Best of 2016: Helias Papadopoulos

January 12th, 2017
by Metal Rules

TOP 20 METAL ALBUMS 2016

1. Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct
That was a great comeback by one of the biggest metal bands in the world. Simple as that.

Metallica - Hardwired...to self-destruct

2. Anthrax – For All Kings
Anthrax is not one of my favorite bands, BUT their last effort grabbed me and rocked me out!

3. Rotting Christ – Rituals
Greece’s most famous black metal band, Rotting Christ’s almost 30 years after their establishment, they managed to release an album that will be remembered as an instant classic!

4. Gojira – Magma
5. Opeth – Sorceress
6. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake
7. Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason
8. Marauder – Bullethead
9. Universe 217 – Change
10. Vader – The Empire
11. Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies
12. Avantasia – Ghostlights
13. Artillery – Penalty by Perception
14. Vektor – Terminal Redux
15. Diamond Head – Diamond Head
16. Suicidal Angels – Division of Blood
17. Sodom – Decision Day
18. Evergrey – The Storm Within
19. Wardrum – Awakening
20. Epica – The Holographic Principle

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Nominations for the 2017 Hall of Heavy Metal History

January 12th, 2017
by EvilG

Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy Kilmister, Randy Rhoads, Ross The Boss Friedman, Frankie Banali   Among 2017 Hall of Heavy Metal History Inductees

METAL BLADE RECORDS, SCORPIONS, AND THE RAINBOW JUST NOMINATED TO THE HALL OF HEAVY METAL HISTORY

Anaheim, CA,  (January 7, 2017) – Metal Blade Records (Celebrating their 35th Anniversary), Scorpions, and the Rainbow Bar and Grill have just joined the list of Metal Royalty who have been nominated for induction into the 2017 Hall of Heavy Metal History. The All-Star Induction Ceremony will take place on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at the Anaheim Expo Center, Anaheim CA. Television and Radio Legend Eddie Trunk  will host the event.

Performing at the Ceremony will be Dio Disciples featuring “Craig Goldy,” “Simon Wright” “Scott Warren,” “Bjorn Englen,” “Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens,” and “Joe Retta.” Ross “The Boss” (band), will also be performing, which features Iconic guitarist “Ross ‘The Boss’ Friedman,” “Rhino (Formerly of Manowar),” vocalist “Marc Lopes,” and “Mike LePond” (Symphony X and Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins). Surprise artists will also take part in the event. Supporting bands include Budderside, and LA rockers Diamond Lane.

Proceeds from the event are being donated to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund.

Sponsors include: Pepsi, TD Bank, Promark Drumsticks, D.A.D. Drum and Disablitiy Riola Design, Evans, and Modern Drummer Magazine.

The 2017 Hall of Heavy Metal History Inductees Include:

  • Ronnie James Dio, “Rainbow,” “Black Sabbath,” “Dio,” (With Wendy Dio accepting the induction)
  • Metal Blade Records (With Brian Slagel accepting the induction)
  • Scorpions (With Drummer Mikkey Dee accepting the induction)
  • Rainbow Bar and Grill (With Rainbow Bar and Grill owner Mikael Maglieri accepting the induction)
  • Lemmy Kilmister, “MotorHead” (With Manager Todd Singerman accepting the induction)
  • Ross “The Boss” Friedman, formerly of “Manowar”
  • Rudy Sarzo, formerly of “Ozzy Osbourne” and “Whitesnake.”
  • Frankie Banali, of “Quiet Riot,” (Along with a special 33rd Anniversary Induction of Quiet Riot, as the
    first band to achieve the #1 Heavy Metal Album status).
  • Vinny Appice, formerly of “Black Sabbath” and “Dio.”
  • Don Airey of “Deep Purple”
  • Andy Zildjian, President/CEO of “Sabian Cymbals
  • Randy Rhoads, “Ozzy Osbourne,” (With the Rhoads family members accepting the Induction)

“The induction of Ronnie into the Annual Hall of Heavy Metal History is indeed an honor and I know Ronnie would have been very proud,” says Wendy Dio. “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Ronnie James Dio Stand up and Shout Cancer Fund, we thank you for your support and donation. Every penny will go to cancer research and education, to hopefully one day find a cure for this horrible disease that takes the lives of so many of our loved ones.”

“We are totally honored to be inducted into such a great organization,” says Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel. “I am awestruck at the names that stand beside us, and so thankful for everyone who has helped us along the way. Huge thanks to all at the Hall of Heavy Metal History for this great honor.”

“Our family is so deeply honored to have Randy inducted into The Hall of Heavy Metal History,” says Kathy and Kelle Rhoads.” To think that after all these years since he has passed, he is STILL remembered and respected is totally awesome. His passion for music continues to inspire so many. It was always about the “Music” for him. He would be speechless about this award, and so would our Mom!!”

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SEAX – Carmine Blades

January 11th, 2017
by Robert Williams

Interview with Carmine Blades of SEAX

Conducted by Robert Williams

SEAX hail from Worcester, Massachusettes and are quickly making a name for themselves as one of the most exciting forces in Speed Metal today. With the release of their third full length album “Speed Metal Mania” the  quintet deliver unrelenting, headbanging, fist-pumping steel in the same glorious vein as such eighties titans as Exciter, Razor or Whiplash. Do yourself a favor and check out SEAX today! Pick up their new album “Speed Metal Mania” and enjoy our chat with SEAX vocalist Carmine Blades below!

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Best of 2016: Peter Atkinson

January 10th, 2017
by Metal Rules

TOP 20

1. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas – Mariner
(Indie Recordings)

Innovative Swedish heavyweights Cult of Luna countered the departure of founding guitarist Erik Olofsson with the addition – at least for Mariner,  their eighth album – of Brooklyn-based ex-Made Out Of Babies frontwoman Julie Christmas, whose vocals add a whole new dimension to the band’s otherworldly post-metal. Mariner’s steam-punky journey – part old nautical yarn, part sci-fi adventure – unfolds over five ever-more-epic tracks that eschew standard structure in favor of a series of movements that make for a compelling narrative thread and cinematic scale. Despite its often droning, potentially suffocating sound, Mariner’s 55 minutes rarely drag, a testament to the band’s considerable skill at creating mood and drama and working with dynamics to craft something that not only holds your attention but is often downright mesmerizing. Christmas certainly helps in that regard, as her voice – from its gentle lilt to its shrill screech – provides the contrast to the ursine roar of guitarists Johannes Persson and Fredrik Kihlberg. Mariner is a virtually flawless, endlessly fascinating work – a grand experiment that pays off big time again and again.

 

  1. Myrkur – Mausoleum

Relapse Records

Recorded live at the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway, Mausoleum, features bare bones, acoustic renditions of seven songs from Danish black metal provocateur Myrkur’s 2015 debut album M and eponymous 2014 EP, one new song and a stunning cover of Bathory’s “Song to Hall Up High.” Myrkur, aka Amalie Bruun, performs the material accompanied only by ex-Ulver guitarist Håvard Jorgensen, a piano and the occasional gentle harmonies of the Norwegian Girls Choir. In this setting, and with this “unplugged” folk-like approach, Myrkur’s music is utterly captivating, even magical. Bruun’s crystalline, haunting vocals, a frequent presence on her electrified work – though often contrasted by equally feral caterwauling when things go full black metal – are given free rein to shine here given the minimalist musical backing. And shine they do. Delicate and disarming, yet always somewhat melancholy – especially on the spellbinding “Song to Hall Up High” – her voice sends chills as it echoes through the cave-like setting.

 

  1. Abbath – Abbath

Season of Mist

Depending on who you believe, ex-Immortal frontman Abbath was either too drunk for his bandmates to continue with him or his bandmates were too damn lazy for him to continue with them. Either way, Abbath ventured out on his own in 2015 with his eponymous and rather amorphous new band – ex-Gorgoroth bassist King Ov Hell being the lone other constant – and in late January unleashed his self-titled debut that is arguably the best album Immortal never made. Indeed, his bandmates have accused Abbath of pinching material Immortal started working on before the split and retooling it for his own album. Nevertheless, Abbath’s debut is vicious, hooky and fiendishly inspired mainstream black metal at its finest. And as Abbath has been touring his ass off since announcing his new endeavor, he’s made an indelible stamp while his former bandmates are only just now getting things rolling again. So he may have had a point.

  1. Gojira – Magma

Roadrunner Records

 

  1. Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts

Peaceville Records

 

  1. Anthrax – For All Kings

Megaforce Records

 

  1. Ihsahn – Arktis

Candlelight Music

 

  1. First Fragment – Dasein

Unique Leader Records

 

  1. Vredehammer – Violator

Indie Recordings

 

  1. Fates Warning – Theories of Flight

Inside Out Music

 

  1. Revocation – Great Is Our Sin

Metal Blade Records

 

  1. Rebaelliun – The Hell’s Decrees

Hammerheart Records

 

  1. Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason

Nuclear Blast Records

 

  1. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Disassociation

Party Smasher

 

  1. Gadget – The Great Destroyer

Relapse Records

 

  1. Hyperion – Seraphical Euphony

Black Lion Productions

 

  1. Veilburner – The Obscene Rite

Self-released

 

  1. Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole Of The Law

Metal Blade Records

 

  1. Ulcerate – Shrines Of Paralysis

Relapse Records

 

  1. Oracles – Miserycorde

Deadlight Entertainment

 

Best Live Album: Myrkur – Mausoleum

 

Best EP: Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Arc

 

Best Concert: Gojira/TesseracT, The Fillmore, Silver Spring, Md., Sept. 21.

 

Best new band: Abbath and Oracles, both of whom deserve an asterisk, as Abbath had a long history with Immortal before their messy split and Oracles is essentially System Divide with new female vocalist Sanna Salou – after that band split when frontman Sven de Caluwe (also of Aborted) and co-vocalist Miri Milman divorced. But from the ashes, two great “new” bands emerged.

 

Best Discovery: Furia – Polish “nekrofolk” that is way better than their hokey self-description makes them sound. The band’s new EP, Guido, and full-length Księżyc milczy luty, issued but a month apart last fall, offer some occasionaly disorienting, always unique “nekro” black metal that is actually flavored more by post-metal and jazz than folk.

 

Major events in the metal world: A new Metallica album that was actually  pretty darn good, especially the first disc. “The end” of Black Sabbath.

 

Predictions for 2017: A Big 4 tour, coming to a football stadium near you this summer.

 

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Best of 2016: Waspman

January 10th, 2017
by Wasp man

Top 20 Albums

1. Sabaton – The Last Stand

Sabaton – The Last Stand

Sabaton’s historical war metal machine just keeps on grinding forward. Bigger shows, bigger tours, more fans; these guys keep working hard. I know a lot of critics were down on this album but discerning ears will find Sabaton attempting to stretch their song writing skills. Besides which, this is my list and I love this band. This is, by far, the album I’ve played the most this year.

2. Nordic Union – Nordic Union

Take the song writing talents of Eclipse’s Erik Martensson and add in the powerful vocals of Pretty Maids’ Ronnie Atkins and you have a potential recipe for hard rock heaven. Sure enough, their first collaboration under the name Nordic Union delivered in spades with a flawless record of powerful music. This was one was this close to being my #1 of the year.

3. Pretty Maids – Kingmaker

Pretty Maids – Kingmaker

Speaking of Ronnie Atkins, here he is again with his main gig, Pretty Maids. KINGMAKER is arguably the heaviest, angriest, record of their career and Atkins’ vocals are the highlight. Just great music here.

4. Brainstorm – Scary Creatures

I’m guessing a lot of people will have forgotten this album on their year-end lists as it was released way back in January of the year, but I am not one of them. Brainstorm roared back into my ears after a lengthy absence and impressed the heck out of me with superbly-written power metal.

5. Megadeth – Dystopia

Angry Mustaine redeemed himself in fans’ eyes with this thrashing return to form, probably his best effort in nearly a decade. Hopefully Kiko Loureiro finds time to continue in both Megadeth and Angra.

6. Almanac – Tsar

Almanac – Tsar

Another album that surprised me this year, Victor Smolski’s first post-Rage effort is a thunderous, symphonic power metal record that impressed me.

7. Final Chapter – Legions of the Sun

Dormant for over ten years, these speed merchant Italians knocked me on my butt this year with what is probably the most energetic power metal album of the year, outdoing their better-known forebears.

8. Amon Amarth – Jomsviking

Ten albums into their career, and Amon Amarth continue to stake their claim as the biggest melodic death metal band in the world. JOMSVIKING is another winner in a catalogue full of great albums.

9. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker

Not only did Primal Fear deliver my favorite live performance this year, they also provided yet another slab of killer Teutonic metal. Long live!

10. Avantasia – Ghostlights

Avantasia - Ghostlights

Tobi and his vagabond band of minstrels knocked out what could be their heaviest album in a bulging discography, showing that spectacular song writing is still alive and well.

  1. Blaze Bayley – Infinite Entanglement

 

12. Anthrax – For All Kings

 

13. Running Wild – Rapid Foray

14. Michael Sweet – One Sided War

15. Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

 

16. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake

17. Aftershok – Detonate

18. Metallica – Hardwired To Self-Destruct

Metallica - Hardwired...to self-destruct

 

19. Great Master – Lion & Queen

20. Iron Savior – Titancraft

Best New Band:

Helion Prime – Helion Prime

(www.facebook.com/helionprimemetal)

Both Nordic Union and Almanac could have easily taken this spot, but I though I’d highlight a truly NEW band that released their debut album this year. Shredding, crunchy power metal with ballsy vocals and sci-fi lyrics, this album kicks ass.

 

Best Book:

Martin Popoff – Metal Heart: Aiming High With Accept

Canadian metal scholar Popoff always delivers the goods with his books, and no band deserves the attention more. AIMING HIGH WITH ACCEPT leaves no stone unturned in the band’s career, right up into the BLIND RAGE album. An enjoyable, informative read.

 

Best Live Album:

Crazy Lixx – Sound Of The Live Minority

(www.crazylixx.com)

There were a ton of excellent live albums released this year, but the pure ‘80s metal joy of this record could not be beat. Crazy Lixx is a band built for kicking ass live.

 

Best EP:

Fangorn – Inferno

(www.fangornband.com)

Heavy, nature-focused folk metal from Russia, INFERNO is four blissful songs that you won’t soon forget.

 

Best DVD:

Sabaton – Heroes On Tour

Yeah, they are going to the live well a little too often now, but hey, when you have possibly the best live show in metal, keep at it.

 

Disappointments of the Year:

It’s now a massive cliché that 2016 was a terrible year for celebrity deaths (it was), but here are just some of the metal musicians we lost this year. R.I.P. to all:

  • Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio)
  • Greg Lake (ELP, Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  • Keith Emerson (ELP, Ayreon)
  • Sandy Pearlman (manager/producer of Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and many others)
  • Mike Taylor (Quartz)
  • Aleah (Swallow the Sun, Amorphis)
  • Stuart Rose (Pentagram)
  • Herve “Marquis” (ADX)
  • Norman Killeen (Threat Signal)

AC/DC and their shoddy treatment of Brian Johnson and his hearing problems. You would have hoped for more respect shown for a guy who’s been your singer for 30+ years.

Leaves Eyes’ split with Liv Kristine…enough with the drama. Sad for everyone involved.

Operation: Mindcrime – Resurrection Just…ugh.

 

Greatest Hopes for 2017:

W.A.S.P. Retrospective / Historical Set: As JP and I have said in the past, Blackie needs to get off his duff and put out the definitive historical W.A.S.P. set. This band’s history is as interesting (and sordid) as they come and it would be a fascinating listen/viewing.

I’m also looking forward to new releases from the likes of: Accept, King Diamond, Primal Fear, Iced Earth, Stephen Pearcy, and many more. Also, I can’t wait to FINALLY see Hammerfall live, and have a third go-round with the mighty Sabaton on stage.

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Best of 2016: Infamous Butcher

January 10th, 2017
by Infamous Butcher

Top 20 Albums

  1. Deranged – Struck By A Murderous Siege

    Deranged – Struck By A Murderous Siege

    Deranged – Struck By A Murderous Siege

  2. Asphyx – Incoming Death
  3. Brutality – Sea of Ignorance
  4. Megadeth – Dystopia
  5. Ruinous – Graves of Ceaseless Death
  6. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake
  7. Prong – No Absolutes
  8. Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies
  9. Sakrilejist – Malum In Se
  10. Vader – The Empire
  11. Embalmer – Emanations From the Crypt
  12. Entombed AD – Dead Dawn
  13. Metal Church – XI
  14. Death Angel – The Evil Divide
  15. Sodom – Decision Day
  16. Mercyless – Pathetic Divinity
  17. Anvil – Anvil is Anvil
  18. Blood Incantation – Starspawn
  19. Master – An Epiphany of Hate
  20. Anthrax – For All Kings

Best Re-issued album

Malevolent Creation – Envenomed

 

Best Live Album

Obituary – Ten Thousand Ways to Die

 

Best EP

Killing Addiction – Shores of Oblivion

 

Best Boxed Set

Deranged – Stuck By A Murderous Siege / Postmortem Rituals

 

Best Concert

Black Sabbath, Madison Square Garden

Cannibal Corpse / Obituary / Cryptopsy / Abysmal Dawn, Theater of the Living Arts

Slayer / Testament / Carcass, The Fillmore Philadelphia

 

Best Festival

Maryland DeathFest XIV

 

Best Discovery

Ruinous

https://www.facebook.com/weareruinous/?fref=ts

 

Best Comeback

Megadeth

 

2017 Predictions

  1. King Diamond to FINALLY release the live ABIGAIL DVD!
  2. Ozzy to put out a terrible solo record and do a tour that I will be happy to go see.
  3. Morpheus Descends to put out their first full length album since 1993’s RITUAL OF INFINITY.
  4. Hellcannon to put out their first full length album since 2010’s INFECTED WITH VIOLENCE.

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Best of 2016: Marko

January 10th, 2017
by Marko Syrjala

THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2016

1. Anthrax: For All Kings


– 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

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

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
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

 

BEST EP

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.

BEST DVD

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.

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Six Feet Under reveals details for new album, ‘Torment’; launches first single, “Sacrificial Kill”

January 10th, 2017
by EvilG


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.

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Best of 2016: Robert Williams

January 10th, 2017
by Robert Williams

Best of 2016

1. Savage Master – With Whips and Chains

Savage Master - With Whips And Chains

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


Best EP

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.

Best Reissue

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.

 

Best Concert

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.

Best Festival

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

Jesse Jane

You know what? I usually prefer brunettes but with tit’s like Jesse Jane’s she could have purple hair for all I care!

Best Beer

Rolling Rock

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.

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Best of 2016: Erich

January 9th, 2017
by Erich Heintzelman

Top 20 Metal Albums 2016

1. Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight

Fates_Warning_-_Theories_of_Flight

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

Honorable Mentions:

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.

  1. The Cult – Hidden City
  2. Ace Frehley – Origins Vol. 1
  3. Autograph – Louder
  4. 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

  1. Powerwolf– The Metal Mass Live
  2. The Gathering – TG25: Live at Doornroosje
  3. Orden Ogan – The Book Of Ogan
  4. Judas Priest – Battle Cry

Best EP

  1. Frenzy – Lethal Protector
  2. Delain – Lunar Prelude
  3. 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.

Biggest Disappointments

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.  

Metal Triumphs

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?

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Best of 2016: JP

January 9th, 2017
by J P

JP’s year in review list

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)
Yngwie J. Malmsteen-World On Fire

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)

Best EP:
Candlemass-Death Thy Lover (Napalm)

Best Remake: 
Brainstorm-Memorial Roots-Rerooted (AFM)

Best Covers Album:
Jorn-Heavy Rock Radio (Frontiers)

Best Book:
Opeth-Book Of Opeth (Rocket 88)

Best Local band:
Solborn (Edmonton, Alberta)

Best Concert:
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)

Best Discovery: 
Angeles y Demonios (Mexico)

Best Comeback:
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.

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Best of 2016: Brat

January 9th, 2017
by Brat

Top 20 2016

  1. Almanac – Tsar

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.

Almanac Tsar cover.jpg

  1. Avantasia – Ghostlights

As always, Tobias Sammet has presented us with a diversely written selection of songs and maximised impact by his choice of vocal contributors—regular and new (Dee Snider, Marco Hietala and more). See my full review at http://www.metal-rules.com/review/viewreview.php?band=Avantasia&album=Ghostlights&post_by=Brat&month=February&year=2016&pos=0

avantasia ghostlights.jpg

  1. Kissin Dynamite – Generation Goodbye

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

  1. Serentiy – Codex Atlanticus
  1. Sabaton – The Last Stand
  1. DGM – The Passage
  1. Enbound – The Blackened Heart
  1. Symphonity – King of Persia
  1. Trick or Treat – Rabbit’s Hill Pt 2
  1. Mob Rules – Tales from Beyond
  1. Circus Maximus – Havoc
  1. Pain – Coming Home
  1. Lords of Black – II
  1. Pretty Maids – Kingbreaker
  1. Rhapsody of Fire – Into The Legends
  1. Delain – Lunar Prelude
  1. Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
  1. Iron Savior – Titancraft
  1. Twilight Force – Heroes of Might Magic
  1. Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again

Page Break

Best New Band

Almanac, of course!

Almanac band.jpg

Best EP

Delain – Lunar Prelude

Delain Lunar EP.jpg

Best Live Album

Secret Sphere – One Night in Tokyo (2CD + DVD)

Secret-Sphere-One-Night-in-Tokyo.jpg

Best Rock release

  1. 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.

Inglorious_Front.jpg

  1. 2. The Defiants – The Defiants

Paul Laine, Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello? How can this not be a great melodic rock album?

THE DEFIANTS.jpg

  1. 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

Best Concert

Apocalyptica – Metro Theatre, Sydney

apocalyptica-australian-tour.jpg

Best Music DVD/Blu-Ray

Orden Ogan – The Book of Ogan

OrdenOganTheBookOfOgan.jpg

Sabaton – Heroes on Tour

Sabaton___Heroes_On_Tour.jpg

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

Best Retrospective

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.

mmm-photo.jpg

2016 Disappointments

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.

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Best of 2016: Anders Sandvall

January 9th, 2017
by Metal Rules

Best of 2016

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.

Volbeat "Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie"

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.

Evergrey - The Storm Within

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.

Va Rocks “Pull No Punches”

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.

InnerWish

5.In Flames “Battles”

6.Avantasia “Ghostlights”

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”

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”

 

Best EP

Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons “S/t”

 

 

Best DVD

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.

 

Best Concert

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

Va Rocks

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.

 

Nonexist

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.

 

Deathening

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

Va Rocks

 

Best Discovery

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.

 

Sunburst

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.

 

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Best of 2016: Aaron Yurkiewicz

January 9th, 2017
by Aaron Yurkiewicz

Top 20 Albums of 2016:

  • Darkthrone – ARCTIC THUNDER

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.

 

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Best of 2016: Lord of the Wasteland

January 9th, 2017
by Metal Rules

LORD OF THE WASTELAND’S BEST OF 2016

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2016

  1. Evergrey – THE STORM WITHIN

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Metallica – HARDWIRED…TO SELF-DESTRUCT
  2. Heaven Shall Burn – WANDERER
  3. Anaal Nathrakh – THE WHOLE OF THE LAW
  4. Metal Church – XI
  5. Dark Tranquillity – ATOMA
  6. Testament – BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE
  7. Anthrax – FOR ALL KINGS
  8. Amon Amarth – JOMSVIKING
  9. Dream Theater – THE ASTONISHING
  10. Anvil – ANVIL IS ANVIL
  11. Despised Icon – BEAST
  12. Nails – YOU WILL NEVER BE ONE OF US
  13. Megadeth – DYSTOPIA
  14. Gojira – MAGMA
  15. 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

Serpentine Dominion

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

Khemmis

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

  1. Another year of promising new CDs from Jag Panzer, Sepultura, Kreator, Rudra, Overkill and Steel Panther among others.
  2. King Diamond/Mercyful Fate DVDs (still waiting for the umpteenth year in a row!)
  3. Once again: more time available to devote to writing and contributing to the mighty Metal-Rules.com!!!!!!!

 

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