The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2016

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

The unexpected death of the most badass musician in history, Motörhead’s heart and soul Lemmy Kilmister, on December 28, 2015 was a harbinger of all the bad, shocking and revolting things that would turn the year of 2016 a true nightmare for mankind. That dark prophecy was confirmed less than two weeks later, more specifically on January 10 when we lost another true star in rock music to cancer, the unparalleled chameleon David Bowie, just two days after the release of his final masterpiece Blackstar. If that was not enough to make 2016 a miserable year, we also had to endure the passing of other icons who, despite not being metal, have always inspired countless bands and artists in heavy music. We lost Prince, Leonard Cohen and Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), to name a few, all irreplaceable losses to music in general. In addition, important names in the history of Heavy Metal also left us in 2016, such as Nick Menza (Megadeth) and Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio), not to mention the disbandment of amazing groups like Eths (who are by the way part of our top 10 this year), Crucified Barbara and Bolt Thrower. And I’m not even going to talk about all other types of disasters and tragedies that happened all over the world, as the list is too macabre and grievous to be remembered in full.

Fortunately, 2016 was considerably generous for us headbangers in terms of the quantity and quality of albums released throughout the entire year, especially for diehard fans of old school Thrash Metal. Except for Slayer and Exodus, all other prominent names in Thrash Metal blasted the world with their high-speed, thrilling music, led by another superb album by Testament. Even Metallica released a decent album this year, just to give you an idea of how fruitful 2016 was for this rebellious type of music. Having said that, it’s time for The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2016, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums. And even if 2017 is as hideous as 2016, let’s never forget the wise words by Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan. Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!

testament_brotherhood-of-the-snake1. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake (REVIEW)
Join the Brotherhood of Thrash Metal spearheaded by one of the heaviest, most technical and most electrifying bands on the entire planet.
Best song of the album: The Number Game

cover2. Charred Walls Of The Damned – Creatures Watching Over the Dead (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Heavy Metal by four electrified beasts.
Best song of the album: As I Catch My Breath

Cover3. Eths – Ankaa (REVIEW)
One of the most prominent and innovative French bands of all time returns with a true masterpiece of complexity, darkness and heaviness.
Best song of the album: Nefas

cover4. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker (REVIEW)
Who said rules must be broken for a metallic eagle to spread its wings and soar high in the skies of heavy music?
Best song of the album: Rulebreaker

megadeth_dystopia5. Megadeth – Dystopia (REVIEW)
And the dystopian world portrayed in the brand new album by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is beyond awesome.
Best song of the album: Lying In State

abbathsoloface_6386. Abbath – Abbath (REVIEW)
The one and only Abbath takes a new step in his career with a brand new band an album.
Best song of the album: Fenrir Hunts

death angel_the evil divide7. Death Angel – The Evil Divide (REVIEW)
Fast and furious anthems, dark mid-tempo songs, austere lyrics and endless stamina. This is how Thrash Metal should always be done.
Best song of the album: Hell To Pay

anthrax_for all kings8. Anthrax – For All Kings (REVIEW)
A classy and electrifying Thrash Metal album especially crafted for all of us, the real kings of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Breathing Lightning

front9. Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins (REVIEW)
You might be a sinner, but don’t be a fool and go relish another magnificent album by Mr. Axel Rudi Pell and his loyal henchmen.
Best song of the album: Falling Star

nervosa-agony-201610. Nervosa – Agony (REVIEW)
Brazil’s meanest power trio returns with another marvelous blast of their kick-ass high-octane Thrash Metal.
Best song of the album: Theory of Conspiracy

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

11. Blaze Bayley – Infinite Entanglement (REVIEW)
12. The Silent Rage – The Deadliest Scourge (REVIEW)
13. Neverworld – Dremasnatcher (REVIEW)
14. Ancesttral – Web Of Lies (REVIEW)
15. Front – Iron Overkill (REVIEW)
16. Dö – Tuho (REVIEW)
17. Be Under Arms – Doomed To Life (REVIEW)
18. SystemHouse33 – Regression (REVIEW)
19. Gojira – Magma (REVIEW)
20. False Coda – Secrets and Sins (REVIEW)

As in Heavy Metal the artwork is just as important as the music itself, like what always happens with bands such as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, KISS and tons of other metallic titans, we decided to list the Top 10 Cover Artworks of 2016. There are several reasons for an album art to be considered outstanding, such as its strong connection with the music like Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, its visual impact (usually associated with its controversial content) like Slayer’s God Hates Us All, or its perfect minimalism and finesse like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. Do you agree with our list?

1. Anthrax – For All Kings [by Alex Ross]
2. Primeval Mass – To Empyrean Thrones [by Karmazid]
3. Witches Of Doom – Deadlights [by Carlo Muselli]
4. Ragehammer – The Hammer Doctrine [by Robert A. von Ritter]
5. Howls Of Ebb – Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows [by Agostino Arrivabene]
6. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake [by Eliran Kantor]
7. Henriette B – Tales of Reality (EP) [by Pierre-Alain D.]
8. Skáphe – Skáphe² [by H.V. Lyngdal]
9. Diabolizer – Apokalypse (MCD) [by Robert A. von Ritter]
10. Hostis – Hostis [by Zvonimir Grabić & Milena Nićić]

Rest assured in 2017 we at The Headbanging Moose will keep providing you the best of the underworld of Death, Thrash, Black, Symphonic, Epic, Power Metal and all other genres and subgenres of heavy music, as well as our view of the biggest names worldwide. There are already brand new albums confirmed for 2017 by Kreator, Sepultura, Grave Digger, Battle Beast and more, which means at least musically the new year promises to be really good. Thank you very much for your precious time, and keep on rockin’! Au revoir!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2017!

Well, before we go, here’s a special gift from Iron Maiden to all metalheads all over the world… A nice festive yule log fireplace to keep our hearts warm during the entire season!

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Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Deadlights (2016)

The Italian coven of Doom and Gothic Metal returns in full force to put another electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on you.

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WOD_DeadlightsAfter releasing their debut album Obey back in 2014, I knew it was just a matter of time until Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal act Witches Of Doom returned with more of their mesmerizing Rock N’ Roll extravaganza. Two years have gone by since that amazing album, and here we have the Rome-based warlocks Danilo “Groova” Piludu on vocals, Federico “Fed” Venditti on the guitar, Jacopo Cartelli on bass, Graziano “Eric” Corrado on keyboards and Andrea “Budi” Budicin on drums offering all fans of old school dark music the likes of Type O Negative, Moonspell and The Cult their brand new album whimsically entitled Deadlights which, just like its predecessor, will put you to dance, drink and make love like there’s no tomorrow.

Although I’m not a professional musician, producer or anything similar to that, I must say the upward growth in the overall quality of the album in terms of its production and sound is one of those things that not only helped Witches Of Doom explore new horizons and add new elements to their music, but it also shows how professional those Italian metallers are and how much they are focused on what they do. Thus, due to the enhanced quality of their music and to the brand new songs added to their portfolio, I think the band is more than ready to reach new heights and start spreading their exciting music throughout the world by touring in places like the United States, Canada and South America, either by themselves or as one of the attractions of some music festivals held in those regions.

While we wait for their first world tour, let’s rock to the sound of the superb opening track in Deadlights, called Lizard Tongue, where after an alternative and electronic we are embraced by a modernized goth atmosphere and the band’s pure Rock N’ Roll attitude. These guys know how to bring that magic aura from the 80’s to our present days, with frontman Danilo being better than ever with his inebriate and dark vocals, perfectly declaiming the song’s catchy lyrics (“Daughter of a thousand sins / Angel praying for your last wish / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide / Trick or treat is the only law / Merchant on the killing floor / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide”). In Run with the Wolf, an eerie waltz mixed with symphonic elements in what’s probably their most obscure composition to date, keyboardist Andrea crafts the perfect doomed ambience, supported by the low-tuned bass lines by Jacopo; whereas in Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man), heavier and weirder than usual due to the rumbling bass by Jacopo and the always passionate guitar riffs and experimentations by the band’s mastermind Fed, the listener faces a solid blend of Gothic Rock with Alternative Rock and Metal.

WOD 2016Melancholy and sorrow flow from the beautiful Winter Coming, where Danilo once again provides an additional layer of emotion to the musicality with his vocal lines (not to mention the song’s sorrowful lyrics), followed by Homeless, another shot of wickedness provided by this talented band with the groovy bass lines by Jacopo and the progressive drumming by Andrea enhancing the song’s punch. In other words, this could become a radio hit anytime, anywhere. And get ready to be hypnotized by the Black Voodoo Girl, with its Gothic start getting heavier and darker until it becomes another one of the band’s “striptease” hymns. The keyboard passages by Graziano match perfectly with the heavy riffs by Fed and the somber vocals by Danilo, and you’ll surely have a good time singing its chorus along with the band.

In Mater Mortis, what begins as an epic chant quickly morphs into a futuristic tune, more specifically into an ode to the music from the 80’s with highlights to its awesome keyboards, and this instrumental voyage sets the tone for Gospel for War, a badass Gothic/Stoner Rock chant tailored for fans of Rock N’ Roll pub fights where Fed keeps blasting his excellent riffs while Andrea takes his drumming to a whole new and amazing level of intricacy. And last but not least, bringing elements from non-metal genres like Jazz and Blues to their sounding, the band offers us all the introspective and soulful I Don’t Want to Be a Star, showcasing smooth but fierce piano notes by Eric and strong performances by Danilo on vocals and by Fed with his fiery solos. If you love long and experimental songs with the energy and feeling of Rock N’ Roll, you might have found your new favorite song in rock music.

In summary, the music presented in Deadlights, which features a stunning artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli (who by the way is the big boss at Sliptrick Records) and is available on iTunes or on Amazon, has everything a true fan of heavy rock always looks for and more, and in order to know more about the Witches Of Doom, including their future plans and tour dates, don’t forget to go check their official Facebook page. This skilled coven of Doom and Gothic Metal is not among us to simply play some rock tunes, but in special to put an electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on all of us, lovers of dark and rhythmic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Lizard Tongue, Black Voodoo Girl and Gospel for War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Lizard Tongue 4:13
2. Run with the Wolf 4:49
3. Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man) 5:45
4. Winter Coming 4:35
5. Homeless 5:32
6. Black Voodoo Girl 4:46
7. Mater Mortis 3:01
8. Gospel for War 4:35
9. I Don’t Want to Be a Star 6:59

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Jacopo Cartelli – bass
Graziano “Eric” Corrado – keyboards
Andrea “Budi” Budicin – drums