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.

Album Review – Forte Ruin / Rebuilding the Machinery EP (2018)

A talented six-piece Melodic Death Metal act from Finland returns with a brand new EP where they step up their game in terms of quality, intricacy and professionalism.

If you’ve been following The Headbanging Moose for a few years already, you might remember a Finnish Melodic Death Metal band from the city of Lahti named Forte Ruin, who released in 2015 their debut self-titled EP comprised of three original compositions filled with memorable melodies, powerful riffs and catchy choruses. Now in 2018 that talented six-piece metal act returns with a brand new EP entitled Rebuilding the Machinery, where not only they step up their game in terms of quality and intricacy, but the band formed by Arttu Ruusunen on lead vocals, Saku and Samu Aaltonen on guitars and backing vocals, Arto Viitanen on bass and backing vocals, Veli-Matti Kyllönen on keyboards, and Jere Aaltonen on drums sounds a lot more professional and ready to spread their music throughout the four corner of the earth.

And the EP kick off in full force with Down in Perdition, a very melodic and pounding creation by the sextet showcasing clean and rumbling sounds, spiced up by the futuristic keys by Veli-Matti while Arttu growls the song’s poetic lyrics rabidly (“All these revelations and present / Are finally align so that we’ll understand / Our time here has come to an end / In perdition we could meet again perchance”). Furthermore, Saku and Samu not only deliver excellent riffs during the whole song, but their solos are also beyond thrilling. Then deeply rooted in classic Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal we have the title-track Rebuilding the Machinery, faster than its predecessor and presenting a great balance between visceral growls and clean vocals, as well as a great job done by all band members with their instruments, in special Jere with his fierce and rhythmic beats.

Displaying hints of American Alternative and Nu Metal (and once again with the keys by Veli-Matti bringing a whimsical aura to the musicality), Colony Collapse Disorder exhales sheer electricity, with Arto delivering thunder through his menacing bass lines while the guitar solos elevate the song’s impact and taste considerably. In Electric Frames, just like what they did in their previous EP, Forte Ruin add nuances of Jazz and electronic music to their Scandinavian Metal, and the the final result couldn’t sound more fantastic, all boosted by the song’s lyrics which seem taken from a song from the 70’s (“Great illusion within’ electric frames / We can see the integration / While we process all the traveling light / Of electric frames”). And Saturation Point, featuring guest vocals by Jules Näveri from Profane Omen, is tailored for banging your head nonstop or playing some ass-kicking air guitar, with the bass lines by Arto bringing tons of groove to the musicality while the keys by Veli-Matti keep adding a touch of delicacy to the overall result.

Featuring a modern and sinister artwork by Finnish artist Marianna Maaninka, Rebuilding the Machinery not only has all the elements we search for in Melodic Death Metal, but it also brings additional layers of intricacy and feeling thanks to all other music styles Forte Ruin incorporate in their music, and in order to show your proper support to this Finnish squad go check their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Spotify for news and more of their music. You can purchase Rebuilding the Machinery from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Record Shop X or CD Baby, and add such distinct collection of Scandinavian Metal songs to your personal playlist, courtesy of a band that might be taking their initial steps in the world of heavy music, but that at the same time already sounds like veterans due to the high quality of their compositions and their utter professionalism.

Best moments of the album: Rebuilding the Machinery and Electric Frames.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing  
1. Down in Perdition 4:18
2. Rebuilding the Machinery 3:57
3. Colony Collapse Disorder 4:29
4. Electric Frames 4:24
5. Saturation Point (feat. Jules Näveri) 6:27

Band members
Arttu Ruusunen – lead vocals
Saku Aaltonen – guitars & backing vocals
Samu Aaltonen – guitars & backing vocals
Arto Viitanen – bass & backing vocals
Veli-Matti Kyllönen – keyboards
Jere Aaltonen – drums

Guest musician
Jules Näveri – guest vocals on “Saturation Point”

Album Review – Forte Ruin / Forte Ruin EP (2015)

A cohesive and entertaining display of Melodic Death Metal, directly from Finland into our minds and souls.

Rating5

EP_CoverIf someone says Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Forte Ruin are more like a family than just a regular band, that person won’t be lying at all. The guitar duo comprised of Saku and Samu Aaltonen, together with drummer Jere Aaltonen, are the electric brotherhood that keeps the band’s engine running fast and efficiently, with lead singer Arttu Ruusunen, bassist Arto Viitanen and keyboardist Veli-Matti Kyllönen adding loads of extra fuel to their compositions, thus culminating in high-end music like what you’ll find in their self-titled debut EP, Forte Ruin.

The band was originally founded in 2011 in the city of Lahti, Finland under a different name, but after some major changes in their line-up they decided it was also necessary to adopt a new heading for their six-piece cohort. In regards to the overall production of the EP, it is truly remarkable how professional and organic the band sounds, having recorded everything by themselves without the help of any external sources, except for the recording of drums in a real studio. And after listening to this short and sweet display of Melodic Death Metal you’ll feel eager for more of their dynamism and energy in an upcoming EP or even a full-length studio album in a not-so-distant future.

You can sense influences from In Flames, Soilwork and the more contemporary American Alternative/Melodic Death Metal in the first of the three tracks, Alienated Humanity, where as expected there’s an embracing and eerie atmosphere created by its keyboards thanks to the excellent job done by Veli-Matti. In addition, its strong vocal lines (especially the screams and growls by Arttu) and catchy chorus enhance the impact of the song to the listener, making it the perfect opening to instantly captivate the crowd during their live performances.

Forte Ruin promoIn the excellent 45 Days, a thrilling start is augmented by powerful drums and solid riffs until the music reaches its full force, yet again showcasing ass-kicking sinister keyboard notes. Moreover, its straightforward rhythm and harmonious instrumental end up turning it into the best of all three tracks in my opinion, with highlights to the tuneful guitar lines by Saku and Samu and to the keen progressive touch added by the whole band at the end of the song.

Lastly, Enter The Masquerade presents melancholy and melody together in a pleasant composition the likes of the latest works by Arch Enemy and other Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal bands. Its clean vocals are more incisive and therefore more effective in this tune, with elements of Symphonic Black Metal and Progressive Metal increasing the song’s range and complexity. Not only this is another track with a powerful chorus, but its ending is a thing of beauty and the perfect hook for their next release.

Forte Ruin can be reached at their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, and you can also become part of their family by purchasing their EP at their BandCamp page or at the Record Shop X webstore. As long as we keep supporting underground metal music, bands like Forte Ruin will keep rising from all over the world, and while those bands keep working hard and never give up their dreams and goals, more amazing music such as this cohesive and exciting EP of Melodic Death Metal will keep invading our minds and souls for our total amusement.

Best moments of the album: 45 Days.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Alienated Humanity 3:46
2. 45 Days 3:41
3. Enter The Masquerade 5:52

Band members
Arttu Ruusunen – lead vocals
Saku Aaltonen – guitars & backing vocals
Samu Aaltonen – guitars & backing vocals
Arto Viitanen – bass & backing vocals
Veli-Matti Kyllönen – keyboards
Jere Aaltonen – drums