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 – The Silent Rage / The Deadliest Scourge (2016)

A superb display of modern and melodic Power Metal by an emerging band from Greece who unite the past, present and future of heavy music in their compositions, always sounding fresh, vigorous and exciting.

Rating3

The Silent Rage - The Deadliest Scourge Cover_HighResInvesting your energy and resources into making Power Metal in modern society “is a dangerous business, Frodo”. Apart from the mass hysteria caused by the swords and dragons from Game Of Thrones, just a very small niche of the world population still finds delight and excitement while listening to old school bands such as Manowar, Blind Guardian and many others who devoted their careers to singing about warriors and battles. Maybe it’s just a momentary trend and Power Metal will return to its glorious days soon, or maybe the advancements in technology and the modern-day life do not match with its thematic anymore. Luckily for all of us metalheads, there are still some newborn bands that not only know how to deliver high-end Power Metal, but they have also adapted their style to a more contemporary approach, sounding fresh and interesting even playing a subgenre of heavy music that’s becoming more and more relegated to the underground. Having said that, one of the best examples of how a band can be successful in this new world order are Greek Melodic Power Metal troopers The Silent Rage, who have just released their first (and superb) full-length album The Deadliest Scourge.

Formed by guitarist Nikos Siglidis in Athens, Greece in 2006, The Silent Rage have been on a roll since then, releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2009 (which got impressive feedback from global media) and another EP entitled Harvester Of Souls in 2011, thus sharing the stage with icons like Rage, Grave Digger, Stratovarius and Rotting Christ during their Greek tours. Displaying a somber artwork designed by Polish artist Michal Karcz of Parallel Worlds (who has already worked with Metal Church and VNV Nation), and featuring special guest musicians Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), Yossi Sassi (Orphaned Land), Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov (Arkona) and Theophilos Kritikos (Feel), The Deadliest Scourge unites the past, present and future of Power Metal in such a solid and compelling way those guys sound like veterans, but obviously always looking forward without being imprisoned in a past that unfortunately will never return.

Signal Of War, an atmospheric and somewhat tribal intro composed by guest musician Theophilos Kritikos, warms up the listener for the first song of the album named My Race Won’t Last, a modern Heavy Metal hurricane led by the unstoppable drummer Stamatis Katsafados, showcasing an amazing synchronicity between lead and backing vocals which end up strengthening the story told through the lyrics. Right after that excellent start, the title-track The Deadliest Scourge begins at full speed through the blazing riffs by Nikos and his bandmate Kostas Krikos, before Steve Venardo joins the music with his potent vocals in a solid display of contemporary Power Metal, reminding me of old school Iced Earth but with the band’s own touch and a high dosage of electricity. And pedal to the metal in what can be considered a tribute to traditional Heavy Metal by The Silent Rage entitled StormWarrior, a song that will inspire you to grab your sword and shield and head into the battlefield to the sound of its accelerated rhythm, its catchy chorus and a beyond powerful performance by Steve on vocals.

Those Greek metallers provide us another shot of pure Power Metal in Between Harmony & Sorrow, where both lead and rhythm guitars sound cutting and electrified, being beautifully complemented by the heavy and tuneful bass lines by Stavros Tsilivarakos and, consequently, keeping the level of stamina really high in the album. With guest musician Apollo Papathanasio on lead vocals, Sin Of A Pilgrim is a hybrid of traditional Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, presenting many elements found in the music by Iced Earth such as the fiery guitar solo delivered by Kostas amidst the precise beats by Stamatis. And when a song starts with an amusing guitar solo inspired by Heavy Metal from the 80’s like what we see in Leading The Legions, a powerful tune about courage and leadership, you know it’s going to be awesome. Furthermore, all band members put their hearts and souls into the making of this chant, which obviously enhances its impact and beauty.

The Silent Rage 2015e_WebResProselytize The Masses can be described as “when progressive music meets pure Heavy Metal”, because this is exactly what you get in this great composition where lyrics are as traditional as possible (“You know that they’ve ruined your life / Led your behavior this way / Forming the limits and guiding your thoughts / Setting the borders, around and around as we’ll go / There’s no awakening from this oblivion / No escape or salvation, Gatekeepers leading you blind”). It’s quite impossible not to get thrilled by its lancinating riffs, with Kostas once again stealing the spotlight with his guitar solos. If you think there can’t be more awesomeness in The Deadliest Scorge, you’re completely mistaken, because even after so many epic songs they still have the necessary energy to craft more amazing metal such as in The Right To Dream, where Stamatis continues to smash his drums relentlessly while the guitar riffs by Nikos and Kostas keep piercing our ears.

The last “triumvirate” of this flammable album brings forward more high-end Heavy Metal, starting with the metallic Thoughts Collapse, a fast and heavy tune perfect for diehard fans of old school Power Metal, with highlights to the superb job done by the dynamic duo Nikos and Kostas on guitars and to the violent growling by Steve and Nikos. In A Piece Of Eden, the band offers the listener an uplifting chorus and another spot-on performance by Stamatis on drums, not to mention Kostas’ epic solo that leads to the song’s powerful conclusion, before Shadow Spirit, an awe-inspiring and medieval Folk Metal acoustic tune, puts an end to this brilliant opus. Guest musicians Yossi Sassi and Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov add an extra dosage of epicness with their eccentric instruments, while the smooth ending of the song brings peace to our beaten and bruised metal hearts, sounding delightfully melancholic.

Available as a 500 hand-numbered digipack format (which includes a bonus track entitled Inner Scars), a regular jewel case format and digital download at the band’s BandCamp page or at the Alone Records’ webstore, The Deadliest Scourge is one of those albums that definitely put a smile on the faces of all admirers of good old Power Metal. You can find more about The Silent Rage and their incredible album at their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and witness how Power Metal is still relevant and puissant in the world of music. May the Gods of Metal always be by the side of The Silent Rage, helping them generate a lot more top-notch Heavy Metal for many years to come, never sounding cheesy or outdated and, therefore, continue taking virtuous and precise steps on the bright path ahead of them.

Best moments of the album: The Deadliest Scourge, StormWarrior, Proselytize The Masses and Shadow Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Alone Records

Track listing
1. Signal Of War (Intro) 2:29
2. My Race Won’t Last 3:46
3. The Deadliest Scourge 3:43
4. StormWarrior 5:10
5. Between Harmony & Sorrow 4:21
6. Sin Of A Pilgrim 3:17
7. Leading The Legions 4:16
8. Proselytize The Masses 4:10
9. The Right To Dream 4:16
10. Thoughts Collapse 4:59
11. A Piece Of Eden 4:51
12. Shadow Spirit 6:01

500 Hand-Numbered Digipak bonus track
13. Inner Scars 3:57

Band members
Steve Venardo – lead vocals, growls
Nikos Siglidis – guitars, growls
Kostas Krikos – lead guitar
Stavros Tsilivarakos – bass
Stamatis Katsafados – drums

Guest musicians
Theophilos Kritikos – programming and orchestration on “Signal Of War”
Apollo Papathanasio – lead vocals on “Sin Of A Pilgrim”
Yossi Sassi – ud on “Shadow Spirit”
Vladimir “Wolf” Reshetnikov – galician bagpipe and sopikla on “Shadow Spirit”