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 – Henriette B / Tales Of Reality EP (2016)

This flourishing band from Switzerland is back with more of their top-of-the-line Metalcore to tell you some of their harshest tales of reality.

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FolderIn case you’ve been following The Headbanging Moose for a considerable period of time, you might remember our review for the 2014 EP Red Dawn Of Humanity, by Swiss Metalcore/Hardcore act Henriette B (and if you’re new to the band you’ll find out why they have such a distinct band name by reading that review HERE). Now, almost two years after Red Dawn Of Humanity became a reality in the world of Metalcore, this five-piece band from Tavannes, Switzerland returns with yet another solid and impactful EP, this time entitled Tales Of Reality.

After playing many shows across Switzerland in 2015 thanks to the very positive reaction of Metalcore fans to Red Dawn Of Humanity, with Henriette B sharing the stage with bands such as Texas In July, Walking With Strangers and Benighted, it’s noticeable how the quality of the music delivered by the band improved in Tales Of Reality. Albeit always keeping loyal to their foundations and style, there are many new elements and nuances added to the new EP that end up differentiating it from its predecessor, and that in my opinion will definitely open even more doors for Henriette B to cross the boundaries of their homeland and go further in their promising career.

Although the opening track Utopia has a very similar sonority to the music found in their 2014 EP, it’s a lot more polished and professional, showcasing the evolution in the music by Henriette B. In addition, while Ian Girod is back with his bestial growls, newcomer Fabio Duro proves through his refined technique why he was selected by the band to be responsible for their beats, adding an extra layer of intricacy to their music. And in Face Or Flee, Ian and his desperate vocals follow the lead of guitarists Vincent Simonin and Thierry Grundbacher, who bring the musicality closer to Death Metal, but who also at the same time present hints of Alternative Metal through their riffs and solos.

HB-HIRES_3As mentioned in the review for their previous EP, there’s always a lot of melody amidst all the brutality blasted by the band, which is also the case in The Other Side, a typical song to break your fuckin’ neck by headbanging like a maniac anytime you listen to it, not to mention its deranged ending. And following that bestial tune we have Visions, where Fabio continues to pound his drums with a lot of precision and feeling. It’s high-quality Metalcore with a strong atmosphere supporting the band’s “noise”, once again exhibiting a good fusion of heavy riffs and harmonious solos and passages.

Now it’s time for bassist Fabien Voumard to fire his thunderous and groovy bass lines in the awesome The Mistake We Made, providing the other band members everything they need to sound even more violent. Besides, this song makes it clear that it’s when Henriette B accelerate their music that they truly thrive. And The Hidden Kingdom closes the EP by offering us more of the excellent riffs by Vincent and Thierry in a violent Melodic Death Metal vibe, not to mention the great performances by Ian and Fabio with their sonic weapons.

Henriette B want to keep telling you their own tales of reality and showing you their vision of the world, and in order to do that they need you to visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud. And, obivously, if you’re a fan of European Metalcore you should also go purchase their brand new EP at their BandCamp page, at CD Baby, on Amazon and other locations. Thus, after two strong EP’s, I guess the next step for those Swiss metallers is to continue their hot streak by delivering us their first full-length album, how about that? If they keep their music as potent as it is now when that time comes, I’m pretty sure they will engrave their name deeply in the world of Metalcore and heavy music in general.

Best moments of the album: The Other Side and The Mistake We Made.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Utopia 3:25
2. Face Or Flee 3:10
3. The Other Side 3:56
4. Visions 3:02
5. The Mistake We Made 3:55
6. The Hidden Kingdom 3:02

Band members
Ian Girod – vocals
Vincent Simonin – guitar
Thierry Grundbacher – guitar
Fabien Voumard – bass
Fabio Duro – drums

Album Review – Henriette B / Red Dawn Of Humanity EP (2014)

Fresh and aggressive music by a Metalcore band as precise as a Swiss watch.

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FolderFrom the municipality of Tavannes, Switzerland, also home of the world renowned Tavannes watches, comes a five-piece group as precise with their instruments as a Swiss watch: I’m talking about Metalcore/Hardcore band Henriette B (the name comes from the gorgeous Norwegian actress Henriette Bruusgaard, who appeared in the horror movie Manhunt) and their brand new 20-minute violent and polished EP, entitled Red Dawn Of Humanity.

Born in 2009 inspired by excellent bands such as Gojira, Heaven Shall Burn and August Burns Red, and after releasing a three-track demo named First Steps in 2010 and the single Cold Weapon in 2013, which led them to perform not only in Switzerland, but also in France and Belgium, together with names like Anthrax, Ichor and Dirty Fingers, this promising Swiss group has gained a lot of experience and confidence on their path to Red Daw Of Humanity. Besides, as most European bands, those guys know how to add tons of melody amidst all the savagery in their music.

Do not get tricked by the smooth intro in the opening track, Below Us All. When the music starts, it sounds like there will be a female singer coming out of nowhere with some kind of operatic or pop voice, but instead we are assaulted by truly deep guttural vocals and a very solid instrumental, with riffs and drums inspired by Melodic Death Metal enhanced by a more modern approach. And the massacre goes on with Enslave Our Future, heavier, more futuristic and more apocalyptic than its predecessor, including even some elements from Black Metal blended with some characteristic Metalcore rhythmic breaks led by drummer Greg and more brutal vocals by lead singer Ian. The music video, which can be seen below, was directed and produced by Thibaut Schaller and only proves how professional this band is.

promo-2-hd-4096x2731My favorite song of all, the frantic Self Murderer, flirts with old school Death Metal, with its headbanging guitar riffs and some harsh screams by Ian adding lots of brutality and despair to the song; followed by the also strong The Final Procession, with highlights to the great riffs by Jérôme and Vinche. Not only that, the breaks and progressiveness during the last part of the song are really interesting and will surely please all fans of the genre. The last track, Bringer Of Suffering, focuses on more melodic riffs mixed with rawer drums, and it’s even more progressive and modern than the previous track. And you don’t need to understand exactly what the lyrics say to know they’re not happy or optimistic at all.

Visit their official Facebook page to keep updated with everything this nice band has been doing lately, their official YouTube channel to listen to ALL tracks from Red Dawn Of Humanity, and their BandCamp page to purchase their refined music. Henriette B are professional, reliable and precise as the watches from their homeland, and an outstanding addition to your heavy music collection.

Best moments of the album: Enslave Our Future and Self Murderer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Below Us All 4:23
2. Enslave Our Future 3:55
3. Self Murderer 3:46
4. The Final Procession 4:41
5. Bringer Of Suffering 3:39

Band members
Ian – vocals
Vinche – guitar
Jérôme – guitar
Fabien – bass
Greg – drums