The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

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

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Concert Review – Paganfest America Part V (The Opera House,Toronto, ON, 05/01/2014)

An awesome multicultural festival in the world’s most multicultural city.

paganfest_2014Let me start by asking a very simple question before I actually talk about the amazing festival that happened last night: who the hell had the brilliant idea of scheduling a festival at SIX O’CLOCK ON A THURSDAY, a  day and time where pretty much EVERYONE is still at work and there’s also a lot of traffic? Because of that, I guess many people that attended PAGANFEST AMERICA PART V yesterday at The Opera House, in Toronto, missed at least the opening act, American Folk Metal band Winterhymn, and maybe even some of the other bands. Fortunately I was able to get there before 7:30pm and could watch half of the concert from the following band and the rest of the festival, which is where this review starts!

VARG

01paganfest toronto_vargPeople dressed up accordingly (which means Viking, warrior and/or pagan costumes), corpsepainting, lots of good and cold beer, friends hugging each other and dancing together, metalheads screaming with their fists and horns in the air, and German Melodic Death Metal band Varg kickin’ ass on stage! The first impression from the festival was very positive, and knowing the Pagan Metal community in Toronto is so big was great for me. Not only that, getting in contact with Varg for the first time was also amazing as their music has that kind of energy I love, and although I don’t know German (they sing only in their mother tongue) it was easy to follow their message in each song. Highlights to the excellent song Guten Tag and to the girls the band called on stage to headbang like crazy, and I promise I’ll go after more of their material in the future.

Band members
Freki – vocals, guitars
Managarm – bass, backing vocals, guitars, lead guitars
Hati – guitars
Fenrier – drums

CHTHONIC

02paganfest toronto_chthonicA few microphone issues, a relatively short setlist and the absence of keyboardist CJ Kao didn’t prevent Taiwanese Orient Metal warriors Chthonic from delivering an unforgettable performance at The Opera House. “WE ARE CHTHONIC FROM TAIWAN!”, screamed an all fired-up Freddy Lim to the fans, who promptly responded screaming and raising their fists in the air. The band looked pretty excited to be back in Toronto for the first time since their tour with Arch Enemy in 2011, and their music sounded even more powerful and cohesive this time.

After the beautiful intro Arising Armament, our beloved Taiwanese icons Freddy, Jesse, Dani and, of course, the stunning Doris Yeh, kicked off their concert with the superb song Supreme Pain for the Tyrant, from their 2013 album Bú-Tik, and it was impossible not to scream at full force with them “Let me stand up like a Taiwanese! Only justice will bring you peace!”, lyrics that make total sense even for non-Taiwanese fans like myself. We’re all together in this war, right? By the way, almost the whole setlist was based on the Bú-Tik album, with the exception of the classics Oceanquake and Takao, which closed the show. Highlights to the great songs Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire and Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace, which sounded even more amazing live.

Last but not least, all band members are not only exceptional musicians, but also really good people. It’s easy to be mesmerized by Doris’ performance on stage, or by the unique sound of the erhu beautifully played by Freddy, but things get even better when you have a chance to interact with them offstage. Freddy, Doris and Jesse were extremely relaxed, happy and very, very considerate of all their fans, taking pictures, answering any questions and having a beer with everybody. At least for me, that explains a lot why they are so successful and becoming so important in the world of heavy music. All I can say is THANKS, CHTHONIC! It will always be my pleasure to “stand up like a Taiwanese” with you guys!

Setlist
1. Arising Armament (intro)
2. Supreme Pain for the Tyrant
3. Oceanquake
4. Next Republic
5. Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire
6. Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace
7. Takao 

Band members
Freddy Lim – vocals, erhu
Doris Yeh – bass, backing vocals
Jesse Liu – guitars, backing vocals
Dani Wang – drums
CJ Kao – keyboards*

* Missed the concert in Toronto due to personal issues.

TURISAS

03paganfest toronto_turisasIn my opinion, the show by Finnish Symphonic Power Metal band Turisas was the most anticipated concert of the night, and also the one where you could see the highest amount of smiles on the faces of the crowd. I don’t remember seeing so many people dancing and prancing like yesterday, especially when they played their cover version for the discotheque classic Rasputin, by Boney M., but they kicked ass during the whole gig, of course.

There were very few moments where either the songs were too long or too slow, but the fans didn’t care too much about that and enjoyed every single second of that “Viking fest”. Besides the awesome craziness of Rasputin, the most memorable songs were Battle Metal, Stand Up and Fight and We Ride Together. Did you notice all their best songs are related to battle, courage and loyalty? That’s what has always made Heavy Metal so powerful in regards to inspiring people to face their fears and challenges in life, and I’m sure all fans that are studying, working or doing anything else today are a lot happier and feeling better than during the previous weeks or even months.

The whole band was on fire, especially frontman Mathias “Warlord” Nygård and violinist Olli Vänskä, who didn’t stop banging their heads for a single moment. Those guys love what they do, and will keep on rockin’ for the rest of their lives without a shadow of a doubt.

Band members
Mathias Nygård – vocals
Jussi Wickström – guitar, backing vocal
Jesper Anastasiadis – bass guitar
Jaakko Jakku – drums, percussion
Olli Vänskä – violin, backing vocal

KORPIKLAANI

04paganfest toronto_korpiklaaniAfter Turisas were done, many people had to leave as it was getting really late and they probably had to get ready for a full day at work the next day. Unfortunately those who left missed all the dancing in between concerts when the DJ played some excellent old traditional Finnish songs, but the fans that could stay to the end of the festival were able to enjoy that and, of course, another “dance party” with Finnish Folk Metal band Korpiklaani and their music tailored for drinking beer and dancing with your friends.

It was my first Korpiklaani concert and I was impressed by frontman Jonne Järvelä’s charisma and bassist Jarkko Aaltonen’s technique. Jarkko is a beast with his bass, which could be easily appreciated in fun songs such as Tuonelan Tuvilla, Vodka and Ievan Polkka. How come this awesome bass player has never been mentioned in any lists of “top bassists” that I’ve seen? Or maybe I’m checking the wrong lists? Anyway, it was another great heavy music concert, which made every cent spent with the event ticket even worthier than before.

Band members
Jonne Järvelä – vocals
Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi – guitars
Matti “Matson” Johansson – drums
Jarkko Aaltonen – bass
Tuomas Rounakari – violin
Sami Perttula – accordion

And that was the end of a truly multicultural festival with bands from the United States, Germany, Taiwan and Finland, with fans from several different backgrounds speaking different languages, in the most multicultural city in the world. Honestly, I have no idea how it can get any better than this. Maybe Paganfest VI next year can answer that question, right? Well, until then, I’ll proudly wear my Chthonic’s NEXT REPUBLIC T-shirt on the streets to show everyone that it doesn’t matter if you’re Canadian, Brazilian, Taiwanese, German, Finnish or anything else: if you’re a headbanger, you’re definitely part of the unbreakable and unique republic of HEAVY METAL.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Metal Chick of the Month – Doris Yeh

doris01

Set Fire to the Island, Doris!

There’s nothing better than starting this year with a special post about the charming musician and activist Doris Yeh. Born in Taipei (or Taipei City), Taiwan on September 19, 1976 (at least, this is the date I found after a lot of effort!) and nicknamed “Thunder Tears” in her band Chthonic, this Taiwanese beauty is a good example of how music and imagery walk hand in hand on the path to success nowadays. Her exotic Asian traces, together with the powerful heavy music played by Chthonic, are leading her and the band to stardom not only in the East, but in the whole world of music.

Doris herself doesn’t like to define Chthonic’s music style as Extreme, Death or Black Metal. In fact, she prefers calling what their band does as “Orient Metal”, especially because the Western definition of heavy music is not the same as the one in Asian countries. We have to agree with her and the rest of the band that what Chthonic do is totally different from the traditional North American and European Thrash/Death Metal, because despite being heavy music they add many different elements (like the interesting instrument Erhu) and have a unique way to express themselves visually.

In one of her interviews, Doris said she used to play the piano when she was a child, and kept playing it for about 10 years before starting playing bass. She then joined Chthonic in 1999, replacing bassist Xiao-Yu, recording her first album with the band, 9th Empyrean. After that, she recorded the albums Relentless Recurrence (2002), Seediq Bale (2005) and Mirror of Retribution (2009), but her best albums with Chthonic are without any doubt Takasago Army (2011) and their most recent album, Bú-Tik (2013), where it’s easy to notice her improvement as a musican and her growing importance to the band’s current success.

Giants like Iron Maiden, Nine Inch Nails and Slayer, and more obscure bands such as Emperor and At The Gates, are among her biggest influences in music, and when asked about a great female bass player she enjoys, Doris mentioned the American alternative rock musician Kim Gordon, showing she’s not only connected to heavy music in her life.

Doris Yeh’s onstage performance is always amazing, not only due to her talent as a musician but also because of her beauty and energy. I had the privilege to see Chthonic live in Toronto during Arch Enemy’s North American Khaos Tour 2011, which also had DevilDriver and Skeletonwitch as opening acts, and I was impressed by her nonstop headbanging and total commitment to the band’s music and to the fans.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a couple of years with Chthonic, Doris became the band’s official spokesperson and business manager, taking over the responsibilities from the band’s founder and lead singer Freddy Lim. She is also seen as a sex symbol (surprise, surprise!) and often works as a top model too, appearing on the cover of different magazines in Taiwan and in the rest of the world, like Body Magazine, Revolver Magazine and FHM Magazine. Not only that, Doris also joins her Metal friends Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz in the world of activism by supporting the Awakening Foundation, a Taiwanese organization founded in 1982 which main goal is promoting women’s rights and self-awareness.

In October 2012, Chthonic released a very special 96-page book of sexy photos of Doris taken at the Green Island in Taiwan, entitled Set Fire to the Island, which also includes a single that according to the band is a “symphony with piano, strings, and wind music, so that you may enjoy it not only with your eyes, but also with your ears.” Well, I still prefer Chthonic’s regular music, but I must admit that those astonishing pictures of Doris together with some good symphonic music are a delight for any fan of Chthonic’s unique bassist.

Equipment
Bass: ESP – Andromeda (5-string signature bass)
Amp – head : Ampeg SVT 450
Amp – cab : Ampeg SVT 410HLF
Effects: MXR M80 BASS DI

Doris Yeh’s Official Facebook page
Doris Yeh’s Official Twitter

“‘Dream big’ won’t make you a great person, ‘Do it’ will.” – Doris Yeh

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!

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