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 – Blaze Bayley / The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III) (2018)

What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Here he is, the indomitable Heavy Metal icon Blaze Bayley, to tell us the dramatic conclusion to his stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.

All good things must come to an end, including the beyond fantastic Infinite Entanglement Trilogy by the indomitable British Heavy Metal icon Blaze Bayley. After the stunning two first parts Infinite Entanglement and Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II), it’s time for Blaze and his amazing band to tell us the conclusion to this thrilling sci-fi story in the third and final installment The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III), the tenth solo album in Blaze’s unique career, and believe me, the story of Mr. William Christopher Black couldn’t have ended in a more dramatic, exciting and electrifying way.

Featuring guest vocal performances from Fozzy singer and WWE superstar Chris Jericho and from Luke Appleton, bassist from American powerhouse Iced Earth and rhythm guitarist with British metallers Absolva, as well as several other guest vocalists and narrators such as Liz Owen and Harry Webster Appleton II, The Redemption of William Black continues where the earlier albums left off, with Blaze’s trademark infectious choruses, blistering lead guitar work from Chris Appleton and a bedrock rhythm section from Karl Schramm on bass and Martin McNee on drums, all three also members of Absolva. Co-written by Blaze and Chris Appleton, everything in the album is perfectly aligned with the previous two albums in the trilogy, including its rip-roaring artwork and layout designed by Akirant Illustration. Hence, get ready for another lecture in traditional Heavy Metal by Blaze and his henchmen, and to finally know what the future holds for the dauntless William Black.

The album starts with our anti-hero seeking for redemption, saying he will “save the best of this world”, and Blaze Bayley & Co. make it quite clear with the high-octane, heavy and thrilling opening track Redeemer, with the guitar by Chris sounding extremely acute like a sharpened axe, also bringing one of those electrifying choruses tailored for singing along with Blaze. Then without giving us any time to breathe Blaze and his bandmates fire another metallic hymn titled Are You Here, where Chris and Karl sound thunderous with their strings while Martin never lets the energy level go down with his pounding beats; followed by Immortal One, a powerful song about immortality showcasing a fantastic guitar solo by Chris and an imposing rhythm, increasing in intensity until its crushing finale. Put differently, it can’t get any more Heavy Metal than this, my friends.

In the outstanding The First True Sign the band doesn’t get tired of smashing our ears with pure Heavy Metal, with its initial tribal sounds being suddenly joined by Chris’ most awesome, lancinating riffs of the whole album, turning it into a terrific choice for their live performances. Moreover, Blaze as usual passionately declaims the song’s poetic lyrics, captivating our attention from start to finish. After such metallic extravaganza, it’s time for one of those stunning ballads by Blaze, entitled Human Eyes, where acoustic guitars are accompanied by a pensive Blaze reciting the song’s extremely touching words, and all that dedication and focus by Blaze goes on until the song’s melancholic ending; whereas in Prayers of Light, the aforementioned guest Chris Jericho delivers some cryptic words before the flammable riffs by Chris ignite another explosion of traditional metal music. It’s indeed an upbeat tune perfect for cheering up your day, with both Jericho and Luke Appleton doing an amazing job on backing vocals. And Blaze’s minstrel side strikes again in 18 Days, where he poetically sings the song’s potent lines amidst a feast of mid-tempo heavy riffs and beats, making a sensational vocal duo with guest Liz Owen who delivers beautiful, ethereal vocals together with the Messiah.

With elements from Hard Rock added to the band’s classic Heavy Metal, we’re treated to the very precise and exciting work done on strings by Chris and Karl in Already Won, providing Blaze all he needs to thrive on vocals. And Blaze definitely knows how to reach deep inside our hearts with his introspective vocals like what happens in Life Goes On, being powerfully accompanied by lighter, acoustic parts intertwined with heavier moments crafted by his band members. The second to last act in the epic and futuristic tale of William Black comes in the form of The Dark Side of Black, a thrilling tune bringing forward all we love in the music by Blaze Bayley, that being fast-paced beats, melodic and cutting riffs, and obviously his resonant, potent vocals. Furthermore, Chris once again fires a superb guitar solo as the icing on the cake of the most obscure side of our protagonist translated into first-class metal. Last but not least we have Eagle Spirit, ignited by a special narration by a British war hero, Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Harry Webster Appleton II, before the band offers us all over nine minutes of gripping passages and flammable riffs, with Martin delivering rhythmic, puissant beats to make the whole song even more impactful. And after all is said and done, William finally finds his redemption as the story comes to a climatic and absolutely beautiful ending.

You can buy your copy of The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III) directly from Blaze Bayley’s official webstore, as well as from other retail outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, Heartland Music, Collectors’ Choice Music and metalmailorder.com, among others. At the same time, a special deluxe box will be available exclusively from Blaze’s website, specially made to house all three albums from the Infinite Entanglement Trilogy (needless to say, I highly recommend you listen to all three albums in a row without breaks to properly experience the full saga), and later this year the new album will also be made available as a vinyl LP, again in a specially-made deluxe box to house all 3 LP’s. Now that the astonishing tale of Mr. William Christopher Black is over, let’s all keep an eye on Blaze’s official Facebook page for news and tour dates, as he’s certainly going to kick some ass live in a city near you pretty soon (just like he did last year in Toronto). I have absolutely no idea if we’ll ever see William Black again, but if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that the daredevil Blaze Bayley is in the best shape of his life and will therefore keep blowing our minds with his unmatched fusion of old school Heavy Metal and top-tier sci-fi storytelling.

Best moments of the album: Redeemer, The First True Sign, 18 Days and The Dark Side of Black.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Blaze Bayley Recordings

Track listing 
1. Redeemer 4:11
2. Are You Here 2:32
3. Immortal One 2:56
4. The First True Sign 4:04
5. Human Eyes 5:36
6. Prayers of Light 3:25
7. 18 Days 4:03
8. Already Won 2:58
9. Life Goes On 5:00
10. The Dark Side of Black 3:25
11. Eagle Spirit 8:50

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals
Chris Appleton – guitars, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass, backing vocals
Martin McNee – drums

Guest musicians
Chris Jericho – narration, backing vocals on “Prayes of Light”
Luke Appleton – backing vocals on “Prayes of Light”
Liz Owen – female vocals on “18 Days”
Melissa Adams & Joanne Kay Robinson – backing vocals, choir
Aine Brewer, Rob Toogood, Michelle Sciarrotta & Harry Webster Appleton II – narration