The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014

“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!” – Aleister Crowley, Moonchild

It’s with these inspiring words found in the occult novel Moonchild, written by British occultist, poet and novelist Aleister Crowley in 1917, that The Headbanging Moose reaches another year end. Well, not before celebrating heavy music, which is the essence of this webzine, right? In order to honour all metal bands and musicians who made our year a lot more fun, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014, excluding of course EP’s, best of and live albums. Party on, dudes!

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-12801. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are finally back with another marvellous sonic storm forged in the fires of pure Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Halls Of Valhalla

Primalfeardeliveringtheblack20142. Primal Fear – Delivering the Black (REVIEW)
Primal Fear once again deliver the awesome with their tenth studio album, their best since Seven Seals.
Best song of the album: King For A Day

Triptykon-Melana-Chasmata3. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (REVIEW)
One of the most expected albums of 2014 is a beautiful mix of Gothic, Black and especially Doom Metal as grandiose as they can be.
Best song of the album: Boleskine House

ExodusBloodInBloodOut4. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out (REVIEW)
American Thrash Metal masters deliver us another great lesson in Thrash Metal. Welcome back to the family, Zetro!
Best song of the album: Blood In, Blood Out

Cover5. Axel Rudi Pell – Into the Storm (REVIEW)
A fantastic “storm” of heavy riffs and solos by one of the best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal guitar players from Germany.
Best song of the album: Burning Chains

accept-blind rage6. Accept – Blind Rage (REVIEW)
And we salute Accept for another wonderful metal album, the third installment in this new amazing Accept-era.
Best song of the album: Dying Breed

ESCAPETOR - Fear cover art7. Escapetor – Fear (REVIEW)
A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.
Best song of the album: The Queen

vandenplas_chronicles8. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld (REVIEW)
Get ready for an amazing journey in this new Rock Opera Album.
Best song of the album: The King and the Children of Lost World

godsmack_1000hp9. Godsmack – 1000hp (REVIEW)
Lots of horsepower, groove, great riffs and strong vocal lines are just some of the things you’ll find in this amazing rock album.
Best song of the album: 1000hp

10. Phantom – …Of Gods and Men (REVIEW)
With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.
Best song of the album: Blood & Iron

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

11. Behemoth – The Satanist (REVIEW)
12. Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain (REVIEW)
13. Humbucker – King of the World (REVIEW)
14. Insomnium – Shadows Of The Dying Sun (REVIEW)
15. Crucified Barbara – In The Red (REVIEW)
16. Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead (REVIEW)
17. Motorjesus – Electric Revelation (REVIEW)
18. Lordi – Scare Force One (REVIEW)
19. Dimenzion:Psychosphere – Collapse (REVIEW)
20. Anti-Mortem – New Southern (REVIEW)

One of our recent reviews mentioned the law of conservation of mass by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, which states that “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”  With that said, why not innovating a little and listing the Top 10 Cover Songs of 2014? Because in the end it’s metal bands working towards the conservation of heavy music. Let me tell you all those cover versions are amazing, but the first two go beyond that, they’re just perfect.

1. Axel Rudi Pell – Hey Hey My My (Neil Young cover)
2. Escapetor – Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
3. Iron Savior – Dance With Somebody (Mando Diao cover)
4. Van Canto – The Final Countdown (Europe cover)
5. Ektomorf – I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover)
6. Anti-Mortem – A Little Too Loose (Mr. Big Cover)
7. Endzeit – The Dawn No More Rises (Dark Funeral cover)
8. Axel Rudi Pell – Way to Mandalay (Blackmore’s Night cover)
9. Humbucker – Wine, Women An’ Song (Whitesnake cover)
10. Exodus – Angel Of Death (Angel Witch cover)

Also, in 2014 we were able to witness so many impressive releases from new and not so new independent bands (or at least not signed to major record labels) such as Orisonata, SouLost, GoatchristValknacht, Ann My Guard, Septekh, Way Of Changes, Henriette BMisanthrope Monarch, Witches Of Doom, Phobiatic, Prayed and Betrayed, Temple Of Void, Maahlas, Laugh At The Fakes, Lelahell, Diablery, Humbucker, Phantom, No Sin Evades His Gaze, Endzeit, among tons of other awesome bands and artists, it’s hard to name just a few. They’re indeed a huge slap to the face of those idiots who keep saying heavy music is dead and gone. Just Google those bands or search for them here at The Headbanging Moose and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some of them even made it to the top10/20 list, as you can see.

You can check The Headbanging Moose’s playlist Top 10 Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums of 2014 @ Songza, with the best songs from each band of the list above, as well as amazing songs from lots of independent bands who rocked the world in 2014. And, of course, do not forget to listen to the weekly episodes of The Metal Moose Show by the Metal Moose Radio. Support you local bands… AND FOLLOW THE MOOSE!

And last but not least, before the Headbanging Moose goes into “hibernation” until the beginning of 2015, I’ll leave you guys with a song that’s way better than any of that Christmas garbage shoved down our throats every fuckin’ year. This song says it all.

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2015!

Album Review – Escapetor / Fear (2014)

A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.

Rating3

ESCAPETOR - Fear cover artWhen you think of that insane Thrash Metal from the 80’s, your head automatically turns to North America, more specifically to the San Francisco Bay Area and to South Florida, where monsters such as Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Exodus, Testament and many other great bands simply made history with their never-before-seen heavy music. But what if I tell you there’s also excellent Thrash Metal music in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, the stunning Kingdom of Norway? And what if I tell you it’s the most awesome Thrash Metal music you can find anywhere today?

That’s exactly the case with Norwegian Thrash Metal band Escapetor, who after a few demos, EP’s and a debut album, are about to release their second full-length album, entitled Fear. Not only that, this Rogaland-based group also adds lots of elements from more contemporary bands like Pantera and Slipknot to their songs, which ends up elevating the overall fierceness of their musicality to a level all Thrash Metallers from anywhere in the world will love from the bottom of their hearts. In other words, if you do not like the Thrash Metal by Escapetor, you’re not a good person.

The initial riffs and fast drums of the opening track, The Queen, say it all: it’s fuckin’ brilliant Thrash Metal, so good I bet no one can stand still while tis song is played. In addition to the flawless instrumental, with highlights to the aforementioned powerful guitar riffs, the performance by German singer Claudius Bormuth is beyond superb, turning this song into a unique heavy music delight. What a great voice, perfect for Escapetor’s musicality! If only Metallica were doing something as enjoyable as this. Anyway, that was just the beginning of Fear: the melodic mid-tempo song Dark Past, with its more modern sonority perfect for headbanging and for some crazy air guitar, has some excellent guitar solos accompanied by a strong and catchy chorus (“Can you feel it, burning inside / I can’t take it anymore. / All these feelings tearing me apart, / Cause I know it is my dark past.”); while Unknown Thoughts, a pretty decent song with an interesting job done by drummer Leif-Ove Haugstad, reminds me of a more contemporary Metallica.

Dealing with Fate is pure riffs and heaviness where you can sense the influence from the band’s biggest idols in terms of harmony and rhythmic breaks. Besides that, its backing vocals are an amazing addition to the already great vocals by Claudius, and everything gets even better due to an outstanding guitar solo at the end. The following track, Mr. Hyde, showcases a refined mix of Thrash Metal and Southern Rock, something I’ve seen only Testament doing properly. It’s direct and powerful, straight to your face, with its lyrics inspired by the “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” being an extra ingredient to this great recipe (“Last night, I woke up, I had the same old nightmare / What have I done, Mr. Hyde has taken over”).

ESCAPETOR band photoThe title-track, Fear, is truly kick-ass, with its deeper growls in the chorus and all variations from a faster rhythm (perfect for mosh pits) to a heavier and slower tune (tailored for intense headbanging) perfectly exemplifying the total synergy among all band members. The mighty bass lines by Dan Gundersen set the tone for another badass ferocious track, Shadow, where guitarists Ragnar Nord-Varhaug and Axel Feller keep up with the tradition of dynamic and technical guitar duos in Thrash Metal, followed by Escapetor, with its epic intro and an astonishing atmosphere created by the guitar riffs. Not only this is one of the best songs of the album without a shadow of a doubt, but its pure old school musicality and lyrics (“We are Escapetor, here in your town / Delivering metal to you our crows / We travel the wastelands, we sail over seas / To bring you our music, to make you feel free”) make me feel like I’m listening to a classic band from the 80’s.

Then it’s time to bang our fuckin’ heads with Suicide, an evil version of A7X (which is indeed something very positive), with highlights to its great vocals and to drummer Leif-Ove Haugstad simply smashing his drum set. It can’t get any heavier than this! The next track, Time, reminds me a little of Iced Earth and although it might not be as brilliant as the rest of the album, it’s a pretty decent song anyway; while the Testament-ish tune Creatures of the Night offers us some very dark and solid guitar lines, with the final part of the song being so damn heavy it’s impossible not to love it. And finally, Escapetor offer all fans of good music an incredible gift, with their impeccable cover version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. I have to say this is more than just a cover version, it’s a superb tribute to one of the biggest music icons of all time, and seriously, this song made my day a lot better.

Call it the “New Wave of Norwegian Thrash Metal”, “Boknafjord Area Thrash Metal” (the largest bay in the county of Rogaland), or create your own definition of it, but one thing is certain: Fear is surely the “Thrash Metal Album of the Year” so far, and there’s a huge chance it will remain in the top spot when 2014 is over. If you cannot wait to listen to more of Escapetor’s crazy Thrash Metal, a preview of the entire Fear is available HERE, and you can already pre-order it at the official Crime Records webshop. Let’s say that only Thrash Metal behemoths Exodus can beat them, but it would be an honour anyway to be second place just behind Gary Holt, Zetro & Co., right?

Best moments of the album: The Queen, Fear, Escapetor, Suicide and Folsom Prison Blues.

Worst moments of the album: Unknown Thoughts and Time.

Released in 2014 Crime Records

Track listing
1. The Queen 5:52
2. Dark Past 5:05
3. Unknown Thoughts 4:33
4. Dealing with Fate 6:42
5. Mr. Hyde 5:03
6. Fear 3:56
7. Shadow 3:45
8. Escapetor 4:52
9. Suicide 4:24
10. Time 5:46
11. Creatures of the Night 5:53
12. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover) 2:30

Band members
Claudius Bormuth – vocals
Ragnar Nord-Varhaug – guitar
Axel Feller – guitar
Dan Gundersen – bass
Leif-Ove Haugstad – drums