The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” – Malcom Young

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season. In a year where we lost so many talented and important musicians in rock and heavy music for various reasons, including Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost), Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary), John Wetton (Uriah Heep), David Zablidowsky (Adrenaline Mob, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) and Cherry Taketani (Okotô, Hellsakura, NervoChaos), among several others, not to mention the end of the unmatched Black Sabbath, who we were able to witness live one last time during their farewell tour The End, only the freshness and energy flowing from brand new metal music can give us hope, not allowing Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll to die as many like to prophesy every single year.

Having said that, it’s time to blow our goddamn speakers with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, taming the beast inside us all as wisely said by AC/DC’s heart and soul Malcolm Young (R.I.P.). And as 2017 was the year of bands that cannot be considered dinosaurs in metal (or at least not yet), such as Trivium and Mastodon, that certainly points to a bright future ahead for Heavy Metal with their recent releases because, as you know, we won’t have behemoths like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica kicking ass on stage forever. By the way, this was definitely a fantastic year for Mastodon, who not only released one of the best albums of 2017, the excellent Emperor of Sand, but they also had some extra energy to burn with the classy EP Cold Dark Place, which by the way is part of our top 10 EP’s of the year (as you’ll see after our top 10/20 list). Alright, without further ado, turn up the volume and enjoy our 2017 list… LET THERE BE ROCK!

1. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (REVIEW)
A superb album full of fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams.
Best song of the album: Betrayer

2. Kreator – Gods Of Violence (REVIEW)
We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.
Best song of the album: Totalitarian Terror

3. Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (REVIEW)
The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date.
Best song of the album: Blood

4. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (REVIEW)
Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in this excellent album of Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Word to the Wise

5. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (REVIEW)
Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Analog Man

6. Moonspell – 1755 (REVIEW)
An orchestral and emotional concept album that will take you to the year when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.
Best song of the album: Todos Os Santos

7. Striker – Striker (REVIEW)
Canadian Heavy Metal has never been more vibrant and rapturous than this.
Best song of the album: Born To Lose

8. Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu (REVIEW)
Witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war and human society.
Best song of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu

9. Torture Squad – Far Beyond Existence (REVIEW)
Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Blood Sacrifice

10. Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society (REVIEW)
Four veteran thrash metallers canalizing all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music.
Best song of the album: Architects of Shame

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

11. Karkaos – Children Of The Void (REVIEW)
12. Prometheus – Consumed In Flames (REVIEW)
13. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (REVIEW)
14. Terrifier – Weapons of Thrash Destruction (REVIEW)
15. Body Count – Bloodlust (REVIEW)
16. Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (REVIEW)
17. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (REVIEW)
18. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (REVIEW)
19. Infernäl Mäjesty – No God (REVIEW)
20. Katharos XIII – Negativity (REVIEW)

As aforementioned, we also have for you this year our Top 10 EP’s of 2017, ranging from the most rebellious form of Deathcore to the most melodic type of Symphonic Metal, from visceral Doom Metal to demonic Black Metal, and so on. In addition, those bands hail from all four corner of the earth, proving once again that it doesn’t matter where you go you’ll always be able to find first-class metal music, including all of its genres and subgenres, to please your avid metallic ears.

1. Primal Age – A Silent Wound (REVIEW)
2. Sinners Moon – Far Beyond The Stars (REVIEW)
3. Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold (REVIEW)
4. Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (REVIEW)
5. Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie (REVIEW)
6. Lorn – Arrayed Claws (REVIEW)
7. Jupiter Hollow – Odyssey (REVIEW)
8. Dö – Astral: Death/Birth (REVIEW)
9. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (REVIEW)
10. Afire – Afire (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2017? If you want to check another awesome list, I highly recommend Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Editorial Staff), a great online publication that we at The Headbanging Moose also contribute to on a regular basis. Also, don’t forget to tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a blazing fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal from all over the world!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2018!

Actually, before all is said and done, here’s for you the 2017 Christmas single from Norwegian Melodic Power Metal project Aldaria called When The Time Has Come, featuring several renowned guest musicians such as Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black),  Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call) and Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze), among others, with 100% of all income of this single being donated to Cancer Research. “This is a very important cause for me, as I lost my mother to this horrible disease in 2010. The single will be available across all streaming and digital platforms, and on Aldaria’s official webstore, where you will get a special edition with a lossless audio file, instrumental, high resolution cover art, and lyrics”, commented guitarist Frode Hovd, the mastermind behind Aldaria. Let’s all support such important cause!

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Concert Review – Trivium & Arch Enemy (The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 11/07/2017)

Over 1,500 metalheads headed over to Toronto’s Greektown for a flammable night of modern and vibrant contemporary metal music, courtesy of the iconic Arch Enemy and the unstoppable Trivium.

OPENING ACTS: Fit For An Autopsy and While She Sleeps

Although it’s getting colder and colder as the month of November begins to switch from the colors of fall to the monochromatic look of winter, I guess no one can complain about the clear and not-so-chilly weather yesterday in Toronto, turning the night into the perfect occasion to head to The Danforth Music Hall, located at the easternmost side of what’s known as “Greektown”, to watch the fulminant performances by two of the most important bands in contemporary metal music, Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters Arch Enemy and American Heavy Metal troopers Trivium, both promoting their brand new kick-ass albums. Not only that, weeks before the concert all tickets were already sold out, which means we were going to experience around 1,500 metalmaniacs screaming, jumping up and down and slamming into the pit together with the bands. It can’t get any better than this, my friends.

The two bands chosen to warm up the crowd in a night of modern and aggressive heavy music were American Deathcore act Fit For An Autopsy and British Metalcore group While She Sleeps, with FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY being the first to hit the stage at 6:30pm. Formed in 2008 in Jersey City, in the state of New Jersey, United States, the band is supporting Arch Enemy and Trivium during their fall tour by promoting their latest album, titled The Great Collapse, released earlier this year. If Deathcore is your cup of tea, go check The Great Collapse in full on YouTube as their setlist was 2/3 formed of songs from that album, and also watch their official video for Black Mammoth, the closing song of their performance.

Setlist
Hydra
Heads Will Hang
Absolute Hope Absolute Hell
Still We Destroy
Iron Moon
Black Mammoth

Band members
Joe Badolato – vocals
Will Putney – guitar
Patrick Sheridan – guitar
Tim Howley – guitar
Peter Spinazola – bass
Josean Orta – drums

After that good start it was time for WHILE SHE SLEEPS to blast their Metalcore precisely at 7:15pm to all metalheads that were already at the venue (and the ones arriving a little late). Formed in 2006, this Sheffield-based squad is currently promoting their new album You Are We, with their setlist also being almost 100% based on it. New songs like the opening tune You Are We, Silence Speaks, and the closing one Hurricane kept the audience warm enough for the main attractions of the night, with lead singer Lawrence Taylor and bassist Aaran Mckenzie being absolutely on fire from start to finish.

Setlist
You Are We
Civil Isolation
Brainwashed
Feel
Silence Speaks
Hurricane

Band members
Lawrence Taylor – vocals
Sean Long – guitar
Mat Welsh – guitar, vocals
Aaran Mckenzie – bass
Adam Savage -drums

ARCH ENEMY

Finally, after over three long years (the last time the band was in town was in 2014 together with Kreator), Toronto had the pleasure of witnessing another bestial performance by ARCH ENEMY, precisely at 8:05pm (the punctuality of the concerts in Toronto always amazes me), and let me tell you that this time the whole band was even sharper and heavier than last time. Well, let’s say that is most probably due to the fact that in their new album, the excellent Will to Power, Arch Enemy put the pedal to the metal, sounding less melodic and more ruthless, and when their new songs were transferred to the stage the result couldn’t be different than some insane mosh pits, lots of growling and fists and horns in the air.

Frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz (with her always exotic and apocalyptic attire) seemed extremely happy and excited (as expected) to be with Arch Enemy once again in her homeland Canada, saying that it might be difficult for the band to cross the ocean to play in North America, but when they’re able to finally come to Canada and the US, it’s definitely worth it. She said that although she’s originally from Montreal, Quebec, she nurtures a deep passion and respect for Toronto, and the fans responded to that statement with a lot of enthusiasm, banging their heads nonstop to each and every song played by Arch Enemy. As mentioned, the new songs worked extremely well, in special the high-octane Slayer-ish tornado titled The Race, which by the way Alissa said is her favorite of the new album (and mine too), and the classy and groovy Blood in the Water.

Sharlee D’Angelo and Daniel Erlandsson were as precise and competent as usual with their bass and drums, respectively, but I must say it’s impressive how crystal clear, blazing and tuneful the guitars by Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis sounded during their entire performance. Those guys are true BEASTS with their cutting riffs and solos, sounding so perfect to the point you couldn’t tell if they were playing live or if it was the studio version of the songs. Whoever adjusts their instruments prior to the shows is a technical genius, no doubt about that, and if you get to see Arch Enemy live anywhere during this tour simply close your eyes and let each note played by Mr. Amott during the classic instrumental piece Snow Bound penetrate deep into your soul. The only “complaint” I have about their concert was the presence of not-so-exciting songs in their setlist, like Stolen Life, You Will Know My Name and Avalanche, which worked well, I have to admit that, but imagine if they played some of their more obscure and scathing classic tunes, like what happened with Ravenous, Dead Bury Their Dead and especially Nemesis? Well, we’ll have to wait for their next Canadian tour to see what they’ll do to their setlist (and I can’t wait for that).

Setlist
Set Flame to the Night (Intro)
The World Is Yours
Ravenous
Stolen Life
War Eternal
My Apocalypse
Blood in the Water
You Will Know My Name
The Race
The Eagle Flies Alone
As the Pages Burn
Dead Bury Their Dead
We Will Rise
Avalanche
Snow Bound
Nemesis
Enter the Machine (Outro)

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars, backing vocals
Jeff Loomis – lead guitars, backing vocals
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums

TRIVIUM

After a short break, where the house DJ played some all-time classics on the speakers such as Iron Maiden’s “The Prisoner” and Motörhead’s “Born to Raise Hell” to keep the momentum created by Arch Enemy going, Orlando-based metallers TRIVIUM took the stage by storm at 9:45pm sharp already with the opening track of their superb new opus, The Sin and the Sentence, the title-track The Sin and the Sentence, which made the crowd explode in awe and ignited some serious mosh pits all over the venue. Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu and Paolo Gregoletto were as electrified and in sync as usual, with Matt leading the fans with his “meme-generator” faces and gestures, but it was newcomer Alex Bent who stole the spotlight. Holy shit, that guy is a relentless killing machine on drums, elevating the band’s already heavy sonority to a whole new level. Needless to say, he played all songs to perfection, in special one of the best of the new album and a serious candidate to become a Trivium classic, the Black Metal-inspired tune Betrayer.

Surprisingly (at least for me), one of the songs with the strongest reaction from fans was Until the World Goes Cold, which is a pretty nice ballad but, let’s be realistic, it’s far from being as awesome as classics like Down From the Sky and Kirisute Gomen. Two of the other songs from The Sin and the Sentence, the radio-friendly The Heart From Your Hate and Thrown Into the Fire, also sounded and felt truly heavy and thrilling, proving once again that Trivium are one of the most effective bands in heavy music when composing both heavier and slower, more melodic songs. Just like what happened with Arch Enemy, I missed a few songs in their setlist, especially some of the more complex tunes from Shogun, but Matt & Co. know what they were doing when they put this setlist together, trying to encompass all of the band’s phases in a little less than one hour and a half.

Last but not least, when the intro Capsizing the Sea started playing we all knew the show was coming to an end, but not before Matt thanked Toronto for another fantastic night of metal, promising to always return to the city with another blast of Trivium music, and asking everyone present at the venue to get down or kneel before one of their biggest classics, if not the biggest of all, In Waves. If you enjoy Slipknot you’ve already seen Corey Taylor and his bandmates do the same during their concerts, and with In Waves that Slipknot-ish formula worked extremely well like a precise time bomb, with all fans jumping up and down like maniacs while bursting their lungs screaming the two words from the song’s name. I guess there wasn’t a single fan that wasn’t eager for more Trivium when the show was over, as both Arch Enemy and Trivium had shorter-than-usual time slots to play for co-headlining the tour, but again, we must learn to be patient and wait for Trivium to get back in town in a not-so-distant future, right? At least Matt promised to be back soon, and we must trust the man.

Setlist
The Sin and the Sentence
Down From the Sky
Betrayer
Until the World Goes Cold
Like Light to the Flies
Rain
Dusk Dismantled
Strife
The Heart From Your Hate
Kirisute Gomen
Thrown Into the Fire

Encore:
Capsizing the Sea (Intro)
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Album Review – Trivium / The Sin and the Sentence (2017)

Fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams. That’s the formula for best metal album of the year.

Finally, after two somewhat controversial albums (the technically excellent but not unanimous Vengeance Falls, from 2013, and the extremely tiresome Silence In The Snow, from 2015), Orlando-based Heavy Metal fighters Trivium are back on track with what’s probably going to be the best metal album for most critics and fans worldwide, the sharp, dynamic and vibrant The Sin and the Sentence. This amazing release (the eight studio album in their solid career) features everything you learned to love in the music by Trivium, such as fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics and, above all, the return of the band’s mastermind Matt Heafy’s screaming vocals, by far the most important element that makes The Sin and the Sentence a million light-years better than Silence In The Snow.

Not only Matt’s enraged growls are back, but it seems that the band has at long last found the perfect drummer for their music, the talented Alex Bent (Battlecross, Brain Drill, Dragonlord), who replaced drummer Paul Wandtke, and as soon as you hit play you’ll be able to clearly see the humongous difference Alex makes to their sound. In addition, another interesting thing in The Sin and the Sentence is that the album wasn’t going to be called this way if it wasn’t for the cover art and design done by Matt’s wife, Ashley Heafy, with whom he’s married since January 2010. In a recent interview, Matt stated that the working title for the album was The Revanchist and that the album was going to have gold and neon colors; however, those plans were changed once Ashley presented the band with symbols for each accompanying song, and from there The Sin and the Sentence was born.

The opening track, The Sin and the Sentence, kicks off in full force, with newcomer Alex showing us all the wonders a high-skilled drummer can do to a band. This born-to-be-a-classic tune is extremely addictive and as heavy as hell, with an inspired (and recovered) Matt simply kicking fuckin’ ass on vocals; and it seems that no matter how their music sounds, Matt & Co. definitely know how to craft beautiful lyrics (“I saw the dagger eyes staring back at me / I knew I’d never have a chance to bleed / Guilty, but in the sight of fallen men / They bury you before you speak / (The sin and the sentence)”). Then blending Death, Groove, Progressive and even Black Metal in an aggressive but very melodic manner, Beyond Oblivion, a technical tune that lives up to the band’s legacy, showcases fun, uprising backing vocals in sync with the rumbling sound of the bass by Paolo Gregoletto, not to mention their once again hypnotizing lyrics (“These shadows sleep so soundly / Appalled, he now averts his eyes / Disgraced, he felt so empty / Entrusting us with our demise”). And Other Worlds feels closer to what they did in the albums In Waves and Silence in the Snow by focusing on the clean vocals by Matt, while Corey Beaulieu and Matt deliver sharp and very harmonious guitar lines and solos, presenting hints of modern Hard Rock in its rhythm.

The second single of the album, The Heart from Your Hate, is another great example of how Trivium can adapt from being a truly heavy machine to a more radio-friendly band, presenting a catchy chorus that goes along really well with the song’s main riff; whereas Betrayer can be considered the most visceral and electrifying of all tracks in the album, a full-bodied, intricate composition that brings several elements from the band’s first (and more ferocious) albums. Furthermore, do you also think the guitars sound a lot like the classic riffage by Black Metal titans Emperor, one of Matt’s favorite bands of all time? Anyway, in The Wretchedness Inside, a song to bang your head like a maniac, Paolo sounds thunderous on bass, with the song’s overall rhythm reminding me of the most recent albums by Slipknot mixed with Trivium’s In Waves sounding. And, as usual, Matt provides us another blast of top-notch lyrics (“Submerged in dirt but it was never enough / To quell the fire in the back of my lungs / My bones are aching and my head is a mess / They said to run but I’m obsessed with the madness”). As a side note, this song was actually taken from a demo Matt ghostwrote for a different band in 2014; the song was never used though, so Trivium simply re-recorded it for The Sin and the Sentence. The following track, titled Endless Night, feels like some songs from Vengeance Falls, again with a higher focus on Matt’s clean vocals, also bringing hints of Hard Rock to their heavy sonority. Moreover, the sound of bass guitar, which by the way is simply fantastic the whole album, ends up boosting the impact of this specific tune considerably.

Sever the Hand is a first-class composition that can be divided in two distinct pieces, the first presenting a more melodic, smoother musicality, while the second brings all Trivium’s fury, in special the precise beats by Alex, the demonic riffage by Matt and Corey, and Matt’s sick growling. More obscure but still heavy and metallic, Beauty in the Sorrow displays gripping guitars by Matt and Corey (as well as one of the best guitar solos of the whole album), again bringing hints of traditional Black Metal in its riffs; whereas The Revanchist, one of Trivium’s most progressive songs of their past few albums and the longest in The Sin and the Sentence, brings forward powerful, metallic bass lines that will punch you in the head while Matt tells the story in a solid and entertaining manner, not to mention how Alex yet again steals the spotlight with his bestial, rhythmic drumming. Lastly, Thrown into the Fire is a song that showcases all elements from most of Trivium’s phases, not to mention how superb Matt’s screams sound. With the insane beats by Alex dictating the song’s rhythm, the final result is furious and harmonious just the way we love it, ending this awesome album in a brutal, vile and piercing way.

After listening to The Sin and the Sentence, do you also agree with me it will most probably be the best metal album of 2017? Let’s face it, there are tons of amazing albums launched this year, like the new ones from Kreator, Mastodon and Accept, but the new installment by Trivium is by far the most complete, creative and exciting of all (at least for me). Well, even if you think another album (or maybe albums) is better than The Sin and the Sentence, it’s still worth the investment, so go grab your favorite version of it at the Warner Music webstore, and don’t miss Matt & Co. when they take your city by storm in the coming months. And, obviously, let’s hope the band keeps the momentum going for years to come in the same awesome vein as they just delivered us all with The Sin and the Sentence.

Best moments of the album: The Sin and the Sentence, Betrayer, Sever the Hand and Thrown into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. The Sin and the Sentence 6:23
2. Beyond Oblivion 5:17
3. Other Worlds 4:50
4. The Heart from Your Hate 4:04
5. Betrayer 5:27
6. The Wretchedness Inside 5:32
7. Endless Night 3:38
8. Sever the Hand 5:26
9. Beauty in the Sorrow 4:31
10. The Revanchist 7:17
11. Thrown into the Fire 5:29

Japanese Edition bonus track
12. Pillars of Serpents ’17 (re-recorded version) 5:03

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Movie Review – Wacken 3D – Louder Than Hell (2014)

Experience the biggest metal festival in the world, in 3D, and louder than hell.

Rating4

Wacken 3DIt’s undeniable that Wacken Open Air is the biggest, most exciting and most badass Heavy Metal festival in the entire world. For instance, it only takes couple of days after the festival is over for the next year’s edition to be sold out. If you’ve already had the indescribable pleasure of attending this 4-day monstrous gathering in your life (and I’m pretty sure that if the answer is “yes” you’ve already repeated that metallic ritual many times through the years) you have the chance to go back in time and feel that energy again by watching the awesome documentary entitled WACKEN 3D – LOUDER THAN HELL. And if you’ve never been to Wacken, this is your chance to take a special journey to the heart of the festival, with the 3D screening making you feel like you’re right there with over 75,000 metalheads from all over the world celebrating life and heavy music.

Filmed with 18 stereoscopic 3D cameras during the 2013 edition of the festival, this excellent documentary by award-winning director Norbert Heitker will show you exactly what happens once a year to a calm farming village in the middle of a Northern German countryside, when it becomes the centre of the universe for all things metal. You’ll be able to see in details what it is to camp at Wacken, the daily routine of fans and bands, what musicians think of the festival, and even go crowd-surfing and mud-diving with the more lunatic fans. Not only that, you’ll also have a good time watching some electrifying performances by metal giants such as Deep Purple, Anthrax, Motörhead, Rammstein, Alice Cooper, Lamb Of God, and many more.

12_WackenIn my opinion, as a huge supporter of the underground of heavy music, the best part of the entire documentary is when they focus on some of the national winners of the already famous Wacken Metal Battle, showing what it is to be an up-and-coming band playing at the most important metal festival on earth. There are awesome bands from Uruguay, Romania, Canada and so on showcasing their music to thousands of fans, but my favorite one in terms of creativity and feeling were the Chinese Metal Battle winners Nine Treasures. All members of the band are from Inner Mongolia, with all lyrics being sung in Mongolian, which is beyond incredible. You have to watch it to understand what I’m talking about, and if one day those guys read this review, I would like to ask them to kindly send us their material for review. It would be a huge pleasure for us at The Headbanging Moose to do that.

06_WackenIn case you live in Canada and do not have any plans for tonight (well, even if you do have plans you should definitely cancel them), there will be a special WACKEN 3D – LOUDER THAN HELL “One Night Only Across Canada” event today, October 29 at 7:30pm at several Cineplex theaters. You can check more details at the official Facebook event, see where the movie will be playing by clicking HERE, and also grab your tickets at the official Cineplex website. In addition, following the Cineplex Yonge-Dundas screening in Toronto, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner of Anvil will be in attendance for a Q&A, and if you cannot make it today but you live near Ottawa the movie will also be playing soon at the Mayfair Theatre, located at 1074 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

Best moments of the movie: The unique moments of glory provided by the Wacken Metal Battle bands from different countries, the iconic Rammstein playing Du Hast with thousands of fans screaming the lyrics together with the band and, of course, all the classy mud scenes.

Worst moments of the movie: The fact that there were no subtitles when a fan or a band spoke in a language different than English, especially when it was in German. At least the version I saw had no subtitles. Oh, and unfortunately there were no interviews with Lemmy.

Released in 2014 Jumpseat 3Dplus/Wüste Film

Bands and artists featured in the documentary
Rammstein
Alice Cooper
Deep Purple
Motörhead
Henry Rollins
Trivium
Ragnarok
Lamb Of God
Annihilator
Anthrax
…and many more!

Album Review – Trivium / Silence In The Snow (2015)

Don’t scream for me, Matt.

Rating7

Trivium_Silence In The SnowCan you imagine what would happen if Motörhead decided one day to stop playing their badass Rock N’ Roll to start focusing exclusively on electronic music, or if Cannibal Corpse suddenly started playing only acoustic songs, singing about butterflies and unicorns, without a single drop of blood in their lyrics? That’s something almost impossible to visualize, right? And the reason for that is because if those bands actually decided to do that, to completely change their music direction, they would simply lose their core essence, the main element that defines who they are. Once in a while we see our beloved bands following that horrible path, like Megadeth with their awful “Risk” and obviously Metallica with the worst “metal” album of all time, the annoying “St. Anger”. Now it’s time for American Heavy Metal band Trivium to leave an unfortunate scar in their solid career with the tiresome Silence In The Snow, their seventh studio album and by far their worst work to date.

And I’m not complaining exclusively about the fact that there aren’t any unclean/harsh vocals at all from neither Matt Heafy nor Corey Beaulieu for the first time ever in a Trivium album, which is already a huge bummer, but also about the fact that the music itself is too generic, tasteless and pedestrian, despite being still technical and harmonious. In other words, it lacks so much energy to the point no one is saying anything about this being their first album with Mat Madiro on drums, and we all know how much fans of the band like to chat about which Trivium drummer is or was the best. Besides, where are the rumbling and complex bass lines by Paolo Gregoletto? Some people will try to defend the band saying they already changed their musicality in their latest albums In Waves (too weird?) and Vengeance Falls (too Disturbed-ish?), that they are evolving, but we cannot compare those electrifying releases with this ode to monotony. I listen to In Waves almost as much as to Shogun, without skipping a single song, because after all is said and done it’s a fuckin’ awesome Heavy Metal album. But Silence In The Snow, oh boy, I’m pretty sure I’ll never listen to it again of my own free will. It’s not Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal or even Metalcore.

The Star Wars-ish intro Snøfall is relatively good, but the problem is that after listening to the entire album it made me think a lot about Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which we all know is strongly abhorred by everyone that truly loves Darth Vader & Co. At least the title-track, Silence in the Snow, has its good moments, and albeit not brilliant it has an epic vibe mainly due to Matt’s potent clean vocals. In addition, as I mentioned on the review to their concert here in Toronto last week, it gains a lot of vitality when played live. The same can be said about Blind Leading the Blind, which is Trivium without harsh growls (maybe some screams would have turned it into a classic), providing the listener their catchy and metallic riffs thanks to a great performance by all members, especially Matt and Corey. From this point on it’s just downhill, starting with Dead and Gone, which is almost enjoyable if it wasn’t for one minor detail: this totally feels like a SCREAMING tune, something we should be busting our throats off together with the band, where instead of a clean “Dead and goooooone!” it should have been “DEAAAAD ANNHH GAAAAAAHHHNNN!”, you know what I’m saying? There’s no punch!

The first few seconds of The Ghost That’s Haunting You are promising, before it becomes a feast of generic noises including boring drums, even more boring riffs and a huge amount of “nothing” in its lyrics. This song desperately needed some screams to become decent, with its guitar solos saving it from a total disaster. Pull Me from the Void is yet another song with a favorable start, as fast as it should be, with its instrumental parts living up to Trivium’s legacy. However, I can’t explain why but it never really takes off, maybe it’s because of its horrible chorus, but the overall result is no better than just average. Then we have the ballad Until the World Goes Cold, which I learned to enjoy, but the problem in this case is that if it was something like “Of All These Yesterdays” from In Waves it would have been a lot more efficient.  I mean, if it was a COMPLEMENT to a powerful Trivium album I’m sure even the most diehard fan of the band wouldn’t complain about it, but when an average ballad is one of the highlights of the album you know there’s something wrong.

TriviumI don’t know where to start so bad Rise Above the Tides is. This mediocre tune sounds pretty much like the biggest hit from a generic band that plays at a pop/rock radio station for a few weeks or months and then disappears forever. I hope Matt & Co. never EVER play this garbage live, because that would mean they wouldn’t be playing something a billion times better instead, therefore wasting some precious time of the concert. And for a band that has crafted such bestial tunes like “Insurrection”, “Through Blood and Dirt and Bone” and “Becoming the Dragon”, the following track entitled The Thing That’s Killing Me is 100% unacceptable. It’s one more tricky song that begins in an exciting way but quickly turns into nothing remarkable again. Well, they can have this song played on any pop/rock radio station in the world, but is that what they really want for their career?

Anyway, Beneath the Sun feels like a double-edged sword: add screams and we would have a more than awesome tune; keep it the way it is and you might listen to it once or twice, but will surely never want to make that same mistake again. Not even the instrumental pieces remind me of the real Trivium, it’s just a lazy version of some generic Alternative Metal band added to the album for a reason beyond my comprehension. Fortunately, in the excellent Breathe in the Flames it seems the “generic” virus hasn’t killed all their essence yet, sounding (almost) like pure Trivium, just with the screams (unfortunately) missing, of course, and together with “Blind Leading the Blind” it’s the only song worth listening in the future when the album is no longer a new release and the initial excitement of it is gone. In fact, it’s the only one that sounds truly metal and that I want to see them playing live in their future concerts.

And that’s the end of Silence In The Snow. Well, the special edition contains two other non-exciting tunes that don’t add anything worth mentioning to the album (albeit Cease All Your Fire has its decent moments), so let’s not worry about those. When the album is over, there’s a strong feeling of void, you don’t feel energized or anything positive, and all you want to do is any other activity, no matter what, as long as that doesn’t include listening to it again. This is definitely NOT a good Trivium album, far from that, which makes me wonder if it wasn’t a better idea for Matt to have released it as a solo project instead. Leastwise, if Matt had let Corey scream in most of the songs, we might not have been complaining so much about it, but that’s just a distant dream now that the album is already released. I understand Matt’s goal to evolve as a singer, not screaming anymore, and I respect that, but that doesn’t mean we are forced to enjoy this below-average pop/rock album just because it is Trivium. In the end, I will always love their music, their previous albums and their ass-kicking live performances. But Silence In The Snow? Thanks, but no thanks.

Best moments of the album: Blind Leading the Blind and Breathe in the Flames.

Worst moments of the album: The Ghost That’s Haunting You, Rise Above the Tides, The Thing That’s Killing Me and Beneath the Sun.

Released in 2015 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Snøfall 1:28
2. Silence in the Snow 3:40
3. Blind Leading the Blind 4:25
4. Dead and Gone 3:41
5. The Ghost That’s Haunting You 4:03
6. Pull Me from the Void 3:50
7. Until the World Goes Cold 5:21
8. Rise Above the Tides 3:50
9. The Thing That’s Killing Me 3:25
10. Beneath the Sun 3:52
11. Breathe in the Flames 4:59

Special edition bonus tracks
12. Cease All Your Fire 5:00
13. The Darkness of My Mind 4:44

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, vocals
Mat Madiro – drums

Concert Review – Trivium & Tremonti (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2015)

There might be silence in the snow during this coming winter, but there was surely a lot of good noise and blazing hearts on the last night of the summer in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Wilson

harddriveradiotourupdated2015Unfortunately, due to traffic and working issues, I cannot say anything about the performance by American Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll band WILSON, who were in charge of warming up the crowd for the main attractions of the night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre as part of the 2015 HardDrive Live Tour. All I can say is that if you’re curious to know how their music sounds, two very good songs are Give ‘Em Hell and College Gangbang, both part of their setlist. And, in addition, in case your first or last name is “Wilson” I suggest you go after their merchandise right away. Who wouldn’t love to have your own name on a cool T-shirt like this one? Maybe next time they’re around I’ll go check their live performances, but this time the Gardiner didn’t allow me to do so.

Setlist
Before I Burn
Give ‘Em Hell
College Gangbang
Waiting on the World to Cave In
Windows Down
All My Friends
Right to Rise
Susan Jane

Band members
Chad Nicefield – vocals
Jason Spencer – guitar
Kyle Landry – guitar
James Lascu – bass
Puhy – drums

TREMONTI

IMG_0675For those of you who don’t know this excellent guitarist, award-winning American musician MARK TREMONTI is the lead guitarist and founding member of the famous rock groups Creed and Alter Bridge, and since 2012 he’s been on the road with his solo project that takes his last name, being also responsible for the band’s lead vocals. And that’s probably the main reason why there were so many people eager to see Tremonti, I would say almost the same amount that were at the venue to see Trivium, because not only his music is clean and cohesive, but also fun.

Playing a mix of Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll, Speed Metal and Alternative Metal, this Detroit-based band did a pretty good job during their relatively lengthy setlist, which ended up extending their concert to past 10pm and therefore “forcing” some people to go home before Trivium started due to different reasons, such as work or classes the next morning. I’ll be 100% honest and say that their music is not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed their performance as much as I could while having a cold Rolling Rock. Perhaps the biggest issue with the concert was the huge amount of ballads, because when they played heavier stuff you could feel a much stronger reaction from everyone at the venue.

I’m not familiar with the names of the songs either, but if there were two that caught my attention were curiously the very first, Cauterize, and the very last, Decay, due to their strength and speed. In other words, if you’re more into old school metal music (including really heavy stuff like Death and Black Metal) like I am you might consider Tremonti a bit too light for your taste, but as a straightforward rock band they more than deliver it on stage.

Setlist
Cauterize
You Waste Your Time
All I Was
So You’re Afraid
Another Heart
Flying Monkeys
The Things I’ve Seen
Radical Change
Tie the Noose
Dark Trip
Arm Yourself
Brains
Wish You Well
Decay

Band members
Mark Tremonti – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Eric Friedman – lead and rhythm, backing vocals
Tanner Keegan – bass guitar, backing vocals
Garrett Whitlock – drums

TRIVIUM

IMG_0683After a short pause to the sound of the entire Ace Of Spades album, by Motörhead, lights went down and like many bands do, the speakers played a classic song TRIVIUM truly love to ignite the hearts of the fans waiting for their performance. Well, they chose the all-time battle hymn “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden for that. Do I need to say more? After that brilliant demonstration of passion for metal music and after their own intro Snøfall, our already iconic and influential Orlando-based metallers hit the stage between two giant skulls from their new album with one of their brand new songs, the good Silence in the Snow. Matt was electrified as usual, wearing a Dio T-shirt and an Emperor vest, again showing his respect and admiration for his idols in music and his loyalty to his roots, while Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Mat Madiro interacted with the fans as much as possible during and between songs to make things even better.

I know some people are complaining Matt doesn’t want to scream anymore, but all three new songs (Silence in the Snow, Until the World Goes Cold and especially Blind Leading the Blind, which Matt dedicated to the unparalleled Ronnie James Dio while telling a story about food and friendship when they opened for Heaven & Hell in Japan in 2007) sounded truly powerful live, proving the harsh screams are not really necessary for them to work. However, as an old school metalhead I have to say it was when they played their classic assaults Throes of Perdition, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr and A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation that things got really serious inside the mosh pits. Moreover, although Corey was incredible with his guitar, I think he seemed a little “lost” during the songs without the harsh screams. Let the guy scream, please!

IMG_0695And I was impressed (actually, the whole band was too) with the insane reaction of the crowd for each and every song of their setlist, in special their “newer” classics Strife (including a loud and awesome “Oh-oh-oh… Oooooh!” to its Iron Maiden-ish riffs, as demanded by Matt), Built to Fall (what a “built-to-fall” image seeing everybody singing the whole song at full force with Trivium!) and Black, showcasing how thrilling In Waves and Vengeance Falls are despite some diehard fans not digging those albums. Not to mention the amazing turmoil caused by the fans during the superb duo Capsizing the Sea/In Waves, which started with a decent wall of death just for you to have an idea of how crazy fans were. The band noticed that, enjoyed that and acknowledged that on their social media, saying Toronto was the best crowd of the entire tour. I have to agree with them, it was indeed a fantastic night, much better than their last concert back in 2013 at the same venue.

IMG_0687And in order to keep us all craving for more Trivium and more metallic tunes, the sound system played the masterpiece “Heaven & Hell” by Black Sabbath, which was sung by most fans so excited everybody got after Trivium finished their flawless performance. Now let’s wait and see how their entire new album sounds like, if there won’t be any screams at all or if they’ll still offer us some harsher moments like the ones we learned to love from their music. It might have been the last night of summer in Toronto, but it was more than enough to keep our hearts on fire through the fall and the winter, even if there’s total silence in the snow that’s about to come soon.

Setlist
Snøfall
Silence in the Snow
Down from the Sky
Becoming the Dragon
Strife
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Built to Fall
Until the World Goes Cold
Throes of Perdition
Anthem (We Are the Fire)
Black
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Blind Leading the Blind
Dying in Your Arms

Encore:
Capsizing The Sea
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, vocals
Mat Madiro – drums

Concert Review – Nova Rock Festival 2014 (Pannonia Fields II, Nickelsdorf, Austria, 06/14/2014)

A flawless festival at one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

novarock2014

INTRODUCTION: The City of Nickelsdorf and 10 Years of Nova Rock

The town of Nickelsdorf is located in the district of Neusiedl am See in the Austrian state of Burgenland, it belonged to Hungary until 1920 (like the whole province of Burgenland) and it has a population of less than 2,000 people. Those details alone wouldn’t encourage anyone to visit this little town in the middle of nowhere in Austria, don’t you agree? However, over the past 10 years there are three very special days between the second and third weeks of June when its population increases almost 100 times and Nickelsdorf becomes the world capital of heavy music: that’s what happens when the awesome Nova Rock Festival hits the town.

It was from June 9 to June 12, 2005 when the first edition of Nova Rock brought to town names such as System of a Down, Marylin Manson, Nightwish, Audioslave and Green Day, with over 30,000 fans per day. The following year, with huge bands like Metallica, Motörhead and Guns N’ Roses, the festival received over 150,000 visitors, becoming the largest ever rock festival in Austria. Since then, names like Volbeat, The Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Rammstein, Kreator, Testament, In Flames and many other heavy music icons have helped put Nickelsdorf in the route (and in the hearts) of metalheads from all over the world during the always incredible European summer.

This year the lineup was once again more than amazing, starting on Friday, June 13 with the power of Volbeat, Slayer, Steel Panther and Sepultura; kicking fuckin’ ass on Saturday, June 14 with Epica, Trivium, Anthrax, Amon Amarth and Iron Maiden (and believe me, American actor David Hasselhoff); and topping it off with Rob Zombie, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Arch Enemy and Black Sabbath. You can take a look at the full lineup per day by clicking HERE.

As I was travelling around Austria and Eastern Europe I couldn’t attend all three days of the festival due to time and money restrictions, so this review is solely in regards to Day 2, with focus on the performances by Trivium, Anthrax, Amon Amarth and Iron Maiden. Unfortunately (or not), I couldn’t stay later to see “The Hoff” singing the hit song Du or doing whatever he was going to do there.

NOVA ROCK FESTIVAL: Where to Stay, How to Get There and Overall Organization

If you’re planning on attending Nova Rock next year for only one or two of the three days of the festival, or if you’re not a huge fan of camping sites, the two best options available are staying in the capital Vienna (about 70km from Nickelsdorf) and driving for about one hour or taking the train to the festival, or staying in the very pleasant city of Bratislava, in Slovakia, which is only 40km from Nickelsdorf (or a quick 40-minute drive). We chose to stay in Bratislava, mainly because it was our first time in Slovakia and our chance to know that amazing city, and we do not regret that at all: it’s a lot cheaper than Vienna, the food and drinks are amazing, and it is full of breathtaking views like the one of the entire city from the top of the Bratislava Castle during the sunset.

The festival itself was very well-organized, with a huge free parking lot, good camping space, lots of different options to eat, good toilets, decent prices for the merchandise available, and more important than all that, both the blue and the red stages were set up in a way you could see and listen to everything no matter where you were. There were also lots of different activities going on, keeping the fans entertained before their favorite bands hit the stages, including a huge party zone. The only issue this year was the unbearable dust that impregnated the entire festival due to the dry and sunny weather in Nickelsdorf, which was responsible for lots of people wearing bandanas to cover their faces like if they were some kind of outlaws. Anyway, it was better than a heavy storm, especially because driving back to Bratislava all covered in mud wouldn’t have been a nice experience.

TRIVIUM

IMG_1976Because I had some sightseeing to do in the morning and part of the afternoon, I was able to get to Nova Rock only at 4pm, which means I unfortunately missed Epica (and fortunately missed Ghost). However, I was there just in time for one of the best bands of the past 10 years: American Heavy Metal band Trivium started their powerful and fun concert at around 4:30pm setting the crowd on fire, especially the ones in the front row/section. The band’s sonority was better than the last time I saw them, partially thanks to drummer Mat Madiro: he seems to be an excellent replacement for Nick Augusto, helping the band sound more cohesive with him on drums.

A constant presence in previous editions of Nova Rock, the band seemed pretty happy to be back in Austria and, with heavy and technical songs such as Strife, Black, Through Blood and Dirt and Bone and Down from the Sky, Matt Heafy and his crew delivered what in my opinion was the second best show of the day, only behind Iron Maiden. Matt said numerous times the fans were kickin’ ass at Nova Rock, which is an absolute truth, leaving the doors open for more Trivium at future editions of the festivals, maybe one day as the main attraction (and they indeed deserve that opportunity).

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitars
Corey Beaulieu – guitars, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Mat Madiro – drums

ANTHRAX

IMG_1996After a short break, American Thrash Metal icons Anthrax started their energetic show at around 6pm, showing why they have their spot in the famous “Big Four”. What an amazing performance! Mixing some old mighty classics like Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time, Indians and Antisocial with songs from their latest album from 2011, Worship Music (with highlights to the fun zombie-anthem Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t), Anthrax kept a very positive energy flowing among the fans and got the recognition they deserved from everyone in the end.

Two things should be said about their performance: first of all, in regards to the band members, Joey Belladonna proved one more time why, just like Ozzy, he’s a horrible singer but an incredible frontman. The man doesn’t stop running around the stage, cheering up the fans and making the whole experience of watching Anthrax live really awesome! And Scott Ian might not be the best guitar player in the world, but he is a true Heavy Metal hero, banging his head and delivering lots of awesome heavy riffs during all songs.

And last but not least, the tribute the whole band payed to Dio (R.I.P.) and Dimebag Darrell (R.I.P.) with the banners and the song In the End, and the other tribute to Australian masters AC/DC in the form of a beautiful cover version of T.N.T., just proved how humble all members of Anthrax are and how much they love heavy music. Anthrax were not only an excellent warm-up for Iron Maiden, but a superb lesson in Thrash Metal for everybody at Nova Rock.

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums, percussion
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Jonathan Donais – lead guitar 

AMON AMARTH

IMG_1997Then came one of the most anticipated attractions of the day for me, as I love most of their albums and it was the first time I was able to see them live, but sadly it was not as powerful as I was expecting: Swedish Melodic Death Metal warriors Amon Amarth had a very competent performance, playing some great tunes such as Father of the Wolf, Guardians of Asgaard and The Pursuit of Vikings, and Johan Hegg is becoming one of the top frontman in heavy music. However, probably due to the fatigue everyone was feeling after so many electrifying attractions that day, their concert sounded a bit tiring after a while.

I don’t know if most of the fans there were not that much into their Viking theme, but I saw lots of people simply static and some even yawning during the entire show. I would say that huge festivals are not the best place for a band like Amon Amarth, because let’s face it: singing about Vikings is not considered cool by a huge part of the society, so I’ll wait until they come to Toronto this fall during their own tour to better analyze them live. I’m pretty sure it will be a lot better than their performance at Nova Rock.

Band members
Johan Hegg – lead vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass
Fredrik Andersson – drums 

IRON MAIDEN

IMG_2010And at around 9pm, guess what happened? My sixth “Maiden England” concert, which was also my second one in less than a week (and of course the second of this Maiden England Tour 2014), was once again totally awesome. Because it was a festival, which means you’ll find all types of people there and not only true Maidenmaniacs, I just felt the audience wasn’t as great as in Brno, but that doesn’t mean people didn’t go crazy with classics like Aces High, Run to the Hills, The Prisoner and The Trooper. Revelations was again one of the top moments in my opinion, and the energy people put into singing Fear of the Dark always reminds us why they keep it in the setlist even if lots of diehard fans want them to change it for something else.

I’m not sure if the band was running out of time or if they just wanted to end the show earlier to watch the World Cup match between England and Italy, but without any further explanation they simply removed Wrathchild from that night’s setlist. I bet it was because of the match, as Bruce was wearing a weird English white jumpsuit during Aces High and said a couple of times that we all had to get back to our tents to see England beat Italy 10-0. Well, I guess Mick Jagger is not the only jinx around.

Apart from that minor upset (I’m talking about Wrathchild, not about England losing to Italy, of course), all fans were able to witness another memorable performance from the most influential Heavy Metal band of all time, which was corroborated by everybody happily singing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life when the concert was over. Now I really hope “Maiden England” is over (after three years) and they come back with a new album, because although I’m 100% passionate about all those classics, I also love when Bruce, Steve & Co. provide us some fresh compositions. Let’s hope they deliver us something as good as The Final Frontier, and that they keep on rockin’ all over the world with their unique and marvelous tours.

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, backing vocals
Dave Murray – guitars
Adrian Smith – guitars, backing vocals
Janick Gers – guitars
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Album Review – Caliban / Ghost Empire (2014)

A decent Metalcore album from one of its biggest exponents in the European scene.

Rating6

Caliban_Ghost EmpireWe all know Germany is a very Heavy Metal country, with tons of important names such as Gamma Ray, Helloween, Kreator, Primal Fear, Destruction, Doro, among others, and almost all of those German bands have something in common: a very traditional approach in terms of their musicality. However, in the middle of this “cradle of tradition” there’s a band called Caliban playing a completely different type of music that people like to call Metalcore or Melodic Hardcore. Even being a band so different from their countrymen, they managed to survive through the years and gained a respectful legion of fans (you might have already seen some YouTube videos of their “Wall of Death” mosh pits in their live concerts), and now in 2014 they’re launching their 9th studio album, called Ghost Empire.

If you’re a very traditional Heavy Metal fan and do not accept anything different from what was done in the 80’s or 90’s, do not even waste your time giving Caliban a chance. What they do is more like the contemporary American Heavy Metal, with some similarities to bands like Five Finger Death Punch or Killswitch Engage, but I would say their music is a little bit more melodic than those. The first track of the album, called King, is a very good example of their modern heavy music, with singer Andreas Dörner doing a pretty decent job with his guttural vocals. It’s a good song for mosh pits, albeit I don’t like the clean vocals from Denis Schmidt at all. The next track is quite weird: Chaos – Creation starts really heavy then becomes kind of pop, but at least the riffs keep the energy high; on the other hand, Wolves And Rats is 100% heavy, especially its vocals and drums, and sounds good for some circle pits.

CalibanThe next track, nebeL, which has Bastian Sobtzick (from the band Callejon) on vocals, is a pretty cool song with an interesting chorus, while I Am Ghost has the best start of all songs and pretty heavy riffs, but gets really boring after a while. Devil’s Night has some cool lyrics and vocals and is one of the highlights of Ghost Empire, as well as yOUR Song with its awesome rhythm. These two songs should work well live and will probably be included in their future setlists. The same cannot be said about the next few tracks:  Cries And Whispers is the fastest song of the album, but the chorus sucks so bad it gets boring; Good Man is just a generic song that doesn’t make any difference to the album; and I Am Rebellion has a horrible smooth chorus. These songs explain why many diehard metal fans hate this type of heavy music with all their strength.

Fortunately the next two tracks put the album back on track: Who We Are is a lot better than previous tracks, especially due to its excellent heavy riffs; and My Vertigo is another “mosh pit” song that will please all fans of the band and even some people that know nothing about Caliban. The deluxe edition of Ghost Empire brings a very weird song called Falling Downwards, with Matt Heafy (Trivium) as guest vocalist. Matt kind of saves the song, in other words, without him it would have been the worst track of the album by far.

Last but not least, one of the best things in Ghost Empire is the album art, especially because it’s done by hand (and not by the use of a computer) and totally connects with the album name and its musicality. Maybe someone who is more into this type of heavy music would have given the album more than 2.5, but for me it lacks that punch only traditional Heavy Metal has. I wouldn’t mind checking Caliban out live at a festival here in Canada, but it’s far from becoming one of my favorite new bands.

Best moments of the album: King, Devil’s Night and yOUR Song.

Worst moments of the album: I Am Ghost, Good Man and I Am Rebellion.

Released in 2014 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. King 4:02
2. Chaos – Creation 3:30
3. Wolves And Rats 3:59
4. nebeL (feat. Bastian Sobtzick) 3:11
5. I Am Ghost 3:46
6. Devil’s Night 4:23
7. yOUR Song 4:26
8. Cries And Whispers 3:55
9. Good Man 5:07
10. I Am Rebellion 4:21
11. Who We Are 4:09
12. My Vertigo 3:15

 Deluxe edition bonus track
13. Falling Downwards (feat. Matt Heafy) 3:48

Band members
Andreas Dörner – lead vocals
Marc Görtz – guitar
Denis Schmidt – guitar, clean vocals
Patrick Grün – drums
Marco Schaller – bass guitar

Guest musicians
Bastian Sobtzick – vocals on “nebeL”
Matt Heafy – vocals on “Falling Downwards”

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!

Album Review – Trivium / Vengeance Falls (2013)

Trivium join forces with Disturbed’s David Draiman to produce another good album with an infinite number of pretty cool heavy riffs.

Rating4

TriviumVengeanceAs I already mentioned a few posts ago in my Trivium & DevilDriver concert review, Trivium has become one of the most important contemporary Metal bands, and again with Vengeance Falls they justify why they’ve reached this level. It’s not a masterpiece, but a solid album to follow the great In Waves, with some new elements brought by producer David Draiman (the brain behind Disturbed). The opening track, Brave This Storm, was released a few weeks ago, and its amazing riffs and chorus still maintain it as my favorite song of the album. By the way, the whole album is a lesson in heavy riffs, so if you’re a guitar player don’t think twice and go get your copy of the new Trivium album.

Then we have the title-track Vengeance Falls and another one of my favorites, Strife (best chorus of the album), both with awesome guitar riffs that remind me of some of the old Disturbed riffs, probably due to David Draiman’s influence as the producer. It would have been really interesting if he had also sang one or two songs with Trivium! No Way To Heal has all the elements that are so characteristic in Trivium’s music, making it a very heavy and progressive song. The next track, To Believe, is another song that seems to have a lot of influence from Draiman and one of the greatest positive surprises of the album for me, which is not the case with At the End of This War: just an average song that sounds flat after 3 minutes. But things get back to normal (in other words, HEAVY and CREATIVE) with Through Blood and Dirt and Bone and its excellent “heavy riff and fast drums” work (and I enjoy a lot when Matt screams the chorus!).

Trivium-630x420Villainy Thrives has a good rhythm, which will certainly make the fans jump as the band requires during the concerts, while Incineration: The Broken World, one of the longest songs of the album, starts with another cool riff and has Nick Augusto doing his best job on the drums in the whole album. Closing the album we have Wake (The End Is Nigh), the longest song that starts slowly but then moves to a fast speed, showing a more traditional Trivium again. The bonus tracks in the special edition of the album are all very good, especially their cover for MisfitsSkulls…We Are 138, and if you manage to find the Japanese version, it has a different bonus: an interesting version for REM’s Losing My Religion.

The lyrics as usual are as crazy as they can be. Well, what else could we expect from Matt Heafy? “Burn us alive for our sins and our crimes / We are the wretched ones: malevolent slime” And regarding the album cover, I personally enjoy when it doesn’t explicitly show the name of the album or the band. In Vengeance Falls, the cover works as a complement to the album title, doing a cool job with the band’s logo. And last but not least, I didn’t mention anything about Corey or Paolo because I don’t need to: they’re awesome musicians doing a very consistent job as always, helping Trivium in being an important reference in heavy music today.

Best moments of the album: Brave This Storm, Strife and To Believe.

Worst moments of the album: At The end of This War, and the lack of the old screams from Matt in most of the songs. I know he cannot scream 100% of the time, but a little more would be great to the entire album.

Released in 2013 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Brave This Storm 4:29
2. Vengeance Falls 4:13
3. Strife 4:30
4. No Way to Heal 4:05
5. To Believe 4:32
6. At the End of This War 4:47
7. Through Blood and Dirt and Bone 4:26
8. Villainy Thrives 4:54
9. Incineration: The Broken World 5:52
10. Wake (The End Is Nigh) 6:00

Bonus tracks
11. No Hope for the Human Race 3:59
12. As I Am Exploding 5:51
13. Skulls…We Are 138 (Misfits cover) 3:31
14. Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover) 4:41

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, vocals
Nick Augusto – drums, percussion