The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2013

Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s that time of the year where our ears are tortured by those boring old songs (unless you listen to something like this, the best Christmas song ever!), but at least our stomachs are rewarded with some delicious food and drinks. It’s time to look back and see what went right in our lives, our mistakes, and make plans for the coming year. And why not listing the best Heavy Metal and Hard Rock albums of 2013, which pretty much constituted the soundtrack of both our good and bad moments this year? Here are my top 10 albums of 2013, excluding EP’s, best of and live albums. I hope you enjoy the list!

Helloween_Straight Out of Hell1. Helloween – Straight Out of Hell
The German Power Metal masters are back with their most awesome album since The Time of the Oath.
Best song of the album: Straight Out of Hell

Chthonic-Bu-Tik2. Chthonic – Bú-Tik (REVIEW)
The best Heavy Metal band of the East delivers another superb album full of strength and creativity.
Best song of the album: Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace

TriviumVengeance3. Trivium – Vengeance Falls (REVIEW)
A brilliant lesson in heavy and fast riffs from Matt Heafy and his crew, proving why they are a reference in the world of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Brave This Storm

Outlaw_Gentlemen_&_Shady_Ladies_Album_Cover4. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
This band from beautiful Denmark takes another huge step to conquer the world of music.
Best song of the album: Dead But Rising

Serpents_Unleashed5. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed (REVIEW)
A magnificent and gruesome Thrash/Death Metal album from one of the most prominent new bands in the U.S.
Best song of the album: I Am Of Death (Hell Has Arrived)

Motörhead_Aftershock6. Motörhead – Aftershock (REVIEW)
Do you enjoy some good old Rock N’ Roll? If so, you must listen to this album.
Best song of the album: Do You Believe

Nemesis_by_Stratovarius7. Stratovarius – Nemesis
Stratovarius delivers an amazing album, their best since Timo Tolkki left the band in 2009.
Best song of the album: Halcyon Days

Amon-Amarth-Deciever-of-the-Gods8. Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods
Not as unique as Surtur Rising, but still a mighty and powerful album from this Swedish Melodic Death Metal band.
Best song of the album: Father of the Wolf

Black_Dog_Barking_(Album_Cover)9. Airbourne – Black Dog Barking
As long as our mates from Down Under are alive, Rock N’ Roll will never die. Get ready to rock!
Best song of the album: Live It Up

SuperCollider10. Megadeth – Super Collider
“MegaDave” and his band return with a very interesting mix of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Country and Folk music.
Best song of the album: Kingmaker

And here are the other albums that would make my top 20 list this year:

11. Black Sabbath – 13
12. Lordi – To Beast or Not to Beast
13. Carcass – Surgical Steel
14. Tarja – Colours in the Dark (REVIEW)
15. DevilDriver – Winter Kills (REVIEW)
16. Sepultura – The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart (REVIEW)
17. Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood
18. Six Feet Under – Unborn
19. Dream Theater – Dream Theater
20. Pink Cream 69 – Ceremonial

These are some of the new releases already announced for 2014 that deserve to be listened to, and that will most probably be reviewed on this blog:

Axel Rudi Pell – Into The Storm
Chrome Division – Infernal Rock Eternal
Iced Earth – Plagues Of Babylon
Primal Fear – Delivering The Black
Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead
Within Temptation – Hydra
Steel Panther – All You Can Eat
Behemoth – The Satanist

And finally, maybe we’ll have brand new material from giants such as Iron Maiden, Slayer and Judas Priest, who knows? Or something new from great bands that have been “quiet” for a good period of time like Exodus, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Cannibal Corpse, Testament, The Agonist, among others. Let’s wait and see, or even better, let’s wait and LISTEN!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2014!

Advertisements

Album Review – Five Finger Death Punch / The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Volume 2 (2013)

5FDP release the second part of what sounds pretty much like something in between Slipknot and Stone Sour.

Rating6

5FDP_Vol2It seems that there’s a huge problem with bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Avenged Sevenfold and many others from the same style and time: the lack of a true and honest musical direction in their careers. I’m not saying they shouldn’t experiment new elements and/or different approaches in their songs, but their “musical spine” looks too shallow.

Every time I listen to this band from Los Angeles, California, they sound to me more and more like a hybrid between Slipknot and Stone Sour, but with the more mainstream looks of A7X instead of the scary jumpsuits and masks. Don’t get me wrong, I consider Ivan Moody a very talented singer, as well as all other musicians (especially guitar Jason Hook), and their music is far from being boring or “MTV garbage”. However, there’s nothing that really pumps me up when I listen to 5FDP. By the way, this acronym is extremely funny to me: 5FDP in Brazilian Portuguese literally means 5 sons of a bitch (“5 Filhos Da Puta”).

Let’s focus on the music now, starting with Here to Die, the opening track and also the coolest song of the album: although it’s a good song, it’s not original at all, sounding 100% like Slipnkot. The same can be said about the next two tracks, Weight Beneath My Sin and Wrecking Ball, both with nice riffs and chorus, and ready to become hits on the radio. In Battle Born, it felt as if I was listening to Stone Sour instead of 5FDP; it’s not a bad ballad, but again too predictable.

five-finger-death-punchFans will certainly enjoy Cradle to the Grave, especially the drums which fit the song perfectly, while Matter of Time is just filler with nothing new to offer. The Agony of Regret is an average intro to the interesting ballad Cold, with its orchestral elements and beautiful lyrics. The next track, Let It Go, makes me wonder if this album is some kind of tribute to Slipknot, and songs like My Heart Lied and A Day in My Life confirm 5FDP are trying hard to be the next big Rock N’ Roll radio hit and make some money out of it, but they don’t work well with more extreme metal fans like myself. Maybe the most enjoyable moment of the album is not one of their own songs: House of the Rising Sun is a well played heavy version for a traditional folk song which author is unknown, with the band The Animals playing the most beautiful version of it in 1964.

I didn’t fully listen to The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Volume 1, only Lift Me Up (featuring the one and only Metal God Rob Halford), but based on the reviews I’ve read so far the material was not that different from Volume 2.

One thing 5FDP have mastered doing is producing some really astonishing album covers. I thought the front cover from War Is The Answer was their best one, but that was until they released The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Volumes 1 & 2. Their comic-inspired representation of the endless war between Heaven and Hell is fantastic and deserved a full comic series with their mascot, Knucklehead, as the anti hero. That would undoubtedly make this album a lot more interesting, at least for me.

Best moments of the album: Here to Die, Wrecking Ball and House of the Rising Sun.

Worst moments of the album: Battle Born, Matter of Time, My Heart Lied and A Day in My Life.

Released in 2013 Prospect Park

Track listing
1. Here to Die 3:00
2. Weight Beneath My Sin 3:36
3. Wrecking Ball 3:13
4. Battle Born 3:43
5. Cradle to the Grave 3:18
6. Matter of Time 3:16
7. The Agony of Regret 1:42
8. Cold 3:47
9. Let This Go 3:16
10. My Heart Lied 3:35
11. A Day in My Life 3:44
12. House of the Rising Sun 4:07

Band members
Ivan Moody – vocals
Zoltan Bathory – rhythm guitar
Jason Hook – lead guitar
Jeremy Spencer – drums
Chris Kael – bass

Album Review – Skeletonwitch / Serpents Unleashed (2013)

The ‘Witch returns with 31 minutes of pure destruction.

Rating4

Serpents_UnleashedThe first time I saw or listened to Skeletonwitch was back in 2011 when they were one of the opening acts for Arch Enemy here in Toronto (the other opening acts were DevilDriver and Chthonic, just so you can imagine how awesome that night was), and since then I’ve become really interested in their brutal music. Now this band from Ohio is back with another extremely heavy album, Serpents Unleashed, which is already being considered by many the best Thrash/Death Metal album of 2013 (you can listen to the entire album here) . And after listening to it, I kind of agree with that.

The opening track (and also the title-track) Serpents Unleashed is Hell on Earth! What a ferocious and intense massacre! Moreover, I like the fact they usually add many Black Metal elements to their music without sounding like a Black Metal band, which is already clear from the very beginning of the song. Beneath Dead Leaves keeps up with the devastation with its insane drums, pretty good riffs and crazy solos, while I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived) is heavy, fast and has all the elements the fans of the band love in it. I saw the video for it a while ago and I have to say that it wouldn’t have been so great with a different song; it’s the best song of the album in my opinion.

The next tracks are From a Cloudless Sky, which has a nice intro and captivating riffs, and I can imagine how crazy the circle pits are going to be when it’s played live;  Burned from Bone, another fast tempo song with some more Black Metal elements (especially the riffs); and Unending, Everliving, a song that starts slowly if compared to the previous tracks, but then resumes the accelerated speed of the album.

SkeletonwitchThe second half of the album begins with Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands, an intense song full of non-stop drums and riffs and a good chorus. It’s definitely another recommended track for some good mosh pits if played live. Then comes This Evil Embrace, which reminds me a little of some old Slayer songs, with a chorus that is pure Black Metal and the best guitar solo of the whole album. The worst song of Serpents Unleashed is Unwept: despite not actually being a bad song, it sounds too generic for me and lacks some creativity. The following track has the coolest name of all, Born of the Light That Does Not Shine, and delivers some more musical brutality for the delight of all Skeletonwitch fans. The album ends with its longest song More Cruel Than Weak (the only one with over 4 minutes), which provides us some high quality riffs and drums, and of course, a lot of violence.

The lyrics are gruesome as usual, but I guess you’re not expecting them to start singing about butterflies and unicorns, right? And finally, the album has an astonishing front cover: it looks like they hired a very talented Gothic artist from the 15th century to paint it! I love when the album art is not some generic computer-based image and adds a lot to the whole concept of the album, like what happens with Serpents Unleashed.

In summary, the ‘Witch proves again why they’re considered one of the best bands of the Thrash/Death Metal scene, with Chance Garnette doing an exceptional job with his unique guttural vocals. That guy sings like the most evil and hideous witch in the history of mankind, something that became a trademark in Skeletonwitch’s music. One might say the songs are too short, but remember that’s how Slayer has always released their albums, and all songs in Serpents Unleashed are as heavy as they can be. It’s just a matter of quality over quantity.

One final interesting fact about Serpents Unleash is that the band is even selling a pretty cool cassette tape version of it, just when we thought those types of media were long gone. Well, a lot of people thought heavy music was dead and gone years ago, but as you can see with bands like Skeletonwitch pulverizing everything, they were fuckin’ wrong.

Best moments of the album: Serpents Unleashed, I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived) and This Evil Embrace.

Worst moments of the album: Unending, Everliving and Unwept.

Released in 2013 Prosthetic Records

Track listing
1. Serpents Unleashed 2:11
2. Beneath Dead Leaves 3:07
3. I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived) 2:47
4. From a Cloudless Sky 2:48
5. Burned from Bone 2:39
6. Unending, Everliving 3:03
7. Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands 2:26
8. This Evil Embrace 3:39
9. Unwept 2:25
10. Born of the Light That Does Not Shine 2:18
11. More Cruel Than Weak 4:18

Band members
Chance Garnette – lead vocals
Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette – guitars
Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick – guitars
Evan “Loosh” Linger – bass
Dustin Boltjes – drums

Album Review – Halestorm / ReAniMate 2.0: The CoVeRs eP (2013)

Why instead of launching two EPs with cover songs in less than two years didn’t they launch only one full album?

Rating6

ReAniMate 2.0I’m not a fan of Halestorm nor will ever buy any of their albums, but when I saw they launched another covers EP which included one of my favorite Priest tracks of all time, Dissident Aggressor, I decided to give them a try. In 2011 they launched ReAniMate: The CoVeRs eP with cover versions for Slave To The Grind (Skid Row) and Out Ta Get Me (Guns N’ Roses), among others, and now they come up with another covers EP. This either means that they simply love playing songs from their biggest influences, or that they don’t trust their own music that much, because I can’t understand why they had to launch two covers EPs instead of only one full album, such as the magnificent Undisputed Attitude recorded by Slayer back in 1996.

Dissident Aggressor opens the EP and it’s undoubtedly the best track of all, although I prefer a million times the version from Slayer and a billion times the original song from Judas Priest. Anyway, there’s nothing special in this version, it’s just a well-played cover song. Then comes Get Lucky from Daft Punk, and here we have one of those cases where the cover version is superior to the original, such as DevilDriver’s version of Sail (Awolnation), mainly because the original song is not really heavy, but again nothing special. In Shoot to Thrill (AC/DC), they turned an all-time classic into a regular song, despite all the effort from Lzzy to sing as “Hard N’ Heavy” as possible. Hell is for Children from Pat Benatar and Gold Dust Woman from Fleetwood Mac are so close to the original ones that, in my opinion, do not add any true value to the EP. Finally, their version for Marilyn Manson’s 1996 is not as good as the original one, and it even lacks the energy Manson had when he recorded it.

HALESTORMThe album art is too generic, especially if compared to the first covers EP. And regarding the musicians, although they are all pretty good I guess no one cares too much about any of them except for the beautiful and competent lead singer Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale: she’s the only reason why Halestorm became so famous in the world of music, and the only thing that can keep the band alive in the following years. Nevertheless, her voice might be powerful but it’s certainly not unique; if you listen to Mia Coldheart, from the Swedish band Crucified Barbara, you’ll understand why I’m saying this. By the way, Crucified Barbara is not as famous as Halestorm only because (GUESS WHAT?) they’re not from North America.

In summary, it’s an interesting EP with some good covers from a band that is currently under the spotlights, but that’s it. And if they launch another ReAniMate covers EP in 2014, well, then they’ll take the 1st place of “best professional band in the world that only plays cover songs” from Finland’s Children of Bodom.

Best moments of the album: Dissident Aggressor and Shoot To Thrill.

Worst moments of the album: As I previously mentioned, the fact that it is their second covers EP turns it into some kind of “rip-off”.

Released in 2013 Atlantic Records

Track listing
1. Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover) 3:12
2. Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover) 3:08
3. Shoot to Thrill (AC/DC cover) 5:07
4. Hell is for Children (Pat Benatar cover) 4:46
5. Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover) 4:10
6. 1996 (Marilyn Manson cover) 4:22

Band members
Lzzy Hale – lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, keyboard
Arejay Hale – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Joe Hottinger – lead guitar, backing vocals
Josh Smith – bass guitar, backing vocals

Album Review – DevilDriver / Winter Kills (2013)

Get ready for some insane heavy tunes by Californian circle-pit masters.

Rating5

Winter_kills_devildriverI know it’s a little late to talk about an album launched back in August, but the problem is that I didn’t have time to listen to Winter Kills carefully until now, and to be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of the band and the only DevilDriver album I previously had in my files was the awesome The Last Kind Words. However, I’m starting to enjoy their music more and more, especially among the “new” heavy bands available in the market, and I also noticed I’m not the only one to think like that: DevilDriver has became one of the most accepted new bands by old and demanding headbangers due to its violent lyrics, excellent instrumental and crazy on-stage performance.

The melodic opening track Oath of the Abyss has intense dark lyrics and it’s a good start to the album, albeit not as good as for example Not All Who Wander Are Lost. The following track, Ruthless, is undoubtedly the best song of the album with its amazing riffs, ruthless lyrics (just as the name of the song), and Dez’s voice in this track is as heavy as hell, which by the way is a constant in the entire album. Desperate Times can be used to explain why the mosh pits at any DevilDriver concert are so brutal, while Winter Kills, the title-track, keeps up with the speed and violence and it’s impossible not to get addicted to the chorus. “Mark my words/ There’ll be a change in the guard! / There’s frost on the sill / So now winter kills!”

DD2013Another strong track is The Appetite, which despite the stupid vide sounds ideal for crazy mosh pits, and the final solo is awesome. Your appetite for more DevilDriver will just grow after listening to this song. The weakest track of all in my opinion is Gutted: it has an extremely heavy intro, but I didn’t like the rest of it until the end. Curses and Epitaphs is more melodic than the previous tracks, with drummer John Boecklin doing an excellent job behind his set, while Carings Overkill is just filler, not a creative or interesting track at all. The last songs of Winter Kills are terrific: Haunting Refrain has a slow intro that turns into a heavy tune later on, with a magnificent guitar solo; Tripping Over Tombstones is another song that can easily take part on a “circle-pit soundtrack”; and finally Sail, a cover song from the indie band Awolnation, is a billion times better than the original song. The guitars and drums are just perfect!

The bonus tracks are also worth listening to: both Shudder and  Back Down to the Grave  are pretty heavy, and they even remind me of some songs from In Flames. The front cover is not very original, neither are the lyrics, but everything works fine when put together with the music. Frontman Dez Fafara keeps singing like a wild animal and has a very talented group of musicians with him, producing some high quality material for all generations of metalheads.

In summary, if you hate Facebook, Instagram and cameras during a Heavy Metal concert, you should be listening to this new overpowering album by DevilDriver and getting ready for monstrous circle pits in their next concert in your city. Winter Kills might not be what we call revolution in music, but it will crush your neck for sure.

Best moments of the album: Ruthless, The Appetite and Sail.

Worst moments of the album: Gutted and Carings Overkill.

Released in 2013 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Oath of the Abyss 5:36
2. Ruthless 4:09
3. Desperate Times 4:08
4. Winter Kills 4:54
5. The Appetite 4:46
6. Gutted 3:28
7. Curses and Epitaphs 5:04
8. Carings Overkill 4:33
9. Haunting Refrain 4:59
10. Tripping Over Tombstones 3:38
11. Sail (Awolnation cover) 4:04

Bonus tracks 
12. Shudder 4:03
13. Back Down to the Grave 4:44

Band members
Dez Fafara – lead vocals
Jeff Kendrick – guitar
John Boecklin – drums
Mike Spreitzer – guitar
Chris Towning – bass

Album Review – Sepultura / The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (2013)

Another good album from the most important Brazilian Metal band of all time.

Rating5

Sepultura_-_The_Mediator_Between_Head_and_Hands_Must_Be_the_Heart_artworkIf there’s one thing that can be considered a true innovation in the new Sepultura album is its name: The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart is by far their most complex and longest album name ever. Take a look at their discography (if you’ve never seen it) and you’ll notice all albums have very short and direct names, such as Arise, Roots, Against, Nation, Roorback and Kairos. However, despite its creative name, the album doesn’t really bring anything new to the world of heavy music. It’s a good album with some interesting moments, but nothing that can be considered “above and beyond”.

I enjoyed a lot the opening track, Trauma of War. In my opinion, it has an excellent intro and reminds me of some insane 80’s Thrash Metal! The Vatican, the second track of the album, also has a cool intro, strong lyrics and sounds like classic Death Metal in most of its 6 minutes. Then that’s when the problems start with The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart: all the other songs sound very similar to each other. Impending Doom is one of the closest tracks to what Sepultura has been doing in the past few years, but it becomes quite boring after 2 minutes. Manipulation of Tragedy has the same problem as the previous track, while Tsunami might remind me a little of the old “Chaos A.D./Roots” days but this doesn’t make the song remarkable. The next track,The Bliss of Ignorants, has very “Roots” intro and riffs and this could have evolved to something more interesting. And Grief starts with a very clean guitar that goes on for about 2 minutes, then it becomes Doom Metal-like and that’s it, nothing special.

sepulturaThe last three songs raise the bar a little: The Age of the Atheist (the first single of the album) has awesome drums and it’s a perfect representation of Sepultura post-Roots; Obsessed has the best Metal drummer in the world, Mr. Dave Lombardo, as a special guest, and of course he adds a lot of feeling to the song with his unique technique; and the last track of the album, called Da Lama ao Caos, is a superb version for a song from a non-Metal Brazilian group called Chico Science & Nação Zumbi (it’s way better than the original song, by the way).

Regarding the job done by each band member, Derrick keeps singing like a caveman inside a cave fighting with a saber tooth (or vice-versa). Although his voice will never be as good as Max Cavalera’s, it works well for what the band needs nowadays. Eloy Casagrande is improving his drumming technique year after year, becoming faster and more violent, Paulo does a consistent job on bass, and Andreas shows why he’s the best Brazilian guitar player of all time.

The cover art matches perfectly with the album name, and maybe this is the best thing in its entirety. I’m not saying it’s a bad album, not at all. It’s pretty straight forward Heavy Metal material and I do love all music from Sepultura. It’s just that I know those guys can do better than this.

Best moments of the album: Trauma of War, The Vatican and Da Lama ao Caos.

Worst moments of the album: Impending Doom, Manipulation of Tragedy and Grief.

Released in 2013 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Trauma of War 3:45
2. The Vatican 6:33
3. Impending Doom 4:15
4. Manipulation of Tragedy 4:16
5. Tsunami 5:10
6. The Bliss of Ignorants 4:51
7. Grief 5:34
8. The Age of the Atheist 4:19
9. Obsessed (feat. Dave Lombardo) 3:53
10. Da Lama ao Caos (Chico Science & Nação Zumbi cover) 4:28

Band members
Derrick Green − lead vocals
Andreas Kisser − guitars, vocals on “Da Lama ao Caos”
Paulo Jr. − bass guitar
Eloy Casagrande – drums

Album Review – Motörhead / Aftershock (2013)

They’re Motörhead, and they play Rock N’ Roll.

Rating4

Motörhead_AftershockAlthough I consider creativity and innovation crucial when reviewing a new album, I simply ignore that if the band in question is Motörhead, AC/DC, KISS or the Ramones. I don’t expect and don’t want to see Lemmy playing the piano and singing about the crisis in Syria or Angus Young adding any electronic shit to his music. I just want them to keep on rocking until the end of the world, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in Aftershock, Motörhead’s brand new album: 100% pure Rock N’ Roll!

The first track of the album, Heartbreaker, has some really heavy bass lines and sounds pretty good for a live performance. Then comes Coup De Grace, another fast track with funny lyrics and good solos, and Lost Woman Blues, which is Motörhead playing a high quality blues with Lemmy singing beautifully from the bottom of his heart. The next track, End Of Time, is simply fast and heavy while the next track, called Do You Believe, is my favorite one from the album for some beers at a Rock N’ Roll pub.

The following three songs make up a nice sequence to listen to while on the road: Death Machine has a cool guitar solo, Dust And Glass can be used as a “strip-tease” ballad, and Going To Mexico, well, as a Brazilian guy I prefer “Going to Brazil” (if you know what I’m talking about), but this song is pretty badass too. Another one of my favorites is Silence When You Speak To Me: this track has a great message from our “God” Lemmy, with some terrific riffs and lyrics. On the other hand, Crying Shame is my bottom one here, because although it’s traditional Motörhead, it sounds just like a filler track.

motorheadworldpromonew_638The last four tracks of the album have their ups and downs: Queen Of The Damned is a good track that reminds me a lot of Ace of Spades (maybe it was on purpose as we have the “ace” on one song and the “queen” on the other one?); Knife is not bad, but it lacks a little more punch; Keep Your Powder Dry is one more suggested song for a day on the road; and Paralyzed is what the band has mastered doing since the beginning. In other words, it is fast, heavy and kicks fuckin’ ass!

The front cover art is by far their best one since Inferno, from 2004, and the lyrics are the same as always, but who cares, right? Regarding the musicians, Phil offers us a ton of awesome riffs and solos again, and Mikkey keeps on smashing his drums perfectly. And what else is left to say about our 67-year old Rock N’ Roll icon Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister? I think the best definition for Lemmy is a beautiful “poem” declaimed by the characters Chazz, Rex and Chris Moore in the classic movie Airheads (if you’ve never seen it, you’re a loser):

Chazz: Who’d win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?
Chris Moore: Lemmy.
Rex: Beeeehhhh!
Chris Moore: …God?
Rex: Wrong, dickhead, trick question. Lemmy IS God! 

In summary, all songs sound the same as many awesome Motörhead classics such as Overkill, Iron Fist, Fast and Loose, Ace of Spades, The Chase is Better Than the Catch, Going to Brazil, among others, which in the end is exactly what we were waiting for. The day Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey record a “Metal Opera” or a conceptual album about the life of some French king, the world will come to an end. Until then, let’s have a beer and bang our heads together with our girlfriends, friends, family or anyone else that enjoys some good Rock N’ Roll, because that’s what this band plays.

Best moments of the album: Do You Believe, Going To Mexico and Silence When You Speak To Me.

Worst moments of the album: Crying Shame and Knife.

Released in 2013 UDR GmbH

Track listing
1. Heartbreaker 3:05
2. Coup De Grace 3:45
3. Lost Woman Blues 4:09
4. End Of Time 3:17
5. Do You Believe 2:59
6. Death Machine 2:37
7. Dust And Glass 2:51
8. Going To Mexico 2:51
9. Silence When You Speak To Me 4:30
10. Crying Shame 4:28
11. Queen Of The Damned 2:41
12. Knife 2:57
13. Keep Your Powder Dry 3:54
14. Paralyzed 2:50

Band members
Lemmy Kilmister – bass guitar, vocals
Phil Campbell – guitar
Mikkey Dee – drums

Album Review – Trivium / Vengeance Falls (2013)

Trivium join forces with Disturbed’s David Draiman to produce another good album with an infinite number of pretty cool heavy riffs.

Rating4

TriviumVengeanceAs I already mentioned a few posts ago in my Trivium & DevilDriver concert review, Trivium has become one of the most important contemporary Metal bands, and again with Vengeance Falls they justify why they’ve reached this level. It’s not a masterpiece, but a solid album to follow the great In Waves, with some new elements brought by producer David Draiman (the brain behind Disturbed). The opening track, Brave This Storm, was released a few weeks ago, and its amazing riffs and chorus still maintain it as my favorite song of the album. By the way, the whole album is a lesson in heavy riffs, so if you’re a guitar player don’t think twice and go get your copy of the new Trivium album.

Then we have the title-track Vengeance Falls and another one of my favorites, Strife (best chorus of the album), both with awesome guitar riffs that remind me of some of the old Disturbed riffs, probably due to David Draiman’s influence as the producer. It would have been really interesting if he had also sang one or two songs with Trivium! No Way To Heal has all the elements that are so characteristic in Trivium’s music, making it a very heavy and progressive song. The next track, To Believe, is another song that seems to have a lot of influence from Draiman and one of the greatest positive surprises of the album for me, which is not the case with At the End of This War: just an average song that sounds flat after 3 minutes. But things get back to normal (in other words, HEAVY and CREATIVE) with Through Blood and Dirt and Bone and its excellent “heavy riff and fast drums” work (and I enjoy a lot when Matt screams the chorus!).

Trivium-630x420Villainy Thrives has a good rhythm, which will certainly make the fans jump as the band requires during the concerts, while Incineration: The Broken World, one of the longest songs of the album, starts with another cool riff and has Nick Augusto doing his best job on the drums in the whole album. Closing the album we have Wake (The End Is Nigh), the longest song that starts slowly but then moves to a fast speed, showing a more traditional Trivium again. The bonus tracks in the special edition of the album are all very good, especially their cover for MisfitsSkulls…We Are 138, and if you manage to find the Japanese version, it has a different bonus: an interesting version for REM’s Losing My Religion.

The lyrics as usual are as crazy as they can be. Well, what else could we expect from Matt Heafy? “Burn us alive for our sins and our crimes / We are the wretched ones: malevolent slime” And regarding the album cover, I personally enjoy when it doesn’t explicitly show the name of the album or the band. In Vengeance Falls, the cover works as a complement to the album title, doing a cool job with the band’s logo. And last but not least, I didn’t mention anything about Corey or Paolo because I don’t need to: they’re awesome musicians doing a very consistent job as always, helping Trivium in being an important reference in heavy music today.

Best moments of the album: Brave This Storm, Strife and To Believe.

Worst moments of the album: At The end of This War, and the lack of the old screams from Matt in most of the songs. I know he cannot scream 100% of the time, but a little more would be great to the entire album.

Released in 2013 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Brave This Storm 4:29
2. Vengeance Falls 4:13
3. Strife 4:30
4. No Way to Heal 4:05
5. To Believe 4:32
6. At the End of This War 4:47
7. Through Blood and Dirt and Bone 4:26
8. Villainy Thrives 4:54
9. Incineration: The Broken World 5:52
10. Wake (The End Is Nigh) 6:00

Bonus tracks
11. No Hope for the Human Race 3:59
12. As I Am Exploding 5:51
13. Skulls…We Are 138 (Misfits cover) 3:31
14. Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover) 4:41

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, vocals
Nick Augusto – drums, percussion

Album Review – Tarja / Colours in the Dark (2013)

While Nightwish unfortunately perishes day after day without a decent singer, Tarja keeps providing us some excellent heavy music with her strong solo career.

Rating4

Tarja_Colours-In-The-Dark_StandardWhen Tarja Turunen (the prettiest female singer in the world!) left Nightwish a few years ago, everybody thought she was over in the world of heavy music (she even said so in some interviews). Tuomas Holopainen is a very talented and creative musician, and without him nobody knew how she would be able to survive. Well, today I guess it’s the exact opposite: Tarja has a very solid solo career, while Tuomas is completely lost with his band due to his gigantic ego. And now once again Tarja releases a very good album full of melody, consolidating her as one of the most important female voices in Heavy Metal of all time.

Victim of Ritual, the opening track, is a kind of “Metal Opera” that joins Tarja’s beautiful voice, a nice rhythm, and an interesting mix of different sounds. I love the chorus when she sings victim of rrrrrrrrrritual! Then comes 500 Letters, a regular song from Tarja with nothing new to show us. The next song, Lucid Dreamer, is a good example of what she can do with her voice, while in Never Enough she gives her special Nordic ingredient to it by starting with the words y, ka, ko, ne! This is our famous one, two, three, four, but in Finnish, and I must say a nice start to one of the best songs of the album, followed by a track called Mystique Voyage, a good ballad totally focused on her unique voice.

Tarja_Colours-In-The-DarkThe next track is a cover song: I listened to the original version from Peter Gabriel for the song Darkness, and I think Tarja’s version is very similar to it. It’s good, but not even close to the quality of her version for Alice Cooper’s Poison. Anyway, I would really enjoy seeing Peter and Tarja doing a duet for Darkness live someday! Deliverance is just another one of Tarja’s typical ballads, while Neverlight has that type of heavy riff I was expecting to find more in the rest of the songs. The album ends with another nice ballad, Until Silence, and the song Medusa, which in my opinion is the most beautiful song from Colours in the Dark.

Regarding the musicians, it’s always good to listen to Mike Terrana. He is amazing on drums even when he’s not playing at full speed. The other band members do a good job too: nothing extraordinary, though, but enough for what Tarja needs. The front cover is beautiful, of course, as it has Tarja on it! and not only that, it has a psychedelic touch that makes it very interesting for album art lovers.

To sum up, Colours in the Dark is not as original as My Winter Storm, which is my favorite Tarja album, but it’s a good work worth buying if you enjoy heavy music with a female voice, just not so heavy as Arch Enemy or The Agonist. And did anybody notice how Tarja is getting more and more beautiful year after year? I hope she comes to Canada for a full tour soon.

Best moments of the album: The songs Victim of Ritual, Never Enough, Neverlight and Medusa.

Worst moments of the album: The keyboards and piano seem to be more important than the guitar, which is not that bad, but I feel there’s a lack of good riffs and solos in the whole album that could have given more punch to it.

Released in 2013 earMUSIC

Track listing
1. Victim of Ritual 5:54
2. 500 Letters 4:22
3. Lucid Dreamer 7:28
4. Never Enough 5:20
5. Mystique Voyage 7:14
6. Darkness 5:38
7. Deliverance 7:27
8. Neverlight 4:33
9. Until Silence 5:03
10. Medusa (feat. Justin Furstenfeld) 8:12

iTunes edition bonus tracks
11. Neverlight (Full Orchestral Version)
12. Until Silence (Orchestral Version)

Band members
Tarja Turunen – Lead vocals and piano
Alex Scholpp, Julian Barrett – Guitar
Kevin Chown, Doug Wimbish – Bass guitar
Christian Kretschmar – Keyboards
Mike Terrana – Drums
Max Lilja – Cello

Album Review – Chthonic / Bú-Tik (2013)

Chthonic prove one more time why they are currently the best Heavy Metal band of the East.

Rating3

Chthonic-Bu-TikWhen a band reaches a very high standard like Chthonic with Takasago Army, the expectations for their future albums become so high that even if they launch something really cool, many people will still think they are not a good band anymore. I’m pretty sure lots of fans are complaining everywhere in the world about Bú-Tik because it’s not a “Takasago Army”, but always remember it isn’t supposed to be so.

Bú-Tik is an evolution, it is fresh music for people who love speed, strength and awesome lyrics, without being just a copy of the band’s old material. Of course many elements are still there like the erhu (a Chinese two-stringed violin), which is a crucial part of the band’s soul, and the lyrics focused on all the war and revolution that happened in Taiwan, but each song is different and has its own meaning and intensity.

Regarding the album art, the band tried to represent “the idea of an armed body and mind” in the front cover, which looks a lot sexier and less brutal than what they used to do in the past, but it’s great anyway. About the music itself, Freddy Lim does an amazing job with his screaming, the beautiful Doris Yeh seems to be even more important to the band with her intense bass lines, and the drummer Dani Wang is a beast as usual in all album tracks! I just think there should be more guitar solos in some of the songs, because although I love the sound of the erhu and the keyboards together, a good guitar solo always adds a lot of energy to heavy music. And let’s not forget the Intro and the Outro of the album, which together do a great job getting us pumped for what’s coming next and then showing us that the “war” is over.

Chthonic+BuTik++Album+Promo+2013+PNGThe lyrics are also an essential part of the whole album, either when they’re entirely based on historical facts such as the 228 Massacre in 1947, or with simple but strong lines such as “Let me stand up like a Taiwanese / Only justice will bring you peace”. Chthonic doesn’t usually write generic lyrics, an issue that happens with most of the Metal bands nowadays.

To sum up, a very good album that deserves the attention of all heavy music lovers. Going back to my initial idea, unless the music is a complete piece of junk like Metallica’s St. Anger, I always believe we should embrace the evolution of our favorite bands. And Chthonic is far from producing something so bad as St. Anger.

Best moments of the album: Supreme Pain for the Tyrant and Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace, especially if you watch the superb videos they shot for both songs. Those are two of the most creative music videos I’ve seen in many years.

Worst moments of the album: Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire and Resurrection Pyre just fall flat in my opinion. Maybe it’s the English version of the album that does that to those songs, because I’ve listened to the Taiwanese versions and they sound a lot more powerful.

Released in 2013 Spinefarm Records / Universal Music

Track listing
1. Arising Armament (Intro) 2:27
2. Supreme Pain for the Tyrant 4:45
3. Sail into the Sunset’s Fire 4:00
4. Next Republic 4:12
5. Rage of my Sword 4:37
6. Between Silence and Death 4:38
7. Resurrection Pyre 4:59
8. Set Fire to the Island 3:47
9. Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace 5:22
10. Undying Rearmament (Outro) 1:49

Band members
Freddy Lim, “Left Face of Maradou” – lead vocals, erhu
Doris Yeh, “Thunder Tears” – bass, backing vocals
Jesse Liu, “The Infernal” – guitars, backing vocals
Dani Wang, “Azathothian Hands” – drums
CJ Kao, “Dispersed Fingers” – keyboards, synthesizer