The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

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Album Review – Judas Avenger / Judas Avenger EP (2015)

Judas Avenger is rising faster than a bullet, to kill with power and play Heavy Metal louder than hell.

Rating5

JA EP coverForged in the cold fires of Finland from the alliance of the bands Dark Avenger (tribute to Manowar) and Judas Rising (tribute to Judas Priest), Finnish Heavy/Power Metal warriors Judas Avenger do not aim at revolutionizing heavy music, but keeping the flame of true Heavy Metal burning bright through the years. In other words, don’t expect to find the next step in the evolution of music when you take a listen at their self-titled debut EP, Judas Avenger, but instead a solid and entertaining tribute to the golden years of heavy music with the addition of the band’s own talent, passion, energy and determination. As cheesy as this might sound, the band’s loyalty to the purest form of Heavy Metal is what makes their music so exciting and, consequently, worth listening.

And although the main influences of Judas Avenger are obviously the iconic Judas Priest and Manowar, this five-piece army of immortals from Finland also drinks from the metallic fountains of Savatage, Death, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and tons of other unique metal heroes, adding some extra layers of complexity to their music. Moreover, I guess I don’t need to mention the fact that, as most bands from Finland (and the whole Scandinavia), they have a titanic focus on the melody and harmony of their compositions, sounding at the same time polished and aggressive exactly as the Gods of Heavy Metal expect from any real heavy squad claiming for a place among them at the Halls of Valhalla.

If you’re not familiar with Judas Avenger yet (and I believe you’re not), you might think Manowar are back to their prime when you start listening to the opening track, the excellent Judas Avenger. However, it’s not a new Manowar tune despite Pekka Montin sounding exactly like Eric Adams during most of the song, but a mighty tribute to the Metal Warriors with its instrumental parts being slightly more inclined to what Judas Priest used to do in Defenders of the Faith and Painkiller. In addition, the band’s own touch comes in the form of the progressiveness, breaks and variations found throughout the entire song, keeping them away from being labeled as “just a cover band”.

JA_band_promoAnd what would happen if the classics Painkiller and Ride the Dragon were merged into one song? The result would definitely be similar to Hell Nation, where guitarists Ville Viertola and Joni Kuuri, together with bassist Tommi Lempää, go to war with their galloping riffs and bass lines, while drummer Tomi Lahtinen keeps the energy level high with his beats and fills. Pekka showcases a wide vocal range that would make both Eric Adams and Rob Halford proud, but in my opinion what really stands out in this kick-ass tune are the elements from other classic bands such as Iced Earth and Savatage that you can feel while listening to it. The following track, Empire of Dust, is probably the most original song by Judas Avenger, offering the listener catchy riffs and raspier vocals inspired by old school Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll. This melodic tune is indeed an exciting ode to all things metal, including even some piano passages a la Joey DeMaio, not to mention that it will surely sound amazing when played to a live crowd.

It’s good to see Judas Avenger focus on the music itself rather than on long boring speeches or on endless wind and rain noises (got it?), resulting in amazing tunes such as Dying Wish, a rock ballad with a beautiful and imposing acoustic intro that gets heavier and heavier as the music evolves, and Night of the Banshee, a journey back to the 80’s when we metalheads were sitting on top of the world. And before I forget, kudos to Pekka for an outstanding performance with his high-pitched screams and to the other band members for their powerful backing vocals, especially during the song’s awesome chorus.

Divine Darkness, the last and the longest of all tracks, is also their most progressive and obscure chant, with its harsher vocals enhanced by a violent atmosphere and displaying clear influences from Savatage, Dream Theater and even Death Metal, increasing the song’s electricity until it fades to a melancholic ending. Thus, the guitar solos by Ville and Joni make me wonder how much those guys love guitar heroes such as Chuck Schuldiner, Glenn Tipton and Alex Skolnick. If you also want to have an answer for that or simply know more about Judas Avenger, you can contact them through their Facebook page, listen to their music at their SoundCloud page, and evidently buy their EP at their BandCamp page. Because in the end we all know that the Gods made Heavy Metal, and they saw that it was good. They said to play it louder than hell, and Judas Avenger promised that they would.

Best moments of the album: Judas Avenger and Empire of Dust.

Worst moments of the album: The Mighty Thor said there are no bad moments in this EP.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Judas Avenger 5:35
2. Hell Nation 4:28
3. Empire of Dust 5:22
4. Dying Wish 4:15
5. Night of the Banshee 5:47
6. Divine Darkness 6:17

Band members
Pekka Montin – vocals
Ville Viertola – guitar
Joni Kuuri – guitar
Tommi Lempää – bass
Tomi Lahtinen – drums