Album Review – Stratovarius / Episode (1996)

The best album from the best Finnish band of all time.

Rating2

stratovarius_episodeOi maamme, Suomi, synnyinmaa, soi, sana kultainen! Finland is by far one of the most Heavy Metal countries in the world, and I’m not inventing this information from out of nowhere: take a look at this map showing the number of Heavy Metal bands per 100,000 people and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Nightwish, Lordi, Amorphis, Sonata Arctica, Turisas, Apocalyptica, Teräsbetoni, Finntroll, HIM, Sentenced and Wintersun are just some of the biggest exponents of heavy music in this land that offers its people a lot more than just ice and snow, but none of them have changed the world of heavy music as the Power Metal/Melodic Heavy Metal band Stratovarius.

Since their start in 1984, Stratovarius have released many important albums which revolutionized Heavy Metal with intense and fast riffs, double bass, high-pitched screams and epic songs. Among those releases there was their fifth studio album, Episode, released over 20 years ago, which in my opinion was the most important step in the band’s history in terms of creativity and evolution. With the awesome Timo Kotipelto on vocals for the second time after the good album Fourth Dimension (and fortunately until present days), and the addition of the beasts Jens Johansson on keyboards and Jörg Michael on drums, Stratovarius became a synonym for Melodic Heavy Metal in the 90’s and influenced an infinite number of bands all around the world. That was the band’s most stable and powerful lineup of all time, until Timo Tolkki left the band in 2008.

The music in Episode is pretty straight forward, it’s fast and clean Heavy Metal with total synchronicity of instruments, together with lyrics talking about life, love, dreams, and all the struggles a man has inside his mind. Add to that the beautiful atmosphere created by the Sibelius String Orchestra and Sibelius Choir, and you have a musical masterpiece. The clock ticking in the beginning of the album just announces that what comes next is no less than memorable: Father Time is an incredible song that summarizes all the power and technique of the band’s members, especially Timo Tolkki and Jörg Michael. What those guys do with their instruments is beyond awesome, and seeing this song live is like having a musical orgasm. Furthermore, Tolkki’s riffs are a constant in the whole album and one of the elements that make it so special for all Heavy Metal fans.

The speed goes on with Will the Sun Rise, another classic showing how perfect the partnership Tolkki/Kotipelto used to be. Then things slow down a little with the beautiful Eternity, but after the instrumental intro Episode comes one of their fastest and most amazing compositions ever: Speed of Light can make even a Thrash Metal band jealous of its speed and riffs, and as Canadians love a mosh pit I can’t wait for a Stratovarius concert here in Toronto to slam into the pit with this song. On the other hand, Uncertainty is quite boring and the lowest point of the album, despite its nice intro.

stratovarius_1995The next track is another good ballad, Season of Change, where Kotipelto once again demonstrates why he’s a reference in Melodic Heavy Metal, followed by the instrumental song Stratosphere, where we can see an inspired Timo Tolkki and a crazy Jens Johansson “masturbating” their guitar and keyboards respectively for our pure delight. Babylon can be considered an “epic” song due to its lyrics, strong intro and variations, while Tomorrow brings back the band at full speed with its inspiring lyrics (“Feeling strong and brave inside / my head up high with pride / yes I’ll be back tomorrow”) and Jörg Michael pounding his drums with his unique technique.

Finally, we have the song Night Time Eclipse, a nice semi-ballad with pleasant riffs and solos, and then a ballad so beautiful I can’t even find the right words to describe it, Forever, where Timo Kotipelto melts the heart of any woman with his performance (“I’m still there everywhere / I’m the dust in the wind / I’m the star in the northern sky / I never stayed anywhere / I’m the wind in the trees / would you wait for me forever?”). The Japanese version of Episode also contains a good bonus track called When the Night Meets the Day, another nice song, albeit not as wonderful as the regular tracks.

If you don’t know Stratovarius, I would say Episode is probably the best album to start. The only “issue” would be the side effects of listening to this musical wonder, which are an extreme addiction to Finnish Heavy Metal and a compulsive obsession with the language, culture, drinks and people from the marvelous land of ice and snow.

Best moments of the album: Father Time, Speed of Light and Forever.

Worst moments of the album: Uncertainty is the only “weak” track of all, or let’s say the least awesome.

Released in 1996 Noise Records

Track listing
1. Father Time 5:01
2. Will the Sun Rise? 5:06
3. Eternity 6:55
4. Episode (instrumental) 2:01
5. Speed of Light 3:03
6. Uncertainty 5:59
7. Season of Change 6:56
8. Stratosphere (instrumental) 4:51
9. Babylon 7:09
10. Tomorrow 4:51
11. Night Time Eclipse 7:58
12. Forever 3:06

Japanese edition bonus track
13. When the Night Meets the Day 5:30

Band members
Timo Kotipelto – vocals
Timo Tolkki – guitars, backing vocals
Jens Johansson – keyboards
Jari Kainulainen – bass
Jörg Michael – drums

Album Review – Titanium / Atomic Number 22 (2016)

This prosperous five-piece act from Poland brings to us all the strongest element in the world in the form of beautiful Melodic Power Metal.

Rating4

titanium_atomic-number-22In case you didn’t already know, titanium is a chemical element with symbol Ti and atomic number 22, recognized mainly for its high strength. However, since 2010 this metallic element has also been a very important part of the Polish Metal scene, being represented by the skillful Melodic Heavy/Power Metal squad Titanium who released this September their second full-length album, cleverly entitled Atomic Number 22. After listening to this high-end album, you’ll realize titanium is not only very strong, but also extremely melodious, invigorating and brisk.

Formed in late 2010 by Pathfinder guitarist Karol Mania in Ostrów Wielkopolski, a city located in central Poland, Titanium have been on a constant rise since their inception, having released an EP entitled We Come to Rock! in 2012 and their self-titled full-length album the following year.  Now in 2016, Atomic Number 22 not only cements Titanium as one of the most promising bands from Poland, but also sets a new era for the band with Ukrainian singer Konstantin Naumenko (from Kiev’s Power Metal band Sunrise) taking the microphone and elevating the strength and epicness of the band’s already powerful musicality.

You better be ready for the Heavy Metal battle ignited by the title-track, Atomic Number 22, with the flawless connection between guitars and keyboards reminding me of Scandinavian Metal bands such as Stratovarius and Battle Beast, not to mention its superb backing vocals supporting Konstantin in this upbeat hymn. In addition, I have to admit I honestly can’t think of lyrics that sound more metal than this (“Atomic number 22 the father and the thunder / We’re coming right for you / Atomic number 22 no compromise just metal / Titanium comes for you”). And there’s no time to breathe as Titanium keep firing pure Melodic Power Metal for us in World of Contradictions, where drummer Filip Gruca dictates the rhythm with his fast beats and fills while the band’s guitar duo comprised of Karol Mania and Jaroslav Bona delivers those traditional riffs and solos we all love in Power Metal. Slower but more melodic and thrilling, Torn Reality brings forward heavy guitar riffs inspired by Hard Rock from the 80’s mixed with contemporary Melodic Metal, with another spot-on performance by Konstantin and an interesting ending with smooth piano notes and a melancholic vibe.

Defusive Skies is pure Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, overflowing harmony and being probably one of Filip’s favorite songs due to its speed, with Karol and Jaroslav sounding simply amazing with their intricate solos; followed by Time Is Out, where we’re treated to a feast of sheer Melodic Metal. Once again, Konstantin keeps amusing us with his potent high-pitched vocals while Karol and Jaroslav set fire to the music through their unstoppable guitars. One Single Night, another track highly inspired by Melodic Metal from Finland, showcases a pleasant melody with the heavier punch of Power Metal enhancing its electricity, whereas the headbanging tune Guardians of Might, featuring  guest singer Piet Sielck (kicking some serious ass as he always does with his marvelous band Iron Savior), is a very traditional composition that couldn’t sound more metallic, in special due to its inspiring chorus (“In our realm We are one / Like the blazing stars will shine forever / We’re the saviors, guardians of might / We deny the fate”).

titanium-2016Future of Mankind, the longest of all tracks, is a Melodic Power Metal extravaganza with a cheerful vibe and a great balance between the main vocals by Konstantin and all backing vocals. Moreover, the musicality never slows down, keeping the level of energy always at its peak in this lesson in melodious music for fans of the genre. The last song of the regular version of Atomic Number 22, titled The Way of the White Flag, is another explosion of Melodic Metal thanks to its fast-paced drumming and truly harmonious vocal lines. Furthermore, bassist Szymon Szydłowski delivers some rumbling uppercuts while both guitarists are absolutely on fire with their fantastic riffs and solos. In case you go for the Japanese edition of the album, you’ll be nicely rewarded with Titanium’s cover version for Eagleheart, one of the biggest classics by Melodic Metal heroes Stratovarius. Very different from the original version, the band managed to switch the original base of this metal hymn to their own musicality without losing the song’s uplifting essence.

Titanium are waiting for you at their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can put your hands on the strongest and most melodic element in the world of heavy music at Amazon (exclusively at their Japanese store) or also at Discogs. This beautiful display of Melodic Power Metal will enliven your toughest days without a shadow of a doubt, proving one more time the sensational effect high-quality heavy music always has on our hearts and souls.

Best moments of the album: Atomic Number 22, Torn Reality and Guardians of Might.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Avalon/Marquee

Track listing
1. Atomic Number 22 5:50
2. World of Contradictions 4:45
3. Torn Reality 5:57
4. Defusive Skies 5:13
5. Time Is Out 4:00
6. One Single Night 5:37
7. Guardians of Might (feat. Piet Sielck) 4:50
8. Future of Mankind 8:52
9. The Way of the White Flag 4:01

Japanese Edition bonus track
10. Eagleheart (Stratovarius cover) 5:30

Band members
Konstantin Naumenko – vocals
Karol Mania – guitars
Jaroslav Bona – guitars
Szymon Szydłowski – bass
Filip Gruca – drums

Guest musician
Piet Sielck – additional vocals on “Guardians of Might”

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 – Stratovarius / Eternal (2015)

The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.

Rating1

Stratovarius_EternalIt is unfair to say that Stratovarius are back because, actually, they are that kind of band that don’t let their fans waiting for too long. But, yeah, on September 11, date which many bands picked to release new albums too, Eternal came to light and for the fans of Power Metal, Speed Metal, Symphonic Metal and Finnish bands, this is definitely one of the best releases of the year.

So, here are some interesting facts about Eternal: the whole process, from the writing to the release, took the band one year; the producer of the album was, once again, the guitarist Matias Kupiainen, who has been involved with the production process of Stratovarius’ releases since joining the band in 2008; all the lyrics were written by Timo Kotipelto and Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica), except Man in the Mirror and Fire in your Eyes, written by keyboardist Jens Johansson; Liimatainen also co-composed along with Kotipelto three tracks for this album: Shine in the Dark, In My Line of Work and Few Are Those; the cover artwork, designed by the Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsák, who previously worked with the band in the albums Polaris (2009), Elysium (2011) and Nemesis (2013), was ready more than a year ago and brings together elements and references from the previous artworks; after several suggestions and ideas, the title of the album, Eternal, was chosen by the band in a Facebook chat session. You can check these and other cool facts and highlights of the band on this album on this short documentary from inside the studio, released by earMusic.

In my opinion and in the opinion of several reviews I’ve read recently, Stratovarius are sounding better than ever in Eternal, bringing again all that old school vibe of the Power/Speed Metal they helped to develop in the early 90’s. The best example of this is the first track, My Eternal Dream (check the beautiful official video clip below) that has a lot of energy thanks to the intense keyboards, the heavy guitars and fast drums and bass, not to mention Kotipelto is also singing beautifully. It also has an amazing guitar solo by Kupiainen like the old ones we used to hear on the early years of the band. Shine in the Dark is another great song, sounding slightly heavier, and it was the first presented to the fans with a lyric video and, believe me, the lyrics will stick to your mind for days (“I am what you made of me / Your blood is my blood / And your heart is my heart / We are what we leave behind / An eternal stream / You flow through me / I fear no more though you’re gone / I know we’ll meet again / I know you’re there still somewhere / You are waiting”). Rise Above It brings again the Speed Metal style and definitely sounds like something you have heard before, it is intense like “Forever Free”, and one could easily think it has been released on their 1997 album Visions.

The first tunes of Lost Without a Trace may trick you and make you think there is a ballad coming, but take another listen at it and you will find a more modern and progressive touch. Rolf Pilve’s performance on drums in this song is great, very paced. This is the second album recorded by Pilve on drums and it seems like he has been in the band forever. Feeding the Fire has a great start with keyboards, like many of Stratovarius’ classics, and its vibe grows stronger along the music. I imagine this song played live as one of the highest points of the concert – I hope they add it to their upcoming tour setlists. In My Line of Work is a great example on how the band is working great together; it brings the perfect balance of vocals and all the instruments and sounds more modern than the previous songs of the album, just like the following one, Man in the Mirror, showing that Power Metal can sound classic and yet bring new elements.

StratovariusFew Are Those has several levels of intensity: it starts with a nice keyboard intro, then gets rhythm with the addition of bass and drums and reaches its peak with powerful guitar riffs. Once again, Kotipelto’s performance is great and full of feeling. The ballad Fire in Your Eyes brings a moment of calm after so many stormy songs. It starts (and ends) in a beautiful way with Kotipelto’s voice and a piano, and gains force later with an outstanding work by Pilve and Kupiainen.

Eternal comes to its end with a nearly-12-minute epic song, The Lost Saga. This is, undoubtedly, the highlight of the album, sounding intense and progressive like many other of the band’s hits, like “Infinity”, for example. It has choirs, orchestrations, great extended solos, amazing beats, unexpected (and yet perfect) change of rhythms, in summary, a song that has everything to thrill even the most coldhearted fan.

In very few words, after 10 songs and 54 minutes Eternal makes you ask for more. Stratovarius definitely have a very consistent line-up, still developing great ideas and bringing to the 2000’s the same kind of songs that made them huge more than 20 years ago. Soon their world tour starts, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for more updates. May all Stratovarius’ songs be eternal!

Best moments of the album: ALL OF THEM!!!

Worst moments of the album: Duuuh! None, of course!

Released in 2015 earMusic

Track listing
1. My Eternal Dream 6:04
2. Shine in the Dark 5:05
3. Rise Above It 4:26
4. Lost Without a Trace 5:28
5. Feeding the Fire 4:12
6. In My Line of Work 4:18
7. Man in the Mirror 4:43
8. Few Are Those 4:11
9. Fire in Your Eyes 4:15
10. The Lost Saga 11:39

Band members
Timo Kotipelto – vocals
Matias Kupiainen – guitars
Lauri Porra – bass
Jens Johansson – keyboards
Rolf Pilve – drums

Album Review – Derdian / Human Reset (2014)

Do you think contemporary Symphonic Power Metal is outdated? Just listen to the excellent new album by this Italian squad and you’ll see how biased you are.

Rating4

Derdian-Human_Reset_front_coverRhapsody Of Fire, Stratovarius, Symphony X and Angra are just a few of many excellent Symphonic Power Metal bands from different parts of the world, and among them there’s another name that also deserves to be recognized as one of the biggest contemporary exponents of this genre of heavy music due to the quality of their work. I’m talking about Italian Symphonic Power Metal band Derdian and their brand new album Human Reset, a highly recommended option for anyone that loves seeing the words “symphonic” and “metal” together.

Born in 1998 in Milan, Italy, Derdian have always offered us lots of heavy and fast riffs from traditional Power Metal and beautiful symphonic orchestrations, without sounding repetitive as even some well-established bands sound nowadays. They somehow managed to keep their sound unique, and add to that the fact that their lyric themes moved from only fantasy, a constant in their “New Era” albums, to more direct (not to mention more important) issues our society has always faced. I’m not saying fantasy is boring, it’s just that being able to write and sing about a wider variety of topics helps any type of band in their creative process, which in the case of Derdian worked really well.

Right after the video game-ish symphonic intro Eclipse, the energetic and vibrant title-track Human Reset makes us think we’re listening to an “Italian Angra” from the Angels Cry-era, with its very traditional drums and keyboards perfect for fans of fast-tempo songs blended with symphonic elements. The symphonic extravaganza goes on with the awesome In Everything, with highlights to its guitar solos, fast drumming and a chorus that should put a smile on the faces of the fans while they sing it together with the band. Moreover, it’s easy to notice all the melody present in most European bands, and the part of the lyrics sung in Italian complements the song in a very pleasant way.

The following track, Mafia, has a totally different approach with a more modern sonority and truly melodic and enjoyable vocals, and its music variations kind of interestingly “break” the traditional metal from previous tracks; while These Rails Will Bleed, the shortest song of the album, has that “Symphonic Power Metal” formula with nothing really new to offer, albeit it’s far from being boring. In Absolute Power, the band focus on stronger Power Metal riffs similar to what Manowar used to do in the past (maybe due to the name of the song), and the band’s talented musicians were able to add some hints of progressive music to it to make the song even better. This is the type of song you’ll start headbanging and beating your feet nonstop without even noticing.

derdian_01Human Reset continues with a song that is mandatory in your playlist if you’re hitting the road soon: Write Your Epitaph is an outstanding symphony full of awesome Hard Rock riffs and another thrilling vocal performance by Ivan Giannini, turning it into the best song of the whole album without a shadow of a doubt. Then we have the good Music is Life (I couldn’t agree more with the name of this song), with its intro that seems to be inspired by Helloween’s all-time classic “Future World” and all its beautiful Power Metal moments, especially the keyboards and piano passages by Marco Garau; Gods Don’t Give A Damn, where the bass guitar, guitars, drums and everything else sound somewhat like Dream Theater, keeping the energy level really high and the song truly interesting; and After The Storm, a symphonic and emotive ballad that is excellent for the listener to breathe for a while after so many powerful tracks.

Finally, it’s time to speed things up again with the powerful Alone, with great synergy among all instruments, the quick and fun instrumental track Delirium, which sounds a lot like many songs by Stratovarius, and My Life Back, a song that starts as a semi-acoustic piano ballad that turns into another very symphonic tune to close the album as traditionally as possible. In addition, the less fanciful and more distressful album art for Human Reset, which in my opinion is by far the most beautiful in their career, also supports this more serious path Derdian decided to take and perfectly summarizes what to expect from the album and, of course, from the band.

And last but not least, remember to support Derdian by purchasing their music at their official website or in other places such as iTunes or Amazon, because this band is here to prove us all once again our good old Symphonic Power Metal is not obsolete at all and can be as exciting as any new genre of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: In Everything, Mafia and Write Your Epitaph.

Worst moments of the album: These Rails Will Bleed and My Life Back.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Eclipse 1:14
2. Human Reset 5:53
3. In Everything 6:16
4. Mafia 6:41
5. These Rails Will Bleed 2:49
6. Absolute Power 5:26
7. Write Your Epitaph 4:08
8. Music is Life 6:25
9. Gods Don’t Give A Damn 5:44
10. After The Storm 4:58
11. Alone 7:24
12. Delirium 1:15
13. My Life Back 6:34

Band members
Ivan Giannini – vocals
Enrico Pistolese – guitars
Dario Radaelli – guitars
Marco Banfi – bass
Marco Garau – keyboards
Salvatore Giordano – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2013

Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s that time of the year where our ears are tortured by those boring old songs (unless you listen to something like this, the best Christmas song ever!), but at least our stomachs are rewarded with some delicious food and drinks. It’s time to look back and see what went right in our lives, our mistakes, and make plans for the coming year. And why not listing the best Heavy Metal and Hard Rock albums of 2013, which pretty much constituted the soundtrack of both our good and bad moments this year? Here are my top 10 albums of 2013, excluding EP’s, best of and live albums. I hope you enjoy the list!

Helloween_Straight Out of Hell1. Helloween – Straight Out of Hell
The German Power Metal masters are back with their most awesome album since The Time of the Oath.
Best song of the album: Straight Out of Hell

Chthonic-Bu-Tik2. Chthonic – Bú-Tik (REVIEW)
The best Heavy Metal band of the East delivers another superb album full of strength and creativity.
Best song of the album: Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace

TriviumVengeance3. Trivium – Vengeance Falls (REVIEW)
A brilliant lesson in heavy and fast riffs from Matt Heafy and his crew, proving why they are a reference in the world of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Brave This Storm

Outlaw_Gentlemen_&_Shady_Ladies_Album_Cover4. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
This band from beautiful Denmark takes another huge step to conquer the world of music.
Best song of the album: Dead But Rising

Serpents_Unleashed5. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed (REVIEW)
A magnificent and gruesome Thrash/Death Metal album from one of the most prominent new bands in the U.S.
Best song of the album: I Am Of Death (Hell Has Arrived)

Motörhead_Aftershock6. Motörhead – Aftershock (REVIEW)
Do you enjoy some good old Rock N’ Roll? If so, you must listen to this album.
Best song of the album: Do You Believe

Nemesis_by_Stratovarius7. Stratovarius – Nemesis
Stratovarius delivers an amazing album, their best since Timo Tolkki left the band in 2009.
Best song of the album: Halcyon Days

Amon-Amarth-Deciever-of-the-Gods8. Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods
Not as unique as Surtur Rising, but still a mighty and powerful album from this Swedish Melodic Death Metal band.
Best song of the album: Father of the Wolf

Black_Dog_Barking_(Album_Cover)9. Airbourne – Black Dog Barking
As long as our mates from Down Under are alive, Rock N’ Roll will never die. Get ready to rock!
Best song of the album: Live It Up

SuperCollider10. Megadeth – Super Collider
“MegaDave” and his band return with a very interesting mix of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Country and Folk music.
Best song of the album: Kingmaker

And here are the other albums that would make my top 20 list this year:

11. Black Sabbath – 13
12. Lordi – To Beast or Not to Beast
13. Carcass – Surgical Steel
14. Tarja – Colours in the Dark (REVIEW)
15. DevilDriver – Winter Kills (REVIEW)
16. Sepultura – The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart (REVIEW)
17. Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood
18. Six Feet Under – Unborn
19. Dream Theater – Dream Theater
20. Pink Cream 69 – Ceremonial

These are some of the new releases already announced for 2014 that deserve to be listened to, and that will most probably be reviewed on this blog:

Axel Rudi Pell – Into The Storm
Chrome Division – Infernal Rock Eternal
Iced Earth – Plagues Of Babylon
Primal Fear – Delivering The Black
Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead
Within Temptation – Hydra
Steel Panther – All You Can Eat
Behemoth – The Satanist

And finally, maybe we’ll have brand new material from giants such as Iron Maiden, Slayer and Judas Priest, who knows? Or something new from great bands that have been “quiet” for a good period of time like Exodus, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Cannibal Corpse, Testament, The Agonist, among others. Let’s wait and see, or even better, let’s wait and LISTEN!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2014!