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!

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Album Review – SystemHouse33 / Regression (2016)

Regression might be a return to a former or less developed state, but the new album by this talented Indian act is undoubtedly the evolution of Thrash and Groove Metal.

Rating3

systemhouse33_regressionI guess the first time I realized how crazy for heavy music people in India are was when I watched Iron Maiden’s Flight 666 documentary for the first time some good years ago. Watching around 30,000 people in Mumbai, India being completely smashed and screaming like lunatics to my favorite Iron Maiden song of all time, the unique “Aces High”, showed me there’s a lot more in the Land of Prayers than that hardly watchable Bollywood shebang. And it’s exactly from the city of Mumbai that come the demented thrash metallers SystemHouse33, who are not only releasing an amazing new album entitled Regression, but are also more than ready to conquer the entire world with their high-quality metal music.

Unleashing a rip-roaring fusion of the traditional Thrash Metal by Sepultura with elements from Groove and Death Metal (and even Melodic Death Metal), and having released four albums already in their career, this talented band has been reaching many important milestones since their inception in 2003. Always against all the odds, SystemHouse33 was the first metal band to ever emerge from the small Indian town of Nagpur, quickly spreading their Heavy Metal over several rock festivals and music events around India, including Campus Rock Idols, Metal Meltdown and Wacken Metal Battle. And before the release of the new album, those Indian metallers toured with American Death Metal icons Six Feet Under around Germany and Austria in December 2015 on their annual Xmas in Hell tour, being the band’s first ever foreign tour and becoming the first Indian metal band to tour with a legendary Heavy Metal headliner.

SystemHouse33 founding member and vocalist Samron Jude elaborates on the concept behind the new album, “Regression is the paradox of progress; it is the disintegrating world we live in. We are doing more, but feeling worse.” And let me tell you there couldn’t be better words to describe the aggressiveness and the feeling of insurgency found in every single song of the album, because right after the ominous intro Catharsis, which feels as if the band is rising from the ashes of a fallen world, we have the title-track Regression, starting their Indian onslaught the best way possible. Featuring huge doses of savagery amidst a polished and groovy rhythm, this amazing tune showcases guitarist/drummer Atish Thomas providing his “business card” in the form of some serious riffage, and you can easily sense how much he loves Groove Metal by his drumming style.

systemhouse33Indian brawler Samron Jude’s insane growls lead the powerful tune Lift This Plague, a solid composition perfect for banging your head nonstop where all band members are on fire, with highlights to its acid lyrics (“Pretentious flowing blood / Ignorance reaps resentment / Downward spiraling sky / Slumber of the sluggard”). Following that massacre we have the even better Namesake, one of the best tunes of the album (if not the sickest one), emanating endless electricity from all instruments. How not to get thrilled by those riffs and beats? Besides, it reminds me of the latest installments by many excellent Eastern European Groove Metal bands such as Ektomorf and Omega Diatribe. And a song named Death Chamber couldn’t sound any less visceral and obscure in a flawless display of what can be called Progressive Groove Metal, from its headbanging riffs to more progressive passages.

There’s not a single second to rest with the rhythmic and violent Detestable Idolatry, where you can feel the metallic bass chords by Leon Quadros striking you mercilessly while its contentious lyrics add a welcome touch of rebelliousness to its sonority (“Blood-filled ignorance in your soul / Self-righteous sacrifice of innocence / Slaying the name of a higher power / Shameful indulgence”). Pagan Breed is another progressive and experimental tune that never “forgets” the band’s core violence, with Samron firing anger through his harsh growls and the rest of the band doing a superb job in maintaining the ferocity of the song at a high level. Lastly, closing the album we have another berserk chant named Malicious Mind, yet again offering a potent fusion of progressiveness and old school Thrash and Death Metal. It sounds like if the band is demanding the listener to jump up and down with them, with Atish and Leon being in perfect sync with their guitar and bass lines, respectively.

I was about to give Regression a 3.5, but it honestly deserves a 4.0 for the band’s tenacity and passion for Heavy Metal in a country where almost everything seems to go against that type of music. And if you share the same passion for heavy music as the high-skilled metallers from SystemHouse33, go visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud page, and grab your copy of Regression at their BandCamp page, at their official website, on iTunes, on CD Baby and many other locations. Although the word “regression” means a return to a former or less developed state, SystemHouse33 are making sure they change that concept to an evolved and exciting state of Thrash Metal with their flaming new album for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Regression, Namesake and Pagan Breed.

Worst moments of the album: None. This album kicks fuckin’ ass.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Catharsis 1:35
2. Regression 4:42
3. Lift This Plague 3:04
4. Namesake 3:49
5. Death Chamber 4:07
6. Detestable Idolatry 5:09
7. Pagan Breed 3:14
8. Malicious Mind 3:56

Band members
Samron Jude – vocals
Leon Quadros – bass
Atish Thomas – guitars, drums

Additional musician
Jack Thomas – guitars (live)