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.

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Album Review – Primal Fear / Apocalypse (2018)

The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity, teamwork, aggressiveness, melody and professionalism.

Whenever you feel the urge to bang your head until the end, enjoying some first-class Heavy Metal with a powerful and melodic European twist, you know you can count on German Power Metal masters Primal Fear to provide you the exact amount of electricity, stamina and epicness you’re looking for. Not only all of their albums are well-crafted and extremely entertaining, but the band comprised of frontman Ralf Scheepers, the iconic bassist Mat Sinner, the guitar trio Magnus Karlsson, Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann, and drummer Francesco Jovino are beyond professional and focused on their work, releasing a steady stream of albums through the years, such as their latest (and amazing) full-length installments Delivering the Black, in 2014, and Rulebreaker, in 2016, a very good sign that the band is a million light-years away from calling it quits (for our total delight).

Now in 2018 the Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus titled Apocalypse, the twelfth studio album in their career and another solid statement that Heavy Metal will never die while bands like Primal Fear are out there. The main difference between Apocalypse and some of their previous albums is that, in their new album, the band experimented more with different styles, elements and nuances, making it a fresh listen from the opening track until its breathtaking conclusion. “My personal highlight of recording the album was the fantastic teamwork. Peaceful, focused and really creative,” says Mat Sinner. “No big discussion, no heated arguments. Everybody did a fantastic job and the performances were top notch. This was the key to improve every little detail of the songs, from old school to epic, from modern to symphonic, from fast to slow — you will hear it all on ‘Apocalypse’.” After such spot-on words by Mat, all we need to do to enjoy the music in Apocalypse to the fullest is spreading our metallic wings and flying together with the band. And after listening to Apocalypse, I’m sure you’ll go back to the start and repeat that adventure all over again.

In the intro Apocalypse, a heartbeat amidst epic sounds announces a Heavy Metal thunder is about to strike in New Rise, an old school, thrilling German Power Metal hymn the likes of Gamma Ray and Helloween (which obviously means it kicks fuckin’ ass) where Francesco takes the lead with his crushing beats together with the riffs fired by the band’s trio of fantastic guitarists, building the perfect atmosphere for Ralf to showcase his insanely potent voice. And if that wasn’t already a rip-roaring start to the album, the next tune, titled The Ritual, which in my humble opinion is the best of all songs in Apocalypse, will simply hit you hard straight in the face. This is one of those electrified, pounding tunes closer to their latest albums where the fusion of their neck-breaking riffs and beats with the enraged high-pitched vocals by Ralf sounds more than just amazing, supported by Mat’s always effective backing vocals, followed by the melodic and smooth King of Madness, an almost power ballad that will please fans of the lighter (but more obscure) side of the band, also displaying those traditional Primal Fear lyrics (“A battlefield filled with fools, / a thousand hearts lost in the dark. / Those who win are just tools, / a way for him to let the crazy rule.”).

Blood, Sweat & Fear is another straightforward tune where the band once again shows their interesting passion for wordplays with the word “fear” in their song names, with its rhythmic and vibrant pace being driven by Francesco’s precise drums while Magnus, Alex and Tom sound as slashing as Power Metal can be; followed by the power-ballad Supernova, a song with some good moments but that never really clicks due to the lack of that usual passion and vibe from their old ballads (and I do love pretty much all ballads by Primal Fear, I might say). Fortunately, that uninspired vibe is quickly replaced by a beautiful shredding that morphs into a dark, headbanging tune titled Hail to the Fear, with Mat and his rumbling bass together with Francesco’s beats generating a strong base for Ralf to thrive one more time on vocals, not to mention its exciting rush of classy guitar solos. And in Hounds of Justice we’re treated to the purest form of Primal Fear, which means scorching hot guitar riffs, a thunderous vibe and killer vocals, also presenting elements from some of their old songs from Seven Seals and New Religion as well as their trademark fighting lyrics (“Another warning without any trace / Another kick straight in your face / Another morning you’ll be on the run / Trouble is coming ’till the day is done / Another strike no more peace alive / Another hit nothing humanized / We want the truth broken and abused / The finger on the trigger is no excuse”). Needless to say, this song will sound simply fantastic when played live without any doubt.

Then get ready for more pounding drums and a classic and harmonious work done by the band’s guitar triumvirate in The Beast, delivering pure Heavy Metal from start to finish in a more-than-enjoyable mid-tempo composition, whereas Eye of the Storm presents a Heaven & Hell-inspired start led by the low-tuned, devilish bass by Mat, evolving into a gorgeous power-ballad showcasing crisp guitar lines and a superb performance by Ralf. Furthermore, the band blends several elements from Doom and Symphonic Metal into their core Power Metal in this powerful tune, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, before Cannonball presents Primal Fear’s final blast of pure metal music to crack your neck in half, with highlights to the merciless axes by Tom, Magnus and Alex. Hence, while you headbang to this rousing chant, it’s a very good idea to sing the chorus along with Ralf and the guys to make everything even more engaging. And last but not least, if you buy the special edition of the album you’ll be treated to some amazing bonus songs, with Into the Fire, my favorite of them, beinging forward the cream of the band’s classic Heavy Metal with hints of Hard Rock in four and a half minutes of sheer awesomeness.

If the end of the world is near or not (and Primal Fear already sung about that in their previous albums), no one knows for sure. However, we can rest assured that if the world finally comes to its end in a not-so-distant future, Ralf, Mat & Co. are building a respectful collection of metal anthems perfect for fighting to survive until our last breath with all of their releases, including the excellent Apocalypse (available in different formats and locations HERE), an album that will certainly keep all of the band’s diehard fans happy and the band itself more-than-active in the scene and ready to take your hometown by storm without any warning. And whenever that happens, you know exactly where you should be, raising your horns and saluting one of the most electrifying, hardworking and consistent metal acts of our generation armed with their apocalyptic, unrelenting and awe-inspiring Power Metal.

Best moments of the album: New Rise, The Ritual, Hounds of Justice, Eye of the Storm and Into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: Supernova.

Released in 2018 Frontier Records

Track listing
1. Apocalypse 1:44
2. New Rise 4:13
3. The Ritual 4:05
4. King of Madness 4:25
5. Blood, Sweat & Fear 4:55
6. Supernova 5:21
7. Hail to the Fear 5:05
8. Hounds of Justice 3:51
9. The Beast 3:42
10. Eye of the Storm 8:00
11. Cannonball 4:43

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus tracks
12.Fight Against Evil 4:25
13.Into the Fire 4:33
14.My War Is Over 4:41

Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus track
15.Supernova (Orchestral version) 5:05

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 2 (DVD)
1.King of Madness (video) 4:23
2.The Ritual (video) 4:06
3.Making of “Apocalypse” (Mini-Documentary) 14:41

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass, backing vocals
Magnus Karlsson – guitars, keyboards
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars
Francesco Jovino – drums

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!

Concert Review – Primal Fear & Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (The Mod Club, Toronto, ON, 06/01/2016)

In metal we trust, for metal we live. And last night in Toronto was just another beautiful attestation of all that passion for heavy music, courtesy of the indomitable Primal Fear and the epic Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody.

OPENING ACT: Vesperia

NorthAmerica-PFLTR-TourLet me start this review by thanking Mother Nature for being so amazing to all Torontonians since the end of winter, providing us some beautiful sunny days, warmer-than-usual temperatures and almost no precipitation. And when the weather is as good as now, there’s nothing better than going out with your friends and loved ones for a beer and some good old Heavy Metal, right? If you’re a true metalhead, a true lover of old school Power Metal, last night was the perfect occasion for that to the sound of three excellent heavy bands at the cozy The Mod Club, starting with Canadian Epic/Progressive Death Metal band VESPERIA.

IMG_1344Promoting their latest installment, their 2015 EP entitled The Iron Tempests, which by the way helped them win the 2015 edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada (and consequently play at the biggest metal festival on earth the same year), this talented quartet showcased all their refined abilities with their instruments during their entire performance, with this demolishing and intricate uproar made in Canada being masterfully led by lead singer and bassist Morgan Rider. Unfortunately I do not have the setlist for their presentation (I know they played songs like Iron Saga and In the Hall of the Mountain King), but I can assure you each and every song sounded just amazing on stage. If you’re searching for a new band that offers complex passages, blazing riffs and an endless amount of stamina in their music, Vesperia might be exactly what you’ve been craving for.

Band members
Morgan Rider – vocals, bass
Frankie Caracci – lead guitars
Casey Elliott – guitars
Dylan Gowan – drums

PRIMAL FEAR

IMG_1353After Vesperia was over, all the metalheads at the venue had a short break to have another beer or quickly go to the washroom before German power metallers PRIMAL FEAR came crushing our ears with their thunderous and metallic music. When you’re a band like Primal Fear, all you have to do to hypnotize the audience right away is kicking off the concert with one of your best compositions to date, and last night not only they did that, but they chose my favorite tune of all to start their setlist, the flammable and thrilling Final Embrace. After that masterpiece, the unstoppable Ralf Scheepers, Mat Sinner & Co. kept firing some of their biggest classics blended with brand new songs from the awesome Rulebreaker, and the reaction of the fans to the new songs couldn’t have been better. Well, you know an album is goddamn amazing when fans really want to listen to new songs on the show, right?

IMG_1370From all new songs played, the ones that drew the most excited screams from the fans and made everyone at the venue raise their fists in the air were Rulebreaker and The End Is Near, not to mention their beautiful performance during the power ballad The Sky Is Burning. In regards to their top-notch metal classics, as a huge fan of the band I must say Angel in Black, Sign of Fear and Metal Is Forever drove the audience crazy while they were being played. Who doesn’t love to scream the words “There is blood there is pain / But my agony is not in vain / Cause there’s life after death / And I’m sure coming back to attack / As an angel in black” together with Ralf and the rest of the band?

IMG_1360The entire band was incredible as usual, with highlights to the explosive performances by Mat and the new drummer Francesco Jovino. Obviously, I don’t need to describe the perfection which Ralf sang all songs of the setlist, nor how guitarists Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann blasted some potent riffs and solos throughout the whole concert. The only issue during this entire North American tour was the absence of their third guitarist, Magnus Karlsson, despite having recorded the new album. Three guitarists live would have been awesome, but anyway, it was another exceptional performance by one of the best Power Metal acts in the world (just as good as their 2014 concert in Toronto), and after the encore was over with two more classics, Rollercoaster (another one of their songs I truly love) and Running In The Dust, the German troopers were gone and it was time to set the stage for the last concert of the night. I was expecting Primal Fear to headline the night, but that’s fine, we all got our share of their brilliant Power Metal. There was absolutely nothing to complain about that.

Setlist
Countdown to Insanity/Jaws of Death
Final Embrace
In Metal We Trust
Angel in Black
Rulebreaker
Sign of Fear
The Sky Is Burning
Nuclear Fire
Angels of Mercy
The End Is Near
When Death Comes Knocking
Chainbreaker
Metal Is Forever

Encore:
Rollercoaster
Running In The Dust

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass, backing vocals
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars, backing vocals
Francesco Jovino – drums

LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY

IMG_1388It was indeed a huge surprise for me that Italian Epic/Cinematic Metal band LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY was the main attraction of the night. Nothing against them, but I believe Primal Fear are a lot more relevant to the world of heavy music than Luca and his crew, especially after all the countless changes the band has suffered through the years. Honestly, I lost count of how many times the band switched from one name to another, all the band members coming and going, and so on. I don’t know anymore if a song was originally recorded by Rhapsody, by Rhapsody of Fire, by Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody or by any other of those weird ramifications. If you’re a fan of any of those bands (or just a fan of one of them, who knows), please forgive me for my ignorance.

IMG_1386Anyway, what can I say about a band that claims to play “Cinematic Metal”? All fans were able to actually witness the soundtrack to an epic battle movie, one of those fantasy blockbusters full of dragons, knights, princesses and so on. The band itself looks very theatrical (and sometimes even cartoon-ish), and their performance was a lot better than what I was expecting, especially the idiosyncratic moves and facial expressions by the band’s leader, Mr. Luca Turilli. It was fun watching him firing his complex riffs while prancing around the stage with his stylish hair and a Guess T-shirt. Truly unique, I should say.

Although I got lost in time with all the changes that affected the original Rhapsody, it was a pleasure to see the band playing old classics like Unholy Warcry (my favorite of their setlist) and Emerald Sword, whereas at the same time their Game Of Thrones-themed drum solo was a very welcome surprise for all fans. My only complaint about their concert was the excessive usage of pre-recorded sounds used for all orchestrations and choir. I bet when they play at any European festivals that shouldn’t be a problem, but for smaller venues it sometimes sounds like a metal karaoke. That’s not the band’s fault, though, just a minor annoying detail in their decent performance. Now please excuse me, as I have to grab my sword, my shield and get ready for battle.

Setlist
Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis)
Knightrider of Doom
Rosenkreuz (The Rose and the Cross)
Land of Immortals
Unholy Warcry
Son of Pain
Prometheus
Drum Solo (Game Of Thrones Theme)
Il Cigno Nero
Guitar Solo
The Pride of the Tyrant
Demonheart
Bass Solo
Dawn of Victory

Encore:
Quantum X
Emerald Sword
Outro

Band members
Alessandro Conti – vocals
Luca Turilli – guitars
Dominique Leurquin – guitars
Patrice Guers – bass
Alex Landenburg – drums

Album Review – Primal Fear / Rulebreaker (2016)

Who said rules must be broken for a metallic eagle to spread its wings and soar high in the skies of heavy music?

Rating2

coverOne important thing must be said about the action-packed Rulebreaker, the brand new release by German Power Metal soldiers Primal Fear. Although the album is called “Rulebreaker”, there are barely any rules being actually broken by the band in its 50 minutes of pure effulgent Heavy Metal. However, who said rules must be broken for a metallic band such as Primal Fear to thrive? The eleventh studio album by this long-established Teutonic act might not aim at all at revolutionizing heavy music, but it will unquestionably put you to bang your heads and raise your fists (and beers) to the unique sound of the most traditional form of Power Metal, and for me that’s pretty much all we need in a good metal album.

There are a few new elements added to Rulebreaker that end up differentiating it from the most recent releases by Primal Fear. First of all, it marks the debut of Italian drummer Francesco Jovino (U.D.O., Edge of Forever), a high-skilled musician who brings everlasting stamina to the band’s musicality. Secondly, German artist Stephan Lohrmann returns as the designer of the band’s emblematic eagle on the cover artwork for the first time since their 2006 compilation Metal Is Forever – The Very Best of Primal Fear. And last but not least, the album also features a third guitarist, the left-handed Tom Naumann, back as a permanent member of the band after a long studio break (since their 2005 album Seven Seals) and after touring with the band for the past two to three years. And with that “triple axe attack” you can have a very good idea of how blazing the band’s riffs and solos are going to sound.

Are you awake? Are you alive? Are you ready for a fight? That’s what you’re going to get in the opening track, the excellent Angels of Mercy, a song that represents all we love in the music by Primal Fear, including their powerful riffs, pounding drums, and Ralf Scheepers kicking fuckin’ ass as usual. The crisp production of the album only makes this song even better, as well as its official video presenting everything we live for, or in other words, girls, leather jackets and spikes, motorbikes and, obviously, Heavy Metal played louder than hell (at the “legendary” Rule Breaker’s Inn). In the electric metal chant The End Is Near, newcomer Francesco doesn’t take it easy with his beats, which is one of the main reasons why this tune so gripping, not to mention its sing-along chorus perfectly screamed by Ralf. And the metallic party goes on with Bullets & Tears and its Judas Priest-ish vibe, more specifically “Breaking the Law”, putting you to dance with the band. Moreover, Mat Sinner is not only an amazing metal bassist, but his work on the album production is superb, delivering a polished and melodic sounding no matter how heavy the music gets like in this amazing tune.

primal fear 2016The title-track Rulebreaker is a great Heavy Metal/Hard Rock hymn, the best of the whole album in my opinion, where all instruments sound solid and fiery, showcasing another lesson in Power Metal by Ralf on vocals while the bass lines by Mat keep breathing thunder. In addition, its powerful chorus sounds like a tribute to Lemmy, which obviously means it’s badass (“He’s a rulebreaker / Hell on wheels / And it’s not my last goodbye / Rulebreaker / Hell on wheels / And there’s no one left to hide / He’s a rulebreaker / Born a rebel and born to die alone / Rulebreaker / Hell on wheels / Into the great unknown”). And despite In Metal We Trust being as cliché as possible, the work done on guitars by the razing trio Magnus, Alex and Tom is awesome, and its overall electricity will make sure we all go mental during their live performances.

The 11-minute song We Walk Without Fear is very similar to “One Night in December”, from their previous album, with highlights to its beautiful guitar lines and smooth passages, as well as the flawless vocals by Ralf; whereas At War with the World, boosted by its uprising lyrics (“There is something deep inside me / That keeps my faith alive tonight / You’re gonna burn, there’s no return / A fight to survive”), presents the listener a perfect combination of speed and heaviness. I love the high energy of this simple but effective Power Metal tune, not to mention how Primal Fear have truly mastered the art of crafting catchy choruses through the years. In The Devil in Me, the band offers something between the classic “Heaven & Hell” by Black Sabbath and many songs by Manowar, but it feels a little out of place amidst so many high-octane songs. I enjoyed the accurate synchronicity between Mat and Francesco during the whole song, though.

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Primal Fear Rulebreaker Limited Edition Boxset

Things speed up again with Constant Heart, where the guitars are like nuclear weapons so heavy they sound. It can’t get more Primal Fear than this, with Ralf’s potent vocals excelling once again in special through the song’s ascending chorus. But as we can always expect emotional heavy ballads coming from Primal Fear, it’s time to soothe our souls with The Sky Is Burning, a memorable tune thanks to its harmonious guitars and passionate vocals. Lastly, in Raving Mad we can enjoy the high-pitched screams by Ralf reaching the skies in a powerful fusion of madness and metal, spiced up by the song’s deranged lyrics (“Can’t sort the pictures all blurred and skewed / Dystopian vision I’m simply screwed / Schizophrenic – addled brain”), putting a maniacal end to the regular version of this more than pleasant album. And if you get any of the special editions of Rulebreaker, there’s more incredible Heavy Metal for you to relish, especially the orchestral alternate version for “The Sky Is Burning” that comes in the Japanese deluxe edition of the album.

And in case your craving for the uproarious Power Metal by Primal Fear keeps burning inside you incessantly, the special edition of Rulebreaker also comes with a DVD including the official videos for “Angels of Mercy” and “The End Is Near”, and the making of the album. Well, I think I don’t even need to mention the magnitude of the special Rulebreaker boxset strictly limited to a thousand copies, which includes the deluxe edition digipak version of the album, the DVD and an eaglehead sculptur, right? Anyway, I read somewhere Primal Fear never have anything innovative to offer fans of Heavy Metal, but I don’t recall that being an issue for this band at any point of their career. Quite the contrary, this metallic eagle from Germany doesn’t need to break any existing rules to spread its wings and soar high in the skies of heavy music, and Rulebreaker is a faultless illustration of the band’s galvanizing traditionalism and dominance.

Best moments of the album: The End Is Near, Bullets & Tears, Rulebreaker, At War with the World and the alternate version of The Sky Is Burning.

Worst moments of the album: The Devil in Me.

Released in 2016 Frontier Records

Track listing
1. Angels of Mercy 3:35
2. The End Is Near 4:27
3. Bullets & Tears 3:05
4. Rulebreaker 4:38
5. In Metal We Trust 3:34
6. We Walk Without Fear 10:45
7. At War with the World 4:06
8. The Devil in Me 4:44
9. Constant Heart 4:50
10. The Sky Is Burning 4:45
11. Raving Mad 3:14

Deluxe edition digipak bonus tracks
12. Final Call 4:04
13. Don’t Say You’ve Never Been Warned 4:23 

Japanese deluxe edition bonus track
14. The Sky Is Burning (Alternate Mix) 3:48

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass, backing vocals
Magnus Karlsson – guitars, keyboards
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars
Francesco Jovino – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014

“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!” – Aleister Crowley, Moonchild

It’s with these inspiring words found in the occult novel Moonchild, written by British occultist, poet and novelist Aleister Crowley in 1917, that The Headbanging Moose reaches another year end. Well, not before celebrating heavy music, which is the essence of this webzine, right? In order to honour all metal bands and musicians who made our year a lot more fun, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014, excluding of course EP’s, best of and live albums. Party on, dudes!

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-12801. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are finally back with another marvellous sonic storm forged in the fires of pure Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Halls Of Valhalla

Primalfeardeliveringtheblack20142. Primal Fear – Delivering the Black (REVIEW)
Primal Fear once again deliver the awesome with their tenth studio album, their best since Seven Seals.
Best song of the album: King For A Day

Triptykon-Melana-Chasmata3. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (REVIEW)
One of the most expected albums of 2014 is a beautiful mix of Gothic, Black and especially Doom Metal as grandiose as they can be.
Best song of the album: Boleskine House

ExodusBloodInBloodOut4. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out (REVIEW)
American Thrash Metal masters deliver us another great lesson in Thrash Metal. Welcome back to the family, Zetro!
Best song of the album: Blood In, Blood Out

Cover5. Axel Rudi Pell – Into the Storm (REVIEW)
A fantastic “storm” of heavy riffs and solos by one of the best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal guitar players from Germany.
Best song of the album: Burning Chains

accept-blind rage6. Accept – Blind Rage (REVIEW)
And we salute Accept for another wonderful metal album, the third installment in this new amazing Accept-era.
Best song of the album: Dying Breed

ESCAPETOR - Fear cover art7. Escapetor – Fear (REVIEW)
A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.
Best song of the album: The Queen

vandenplas_chronicles8. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld (REVIEW)
Get ready for an amazing journey in this new Rock Opera Album.
Best song of the album: The King and the Children of Lost World

godsmack_1000hp9. Godsmack – 1000hp (REVIEW)
Lots of horsepower, groove, great riffs and strong vocal lines are just some of the things you’ll find in this amazing rock album.
Best song of the album: 1000hp

10. Phantom – …Of Gods and Men (REVIEW)
With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.
Best song of the album: Blood & Iron

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

11. Behemoth – The Satanist (REVIEW)
12. Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain (REVIEW)
13. Humbucker – King of the World (REVIEW)
14. Insomnium – Shadows Of The Dying Sun (REVIEW)
15. Crucified Barbara – In The Red (REVIEW)
16. Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead (REVIEW)
17. Motorjesus – Electric Revelation (REVIEW)
18. Lordi – Scare Force One (REVIEW)
19. Dimenzion:Psychosphere – Collapse (REVIEW)
20. Anti-Mortem – New Southern (REVIEW)

One of our recent reviews mentioned the law of conservation of mass by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, which states that “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”  With that said, why not innovating a little and listing the Top 10 Cover Songs of 2014? Because in the end it’s metal bands working towards the conservation of heavy music. Let me tell you all those cover versions are amazing, but the first two go beyond that, they’re just perfect.

1. Axel Rudi Pell – Hey Hey My My (Neil Young cover)
2. Escapetor – Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
3. Iron Savior – Dance With Somebody (Mando Diao cover)
4. Van Canto – The Final Countdown (Europe cover)
5. Ektomorf – I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover)
6. Anti-Mortem – A Little Too Loose (Mr. Big Cover)
7. Endzeit – The Dawn No More Rises (Dark Funeral cover)
8. Axel Rudi Pell – Way to Mandalay (Blackmore’s Night cover)
9. Humbucker – Wine, Women An’ Song (Whitesnake cover)
10. Exodus – Angel Of Death (Angel Witch cover)

Also, in 2014 we were able to witness so many impressive releases from new and not so new independent bands (or at least not signed to major record labels) such as Orisonata, SouLost, GoatchristValknacht, Ann My Guard, Septekh, Way Of Changes, Henriette BMisanthrope Monarch, Witches Of Doom, Phobiatic, Prayed and Betrayed, Temple Of Void, Maahlas, Laugh At The Fakes, Lelahell, Diablery, Humbucker, Phantom, No Sin Evades His Gaze, Endzeit, among tons of other awesome bands and artists, it’s hard to name just a few. They’re indeed a huge slap to the face of those idiots who keep saying heavy music is dead and gone. Just Google those bands or search for them here at The Headbanging Moose and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some of them even made it to the top10/20 list, as you can see.

You can check The Headbanging Moose’s playlist Top 10 Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums of 2014 @ Songza, with the best songs from each band of the list above, as well as amazing songs from lots of independent bands who rocked the world in 2014. And, of course, do not forget to listen to the weekly episodes of The Metal Moose Show by the Metal Moose Radio. Support you local bands… AND FOLLOW THE MOOSE!

And last but not least, before the Headbanging Moose goes into “hibernation” until the beginning of 2015, I’ll leave you guys with a song that’s way better than any of that Christmas garbage shoved down our throats every fuckin’ year. This song says it all.

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2015!

Metal Chick of the Month – Lisa Thompson & Jessica Marsden

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Lisa and Jess, the “sweet poison” of Sovereign Council.

Although the music by Canadian Symphonic Metal band Sovereign Council is already professional and pleasant enough to draw the attention of any metalhead that loves listening to some good symphonic heavy music, two of their band members can be considered a huge plus to their live performances, especially to the eyes and hearts of all regular guys (and even some girls) attending the show. Given the fact that this session of the Headbanging Moose is called “Metal Chick of the Month”, I bet you have an idea of what I’m talking about. Thus, for the first time in this website we have not only one, but two metal chicks at the same time to our total delight: the beautiful singer Lisa Thompson, and the stunning keyboardist Jessica “Jess” Marsden.

I had the pleasure to see this Kingston-based band opening for German Power Metal icons Primal Fear in Toronto, in May this year, and I can say those girls are more than just pretty faces on the stage. They are truly talented musicians, which by the way is what really matters in the end, enhancing the overall performance of the band with their voices, instruments and moves. You can take a listen at their contribution to the musicality of Sovereign Council in their official ReverbNation and YouTube channels, but not before checking out the biographies below to know more interesting details about those two beauties.

LISA THOMPSON

lisa01Born and raised in Ottawa, the official capital of Canada, Lisa Thompson grew up surrounded by rock music, with her father being a musician playing lead electric guitar and organ in local rock bands.  Lisa always sang as a child and, at the age of 10, her parents decided to start her up in singing and piano lessons.  She trained for nine years vocally, two years piano and then became a vocal coach in 2003. Today she continues to coach full time from her studio in Ottawa and specializes in coaching recording artists, performing musicians and bands.

At the age of 16, Lisa was a hired as a vocalist for a local recording studio in Ottawa and had the opportunity to write a few songs of her own, which fueled her passion for song writing and studio work.  Lisa started performing in rock cover bands in 2003, and over the years she has performed solo, in cover bands, tribute bands, original bands, and has had three albums produced between two different original bands.

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Our gorgeous singer joined Sovereign Council in 2012 as the band’s female vocalist.  She wasn’t looking to join a metal band at the time, but after one listen through the material of New Reign she was hooked to their music, and it was a welcomed challenge for Lisa contributing and writing vocal harmonies for the band. Moreover, performing along with lead singer Alex MacWilliam has been a true partnership feeding off of each other’s performance and vocals, giving their audience a performance of emotions and theatrics.

In regards to her musical interests and influences while growing up, they consist of a wide variety of artists, including names such as Evanescence, Disturbed, Silverchair, Led Zepplin, Eva Cassidy and Holly McNarland, just to name a few. You can see by this list that our charming female singer’s taste for music goes beyond metal, appreciating any artist that brings forth some high-quality material, especially in terms of singing and lyrics.

“There’s no better feeling than performing! Hearing your audience cheer you on and singing along with you. It’s surreal.” – Lisa Thompson

JESSICA MARSDEN

jess01Born on January 15, 1991 in Burnley, a market town in Lancashire, England, located around 34km north of Manchester, keyboardist Jessica Marsden (or simply Jess) also has a longstanding relationship with music. Her parents encouraged her to follow that path from a very young age: Jess was given her first miniature keyboard when she was only three years old and her father, who had taken a few organ and cornet lessons when he was a child and was more musically inclined than the average person, would play quick little tunes on the little keyboard for her. She then listened to what her father was playing and started figuring out how to play the same thing immediately after. Needless to say, music lessons started up not too long after.

At the age of five, Jess began taking piano lessons. She was able to grasp the basic theory behind it all, but by no means did she enjoy it: all she wanted to do was play the songs that she had heard on the radio or on a CD that her parents listened to. That was “unacceptable”, and therefore she was pushed to read music she was given, but the problema is that she simply hated it. Jess spent a few more years with a different teacher, who trained her ear further and provided guitar and vocal lessons.

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When our gorgeous keyboardist hit her senior years in high school, she stopped taking lessons altogether and began to pursue her own musical endeavours. This was around the time when her music taste started to broaden significantly, when she was listening to everything, from Rachmaninoff to Killswitch Engage and, of course, she loved it all. After finishing high school and being involved in several musicals, concerts and competitions, Jess went off to the University of Ottawa, taking classes ranging from Music Studies to Behavioural Psychology. She finished two years of the program and ran out of money, and not too long after returning to Kingston to live with her family and work for a while, a coworker informed her of a local metal band that was looking for a keyboardist. That was when Alex MacWilliam introduced her to Sovereign Council, and she has been there ever since.

According to Jess herself, working with such hard-working and creative individuals like the other members of sovereign Council has really pushed her to play further and further outside of her old comfort zone. She was used to playing softer and more melancholy pieces, although she had always secretly wanted to express her inner beast through heavier music. With that said, can we call Jess the “Beauty and the Beast” of the band?

“With every show, I am able to completely let loose, let my inner passions (love, sorrow and rage) build up, and let it out, turning it into something beautiful and expressive. Hopefully, this is something that many people can relate to and appreciate through our music.” – Jessica Marsden

Sovereign Council’s Official Facebook page
Sovereign Council’s Official Twitter

Interview – Chris Thompson (Sovereign Council)

While “the moose” takes a summer vacation to tame Eastern Europe, have some excellent beer and, of course, praise Iron Maiden, please enjoy this very interesting interview with guitarist Chris Thompson, from Canadian Symphonic Metal band Sovereign Council, conducted by Brazilian journalist Renata Santos for the website Portal do Inferno. See you guys in July!

Sovereign-Council_Vertigo-Productions

Sovereign Council (photo by Vertigo Productions)

Portal do Inferno: Hello, Chris! Thank you very much for the interview. It is a pleasure having Sovereign Council at Portal do Inferno. First of all, how would you describe the band to the Brazilian audience that don’t know you yet? What are your main influences and in which way have those influences contributed with your songs?

Chris Thompson: Thanks for having us; we’re honoured to be here. That’s a tough question, and one that we get asked quite often. We often find people comparing us to bands like Lacuna Coil, Kamelot, Nightwish, Within Temptation, etc etc. I agree that we do share certain aspects of our sound with these bands, but we’re certainly very different at the same time. All of these bands have influenced us in some way, but we also draw influences from a lot of places people would not necessarily expect. I think our love of heavier music – Meshuggah, Lamb of God, In Flames, and Gojira, to name a few, – is what gives our music more edge in the guitar and drum lines compared to some of the more traditional symphonic metal bands.

That being said, we also draw a lot of our influences from hip-hop, rap, classical, and rock. A lot of our lyrical influence comes from philosophical texts as well as personal life experiences.

P.I.: Symphonic metal is a really well-developed style in Europe, with bands like Delain, Epica, Nightwish, among others, but we cannot find many representatives in North America. How is this style seen especially by the Canadian public?

Chris: I think there is a real niche for this sound here. We’ve noticed a trend with reviews from abroad; everyone in Europe, South America, and even the USA is shocked when they learn that we’re Canadian. Here in Canada it is a little bit difficult for us. We end up being the odd band out in a lot of the shows we play simply because there aren’t enough symphonic bands in the area. Most metal bands around here are hardcore, progressive, or thrash metal. Overall however, our music and our performances are always very well received.

Sovereign-Coulcil_Chris

Chris Thompson (photo by Orest Dorosh/Front Row Pics)

P.I.: The band’s debut album, New Reign (2013), was released with no record label. Here in Brazil it is very difficult, expensive and demanding for a band to release their own material without the support of a record label. What about Canada? How is it to be an independent artist?

Chris: It was a lot of hard work, but at the same time I wouldn’t say that it was overly difficult – certainly not beyond the reach of any really committed artist anyway. In some ways, unless you get offered a really great deal, it’s actually beneficial to remain independent. I think that so long as you work hard you will have success as an independent artist in the Canadian scene. There are different levels of success. We are certainly seeking support from labels and management organizations, but we aren’t about to sell ourselves short either. When the right deal comes along we’ll definitely jump at the opportunity to further our career.

P.I.: Tell me a little bit about New Reign in regards to the composition and recording process. What inspired you to record this album from a lyrical and musical standpoint?

Chris: New Reign was a project in the making for quite a while. Each song began as one or two guitar lines and built up from there. Generally speaking, I come to Alex with a guitar line that I feel has potential and he takes it and adds bass, drums, string sections, etc. For the most part we let the music write itself, if that makes sense. Certain songs, New Reign for example, took several months before it was completed, but others such as Down The Rabbit Hole, were completely written in one sitting. We just make sure that we’re never forcing anything; the music needs to feel organic and flow naturally.

We almost always have the music written before the lyrics are even thought about. We really listen to what the music is conveying emotionally and then base our lyrics around that feeling and atmosphere.

Much of the album was inspired by our own life experiences, both musically and lyrically speaking. I think we’ve succeeded in telling a story with our music, and most people seem to really connect with the theatrical story-telling on an emotional level; that is to say that many people can relate to these common human experiences.

Sovereing-Council_Alex

Alexander MacWilliam (photo by Orest Dorosh/Front Row Pics)

P.I.: Listening to the tracks from New Reing, we can notice many melodic and vocal variations. The songs go from clean to guttural vocals and the beautiful and delicate vocals by Lisa Thompson, who makes great duets with vocalist Alexander MacWilliam. The comparison with bands that have female and male vocals is inevitable. Names such as Lacuna Coil, Kamelot, Nightwish, among many others end up being mentioned. Does that bother you? How do Sovereign Council differentiate yourselves from those bands in this aspect?

Chris: This is a great question. It certainly doesn’t bother us. It’s almost always a good thing to be likened to any of those bands; and I wouldn’t say that we actually try to separate from or associate with those bands. Our sound is very different and yet, in some aspects such as vocals, similar. One thing that does separate us is our theatrical storytelling and live performance. Moreover, Alex’s growls and screams also help to separate us even further. I do feel personally however, that our biggest difference lay in the guitar lines and drum lines. Our guitar lines are very complex in their composition; at times our guitars carry a melody and a counter melody together and leave the rhythm to the bass and keys.

P.I.: In the beginning of May you had the opportunity to be one of the opening acts for German Heavy Metal band Primal Fear in Toronto. How was that experience for the band? The music by Sovereign Council is very different from what Primal Fear do, so how did the audience react to your performance?

Chris: The show with Primal Fear was an amazing experience. Primal Fear is an extremely talented band and it was an honour to open for them and to meet them. The audience reaction was not too unlike our usual experience with new crowds. A lot of people look very confused through the first half of the first song, but it doesn’t take too long for us to win a crowd over. The uniqueness of our sound always throws new listeners for a bit of a loop, but it almost always wins them over quite quickly. By the start of our second song in the set we had won the crowd over, especially once Lisa began to sing. We like to think of her as our ‘secret weapon’ – in our standard set she isn’t in the first song so when she appears in Sweet Poison she really blows people away.

Sovereign-Council_Lisa

Lisa Thompson (photo by Orest Dorosh/Front Row Pics)

P.I.: In 2013, you played several concerts in Canada with Brazilian band Santuarium, from Rio de Janeiro. How did you get to know each other and how did that opportunity to tour together come up?

Chris: We actually met them by chance. Their manager at the time was looking for supporting acts for their Canadian tour. She found us on Facebook and asked us if we wanted to join the tour. After meeting with her on Skype and listening to Santuarium’s music we decided that we would love to work with them. So from there, her and I worked together to set up several shows with our two bands. We got the opportunity to play some football with them in Toronto before a show, which of course was a lot of fun! We played a friendly match of Sovereign Council vs. Santuarium; which effectively worked out to Canada vs. Brazil. Needless to say, Brazil won the match, but it was a close game! Later on, in November, we hooked up with Santuarium for two more shows, which was great.

P.I.: What do you know about the Brazilian Heavy Metal scene and what’s your opinion about the musicality of our bands?

Chris: I actually know very little about the Brazilian scene and the only Brazilian band I’ve had the opportunity to work with is Santuarium. That being said they are incredibly professional and talented.

Sovereign-Coulcil_PF

Sovereign Council (photo by Orest Dorosh/Front Row Pics)

P.I.: Can we expect a switch in the future, this time with Sovereign Council touring Brazil together with Santuarium?

Chris: We have actually discussed this, and it very well could happen. There are no solid plans in place just yet. I am traveling to Rio de Janeiro to meet with some of the members of Santuarium in July this year so who knows what plans will develop for the future.

P.I.: What are the plans for the future of Sovereign Council? Are you already working on any new material?

Chris: Our future is a very bright one in my opinion. We’re a young, hard-working, talented, and focused band. We’re constantly working hard to improve as individual musicians and as a group and our live shows keep getting better and better as a result. We are starting to reach out to various groups for assistance and we’re hoping to begin touring outside of Canada in the near future.

As for new material, I can’t give away too much information, but our second full-length album is well underway. It’s definitely got a heavier feel, but it stays true to the Sovereign Council sound that has been so well received on New Reign.

P.I.: Thanks again for the interview, we appreciate that. Feel free to send a message to all the readers from Portal do Inferno.

Chris: Obrigado Renata! Esperamos ver você e seus leitores quando fizermos uma turnê no Brasil!

Check out the original interview at Portal do Inferno in Brazilian Portuguese and English by clicking HERE.

Concert Review – Primal Fear (Virgin Mobile Mod Club,Toronto, ON, 05/03/2014)

Teutonic Power Metal icons take over Toronto to “deliver the black” in the city.

OPENING ACTS: Sovereign Council and Answer With Metal

primal fear_toronto_2014Just two days after the amazing Paganfest America Part V at The Opera House, it was already time for more PURE FUCKIN’ METAL at the small but cozy Virgin Mobile Mod Club, located in the Torontonian neighborhood known as Little Italy. This time, instead of Vikings and warriors, Toronto had the great pleasure to witness a lesson in POWER METAL by German Heavy Metal masters PRIMAL FEAR.

Before savoring the cream of heavy music by the Teutonic metalheads, the fans were surprised by two excellent opening acts “made in Canada”. The first band to hit the Virgin Mobile Mod Club stage was Kingston-based Symphonic Metal band SOVEREIGN COUNCIL, who presented an interesting and very professional mix of Symphonic and Alternative Metal which reminded me of bands such as Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and Epica. All band members were noticeably excited with the opportunity of opening for Primal Fear and were all smiles during their whole concert, with highlights to lead singer Alexander MacWilliam and female singer Lisa Thompson, who did an amazing job “telling a story” together in each song of their setlist. Of course I have no idea of the names of their songs, but I remember enjoying a really nice one called Bring It Down, and the only issue in my opinion was that their music would be more suited if they were the opening act for a Symphonic Metal band, as some people present at the venue didn’t quite understand their message. Maybe if they are called to open for Within Tempation or Delain, who will be in Toronto soon, their music will be a lot more appreciated.

Band members
Alexander MacWilliam – vocals
Lisa Thompson – female vocals
Chris Thompson – guitars
Patrick Buczynski – guitars
Shaun Vanhoose – bass guitar
Jessica Marsden – keyboards
Brandon Schneider – drums

If someone asks you what you love the most in life, you simply ANSWER WITH METAL! This Stouffville-based Power Metal band delivered a very competent concert, with lots of shredding, guitar solos, fast drumming and everything else that makes traditional Heavy Metal so addictive. Straight-forward songs like Gates Of Hell and Two Wrongs (Don’t Make A Right), with their very traditional approach, were excellent for some headbanging while enjoying a beer, which is probably what the band actually aims with their music, right? Lead singer Dan Nielsen, who by the way is the owner of an amazing voice, seemed so happy for opening to Primal Fear that he “forgot” to look to the crowd in the eye during the concert. Well, we cannot blame him for that, as we can imagine how important yesterday night was for him and the rest of his band. What really matters is that they kicked ass, and just like Sovereign Council they’re a very welcome fresh new addition to the Canadian heavy music scene. Moreover, if they keep being so hard-working and honest in what they do, we can rest assured they will go places with their music.

Band members
Dan Nielsen – vocals
Andrew Jarvis – lead guitar
Matt Hadaway – rhythm guitar
Jon Stallan – bass guitar
Alejandro Gonzalez – drums

PRIMAL FEAR

pf2014_primal fear02Finally, when the clock precisely struck 11pm, Ralf, Mat & Co. hit Toronto again after a long wait of over 4 years, delivering the most powerful and awesome Heavy Metal one can imagine. After playing two intros in a row (Countdown To Insanity and Jaws Of Death), the Heavy Metal extravaganza began with the classic tune Final Embrace, from their second album, the perfect Jaws Of Death (1999). Although the gig wasn’t sold out, the good crowd went crazy with the band from the very first second, with lots of headbanging and fists and horns in the air. And that was only the beginning!

How can Primal Fear be so fuckin’ awesome? First of all, if there’s one thing that I love in Primal Fear is their undeniable ability to ALWAYS release excellent albums, no matter what happens to the band, which was the case again this year with Delivering The Black. It was clear last night the fans love their new material, as songs such as Alive & On Fire, Delivering The Black, One Night In December and When Death Comes Knocking were sung at full force by all fans at the Mod Club.

pf2014_ralf02Secondly, all of their ballads are truly beautiful, and more important than that, a million light-years away from being cheesy. Last night the band perfectly played two of their best ones, the thrilling Seven Seals and the epic Fighting The Darkness, “spreading the love” among the couples who attended the concert. I wish they had played another one such as “Diabolus” or “Under your Spell”, but I was more than happy with last night’s setlist anyway.

However, it’s when the band plays that raw, fast and heavy Power Metal that things get even better, and the reaction of the fans to that type of music is priceless. Nuclear Fire, Chainbreaker, and especially Angel In Black (my favorite of the night), Bad Guys Wear Black and the Heavy Metal anthem Metal Is Forever were responsible for so much headbanging yesterday I’m pretty sure the Rub A-535 sales will go up today. That was an easy task for Primal Fear: they sent us a simple message (“Bang your head / And never turn it down / Bang your head / Bad guys wear black”), we promptly responded without any mercy to our necks and bodies.

It was already past midnight and the concert was almost over, but there was still time for two more strong songs, the electrifying Unbreakable (Part 2) and the superb Running In The Dust, showcasing one more time how great all band members are. The instrumental played by Mat, Alex, Tom and Randy, all really happy and excited for playing in Toronto after so many years, was totally flawless, and during pretty much the entire setlist I thought I was listening to the studio albums or even to an improved version of that. The guitar solos were impressive, the rumbling sound of Mat’s bass was reaching the hearts of the fans, and Edmontonian “stone crusher” Randy Black gave hope to all Canadian metalheads at the venue that have to suffer everyday with nasty things such as Justin Bieber and Avril Lavigne.  However, it was the unique voice by Mr. Ralf Scheepers what really captivated the attention of everyone at the concert. Ralf is like a good wine: the older he gets, the more awesome his voice gets. His performance in all songs was stellar, with no exception, and lest we forget he has to perform at that level almost every single day, which makes things even more amazing.

pf2014_primal fear04To sum up, a memorable night for fans of traditional Heavy Metal, and once again Primal Fear made our lives a lot more enjoyable with their mighty metal music. Because although they came to Toronto just to “deliver the black”, they ended up delivering the awesome, and now let’s just hope the Metal Commando does not take so long to come back to the city for another round of impeccable Heavy Metal.

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – lead vocals
Mat Sinner – bass guitar, vocals
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars*
Randy Black – drums

* Replacing guitarist Magnus Karlsson on this tour.

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Interview – Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear)

Let’s get ready for Power Metal icons Primal Fear to “deliver the black” here in Canada next month with this exclusive interview with one of the best and most respected metal singers in the world, the amazing Mr. Ralf Scheepers. Metal is forever!

Ralf ScheepersThe Headbanging Moose: First of all, I have to say that the new Primal Fear album, Delivering the Black, is a true Heavy Metal masterpiece and it will be for sure one of the best albums of 2014. There isn’t a single moment of the album that’s not pure and direct metal, especially the kick-ass songs King for A Day, Rebel Faction, Inseminoid and Delivering The Black. How was the creative process of the album, and how were you able to come up with such fast and powerful music even after almost 20 years of the first Primal Fear album?

Ralf Scheepers: Thank you very much! I’m glad that you like it!

We are in the great situation to have 4 writing members in Primal Fear, so basically we come up with many different ideas for an album and put them together as a short list of which could be on the album and which might fit to the flowing of an album. This is also a very important key when you put an album together. This time Mat and Magnus were coming up with the basic playbacks of the tracks and we sat together and worked on vocal melodies and lyrics. For some tracks I have worked on the playbacks to find my ideas on it and some of them were written together, as mentioned before.

This is basically how we are working on every album.

THM: I’ve been checking the music charts and it seems that Delivering the Black is doing extremely well, especially in Europe and Japan, and of course the band is huge in South America too. However, it’s not that easy to find your music or many other Power Metal bands available in the stores here in Canada and in the rest of North America. How do you see this “cultural barrier” here in North America against many subgenres of Heavy Metal that are not Death or Thrash Metal? Do you believe the Internet is being of great help for bands like Primal Fear, Chthonic, Amon Amarth and many others to penetrate this quite conservative market?

RS: I don’t consider this as a cultural barrier rather than judging it by seeing the size of the continent and the fact that we all still have to struggle against the illegal downloads. So to answer your second part of the question: I see both sides. I see the possibility to promote yourself as an advantage and on the other side I see the illegal downloading as a disadvantage.

THM: Talking about German heavy music, the past few years have been amazing for most of the bands from your country. For instance, in 2014 we’ve already had really awesome albums from Primal Fear, Axel Rudi Pell, Van Canto, Iron Savior and Gamma Ray, last year we had one of the best Helloween albums of all time, there are also other excellent bands that are not Power Metal like Hard Rock band Motorjesus and Metalcore band Caliban, among others. In your opinion, what’s the secret for such a rich, diverse and creative heavy music scene in Germany? Is it just the beer, or is it something else?

Primalfeardeliveringtheblack2014

Album Review – Primal Fear / Delivering the Black (2014)

RS: It’s definitely the beer, yes! 🙂

Well I think we had the opportunity to jump into this genre as music fans in the 80’s, especially the NWOBH era was creating a lot of great musicians here in Europe…. It’s somehow learning by hearing. So if you had or have the talent to play the guitar or to play the drums or to sing, you change from a fan into a musician by yourself and that’s what happened a lot over here.

THM: Going back to the new album, there’s a very interesting partnership with the gorgeous Liv Kristine in the Japanese bonus track version of the ballad Born With A Broken Heart. How did you guys end up choosing her for this track? In my opinion, this version is more beautiful than the original one, so why didn’t you add it as a regular track instead? And after some stunning duets with Liv Kristine on the new Primal Fear album, Simone Simmons on New Religion, and Tim “Ripper” Owens on your solo album, who else would you love to record a Primal Fear or Scheepers song together on vocals and why?

Liv_and_Ralf

Liv Kristine & Ralf Scheepers

RS: The basic idea was to add a female voice to the chorus for this track, just as an interesting color and so we did that for the album version. For the Japanese bonus track we thought it would be a great idea to remix the track and use more of Liv’s input on it. It both worked out and we’re all happy about both results, for the album and for the bonus.

We never really plan those things in a long term rather than listening to the tracks we wrote. Sometimes we hear additional voices, male or female to add a different color to it. Sometimes we don’t see or hear the reason to do that.

THM: Regarding your solo album Scheepers, from 2011, you re-recorded a song from your Tyran’ Pace years, the excellent Saints of Rock. Why did you choose this song to be part of your debut solo album, and are there any plans for another Scheepers album soon? If so, is there anything you could share with us about it?

RS: As the idea for “Saints of Rock” came up from me back then in the 80’s I thought it would be a good idea to modern up the sound of this track on my solo album. It was so much fun to re sing this one and to do all voices of the chorus on my own this time. Back then Charlie Huhn (Victory) helped me out doing the choir.

There are no plans for another solo album. This year our focus is to tour the world.

THM: You’ve recently finished a series of concerts with the Rock Meets Classic Tour 2014. How did you get invited to be part of this project, how was the overall experience, who were some of the musicians there with you, and what were the highlights of the tour for you?

Rock Meets Classic 2014

Rock Meets Classic 2014

RS: As Mat Sinner is the musical director and co producer of this event he thought it would be a good idea to add some male voices to the already existing female choir. So he has offered me the possibility to join in and I did. In the second and third year I was alone as a male choir member and in the forth and fifth year Sascha Krebs (Musical artist) has joined in. It was and still is a great experience every year! To be on stage with some of my idols and stars from the 80’s music scene is simply an amazing experience! It’s great fun. Every night you hear those popular tracks combined with the classical sounds of strings, trumpets and trombones, it gives me shivers and goose bumps. It’s an amazing vibe and atmosphere on stage!

We had Ian Gillan, Lou Gramm, Paul Rodgers, Alice Cooper feat. Orianthi, Joe Lynn Turner, Steve Lukather, Eric Bazilian, Jimi Jamison, Mick Box and Bernie Shaw from Uriah Heep, Steve Augeri, Midge Ure, Marc Storace, Dan McCafferty, Bonnie Tyler, Robin Beck and Kim Wilde with us. This is listed in no particular following.

THM: You’re not only the frontman of Primal Fear, but you also have your solo career, you’re part of different music projects such as Rocks Meets Classic, you’re a vocal coach, you provide singing lessons, you’re a microphone development consultant, you provide file processing, among many other activities, including your personal life where you have to take care of your son, work out at the gym etc. How are you able to manage all that? And what’s the advice you have for any artists and musicians that want to perform as well as you do on stage without losing track of all other things in life?

RS: I simply juggle duties and do not do everything at the same time! 🙂

Sometimes my focus is more on one thing and then again on the others when it’s necessary. To set priorities is the overall key to all this. I think as a grown up person you don’t need any advices to handle your life right? 🙂

Primal FearTHM: There haven’t been any Primal Fear concerts in Canada since 2010, and even before that there were only very few Canadian dates whenever the band came to North America. Now that you have a fairly bigger tour with four concerts schedule in Canada for 2014, in Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, what is the band preparing for your Canadian fans so eager to see you guys playing live again? Will there be any special songs in the setlist, or any other surprises at all?

RS: We are all looking forward to this and we are happy that there are more cities planned for Canada this year! In our existing setlist we have tried to add the most significant songs. On the other hand we also took care that there is a reasonable change in the flow of the songs of our live set.

THM: Which bands or artists (including all types of music) do you enjoy listening while at home with your family, at the gym or on the road? What about Canadian bands or artists, what are your favorite ones and why? And are there any new bands from anywhere in the world you would recommend us?

RS: When I have time to listen to other music I listen to every kinds of genres. I’m very open to all kinds of bands and songs with melodies. As I am not really up date what’s new at the market I am not able to recommend anything right now.

THM: Thank you very, very much for your time. Please feel free to send a final message to your fans here in Canada and to invite everyone to the Primal Fear concerts here. I’ll be there at the Mod Club on May 3 in Toronto to bang my head with some pure Heavy Metal, no doubt about that!

RS: As mentioned above we are looking forward to perform in more cities of Canada this year! It would be awesome if you all could join in for a show in your city and to rock out and hang out with us for a non alcoholic beer or two. 🙂

Primal Fear North America 2014 – Canadian dates

Primal Fear_NA_2014

May 1, 2014 – Quebec City, Quebec | Le Cercle TICKETS
May 2, 2014 – Montreal, Quebec | Foufounes Électriques TICKETS
May 3, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario | Virgin Mobile Mod Club TICKETS
May 11, 2014 – Vancouver, British Columbia | Venue Nightclub TICKETS

Links
Ralf Scheepers Official Website | Facebook
Primal Fear Official Website | Facebook