it holds up to the almost impossibly high standards they created for themselves.

The Stooges

Album Gap: 34 years (1973-2007)

Worth the wait? No

So, we’ve seen bands that wait a decade or two between albums, but The Stooges really took the cake with a staggering 34 year gap between the release of their classic Raw Power album in 1973, and, well, uh, st in 2007. In a nutshell, 34 years is a really really really long time, so one would naturally expect the band to be missing some of the original fire or spark they had back in 1973, but as it turned out, The Weirdness was missing a lot more than that. What’s particularly missing here is a sense of memorable hooks, grooves, nuance, coherence, or inspiration really. It’s literally just some old guys that got back together and cranked out some jams that simply fail to coalesce into anything compelling or enjoyable. It just kind of happens, and it’s just never really any good. So, as alluded to earlier, the old adage of good things come to those who wait is not always true when it comes to long gaps between albums. Just ask Stooges fans.

Related Content

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide

Twitter