Posts Tagged ‘Best of 2016’

Page 1 of 212 Best of 2016

January 21st, 2017

As always, the top albums of the year are for full albums (no EP’s or demos) released in 2016. They are new studio albums for the year, not re-recordings, re-releases, cover songs, or live albums. Below the combined TOP 30 are links to each individual staff members’ personal “best of” lists which besides their top albums contains such things as best new band, best DVD/Blu-Ray, best metal book, disappointments of the year, greatest hopes for 2017, personal metal discovery of the year, and various other categories. Enjoy!

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Best of 2016: Celtic Bob

January 21st, 2017

2016 By Celtic Bob

That time has come yet again for our annual list of what we personally and collectively thought were the best releases of 2016. As with previous years, my list has both Rock and Metal where I handle the Lets Get Rocked portion of the site. Yet again I have to say, “Is it still 1989?”. The vast majority of my list is compromised of bands and artists I listened to back when I was in High school from ’86 to ’89. Not much has changed it appears.

#1. Tygers Of Pan Tang

I discovered the Tygers through my journey into the NWOBHM. With the Tygers it was deeper. I went past just an anthology of ‘Hits’. I needed more as these guys were exactly what I loved about the genre and early 80’s Metal.

#2.Anthrax – For All Kings

Perfect follow-up to WORSHIP MUSIC. This is an excellent LP that has gotten many spins and will continue to do so. It’s classic 80’s ‘thrax for the future.

#3. Megadeth – Dystopia

I loved Megadeth back in the 80’s. They were one of my favourite bands. I remember picking up the KILLING IS MY BUSINESS tape back in February of ’88 while on a road trip to see Alice Cooper with Motörhead opening. After COUNTDOWN they lost me but by ENDGAME I started listening again. The past few have been hit and miss with some great music here and there but nothing that was really memorable, until now. DYSTOPIA is their best since COUNTDOWN in my mind. Let us hope the Dave’s continue down this path.

Diamond Head

This album took me by surprise, no two ways about it. Like many, I heard of Diamond Head due to Metallica covering them. A couple years ago I dug a little deeper into the NWOBHM partially due to Martin Popoff’s fantastic books on the genre which led me to John Tucker’s book on Neat Records. That started my journey outside the songs that were covered. Then I hear that Diamond Head were releasing an album so I was interested and lo and behold when my CD arrived I was surprised. They maintained that classic, early 80’s sound, yet made it fresh and modern. Cannot wait for my LP to arrive and give it a spin while enjoying a cold British bitter.

Death Angel – The Evil Divide

Another band I loved in high school. I wore out my ULTRA VIOLENCE tape during my senior year I think? Lost track like I did with many in the 90’s but got back on board with their last one. THE EVIL DIVIDE is the perfect follow-up to THIS DREAM CALLS FOR BLOOD. I loved that album and it got countless plays here in the Celtic house, in the vehicle and at work (yes, my co-workers were subjected to the glorious sounds of Death Angel playing from my desk). This new one will get just as many spins as its predecessor.

Flotsam & Jetsam

Pattern here I am thinking. Heard of them when Newstead joined Metallica so I bought the tape of NO PLACE FOR DISGRACE. I enjoyed it but never went any further until UGLY NOISE came out. Loved that CD so was interested in this new self-titled release. It never disappointed. It’s a great release and my LP just arrived which I look forward to spinning soon.

Rock Wolves

The debut of the year for me. When I read the press release, it sparked my interest but never gave me that high interest feeling. When the video for “Rock For The Nations” premiered all that changed and I immediately placed an order for the LP (which looks beautiful by the way). A solid Hard Rock album from the ex-Scorpions drummer.

Beasto Blanco

Sophomore album from Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric and Alice’s daughter Calico. This continues on where LIVE FAST, DIE LOUD ended with dirty, raw heavy Rock with a Punk influence. The Alice cover is quite interesting to say the least. Adds a whole new dimension to the Classic track. If you need a comparison for this it’s like Rob Zombie meets Ramones meets a darker, heavier Alice Cooper. Fantastic album.

Glenn Hughes – Resonate

I love Deep Purple so this sparked my interest from that angle. I liked Black Country Communion but couldn’t really get into it like I wanted. My initial feelings on this where skeptical at best but still interested to hear it. When I first heard “Heavy”, that did it for me, I was in awe. This was going to be good. As I listened to the digital copy I was really digging it and began raving about it on my social media. An excellent Hard Rock album.

Michael Sweet – One Sided War

This is quite possibly the heaviest and best thing Michael Sweet has ever done in his career. It’s heavy, melodic and just kicks ass. No other description comes to mind.

Phil Rudd – Head Job

Where to begin? Former AC/DC drummer reemerges with an album that proves to the world that he was an integral part to the AC/DC sound and an essential part of the groove that they once had. It was him and Mal that gave the band the groove. Good to see him cleaned up and back behind the kit.

Shakra – High Noon

80’s influenced Metal with a bit of a Glam Rock thrown into the mix. Need I say more? Fun album to crank up and have a few with.

Metal Church – XI

Mike Howe returns!! For many he was the only singer for Metal Church. I liked Metal Church back in the day and one of the first CD’s I bought was BLESSING IN DISGUISE (which I ended up trading with Evil G in the 90’s for a Jeff Healey one). I loved GENERATION REALITY from a couple years ago so change of singer’s had me wondering where that was my re-introduction to the band. It works, he’s back and the classic sound is intact.

Grim Reaper – Walking In The Shadows

SEE YOU IN HELL was the introduction to the band and I am embarrassed to say that is all I know outside this album. That WILL change in 2017 as both are excellent albums. Unfortunately Nick Bowcott is no longer in the band and all is left is original vocalist Steve Grimmett. Either way, an excellent Metal album for all you NWOBHM fans.

Prong – X

BEG TO DIFFER was my introduction to Prong. Lost track after that but reintroduced myself with RUINING LIVES. This album took just the initial spin to get into, same as RUINING LIVES did. Can Prong do no wrong?

The Roth-Brock Project

A solid Melodic Hard Rock album. Not much more need be said.

Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake

Loved ‘em in the 80’s, lost track in the 90’s but got back on board with DARK ROOTS. Heavier now than ever and are quite possibly the heaviest band I listen to along with Kreator and Slayer.

Rob Zombie – The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser

Who doesn’t love a little Zombie? A heavy, fun listen. A must for all Zombie and Cooper fans.

Airbourne – Breakin’ Outta Hell

A fun album, like Rock n Roll should be. Simple and straightforward.

Vardis – Red Eye

More new NWOBHM. Excellent album from top to bottom. True to their roots with no change in direction.

LGR Top 6

David Bowie – ★

Not jumping on the bandwagon by any stretch of the imagination as I have been a fan for well over 20 years. I had ★ pre-ordered from the official site a month prior. It was instantaneously SOLD OUT and my copy never shipped so I scrambled to locate a copy as they were selling out everywhere then finally it shipped but in the meantime I received a digital copy. From the first note onwards, I was transfixed. It was haunting, yet stunningly beautiful all at the same time. By the time I heard it, Bowie had passed so the album took on a darker meaning. Here we are, a year later still in shock that he is gone and this album is still in rotation and sounds as fresh as that initial spin.

Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello

Anyone that knows me personally can attest to my love of Cheap Trick. The first LP that I ever bought with my own $$ was Cheap Trick’s Budokan for $7.49 back in the day. I have seen them three times (Twice with Bun E.) so my love of Trick is undeniable. This new LP is fantastic on every level. If you enjoy the classic songs but unfamiliar with anything else, take a chance on this one as you will not be disappointed. It has a bit of the 80’s Power Pop feel to it but rocks hard like their 70’s material.

Jeff Healey – Heal My Soul

Unearthed album from the late Jeff Healey. What is there to say? He was always on top of his game. This along with the unreleased Demo’s CD a few years ago are a testament to that even his unreleased music is better than most of the current drivel that is issued. Thankfully these recordings saw the light.

Damn Pigeon – Whisky Sinners

Independent artist Damn Pigeon from Ontario, Canada released the excellent Whisky Sinners CD. This is not quite a Metal album but it it much heavier than he average Rock record. I have struggled on where to put this release on my list. Some of it is Metal, some Hard Rock and other parts just good ‘ol Rock n Roll. Tough call. Either way, an excellent CD that you need to check out.

Lee Aaron – Fire and Gasoline

The ‘Metal Queen’ returns with a not so Metal album. Personally, I love the album otherwise it would not be in my list. I chose to put it in my Rock list as it’s not a Hard Rock or Metal album. At places it does get a bit heavy but it’s mostly a Rock album. I love Lee’s voice and she still has it. This is a great Rock record and I have hopes that the next one will be heavier.

Bobnoxious – Mark Of The Devil

Again, anyone that knows me personally know I am a huge Bobnoxious fan. This release is a little different as it seems more geared toward Halloween from the pumpkin cover to the first single, “Halloween Baby”. Regardless of that it is a good solid ‘noxious disc.

Best Live Album

Motörhead – Clean Your Clock
We lost Lemmy in 2015 but we get one of the final shows in 2016 to remind us of his greatness and that he gave his all right to the end.

Best EP

Ghost – Popestar

One of my favourite bands of recent years. This EP of covers is fantastic and their version of “Missionary Man” is worth the price of admission alone. Let us hope 2017 brings us a new LP.

Best Covers album

Toque – Giv’er

Todd “Dammit” Kerns and Brent Fitz’s new project. This album is the ultimate in Canadian Classic Rock. It was released just in time for Xmas and immediately went on repeat and was turned up for 2 days straight. I was never big on cover songs but it doesn’t get any better than this. I hope they issue it on LP and it’s follow-up includes some Helix, Killer Dwarfs, Kick Axe and Coney Hatch.


Comeback of the year is a two-way tie. Both of these classic NWOBHM bands released stellar self-titled LP’s in 2016.
Tygers Of Pan Tang
Diamond Head

Best Book
Metallica: Back To The Front by Matt Taylor

An excellent hard cover book filled with amazing photos documenting Metallica’s last great album. It’s too bad the band never released the PUPPETS box to coincide with this book coming out.

Best DVD/Blu-ray
Extreme – Pornograffitti Live 25

WOW! Just…WOW!
I first received an online stream of this and thought it was killer but once the Blu-Ray showed up and I was able to enjoy it on my large screen plasma with the audio pumping through the speaker it was beyond phenomenal.

Best Concert

Being isolated on a small island the concerts are minimal at best. This past April I did travel to see Iron Maiden and it was easily one of the best concerts I have seen in my life.

Best new band (their debut full length is a 2016 release)

Rock Wolves

Ex-Scorpion Herman “Ze German” Rarebell’s new project. Nothing I can say except “Buy It”. This is easily the debut LP of 2016 and needs to be in your collection.

Major event

The death of Bowie, hands down was the biggest event for me. Like the loss of Lemmy just weeks prior this one had an impact. I love his music and it was just the day prior that I mentioned to a promoter of trying to get him to play the local Festival. Bowie was not Metal but his influence is felt in the Metal community.

Packaging of the year

This is an idea that Evil G gave me a few years ago due to the fact that I primarily buy records rather than CD’s. This years award is not Metal but his influence is felt by many in the Hard Rock and Metal community. I am referring to the late David Bowie. Not only was his final studio album ★ incredible, the packaging was unique and equally interesting. From the die-cut star front of the jacket showing the black (or clear if you were fortunate enough) record to the inner section that once held up to the sunlight displays a galaxy of stars. As the year went on it was discovered that a reflection of Bowie in the inner gatefold is reflected if held a certain way. another fan counted the total number of points on the black stars in the booklet, and realised they total the number 69 which was his age when he died. Since then, the album designer has said that there are many aspects to the cover that fans (and Bowie himself never knew) have yet to discover. He went on to say that there is one big one that has yet to be discovered.

Predictions and hopes for 2017

With huge box sets coming out hand over fist I would love to see a properly mastered, cut from the original tapes LP set for Motörhead come out in 2017. All the albums in one nice ‘Road Case’ looking box with a double LP collection of rarities and unreleased.

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Best of 2016: EvilG

January 20th, 2017

TOP 20 METAL albums

#1. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake

Testament - Brotherhood of the Snake`

Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake

Testament continues to wow me with their savage power, melody, riffs, drums, vocals, just everything about this band continues to exemplify perfection.

#2. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker

Primal Fear "Rulebreaker"

Primal Fear “Rulebreaker”

One of my fav bands continue their delivery of supreme power metal. Maybe a tiny step down from their previous release, but nothing to worry about as the album is still a very enjoyable listen. Maybe a couple faster songs and 1-2 less mid-tempo ones would have made this my #1 album but I’m not complaining.

#3. Borknagar – Winter Thrice

borknagar winter thrice

Although this album didn’t make my number one, this band, and album, made a big impact on me in 2016 as I went back and revisited a bunch of their releases along with all the Vintersorg albums in my collection. I’ve always liked the band, but with this album I found myself mesmerized by the mixture of folky metal mixed with some kind of prog black metal.

#4. Megadeth – Dystopia

Megadeth - DYSTOPIA

Megadeth – DYSTOPIA

Loved this album and it’s more aggressive Rust in Peace feel (I also really enjoyed 2013’s lighter Super Collider though). Kiko Loureiro on lead guitar is amazing, but it’s the riffs and songwriting that are just soooo good. Hope this band continues for many more years!

5. HammerFall – Built to Last

HammerFall - Built to Last

The Swede’s 10th studio album is in line with the bands early days as the album cover-art hinted at. I love all their albums so anything they do that even comes close to GLORY TO THE BRAVE is going to make me happy.

  1. Iron Savior – Titancraft

  2. Avantasia – Ghostlights

  3. Anthrax – For All Kings

  4. Death Angel – The Evil Divide

  5. Rhapsody of Fire – Into the Legend

  6. Striker – Stand in the Fire

  7. Metal Church – XI

  8. Prong – No Absolutes

  9. Sabaton – The Last Stand

  10. Metallica – Hardwired…to Self-Destruct

  11. Pain – Coming Home

  12. Flotsam and Jetsam – ST

  13. Anvil – Anvil is Anvil

  14. Sodom – Decision Day

  15. Brainstorm – Scary Creatures

Honorable Mentions:

Vader – The Empire
Eternal Champion – The Armor Of Ire
Iron Fire – Among the Dead
Freedom Call – Master of Light

Best EP

VoiVod – Post Society


Best Remake Album

Einherjer – Dragons of the North XX

Wow it’s been 20yrs!? I have the original on CD and it was a special album. Now with a much better studio budget and recording production, the album sounds ever better.

Best Book

Metallica – Back to the Front by Matt Taylor


Best Concert

Primal Fear with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. I’ve seen PF live umpteen times now as they are about my fav band, but Rhapsody are not a band that comes this way so it was quite a treat to be front row and watch Luca Turilli melt my brain for the two concert dates I followed the tour for (Montreal and Toronto).

Primal Fear - Toronto

Primal Fear – Toronto

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Toronto

Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – Toronto

Best New Band

(debut full length was from 2016)

Almanac – Tsar

Eternal Champion – The Armor Of Ire

Disappointment of 2016

There is is one main thing that tops my musical disappointments for 2016 – that is the lack of new Gamma Ray music or from what I’ve heard, any solid plans. With the (albeit super exciting) announcement of Kai re-uniting with Helloween for a 2017 tour (not a permanent reuniting) and with Henjo off starting his new band Unity….Kai’s 2016 solo album which was mostly OK, but it wasn’t Gamma Ray…etc…yes they are alive and doing musical things, but not together. As well, for me, there is the question mark of Gamma Ray’s new vocalist Frank Beck. They sadly don’t tour here, so I haven’t heard him (shit phone YouTube clips do not count). I would of course prefer to have Kai sing in Gamma Ray, or maybe get Ralf (as long as it didn’t detract from PF)…but time will tell and I’m willing to give it a chance. Regardless, for 2016, my greatest disappointment is with the lack of new material, with Canadian tour dates, etc for what is my favorite band, Gamma Ray. I have faith in Kai Hansen. He is one of those musicians to whom I look up to the most (why can’t their be a detailed autobiography about Kai and his complete musical life? Rather than more 80’s pop metallers writing books…) So I still have hope there will be life for Gamma Ray but it seems that won’t be until 2018?

Hopes for 2017

  • I’d love for the reunited Helloween re-united to not only tour (including some Canadian dates please!) but to record an album that will have on vocals: Kai, Kiske, and Deris! That would be such a gift as a long time fan of the band and a fan of all the bands incarnations.
  • New King Diamond studio album….please!!!
  • The reunited Ratt must record a new album that will be as cool as 2010’s Infestation. As well, the band needs to play some Canadian dates.
  • Týr release a follow-up to their 2013 album….and it will be glorious.
  • A new Slayer album would be nice…wishful thinking that it might come in 2017.
  • New studio albums from Jag Panzer, Metsatöll, Edguy, and so many more
  • I’ve given up wishing for a reunited Savatage. It was on my list for about a decade…but I’ve given up and will just go crank Hall of the Mountain King and remember what once was.

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Best of 2016: Manos

January 15th, 2017
  1. Hellstar – Vampiro

Hellstar – VampiroAmazing album released in the end of 2016. After 34 years of existence Helstar are in top form. Fast rhythms, insane singing creates a relentless album that doesn’t let it till final song. Absolutely killer!

2. Warfect – Scavangers

From Kreator to Destruction to the golden days of Nuclear Assault. Bone crushing songs bursting with speed, aggressiveness and imagination. If there’s justice in this world these guys could become the next Kreator. Thrash at its best

3.  Assassin’s Blade – Agents of mystification

Excellent classic metal collaboration featuring former Exciter singer Jacques Bellanger. Passionate music and cool songs what else could you ask for?

4.  Chronos Zero – Hollowlands

Symphony X fused with death metal and female vocals ? Can this happen? If anyone can pull this of then it’s Chronos Zero from Italy. Jaw dropping music skills, complex arrangements and awesome singing from a guy that would make Russel Allen (of Symphony X) wonder if he has an evil twin

5.  Nordic Union – Nordic Union

Superb hard rock with a kick ass vocal performance of Ronnie Atkins from Pretty Maids.  Hard rock at its fucking best!

6. Tarchon Fist – Celebration

7. Innerwish – Innerwish

8. Wardrum – Awakening

9. Madder Mortem – Red in tooth and claw

10. Wedingoth – Alone in the crowd

11. Meshuggah – The violent sleep of reason

12. Hansen & Friends – XXX Three decades in metal

13. Herman Frank – The Devil rides out

14. Blazon Stone – War of the roses

15. Brainstorm – Scary creatures

16. Wolf Hoffmann – Headbangers symphony

17. Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct

18. Megadeth – Dystopia

19. False Coda – Secrets & sins

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Best of 2016: Oliver Manso

January 13th, 2017

Top 10 Albums

 1. AVANTASIA “Ghostlights”
2. AXEL RUDI PELL “Game of Sins”
3. ELDERBLOOD “Messiah”
4. EVERGREY “The Storm Within”
5. FORTERESSE “Thèmes pour la rébellion”
6. GRAVELAND “1050 Years of Pagan Cult”
7. HAMMERFALL “Built to Last”
8. RHAPSODY OF FIRE “Into the Legend”
9. SIRENIA “Dim Days of Dolor”
10. SONATA ARCTICA “The Ninth Hour”

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Best of 2016: Helias Papadopoulos

January 12th, 2017


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 - 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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Best of 2016: Peter Atkinson

January 10th, 2017

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



  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

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 - self-destruct


19. Great Master – Lion & Queen

20. Iron Savior – Titancraft

Best New Band:

Helion Prime – Helion Prime


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


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


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

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



Best Comeback



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


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



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 !


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 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.

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?


SEBASTIAN BACH – 18 and Life. – A good read for any hard rock / metal head.


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.



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!!


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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Best of 2016: Robert Williams

January 10th, 2017

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

Top 20 Metal Albums 2016

1. 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

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

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

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)


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.


  1. 2. The Defiants – The Defiants

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


  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.


Best ‘Best of…’

Graham Bonnet Band – The Book


Best Concert

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

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.


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

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.


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.



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

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.



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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