The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2016

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

The unexpected death of the most badass musician in history, Motörhead’s heart and soul Lemmy Kilmister, on December 28, 2015 was a harbinger of all the bad, shocking and revolting things that would turn the year of 2016 a true nightmare for mankind. That dark prophecy was confirmed less than two weeks later, more specifically on January 10 when we lost another true star in rock music to cancer, the unparalleled chameleon David Bowie, just two days after the release of his final masterpiece Blackstar. If that was not enough to make 2016 a miserable year, we also had to endure the passing of other icons who, despite not being metal, have always inspired countless bands and artists in heavy music. We lost Prince, Leonard Cohen and Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), to name a few, all irreplaceable losses to music in general. In addition, important names in the history of Heavy Metal also left us in 2016, such as Nick Menza (Megadeth) and Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio), not to mention the disbandment of amazing groups like Eths (who are by the way part of our top 10 this year), Crucified Barbara and Bolt Thrower. And I’m not even going to talk about all other types of disasters and tragedies that happened all over the world, as the list is too macabre and grievous to be remembered in full.

Fortunately, 2016 was considerably generous for us headbangers in terms of the quantity and quality of albums released throughout the entire year, especially for diehard fans of old school Thrash Metal. Except for Slayer and Exodus, all other prominent names in Thrash Metal blasted the world with their high-speed, thrilling music, led by another superb album by Testament. Even Metallica released a decent album this year, just to give you an idea of how fruitful 2016 was for this rebellious type of music. Having said that, it’s time for The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2016, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums. And even if 2017 is as hideous as 2016, let’s never forget the wise words by Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan. Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!

testament_brotherhood-of-the-snake1. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake (REVIEW)
Join the Brotherhood of Thrash Metal spearheaded by one of the heaviest, most technical and most electrifying bands on the entire planet.
Best song of the album: The Number Game

cover2. Charred Walls Of The Damned – Creatures Watching Over the Dead (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Heavy Metal by four electrified beasts.
Best song of the album: As I Catch My Breath

Cover3. Eths – Ankaa (REVIEW)
One of the most prominent and innovative French bands of all time returns with a true masterpiece of complexity, darkness and heaviness.
Best song of the album: Nefas

cover4. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker (REVIEW)
Who said rules must be broken for a metallic eagle to spread its wings and soar high in the skies of heavy music?
Best song of the album: Rulebreaker

megadeth_dystopia5. Megadeth – Dystopia (REVIEW)
And the dystopian world portrayed in the brand new album by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is beyond awesome.
Best song of the album: Lying In State

abbathsoloface_6386. Abbath – Abbath (REVIEW)
The one and only Abbath takes a new step in his career with a brand new band an album.
Best song of the album: Fenrir Hunts

death angel_the evil divide7. Death Angel – The Evil Divide (REVIEW)
Fast and furious anthems, dark mid-tempo songs, austere lyrics and endless stamina. This is how Thrash Metal should always be done.
Best song of the album: Hell To Pay

anthrax_for all kings8. Anthrax – For All Kings (REVIEW)
A classy and electrifying Thrash Metal album especially crafted for all of us, the real kings of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Breathing Lightning

front9. Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins (REVIEW)
You might be a sinner, but don’t be a fool and go relish another magnificent album by Mr. Axel Rudi Pell and his loyal henchmen.
Best song of the album: Falling Star

nervosa-agony-201610. Nervosa – Agony (REVIEW)
Brazil’s meanest power trio returns with another marvelous blast of their kick-ass high-octane Thrash Metal.
Best song of the album: Theory of Conspiracy

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

11. Blaze Bayley – Infinite Entanglement (REVIEW)
12. The Silent Rage – The Deadliest Scourge (REVIEW)
13. Neverworld – Dremasnatcher (REVIEW)
14. Ancesttral – Web Of Lies (REVIEW)
15. Front – Iron Overkill (REVIEW)
16. Dö – Tuho (REVIEW)
17. Be Under Arms – Doomed To Life (REVIEW)
18. SystemHouse33 – Regression (REVIEW)
19. Gojira – Magma (REVIEW)
20. False Coda – Secrets and Sins (REVIEW)

As in Heavy Metal the artwork is just as important as the music itself, like what always happens with bands such as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, KISS and tons of other metallic titans, we decided to list the Top 10 Cover Artworks of 2016. There are several reasons for an album art to be considered outstanding, such as its strong connection with the music like Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, its visual impact (usually associated with its controversial content) like Slayer’s God Hates Us All, or its perfect minimalism and finesse like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. Do you agree with our list?

1. Anthrax – For All Kings [by Alex Ross]
2. Primeval Mass – To Empyrean Thrones [by Karmazid]
3. Witches Of Doom – Deadlights [by Carlo Muselli]
4. Ragehammer – The Hammer Doctrine [by Robert A. von Ritter]
5. Howls Of Ebb – Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows [by Agostino Arrivabene]
6. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake [by Eliran Kantor]
7. Henriette B – Tales of Reality (EP) [by Pierre-Alain D.]
8. Skáphe – Skáphe² [by H.V. Lyngdal]
9. Diabolizer – Apokalypse (MCD) [by Robert A. von Ritter]
10. Hostis – Hostis [by Zvonimir Grabić & Milena Nićić]

Rest assured in 2017 we at The Headbanging Moose will keep providing you the best of the underworld of Death, Thrash, Black, Symphonic, Epic, Power Metal and all other genres and subgenres of heavy music, as well as our view of the biggest names worldwide. There are already brand new albums confirmed for 2017 by Kreator, Sepultura, Grave Digger, Battle Beast and more, which means at least musically the new year promises to be really good. Thank you very much for your precious time, and keep on rockin’! Au revoir!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2017!

Well, before we go, here’s a special gift from Iron Maiden to all metalheads all over the world… A nice festive yule log fireplace to keep our hearts warm during the entire season!

Album Review – Ragehammer / The Hammer Doctrine (2016)

Are you ready to follow the awesome doctrine of Black and Thrash Metal established by this ruthless band from Poland?

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ragehammer-cover-artwork-1000x1000Forged in the scalding fires of Cracow, Poland in 2012, and embracing all the darkness and violence spawned by icons such as Death, Bathory and Slayer, among many other Extreme Metal bands, here comes Black/Thrash Metal horde Ragehammer, tormenting the entire world with their highly anticipated debut album entitled The Hammer Doctrine. Quoting the band, the album was created “with cold hatred of the modern world and contempt for the values of love and humanity”, and just like a hammer this album will smash your face with its relentless brutality.

With controversial topics such as death, anti-religion and desecration flowing from its lyrics, and featuring a demonic artwork by Polish illustrator Robert A. von Ritter (Outre, Bloodthirst, In Twilight’s Embrace) and an outstanding graphic design by Kontamination Design (Blaze of Perdition, Bloodthirst, Voidhanger), The Hammer Doctrine offers the full package to metalheads who nurture a profound passion for sheer violence in music. In other words, Ragehammer devoted all their talent, cruelty and wrath to deliver the most hellish music you can think of during the album’s rambunctious 42 minutes.

Kicking off this insanely good havoc we have First Wave Black Metal, opening the gates of hell (hammer) with highlights to its old school darkened lyrics barked by frontman Heretik Hellstörm (“Neurodeliric screams / Battle cry of the hordes those days / No gods – no masters, creatures and crawling in space / Scarlet slaughterers, living only for metal and hell / Legacy of pride, from tombs it rises again”). Furious circle pits will ignite instantly, with the nonstop riffs by Bestial Avenger and the brutal bass lines by Corpsebutcher crushing you like a helpless insect. In case you survive this first assault, LET’S HAVE A WAR! Unleash The Dogs will bring you war in an infernal Blackened Thrash Metal turmoil, where drummer Mortar keeps up with the tradition of the most influential thrashing drummers of all time. This song proves to me that this band loves a disturbed and violent sounding more than they love their own families, don’t you think?

ragehammerIn Wróg (or “enemy” from Polish), a potent circle-pit generator and a strong sample of what this amazing band is capable of doing, the metallic bass by Corpsebutcher stands out amidst all turbulence and devastation crafted by the entire band; whereas in Warlord’s Fall, a solid fusion of old school Slayer with Hardcore, Ragehammer fire a high-octane tune where Bestial Avenger has a superb performance with his piercing riffs while Heretik Hellstörm keeps barking like a lunatic. In addition, its Doom Metal-ish break gets truly obscure and evil before the music gets back to total anarchy, adding an additional layer of intricacy to it. And bang your heads and enjoy the heavy beats by Mortar in the longest of all tracks, named Knives, highly inspired by traditional Black Metal with the punch of our good old Thrash Metal.

I am the Tyrant brings forward a brutal sonic devastation bred by those Polish metallers, I should say the perfect depiction of what Blackened Thrash Metal is, with Bestial Avenger once again commanding the band’s onrush, followed by the heaviest version of Thrash Metal you can find anywhere, entitled Pure Hatred, where Mortar shatters his drums while Corpsebutcher thumps his bass cords throughout the entire song until its pulverizing ending. Then it’s simply time to slam into the pit and enjoy the amazing synchronicity between Bestial Avenger and Corpsebutcher in what’s definitely the top moment of this great album, the high-speed anthem From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor, where Ragehammer make a statement about who they are and their mission (“The dawn of the hammer doctrine / The evolution of mankind / From homo sapiens to homo raptor / Constant warfare – way of life”), giving no signs of slowing down or being less visceral. And finally, they offer the listener a crazy, fast and furious cover version for Spotkanie z Diabłem, or “meeting with the devil” in Polish, by Krzysztof Klenczon i Trzy Korony. It’s incredible what they did to the original version, and the whole band deserves our respect for such a brilliant job giving a new life to an old classic.

Are you ready to follow the ruthless doctrine of Ragehammer and break your neck to the berserk music crafted by this skillful quartet from Poland? If you can’t wait to put your hands on their sonic “hammer”, go grab your copy of The Hammer Doctrine at the Pagan Records’ official BandCamp or webshop, and as I already mentioned, be prepared to have your physiognomy completely disfigured by a wicked blast of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: First Wave Black Metal, From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor and Spotkanie z Diabłem.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. First Wave Black Metal 4:43
2. Unleash The Dogs 3:46
3. Wróg 4:47
4. Warlord’s Fall 5:48
5. Knives 6:30
6. I am the Tyrant 5:00
7. Pure Hatred 4:22
8. From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor 4:33
9. Spotkanie z Diabłem (Krzysztof Klenczon i Trzy Korony cover) 2:38

Band members
Heretik Hellstörm – vocals
Bestial Avenger – guitars
Corpsebutcher – bass
Mortar – drums