Development Hell: Seven albums that have faced the dreaded musical purgatory

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Development Hell: Seven albums that have faced the dreaded musical purgatory

development hell
(Image: Travis Shinn/RCA Records)
Words by Benjamin Lamb

Revisiting seven albums stuck in limbo for years or still to this day!

We’re pretty lucky in this day and age, with most of our favourite artists and bands releasing new music consistently, as the access behind the scenes that social media provides further improves the connection we feel.

But some unfortunate fans out there have had to wait a little bit longer for the next album from their favourite groups. Today we’re diving into some of the releases that were stuck in development hell for a while, or still continue to stick in there today.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

Starship – Eiffel 65

Italian dance trio Eiffel 65 have garnered a great deal of attention with their unique blend of hip-hop and Italian influences. The group earned a Grammy nomination for their hit ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’, the track you’ve definitely danced to on once or twice in your life.

The group broke up back in 2005, two years after the release of their last self-titled album. The group reunited back in 2010, and since then, there’s been much talk about their new album Starship, but there’s still been no word on the release.

Fear Inoculum – Tool

They’ve since dropped this album, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.

Rockers Tool aren’t strangers to perfectionism, working on creating some of the most original heavy metal music within the industry. Back in 2014, fans were up in arms about the lack of a new release from the group. Due to a contentious lawsuit, the group were unable to drop a new album, working on it for years until its release in 2019.

Look Outside Your Window – Slipknot

Bet you didn’t know this one, everyone’s favourite masked metallers have an album in development hell.

Back when the group were recording their popular 2008 album All Hope is Gone, four members of Slipknot, (Corey Taylor, Jim Root, Shawn Crahan, and Sid Wilson) recorded a chiller, hard rock album called Look Outside Your Window.

There was a release set for 2020, but it’s since been moved for COVID-19, and as of 2022, there’s no new release date despite the announcement of their upcoming album due for a late September release.

I/O – Peter Gabriel

Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel has had a prolific solo career, with his 1986 release ‘Sledgehammer’ reaching the top of the charts in many spots across the globe.

The artist has been working on I/O since 1995, and reportedly is still working on it as of 2022. Each year since 2000, the artist has been asked about it, and has been actively working on it for over two decades. There have been a few singles released from it, including ‘This is Party Man’ and ‘The Veil’.

There’s no release date set.

Chinese Democracy – Guns N’ Roses

Love them or hate them, there’s no question that Guns N’ Roses are arguably one of the most prolific rock groups of our time.

After the departure of longtime members, Axl Rose sent the group into a new direction, focusing on sounds in a more industrial rock vibe. After the departure of all of their Use Your Illusion and Appetite For Destruction band members, the group went through 12 different members, using each of them across the nine-year recording process throughout development hell.

Detox – Dr Dre

The king of hip hop has had a big impact on the world of music, starting the careers of many rappers we’ve come to know and love today.

He’s got an album stuck in development hell, called Detox. Long been referred to as his “final album,” Detox was first announced back in 2002, and like many other albums on the list, the following years saw Dr Dre tease its release through references in songs, tweets, and interviews. Dr Dre did release an album back in 2015, called Straight Outta Compton, with still no reference to Detox’s release.

Untitled – Kraftwerk

Pioneers of the electronic genre, Kraftwerk last dropped an album back in 2003, Tour de France Soundtracks.

Since then, there has been a great deal of reference about an additional release, with longtime member Ralf Hütter stating back in 2012 that a new album would be released “soon”. Since this time, the band has had a number of lineup changes, putting the possibility of new music in doubt.

The Smile Sessions – The Beach Boys

One of the key elements of an album being in development hell is perfectionism. An artist doesn’t get any love out of his or her album and ends up working on it for an extended period of time. Arguably one of the music world’s biggest perfectionists is Brian Wilson, former leading songwriter of The Beach Boys.

Recorded over a six-year period from 1965-1971, the album was stuck in development hell for around 40 years. The original album Smile was unable to be finished, so the various stems and lines from the sessions were collected and joined together, and an album from the session was created, aptly titled The Smile Sessions.

Head here for more.