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 – Front / Iron Overkill (2016)

Into the battlefield we march to the hellish sound blasted by three unrelenting Finnish soldiers of Black and Death Metal.

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12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}When a band states that their music sounds like “rusty barbed wire moving at the speed of a missile”, you already know a sonic war is about to start, and that obviously means there’s nowhere to run, no place to hide from that brutal devastation. The band in question is Finnish Black/Death Metal squad Front, a power trio of darkness blasting a fulminating sound deeply inspired by iconic Black Metal juggernauts such as Marduk, Infernal War and Bestial Warlust blended with the badass attitude from their Rock N’ Roll heroes Motörhead, resulting in their debut full-length opus, a deadly weapon of mass destruction entitled Iron Overkill.

Founded in 2015 in the city of Lahti, Finland, Front already conquered the deepest pits of the black and death underground in their homeland after the release of their 2015 demo, making all fans of extreme music eager for more of their onslaught of crushing ultra-violence. Despite Front being a brand new name to the scene, the three troopers behind this beast (Kaosbringer on vocals, Von Bastard on guitars and bass, and Revenant on drums) have deep roots in the Finnish underground, having played in bands like Sacrilegious Impalement, Evil Angel and Neutron Hammer, among others, clearly explaining the high level of professionalism and malignancy found in their music.

Transpiring Black Metal with a rebellious attitude, let the raw and noisy drums and riffs by Front kick off the demented opening tune Defiance, a song to break the walls and exterminate everything where the vocals by Kaosbringer remind me of the unstoppable Swedish bulldozer Mortuus (Marduk) with a Death Metal vibe, followed by the insane massacre named Legion Front. This is unrelenting Black Metal displaying cutting guitar lines and infernal beats, while the growls by Kaosbringer reach a new devilish level. In other words, this song is beyond perfect for slamming like a motherfucker into an insane circle pit. And when a song is called I Am Death it definitely has to sound evil, with the bass guitar by Von Bastard and the menacing drums by Revenant setting fire to another feast of darkness that takes Black Metal to a new level of destruction, similarly to what Marduk do today but with Front’s own wicked touch.

front_promopic-2016-aOne single but powerful word pronounced by Kaosbringer (“ATTACK!”) ignite sheer devastation in the excellent Wargods Unbound, with the rumbling bass lines by Von Bastard leading the initial onrush before satanic Black Metal riffs and an enraged Kaosbringer join this chaotic but extremely well-crafted chant. It’s simply impossible not to get thrilled by the band’s performance and by the song’s warlike atmosphere, enhanced by its amazing backing vocals. Front’s sonic assault goes on with the extremely heavy Kypck, with highlights to its metallic guitar lines and bestial drumming, as well as the deeper growls by Kaosbringer which end up adding an extra dosage of ferocity to the overall result; followed by Tribunal of Terror, where a rhythmic start complemented by some devilish vociferations explodes into a full-bodied Extreme Metal hymn. There are absolutely no shenanigans in this solid composition, only brutality fired by a high-skilled band, especially through the dynamic rockin’ riffs by Von Bastard.

And there’s still more combat-inspired extreme music for you flowing from the Hardcore guitars, fiery growls and infinite hatred found in Cold Gravel Grave, a song that will kick you in the guts due to its unparalleled aggression (with its second half being perfect for breaking your neck headbanging), before sheer violence and evil come ripping in Heathen Resistance, where our electrified Black Metal platoon showcases their skills and tell the world they will always fight for extreme music, never giving up or betraying their roots, displaying once again an amazing job done on drums by Revenant and the thunderous bass guitar by Von Bastard. In addition, pay good attention to the song’s rhythm, going from pure Black Metal to beer-drinking Rock N’ Roll the likes of Motörhead and Chrome Division, a fusion Front are capable of doing almost to perfection.

As we march into the battlefield to the aggressive music presented in this excellent album by Front, go check their Facebook page for more info on their music, upcoming tours and plans for the future, and you can also find Iron Overkill on sale at the Iron Bonehead Productions’ BandCamp, at their webshop in two different versions (as a regular jewelcase CD or as a special 12” LP edition including a 350gsm jacket with matt varnish and inside flooded in black, a 140g black vinyl, a 220g printed cardboard innersleeve and an A2 poster on 150gsm art paper), at the Record Shop X or at Discogs. If you purchase a copy of Iron Overkill, then maybe (just maybe) these three unrelenting soldiers of Black and Death Metal will spare your miserable life from total doom.

Best moments of the album: Defiance, I Am Death, Wargods Unbound and Tribunal of Terror.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Iron Bonehead Productions

Track listing
1. Defiance 4:37
2. Legion Front 3:27
3. I Am Death 3:39
4. Wargods Unbound 4:34
5. Kypck 5:02
6. Tribunal of Terror 4:13
7. Cold Gravel Grave 4:39
8. Heathen Resistance 5:58

Band members
Kaosbringer – vocals
Von Bastard – guitars, bass, choir vocals
Revenant – drums, choir vocals

Guest musician
Lux Tenebris – backing vocals