The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

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

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

Metal Chick of the Month – Noora Louhimo

noora01

Let It Roar, Noora!

It is a well-known fact that all Finnish women are pretty and charming, absolutely no doubt about that. But it’s when a girl from the land of ice and snow releases her inner beast that things get even more exciting, which is exactly the case with our Metal Chick of the Month, the ravishing Noora Louhimo, lead singer of Finnish Heavy Metal band Battle Beast. And if you don’t like the voice and the looks of this blonde “warrior princess”, honestly, I don’t know what to say.

Noora was born on November 6, 1988 in Tampere, Finland, around 180km north of the capital Helsinki, and she has been singing since she was only 4 years old. She had many hobbies before she started focusing on singing, such as dancing, acting, drawing, painting and anything else she could do to express herself. When she was around 13 years old, she had her first band at school, singing Finnish pop songs as well as love ballads from artists like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.

Despite being a huge fan of Heavy Metal from the 80’s when she was a teenager, when she was 16 years old she had some classical singing lessons, before starting to study music in a more Pop/Jazz-line and doing some jam sessions at bars at the age of 19. That was also when she found her first band, called Admiral Octopus, at a place called BluesBar. The band used to play Rock N’ Roll and Blues from the 60’s, 70’s, and also songs from Janis Joplin, which according to Noora herself is the reason why she got the rasp in her voice. After Admiral Octopus, Noora took part in a singing competition called “Wanna Be A Rock N’ Roll Star” at a place called Henry’s Pub, also in Tampere, and guess what? She won the competition singing Janis Joplin’s classic Piece of My Heart. That’s how her single Relax was born, and that’s pretty much her history before joining Battle Beast.

It was during autumn in 2012, right after Battle Beast finished touring some summer rock festivals in Finland, that singer Nitte Valo, who was with the band since its inception in 2008, announced to be leaving the band due to family issues. In September 2012, guitarist Anton Kabanen found Noora by accident on YouTube when he was searching for a new vocalist for Battle Beast, and after a couple of calls Noora accepted the challenge to be the new frontwoman of the band. In 2013 our blonde diva recorded her first full-length release with the band, the powerful self-titled album Battle Beast, and more recently the also amazing Unholy Saviour, in January 2015.

The Finnish lioness mentioned in one of her interviews that she does many different exercises with her voice, rest it when needed and then a lot more, and also that working out is a very important part of keeping her vocals in a good shape. Whatever she’s actually doing with her voice, it’s working more than perfectly, as we can notice in her excellent performance on a Finnish television program in 2014 singing the song Into the Heart of Danger, her contributions to the good song Satans of Swing by Finnish band Somehow Jo! and to the inspiring Eye to Eye by Swiss Melodic Power Metal band Crystal Ball, and also singing one of her favorite songs from Battle Beast, the electrifying tune Let It Roar. One interesting fact about her singing style is that, as much as she wants to sound like a female singer with “balls”, she wants to sound feminine and sexy at the same time.

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In regards to her main influences in life, our warrior princess doesn’t only sing Heavy Metal, but a huge variety of music genres such as Soul, Rock, Blues, among others, and those different styles are what keep her in balance and inspired as a singer. As aforementioned, she started listening to metal music when she was 16 years old, and that “fire” started actually with Guns N’ Roses. When she heard Welcome to the Jungle for the first time, she knew there was no coming back. Then there came Dio, Judas Priest, W.A.S.P. and of course Iron Maiden. Although her list of influences is endless, including names such as Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio, Whitney Houston, Blackie Lawless, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose and many more, her biggest idols in music are first Janis Joplin and second Ann Wilson.

And last but not least, when asked if she’s addicted to any bad habit or guilty pleasure, her answer couldn’t be more feminine than that: chocolate. Well, our “blonde ninja” is an extremely talented and beautiful woman, and Finnish chocolate is by far one of the best in the world. I guess there couldn’t be a better combination than that to celebrate two years of The Headbanging Moose, right?

Noora Louhimo’s Official Facebook page
Battle Beast’s Official Facebook page

“My passion has always been music and different ways of expressing myself as an artist.” – Noora Louhimo

Album Review – Battle Beast / Unholy Savior (2015)

Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.

Rating2

battle beast_unholy saviorIf what Finnish Heavy Metal warriors Battle Beast wanted with their 2013 album, the self-titled masterpiece Battle Beast (which was left out of our 2013 top 10 list by a huge and inexcusable mistake), and their brand new album, the mighty Unholy Savior, was conquering the world of heavy music, I must say they are on the right path to reach their goal. Their third full-length album sounds even more professional and polished, always with that magic aura from the 80’s supporting their musicality.

Just like its predecessor, Unholy Savior is an endless feast of heavy riffs, catchy melodies and straightforward Heavy Metal boosted by the inspired performances from all band members, led by guitarist Anton Kabanen and especially the stunning bombshell Noora Louhimo, the “Janis Joplin of Heavy Metal”. Honestly, I cannot think of a band that’s been playing such captivating heavy music nowadays, and things get even more exciting as Battle Beast have the whole package, from their music to their looks. In other words, what else do you need in a Heavy Metal band that those “unholy saviors” from Finland are not offering us?

Unholy Savior has a very simple rule: hitting “play” and banging your fuckin’ head until the end, which becomes obvious from the very first notes in the opening track, Lionheart. This “fight song” focuses on a solid and traditional instrumental with a strong Stratovarius vibe, with Noora’s amazing voice and its inspiring lyrics (especially its chorus) making it one of the best of all songs without a shadow of a doubt. The title-track, Unholy Savior, has that 80’s intro similar to what was done in some songs from their previous album, with its drumming by Pyry Vikki and keyboards by Janne Björkroth dictating the rhythm. Moreover, pay good attention to its backing vocals as they add a lot of electricity to the chorus.

The following track, I Want The World… And Everything In It, is beyond spectacular and the best of the whole album, with its powerful riffs and solos working flawlessly. Besides, it’s quite impossible not to raise your fists and scream the chorus with Noora, whose potent voice perfectly flows through the song’s harsher lines. But before you listen to it again and again, take a listen to the rest of the album starting by the next song, the Power Metal tune Madness, certainly one of the best choices for their live performances with highlights to the nonstop Pyry on drums and, once again, to the gorgeous Noora. As she screams during the song, her name is madness!

battle beastIn order to slow things down a little and let us recover our energy, the band provides us a beautiful “medieval” ballad entitled Sea Of Dreams which focuses 100% on Noora’s voice, and let me tell you her performance and the song lyrics will surely warm up our hearts during the coldest nights of winter so pleasant this song is. After that short break, it’s time to break our necks again with Speed And Danger: with a name like that I don’t need to say it’s as fast and heavy as it can be, right? I would love to get into some circle pits while the band plays this song, with highlights to its great lyrics paying a tribute to several of the band’s Heavy Metal idols.

Touch In The Night, with its 80’s keyboard notes and its lyrics talking about love and passion (“I’m gonna feel the wrath of the king / ‘Cause touching you was a sin / I’m a victim of my own desire”), might not be a bad track, but it gets so pop sometimes (including Noora’s vocals) to the point it’s annoying. The next two tracks are a bit “weird”, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good at all: The Black Swordsman is a nice and short ballad that works as a bridge to Hero’s Quest, an instrumental track tailored for playing video game or drinking beer with your friends, with its guitars and keyboards in total sync.

The last part of this awesome album begins with Far Far Away, a very consistent song about the journey of each and every Heavy Metal fan in the world, with its riffs inspired by classics such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, especially by the unique riff from “Two Minutes to Midnight”; followed by the touching ballad Angel Cry, with kudos to Noora for another outstanding performance. To be fair, if anyone still thinks our Metal diva shouldn’t have become the frontwoman of Battle Beast, this song will easily prove why she was indeed the chosen one. And finally, as a more-than-welcome bonus track, we have Push It To The Limit, a Metal version for Paul Engemann’s classic from the 1983’s masterpiece Scarface that will put you to dance.

In short, while Battle Beast keep roaring and spreading their thrilling heavy music all around the world with albums like Battle Beast and now the incredible Unholy Savior, we can rest assured Heavy Metal will stand strong and relevant for many years to come. Those Finnish metallers are getting closer and closer to dominating the entire world of music, and when they finally do so I’m sure everyone will just love it. Who doesn’t want to be ruled by a screaming queen like Noora, right? All hail to Battle Beast!

Best moments of the album: Lionheart, I Want The World… And Everything In It, Sea Of Dreams, Far Far Away and Angel Cry.

Worst moments of the album: Touch In The Night.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Lionheart 4:53
2. Unholy Savior 5:37
3. I Want The World… And Everything In It 4:37
4. Madness 4:02
5. Sea Of Dreams 5:01
6. Speed And Danger 4:39
7. Touch In The Night 4:32
8. The Black Swordsman 1:15
9. Hero’s Quest 2:31
10. Far Far Away 3:47
11. Angel Cry 3:34

Bonus Track
12. Push It To The Limit (Paul Engemann cover) 3:20

Band members
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Anton Kabanen – guitar, vocals
Juuso Soinio – guitar
Eero Sipilä – bass, vocals
Janne Björkroth – keyboards
Pyry Vikki – drums