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!

Album Review – False Coda / Secrets and Sins (2016)

A lesson in progressiveness and feeling by a five-piece Greek band that brings forth a classy fusion of different musical styles, highly recommended for fans of top-of-the-line Heavy Metal.

Rating4

album-coverI think I’ve never faced a boring band from Greece to review here at The Headbanging Moose, and Greek Progressive Metal act False Coda is no exception to that. Formed in 2009 in Athens by brothers Andreas Milios (drums) and Vasilis “Bill” Milios (guitars), this five-piece band brings forth a marvelous fusion of genres and subgenres of heavy music, including Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Power Metal and Doom Metal, among many others, as well as other styles such as classical music, never getting tiresome or repetitive even playing songs that go on for over eight or nine minutes. Quite the opposite, it looks like the longer their compositions are, the more exciting they get.

However, it was only in 2014, after considerable lineup changes, that False Coda were able to release their debut album, entitled Closer to the Edge, which received excellent reviews from magazines and webzines from around the globe. And that positive feedback fueled those Greek metallers with confidence for more, culminating with the release this year of their brand new album Secrets and Sins, a lesson in progressiveness and feeling featuring Stefanos Zafeiropoulos as their new lead singer, a classy artwork by French artist Nihil, world-famous guitarist Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore) with a special solo for one of the album songs, and of course an infinite amount of first-class heavy music.

An exotic and pleasant intro with elements from the East ignite the excellent Throne Of Blood, an upbeat heavy music composition with cutting guitar lines and a high dosage of complexity the likes of Dream Theater, with the keyboards by Lefteris Kapetanios sounding sharp and exciting throughout the whole song (and as you’ll see, throughout the whole album as well). Moral Compass brings forward more intricacy and metallic sounds to us fans of Progressive Metal, where Bill showcases all his abilities with his stringed weapon while the vocals by Stefanos remind me of both Matt Barlow and Stu Block (Iced Earth), adding an extra touch of violence to the overall result; whereas in New Paradigm a gentle intro flows into pure progressiveness, morphing into a song that could easily be played on any rock n’ roll station with highlights to the spot-on performances by Stefanos on vocals and Nick Pogkas with his groovy bass lines.

false-codaThe title-track Secrets and Sins couldn’t be more imposing and symphonic, a feast of tempo changes, beautiful solos and tons of heaviness flowing from all instruments, sounding as if Dream Theater merged with Iced Earth in the most effective way. Needless to say, it’s one of the best songs of the album, highly recommended for some good headbanging. Flickering Lights, despite having an amazing intro and some interesting moments (in special the solid riffs by Bill), is not as captivating as the rest of the album, sounding a bit generic compared to the other songs. And Monolith, perhaps the darkest of all songs, is also one of the most thrilling, with its dense ambience and the theatrical vocals by Stefanos, together with the powerful Doom Metal-ish beats by Andreas and the sensational solo by guest guitarist Jeff Loomis, making listening to it simply mandatory to any fan of modern and organic Heavy Metal.

The multilayered Moment, with its rumbling bass lines and eerie atmosphere, is the longest of all tracks and, thanks to that, it’s also the song where the band had the highest amount of freedom to showcase all their creativity and passion for heavy music, with highlights to the final guitar solo by Bill, while The Truth Lies, a passionate power ballad by these talented Greek metallers, presents another sensational job done by the guitar/keyboard duo comprised of Bill and Lefteris, enhancing the song’s appeal. Furthermore, I simply love the smooth break with the piano notes, bringing a good balance to the heaviness of the rest of the song. And lastly, California is a very innovative way to finish such powerful album, a beautiful ballad with elements from Blues added to the musicality, tailored for listening to it together with your significant other as he or she will surely enjoy the moment a lot.

You can get more details on False Coda through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, with the sophisticated Secrets and Sins being available at their BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon. As aforementioned, several distinct Greek bands from different genres and styles have already been reviewed by The Headbanging Moose, and none of those were even close to being boring. Now we can definitely add False Coda to this select Hellenic team, hoping that their music can travel the seven seas and reach the ears of headbangers avid for high-quality Heavy Metal all over the world for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Secrets and Sins, Monolith and The Truth Lies.

Worst moments of the album: Flickering Lights.

Released in 2016 Freia Music

Track listing
1. Throne Of Blood 6:06
2. Moral Compass 6:11
3. New Paradigm 5:37
4. Secrets and Sins 8:25
5. Flickering Lights 4:09
6. Monolith (feat. Jeff Loomis) 5:29
7. Moment 9:20
8. The Truth Lies 6:03
9. California 3:36

Band members
Stefanos Zafeiropoulos – vocals
Vasilis “Bill” Milios – guitars
Nick Pogkas – bass
Lefteris Kapetanios – keyboards
Andreas Milios – drums

Guest musician
Jeff Loomis – guitar solo on “Monolith”