The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2016

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

The unexpected death of the most badass musician in history, Motörhead’s heart and soul Lemmy Kilmister, on December 28, 2015 was a harbinger of all the bad, shocking and revolting things that would turn the year of 2016 a true nightmare for mankind. That dark prophecy was confirmed less than two weeks later, more specifically on January 10 when we lost another true star in rock music to cancer, the unparalleled chameleon David Bowie, just two days after the release of his final masterpiece Blackstar. If that was not enough to make 2016 a miserable year, we also had to endure the passing of other icons who, despite not being metal, have always inspired countless bands and artists in heavy music. We lost Prince, Leonard Cohen and Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), to name a few, all irreplaceable losses to music in general. In addition, important names in the history of Heavy Metal also left us in 2016, such as Nick Menza (Megadeth) and Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio), not to mention the disbandment of amazing groups like Eths (who are by the way part of our top 10 this year), Crucified Barbara and Bolt Thrower. And I’m not even going to talk about all other types of disasters and tragedies that happened all over the world, as the list is too macabre and grievous to be remembered in full.

Fortunately, 2016 was considerably generous for us headbangers in terms of the quantity and quality of albums released throughout the entire year, especially for diehard fans of old school Thrash Metal. Except for Slayer and Exodus, all other prominent names in Thrash Metal blasted the world with their high-speed, thrilling music, led by another superb album by Testament. Even Metallica released a decent album this year, just to give you an idea of how fruitful 2016 was for this rebellious type of music. Having said that, it’s time for The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2016, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums. And even if 2017 is as hideous as 2016, let’s never forget the wise words by Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan. Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!

testament_brotherhood-of-the-snake1. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake (REVIEW)
Join the Brotherhood of Thrash Metal spearheaded by one of the heaviest, most technical and most electrifying bands on the entire planet.
Best song of the album: The Number Game

cover2. Charred Walls Of The Damned – Creatures Watching Over the Dead (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Heavy Metal by four electrified beasts.
Best song of the album: As I Catch My Breath

Cover3. Eths – Ankaa (REVIEW)
One of the most prominent and innovative French bands of all time returns with a true masterpiece of complexity, darkness and heaviness.
Best song of the album: Nefas

cover4. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker (REVIEW)
Who said rules must be broken for a metallic eagle to spread its wings and soar high in the skies of heavy music?
Best song of the album: Rulebreaker

megadeth_dystopia5. Megadeth – Dystopia (REVIEW)
And the dystopian world portrayed in the brand new album by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is beyond awesome.
Best song of the album: Lying In State

abbathsoloface_6386. Abbath – Abbath (REVIEW)
The one and only Abbath takes a new step in his career with a brand new band an album.
Best song of the album: Fenrir Hunts

death angel_the evil divide7. Death Angel – The Evil Divide (REVIEW)
Fast and furious anthems, dark mid-tempo songs, austere lyrics and endless stamina. This is how Thrash Metal should always be done.
Best song of the album: Hell To Pay

anthrax_for all kings8. Anthrax – For All Kings (REVIEW)
A classy and electrifying Thrash Metal album especially crafted for all of us, the real kings of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Breathing Lightning

front9. Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins (REVIEW)
You might be a sinner, but don’t be a fool and go relish another magnificent album by Mr. Axel Rudi Pell and his loyal henchmen.
Best song of the album: Falling Star

nervosa-agony-201610. Nervosa – Agony (REVIEW)
Brazil’s meanest power trio returns with another marvelous blast of their kick-ass high-octane Thrash Metal.
Best song of the album: Theory of Conspiracy

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

11. Blaze Bayley – Infinite Entanglement (REVIEW)
12. The Silent Rage – The Deadliest Scourge (REVIEW)
13. Neverworld – Dremasnatcher (REVIEW)
14. Ancesttral – Web Of Lies (REVIEW)
15. Front – Iron Overkill (REVIEW)
16. Dö – Tuho (REVIEW)
17. Be Under Arms – Doomed To Life (REVIEW)
18. SystemHouse33 – Regression (REVIEW)
19. Gojira – Magma (REVIEW)
20. False Coda – Secrets and Sins (REVIEW)

As in Heavy Metal the artwork is just as important as the music itself, like what always happens with bands such as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, KISS and tons of other metallic titans, we decided to list the Top 10 Cover Artworks of 2016. There are several reasons for an album art to be considered outstanding, such as its strong connection with the music like Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, its visual impact (usually associated with its controversial content) like Slayer’s God Hates Us All, or its perfect minimalism and finesse like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. Do you agree with our list?

1. Anthrax – For All Kings [by Alex Ross]
2. Primeval Mass – To Empyrean Thrones [by Karmazid]
3. Witches Of Doom – Deadlights [by Carlo Muselli]
4. Ragehammer – The Hammer Doctrine [by Robert A. von Ritter]
5. Howls Of Ebb – Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows [by Agostino Arrivabene]
6. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake [by Eliran Kantor]
7. Henriette B – Tales of Reality (EP) [by Pierre-Alain D.]
8. Skáphe – Skáphe² [by H.V. Lyngdal]
9. Diabolizer – Apokalypse (MCD) [by Robert A. von Ritter]
10. Hostis – Hostis [by Zvonimir Grabić & Milena Nićić]

Rest assured in 2017 we at The Headbanging Moose will keep providing you the best of the underworld of Death, Thrash, Black, Symphonic, Epic, Power Metal and all other genres and subgenres of heavy music, as well as our view of the biggest names worldwide. There are already brand new albums confirmed for 2017 by Kreator, Sepultura, Grave Digger, Battle Beast and more, which means at least musically the new year promises to be really good. Thank you very much for your precious time, and keep on rockin’! Au revoir!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2017!

Well, before we go, here’s a special gift from Iron Maiden to all metalheads all over the world… A nice festive yule log fireplace to keep our hearts warm during the entire season!

Advertisements

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Deadlights (2016)

The Italian coven of Doom and Gothic Metal returns in full force to put another electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on you.

Rating4

WOD_DeadlightsAfter releasing their debut album Obey back in 2014, I knew it was just a matter of time until Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal act Witches Of Doom returned with more of their mesmerizing Rock N’ Roll extravaganza. Two years have gone by since that amazing album, and here we have the Rome-based warlocks Danilo “Groova” Piludu on vocals, Federico “Fed” Venditti on the guitar, Jacopo Cartelli on bass, Graziano “Eric” Corrado on keyboards and Andrea “Budi” Budicin on drums offering all fans of old school dark music the likes of Type O Negative, Moonspell and The Cult their brand new album whimsically entitled Deadlights which, just like its predecessor, will put you to dance, drink and make love like there’s no tomorrow.

Although I’m not a professional musician, producer or anything similar to that, I must say the upward growth in the overall quality of the album in terms of its production and sound is one of those things that not only helped Witches Of Doom explore new horizons and add new elements to their music, but it also shows how professional those Italian metallers are and how much they are focused on what they do. Thus, due to the enhanced quality of their music and to the brand new songs added to their portfolio, I think the band is more than ready to reach new heights and start spreading their exciting music throughout the world by touring in places like the United States, Canada and South America, either by themselves or as one of the attractions of some music festivals held in those regions.

While we wait for their first world tour, let’s rock to the sound of the superb opening track in Deadlights, called Lizard Tongue, where after an alternative and electronic we are embraced by a modernized goth atmosphere and the band’s pure Rock N’ Roll attitude. These guys know how to bring that magic aura from the 80’s to our present days, with frontman Danilo being better than ever with his inebriate and dark vocals, perfectly declaiming the song’s catchy lyrics (“Daughter of a thousand sins / Angel praying for your last wish / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide / Trick or treat is the only law / Merchant on the killing floor / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide”). In Run with the Wolf, an eerie waltz mixed with symphonic elements in what’s probably their most obscure composition to date, keyboardist Andrea crafts the perfect doomed ambience, supported by the low-tuned bass lines by Jacopo; whereas in Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man), heavier and weirder than usual due to the rumbling bass by Jacopo and the always passionate guitar riffs and experimentations by the band’s mastermind Fed, the listener faces a solid blend of Gothic Rock with Alternative Rock and Metal.

WOD 2016Melancholy and sorrow flow from the beautiful Winter Coming, where Danilo once again provides an additional layer of emotion to the musicality with his vocal lines (not to mention the song’s sorrowful lyrics), followed by Homeless, another shot of wickedness provided by this talented band with the groovy bass lines by Jacopo and the progressive drumming by Andrea enhancing the song’s punch. In other words, this could become a radio hit anytime, anywhere. And get ready to be hypnotized by the Black Voodoo Girl, with its Gothic start getting heavier and darker until it becomes another one of the band’s “striptease” hymns. The keyboard passages by Graziano match perfectly with the heavy riffs by Fed and the somber vocals by Danilo, and you’ll surely have a good time singing its chorus along with the band.

In Mater Mortis, what begins as an epic chant quickly morphs into a futuristic tune, more specifically into an ode to the music from the 80’s with highlights to its awesome keyboards, and this instrumental voyage sets the tone for Gospel for War, a badass Gothic/Stoner Rock chant tailored for fans of Rock N’ Roll pub fights where Fed keeps blasting his excellent riffs while Andrea takes his drumming to a whole new and amazing level of intricacy. And last but not least, bringing elements from non-metal genres like Jazz and Blues to their sounding, the band offers us all the introspective and soulful I Don’t Want to Be a Star, showcasing smooth but fierce piano notes by Eric and strong performances by Danilo on vocals and by Fed with his fiery solos. If you love long and experimental songs with the energy and feeling of Rock N’ Roll, you might have found your new favorite song in rock music.

In summary, the music presented in Deadlights, which features a stunning artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli (who by the way is the big boss at Sliptrick Records) and is available on iTunes or on Amazon, has everything a true fan of heavy rock always looks for and more, and in order to know more about the Witches Of Doom, including their future plans and tour dates, don’t forget to go check their official Facebook page. This skilled coven of Doom and Gothic Metal is not among us to simply play some rock tunes, but in special to put an electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on all of us, lovers of dark and rhythmic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Lizard Tongue, Black Voodoo Girl and Gospel for War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Lizard Tongue 4:13
2. Run with the Wolf 4:49
3. Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man) 5:45
4. Winter Coming 4:35
5. Homeless 5:32
6. Black Voodoo Girl 4:46
7. Mater Mortis 3:01
8. Gospel for War 4:35
9. I Don’t Want to Be a Star 6:59

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Jacopo Cartelli – bass
Graziano “Eric” Corrado – keyboards
Andrea “Budi” Budicin – drums

The Metal Moose Show – Episode 2016-01-24

If you want to get more information about any of the bands featured at The Metal Moose Show, simply Google the band and/or the song name to find their official website and Facebook page and, more important than that, attend their live concerts and buy their music. Here at The Headbanging Moose you can find detailed reviews of Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal band Witches Of Doom and British Alternative Rock/Metal band Bouquet of Dead Crows (just click on the links below to read the reviews). Support your local bands… AND FOLLOW THE MOOSE!

On The Metal Moose Show this week:

1. The Apex – Glass Walls
2. Broken Oath – Broken Oath
3. Core Zero – Eyes Burn Red
4. Gravestone – Empty Words
5. Iniquitious – Father Opiate
6. Keychain – Shock Rock City
7. Lady Reaper – Spit It Out From Hell
8. Once Was Never – Razoring Woods
9. The Oath – Crimson Flesh
10. Relics Of Humanity – Ominously Reining Upon The Intangible
11. Widower – Unholy Force
12. Witches Of Doom – The Betrayal
13. Zero Minus One – Brilliant Disguise
14. Ashes To Angels – Find Hell
15. Entropia – Paradox
16. King Chrome – Menace To Society
17. Corners Of Sanctuary – Carry The Cross
18. Dauden – My Soul Will Be Damned Forever
19. Bouquet Of Dead Crows – Don’t Panic
20. Hooded Eagle – There Is No Good Left In This World

Click HERE to listen to this week’s episode on Spreaker.

Metal Moose Radio YouTube | Spreaker | iTunes

The Metal Moose Show – Episode 2014-10-28

MMR_logoIf you want to get more information about any of the bands featured at The Metal Moose Show, simply Google the band and/or the song name to find their official website and Facebook page and, more important than that, attend their live concerts and buy their music. Here at The Headbanging Moose you can find detailed reviews of five of this week’s bands: American Progressive Symphonic Metal band Orisonata, British Electronic Rock band SouLost, German Technical Death Metal band Phobiatic, Finnish Raw Apocalyptic Black Metal band Endzeit and Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal band Witches Of Doom (just click on the links below to read those reviews). Support your local bands… AND FOLLOW THE MOOSE!

On The Metal Moose Show this week (not necessarily in this order):

1. Chainfist – Know Your Hate
2. Torrid Complex – Moonshine
3. Zion Road – Ready To Begin
4. Parasite Inc – Time Tears Down
5. Arson City – Frankenstein
6. Up Against It – Eye For An Eye
7. Dying In Degrees – Cerebral
8. Symbolic – Living A Cold Lie
9. Seventh Calling – Battle Call
10. Andromeda Theory – Massacres Of The Fallen
11. King Shifter – Piece Of Mind
12. King Shifter – Pitch Black
13. Orisonata – Oath Breaker
14. SouLost – Bring You Down
15. Phobiatic – A Genius Of Manipulation
16. Endzeit – Hunger
17. Witches Of Doom – The Betrayal
18. Brea – Kicking Tree
19. Beauty In The Suffering – Reveille
20. Aesect – Snipe The Lamb
21. Deadtide – Anthem Of The Insomniac
22. Nailgun Massacre – Head On A Stick

Click HERE to listen to this week’s episode on Spreaker.

Metal Moose Radio YouTube | Spreaker

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Obey (2014)

These Italian guys bring you some awesome Doom and Stoner Metal with a unique goth vibe. They’re the Witches of Doom, yeah!

Rating4

Witches-Of-Doom-ObeyThere were so many brilliant Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll bands from the 80’s and part of the 90’s with a strong goth vibe it’s hard to name just a few, like for example The Cult, Paradise Lost and Sisters of Mercy. However, very few bands playing that type of music were created (and survived) in the past decade or so, which unfortunately ended up dragging such a rich genre down to the underground of music. Let’s say that this little “problem” is almost over with the blessed birth of Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal band Witches Of Doom and their outstanding debut album Obey, released a couple of months ago.

Although they’re not reinventing goth, doom or anything else, the way this Rome-based band blends all the elements from those music genres, also adding hints of 70’s Hard Rock and elements of more contemporary heavy music, is beyond amazing. In other words, you’ll be able to easily identify the influence of bands such as Moonspell and Depeche Mode in their music, but it’s far from being just a “cover” band. Witches Of Doom have their own musicality, a modern and personalized goth heavy rock that will please all fans of good occult music.

The Betrayal begins with a Breaking Bad-ish intro before turning into a thrilling mix of Doom Metal and Southern Rock, with highlights to the great vocal performance by Danilo “Groova” Piludu. The last part of the song sounds a lot like American Sludge Metal supergroup Down, especially its raw riffs and soulful solo. Following that excellent beginning, we have Witches of Doom, a much heavier version of that goth music from the 80’s played by Sisters of Mercy and an excellent “business card” from the band (“We are the Witches of Doom, yeah!”), and To the Bone, a song that could be played in any radio station in the world: it’s 100% catchy with a really cool atmosphere. Besides, it’s easy to see how much guitarist Federico “Fed” Venditti loves 80’s rock music based on his guitar lines.

The next track, Needless Needle, is another interesting song full of guitar effects the likes of Paradise Lost and a nice old-fashioned keyboard solo at the end, but its main strength is how the band supports the chorus with their instruments, making it exciting and unique; while the piano ballad Crown of Thorns focus on a more melancholic feeling, especially its lyrics, getting heavier halfway through it.

DSC_0683The second half of the album starts with the awesome distorted guitar and bass lines of Dance of the Dead Flies, which can be considered the first of the two songs that sound like a tribute to the one and only Type O Negative. It’s Doom and Stoner Metal to the maximum heaviness, with kudos to singer Groova for his badass performance on vocals one more time. The second and most Type O Negative-ish song of the album is entitled Rotten to the Core: this is one of those songs tailored to be played during a strip-tease at the most underground Rock N’ Roll strip club in the world, something like From Dusk Till Dawn (and I can even imagine Salma Hayek, or I should say Santanico Pandemonium, doing her sexy dance). In addition, once again the guitar solo enhances the overall energy of the song.

Last but not least, we have It’s My Heart (Where I Feel the Cold), a heavier and a lot better ballad than “Crown of Thorns” with nice piano notes by Graziano “Eric” Corrado and some really dark low riffs, giving it an intense goth vibe; and the title-track Obey, with its tribal intro, powerful keyboards, poetic lyrics (“I was waiting for you in the sky”), and a mesmerizing rhythm. It even has some interesting sitar notes to boost its delicious eerie atmosphere. And just for your information, this song doesn’t actually have 14 minutes: it ends at around minute 8 or 9, “returning” at minute 12 as some kind of “hidden track” that contains only some weird distorted noises.

In summary, Witches Of Doom’s Obey, available at their Big Cartel page, on iTunes and other different places, brings back to you directly from Italy that awesome 80’s goth sonority, offering you everything you loved so much in that era but without sounding obsolete at all. Quite the contrary, those guys are looking to the future of music, supported by their technique, their influences and, more important than that, a lot of feeling and passion for Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: The Betrayal, Dance of the Dead Flies and Rotten to the Core.

Worst moments of the album: Crown of Thorns.

Released in 2014 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. The Betrayal 3:49
2. Witches of Doom 3:54
3. To the Bone 3:49
4. Needless Needle 5:01
5. Crown of Thorns 5:25
6. Dance of the Dead Flies 5:06
7. Rotten to the Core 4:10
8. It’s My Heart (Where I Feel the Cold) 4:17
9. Obey 14:45

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitar
Jacopo Cartelli – bass
Graziano “Eric” Corrado – keyboards
Andrea “Budi” Budicin – drums