Monday, 31 December 2012

Recommended albums of 2012

This is my main list for 2012 with all genres from the melodic side of metal and rock. I always find it impossible to rate albums together across different genres hence three different lists each year. Normally I don't list this many but what the heck I thought let me list them all!

121 - Souls Of Diotima - What Remains Of The Day
Underground sympho goth metal with female vocals is the order of the day and its fairly good. Songs are pretty much to the point and catchy making for a very pleasant listen overall.

120 - Air Raid - Night Of The Axe
True metal fun with Maiden fixation and very apt "air raid" siren vocals.

119 - Civil War - Civil War (EP)
Only a 4 tracker for the Sabaton rejects band, but an interesting start and I always love hearing NPJ's vocals. They don't sound as good as Sabaton to me but time will tell how they progress.

118 - Ian Anderson - Thick as a brick 2
I wasn't expecting much at all from Anderson's attempt at a follow up to the original classic but lo and behold it wasn't a disaster at all. The songs were really rather nicely played and had the usual quaint Tull melodies. Not bad Mr. Anderson!

117 - Linear Sphere - Manvantara
Amazingly slick technical metal with perfect clean sound. Musically the band are amazing but they don't write actual songs with melodies as such. Still masterful instrumental skills.

116 - Bob Katsionis - Rest in Keys
A really nice mostly instrumental keyboard driven album from the Firewind man. I like the melodies he creates and the production is lovely as well.

115 - Woods Of Ypres - Woods V - Grey Skies & Electric Light
Its a shame but I only tried the album cause David Gold the band leader died. I enjoyed the sounds I heard as well. Nice deep vocals he had and the band's music was quite moving at times with a few great passages here and there.

114 - Betrayer - st
Underground Canadian power metal with a very good singer. Need to work on song writing skills but they have the sound and singer to make progress and deserve a bit more attention that's for sure.

113 - In Aevum Agere - The Shadow Tower
Doomy power metal ala Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. Notable for a great vocal performance in the main. Good effort.

112 - Allegro From My Requiem - Chapter I
Unknown, sympho polished power metal with dual male and female vocals. No one probably cares but I found it listenable though obviously not mind blowing.

111 - Gaia Epicus - Dark Secrets
Also-ran Swedish power metal with average vocals. However this time they've written their best ever set of melodic tunes making for a solid listen.

110 - Scepter - Take Command!
True metal with high as a kite vocals. The riffs pound away in raw fashion whilst the singer does his best banshee impression over the top. The song writing is catchy though making for a somewhat enjoyable listen.

109 - Adrenaline Mob - Omerta
Hard hitting modern stuff from Portnoy and Co. I shouldn't really like it but I found it rather mean and aggressive and good to play every now and then when in the right mood. Not every song kicked ass but if you are a sucker for heavy grove riffs then this was an album worth your time.

108 - Arrow Haze - Music Factory
Poppy prog rock with nice melodic vocals. I found the melodies very enchanting indeed.

107 - Otherwise - True Love Never Dies
Modern hard rock with powerful vocals and anthemic songs. I rather enjoy bands like this. They may be rooted in the grunge sound but overall they are far heavier and have a greater sense of melody, making for a far better listening experience than those type of bands.

106 - Sonic Station - st
The softest album in my whole list by far. Do they even have any guitars in this band? I don't really care that much cause the song writing is very beautiful as are both the male and female vocals. This is pure westcoast music and beautiful to listen to on a long, lazy, warm summer night.

105 - White Skull - Under This Flag
They used to be good, became shit and then they got the female version of Boltendahl back, namely Federica and now they are actually quite good again. Not that it will be some sort of big move or comeback for them in the underground power metal scene but at least they are rather good again.

104 - Wig Wam - Wall Street
Norwegian hot rockers with a fun and tongue in cheek release not to be taken that seriously. Enjoyable and cool cheesy hard rocking.

103 - Stargate - Beyond Space and Time
A mix of power and prog metal from these Italians. Can be a touch hard going but the sound, musicianship cannot be denied.

102 - Striker - Armed To The Teeth
Old school trad metal combo with a nice and heavy sound and decent songs to get the true metal blood pumping.

101 - Love.Might.Kill - 2 Big 2 Fail
A good album of melodic metal with big songs here and there. Perhaps not as consistent hence not the higher rating.

100 - Rick Springfield - Song For The End Of The World
The guy is 63 years old and rocking as fresh as a daisy with his hard edged power pop tunes. Not all the songs are great but the catchy ones should be at the top of the charts but there's no justice in the world of music is there.

99 - Ultravox - Brilliant
The only completely no-rock or metal disk in my list and it was a comeback after 28 years that I used to love back in the 80s. For a bunch of old grandads they did a really sterling job. Midge's vocals have changed with age but the songwriting was top class and it sounded like a logical step back for the guys. I do hope they decide to record another album cause they sound so good still.

98 - Ascension - Far Beyond the Stars
Scottish Dragonforce fanciers slightly let down by caterwauling vocals. Very nice riffs and production though.

97 - Attic - The Invocation
The KD tribute band in all but name deliver an album that KD fans wouldn't bat an eyelid at had been released by the King himself. It's good but some of the story telling skills of King are missing and the songs in general are not as catchy as classic King Diamond. Great attempt though!

96 - Fear Factory - The Industrialist
Heavy and high precision stuff from the industrial metal pioneers.

95 - Freedom Call - Land Of The Crimson Dawn
Veteran status for the lalala power metal band now, who despite the rather jokey songs actually made a very nice album indeed.

94 - Presto Ballet - Relic Of The Modern World
Makes the list for the wonderful keyboard sound alone.

93 - Grand Magus - The Hunt
Some very catchy tunes on this less heavy metal and more hard rocking release. Main influence seemed to be Thin Lizzy whilst before they sounded like Manowar a fair deal. I was expecting more but its still very good.

92 - Jaded Heart- Common Destiny
German melodic metal with a harder edged album than their previous efforts. German can do this type of album in their sleep it seems.

91 - Janus - Nox Aeris
Modern hard rock with brooding vocals and haunting melodies. I like this sort of thing a lot.

90 - At Vance - Facing Your Enemy
Neo-classical heavy metal. Rick Altzi done his best Jorn impression yet!

89 - Burning Point - The Ignitor
German heavy power metal. Solid Stuff as the saying goes.

88 - Eternal Dream -The Fall Of Salanthine
Yet another Nightwish wannabe although with less goth elements and more Rhapsody symphonic elements. Solid stuff. Have I ever said that?

87 - Kissin’ Dynamite - Money, Sex & Power
I only do glam and sleaze in small doses. These people filled that hole nicely for me.

86 - Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline
Very heavy and modern effort by this band and as a non LC fan I can say I enjoyed this album a lot.

85 - Jorn - Brind Heavy Rock to the Land
Mr Lande, with yet another solid release. Yes every album sounds the same but if ain't broke why fix it?

84 - Light Bringer - Genesis
Guitar led Japanese people bring melodic shred with those typical girl vocals that Japanese bands use. Me, I just love the guitars.

83 - Lyriel - Leverage
European sympho goth rock from the previous folk/power metallers. The change in style was for the better I think.

82 - Morian - Ashen Empire
Swedish hard edged modern rock with some big songs and a face melting guitar sound.

81 - Nightmare - The Burden of God
French power metallers did the business with this heavy yet melodic release with very good throaty power metal vocals.

80 - Oxygen - Final Warning
Crisp and slickly produced Scandi melodic rock with the typical song style you'd expect from people of that region.

79 - Lanfear - This Harmonic Consonance
Power progressive heaviness with a dark vibe. Enjoyable but not something I'd reach for regularly due to the dark nature of the music.

78 - Trick Or Treat - Rabbit's Hill Pt 1
Italian Helloween worshippers with a nice Watership Down concept and a decent, fast and happy album. Great cover of Bright Eyes too!

77 - Sacred Gate - When Eternity Ends
Regular Germanic mid paced power metal. Nice effort.

76 - Teramaze - Anhedonia
Progressive, heavy, thrash metal with twisted riffage to get stuck into.

75 - Dynazty  - Sultans Of Sin
Slightly glammy, shiny melodic hard rock with a very decent set of tunes.

74 - The Veer Union - Divide The Blackened Sky
Modern melodic hard rock with cool tunes.

73 - Hellander - In The Battle
Old school rollicking heavy metal. Sounds like what you'd expect a true metal record to sound like.

72 - Issa - Can't Stop
A bunch on mostly unknown AOR covers from the Danish chanteusse. Good choice of songs and nice modern production values from the easy on the eye blonde lady.

71 - Metalhead - st
Slightly poorly produced heavy metal aping KD, Priest and Motorhead. I found it rather enjoyable personally speaking.

70 - Nubian Rose - Mountain
Feisty female fronted Swedish hard rock with a chunky production. That chick sure has some balls with her powerful yet melodic delivery.

69 - Shinedown  - Amaryllis
It weren't no Sound of Madness but it will do. The sound was a bit more raw than before, and the song writing not so savage and in your face but heck it was still pretty good especially the awesome balladeering.

68 - Holy Knights - Between Daylight and Pain
A long awaited return from hiatus for this Italian power metal combo. Deserved more attention cause it was a really solid effort with a huge production to boot.

67 - Awaken - Broken Circle
Introspective modern hard rock with brooding melodic vocals. Love the deep melodies and the heavy glowing riffage.

66 - Bloodbound - In The Name Of Metal
True metal guys have fun playing their no nonsense cheesy metal music and they are very good at it too. However something is missing for me to put them much higher in the list.

65 - Days Of Jupiter - Secrets Brought To Life
Modern hard rock with nice melodic vocals. Enjoyable stuff.

64 - Earthcry - When the Road Leads
Prog power project from Oliver Hartmann. An ambitious work that mostly delivers the goods.

63 - Rage - 21
Very heavy and crunchy and at first a little disappointing cause it seemed to be lacking in the song writing dept but I slowly grew to like it a fair bit indeed. Though I do consider it a slight disappointment in context of the last couple of Rage disks which I've loved from the get go.

62 - Kerion - CloudRiders Part 1: Road to Skycity
Canadian underrated melodic power metal. Happy and joyous music with strong melodies.

61 - Accept - Stalingrad
Not as good as the previous album but that was gonna be very hard to top. A decent attempt though and they still know how to write a killer riff that's for sure.

60 - Ensiferum - Unsung Heroes
Very enjoyable stuff from the Finns. I couldn't expect too much more.

59 - Wintersun - Time I
I was hoping for more after 8 years. It has magnificent and grandiose production but it tends to be a bit long winded and doesn't go for the jugular with the kind of blistering riffs I was hoping for. Maybe part 2 will deliver on that score. Having said all that I still consider the work that has gone in to it and marvel at the themes and the real pain staking work of band leader Jari.

58 - Sound Storm - Immortalia
Very heavy and blistering symphonic power metal which at first I thought was gonna completely blow me away. Then I realised the song writing was not quite what I was looking for but its super ambitious and magnificently executed any way.

57 - Thy Majestie – ShiHuangDi 
Italian power metallers with a solid comeback of symphonic power metal and an interesting concept to boot.

56 - Oceans Of Time - Faces
Highly melodic slightly prog album of metallic goodness. Especially nice keys as well.

55 - Stormrider - The Path of Salvation
German melodic speedsters aping Running Wild but at a much faster speed. Enjoyable if derivative.

54 - Tank - War Nation
Doogie White sings so its gotta be good right? Well yes it was. Heavy metal with strong melodies and Doogie's soulful croon. Not bad at all!

53 - Running Wild - Shadowmaker
Got slated by a lot of the metal press but I can't really see why. They hated the drum machine but to me it sounds pretty good. Not all the songs are amazing or anything but there are 3 or 4 RW semi-classics in there. Welcome back Cap'n!

52 - Sky Of Rage - st
Side project of Astral Doors guitarist. Some very cool tunes and some average ones. Good enough for me in any case.

51 - End Of September - st
Female fronted modern melodic metal with some very acceptable cool tunes.

50 - Knightmare - In Death's Shadow
Pretty damn heavy Aussie power with heavy vocals and strong songs.

49 - Dragon Guardian - Polyphony
No one cares about stupid Japanese power metal bands but I did care a fair bit cause this album was good if you like Rhapsody etc.

48 - Soulitude - Requiem For A Dead Planet
A Spanish solo dude's power metal album with guests which surprised me with more power and better song writing than on his previous albums. Good solid work and has one of the songs of the year in Lost in the Grandeur of time.

47 - Venturia - Dawn of a New Era
French prog metallers returned with a very solid album indeed. The female vocals were spot on and the songs were pretty catchy as far as prog metal goes.

46 - Animetal USA - Animetal USA W
Comical, yet serious shred metal from the US band featuring the riff and shredlord, Impellitteri. I love that guy's riffs and solos so this was a no brainer for me.

45 - Paragon - Force Of Destruction
Much better and song based than their last album which was a huge let down for me. These old German warriors got back to what makes them great, being heavy and vocally catchy with nice pounding, headbangable riffs to dust off the old air guitar to.

44 - Civilization One - Calling the Gods
A power metal project from have mic will travel guy, Mr Chity Somapala. It deserves a little praise too cause it was a really good final effort with Chity's cool melodic vocals and a decent bunch of catchy power metal tunes.

43 - Eihwaz - Amadeus
Russian symphonic melodic power metal with lilting operatic female vocals. The riffs were light and airy fairy on this shortish album but it features very enjoyable fast passages and in the song Amadeus, a tribute to Mozart, they had a truly magnificent song on their hands.

42 - Charlie Shred - st
Yet another Tommy ReinXeed side band with this time a thrashier vibe. The singer has a pre-pubescent sounding voice similar to a very young Hetfield. The riffs are fast melodic and enjoyable. Ignored by most but I thought this was a really good release in the end

41 - Pharaoh - Bury The Light
The US power metal combo delivered yet another solid album that's perhaps slightly lacking in some of the memorable tunes of previous album, Be Gone.

40 - Vision Divine - Destination Set To Nowhere
The Italians are back with Fabio back on the mic and a very palatable album is delivered for the power metal fans to digest. As always its a touch progressive as well, rather straight power metal but the songs are pretty good and the album is pretty much a success.

39 - Ghosthill - Flying Through Imagination
Ukrainian symphonic power metal with female vocals. She has a very strong accent but a very good melodic voice to compensate so not too much harm done. The music is shiny, well produced and easy on the ear.

38 - The Mystery - Apocalypse 666
German heavy metal with a gruff yet melodic female singer. Surprisingly very solid indeed.

37 - Pride of Lions - Immortal
Peterik and Hitchcock vehicle released a really nice album with a few cracking songs and just a few too many ballads for my liking. When its good, its pretty much unbeatable though with the awesome voice of Toby Hitchcock very much to the fore.

36 - Firewind - Few Against Many
So its not the best Firewind album by a long chalk, but its still pretty good. I hope for a more melodic album next time but I'm happy enough with Gus and co.

35 - Eternal Of Sweden  - Chapter I
A debut of typical Scandi melodic rock/metal with a few crackers in amongst a decent bunch. Good stuff!

34 - German Pascual - A New Beginning
A very fine release indeed with heavy riffs and very heavy melodic vocals from Mr. Pascual. Good solid melodic metal at its best.

33 - Unisonic - st
It could have been better if I'm honest but I still enjoyed the hell out of this release from these German overlords of teutonic metal/rock. Some great tunes and a few so so ones but I do hope they make another album cause it might even be better now that they've hit their stride with the band.

32 - Amberian Dawn - Circus Black
A must for Oceanborn era Nightwish fans. If you miss the older style that Nightwish used to play before they got all bigger sounding then Amberian Dawn is the band for you. They have that style nailed to a tee. A Happy and enjoyable album indeed.

31 - Winterstorm - Kings Will Fall
German folky power metal from the underground and bloody good it was though it will no doubt be ignored which is a shame if you ask me. The band has a lot of talent for penning happy galloping power metal tunes with big male choirs as backing for the chorus. Fun stuff for any Euro power metal fan.

30 - 3 Inches Of Blood - Long Live Heavy Metal
Wow this was balls out heavy metal to the max. I enjoyed the hell out of this album for a good while before I moved on. A great speed metal album on steroids with a banshee vocalist on acid. Some can't take the pace but I sure as hell loved it and Leather Lord was one of the true metal songs of the year.

29 - Damnation Angels - Bringer Of Light 
A really good but not brilliant album for me. There are moments of Brilliance such as the much loved song Pride with it's glorious Japanese themes but overall there is a little room for improvement here and there if I'm being super critical.

28 - Nonpoint - st
This is melodic nu-metal with a very heavy crunchy guitar sound and nice and powerful melodic vocals. 'd normally pass on this type of band but the songs are mainly so catchy and melodic that its hard to ignore. A pretty high entry for these guys and easily a fave of mine during the whole of 2012 with 5-6 songs getting constant play on my ipod.

27 - Poets Of The Fall - Temple Of Thought
Finnish melancholic goth rockers with yet another cool as hell album. The singer just has a knack for singing some awesome melodies. I don't like every song but the ones I do are really something special.

26 - Primal Fear - Unbreakable
Another really solid Primal Fear album with many enjoyable songs. Ralf was his usual self on the mic as well so you can't go far wrong if you are a fan of the band.

25 - Axel Rudi Pell - Circle of the Oath
Mr Write-the-same-album-over-and-over Pell does it again. I ain't complaining though. Johnny Gioeli is just an amazing hard rock vocalist with a fantastic sense for melody. The album contains all the ingredients of a Pell album. Ponding Rockers, Churning midpacers, Grandiose epics, heartfelt emotional ballads. The usual stuff. Yes we've heard it before but its still good to hear it again!

24 - Trail Of Murder - Shades of Art
A new band of Swedish melodic metallers delivering a very good album indeed. The reason its not higher is that I feel some of the songs are lacking in a big chorus or something. Overall its still pretty ace and hardly surprising from a gang of seasoned campaigners from the melodic metal field. As expected, pretty much a triumph overall and hopefully more albums will arrive.

23 - Pertness - Frozen Time
The band with the silly name delivered big time musically speaking after the rather average previous album. Their song writing is much tighter whilst the production is up to par with the best of what their peers have to offer. A must if you enjoy the heavier end of European melodic metal ala Grave Digger, Paragon and Blind Guardian.

22 - Xandria  - Neverworld's End
Yes they are Nightwish incarnate, in fact you'd think they kidnapped Tarja and made her secretly sing on their album. Really enjoyable if completely unoriginal. When did I ever care about original just look at my whole damn list!

21 - Sunstorm - Emotional Fire
An AOR combo showcasing Joe Lynn Turner's raspy melodic tones to the max. The guy is one of those classic melodic rock singers that you can swear by. The sound is up to date with beefy clean riffs allowing Mr Turner to wow us with his exuberant, melodic vocals. Excellent stuff indeed.

20 - Dragonforce - The Power Within
I wasn't sure about Marc Hudson but by Jove he is the perfect replacement for ZP, so the boys made a good choice indeed. Musically speaking the album is just another regular Dragonforce album with the odd slower moment and in Cry Thunder they have one of the best mid tempo songs of the year. Everything else just screams Dragonforce from every pore!

19 - Hardline - Danger Zone
Almost like a side project for Johnny Gioeli now and far removed from the supergroup days of the band with Neal Schon etc, but nevertheless a highly successful outcome for the band. Of course with the usual suspects from the Frontiers team involved, its hard to go wrong and going wrong is not what they do in the slightest. Fever Dreams is one of the melodic rocks songs of the year as is 10,000 reasons with it's ginormous sing along hook. As always we get a masterful powerhouse vocal showcase from Johnny as well. Great album.

18 - Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending to Infinity
Luca's first release since Rhapsody split in two and a great start for the new chapter. It does have the feel of a Luca Turilli solo album although it has all the traits of a stright Rhapsody album as well. New vocalist Alessandro Conti is perfect for the band with his high as a kite though accented vocals. I wish the production had a bit more balls and was a bit more metal though. It's just a bit too polite but I'm splitting hairs. A cinematic, wide screen power metal experience of which few are capable of bettering, than Mr. Turilli. We will see what Rhapsody of Fire can come up with in time.

17 - Secret Sphere - A Portrait Of A Dying Heart
What an inspired choice it was getting Michele Luppi to sing on these tunes. They guy literally sings up a storm with a stellar display of powerful melodic vocals. His tone is not to everyone's taste but I personally think the guy has an awesome voice and he turns in one of his best ever performances on this album. Musically the album is also very good too and fully deserves it's place in the top 20.

16 - Galneryus - Angel Of Salvation
The super prolific Galneryus with another wonderful melodic shred metal masterpiece. The guitar playing is just of an incredible standard and new singer Sho is a perfect fit for the band being more melodic and in control than the previous guy. Forget about the hopeless Yngwie, Galneryus is where its at when itc comes to neo-classical melodic shred.

15 - Jimi Jamison- Never Too Late 
The hand of Erik from Eclipse is all over this album and you can hear why. Punchy melodic rock with a pristine production is the order of the day, whilst allowing plenty of room for Mr Jamison's husky tones to chill the spine. A solid album from start to finish.

14 - Ten - Heresy And Creed
Stormwarning was great and this quick follow up from Gary Hughes and co means they didn't rest on their laurels whatsoever. The production is that bit stronger than before whilst the album has a few dull moments, the great ones far outweigh them. Knights of Arabia is one of my favourite songs of the year.

13 - Threshold - March of progress
The kings of UK melodic prog metal return with a truly breathtaking album. Its hard to find much fault with this album, everything just reeks of class from vocals to production and song writing. If I was a prog metal nut this would be my number one and it holds position 13 on the basis that I prefer power and melodic rock over the prog aspects in general. Other than that pretty much perfection.

12 - Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol
The miserable Yorkshire bastards with a brilliant throw back album pretty much. This album is the true successor to Icon and it sounds like a conscious thought to repeat former glories. This could have ended in failure of course but the band is too classy for that and its ended up a resounding success. The songs are melodic but very heavy and bogged in sombre lyrics that don't exactly fill you with the joys of the world. But that's Paradise Lost for you. They wallow in their own melodic sense of misery and ride the wave on the dark side of life. One of their best albums to date no doubt.

11 - Lionville - II
The vehicle of Italian dude Stefano Lionetti and various members of prominent AORsters especially vocalist master Lars Safsund from Work of Art. Can't believe that guy's voice, its so lovely. How gay does that sound! Anyway the album is seriously something special after the rather good debut. This time they sound even crisper and cleaner and much closer to the brilliant Work of Art, Lars's day job. In the end its all about the songs and boy does Lionville II have them in droves. I even like the slushy ballads cause Lars makes them sound so heart felt. Just a gorgeous AOR release!

10 - Sturm Und Drang - Graduation Day
The young Swedish melodic metallers grew up a whole bunch and delivered a near enough perfect melodic metal record. There are some seriosuly addictive tunes on this album that should please any fan of big melody like myself. They also polished up the sound, got more mature and less teeny, and it all bodes well for their future in making melodic metal and fully worthy of it's top ten spot make no mistake.

09 - Golden Resurrection - One Voice For The Kingdom
Hail to my prolific Christian brothers of Golden resurrection for another great album. I don't even care they love Jesus and God so much. The songs are all so enjoyable and full of wonderful neo-classical melodies. Christian on the mic sounds as powerful as ever. Tommy ReinXeed has three entries in my list this year. That guy can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.

08 - Orden Ogan - To The End
I was a bit slow to cotton on to these Germans at first. Their previous album was good but not amazing but they stepped it up a whole bunch this time with better, songs, vocals and everything. If you like your power metal with power and still sing along then Orden Ogan is for you.

07 - Pathfinder - Fifth Element
The debut was great and this only builds on that success. Only this time they've upped the ante even further with more ambitious multi-layered arrangements whilst cramming more and more blistering riffs, solos and vocals than ever before. One of the best newcomer power metal bands in years. I wonder where they will go from here though cause two albums in and they are already seemingly at the top of their game.

06 - Tremonti - All I Was
Mark Tremonti delivered a great album by branching out of Alter Bridge to create heavier and ballsier metallic hard rock plus the boy can bloody well sing too. He hasn't got an amazing voice but I found it more than palatable. In the end he's just a great song writer and has a knack for finding monster sized hooks to latch on to whilst upping the guitar quotient when compared to his day job which allowed him to cut loose a little more and display his aggressive side a little more.

05 - Sabaton  - Carolus Rex
Sabaton almost have veteran status as far as power metal goes these days. They've stayed the course for a number of albums now and the quality has been fairly constant in that period. This meant that the band's fans can swear by their output and Carolus Rex is no different on that score. All the usual Sabaton boxes are ticked as you'd expect and the member changes haven't had any impact at all to tell the truth. Its not their best album by any means but it still has 3-4 songs that will probably be a staple of their live set for years to come.

04 - H.E.A.T  - Address The Nation
I was one of those very disappointed when Kenny left but to be honest the new album is bloody amazing. The Swedish idol boy done good and then some! They upped the power and production values on this release as well making the songs a little tighter and more stadium sized in delivery. The band deserves to be much bigger on the backs of this awesome melodic hard rock release. Maybe next time round they can achieve the success they deserve.

03 - Kamelot - Silverthorn
What a masterstroke it was getting Tommy Karevik! The guy was the logical replacement for Khan although I was never a Khan fanboy to begin with any way. I think this album might challenge The Black Halo as being my fave Kamelot album, I like it that much. The songs are memorable, catchy and to the point and I even like the ballads which normally turn me off. A great start with Tommy in the band and the bar has been set very high for the next album indeed.

02 - Reinxeed - Welcome To The Theater
The best ReinXeed album yet. Tommy really pulled out all the stops this time. I thought this was sure to be my number one until I heard Eclipse and Tommy's crew had to settle for second best which is no shame at all. I love the movie theme of the album which is cheesy as all hell but that's the least of my worries when the music is so lush and with joyous melodies that take you to fantastical places and back.

01 - Eclipse - Bleed & Scream
This release has definitely given me the biggest musical high of 2012 no doubt. I can't find any fault with a single second of this album. Having said that I still don't think its actually better than their previous CD, just the equal of it. The opening 3 song salvo of this album really takes the roof and there's hardly any let up there after. Melodic metal perfection with stadium sized songs that once they grab you, never let go. An album I will return to again and again no doubt and one of the best contributions from Erik Martensson yet though the boy can pretty do much do no wrong. Roll on W.E.T. in 2013!

Top 40 songs of the year

40. Eihwaz - Amadeus
39. Kamelot - Sacrimony
38. H.E.A.T - Breaking The Silence
37. Sturm Und Drang - Hammer To Fall
36. ReinXeed - Temple of the Crystal Skulls
35. Paradise Lost - Fear of Impending Hell
34. ReinXeed - Somewhere in Time
33. Accept - Twist of Fate
32. Rick Springfield - Wide Awake
31. Running Wild - Riding on the Tide
30. Hardline - Fever Dreams
29. Tremonti - Leave It Alone
28. Pride of Lions - Immortal
27. Xandria - Valentine
26. 3 Inches Of Blood - Leather lord
25. Nonpoint - Pandora's Box
24. Jimi Jamison - Calling The Game
22. Poets of the Fall - Show Me This Life
21. Damnation Angels - Pride
20. Sunstorm - Never Give Up
19. Soulitude - Lost in the Grandeur of time
18. Trail of Murder - Shades of Art
17. Nonpoint - Left For You
23. Poets of the Fall - Morning Tide                            
16. Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Dark Fate of Atlantis
15. Dragonforce - Cry Thunder
14. Hardline - 10,000 Reasons
13. Jimi Jamison - The Great Unknown
12. Ten - Knights of Arabia                    
11. Paradise Lost - The Glorious End
10. Lionville - Another Day
09. Golden Resurrection - One Voice For The Kingdom
08. Pathfinder - The Day I Turned Back Time
07. Sabaton - The Carolean's Prayer
06. Tremonti - The Things I've Seen
05. Sabaton - Carolus Rex
04. Kamelot - Falling Like The Fahrenheit
03. Eclipse - Wake Me Up
02. ReinXeed - Stranger Tides
01. Eclipse - Bleed and Scream

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Favourite thrash metal albums of 2012

34 - Mortal Infinity - District Destruction
Regular decent thrash metal with slightly bad vocals but the riffs are worthwhile so makes the list.

33 - Municipal Waste  - The Fatal Feast 
A decent effort by the 'Waste but to be honest could have been better. Its enjoyable and the concept behind the album is quite amusing but the production leaves a little to be desired and the riffing is only so so as I expected more.

32 - Descender - Descending Into Chaos
Slightly raw and averagely produced thrash metal but with decent riffage and straightforward song writing is what we have on offer here. Good try and with a better production would have been higher as the simple riffing is enjoyable.

31 - Slavery - Dawn Of Mankind
Eastern European melodic thrash metal with great riffs and slightly dodgy clean vocals. Nice try at attempting to sing clean but it's a slight drawback from the very cool riffs and clean production. Still solid though.

30 - Eradicator - Madness Is My Name
Cool and fluid melodic thrash metal with a decent production. The songs are involved and fairly complex and the execution is tight however they need a little more focus on occasion.

29 - Sabretung - Collision
I liked the last album of these Aussie thrashers and they've improved on it with this outing. They sound crisper and bite just that bit harder this time. Vocals are aggressive shouts but riffs are what its all about and they get a real groove going at times.

28 - Intractable - Inner Decay
Heavy and crunchy thrash metal is the order of the way here. Not a world beater but solid thrashy goodness is what we are served up here so we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth!

27 - Testimony - Transcending Reality [EP]
Averagely produced but very well played tech thrash. Given a decent budget these guys can really do the business next time cause they already have the chops and then some.

26 - Cancrena - Hidden Depravity
Very heavy mid paced thrash with big big sound. Vocals a bit heavy and angry and bordering quite close to death but not quite. Songs are never very fast but get the blood pumping with pure bruiser boy heaviness.

25 - Flayed Disciple - Death Hammer
Uk energetic and pretty brutal thrash with death metal vocals. In fact the vocals are what's stopping this from being higher cause the riffs are super headbangy and aggressive but that vocal style is just a touch too much to take.

24 - Game Over - For Humanity
Just a typical thrash metal record basically. Easy to like riffs that gets the blood pumping and gives your air guitar a good work out. No brainer for thrashers really.

23 - Reign of Fury - World Detonation
Like a slightly galloping power metal and more melodic version of Megadeth's Rust in Peace. This UK combo Have some very cool riffs and a few mundane moments and I could do without the odd growl but I'll forgive'm cause the riffs and solos are spot on being very melodic and memorable.

22 - Overkill  - The Electric Age
It's like Ironbound but slightly less catchy but it still rules anyway. Not a big fan of Bobby Blitz's scathing vocals but I guess in thrash it doesn't really matter that much, cause its all about the tasty riffage. Its good but it was hard to top Ironbound and they had a valiant attempt but couldn't quite manage it.

21 - Scarlet Anger - Dark Reign
Skillfully produced melodic thrash metal with plenty of hard edged riffs to enjoy. Solid all round release and never forgetting melody as well.

20 - Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
I think I like it more than TFoD but I still am not in love with it like many seem to be. However the production is stellar as you'd expect and songs like Native Blood and True American Hate are classic Testament.

19 - Aggression - Viocracy
Aptly named ban with very tight and aggressive groovy riffs and heavy slightly melodic vocals to top it all off. Very solid and moshable riffage make this easily a thrashing crowd pleaser as far as this style of metal goes.

18 - Chaos Theory - Bio-Death
Slightly technical melodic thrash metal with lots of speeding riffage and always keeping the melody intact. I enjoy the constantly changing riffs a lot on this release from the deep thrash underground.

17 - Septic Christ - Guilty as we were born
A big surprise from this unknown with a brilliant choppy riffed up and aggressive thrash release. Vocals are slightly bordering on core but not quite overstepping the mark thankfully. Very mosh worthy riffage by these guys built for wrecking necks.

16 - Prayers Of Sanity - Confrontations
I liked the last album from these and they've upped the ante somewhat becoming more aggressive and with a blistering production to boot. Can get a touch one-dimensional with all instruments fighting for your attention but this is really cool stuff in the end.

15 - Sanity's Rage - You Are What You Swallow
A new Belgian band playing very nice slightly melodic thrashy riffs with understandable heavy shouted vocals on top. Their song writing is pretty good for a debut and they have all the ingredients in place to really kick ass next time round.

14 - Exumer - Fire & Damnation
German stalwarts of thrash return to rip heads once again and a great comeback too. The sound is ripping, fast and very heavy making for a riveting listen indeed.

13 - Mad Maze - Frames of Alienation
Italian tech thrashers who join the ranks of bands to watch from the underground with this release. Technical, groovy fast and a mechanical like production make this album sound very tight and meticulous in it's precision which is always a good thing. The thing is if they tighten up the song writing a touch they can even go on to far better things.

12 - Infinite Translation - Masked Reality
Another big surprise with this fluently riffed up and slightly roughly produced album from the depths of the underground thrash scene once again. I love the thick, semi-technical riffage on this album which makes the band sound more personable rather than cold and mechanical. I look forward to more albums from these guys cause this is a great start make no mistake.

11 - Soulfly - Enslaved
Max has been churning out regular Soulfly albums over the last few years and the quality has been pretty good throughout and Enslaved is no different. Not every song is amazing but there are plenty of cool ones like Gladiator to sink your teeth into. Good stuff yet again from Max and co!

10 - Alphakill - Unmitigated Disaster
Unknown underground thrash metal gem with awesome slightly technical galloping riffs with very good vocals which sound like an on form and better James Hetfield. The songs are very catchy and groovy with tons of killer riffs in each song with a slightly flat production which could do with more oomph if I'm being picky. Other than that this band and album needs more attention from thrash fans cause it has plenty going for it.

09 - After All - Dawn of the Enforcer
Another band that have been churning out albums for a while with little success but Dawn of the Enforcer is their best effort by miles. Granted they have a new and very powerful singer on board which lifts them above some of the also-rans. the riffing is tight and melodic and verges on power metal territory as does the singing but it has enough power and speed to please any fan of melodic and polished thrash metal.

08 - Thrashist Regime - Fearful Symmetry
Uk thrash is getting better all the time and the wonderfully named Thrashist regime are one of the pioneers no doubt. They have a very slight crossover or hardcore slant to some of the tunes with gang shouts etc but this doesn't bother me in the slightest and in fact adds to the overall charm. The production is nice and heavy whilst the riffage puts a shit eating grin on your face. What more can you ask for!

07 - Angelus Apatrida - The Call
Spanish melodic thrashers with an album light years ahead of anything they've put out previously. The sound is crisp and sharp with more inspired technical riffage making for an easy head bang sesh for thrashers.

06 - West Of Hell - Spiral Empire
Not an out and out thrash record it must be said cause of the midpaced nature however with the kind of riffs on display here it was hard not to get carried away with this one. The songs are mostly midpaced as I said and the odd gallop develops but mainly you get choppy slightly technical riffs and a very powerful gruffly melodic vocal delivery on top. In fact its the vocals that I like a lot on this album and its rare to say that for a thrash album but this dude is seriously mental on the mic with very aggressive yet still melodic scowls.

05 - Skull Hammer - Destroyers of the Faith
Ok Dave is calling and wants his riffs back but bloody hell these guys nailed the 'deth worship on this release. The production could have been crunchier but the riffage blew the roof off with its 'dethly style and aggression.

04 - Bludvera - Terrorform
Only a 7 tracker so a very short album but these Liverpool thrashers caught me right on the hop with their crunchy, raw and very aggressive yet catchy debut release. The vocals are very raw and in your face whilst the riffs pound and bounce away like there's no tomorrow. I look forward to following these people on their next album cause this was a great start!

03 - Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
Veteran Germans didn't let up for second this time round. They maybe pretty old now, but the sheer ferocity of the band never ceases and Phantom Antichrist is probably one of their most aggressive albums to date. Having said that they still didn't forget that you need a bit of melody or catchiness in the riffs no matter how intense they are making for a very mean and yet catchy listen.

02 - Bonded By Blood - The Aftermath
The band pretty much split in two but the resulting album with the new members is just as good if not better than the last album. The production is tighter than before and the songs are a bit more cohesive and structured better. The new singer is also better than the old guy being less screechy and annoying. It was very close for this album to be number one as I enjoyed it immensely but it was a gallant second in the end.

01 - Suicidal Angels - Bloodbath
Its rare for me to find a Suicidal Angels song that I don't like and I've played this album to death since I got it way back earlier in the year. SA just have this knack for hitting the right spot or groove when it comes to Slayer infused thrash that no other band can match. In fact even Slayer can't! Killer!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Favourite death metal albums of 2012

53 - A Million Dead Birds Laughing - Xen
Semi technical deathgrind with slightly avant garde songs with slow passages and croaking vocals. When they crank up the riffs you can even hear a touch of Necrophagist in them and then they slow it down and go all weird to spoil things a touch. Its a bit mixed up but the production is excellent so its never really a chore to listen to and the interesting and odd structures keeps you guessing what's coming next.

52 - Ravenface - Divided Kingdom
Not really death metal and in fact 100% metalcore lol but my token inclusion for that genre. Anyway its top quality stuff with great melodic vocals and nice riffs and limited breakdowns thankfully.

51 - Frosttide - Our Journey (EP)
One of my fave EPs of the year. These guys need a new album. This is a great melodic death/folk album with charging melodic riffs and very cool structures.

50 - Antropomorphia  - Evangelivm NekromantiaN
Pretty groovy and clinical death metal with tight playing and sound.

49 - Devolved - Reprisal
Imagine if Fear Factory went super fast and more technical with no clean vocals and then you'd get Devolved. The production is crisp and very Fear Factory-esque like a metronomic pneumatic drill or something hammering away like there's no tomorrow. The album is very hard and bleak but when in the right mood (read angry lol) can be enjoyed immensely. 

48 - Galgamex - Cult Ov Death
Semi tech screaming death with dual vocals and interesting breakneck riffage and time changes all round but only 6 songs so very short. Top class playing though.

47 - Coffin Texts - The Tomb Of Infinite Ritual
Old school Morbid Angel worship. Some great slithering riffage and nice and evil, echoey sound.

46 - NonExist - From My Cold Dead Hands
Slightly proggy shred death with wonderfully fluid lead work and great heavy vocals. Riffs are a bit standard but I enjoy it anyway. 

45 - Brute - Sophisticated_Atrocity
As the band name suggests a pretty brutal release but with good technical skills and solid all round. 

44 - Before The Dawn - Rise Of The Phoenix
Top quality melodic death for me. Not always fast but just a nice mix between speed, melody and atmosphere.

43 - Zombified - Carnage, Slaughter And Death
Aptly titled band name and album title for this modern version of old school death metal with constant heavy double kicks. Playing more brutal and heavier than other old schoolers makes this band a touch more aggressive and vicious with very heavy vocals too. Pretty damn solid in the end with in your face and clasutrophobic with the thick and classic buzzy guitar sound. Win all round for old schoolers.

42 - Black Breath - Sentenced to Life
Dirty death n' roll with nice filthy sound and hardcore-y vokills.

41 - Sinate - To The Death
Really solid heavy death metal with engaging riffs and heavy vocals and a clinical sound. Great stuff for an unknown Aussie death metal band. 

40 - Revolting - Hymns Of Ghastly Horror 
Old school death with modern sound from Mr Death Metal aka Rogga Johannsson. I enjoy most of his bands although some are better than others. Revolting has very nice changeable riffing and heavy growls.

39 - Offending - Age of Perversion
Very tight and slick death metal here with solid drums and sound in general. Good stuff from an unknown band and must be respected.

38 - Scenery - Mental Confusion
Weakly produced Death worship but in a year with limited activity in that sphere we have to accept this tiny morsel that us Death fans are given!

37 - Kälter - Ubuntu
Adventurous and epic melopowerdeath with keys, riffs and atmospheres galore. A touch long winded but worth the effort to sit back and be blown away by the cool riffs and epic soundscapes.

36 - Rise To Fall- Defying The Gods
Quite a soft and very melodic death metal release but one I enjoy a great deal cause it's hard to resist those ear caressing melodies whilst they come hurtling along out of the speakers.

35 - Sylosis - Monolith
Pretty technical death/thrash from UK deathcore mob. The guitarwork is completely amazing and hence making the list with ease. The vocals get on my nerves and are basically the only reason that this is not in the top 15 easy.

34 - Sympuls-E - Разрушая преграды
Russian melodeath album with hyper melodic riffage and cheesy keys galore. Very modern sound but still very enjoyable for what it is.

33 - Chton - The Devil Builds
Well played death metal with varying tempos and a good solid production. Gets the job done with enough groovy, hammering riffs, brutality and decent song writing to make the songs memorable and mean sounding. 

32 - Ad Patres - Scorn Aesthetics
Heavy and top class whirling death metal from France with monstrous sound. Heavy and evil!

31 - Revocation - Teratogenesis (EP)
Such is the class of this band that a short little ep like this makes the list with ease. Masterful thrashy riffs here and then some!

30 - Abnormality - Contaminating The Hive Mind
Maybe the most brutal album in my list. Mammoth sound and murderous riffs and super heavy growls from a chick would you believe. Very savage beating was delivered to my poor ears by this one!

29 - Revel In Flesh - Deathevokation
Chunky and evil old school death with souped up modern sound but with a little bit of crust so you get that Entombed feeling. A must for old schoolers.

28 - Divulgence - Future Seed
Pretty technical death metal with some stellar riffage to sink your teeth into here and there. Nice stuff for any regular death metal fan.

27 - Lahmia - Into the Abyss
Another melodeath album for 2012 that made my list with ease. Lahmia just have a knack for those infectious grooves and everything just sounds so listenable and melodic, so you don't have to work hard in order to get into the album.

26 - The Forsaken - Beyond Redemption
Chunky and catchy riffs abound with a fat production so what's not to like here. Just regular solid enjoyable song based death metal.

25 - Words Of Farewell - Immersion
Amore epic kind of melodeath on this album but with pristine production and ambitious song structures. A very enjoyable listen for fans of epic melodeath.

24 - Replacire - The Human Burden
Slightly avant garde tech death with plenty of twisted sections and also the rather odd and strange parts to counter act the techiness. Clean vocals are used throughout interspersed with the growls bu it somehow fits quite well. Rather a departure for your standard tech death but variety is the spice of life so worth a go for any tech death fan with an adventurous mind.

23 - Inanimate Existence - Liberation Through Hearing
Superbly played brutal death metal with plenty of tech leanings making it one for those who enjoy more involved riffs and precision level musicianship.

22 - Sophicide - Perdition Of The Sublime
Another addition to the semi-tech death list of high precision level death metal that I look for. Sophicide score well but not brilliant on all the levels I look for in great death metal.

21 - Obscenity - Atrophied in Anguish
Punchy and blistering classic death with the high level of quality that I expect in my death metal listening.

20 - After Oblivion - Stamina
A reasonable and even great attempt at aping Mr Schuldiner. Nothing can beat the master but to try than not try at all.

19 - Spawn of Possesion - Incurso
A savagely OTT release technically speaking but for me they have no real sense of song writing ability to make the songs more catchy but nevertheless if you seek riffs with infinite level tech brilliance then this release will please you immensely. I like it don't get me wrong but maybe I am looking for a little more than just technical fretboard wizardry.

18 - Barra Xul - In Darkness We Wait.
A blisteringly fast and somewhat artificial sounding mix of tech death metal with some evil blackened screams and heavy growls mixed. The vocals are a bit annoying which stops this being higher in the list. The mental riffing is sometimes melodic but always excellent and tricky sounding. The drums sound like I said sound artificial but not in a really bad annoying way. The riffing whirls away like there's no tomorrow and you're left with an enjoyable blastathon.

17 - Hideous Divinity - Obeisance Rising
Brutal and well played semi-tech death with quality sound all round. Not a mind blowing release but solid as all hell as far as ass kicking brutal death metal goes.

16 - Shores of Elysium - The Arbiter's Clockwork
Like a more technical and fast Black Dahlia Murder basically. These unknowns delivered a very palatable album of melodic death metal with riffs galore.

15 - Derelict - Perpetuation
Well played semi tech melodic death metal with fluid solos and tight musicianship. Can't ask for too much more in a death metal album I think.

14 - Sectu - Gerra
This album is a sideways step for the band after the monumental debut but it still kicks a lot of ass anyway. Its heavy and slightly tech but mainly just bludgeoningly heavy and groovy death metal mastery.

13 - Infinitum - The Sixth Extinction
Very catchy riffed up tech death here with countless cool riffs galloping headlong into the abyss. Very tight and enjoyable overall.
12 - Over Your Threshold - Facticity
A good Necrophagist copy tech death album with pristine production and reasonably memorable song writing skills that make the album enjoyable to listen to all the way through.
11 - Psycroptic - The Inherited Repression
A very good comeback from the Aussie masters indeed, after the rather disappointing previous album. Upping the technical aspects somewhat and writing a more focused and tightly executed album to please the legions of tech heads out there. (Ok all 20 of us!)
10 - Mors Principium Est - ...And Death Said Live 
The best melodeath album released this year by a mile and there's been some good ones but MPE are just the pioneers and champions of the style and with this wonderful release they cement that status with ease.
09 - Resurgency - False Enlightenment
This album surprised the hell out of me. It's so massive and crushing and oozes savagery from every pore. It's undoubtedly and old school death metal release and is unashamed in it's delivery. Sounds like a perfect mix between Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower and Benediction with a touch of Leprosy era Death as well. I love the sound on this one as well cause even though it's old school in feel it has a modern shine which gives greater power. Very enjoyable and catchy indeed. 
08 - Capracide - Theodicy
Fairly midpaced but very catchy and groovy tech death here with unobtrusive vocals. It's all about the catchy riffs on this one which will get your air guitar out and your head bobbing like a maniac.
07 - Aeon - Aeons Black
Brutal catchy death metal from the Jesus baiting Swedes. Pumping brutal riffage everywhere but with a catchiness and nous for memorable songwriting that most death metal bands can only dream about.
06 - Beheaded - Never to Dawn
A surprise from these Maltese death metal titans with a very savage and heavy release for those who like it heavy and uncompromising. Production is super heavy and the riffs are tight and groovy and beat you over the head with a big stick. One word - savage!   
05 - Deadborn - Mayhem Maniac Machine
I was a bit lukewarm to this release but it grew on me immensely and I couldn't stop playing it for a while but I've put it aside now and having come back for another listen it sounded even tighter and better than I remembered it. If tightness and technical prowess is your thing then Deadborn is the band for you and on this album they deliver in spades.
04 - Napalm Death - Utilitarian
As savage and catchy as ever! ND are the kings of deathgrind and Utilitarian further proves the point, that when it comes to this particular brand of extremity, other bands are just pretenders to Napalm's crown. What sets ND apart from other grindcore bands is their ability to pen memorable tunes whilst maintaining extremity at the maximum.

03 - Arkaik - Metamorphignition
The early promo single release for this album didn't seem to do a lot for me somehow but boy did the album surprise. This is some seriously wickedly technical riffed up shit. The sound is super clean and sharp making for a very cool listening experience and the staccato nature of the riffage keeps you on your toes. A brilliant and epic tech death release no doubt.

02 - Cannibal Corpse - Torture
A couple of the songs are a bit boring but overall this is some hellishly catchy shit from da 'Corpse. Ok some people don't like them but I think the Corpsegrinder years have been their best by far and every CC album you know what you're gonna get. Blistering and frenetic shredders are mixed with midpaced grooving neckbreakers and Torture is no different on that count. There is not a lot to choose between Kill and this album but maybe Kill is slightly better but Torture is awesome anyway. I think CC is one of those bands that will never let their fans down with a weak or core infested release like some death metal bands tend to do. Sure every album sounds the same but if the songs are catchy thats all that matters in the end and Torture delivers on that score with ease.

01 - Gorod - A Perfect Absolution
I listened to this album again just to make sure and I finally came to the conclusion it was just about the year's best death metal release. Awesome riffs flooded song after song with frenetic speed and fluid solos rampaging here, there and everywhere. A good sense of dynamics and feel invaded each song and catchiness was not forgotten in a blur of speed either. I 'm still not sure that the album is as good as Leading Vision but its not far behind at all and is worthy of it's year's best status just about.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Iced Earth with Evergrey Live Report

My 13th and final gig of 2012 saw Iced Earth back in town with support from Evergrey and two other bands as it turned out. This gig was scheduled for the much larger Electric Ballroom but was hastily switched to the much smaller Underworld down the road. It seems ticket sales weren't all that to fill up the nearly a 1000 capacity Ballroom which is understandable seeing as its close to Christmas as well. Anyway the Underworld is just close by so no biggie. The attendance was actually pretty good with I'd guess 400+ turning out so the floor was pretty packed as well as the balcony and bar sections.

First up were Deadshape Figure. A band who I vaguely recall hearing. They weren't my cuppa and nor most people's I'd guess. They were out of place on this bill playing metalcore or deathcore if you like. The baldheaded frontman was a bit crazy though. he kept leaning right over the front rows and bellowing and leaning right in their faces. I guess trying to win them over with enthusiasm but I don't think it worked. I took a few photos and went to the bar for a Guinness.

I came back for Steel Engraved though. I didn't know a whole deal about this band to be honest. I'm sure I've seen their name here and there though and maybe heard a few songs though I don't recall. They played galloping true metal with wailing vibrato laden vocals. He was quite an entertaining frontman and tried to gee up the crowd but with people not knowing their material it was bit hard going for them. Plus their songs weren't all that catchy at first listen although they got polite applause and quite a few head bangs for their decent riffage. At least they weren't metalcore and fitted in with the main bands!

Next up were Evergrey who I've seen on this very stage a couple of years ago as I recall. I think they were headlining that time but on this occasion they got a 50 minute or so set to their stuff. I heard they changed a lot of members but you couldn't really tell the difference cause they were all tight as hell and with Tom Englund at the front the face of the band remains as recognisable as ever. My fave songs were The Masterplan and Recreation Day and a couple of others too. I think Tom's voice was sometimes buried in the mix but they were real solid and went down well. Evergrey is not really a band that I love any more but its always good to hear their tunes in a live setting.


Leave It Behind Us
The Masterplan
Rulers of the Mind
As I Lie Here Bleeding
Recreation Day
Broken Wings
A Touch of Blessing

Finally it was time for the icy ones to rip the riffs out like there's no tomorrow. This is the second time they've visted London on their mammoth Dystopia World Tour and this time they played even faster and with more aggression than the time before. The new Stu-iced Earth really kills it live, it has to be said, with the newish man on the mic probably the main reason for this new found energy and enthusiasm. Stu's stage banter is also pretty cool as well and he interacts well with the crowd and gets every one on edge and pumped up. The sound was also nigh on perfect with cutting, crunchy riffs bleeding out of the PA and Stu's Halfordesque screams reaching the stratosphere above it all. The best songs for me were Pure Evil, Dark City, The Hunter, Burning Times, I Died For You and the highlight of the night Prophecy plus plenty more on top. My only quip about the setlist was the lack of Stormrider. Please Mr. Schaffer can you play this next time otherwise I'll storm backstage and drag your sorry ass out and make you bloody well play it! Twice! Also last time they played Dante's Inferno but we missed it this time.

So gigs are over for another year and I didn't quite reach last year's total of 20 but I did miss quite a few for various reasons. Must be getting old!

Burning Times
Pure Evil
My Own Savior
I Died for You
Motivation of Man
Setian Massacre
Dark City
The Hunter

Boiling Point
Melancholy (Holy Martyr)
Iced Earth
Watching Over Me


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Testament live at the Koko

My second time seeing Testament at this venue although if my memory serves the first time was way back in 2005. The Koko really is a lovely venue for a metal gig visually speaking but with the ceiling being so high the sound does tend to get a little cavernous and loud but a great place nevertheless.

First up we had some supports to get through. Xerath is a band I've heard about before and tried a bit as well but it's not my cup of tea. It's sort of pretty technical at times but the root of the band seems to be in the Djent movement and I don't do Djent! They didn't get a great response it has to be said.

Next up were Malefice who I've actually seen before. They support on quite a few bills in and around London. They play melodic thrashy deathcore. They are not terrible and have some decent riffage but again try as I might I can't get it into it. The singer alluded to their lot on stage by saying they've died a death on the previous four nights of the tour. They fared a little better here in London though and a moshpit even started on the last song. Again not suitable support really for Testament and it's a shame they can't take a band like Suicide Angels out with them rather than these local deathcore bands.

There was a 9.45 curfew so Testament came out right on 8.15pm to fill their 90 minute set with as much music as possible. Of course they were mainly promoting new album Dark Roots...which to be honest hasn't excited me all that much. It has some great songs like Native Blood and True American Hate which were both aired and went down a storm but it also has some average tunes which don't really do much for me.

However I was mainly here for the good old classics, Alone in the Dark complete with extended crowd singalong section, my fave Testament song ever, Disciples of the Watch was monstrous as was the thrashtastic Over The Wall played at breakneck speed. Practice What You Preach can never be left out of a Testament gig and so it proved to be a real fan fave with full crowd sing along.

I was 2 rows from the front at the start of the show but there was such an almighty crush that I had to bid a hasty retreat for safer waters. Much too old for that malarkey! I couldn't take any decent photos as a result and decided to try and find a balcony spot but even that was nigh on impossible. The place was rammed from every corner. Anyway it was a good but not amazing show for me. It's always good to hear Chuck's roar though and those familiar kicking Testa-riffs that all thrashers know and love.


Rise Up
The New Order
The Preacher
Native Blood
True American Hate
More Than Meets the Eye
Dark Roots of Earth
Into the Pit
Practice What You Preach
Over the Wall
Alone in the Dark
Disciples of the Watch
D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
3 Days in Darkness
The Formation of Damnation