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…

Album Review – Helloween / My God-Given Right (2015)

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.

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My God-Given RightEvery single time Power Metal heroes Helloween release a new album, my metal heart is filled with joy. No other band beats those German metallers when the subject is fast and solid metal music charged with massive amounts of happiness and electricity. And when our beloved war dog guitarist Michael Weikath said My God-Given Right, the fifteenth studio album in their distinguished career, would be “just good old classic Heavy Metal the way it’s supposed to be”, I couldn’t get more excited to have it in my hands. What Mr. Weikath says, Mr. Weikath does, right?

After listening to My God-Given Right for the hundredth time let’s say he was absolutely spot on with his words, for the total delight of millions of Helloween maniacs all over the world, including myself. It’s beautiful and unswerving Heavy Metal, a metallic lecture to any musician on how to focus your energy and skills into crafting first-class music, and more important than that, it’s pure Helloween. In addition, guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Daniel Löble seem to be getting more and more in sync with the rest of the band with each album, becoming an intrinsic part of the music by Helloween now, which of course brings only benefits to the band as a whole.

Thus, it’s when “Happy Happy Helloween” come ripping that you better get ready for an insane Rock N’ Roll party. Mixing elements from all of their albums, including even their iconic debut album Walls of Jericho, the opening track Heroes punches you right in the face with its powerful instrumental and beyond exciting rhythm and chorus (“Everyone can be a hero / We are, we are / Sometimes up then down to zero / We are, we are / Heroes, heroes”), followed by Battle’s Won, which reminds me a little of “Burning Sun” from their previous album, the also excellent Straight Out of Hell. It is Power Metal to the second power with Daniel leading the sonic attack, the type no other band in the world can create, with highlights to the balance between the lead vocals by Andi Deris and the efficient backing vocals. Then we have the title-track, My God-Given Right, which transpires Helloween from the Andi Deris-era, and I can’t wait to hear this tune live. Besides, you’ll be humming its beautiful riffs for weeks in a row, and it’s impossible not to love its “Star Wars meets Helloween” official video.

Right after that Power Metal trinity, why not hitting the dance floor with the entire band in the amazing Hard Rock/Heavy Metal tune Stay Crazy, one of the best tracks to be added to their setlist in my opinion? Those awesome riffs keep coming nonstop from the guitar duo comprised by Michael and Sascha, with kudos to Andi for an outstanding performance yet again. And sounding like a hybrid between “I Want Out” and “I Can”, the also excellent Lost in America is old school Helloween with the fresh touch of their latest works, with highlights to its fun lyrics and an amazing job done on guitars once again, especially in regards to the solos. Concluding this second trinity, the awesomeness goes on and on in Russian Roulé, a song that represents what I would call “badass Rock N’ Helloween”. Not only it has the heaviest riffs of the whole album, but Andi and Daniel are also thrilled while playing this song, with only one single question left to be answered: are you going to come out and play with the band?

Helloween 2015The Swing of a Fallen World is the weakest of all tracks, not actually fitting in with the rest of the album. Despite a desire for it to be epic, it ends up falling flat due to its very basic and repetitive instrumental, with no outstanding moments at all. Fortunatelly, the album quickly regains momentum with the relaxing ballad Like Everybody Else, a good option for soulmates to enjoy together. We know they’ve created better ballads through the years, but this is still a nice song, and of course the most interesting part are Andi’s vocals as they always work pretty well in slow songs. Then we have the superb Creatures in Heaven, a high-end Power Metal feast where Helloween prove why they’re the masters of this type of metal music: it’s exciting from start to finish, where they pay a tribute to themselves traveling back in time and back to the present and future of the band, with the riffs and solos by Michael and Sascha truly touching our hearts so amazing they are.

No one else could have written If God Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll but Mr. Andi Deris, as it’s pure Hard Rock with the entire band on fire delivering divine rock music to us mere mortals, enhanced by its witty lyrics (“Leather suits you better / Got to let your hair grow / Take the black and enjoy the new show / Welcome to an army spreading over the world / Wild and proud brothers / Haven’t you heard?”). And following the same rockin’ pattern, Living on the Edge is highly recommended to be part of your soundtrack for a road trip, where Michael, Sascha and one of my favorite bassists of all time, Mr. Markus Grosskopf, give us a lesson on how to flawlessly tame their strings.

Are you tired already? There’s no way you can get bored with Helloween, with more Power Metal at its finest to you in the form of Claws, a good complement to an amazing album, as well as You, Still of War, the longest of all tracks, which has an inner beauty that will turn it into a fan favorite without any doubt. It’s a lot more progressive than usual, showcasing those unique guitar duos we learned to love in their music, closing the regular version of the album the best possible way. And if you grab one of the special editions of My God-Given Right, there are different bonus songs, all pretty good, with Free World being my favorite due to its riffs.

However, as Helloween is not an ordinary band, My God-Given Right comes with the whole package. The artwork, once again created by German international photographer Martin Häusler, comes available as a 3D lenticular print (visible without 3D glasses), and you can also be totally entertained by the Helloween family providing their words of wisdom about each track of the album HERE, HERE and HERE.  Because, in the end, what really matters is that it’s our God-given right to stay crazy and keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.

Best moments of the album: My God-Given Right, Stay Crazy, Russian Roulé, Creatures in Heaven and If God Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Worst moments of the album: The Swing of a Fallen World.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Heroes 3:51
2. Battle’s Won 4:53
3. My God-Given Right 3:30
4. Stay Crazy 4:05
5. Lost in America 3:35
6. Russian Roulé 3:53
7. The Swing of a Fallen World 4:53
8. Like Everybody Else 4:04
9. Creatures in Heaven 6:36
10. If God Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll 3:21
11. Living on the Edge 5:19
12. Claws 5:52
13. You, Still of War 7:21

Digital/Limited/Earbook Edition bonus tracks
14. I Wish I Were There 4:12
15. Wicked Game 3:56
16. Free World* 3:34
17. Nightmare** 4:43
18. More Than a Lifetime** 3:58

*Limited Edition Bonus track only
**Earbook Edition Bonus track only

Band members
Andi Deris – lead vocals
Michael Weikath – lead and rhythm guitars
Sascha Gerstner – lead and rhythm guitars
Markus Grosskopf – bass
Daniel Löble – drums