– With all respect to the previous Anthrax album WORSHIP MUSIC this one blows it away 100%! FOR ALL KINGS is everything you could ever want from the band. Great song writing, strong melodies and excellent vocals from Joey Belladonna. FOR ALL KINGS is the bands most versatile album to date and also one of their best best albums to date.
2. Megadeth: Dystopia
In brief, DYSTOPIA brings Megadeth back in form. After somewhat disappointing and messy SUPER COLIDER and several line-up changes the band is back where it belongs. DYSTOPIA is full of excellent guitar playing and killer riffs. This album stands right next to the bands classic albums like RUST IN PEACE and YOUTHANAUSEA.
3. Avantasia: Ghostligts
GHOSTLIGHTS is another masterpiece from Tobias Sammet. The album might be little bit more straight forward and even more commercial than its predecessors but it’s still a high quality stuff from the beginning to the end.
4. Metal Church: XI
The comeback album of the year! I’m sure that the return of Mike Howe was something that no one expected to happen, ever. Luckily it did and as a result we now received one of the best metal albums released in year 2016.
5. The Dead Daisies: Make Some Noise
MAKE SOME NOISE continues where the previous album REVOLUTION left off last year. John Corabi sounds fantastic and the bands latest addition Doug Aldrich brings in fresh energy and new elements to the song writing.
6. Testament: Brotherhood of the Snake
7. Glenn Hughes: Resonate
8. Denner/Sherman: Masters of Evil
9. Zakk Wylde: Book of Shadows II
10. Graham Bonnet: The Book
11. Dream Theater: The Astonishing
12. Airbourne: Straight To Hell
13. Sixx A.M: Prayers For The Damned vol 1
14. Blackthorne: Don’t Kill The Thrill
15. Kee Marcello: Scaling Up
16. Last In Line: Heavy Crown
17. Death Angel: The Evil Divide
18. Magnum: Sacred Blood Divine Lies
19. Suicidal Tendencies: World Gone Mad
20. Rage: The Devil Strikes Back Again
Phil Campbells’s and the Bastards Sons / ST
With this EP Phil proves what he can still create killer songs and riffs even without Lemmy. Check it out !
BEST COVER ALBUM
Ace Frehley: The Originals vol 1.
Nothing spectacular but the Spaceman does a great job there. Especially Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” and super cool version KISS’s “Rock n Roll Hell” make this album worth to check for everyone who loves good rock’n roll.
KISS – Rocks Las Vegas
Excellent DVD release from KISS. What makes this different to any other KISS DVD release is that this one was filmed in such an intimate atmosphere in Las Vegas residency. A great set list with amazing show, as always.
MOTLEY CRUE – The End Motley Crue finished its long career with dignity and this DVD is a brilliant memory from the very last show they did on New Years eve of 2015.
RICHIE BLACKMORE’s RAINBOW – Memories in rock
Although the band line-up and performance is not as great as hoped it’s still “the man in black”, finally performing all the hits he created during the last four decades. Hopefully there’s more to come and perhaps with updated line-up then?
BEST BOOKS 2016
SEBASTIAN BACH – 18 and Life. – A good read for any hard rock / metal head.
BEST CONCERTS 2016
KISS Kruise VI, KISS indoor show I’ve seen about 100 KISS shows and this one was one of the best ever. It was just mind-blowing to hear such rarely / never played gems as “Radioactive”, “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me”, “Rock n roll Hell” and “Keep Me Comin'”
MICHAEL SCHENKER, Swedenrock 2016 Michael Schenker played amazing show with the classic MSG rhythm section and with 3 different vocalists in Swedenrock. Graham Bonnet, Gary Barden and Robin McAuley are legends and they all were great. The set set was pure gold. There was some real magic in the air that night.
QUEEN, Sweden Rock 2016
I know, Queen is not metal and Freddie Mercury is not there anymore, but still the Queen show was easily one of the best things that I saw live in 2016. Let the music do the talking could be the right term to use here.
BIGGEST HOPES FOR 2017
There are many interesting albums from “old school” bands coming out in 2017. Accept, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Saxon etc. – Many great shows/tours are already booked up: Aerosmith’s Farevell tour, KISS’s European tour, Guns ‘n Roses and more. It’s going to be a good concert year for sure.
There’s going to another run of great festivals in Europe. Sweden Rock, Bang Your Head, Hellfest, Wacken. Metal is alive and well in Europe!!
DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE YEAR:
Brian Johnson’s exit from AC/DC. This one should have handled better although Axl did a great job.
The number of dead rock stars in 2016… David Bowie, Nick Menza, Jimmy Bain, Rick Parfitt…
The state of music industry. Album sales etc… It’s really bad and it’s getting worse all the time. The last person in the house can turn off the lights.. 🙁
DEE SNIDER : We Are The Ones
This album was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. Who could have believed that legendary Dee Snider is someday going to release such bland and useless album as WE ARE THE ONES. The best part of this album is the cover art which looks cool. Snider’s voice is still as good as ever and a piano version of Twisted Sister classic “We’re Not Gonna Take It” sounds good. BUT… there are nine other tracks on the album. None of the songs are great. There are two ok tracks (“So What” and the title track), 3 listenable tracks but the rest is something what should have been left unreleased. When a man in his 60’s is trying to change his musical style and image and create something completely new it rarely works. Snider makes no exception here. Musically, Snider is now completely lost. Most of the songs are boring and average pop songs with nothing inside. Those are like empty shells. It’s really sad if this album is going to remain Snider’s last album release. A legend deserves a better ending if you ask me.
On February 24th, Six Feet Under returns with their 12th studio album, Torment, and a new leap in intensity. There’s plenty of classic Six Feet Undergroove to be had on Torment, but fans will note a much more aggressive approach, and even more blast beats throughout. This is a cantankerous Six Feet Under with absolutely nothing to prove. This is Six Feet Under at their most deadly.
I knew this was going to be my album of the year after only a few repeated spins. This album instantly sinks its hooks in you. The lyrics are superb, the vocals delivered powerfully and with conviction, the musicianship top notch. Love the imagery, the savagery and the mastery of the seventies inspired heavy metal contained within. This album is very pure and of the highest caliber of supreme ass-kickery. I strongly recommend With “Whips And Chains” to all fans of heavy metal.
2. Salvacion – Way More Unstoppable: Redux
Really, really enjoyed this album from start to finish. I killed so many beers in 2016 spinning this CD. A constant companion on the road or at home. Looking forward to what these guys do next now that they have a steady lineup in place featuring Reid Rogers on guitar, also of Knightmare.
3. Ranger – Speed and Violence
The album cover for “Speed and Violence” instantly garnered my immediate attention. The speed metal these guys play is both aggressive and yet hypnotic, entrancing you into another dimension of eighties speed metal madness while also reminding me a lot of a young Exciter. These guys need to tour the U.S. pronto! What a killer album of unrelenting metal fury!
4. UADA – Devoid of Light
5. Toby Knapp – The Architect of Paradox
6. Seax – Speed Metal Mania
7. Attacker – Sins Of The World
8. Waxen – Weihung auf Satan
9. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker
10. Sacred Steel – Heavy Metal Sacrifice
11. Running Wild – Rapid Foray
12. Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper – Walking In The Shadows
13. Spellcaster – Night Hides The World
14. Abbath – Abbath
15. Destroyer 666 – Wildfire
16. Helstar – Vampiro
17. The Great Electric Quest – Chapter I
18. Metal Church – XI
19. Hammerfall – Built To Last
20. Iron Curtain – Guilty As Charged
Brute Forcz – Brute Forcz
It’s like these guys can do no wrong. With a gasoline chugging’ Motorhead inspired delivery and a song title like “Phat Ass Girls”? Count me in. Love this band.
Glacier – Glacier EP
Cult Metal Classics spared no expense on the fine job they did on the Glacier reissue. This EP is chock full of extensive liner notes and archival photos. I’ve never seen such deluxe packaging for an EP and this timeless metal classic definitely warranted such meticulous treatment. A must have for all fans of traditional heavy metal.
The Dictators NYC (San Antonio, Texas)
Ross The Boss and company always deliver an amazing performance. I was lucky enough earlier this year to catch The Dictators on a Friday night in Austin and then a Sunday night in San Antonio. Both shows were fucking incredible but the energy level of the San Antonio show was through the roof. The band was on! The crowd was getting loud and rowdy and The Dictators NYC delivered all of the hits, all night long.
Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse (Chicago, Illinois)
I could probably write a book about my two trips to the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse festival in 2014 and 2016 (I performed on the mainstage in 2014 with my band WITCHES MARK and with IGNITOR in 2016) but I’ll try and keep things brief. We started making friends as soon as we caught a train from the airport to the hotel. There is a medium sized contingent of headbangers from all over the U.S. and Canada that descend upon Chicago each Spring to pay tribute to a handful of eighties overlords and a smattering of obscure American and Canadian traditional metal groups, many of which have only released a debut album or demo. This makes for a weekend jam packed full of headbanging and partying at the South Loop hotel. I was approached in the hotel lobby by a group of headbangers that had taken a liking to my Riot “Thundersteel” t-shirt. The next thing I know we’re smoking and drinking in their beyond trashed hotel room where a beer is firmly planted through the wall and empty cases lay strewn about the floor. I felt like I had come home. The people, the bands, the weekend as a whole was an unforgettable experience. As I purchased my final beer, I stumbled bleary eyed over to the merch table and bought a one dollar raffle ticket. After Medieval Steel’s thunderous set had concluded, I won an Ibanez guitar signed by all of the band’s. Score! Sadly, 2017’s fest was cancelled but a few of the Ragnarokkr’s promoters have booked the Legions of Metal Fest and already added many of the acts set to appear at Ragnarokkr 2017. Keep an eye on that fest for sure!
Best Chest In The West
You know what? I usually prefer brunettes but with tit’s like Jesse Jane’s she could have purple hair for all I care!
The older I get the less I care about quality and drink-ability and the more I gravitate towards quantity. Now, I’m not ready to gargle Steel Reserve or anything, but when I found out that you could get a twelve pack of Rolling Rock cans for under ten bucks it became my default beer of the year. It’s really not that bad. (Yes, it is) The aftertaste reminds me of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.
Greatest Hopes For 2017
There have been rumors of a new Angel Witch album coming together. I am anxiously awaiting this. The Ross The Boss band have just debuted a new line-up, the last line-up being so stellar that I can’t even imagine how over the top this incarnation must sound. I’m also hoping Death Dealer releases their third album and you know what? I’m still holding out hope for a Lost Horizon reunion. I think they’re all still alive and well? Also, I’d like to see Accept make it back to Texas since they only did like four shows in the U.S. for their last album and none of them were in the Lonestar state. And as always… if anyone at Fender USA is reading this I’d like an Yngwie J. Malmsteen custom Fender Stratocaster with scalloped frets. Please send me one as soon as you can. Thank You.
I have been a fan of Fates Warning since 1985 and endured the many stylistic changes the band has undergone through the years and the nine-year interval between FWX and DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT. Through it all I have been objective, and though I felt DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT was solid, it was more reflective of Matheos’s other projects with John Arch and OSI than Fates Warning. THEORIES OF FLIGHT feels like the first true Fates album in quite some time and it is outstanding. The full range of the band is here and includes their current approach mixed with many excellent moments from past albums like PARALELLS and DISCONNECTED. Apparently, much of the world agreed as THEORIES OF FLIGHT was one of the highest charting albums in the band’s history.
2. Tyketto – Reach
Tyketto has always been a band that straddled the line of hair metal and AOR, but their authenticity and lyrics that generally avoided the sex, drugs, and rock n roll clichés of most hair metal bands earned them a passionate fan base. REACH blends all of the band’s strengths, most impressively their uplifting and gripping choruses as shown on the excellent title track. REACH also sports some of the band’s heaviest songs (relatively speaking) such as “Kick Like A Mule.” Vaughn has never sounded better and though Brooke St. James was not part of the lineup, the band did not miss a beat. Impressive indeed.
3. Metal Church – XI
It took Kurdt Vanderhoof 23 years to finally figure out that Mike Howe was the only way forward for the band. Amazingly, Howe sounds like almost none of his range has diminished. The band, to their credit, did not merely rewrite THE HUMAN FACTOR or BLESSING IN DISGUISE. Sure there are elements of both, but it is the oft overlooked HANGING IN THE BALANCE that has most inspired the band. Even still, XI is modern Metal Church with plenty of experiments and new paths forward, like on “Shadow.” The band sounds inspired and evidence of things working was the quick interval between Howe’s return and the album’s release. At long last, the band has achieved chart success and received numerous tour and festival invitations making Metal Church more popular now than they were in their prime.
4. Evergrey – The Storm Within
Tom Englund and company are an excellent band and while HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN was a welcome reunion, it is somehow surpassed by THE STORM WITHIN. THE STORM WITHIN is the band’s 10th LP and coincides with their 20th anniversary. No, it is not the band’s best album ever, but it is an accessible and melancholic album that drags the listener into the spiritual and emotional turmoil that often comprise parts of most human relationships. Catchy and heavy alternately, it represents the band’s command of aggression tempered by melody and depth.
5. Anthrax – For All Kings
Compare this with the most recent releases of the Big Four and only Slayer’s REPENTLESS edges it out. That is not to say that FOR ALL KINGS is a perfect album, especially considering nearly five years have elapsed since WORSHIP MUSIC was released. Taken in that context, FOR ALL KINGS is about on par with WORSHIP MUSIC, which I guess is fine since that was a good album too. Still, after five years I guess I expected a more perceptible improvement. Joey Belladonna continues to be the main distinguishing factor for Anthrax (in a good way) versus say Dave Mustaine, whose vocals seem to deteriorate with each album. Melodic singing, crushing thrash riffs, and Benante proving that he might be the most consummate musician in Anthrax as he pounds the skins to NYC thrash glory.
6. Motus Tenebrae – Death Rising
7. Wicked Maraya – Lifetime In Hell
8. Delain – Moonbathers
9. Prong – X (No Absolutes)
10. Iron Mask – Diabolica
11. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker
12. Avantasia – Ghostlights
13. Striker – Stand In The Fire
14. Widow – Carved In Stone
15. Eden’s Curse- Cardinal
16. Lanfear- The Code Inherited
17. Iron Savior – Titancraft
18. Dream Theater – The Astonishing
19. Pretty Maids – Kingmaker
20. Beseech – My Darkness, Darkness
Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake
Tigertailz – Blast
Darkwell – Moloch
Epica – The Holographic Principle
Megadeth – Dystopia
I include my favorite rock stuff under honorable mention, as neither of these are heavy enough to be metal but are eminently enjoyable.
The Cult – Hidden City
Ace Frehley – Origins Vol. 1
Autograph – Louder
Enuff Z’Nuff – Clowns Lounge
Best Debut Album
Persona – Elusive Reflections
Throwing you name in the hat of symphonic female-fronted metal at this point of saturation is either brave or foolhardy. Persona are brave for a reason, hailing from Tunisia, and offering more of an outsider approach to the genre. That does not mean it is devoid of many of the expected clichés, but there is huge promise and potential here. A fine debut.
Helion Prime – S/T
Best Live/DVD Releases
Powerwolf– The Metal Mass Live
The Gathering – TG25: Live at Doornroosje
Orden Ogan – The Book Of Ogan
Judas Priest – Battle Cry
Frenzy – Lethal Protector
Delain – Lunar Prelude
Candlemass – Death Thy Lover
Best New Discovery
The Man-Eating Tree
Hailing from Finland, and with links to one of my favorite bands Sentenced, I am surprised I did not discover this sooner. The Man-Eating tree blends atmospheric music with progressive and goth metal for a unique sound that does not resemble Sentenced at all. Nevertheless, it is highly engaging and introspective music.
Death of Nick Menza former drummer of Megadeth – Nick was a great drummer that propelled the band during the period of its greatest critical and commercial acclaim. He will be sorely missed by many fans.
Death of Jimmy Bain former bassist of Rainbow and Dio – Without the thump of Bain’s bass, it is hard to imagine how these band’s best albums would have sounded. A stunning loss, especially coming only six years after Dio himself.
Kirk Hammet’s solos on Hardwired…To Self Destruct – The album is no better or worse than I expected but I quit wondering if Metallica would ever release an authentic album again some time ago (“Spit Out The Bone” kicks ass though). Still, Hammet seemed like the guy most level-headed about their legacy in Some Kind Of Monster, the dude you expected to be the one that would step up while Lars and James continued to compose pedestrian tunes. Nope, unh uh. Talk about tainting your legacy, Hammet’s lazy and uninspiring adherence to the wah- wah pedal and blues scale has grown wearisome. Unfortunately, his solos on this album, with a few exceptions, are so far beneath his capabilities that it is disconcerting because it seems that the last guy with integrity in the band finally gave in wholly to the machine that values money before substance. Put simply, he mailed it in, which makes me wonder if the album was named for Hammet’s efforts here. When you get outperformed by Lars, something is really wrong.
Reckless Love’s inVader Album – I suspected trouble when the promotional material stated, “A perfect example of this can be heard in latest single, “Monster”, an ode to a modern kind of female. The song has echoes of theatrical rock legends such as Alice Cooper and Motley Crue, but there’s also a sly nod to `90s pop giants like Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.” I doubt the band can overcome this debacle, and it was a disappointing blow from one of the leaders of worldwide sleaze/hair metal movement.
Death Angel’s The Evil Divide – Not a bad album but not a good one either. It is no surprise that not a single member of the Metal-Rules staff found the album worthy of reviewing. It is now patently clear that ACT III will remain the band’s high water mark. Perhaps it is time for the band to ditch Jason Suecof and his trendier-than-thou-production and musical influence on the band. Time to become Death Angel again and not some third-tier contemporary wannabe.
The return of Tigertailz – Was never a big fan, liked a few songs. However, with the failure of Reckless Love and the unlooked for and pleasantly surprising headbang of BLAST, Tigertailz have picked up the torch they used to carry in the name of glam metal!
Ratt Reforms – Yeah, yeah without the man Bobby Blotzer is disappointing, but having Croucier and De Martini back with Pearcy is worth at least monitoring closely.
The Obsessed Reforms – Doom and stoner fans the world over rejoice! What will Wino bring us in the near future?
Another superb year for Metal. I’ve noticed that some people break down the year in metal into a European vs. the USA theme. I don’t think that is very fair because there are about 50 nations in the EU and only one America. However, if I had to pick a pattern, many kick-ass veteran American bands came out with strong albums this year, (Metal Church, Flotsam & Jetsam, Vicious Rumors, Helstar, Omen, Aftershock etc) as compared to last year where ‘Europe’ lead the pack with new material from Helloween, Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, Nightwish etc. I like to use these lists to bring exposure to some of the awesome new, young bands that often get under-represented. So instead of the somewhat predictable Metallica’s and Megadeth’s etc this is what caught my ear in 2017 with my all time favourite guitarist as #1.
1. Yngwie J. Malmsteen-World On Fire (King Records)
What can I say except my favourite guitarist of all time released his 20th studio album in June (in Japan only unfortunately) and it instantly hit my #1 spot and held it for the year. Blazing and glorious, he continues to lead the pack.
2. Twilight Force-Heroes Of Mighty Magic (Nuclear Blast)
One of the most epic and majestic Power Metal albums I have ever heard, they are living up to all the hype. 3. Titanium-Atomic Number 22 (Avalon)
Totally blown away by this young band from Poland feasting Karol from Pathfinder on guitar.
4. Veonity-Into The Void (Sliptrick)
5. Thornbridge-What Will Prevail (Massacre)
6. Trick Or Treat-Rabbit’s Hill-Part 2 (Frontiers)
7. Helion Prime-Helion Prime (Indie)
8. Taken-Taken (Indie)
9. Sunrise-Absolute Clarity (Indie)
10. Rising Steel-Return Of The Warlord (Mighty Music)
11. Morning Dwell-Guardian Of Time (Doolittle)
12. Astralion-Outlaw (Limb)
13. Sinbreed-Master Creator (AFM)
14. Wicked Maraya-Lifetime In Hell (Massacre)
15. Psychoprism-Creation (Pure Steel)
16. Damien Black-Dead Of Winter (Arkeyn Steel)
17. Theocracy-Ghost Ship (Ulterium)
18. Almanac-Tsar (Nuclear Blast)
19. Symphonity-King Of Persia (Limb)
20. Eternity’s End-The Fire Within (Power Prog)
Best Live Album:
Sabaton-Heroes On Tour (Nuclear Blast)
Candlemass-Death Thy Lover (Napalm)
Brainstorm-Memorial Roots-Rerooted (AFM)
Best Covers Album:
Jorn-Heavy Rock Radio (Frontiers)
Opeth-Book Of Opeth (Rocket 88)
Best Local band:
Solborn (Edmonton, Alberta)
This is always a hard category to pick because I always see so many shows..again I saw over 100 bands in 2016. I finally got to see Suicidal Tendencies, Carach Angren, Thunderstone, Grim Reaper, all for the first time, and after two previously cancelled shows in Calgary I finally got to see Brazil’s Hibria! I enjoyed some great guitar heroes in relaxed settings in great venues such as Joe Satriani at the Grey Eagle Casino and Steve Vai at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. Shredmonton Metal Fest and Calgary Metalfest V with Annihilator, Sacrifice, Razor and Exciter were also both highlights! A rare Zimmer’s Hole show was also a treat. A great year for live music!
Best New Band:
Eternal Champion-The Armour Of Ire (No Remorse)
Angeles y Demonios (Mexico)
Running Wild-Rapid Foray. (SPV) Simply incredible how they pulled it back fro the brink. An amazing return to classic form.
Predictions for 2017:
1. Black Lawless decides to release the mountain of archived W.A.S.P. footage (and the long-lost Japanese only video collection) in a cool, historical 3+ DVD set. Blackie also finishes his autobiography he has been rumored to have working on for years. (Carried over from 2010, again).
2. Helloween’s Pumpkins United Tour takes the world by storm.
3. Zakk Wylde joins Pantera and they some sort of reunion thing.
Not since Avantasia, the Metal Opera, has a concept album grabbed me so much. How can it not with Victor Smolski as the maestro; David Readman and Andy B Franck on vocals; and a concept drawing from my heritage. Tsar has without a doubt dominated my ear space.
Since their first release in 2008, this band has not only matured as men, but with each release Kissin Dynamite music gets better and better. Maturity of life is evident in Generation Goodbye with songs such as “Hashtag your Life” highlighting the absurdity of being a slave of social media.
Kissin D Generation.jpeg
Serentiy – Codex Atlanticus
Sabaton – The Last Stand
DGM – The Passage
Enbound – The Blackened Heart
Symphonity – King of Persia
Trick or Treat – Rabbit’s Hill Pt 2
Mob Rules – Tales from Beyond
Circus Maximus – Havoc
Pain – Coming Home
Lords of Black – II
Pretty Maids – Kingbreaker
Rhapsody of Fire – Into The Legends
Delain – Lunar Prelude
Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
Iron Savior – Titancraft
Twilight Force – Heroes of Might Magic
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
Best New Band
Almanac, of course!
Delain – Lunar Prelude
Delain Lunar EP.jpg
Best Live Album
Secret Sphere – One Night in Tokyo (2CD + DVD)
Best Rock release
Inglorious – Inglorious
New UK band Inglorious released a strong and addictive debut album. The heaviness and speed with a hint of blues contributed to this hard rock album towering over far more established bands—rock and metal–in 2016.
2. The Defiants – The Defiants
Paul Laine, Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello? How can this not be a great melodic rock album?
3. Hardline – Human Nature
Star-studded lineup (obviously Johnny Gioeli, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Josh Ramos, Anna Portalupi, Francesco Jovino) on this album had it on high rotation this year.
HARDLINE hn COVER HI.jpg
Best ‘Best of…’
Graham Bonnet Band – The Book
GRAHAM BONNET tb COVER HI.jpg
Apocalyptica – Metro Theatre, Sydney
Best Music DVD/Blu-Ray
Orden Ogan – The Book of Ogan
Sabaton – Heroes on Tour
Best Fancy-Schmancy Box Release
Sabaton – The Last Stand Tank Edition
Definitely something for the collection, alas at approximately AUD$300 including shipping, so far has been too painful to purchase.
Sabaton tank edition.jpg
After almost 15 years I have finally obtained my very own copy of Mental Metal Meltdown, sure it doesn’t contain current metal trivia, but who cares? It’s a good test of heavy metal history….and makes me want to pull out my vintage metal magazines (Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Metal Edge, Hot Metal) out of storage to read.
Missing out on listening to so many 2016 releases. It happens every year.
Rest in Peace
We lost some metal (and non-metal) icons this year – a sobering reminder that I’m older than I act.
1.Volbeat “Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie” – not what I had expected from the Danes but sure worth to be number one on my list.
2.Evergrey “The Storm Within” – the Swedish heroes of progressive metal strikes again with an amazing album in THE STORM WITHIN. The duet between Tom S Englund and his wife Carina is beautiful just as the two with Floor Jensen from Nightwish.
3.Va Rocks “Pull No Punches” – a hard hitting debut from the southern parts of Sweden. The band is a Swedish all female trio with a bright future.
4.InnerWish “S/t” – the biggest metal act from Greece made it to number four on my list, if you like some excellent executed melodic metal.
5.In Flames “Battles”
7.Lacuna Coil “Delirium”
8.Primal Fear “Rulebreaker”
9..Testament “Brotherhood of the Snake”
10.Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
11.Sunburst – Fragments of Creation
12.Resurrection Kings “S/t”
13.Entombed A.D “Dead Dawn”
14.Civil War “The Last Full Measure”
15.Last In Line “Heavy Crown”
16.Pretty Maids “Kingmaker”
17.The 69 Eyes “Universal Monsters”
18.Forever Still “Tied Down”
19.Sabaton “The Last Stand”
20.Amon Amarth “Jomsviking”
Best Live Album
DIRKSCHNEIDER “Live – Back To The Roots”
For the last time the Udo is going to play the old Accept songs and what can go wrong when Udo does it?. This is a kick-ass live album and has no weak link what so ever. However it’s a bit sad that we’re never going to hear the Accept songs sung by Udo again.
Doro “Strong and proud – Live 2016”
Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons “S/t”
In Flames “Sound From The Heart Of Gothenburg”
What can you say about this DVD by In Flames other than what an amazing show they pulled of in their hometown of Gothenburg. The DVD is also a farewell to drummer Daniel Svensson that left the band. A few weeks back we also got the news that bass player Peter Iwers also takes a step back from the band, what is happening in the In Flames camp?
Judas Priest – “Battle Cry”
The show was shot at Wacken Open Air in Germany last year and I’m glad they got in on film, it was sure an excellent show to witness live and gladly I can now watch it again on DVD. Everything clicks and Rob Halford sings like the genuine metal god he is.
Steel Panther “Live From Lexxis Mom’s Garage” – unplugged – what can you say the crazy band from L.A it is fun and a little different when it is unplugged the bands songs.
Saxon “Let Me Feel Your Power”
The legends pulls of yet another spectacular shows on this DVD. They may be old but they still knows how to rock.
Danko Jones “Live at Wacken”
I saw the Danko Jones show at Wacken Open Air and boy was it great. Even though the band was scheduled at a bad time, about 4 in the afternoon, fans still showed up and made the show memorable.
Iron Maiden at Wacken Open Air Germany what can I say the best band ever and the last show on the tour as well. The best metal band in the world are Iron Maiden the show in Sweden was good as well.
King Diamond at Copenhell Festival Refshaleoen Copenhagen,Denmark
King Diamond does as he pleases and instead of performing the epic album ABIGAIL back to back he chose to place the songs in the order he likes them. And what an amazing show it was, already in June when I saw the show I knew that it would make it on to the list of best concerts of 2016.
Twisted Sister Wacken Open Air Festival Germany
What can I say?, I grew up with the band and it was fun to see the guys one last time on the few dates the band did in Europe before the band was put to rest.
Clawfinger Copenhell Festival Refshaleoen Copenhagen,Denmark
The Swedish kings of metal and hardcore put the band to rest a few years ago but decided to reunite sometimes and luckily for me they paid Denmark a visit. It was fun to see the band again since I have a lot of nice memories to go with their music.
Deathening Rock Stage at Malmoe Festival Malmoe,Sweden
A kick ass show the band did in their hometown showing that the band is a force to be reckoned with.
Best local band
This all female band have been together for 10 years now and finally released their stunning debut album. This band has all the potential to go really far in the rock n roll genre.
A lot has happened with this band, it started out as a duo with Johan Reinholds and Johan Liiva. Then Liiva left the band and now Reinholdz has taken on the vocals and transformed the duo to a band. I’m excited to see and hear the next move from the almighty Reinholdz.
This trach act from Malmö/gutenborg is really good and I can not wait for the new album to come out nest year.
Best new band
Universal Mind Project
A new metal opera led by guitarist Michael Alexander and singer Elina Laivera. Singer Henrik Båth does an amazing job and singer Mark Jansen, Nils K. Rue, Charlie Dominici, bass player Mike LePond, drummer Alessandro Bissa and guitarist Johan Reinholdz makes guest apperances. Put THE JAGUAR PRIEST on to the “next purchase” list.
New guitar legend Gus Drax and singer Vasilis Georgiou, which also playes in Black Fate, are fronting the band that released their debut album Fragments of Creation earlier this year. The Greek band kicks ass, check it out.
Major events in the Metal world
Motörhead “Clean Your Clock”
Why this live album/dvd taken from the last tour the band did with Lemmy alive was released astounds me?! It’s not hard to see that Lemmy is in a poor condition and he hardly can sing or even hold the bass. This is not how I want to remember one of my heroes!! In my opinion this release is only made for the record label to profit on the name of Motörhead.
The loss of bass legend Jimmy Bain that died earlier this year sadened me, from what I knew he was back on track again with the new band Last In Line
Jorn Lande “Heavy Rock Radio”. Why release an album partly filled with covers (some of the covers Jorn already recorded on prior albums)? If you’re already in the studio Jorn then please give us some new material and not dusty old covers.
Sixx A.M Copenhell Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark was one of worst shows I have seen for a long time. Poorly executed songs and it didn’t seem like the members wanted to be there and that especially went for Nikki Sixx. The only one that seemed to have some fun was DJ Ashba.
Backyard Babies hit Scandinavia on tour and it was sad to see that the before so raw and edgy act had lost their attitude and punkiness. The performance lacked everything the band stood for back in the days. As a huge fan of the band I was really disappointed.
It was sad to hear the news that the former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza past away earlier this year. Now the best line-up Megadeth ever had can only be reunited in heaven (or hell).
Black Sabbath at Copenhell Festival in Copenhagen,Denmark the last show the band did in Denmark was slow, boring and nothing to see at all.
Predictions for 2017
The thrash band from south of Sweden Deathening is going to release their third album.
The second album with the Swedish band Frontback will hit the streets next year.
The best rock n roll act ever The Hellacopters is going to do more live shows, can’t wait to see them live again.
A new album with Swedish trash legends The Haunted will the stores next year.
Pumpkings United which is the name of the new tour with Helloween together with Kaj Hansen and Michael Kiske. I’m excited!
A lot of cool bands will tour next year like Kreator, Sabaton, Children Of Bodom and big acts like Kiss and Guns ‘n’ Roses are going to hit Europe.
Is it not time for Swedish band Close Quarters to get out some new stuff last album was relesed 2015 so now it is time for some new music.
It’s a bit strange that Accept is special guests for Sabaton in Europe/Scandinavia next year but I guess the old German ,etal tanks can’t fill bigger arenas on their own today. Maybe it’s a smart way of the Germans to reach a new fanbase?
Hopefully there will be some new music from the danish legends in D.A.D next year, it’s about time the guys hits us with some new slick songs.
Anthrax will tour in Europe and celebrate the classic “Among The Living” album.
There were a lot of great records that came out in 2016, some of which I gave I higher review scores to, but none of which held my attention the way that Darkthrone did with ARCTIC THUNDER. This album is a middle finger hoisted defiantly in the face of scene fads and clickbait headlines; it’s satisfying at an almost primal level. ARCTIC THUNDER brings the sound of Darkthrone full circle, connecting the dots of their corpse painted past with their battle jacket speed metal present. The cult is still alive, and it sounds better than ever.
Lord Vicar – GATES OF FLESH
Classic doom metal from a classic doom metal band; what else do you need? GATES OF FLESH is an almost passive aggressive record in the way it presents itself. There’s no flash, there’s no sense of urgency, but still the songs linger in your subconscious like the smoke from burning incense (or other stuff that burns). In all seriousness, it’s an impressively crafted and confident doom record that lets the music do all of the heavy lifting, no gimmicks or punchlines needed.
Crowbar – THE SERPENT ONLY LIES
An alternate title for THE SERPENT ONLY LIES could’ve been “HOW WINDSTEIN GOT HIS GROOVE BACK”. For this album, Kirk took a trip in the way back machine and reacquainted himself with the bruising spirit of albums like BROKEN GLASS and TIME HEALS NOTHING, matching that punishment with the introspective, sage like ponderings of more recent material. Crowbar has never released a bad album, though some have been decidedly better than others. THE SERPENT ONLY LIES is arguably their best in a decade and one of the best in the entire Crowbar catalog.
Striker – STAND IN THE FIRE
Striker singlehandedly reignited my love of traditional heavy metal with STAND IN THE FIRE. Tons of shred, huge choruses, catchy tunes and a deference for 80s metal that you can feel coming out of your speakers. It’s hard not to listen to STAND IN THE FIRE and not headbang your smiling face into oblivion. Heavy metal can still be fun, who knew?
Cough – STILL THEY PRAY
The polar opposite of anything from Striker, Cough’s latest record is a bleak, depressing, and painfully slow behemoth of modern doom. So yeah, it’s pretty great. 2010’s RITUAL ABUSE was a tough act to follow, but STILL THEY PRAY pushed the band’s musical boundaries just far enough to sound like progress, while somehow managing to dig an already vacuous hole of nihilistic misanthropy just a little bit deeper. If there was an award for creepiest, most uncomfortable sounding album of the year – STILL THEY PRAY would win hands down.
Goatess – PURGATORY UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT
Mercyless – PATHETIC DIVINITY
Obscura – AKRÓASIS
Flotsam and Jetsam – FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
Anaal Nathrakh– THE WHOLE OF THE LAW
Khemmis – HUNTED
Dark Funeral – WHERE SHADOWS FOREVER REIGN
Church of Misery – AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
Schammash – TRIANGLE
Graves At Sea – THE CURSE THAT IS
Rotten Sound – ABUSE TO SUFFER
Death Angel – THE EVIL DIVIDE
Testament – BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE
Brujeria – POCHO AZTLAN
Wormrot – VOICES
Best Live Album: Mayhem – DE MYSTERIIS DOM SATHANAS ALIVE
Squeaking in just under the wire to qualify as a 2016 release, Mayhem’s live performance of their classic DE MYSTERIIS DOM SATHANAS album is every bit as horrific, intimidating and scary as its studio counterpart.
Best EP: Dawnbringer – XX
The swan song of Chris Black’s Dawnbringer turned out to be the band’s finest hour. Featuring five tracks that pull at your soul with absolute metal passion, XX is a bittersweet farewell to a band that appears to have just hit their stride.
Best Book: Candlemass – BEHIND THE WALL OF DOOM
I’m still catching up on all of the books I started in 2015 and never finished, so let’s not get started on the books I bought in 2016 and never even started…However, show me a 92-page coffee table book detailing the history of Candlemass, complete with never before seen photos and candid interviews with past and present members of the band, along with a stash of live performances on DVD and more, and I’d call that the best book of the year.
Best Metal DVD/Blu-Ray/Visual Media: Metallica – HARDWIRED…TO SELF-DESTRUCT videos
Regardless of what you think of the new album, there’s no denying that Metallica owned this space in 2016. The drip of music videos for early singles like “Moth Into Flame” and the title track quickly turned into a flood in the weeks preceding the album’s release, with every tune being treated to their own vid. The press coverage was constant – think about how many stories you read between October and November about new Metallica music, it was nuts. As each video was posted to the web, the metal community slowly settled in to the realization that we might actually be getting a good Metallica record, and the anticipation for HARDWIRED…TO SELF-DESTRUCT hit an absolute fever pitch. Well played, fellas.
Best Concert: Iron Maiden, Chicago IL
I missed the Ft. Lauderdale kickoff show in February, but schlepped it to the Windy City in April, as there was no way I was going to miss Iron Maiden on American soil – especially given Bruce Dickinson’s recent health scare. Maiden never disappoints live, and this run in support of THE BOOK OF SOULS was no exception. They’re consistently the gold standard in heavy metal live performances; nobody’s holding a gun to their heads to put on shows like this anymore, they do it because they want to give the fans an experience to remember. Pyro, production, inflatable Eddies and 2 hours of non-stop music performed by a bunch of 60-year old men who can literally run circles around all of us; I’m still blown away.
Runner Up: Venom Inc., Orlando FL
I saw the Cronos fronted version of Venom at Maryland Deathfest this year and it was a bit anticlimactic. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was Cronos looking like a heavy metal Richard Simmons in his Rolling Stones tank top and tight pants, or maybe it was the formulaic, by-the-numbers approach to a set of tunes that should breathe fire. A few months later, however, I saw Venom Inc. (featuring Mantas, Abaddon, and Demolition Man) rock the balls off of some hole in the wall club in Suburban Orlando, and wow, totally different dynamic. There was zero pretense or ego, just three guys cranking out classic Venom tunes with the energy and enthusiasm that they deserve. Even the activity in the pit was at a minimum; everybody in the joint was transfixed on what was happening on stage, nobody wanted to miss a second of the action. This is what Venom songs are supposed to sound like.
Best Local Band: Disevered (Tampa, FL)
Though they hail from the spiritual home of North American death metal, Disevered’s brand of musical abuse owes just as more to the European influences of early Entombed, Dismember, and Prophecy of Doom as it does to Morbid Angel or Deicide. These hometown heroes absolutely destroy; check out their HAMMERS OF BLASPHEMY EP here: https://disevered.bandcamp.com/album/hammers-of-blasphemy
Best New Band: No Gods (HPGD Productions)
These unassuming Philly metallers released one of 2016’s sleeper hits with their self-titled album. Mashing up old school thrash a la Overkill an Exodus with even heavier, grinding death metal flavors, NO GODS is a unique and memorable debut. Check it out via HPGD’s Bandcamp page: https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/no-gods
Things That Sucked in 2016, The Non-Dead Celebrity or Geo-Political Climate Edition:
The (fairly substantiated) allegations against Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling sexually harassing female members of the bands gracious enough to open for his current turd storm of a band, among other shady practices. Almost worse than the act itself was the response from Liebling’s manager that offered gems like “He’s a single man” and “…there was no touching.” Seriously? I’m no SJW, but if his abhorrent live performances (when he decides to show up) weren’t enough to sour the legacy of Pentagram, this surely is. I’m out.
Phil Anselmo won’t shut the eff up nor learn from his past mistakes. See Bobby Liebling reference above about souring your legacy.
Bolt Thrower officially broke up.
Katatonia’s THE FALL OF HEARTS turned out to be a cheap replacement for my Ambien prescription. Not the kind of benefit that I’d hoped for.
In Flames, the same band that gave us albums like THE JESTER RACE and COLONY, is now doing co-headlining runs with Hellyeah and is part of the Summer rock festival circuit, alongside Alter Bridge and the Offspring.
The overhyping of albums that the metal press won’t stop shoving down our collective gullets. Abbath, Meshuggah, Gojira, Baby Metal and Nails in particular – all of these records had their moments, but they’re all far from the world shaking events that the likes of Decibel and Sirius XM would have you believe. I get that metal is a business and the PR machines are only doing what they’re paid to do, but please, stop – you’re not helping anybody but yourselves.
Things That Didn’t Suck in 2016:
Thrash Metal had a great year. New records from each of the Big 4 alongside the likes of Death Angel, Testament, and Sodom proved that thrash was alive, well, and still in very capable hands.
The non-Bobby Blotzer members of Ratt finally came to their senses and reformed without him, promising a proper tour in 2017 and new material to boot. Don’t pretend like you don’t love some Ratt, and INFESTATION was as good as anything from their 80’s heyday.
Kam Lee and Rick Rozz buried the hatchet (again), and will give us some form of a new Massacre (again). You’ve hurt me before, and I keep coming back. Why can’t I quit you? Because you’re the Jagger/Richards of Florida death metal, that’s why.
So many fantastic shows in 2016. In addition to Iron Maiden and Venom Inc., we had Florida Metal Fest, Destroyer Fest, Maryland Deathfest, Carcass, Marty Friedman, At the Gates, Voivod, and the mighty Doro Pesch. These are just a few of the names that hit the US year, which bodes well for a busy concert calendar in 2017.
Eyehategod’s Mike IX Williams succeeded in evading the reaper again.
Most Anticipated Albums in 2017:
Kreator – GODS OF VIOLENCE
Overkill – THE GRINDING WHEEL
Immolation – ATONEMENT
Obituary – OBITUARY
The Obsessed – TBD
Incantation – TBD
Paradise Lost – TBD
Sleep – TBD
Morbid Angel – TBD
Corrosion of Conformity – TBD
These are just the ones off the top of my head that I’m aware of, 2017 is going to be a great year for heavy metal.
The progressive-leaning Swedes have done it again as THE STORM WITHIN continues Evergrey’s unblemished track record of delivering album after album of stunningly-arranged, gorgeously-executed songs balanced by flawless musicianship fans have come to expect from the band. Tom S. Englund possesses one of the best voices in metal and with his wife/secret weapon, Carina Englund, as well as Nightwish’s Floor Jansen backing him here, the vocals are both powerful and emotional. The band is tight musically and the production is simply out of this world. Topping THE STORM WITHIN will be difficult but Evergrey shows no signs of slowing down even after eighteen years.
Abbath – ABBATH
After an acrimonious split with Immortal, the songs meant for that band’s next album were not going to be left unheard, so Abbath released them as his first true solo album. Surprising no one, the icy black metal and epic musical landscapes Abbath was known for in Immortal remain but easing up on the throttle and allowing some melody to creep in is a bit of a shock. Mixing things up after nearly 25 years and starting a new band is not an easy decision but ABBATH displays a solid framework for the next chapter in the storied frontman’s career.
The Devin Townsend Project – TRANSCENDENCE
The ever-prolific Hevy Devy continues his attack with his most progressive-leaning album to date. Dense, complex and multi-layered, TRANSCENDENCE takes a few spins to really sink in with all that is going on sonically but the reward is a rich payoff. TRANSCENDENCE is yet another bar-raising release from the quirky genius who refuses to be pigeonholed.
Zakk Wylde – BOOK OF SHADOWS II
Released 20 years after the first album, BOOK OF SHADOWS II is a gorgeous masterpiece from one of metal’s greatest guitarists. Wylde has never been shy about showcasing all of his influences. The fifteen 70s/southern rock-inspired tunes found here are flawlessly executed and dripping with fiery leads and beautiful arrangements from start to finish.
Killswitch Engage – INCARNATE
The shaky return of original vocalist Jesse Leach on 2013’s DISARM THE DESCENT left me totally unimpressed which made INCARNATE seem that much better. Even though this one was released way back in March, INCARNATE still received repeated spins throughout the year and never got forgotten about, which is the true test of a great album.
Metallica – HARDWIRED…TO SELF-DESTRUCT
Heaven Shall Burn – WANDERER
Anaal Nathrakh – THE WHOLE OF THE LAW
Metal Church – XI
Dark Tranquillity – ATOMA
Testament – BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE
Anthrax – FOR ALL KINGS
Amon Amarth – JOMSVIKING
Dream Theater – THE ASTONISHING
Anvil – ANVIL IS ANVIL
Despised Icon – BEAST
Nails – YOU WILL NEVER BE ONE OF US
Megadeth – DYSTOPIA
Gojira – MAGMA
Winterfylleth – THE DARK HEREAFTER
***HONORABLE MENTIONS: Primal Fear (RULEBREAKER), Meshuggah (THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON), Opeth (SORCERESS), Borknagar (WINTER THRICE), Inquisition (BLOODSHED ACROSS THE EMPYREAN ALTAR BEYOND THE CELESTIAL ZENITH), Rotting Christ (RITUALS), Ihsahn (ARKTIS), Whitechapel (MARK OF THE BLADE)
BEST NEW BAND OF 2016
Most likely a one-off project, this long-brewing collaboration features George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse), Adam D (Killswitch Engage) and Shannon Lucas (The Black Dahlia Murder). The result is a solid slab of melodic technical death metal showcasing the talents of all involved.
BEST LIVE ALBUM OF 2016
Dirkschneider – LIVE: BACK TO THE ROOTS
Original Accept vocalist, Udo Dirkschneider, agreed to perform the classic songs of his former band one last time for a short tour and this double album documents one of those shows. To call these songs timeless is an understatement and one must respect the man’s decision to close this chapter of his recording career for good. Still, it’s sad to think Udo’s unmistakable vocals will never be heard belting out “Fast As A Shark,” “Restless And Wild,” “Balls To The Wall” again.
BEST EP OF 2016
Scour – SCOUR
It has been a tough year for Philip Anselmo in the press but the one bright spot few seemed to pick up on was the indie release of his latest project, Scour. Featuring Anselmo on vocals along with current and former members of Pig Destroyer, Cattle Decapitation and Decrepit Birth, the self-titled EP is a brutal dose of blackened death metal not unlike that of newer Marduk.
BEST COMPILATION/COLLECTION OF 2016
Metallica – KILL ‘EM ALL & RIDE THE LIGHTNING DELUXE REISSUES
Not much needs to be said here. Two of the most influential and important heavy metal albums of all time remastered and reissued on both CD and vinyl with loads of extra goodies. The price tag was pretty steep but for true collectors, these were a no-brainer.
BEST COVERS ALBUM OF 2016
Jorn – HEAVY ROCK RADIO
Jorn Lande pulls out all the stops here and takes his turn covering classic tunes from bands as diverse as Iron Maiden, Journey, Dio, The Eagles, Black Sabbath, Queen, Kate Bush and others. Lande sticks pretty true to the heavy metal originals but his vocal take on non-metal standards “Hotel California,” “Running Up That Hill” and “You’re The Voice” are the real draw here.
BEST METAL-RELATED BOOK OF 2016
Martin Popoff – METAL HEART: AIMING HIGH WITH ACCEPT
Metal’s greatest scribe (and Canadian!) delivers the goods once again with his all-encompassing biography of the Teutonic Terrors, Accept. Fans of Popoff have grown to expect a high level of quality from the author’s books coupled with his own insight and exhausting interviews. This first proper bio of the band is top-tier on all accounts.
BEST DISCOVERY OF 2016
This Denver-based band got a lot of buzz in 2016 with its second album, HUNTED. Combining equal parts Trouble, Ghost and YOB, Khemmis puts its spin on classic doom metal and mixes in fuzz-drenched guitar and an epic feel to form a package with a bright future ahead.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2016
Six Feet Under – GRAVEYARD CLASSICS IV: THE NUMBER OF THE PRIEST
If he has any mercy whatsoever, Chris Barnes’ latest entry into his long-standing GRAVEYARD CLASSICS series will be the last. Notching half of the record to Judas Priest and the other half to Iron Maiden, listeners will know exactly what to expect going in: Six Feet Under’s down-tuned sludge and Barnes’ garbled vocals ruining the classics we all know and love. The series has always been a curious novelty at best and laughable at its worst (“The Evil That Men Do” has to be heard to be believed) but this one is best forgotten.
In Flames – BATTLES
Bands mature and life’s circumstances inevitably change the direction of the music but no band has disillusioned its older fans more over the past ten years than In Flames. While one cannot fault the band for ignoring its critics and delivering the music in their collective hearts, BATTLES is another frustrating entry filled with largely forgettable songs that does little more than distance long-time fans in an effort to modernize its sound.
Operation: Mindcrime – RESURRECTION
Not even guest vocals from Blaze Bayley and Tim “Ripper” Owens can save this directionless mess of a concept from former Queensrÿche vocalist, Geoff Tate. The fact that it takes a full five tracks to even get to a proper song is bizarre in and of itself but at no point is there a memorable moment to heard, even after repeated listens. The phoned-in vocals of Bayley and Owens can’t even save this one.
GREATEST HOPES FOR 2017
Another year of promising new CDs from Jag Panzer, Sepultura, Kreator, Rudra, Overkill and Steel Panther among others.
King Diamond/Mercyful Fate DVDs (still waiting for the umpteenth year in a row!)
Once again: more time available to devote to writing and contributing to the mighty Metal-Rules.com!!!!!!!
The legendary Bay Area metallers Testament have released another killer outfit. Even though guitarist Eric Petersson has been the mastermind behind the album, however he has managed to create the lethal headbanging riffs. Killer album by killer band
2. Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith Another killer output by Inquisition. Needless to say more !!!
3. Vader – Empire The Polish death metal monger Vader led by Piotr Paweł Wiwczarek has released the 13th output in their looong career. The Empire album presents the pure Vaderizing death metal. Vader never lets down, never. 4. Metal Church – XI
5. Moonsorrow – Jumalten aika
6. Sodom – Decision Day
7. Asphyx – Incoming Death
8. Death Angel – The Evil Divide
9. Rotting Christ – Rituals
10. Batushka – Litourgiya
11. Megadeth – Dystopia
12. Denner-Shermann – Masters of Evil
13. Master’s Hammer – Formulæ
14. Destruction – Under Attack
15. Vektor – Terminal Redux
16. Dream Theater- The Astonishing
17. Destroyer 666 – Wildfire
18. Behexen – The Poisonous Path
19. Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
20. Bolzer – Hero
Ghost : Popestar Square Hammer is such a great song for sure.
Twisted Sister : Swedenrock 2016
The legendary hard rock / Heavy metal veterans did the final festival run and touring ever by conquering the European rock/metal festivals. The farewell show at Swedenrock was pure adrenaline strike especially by Dee Snider. In general the whole band was in the vicious strike. Hopefully this was the real farewell as it was a good way to leave the limelights
Diamanda Galas : Roadburn 2016
This was eerie, this was scary and this was fabulous. No more to describe the feeling when Diamanda Galas was on the stage. No wonder why several black metal bands are influenced by Plague Mass
Sadistic Intent : Steelfest 2016
The long time death metal cult Sadistic Intent is always crushing, murderous and lethal act on the stage, unleashing the true cult of the real death metal.
Venom Inc : Brutal Assault 2016
Mantas Cronos and Demolition Man – Black Metal !!! Hail Venom Inc
Best new band
Batushka hailing from Poland was such an interesting act with several members involved to perform the more religious based dark/black metal. This more unorthodox and even more blasphemic black metal outfit will become another big thing if the guys know how to play the cards right.
Iron Reagan blew the stage away at Brutal Assault, offering a brutal kick of crossover. The members of Municipal Waste and The Darkest Hour run the sideproject band Iron Reagen giving the blasting feeling with the good sense of humour and kudos to those old crossover legends such DRI, Gang Green, M.O.D…
Major events in the Metal world
The whole line-up of Morbid Angel exited.
The demise of AC/DC with Axl Rose taking care of the vocals. Time to say the farewell and quit.
Metal Hammer and Classic Rock went out of business.
Predictions for 2017
The metal will return back into the catacombs of the underground. The older bands will vanish and call its days one by one. Smaller metal festivals will be having more and more difficult troubled times because of the economy, some of them has to give up. Print media will be having some serious problem in the future – Teamrock went out of business resulting the end of Metal Hammer and Classic Rock – Which are the next ones to disappear ? Where is the younger metal heads ? Where is the next generation of metal ? The older generation is still ruling….
KILLCODE is a five-piece American rock band from New York City. To date the band has released two EPs, one full-length album (KILLCODE, 2014) and several music videos. In recent years, they have toured with such legendary names as Twisted Sister, Ace Frehley and Lita Ford. KILLCODE has also appeared in several metal festivals around the world including Bang Your Head festival in Germany, the Guitar Scene Festival in France and Heaven and Hell festival in Mexico. The band has just finished its secord full-length album, called THE ANSWER, and at the moment it’s available on their official website www.killcode.net. Despite all of this the band is still relatively unknown in some countries. I met the band’s vocalist Tom Morrissey and guitarist D.C. Gonzalez recently in New York. It was a really interesting meeting, and now I can say that I know quite a lot about the band. We talked about the band’s past, present, and about what kind of plans they have for the future. Read on and get to know KILLCODE!
WHO IS KILLCODE?
Many of our readers don’t know that much about KILLCODE. So let’s start the easy way. Who is KILLCODE and what is the band about?
Tom: KILLCODE is a band from New York City. It’s Chas (Guitar), Erric Bonesmith (Bass), Rob Noxious (drums), D.C. Gonzalez (Guitar) and myself on vocals. We’ve been described as a Hard Rock band with metal and southern rock influences and I pretty much agree with that. To date, we’ve released two EPS, a self-titled, full-length album and we recently finished our new album called the “The Answer”. “The Answer” was produced by Joey Z, from the band “Life Of Agony” and I think it’s our strongest work to date. Last year we had some great opportunities touring the world and US and we can’t wait to get back out there this year in support of the new CD. As we like to put it, we want to “Spread the CODE”! We’re “Spreading the CODE” as we talk to you as well! (Laughs)
When was the band formed and how did the current line-up came together?
Tom: The band was formed by myself and Chas. We were in a band that was signed prior to KILLCODE. For whatever reason, that band didn’t work out. We both decided to try our own thing. Not really in a band sense but try and write some songs and see what comes of it. We sat down in his basement and wrote a couple of songs that right off the bat we were excited about. After that we reached out to Erric Bonesmith, a bass player that was a good friend of Chas and he came on board. We met Rob Noxious when Mistress Juliya, who was a DJ for Fuse Television at the time, put out a blast on social media that we were looking for a drummer. Rob at the time was living out in California trying to come back to New York. He contacted us and after one audition he was in! D.C. came in after we played with another guitar player, Pat Harrington, for a while.
That was about the history of the band but maybe it’s better talk more about the future than the past?
D.C.: That’s right.
THE WRONG SIDE
I need to confess that I hadn’t heard too much about your band before this interview, but I did know a few things. (Laughs). The first time I heard you, was when I saw the video for “The Wrong Side”. Tell something about that one?
Tom: That was off our the last self titled album :::KILLCODE::: and it was the lead single. It’s a ballad and for us it the first time we led with a song like that
D.C: I’ll tell you a funny story. Chas and Tom wrote that song before deciding to put KILLCODE together and before I was in this band. It was actually one of the first songs that these guys wrote. Anyway, for whatever reason they didn’t release or play it too often. At the time I was in another band in the NYC rock scene and we played shows with KILLCODE. They played “The Wrong Side” at one of the shows that we played together. I walked back stage and I said, “Why the fuck don’t you guys play that song more often or release it?” I said, “It’s fantastic”! It does have a different vibe than most of KILLCODE’s songs and I get why maybe some bands don’t like to try new things but it’s a great song and at the end of the day that’s all I care about! Anyway, as fate would have it, I joined this band and we’re talking about what single should be released and what video should we do for what song? I’m the one that suggested it’s got to be “The Wrong Side”. It shows the diversity of what you guys can do.
Tom: We said okay and I’m glad we did. It did make us more comfortable trying new things and being a bit more diverse. New songs like “Own It” and “Put It Off” that are on the new album, came about from being more comfortable trying new things. “Own It” is a new song I’m really proud of. Chris Wyse, bassist for OWL and The Ace Frehley band plays on this song and really added something special to it. “Put It Off” is a song D.C. and I wrote, very similar to “Wrong Side”. It’s is just DC and I playing acoustic.
D.C: Yes I agree. Sometimes bands get caught up in, we’re going to do this type of Genre. That’s not me. When we wrote the new song “Put it Off “, Tom was about to leave my house after rehearsal. We started having a very deep conversation about something and I also randomly started playing this little thing on my acoustic guitar. He started singing and it was like, with all of your experience, you can never recreate a moment like that. We literary wrote that song in maybe five minutes. The final recording on the CD is pretty much what Tom and I came up with on the spot. It was a deep moment. Especially after the conversation we were having. The new Album is a kick ass record! There is a lot of high energy tunes in there. But there are also a few songs that we tried, new things and slowed down things a bit.
I’m going to give you my judgment once I’ve heard the whole album.
Tom: Yes, yes. We have the New CD for you to do just that.
THE MUSICAL TRENDS AND NYC
I would say that what separates KILLCODE from many other bands is that your music and style doesn’t represent any single musical genre. It has elements of many different styles and what’s also great is that you’re not following ongoing trends too much. How does that sound for you?
Tom: I think you’re right.
D.C.: I don’t want to say that we set out to do something different. I just think we set out to do music we liked. We didn’t and don’t care about following a specific genre. We didn’t and don’t care about what everybody else around is doing. It’s a little bit tough at times but worth it.
Tom: Yes not a typical New York City band.
D.C: Some people might think we are too light to be on heavy bills. Or we’re too heavy to be on lighter bills.
Tom: Or too Southern Rock to be in New York City. (Laughs)
D.C: We don’t compromise because of these thoughts and I think it gives us very unique style. Collectively we love similar bands like Motorhead, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. But individually we all have different influences.
Tom: I think that’s what shapes us.
D.C: We allow everybody to bring their own thing to the table. We don’t shut each other down and I think in some bands, that happens a lot.
If I had to describe your music in brief, after hearing only a couple of tracks, I would then say that you sound like a bastard son of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Skid Row. What do you think about that? (Laughs)
D.C: Skid Row?
Tom: It’s funny you say that as we’ve had people come to us and say, “You guys are like Skynyrd meets Sabbath, meets STP, meets…” but not Skid Row. Although they were a great band!
THE MUSIC SCENE OF NEW YORK CITY
What if we go a little deeper into this New York thing? Everyone knows that this city used to be one of the most important cities in the metal, rock, hard rock and punk in the world. But things have changed a lot since then. The clubs have disappeared, musical trends and styles have changed, every thing is now different to what it used to be before. My question is, how have you guys survived in these circumstances? (Laughs)
Tom: Yes, like you said earlier in NYC before KILLCODE, there was a bit of quiet time and a down time in the hard rock scene. You had the indie scene and bands like The Strokes and Interpol and these other bands. For whatever reason, Hard Rock at the time wasn’t the popular thing.
D.C: No it wasn’t a popular thing.
Tom: After that the bands that we liked either broke up or they got to the next level. We decided, okay. Now it’s our time to start something new. So, what we said to ourselves was, instead of just worrying about KILLCODE, let’s worry about the collective scene, the New York Rock scene. We started putting together shows and booking them with our friends and the bands we liked. We wanted to make each show an event! It started working and clicking. Prior to our scene, you didn’t have any local bands on our level, headlining the bigger rooms. They played the small rooms. Local up and coming bands didn’t headline Irving Plaza, Bowery Ballroom, Gramercy Theatre or play at Roseland Ballroom. We did that but again, not just by ourselves. We did this with other local bands and like I said things stared clicking.
D.C: Yeah. In New York City back in the day there was a fantastic scene, Metal, Hard Rock, Hardcore and Punk. It was incredible. You would go to see a local band and there would be a line around the corner. There was just a natural scene everywhere you went, and even the bad shows were okay. Then I don’t know what happened. Everybody started disappearing. Where the hell did all these people go? They literally just disappeared from the city. You’re right. It was very, very quiet here for a decade.
A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USA, EUROPE AND MEXICO
I have spoken with a number of musicians who are completely tired of the current musical trends here in the United States. Albums do not sell, and fewer and fewer people go to concerts anymore. But in Europe the situation is different. The album sales fall there too, but the gigs are still selling well. What is also noteworthy is the fact that also young people are going a lot of metal / hard rock concerts there. Many of them have learned to listen to this music through their parents and you’ll see a lot of father’s and son’s or entire families on concerts. Have you noticed the difference between the USA and Europe?
Tom: A huge difference
D.C: We did notice this traveling throughout the world, Europe and Mexico. There is a difference. When you’re in the audience, you see teenagers and you see people in their 50 and 60s. There is a really good mix and you can tell that those people are doing a really good job of raising their kids right. Right now in the states a lot of people are into pop and rap music. You turn on the radio and you’re just killing yourself trying to find a rock station and a rock band in the US.
Tom: In South America and Europe, it’s just a different passion. They’re very passionate about Rock and Metal. In the States lately it’s true that it hasn’t been that way. I will say it’s gotten to a point now, where it’s coming back. We’ve been blessed and most bands aren’t as lucky, to have the opportunity to be able to travel the world without record sales that are breaking huge numbers yet. But at the end of the day like you said, no one is making huge numbers, even the big bands, unless you’re Iron Maiden or something. So I totally get what you are saying. But for us we feel that if we can put on a great show, then you’ll buy the CD. We still believe that there are people who will still say, “Okay, I like them live and now I’m going to buy their CD.” I want to hear it and I want to feel it.”
One important thing nowadays is to make sure that you have enough good looking merchandise, t-shirts etc. A brand, and I can honestly say that you guys have really good looking stuff and designs.
Tom: Thanks! We do that on our own.
D.C: Yes we do.
Tom: One of the things that did help us in New York City and in general, has been T-Shirts, our designs and merchandise. Having great merchandise has really helped us spread the CODE. Building a brand has been key to our success so far.
NEW KILLCODE ALBUM
Let’s discuss next more about your new album. You already mentioned that’s already available on your website.
Tom: We finished it probably about six, seven months ago. Our management is looking at different distribution options and want to be sure it gets out there and promoted correctly so we are being patient. It is still available on our website killcode.net and at all our shows. Like I mentioned earlier, the album was produced by Joey Z, who is the guitar player for Life of Agony. They are making a big resurgence right now as well and one of our favorite bands when we were younger. It’s 11 tracks that we’re really excited about it. We definitely have spread our wings for a lack of better word. We pushed the envelope a little bit, in different ways. Not just we got a little heavier. We also got more introspective, a little more emotional. I won’t say light, because even the slowest songs to me still have some substance.
D.C: They’re deeper too. Actually, some of the slow stuff on the new release is our heavy stuff. It’s deeper and it’s darker.
So do you have any idea who’s going to release the album?
D.C: Essentially, we finished the album and we’ve been sitting on it for a bit. The record business is very weird right now. It’s like we can literally release this tomorrow and we just may do that and may be the best idea. Like Tom said we’re trying to figure out what’s the best way of releasing this and we’re negotiating with a bunch of different distributors and options.
Tom: We’re not in a rush and we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be doing this for the rest of our lives so we have to be smart about it.
TOURING PLANS AND THE FUTURE
But what kind or touring plans you have for the next year already?
Tom: In 2016 we toured with Twisted Sister around the world and in Mexico. We also did an East Coast run with Ace Frehley. In 2017 we plan to return and play most of the festivals we played at in 2016 while hitting new places in the surrounding countries.
D.C: We also played alongside Kiss and Sepultura in 2016, which was amazing.
Tom: On the tours last year no one really knew who we were but we proved ourselves and for lack of better words, knocked it out of the park! That’s one of the reasons we are invited back to play again at these festivals this year. We’ll be back at festivals like Heaven & Hell in Mexico and Bang Your Head festival in Germany. What we’re going to try and do as well is use those as anchor gigs for surrounding areas like Finland, Sweden, Norway
D.C.: We’re excited to get back out there this year and there are many things in the works.
This maybe an odd question, but do you think that the last show you played in Mexico, in 2016 is really going to be the last Twisted Sister show ever?
Tom: I think so but I really can’t say or speak for them.
D.C: I think it’s the last show.
Now we have covered about every question I had in my mind, but how you would like to see the future of KILLCODE from now?
Tom: The future of KILLCODE at the moment is getting our new album “The Answer“ out to the masses and tour everywhere we can in support of it!
D.C.: I would say this, after being on the road with some of our childhood heroes and playing with these guys every night we’ve learned a lot. Bands like Twisted Sister were together for 40 years and that’s how I see KILLCODE. I hope that we’re allowed that opportunity. That’s what I want.
Tom: Thanks for the interview and if you or anyone reading this want to hear more, just go to killcode.net. You can listen to all our past music, a few songs off the new album and some free downloads! Thanks for helping us “SPREAD THE CODE!!!”
D.C., Marko and Tom with “the crew” in RnR bar “Three Of Cups” in NYC
“We have all the drums recorded for the new record, performed by Scott Fuller from Annihilated, and will soon start on the guitars, vocals and bass. It has been awesome working with Erik Rutan and Mana Studios. We have a really cool collection of new material.
There are also lots of touring plans for this new year so we hope to see you all on the road!!!!
New York death metal giants IMMOLATION will release their new album Atonement on February 24th via Nuclear Blast Records. Today, the band has released their second video trailer for Atonement, in which Ross Dolan discusses how he became the singer and bass player of the band. Check out the clip, here.
IMMOLATION recently launched the first single for Atonement, “Destructive Currents”, via a 360º video, here.
Atonement was recorded at Millbrook Sound Studios in Millbrook, NY with longtime producer Paul Orofino, and mixed and mastered once again by Zack Ohren (ALL SHALL PERISH, DECREPIT BIRTH, SUFFOCATION). Cover art was created by renowned artist Pär Olofsson (IMMORTAL, THE FACELESS, EXODUS, ABYSMAL DAWN), along with additional artwork by the very talented Zbigniew Bielak (GHOST, ENSLAVED, PARADISE LOST, WATAIN).
BLACK STAR RIDERS are set to release their forthcoming album Heavy Fire on the February, 3rd 2017 via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Today, the band premieres the new video for second single, ‘Testify Or Say Goodbye’.
Frontman Ricky Warwick comments on the track: “Power, glory, rock n roll with a whole lotta soul..
You gotta testify or say goodbye
Tell me no secrets, tell me no lies
Get up on the stand look me straight in the eye
You gotta testify or say goodbye … Kinda says it all really !!!”
The track was originally premiered as a world exclusive on Ken Bruce’s BBC Radio 2 show – listen back here.
From the immediate riffs of album opener Heavy Fire to the instant hooks of first single “When The Night Comes In,” from the dirty bass groove of “Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed” to the familiar and trademark dual guitars of Gorham and Johnson on “Testify Or Say Goodbye,” Heavy Fire is an album that will further cement BSR’s reputation as one of the world premiere rock acts.
Following on from their critically acclaimed albums All Hell Breaks Loose and The Killer Instinct, which have paved the way for Black Star Riders to be recognized as a power force in the modern day of Rock n’ Roll, Heavy Fire will be once again released by Nuclear Blast Entertainment. The band have also brought in Pledgemusic, one of the most innovative and successful platforms of the modern music world, to give fans extra special product and experiences to go along with the album’s release.
Heavy Fire Tracklisting:
1. Heavy Fire
2. When The Night Comes In
3. Dancing With The Wrong Girl
4. Who Rides The Tiger
5. Cold War Love
6. Testify Or Say Goodbye
7. Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed
8. True Blue Kid
9. Ticket To Rise
10. Letting Go Of Me
The Limited Edition Digibook CD will have above Tracklisting plus
Limited Edition Gatefold Vinyl
Limited Edition Picture Disc
1. Heavy Fire
2. When The Night Comes In
3. Dancing With The Wrong Girl
4. Who Rides The Tiger
5. Cold War Love
1. Testify Or Say Goodbye
2. Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed
3. True Blue Kid
4. Ticket To Rise
5. Letting Go Of Me
After a full year off the road, Black Star Riders (Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson, Robert Crane and Jimmy DeGrasso) are back with a 16 date UK & Ireland run, joined on the first five dates by Scottish rockers Gun and The Amorettes and then Sweden’s own Backyard Babies with Gun on the remaining 11 shows.
For More Information:
Building upon the success of their 2014 self-titled debut, KXM returns with their sophomore album Scatterbrain. The new album is scheduled for release on March 17th via Rat Pak Records. Scatterbrain is currently available for pre-order via the Rat Pak Records website in various bundles including signed CD’s and t-shirts. All fans who pre-order the album through the Rat Pak website will be entered to win a one-of-a-kind custom guitar as well as other prizes. The pre-order is available at RatPakRecords.com/KXM. KXM is comprised of dUg Pinnick of King’s X on vocals/bass, George Lynch of Lynch Mob/Dokken on guitars and Ray Luzier, of Korn on drums. Scatterbrain features 13 brand new tracks and was recorded at the Steakhouse studio in North Hollywood California. The album was produced by Chris “The Wizard” Collier (Flotsam & Jetsam/Prong/Last In Line) who also produced the band’s 2014 debut.
From the infectious riff of the album opener “Scatterbrain” to the outro of “Angel,” KXM have created something truly special and musically diverse. Songs like “Breakout,” “Calypso,” and “True Deceivers” are sonically different from each other taking the listener on a musical journey. Scatterbrain is thematically a darker record than the debut. The album builds upon the developed KXM rock sound but this time includes some different dynamics drawing inspiration from prog, ska, punk and metal. Through it all, it remains undeniably KXM.
Recorded over the span of 10 days, every song on Scatterbrain was the result of a musical jam from all three members playing together in the same room. Ray Luzier explains on the process, “We wanted to use the same formula as the 1st KXM record: book studio time, come in fresh every day with a new idea & run with it and not over think anything.” George Lynch described the sessions as Record-topia: “we showed up in the studio, camped out with a bunch of gear and let the tape roll! Just like the first album, no pre-production, no rehearsal, no pre-written songs.” dUg Pinnick adds: “The vibe was like a bunch of old friends having fun creating music like the previous record, nothing but fun!”
The track listing for Scatterbrain is:
03. Big Sky Country
05. Not a Single Word
07. Noises In The Sky
08. Panic Attack
09. It’s Never Enough
10. True Deceivers
KXM formed in early 2013 when dUg, George and Ray spoke about trying to jam together. At the time it wasn’t clear what would come from those jams. The only thing that was clear was that these 3 musicians, at the top of their game, wanted to play together. The self-titled debut, KXM, was released on March 11, 2014 and debuted at #31 on the Billboard 200. The band takes its name from the combination of the member’s other projects: K from Korn, X from King’s X and M from Lynch Mob. In a world that constantly searches for new and unique music, KXM delivers all the power and punch that one would expect from these high level players.