Fall Music Preview

Our 25 Most Anticipated Albums of the Fall

EW's picks for the best of the upcoming albums by established acts and critical favorites

1

System of a Down

Not Yet Titled It's been three years since the asphalt-thick riffs and freaky operatic vocals of Toxicity helped begin radio's slow climb out of its nü-metal morass, and although the 2002 outtakes comp Steal This Album! was a nice little snack to tide us over, we're getting impatient. ''Don't expect the same thing that you heard in Toxicity and Steal,'' warns guitarist and songwriter Daron Malakian, who cites European black metal bands (his favorite: Satyricon) as inspiration just before waxing rhapsodic over the Beatles' White Album. ''But I wouldn't say we've completely lost our identity, either. We're going into a lot of new musical ground. I just feel like the music is more mature in a lot of ways.'' So what will it all sound like? Though Malakian avoids specifics, he promises an orchestra, some obscure Middle Eastern instruments, and ''pure schizophrenia. It's what System has always been, man. I'm a moody person.'' (Dec. 7)

2

Eminem

Encore He's given white rap street cred, powered a Hollywood flick, and turned a so-so crew of Detroit MCs (D12) into chart-topping stars. Now America's favorite speed-rapping, profanity-spewing, button-pushing Caucasian continues his incredible streak with a fourth solo album -- and the product is under tighter security than the Bush twins. But according to sources in the Shady secret service, Encore will sound a lot like, well, Eminem: crude wit, intricate rhymes, and once again a disc produced by Marshall himself and Dr. Dre. Oh yeah, one more thing: It's gonna be huge. (Nov. 16)

3

U2

Not Yet Titled Maybe they really couldn't leave All That You Can't Leave Behind behind. Typically, U2 have undertaken some startling changes of direction between albums, but that's not the case with their latest disc. A preview of a nearly completed version reveals that if anything, it's even more guitar-oriented, hopeful, straightforward, and irony-free. Rock radio will love the first single, ''Vertigo,'' which has the Edge riffing as if to win over kids weaned on Jet and Velvet Revolver. (November)

4

Destiny's Child

In the two and a half years since their last album, they've been sitting around bored and lonely. Yeah, right. Michelle Williams starred in a Broadway show, Kelly Rowland scored a hit with Nelly, and Beyoncé, well, just call her the Queen of All Media. The supreme soul trio managed to clear just two months this summer to record tracks for the group's fifth studio album. In fact, the album isn't quite finished yet, so some details -- like, say, a title -- aren't available. But Rowland promises that the disc will ''definitely show a side of Destiny's Child that a lot of people haven't seen.'' Which means, we think, more sex! ''We talk about a lot more, um...mature subjects,'' she says with a giggle. ''You know...situations that older people go through.'' Heavyweight producers like Rodney Jerkins and Rockwilder contribute to the CD, and titles include ''Game Over'' and ''Cater to You,'' which Rowland explains ''is about a woman catering to her man in every aspect you can think of.'' Is it hot in here? (Nov. 16)

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