The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

Advertisements

Album Review – Acrassicauda / Gilgamesh (2015)

A modern, visceral and compelling album by the Arabian black scorpions of Thrash Metal.

Rating3

CoverThe story I’m about to tell you is not only inspiring, but also shows the strong and positive influence music can have on any of us, helping us face our deepest fears and overcome the hardest challenges in our path. Acrassicauda (or أكراسكودا in Arabic), the latin name of a black scorpion species known as the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion (Androctonus crassicauda), is also the name of an incredible Iraqi Thrash Metal band formed in 2000, made famous by the award-winning documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad and often credited as being the first Heavy Metal group to emerge from Iraq, who unfortunately had to undergo all the agonies and pain of witnessing their homeland being devastated by politics and war.

After being granted refugee status in the United States in 2009 and after releasing a couple of demos and one EP, the band now based in New York brings forth their first full-length album, the unique Gilgamesh, a tribute to the ancient Mesopotamian civilization using the Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient poem written in the Acadian language in the 3rd millennium BC, originally inscribed on 12 tablets in cuneiform script. With a fascinating theme like that turned into solid and heartfelt music by skillful musicians, you’ll rapidly be absorbed by the story told in Gilgamesh, going back to the start once the album is over and listening to it in its entirety again and again.

Right after the ominous and introspective intro Cedar Forest, where hints of the Middle-Eastern culture are already present, we are offered a blasting mix of modern heavy music and uprising Thrash Metal entitled Rise: the harsh vocals by frontman Faisal Mustafa have the necessary fierceness to transmit the desired message (and you’ll be tempted to scream the chorus together with him and the rest of the band), while guitarist Moe Al Hamawandi helps shape the band’s soul with his riffs and solos. In the potent and very progressive Quest for Eternity, thanks to the job done by Marwan Hussein on drums, they continue their journey through Middle-East by perfectly adding elements of their own culture to the music just like Sepultura did in Chaos A.D. and especially in Roots, while Amongst Kings and Men has a more modern sonority with great vocal lines and a progressive rhythm. In addition, its clean and backing vocals are also amazing and make the whole song even more powerful.

Shamhat, the name of a sacred prostitute who plays an important role on the Epic of Gilgamesh, is a sharp and rumbling intro that flows nicely into the following track, the superb multi-layered clash The Cost of Everything & the Value of Nothing, a groovy and metallic tune with an outstanding percussion, a strong message and a violent atmosphere. The entire band is kicking ass, with highlights to Faisal and Marwan who are truly electrified and end up elevating the inner beauty of this song. Nonetheless, as even warriors have love in their hearts, Acrassicauda provide the listener an awe-inspiring and touching ballad named Requiem for a Reverie, where its thoughtful lyrics and a passionate performance by Faisal turn it into one of the best moments of the whole album. Their special Middle-Eastern touch is used once again to add rage and balance to House of Dust, a Thrash Metal song that feels really fresh and modern due to the welcome addition of clean vocals, with highlights to its lyrics, which in my opinion should work perfectly when played live (“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I take my last oath / As I take my first step in your house of dust I should have known from the start / Where will it all ends? / Right here right now / Where it began / What went wrong? / And what have we done”).

acrassicaudaI can see the fans jumping up and down to the thrilling Unity, which direct and impetuous instrumental together with some eerie passages make the final result truly interesting, followed by Elements, where the band keeps delivering high-end metal embraced by their country’s culture. Needless to say, Moe and Marwan effectively take this song to the next level so good their performances are. Uruk, an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia ruled by Gilgamesh in the 27th century BC, is the second instrumental track of the album, where Acrassicauda showcase their well-developed skills as Iraqi musicians one more time, enhancing your senses for the last track of the album, the startling Rebirth, a song about revolution and the fight for freedom. With its Terminator-inspired riffs and Slayer-ish vibe (especially the one found in the all-time classic “Seasons in the Abyss”), it’s absolutely impossible not to bang you fuckin’ head to it, just before everything converges to a melancholic ending.

According to the band, Gilgamesh is an ode to modern Iraq, a home from which they are sadly exiled today. As bitter as it may sound, darkness seems to be a necessary evil in the conceptualization of superior music, and if you want to come into contact with that intense synthesis of passion and sorrow you can visit Acrassicauda’s FacebookBandCamp page and YouTube channel, and also buy Gigalmesh at their official website as a digital download or physical copy. Lastly, in order to properly finish off this review, I leave you with drummer Marwan Hussein’s own words about what Gilgamesh represents to the band and, inevitably, to everyone else that might have the pleasure of listening to it.

“The whole album’s concept is about journeys, life and death, love, the divine, success and failure, and the eternal struggle for immortality. Acrassicauda immortalizes the legacy of this character and his struggles through music, thousands of years later…” – Marwan Hussein

Best moments of the album: Rise, The Cost of Everything & the Value of Nothing, Requiem for a Reverie and Rebirth.

Worst moments of the album: Absolutely none. The whole album kicks ass.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Cedar Forest 1:29
2. Rise 5:04
3. Quest for Eternity 3:47
4. Amongst Kings and Men 5:11
5. Shamhat 0:25
6. The Cost of Everything & the Value of Nothing 3:09
7. Requiem for a Reverie 4:04
8. House of Dust 4:06
9. Unity 4:01
10. Elements 2:56
11. Uruk 2:02
12. Rebirth 4:32

Band members
Faisal Mustafa – vocals
Moe Al Hamawandi – guitar
Firas Abdul Razaq – bass
Marwan Hussein – drums