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 – Immortal / Northern Chaos Gods (2018)

The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.

The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again now in 2018 thanks to Bergen’s own Black Metal institution Immortal, who after nine long and excruciating years of the release of their 2009 album All Shall Fall are back in action with a brand new opus titled Northern Chaos Gods, a beyond fantastic comeback for one of the trailblazers of Norwegian Black Metal. The first album after the departure of founder, frontman and guitarist Abbath from the band in 2015, Northern Chaos Gods marks the longest gap between two studio albums by Immortal, but the wait was definitely worth it as Immortal sound extremely sharp and vile throughout the entire album, proving once again why they’re still an unstoppable force of frost and ice.

Featuring a dark and straightforward cover art by Norwegian artist Jannicke Wiese-Hansen, Northern Chaos Gods showcases an inspired Demonaz (Harald Nævdal) on vocals and guitar (for the first time since 1997) and a brutal and extremely precise Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) on drums, accompanied by guest bassist Peter Tägtgren. In an interview before the album’s release, Demonaz said he wanted to make the album as “grim, dark and cold as possible”, and Immortal more than succeeded in their quest for extreme music, delivering a raw piece of Norwegian Black Metal that takes the band right back to its early sound. Each and every song in Northern Chaos Gods is a lecture in darkness, pointing to a bright (or I should say obscure) future ahead of a band that might have suffered a few losses since their inception in the far, far away year of 1991, but that stands triumphant and loyal to their roots no matter what.

The title-track Northern Chaos Gods comes crushing mercilessly in an absolute sonic devastation blasted by Demonaz with his fulminating riffs and Horgh with his classic Black Metal blast beats, resulting in a truly old school tune but without sounding obsolete or cheesy, not to mention the excellent job done by Demonaz with his infernal roars. As violent and somber as its predecessor, Into Battle Ride is an ode to Black Metal with highlights to the lancinating guitar lines by Demonaz and the thunderous bass lines by Peter, also bringing inspiring lyrics vociferated by Demonaz (“The sword of thunder and lightning is on the rise / From the north the gods of wrath descend / The storm of war nearing, black in its sign / Now vengeance shall enter again, feared by mortals / Our yearning steel strong hands / Thundering hooves strike above dying men / Down the black valleys arise through the haze / From the mountains, hear battle and death”); whereas Gates to Blashyrkh is a lot more melodic and rhythmic, perfect for banging your head and raising your horns to the hellish duo Demonaz and Horgh. Put differently, simply ride together with Immortal to the Gates to Blashyrkh and enjoy a huge dosage of top-of-the-line Melodic Black Metal invading your senses. And Grim and Dark is another cadaveric and sinister creation by this Norwegian entity, led by the slashing riffs by Demonaz while Horgh keeps crushing his drums nonstop, flowing majestically until its crisp and ominous ending.

There’s no time to breathe with more traditional Black Metal in Called to Ice, with Demonaz’s visceral riffage being effectively accompanied by the galloping sound of drums and bass in five minutes of classic Norwegian Black Metal for diehard lovers of the genre, before a smooth and melancholic intro quickly explodes into a lecture in modern-day Black Metal in Where Mountains Rise, a headbanging tune where Horgh’s beats sound amazingly crisp and heavy while Demonaz keeps slashing his strings with sheer precision and vocalizing the song’s beautiful, poetic words (“For the mighty mountains I ride / Through the woods beyond the snow / Like a fire among the stars, beyond the clouds she rise / There’s no fire from the sun, in this dark under the moon / My blackened sight beholds the stars, and fallen suns below”). Back to a more extreme and piercing sonority we have Blacker of Worlds, where Horgh presents his violent bulldozer mode and with Demonaz and Peter delivering a storm of blackened sounds through their stringed weapons, hammering our heads until Mighty Ravendark strikes our minds like a thunderbolt, exhaling malignancy, darkness and evil. Moreover, Horgh and Peter generate a massive wall of sounds with their drums and bass, respectively, while the hell raiser Demonaz keeps growling and gnarling in a devilish manner during the song’s over nine minutes of Epic Black Metal, putting a majestic ending to one of the best comebacks in the history of metal.

In summary, Northern Chaos Gods, available in different formats from the Nuclear Blast website, is more than just a comeback as already mentioned, but the rebirth of one of the biggest exponents of classic Black Metal even when no one else believed the band could get back on track after such turbulent period in their career. Well, they’re not called Immortal in vain, and after such pulverizing album we can rest assured Demonaz and Horgh will keep the flame of Norwegian Black Metal burning bright wherever they go. Because in the end we’re talking about the true “Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal”, and they’ll keep riding into the battlefield side by side with us, fans of extreme music, until their final and bitterly cold breath.

Best moments of the album: Northern Chaos Gods, Where Mountains Rise and Mighty Ravendark.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Nuclear Blast

Track listing    
1. Northern Chaos Gods 4:25
2. Into Battle Ride 3:50
3. Gates to Blashyrkh 4:38
4. Grim and Dark 5:27
5. Called to Ice 5:06
6. Where Mountains Rise 5:51
7. Blacker of Worlds 3:43
8. Mighty Ravendark 9:14

Band members
Demonaz – vocals, guitars
Horgh – drums

Guest musician
Peter Tägtgren – bass (session)

Album Review – Abbath / Abbath (2016)

The one and only Abbath takes a new step in his career with a brand new band and an album that will definitely be among the best releases of the year.

Rating2

abbathsoloface_638Olve Eikemo, Abbath Doom Occulta, or simply Abbath, you name it, is one of the most iconic musicians in the Norwegian Black Metal scene since the 1990’s as frontman of Immortal. However, in 2015, fans got caught by surprise when Demonaz announced Abbath’s departure from the band and they would legally battle for the naming rights of Immortal. According to Abbath’s side of the story, he wanted to rehearse and record a new album, but Demonaz and Horgh, now with families and children, didn’t want to enter the studio that soon. On the other side, Immortal members said that Abbath’s personal problems ruined the band’s plans. What could have meant the end of something really amazing such as Immortal’s legacy turned out to be the beginning of a new era when Abbath announced he was forming his self-named solo band.

To join him on this new project, Abbath recruited the well known bassist King ov Hell (Gorgoroth, Ov Hell, God Seed) and a mysterious drummer called “The Creature” – which we found out in December, when he left the band, to be Kevin Foley, the French drummer who has been playing with bands like Benighted, Disavowed, Sepultura, Sabaton and others. The band debuted live in June 2015, at Tuska Open Air, in Finland, even before the recording of the album and during the second half of 2015 they released a few songs to the fans. A few days after Creature’s departure, Per Valla, the Norwegian guitarist that played on their live concerts also left the band. Some might think this is not a good start for a new band, and it really isn’t, but they promised that their very first album was to be released on January 22, 2016, and here we have Abbath, a great Black Metal piece that every fan of this genre should take a listen at.

To War opens the album showing right from the start that Abbath is not here to delivery low quality music. It has an amazing work on bass and drums, great riffs adding melody to the song and the main man’s growls sounding better than ever. There is even time for a great melodic guitar solo. Winter Bane comes next and keeps all the heaviness going on, again with all the band members working in harmony – Creature brought to songs such as this one a lot of rhythm by coming from outside Black Metal, and the result is great. Next, the first seconds of Ashes of the Damned might trick you that this is a slow song, but in reality it is fierce and raw with the addition of fast guitar riffs, double bass and even some keyboards.

abbathband2015promo1_638After a start of pure destruction, Abbath slow the pace just a little bit with Ocean of Wounds, but you still know you’re listening to some really good Black Metal. All the anger comes back on the next track, Count the Dead – this song was released as a single in December in a very special 7” vinyl edition, limited to 500 copies worldwide. Fenrir Hunts is the heaviest song of the album and it was the first one played live to the fans, back in Finland. It is impossible to stay insensitive to this masterpiece and probably you’ll bang your head until your neck hurts.

In Root of the Mountain, we can recover our breath after all the aggressiveness delivered with another amazing melodic Black Metal track with a darker atmosphere. But the album couldn’t end in a better way than with more loudness to our ears in Eternal, closing this cycle with the same heaviness it all started. But wait, there is more! For those who got the “Count the Dead” single vinyl, as a B-side there’s a cover of Riding on with the Wind, byJudas Priest, also available on digital version. This is not the best of covers but, well, it is a good tribute to the Metal Gods. There is also a second cover as a bonus track: Nebular Ravens Winter, by Immortal, and if you think you know what to expect, you’re wrong. This version, recorded live in studio, sounds even louder than the original song.

Abbath is already available in its entirely for streaming on Soundcloud, and you can order your copy at the Season of Mist webstore and on iTunes. The band will embark in January and February on a tour around Europe, and then, in March and April, in North America, as headliners of the Decibel Magazine Tour, alongside with the bands High on Fire, Skeletonwitch and Tribulation – for both tours, Abbath named Gabe Seeber (The Kennedy Veil) to fill the place left by The Creature. So, keep an eye on Abbath’s Facebook page for more news and updates and if you have the chance to see this concert, please go! This is a must see in 2016. Will Abbath ever work with Immortal again? Who the f*ck knows? It is something we really can’t predict. But with this new band and the album, the man didn’t disappoint and showed he still has a lot of creativity flowing through his veins and a lot to deliver to his fans.

Best moments of the album: To War, Winter Bane, Count the Dead and Fenrir Hunts.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. To War 5:35
2. Winter Bane 6:49
3. Ashes of the Damned 3:51
4. Ocean of Wounds 4:44
5. Count the Dead 4:57
6. Fenrir Hunts 4:38
7. Root of the Mountain 5:40
8. Eternal 4:36

Special Edition bonus tracks
9. Riding on the Wind (Judas Priest cover) 3:04
10. Nebular Ravens Winter (Immortal cover) 4:16

Band members
Abbath Doom Occulta – vocals, guitars
King ov Hell – bass
The Creature – drums