The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

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

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!

Album Review – Alunah / Violet Hour (2019)

The Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of the newborn spawn by a fantastic UK-based Hard Rock and Doom Metal unity.

Brace yourselves, my dear metalheads, as the Stygian clouds of doom are coming to darken the skies to the sound of Violet Hour, the brand new album by UK-based Hard Rock/Doom Metal frontrunners Alunah, one of the best albums of 2019 from the underground and independent scene without a shadow of a doubt. Founded in 2006 in “Sabbath City”, usually referred to as Birmingham, the band comprised of the enchantress Siân Greenaway on vocals, the talented Dean Ashton (bassist for UK’s Hard Rock institution Diamond Head) on the guitar, the unstoppable Daniel Burchmore on bass and founding member Jake Mason on drums is ready to strike once again harder than ever, bringing more riffs, more swagger and more groove to our avid ears with their newborn opus.

Recorded at Wales’ historic Foel Studio, produced by Chris Fielding (Skyhammer Studio), and featuring a beyond obscure and captivating artwork by Brazilian artist Felipe Froeder (Arcano XV), Violent Hour offers the listener a searing combination of intoxicating melodies and riffs on top of a high-class songwriting. “Alunah are very happy and excited to release Violet Hour to the world. It has been so enjoyable to write and record this album during an energetic and focused period for the band. Having it released on Heavy Psych Sounds is a great feeling and we cannot wait for people to hear it. The time to fear is now!”, commented the band about the album, inviting all of us to join them in their quest for old school doom.

Siân and the boys don’t give us a single second to breathe in the amazing opening track Trapped & Bound, spearheaded by Dean’s heavy-as-hell riffs and Jake’s pounding drums. I dare you to not bang your head to the song’s hypnotizing rhythm, a perfect fusion of the doomed music by Black Sabbath with the badass Sludge Metal played by Crowbar, and to show you how awesome this song is, it’s also featured on the 2019 compilation Doomed & Stoned in England, just like another crushing song by their countrymen Warcrab. And the somber, deep and addictive vocals by Siân add an extra touch of evil to the dark and sluggish Dance of Deceit, where Dean and Daniel are merciless with their stringed weapons, not to mention Dean’s amazing solo as the icing on the cake.

Then we’re treated to Hunt, a lesson in Doom Metal by Alunah sounding slow and enthralling form start to finish, with Jake’s beats bringing nuances of melancholy to the music while Siân beautifully declaims the song’s devilish lyrics. Put differently, it reminds me of some of the best tracks from Heaven & Hell’s classic The Devil You Know, and if you like that album you know what I’m talking about. In Hypnotised the name of the song says it all, with Dean being on fire with his demonic riffage and solos while Daniel couldn’t sound more thunderous on bass. Hence, it keeps the album at a high level of heaviness and darkness, being therefore recommended for all your beer-drinking, headbanging moments in life, whereas the title-track Violet Hour is just as mesmerizing and delicious as its predecessors, with Siân’s vocals sounding so powerful it’s hard to describe them in just a few words, and with Dean slashing our ears and minds with his grim guitar lines.

Jake smashes his drums fiercely in the also obscure and sexy Unholy Disease, one of those Doom Metal songs that will put you in a trance, or in other words, your soul belongs solely to Siân during the song’s five minutes of razor-edged riffs, low-tuned bass punches and an endless amount of electricity. Velvet sounds as delicate but at the same time as hot and striking as velvet itself, being the perfect soundtrack for a movie scene at an obscure pub somewhere in the middle of England, while Jake keeps hammering his drums slowly and steady just the way we like it, nicely boosted by Daniel’s metallic, rumbling bass. And crisp guitar lines and an enfolding atmosphere are the main ingredients in Lake of Fire, a dark and serene composition showcasing another flawless vocal performance by Siân supported by the thunderous sounds blasted by her bandmates, making you want to walk into a real lake of fire with her until the song’s ethereal finale.

This precious gem of classic Doom Metal made in the UK is already on pre-sale on the Heavy Psych Sounds Records’ BandCamp and webstore, as well as on several other locations such as the All That Is Heavy webstore, the Season of Mist webstore, the Shiny Beast music mailorder, and Amazon. Having said that, simply let your mind be enfolded by the spellbinding Doom Metal delivered by Alunah in Violet Hour, and may your damned soul forever be comfortable in darkness, exactly how we expect it to be in first-class Doom Metal from the always somber and charming United Kingdom.

Best moments of the album: Trapped & Bound, Hunt and Unholy Disease.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Track listing
1. Trapped & Bound 4:58
2. Dance of Deceit 3:54
3. Hunt 5:38
4. Hypnotised 6:11
5. Violet Hour 4:24
6. Unholy Disease 4:55
7. Velvet 6:22
8. Lake of Fire 6:33

Band members
Siân Greenaway – vocals
Dean Ashton – guitar
Daniel Burchmore – bass
Jake Mason – drums