Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My favourite melodic metal/rock list for 2013

Here is my list of favourite melodic albums for 2013. The first part contains albums I like that didn't quite make the top 50 with no particular ranking. These are listed in alphabetical order. The second section is my ranked top 50 albums in reverse order. So much great music in the melodic metal/rock and AOR field to wade through this year and it's been quite hard to split many of them as on any given day depending on my mood, they are interchangeable, however I have come up with some sort of list as per usual.

Alter Bridge - Fortress
Amendfoil - Skyline Escape
Arrayan Path - IV Stigmata
Athelstan - The Ride
AURA - russian title
Bai Bang - All Around the World
Bane of Winterstorm - The Last Sons of Perylin
Black Trip - Goin Under
BST - In The Blink of an Eye
China - We Are the Stars
Circle of Silence - The Rise of Resistance
Civil War - The Killer Angels
Coldspell - Frozen Paradise
Damnations Day - Invisible, The Dead
Dead End Space - Distortion of Senses
Dendera - The Killing Floor
Derdian - Limbo
DGM - Momentum
Divinity Compromised - A World Torn
Dreamtale - World Changed Forever
Eclipse Prophecy - Days Of Judgement
Edge - Heaven Knows
Electronomicon - Unleashing The Shadows
Enforcer - Death By Fire
Envinya - Inner Silence
Evertale - Of Dragons And Elves
Forever Storm - Tragedy
Gemini Syndrome - Lux
Giant X - I
Heavatar - Opus I - All My Kingdom
Heaven's Basement - Filthy Empire
Heavens Fire - Judgement Day
Illusion Suite - The Iron Cemetary
James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance
Jorn - Symphonic
Lancer - Lancer
Lawless - Rock Savage
Lightning - Raise The Sun
Lion Twin - Nashville
Lord - Digital Lies
Meridian - Metallurgy
Messenger - Starwolf Pt. I: The Messengers
Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock - Bridge The Gap
Minotauro - Master Of The Sea
Neuronspoiler - Emergence
New Device - Here We Stand
Operadyse - Pandemonium
Paris - Only One Life
Prospekt - The Colourless Sunrise
Robin Beck - Underneath
Rocka Rollas - Metal Strikes Back
Shadows Past - Perfect Chapter
Satan's Host - Virgin Sails
Sepsis - Fear of Freedom
Silent Force - Rising From Ashes
Sinheresy - Paint The World
Siren's Cry - Scattered Horizons
Sinister Realm - World of Evil
Sleeping Romance - Enlighten.
Smash Into Pieces - Unbreakable
Strike - We're Back
Sphinx - Chronos
The Theander Expression - Strange Nostalgia
The Prowlers - Point of No Return
The Storyteller - Dark Legacy
Thunder and Lightning - In Charge of the Scythe
Takayoshi Ohmura - Devils In The Dark
Trivium - Vengeance Falls
Vega - What the Hell!
Vandroya - One
Vhäldemar - Shadows of Combat
Vicinity - Awakening
Walking with Giants - Walking with Giants
Withem - The Point Of You
Wolfchant - Embraced by Fire

50. Mean Streak - Trial by Fire
Quality Swedish melodic heavy metal with big riffs and nice powerful vocals.

49. Orphaned Land - All Is One
The Israeli brothers come up with a wonderfully charismatic and epic album.

48. Diamond Dawn - Overdrive
Melodic hard rock with punchy sound and big songs. Only the slightly accented Italianvocals stop this from ranking higher.

47. Cardiant - Verge
Finnish melodic metal goodness from these comeback merchants.

46. Megadeth - Super Collider
As a fan of any type of Megadeth music be it thrash or rock, I find myself happy enough with Super Collider. It still has good quality and Dave's vocals sound very cool at times especially on the Thin Lizzy cover on this album. Enjoyable, melodic, non thrash Megadeth.

45. Edenbridge - The Bonding
I love Sabine's voice although I was expecting slightly more from this album. Still any Edenbridge is still a great listen.

44. Laneslide - Flying High
Newcomer melodic rock project from Europe. Typical Euro AOR stuff but the songs, production and playing are all top notch as are the vocals.

43. Giuntini Project - IV
Melodic metal from the Italian dude with Tony Martin on vox. The songs had to be good for me to enjoy and they surely were on this album.

42. Degreed - We Won't Belong
Young Swedish upstarts returned with a more mature and polished sound than their debut which was a huge fave of mine looking back. Songwise the album had some corkers and a couple of less memorable tunes but when they got it right boy did they get it right!

41. Signum Regis - Exodus
The last album had Goran Edman on all the songs and was nothing short of brilliant. The new album utilizes a mixed set of singers and is still pretty damn good but not as good as the last.

40. Niva - Magnitude
Catchy as hell melodic hard rock with clean sound and typical Scandi vocals ala Treat etc. Great stuff if you ask me.

39. Saints 'N' Sinners - Saints 'n' Sinners
Probably the best Turkish band I've heard since Mezarkabul/Pentagram although those guys were a different style. SnS plays out and out melodic power metal with a surprisingly solid singer. Very enjoyable!

38. Dream Theater - Dream Theater
Maybe A Dramatic Turn Of Events was a little bit better but I still enjoyed the s/t disk a lot. The music is stellar whilst I will never be a huge fan of Labrie's voice, he still turned in a solid performance.

37. Newman - Siren
Steve Newman creates melodic rock albums on a regular basis and they are all solid but the song writing is sometimes not to my taste so I tend to forget about them quickly. Not on this occasion. Steve has turned in his best set of songs ever! A consistently solid listen with a punchy production.

36. Snowfall - Cold Silence
Melodic rock/AOR project with the UK's Lee Small on vocals - the man who does the best Glenn Highes impersonation ever. Anyway he doesn't sound so much like Mr Hughes this time and the scandi melodic rock project turned up trumps with big songs and a shiny crystal clear production.

35. Dark Moor - Ars Musica
I've enjoyed the band's oputput for a long time so I was looking forward to Ars Musica immensely when I heard about it's release. To be honest I expected it to place higher on my list overall. It is still a very engaging listen but perhaps not as immediate as some of its predecessors. Still Dark Moor doesn't do average by any means as this album proved.

34. Alex Beyrodt's Voodoo Circle - More Than One Way Home
The new Whitesnake in all but name delivered a monster hard rock record with awesome vocals from David Readman.

33. Serenity - War of Ages
Epic symphonic melodic metal with a huge production. A triumphant listen.

32. MindMaze - Mask Of Lie
Melodic progpower mix from the States with female vocals. A very strong and enjoyable album with memorable songwriting. A great start for the band.

31. Avantasia - The Mystery of Time
Tobi is a great songwriter period. I don't love everything he does but when he gets it right there's no one better and this album had far more great than merely average hence its high placing. I especially liked the songs with Kiske, they were awesome to listen to.

30. Hell - Curse & Chapter
A billiant classic heavy metal record even better than their comeback album. The songs are dark and mysterious yet very catchy at the same time.

29. Wisdom - Marching for Liberty
Easily the best Hungarian power metal band ever with an awesome air raid siren vocalist. These guys are superb at the craft of making a memorable, cheesy power metal song with a skyscraping chorus.

28. The Poodles - Tour de Force
The Swedish melodic rock supergroup returned with another catchy beast of a record. It featured everything I look for in my music. Punchy sound, big vocals and massive hooks to spare. 

27. White Wizzard - The Devils Cut
This self destructive band actually made one of the year's best retro metal albums with this release. The vocals were a ton stronger and the songs catchier and more to the point. I hope they continue in this vein if possible but I'm not even sure the band exists any more.

26. Running Wild - Resilient
I'm a RW fanboy so take what I say with a pinch of salt but I loved this record. Shadowmaker was ok and had some real fun moments but Resilient tops it with ease. The songs are just stronger all the way through although Rolf loves the mid pace in his old age and we don't get any real speedy firecrackers any more but I can live with it. Oh and in Bloody Island we have one of the best RW epics ever.

25. Iron Mask - Fifth Son of Winterdoom
Another really great neo-classical effort from the Belgian mob led by guitar wiz Dushan Petrossi. The songs are very strong and the vocals from Mark Boals are as great as you would expect for this sort of music.

24. Wardrum - Messenger
A big improvement from their previous album for these Greek power metal merchants. Everything has been turned up a notch from playing production and singing to much better song writing. I enjoy this more than the last Firewind album!

23. Seventh Key - I Will Survive
I love the previous SK albums but this album maybe be even better. It has more of a prog edge than previous albums which were a little heavier and more straight ahead but I think the move into proggier waters actually suits the band even more. Mike Slamer's guitar playing is just superbly fluid on this one.

22. Fate - If Not for the Devil
Swedish melodic hard stalwarts return yet again with another classic sounding record. The melodies are stronger than on the last album hence its high rating. The production is also out of this world making this a joy to listen to.

21. Nautiluz - Leaving All Behind
Speedy Stratovarius worship from Peru! Who knew a band of upstarts could come out with such a joyously melodic album full of speedy riffs and high as a kite refrains. Really great job guys!

20. Exlibris - Humagination
Another unknown band this time from Poland with a cracking power metal release with top notch vocals. I enjoyed the super melodic riffage and memorable choruses that stayed etched on my mind day and night.

19. Týr - Valkyrja
The Faroese Tyr are well honed professionals now and are only getting better with each album. Valkyrja is their best and most mature album to date with epic vocals and wonderful guitar riffs that take you to Valhalla and back.

18. StoneLake - Monolith
A very melodic follow up to their previous album. Much heavier as well with a crunchier guitar sound making for a great listen. Some huge songs to latch on to as well.

17. ReinXeed - A New World
The film themed Welcome to the Theater was too awesome for words and I had high hopes for this release. Alas they couldn't be fully met as the album is a little inferior to that album. However A New World is still a great power metal record in its own right with more mature song writing but perhaps with less immediacy. Nevertheless Tommy ReinXeed can do little wrong for me and ReinXeed delivered the goods yet again.

16. Magnus Karlsson - Free Fall
A solo album from the Primal Fear guitarist with many guest vocalists and the man him self on a few songs. His own voice is actually very good and of course so are the guest such as his band mate Ralf. The songs are stellar as is the production as you would expect. A great effort by Magnus.

15. Titanium - Titanium
Polish band came out of nowhere with another fantastic melodic power metal album, very closely aping the Finnish masters Stratovarius. The vocallist was again very good indeed. A big surprise and it bodes well for future releases from this band where I expect big things.

14. Place Vendome - Thunder in the Distance
The Michael Kiske led Frontiers project returned for a third stab at the AOR game and boy was it a gorgeous song based affair. However the album was not quite as good as Streets of Fire which I consider a modern AOR classic alongside The Magnificent's debut. Nevertheless Thunder in the Distance soon started to work its magic on me and Miki's voice did the rest. A must listen for AOR junkies!

13. Amaranthe - The Nexus
This band seems to be a bit of a marmite type band and I'm definitely in the love it camp. Their songs are just superbly catchy with choruses to die for. It all maybe a bit manufactured or bubble gum metal but who cares the melodies are top of the charts stylee!

12. Helloween - Straight Out of Hell
German power metal kings return with another great latter day record. Deris sounds as good as he has ever done and the songs are fast and catchy. I still like Gambling With The Devil more but Straight Out Of Hell is another great Helloween record who are only get better the older they get.

11. Tainted Nation - F.E.A.R.
Uk's Eden's Curse members with a side project band. They made a fantastic debut rock record very early in the year to boot. The songs are catchy and very melodic with strong vocals from drummer turned frontman Pete Newdeck.

10. Eden's Curse - Symphony of Sin
And the main band didn't disappoint either with a worthy album after the fiasco with Michael Eden. I must admit I was sceptical of the new singer but he proved me wrong and then some. His performance is stellar on this album. The songwriting is very strong as usual.

09. W.E.T. - Rise Up
The Frontiers owned melodic rock supergroup returned for a spectacular second effort with the impeccable voice of Jeff Scott Soto at the helm. With Erik Martensson and the Work of Art guy as part of the song writing you can't go wrong really and they didn't! Awesome record full of monster melodic choruses that whirl around your head all day and night.

08. Armory - Empyrean Realms
Perhaps the second biggest surprise of the year from this little known US power metal band. This album is choc-a-bloc full of great songs with huge melodies and lovely crystal clear vocals. What else more could a power metal fan want I ask you?

07. Powerwolf - Preachers of the Night
Probably my favourite band in existence. I just love, love, love them what can I say. This album is solid all the way with some amazing songs. Bible of the Beast remains my favourite Powerwolf album but Preachers will do alright till I have my next Powerwolf fix.

06. Primitai - Rise Again
And here is THE biggest surprise of the year from relatively unknown UK trad metallers who've been plying their trade at a lowly level with little to no success. Well now they deserve their place in the big league. They deserve so much more success with this release I tell you. This album has no filler pretty much although there are some songs which just stand out more. Pound for Pound might just well be the song of the year.

05. Gloryhammer - Tales From the Kingdom of Fife
The band who brought the most cheese to power metal this year was Chris Bowes' side project and their unicorn fixation! Like I said the cheese was flowing freely on this release but Goddamn the songs were amazing as were the vocals from the Emerald man Thomas Winkler. Waiting impatiently for round 2 guys!

04. Find Me - Wings of Love
A manufactured Frontiers project like they only know how but this time with more than magnificent results. Singer Robbie Le Blanc turned in a stupendous performance and your regular Frontiers songwriting teams did the rest. A spectacularly tasty AOR release by people who know the genre like the back of their hand!

03. Battle Beast - Battle Beast
A hot shot knew blonde chick on the mic worked wonders for Battle Beast on their second album. The song writing skills were honed to perfection but it's that young lady on the mic which sends the songs through the roof whilst the band creates seismic power metal with songs that imprint themselves on your brain with superglue.

02. Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
I think this could possibly be the most melodic Volbeat album yet. Michael Poulsen and co really worked a treat with these set of songs this time to make them as catchy as possible whilst retaining the heaviness that all Volbeat fans know and love. Michael's voice is also the best and most melodic it has ever been and they also bring it live. What more could a fan of melody want in a metal band?

01. Stratovarius - Nemesis
This late in their career and with the main man long gone Stratovarius start releasing amazing albums! I think this album is their best post Tolkki album by far and the others were also good but Nemesis takes top honours for this year. A truly magnificent and catchy power metal album sung brilliantly by Timo Kotipelto I should add. I'm actually not a huge fan of his somewhat whiny delivery at times, but he delivers a sensational vocal performance on this album with melodies to die for. A superb album in a year with a lot of tough competition!

Monday, 30 December 2013

My Thrash Metal list for 2013

49. Solaris - Shadow Walk With Me ep
A good solid thrashy riff fest of an ep. Hopefully an album will follow.

48. Animator - Blacklisted
Northern Irish young thrashers with a nice jumpy riff fest.

47. Nuclear Omnicide - The Presence of Evil
Regular fast to mid paced thrash but with very raw sound and bad vocals spoiling somewhat decent music. Still has enough moments to get a few horns thrown out.

46. M-19 - Mission Destroy
A recent discovery of this heavy bruising thrash beast. Not amazing but works up enough angst and meat and potatoes riffing to get the blood near boiling point.

45. Sanitarius - Eternal
A bit raw but still has some killer riffs that remind me of Iced Earth as I recall but the vocals are raw.

44. Domination - The Sacred Matrix
Fast as a bullet young Greek thrashers. A good start and base from which to build into a top class thrash band.

43. Death Mechanism - Twenty-First Century
Fast as hell somewhat prog thrash with slightly murky sound. If you like whirling speed and semi technical riffs then Death Mechanism works up a rare storm.

42. Crisix - Rise...then Rest
Regular thrash not a killer but works for me enough to make my list.

41. Amok - Somewhere In The West
Scottish thrashmongers deliver a simple thrash beating with a nice set of frenetic riffs to mosh till your heart's content.

40. Infanteria - Isolated Existence
Clean and precise South African thrashers do a nice job bringing the thrash heads what they need with a clean and meaty take on thrash goodness.

39. Essence - Last Night of Solace
A mix of death and thrash but I'll put it in this list for argument's sake. Some great crisp riffage and decent catchy songs.

38. Exarsis - The Brutal State
Precision level classic thrash but with an excruciatingly high pitched screamer that somewhat draws back from the riffage on display. Would have placed so much higher with a less hysterical vocal style 'cause the riffs are up there with the best.

37. Annihilator - Feast
I was expecting more from Jeff and co but it's still enjoyable and melodic Annihilator as you would expect and worthy of it's position.

36. Sagros - Anger Blinds The Mind
Regular thrash goodness with super angry vocals.

35. Mason - Warhead
A late discovery means a lowish spot in the list but I think it's probably worth much higher given a bit more time.

34. Soulfly - Savages
I'm not sure this is quite as good as recent Soulfly albums but I still enjoy the dark feel and the bruising heaviness.

33. Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed
The best album from the black thrashers.

32. Warbringer - IV: Empires Collapse
Not a fan of the band's previous albums but the new one was very solid all the way through.

31. Ágona - Homo Grotescus
Another solid thrashy album with some death metal traits.

30. Lost Society - Fast Loud Death
Very young guys playing fast and heavy thrash with very raw screaming vocals which annoy a little. However the riffs are ace.

29. Hatriot - Heroes of Origin
Zetro Souza's band with his sons. Pretty enjoyable and close to Exodus in many ways.

28. Devariem - Planet Earth Ground Zero
Lots of fast, hard riffs and good technical skills from these unknowns.

27. Accu§er - Diabolic
Probably the heaviest thrash album in this list. The guitars bludgeon you into submission.

26. Condition Critical - Operational Hazard
Heavy and crunchy thrash metal with enjoyable songs.

25. Necrotic Effect - Black Box
Nicely riffed thrash metal.

24. Hell's Domain - Hell's Domain
Old school thrash but with modern sound.

23. Hemotoxin - Between Forever... and the End
Pretty technical thrash metal with slightly raw sound.

22. Death Angel - The Dream Calls for Blood
I like this much more than the last album. The songs are much more engaging for me.

21. Damned Creed - Choose a Side
Nicely riffed thrash metal with a lot of bounce and groove.

20. Riffobia - Laws of Devastation
Hugely fun riff fest from these unknowns.

19. Warfect - Exoneration Denied
Same as above - a fun riff fest.

18. War-Saw - Nuclear Nightmare
Polish thrash with vast improvement on previous album. Very heavy sound to boot.

17. Endovein - S.I.N
Only the buffoon on vox stop this album from aiming much higher in the list. The riffs are really melodic, technical and catchy.

16. Onslaught - VI
Heavy UK thrashers return with a much better album this time than their previous album. It's heavy and crushing with a monster production.

15. Ultra-Violence - Privilege to Overcome
Classic sounding thrash metal goodness.

14. Havok - Unnatural Selection
There's no doubt they are a great thrash band and one of the best of modern days but they couldn't quite match Time Is Up.

13. Revocation - Revocation
The technical masters delivered a really solid album this time out full of amazing riffs to sink your teeth into.

12. Panikk - Unbearable Conditions
Juddering onslaught of hammering riffs made these unknowns a thrash band to watch.

11. Artillery - Legions
Last singer was good and new singer is even better in my book. To me the band sounds more like heavy power metal on this disk but I'll put them in thrash 'cause of their roots. Either way it's a very solid bombastic and melodic record that packs a real punch.

10. Evile - Skull
The kings of English thrash are well honed thrashing machines these days and this latest offering was as good as their best.

09. Gama Bomb - The Terror Tapes
A vast improvement from the tongue in cheek Northern Irish thrash mongers. The sound was miles better and the riffs tore up the place. Looking forward to seeing these guys live soon.

08. F.K.Ü. - 4- Rise Of The Mosh Mongers
To be honest I ignored this at first. More fool me! This is hellishly fun tongue in cheek thrash metal. I especially like the vocal delivery where you understand every single word.

07. Leech - Cyanide Christ
Very well executed clinical thrash metal with mental riffs galore and nice vocals to top it all off.

06. Hateform - Sanctuary in Abyss
The vocals are definitely in the death metal camp but these Poles are ace riffmeisters make no mistake. The heavy punchy sound made the album a thrashers wet dream.

05. Hybris - Heavy Machinery
A newcomer UK thrash band came out of nowhere with this consistently tightly riffed thrashfest. The vocals were a bit odd at first but I grew to accept whilst the somewhat technical riffage won me over in an instant. I hope they stick around because they can become even better on future releases.

04. Fueled by Fire - Trapped in Perdition
The LA thrashers made by far their best album. The all round thrash goodness was unmistakable as soon as you pressed play on this beast.

03. Hatchet - Dawn of the End
One of the best thrash band of recent years delivered once again and then some.

02. Violator - Scenarios of Brutality
The Brazillian boys matured further from their awesome last album to deliver a better produced and more polished effort. The pace was relentless and the riffs were designed to send moshpits into an insane frenzy.

01. Harlott - Origin
I had no idea who Aussies Harlott were before this release so I guess it's their debut but damn what a masterful thrashfest this albums is. I normally find one or two tiny things that I might not like in an album but I found it almost impossible to quibble at anything for this one. I hope they go on to top this album but it's gonna be difficult 'cause this is already an amazing effort from these bunch of unknowns.

My Favourite Death Metal albums for 2013

Here's the list for 2013 in reverse order:

48. Tormented - Death Awaits
Old school filth from the depths of Swedish death metal carnage. The guitar sound is pure dirt! However the best thing about this believe it or not is the understandable vocals.

47. Syrebris - Aether Dynamics
Solid and punchy semi tech death metal.

46. Punish - Sublunar Chaos
Pretty technical death metal with solid musicianship but the production is not to my taste.

45. Ploy For Extinction - Primordial
Nice melodeath with punchy crisp production

44. Suture - Carnivorous Urge To Kill (Reissue)
Decent classic death metal re-recorded to today's standards making for a solid listen.

43. Evilness - Unreachable Clarity
Nice and heavy, winding riffs if rather boring vocals.

42. Subliminal Crusher - Newmanity
Fast and catchy death metal with thrashy riffs though. So could have gone in that list as well.

41. Jungle Rot - Terror Regime
Big on everything cliched death metal has to offer basically. Fun stuff!

40. Crawling Chaos - Repellent Gastronomy
Punchy and clear death metal with chunky riffs and pristine sound.

39. Harasai - Psychotic Kingdom
An array of fast and fluid melodic death metal made this an enjoyable listen.

38. Saprogenic - Expanding Toward Collapsed Lungs
Brutal and tight tech death with of course no prisoners being taken.

37. Soilwork - The Living Infinite
Melodic death metal masters still able to let loose the shackles and deliver some tasty riffs. It was a little bit too long though.

36. Arsis - Unwelcome
These guys are great no doubt but Unwelcome whilst a solid enough album only makes my list be default as they are such a great band of players.

35. Six Feet Under - Unborn
More streamlined and less loose, this was an exercise in tight death metal mastery from this long running band.

34. Soul Remnants - Black and Blood
Nicely riffed death metal.

33. Arkhe - Spirals of Life
Badly produced Death worship but a good try with superb bass work.

32. Entrails - Raging Death
Catchy old school death with a monster heavy bludgeoning sound.

31. Burden of Life - The Vanity Syndrome
Catchy epic melodic death with long songs.

30. Ecocide - Eye of Wicked Sight
Old school death metal done right.

29. Children of Bodom - Halo of Blood
A good solid album from the Children with lots of tasty riffs and solos.

28. Illuminati - The Core
Cynic worship with some avant garde wacko elements. When it was pure Cynic it was a pretty great copy.

27. Deicide - In the Minds of Evil
Glen's crew with their best album since God knows when or should that be Satan? Crystal clear production and better vocals from Glen helped matters no end.

26. Lecherous Nocturne - Behold Almighty Doctrine
Blisteringly fast deathgrind insanity with a high technical quotient.

25. Kalmah - Seventh Swamphony
The Finnish swamp overlords with another beautifully solid release to add to their extensive catalogue.

24. Corpus Mortale - FleshCraft
A very solid death metal offering. Not spectacular but all round tightness wins the day.

23. The Black Dahlia Murder - Everblack
Usual fare from the Dahlia murder team. Fluid and super melodic with the scratchiest vocals ever.

22. Deviant Syndrome - 66 Ways to Redemption
Top quality melodic death with tons of twisted riffage to snag on to.

21. Sorcery - Arrival at Six
Yet another old school Swedish death band delivering the goods.

20. Monolith - Voyager
Nicely riffed melodeath from Canada.

19. Frosttide - Awakening
Epic folky melodic death with beautiful iced chilled melodies.

18. Oblivion - Called to Rise
Well played and fluid tech death.

17. Orpheus Omega - Resillusion
Aussie melodeathsters know the melodeath songbook inside out.

16. Arhideus - Awakening of Sins
A surprisingly tight technical death metal workout from these unknowns.

15. Infernaeon - The Cancer Within
A surprisingly awesome release with some black metal but not overpowering thankfully. When they got the riffs flowing they were a great listen.

14. Æther Realm - One Chosen by the Gods
I was Bowled over by the wonderfully clear and epic melodies in this release from these unknown Americans. They deserve to have a bigger name.

13. Battlecross - War of Will
From the same camp as the Dahlia boys but with an even better album chock full of great bouncy riffs.

12. Smothered - The Inevitable End
The best album Entombed never made. That guitar sound is just something else!

11. Carcass - Surgical Steel
The English masters returned to much fanfare...was it worth the wait? Well I think overall...YES!

10. Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods
The vikings deliver as they only know how. Bang your heads for Odin!

09. Blood Red Throne - Blood Red Throne
The Norwegian death crew with yet another super polished, groovy death metal blastathon with blackened parts.

08. The Greatness Design - Pillars of Creation
Well the Necrophagist guys have spawned many many imitators since their demise and here was a great one it must be said. The album had a very thin production but damn did they ape those Necroriffs to perfection... almost!

07. Suffocation - Pinnacle of Bedlam
I have never been a huge fan of these undoubted legends but this latest album was really a solid and muscular effort. The sound and the songs showed the maturity one would expect of a band this long into their career.

06. Parasite Inc. - Time Tears Down
Hyper melodic and very enjoyable death metal and probably my fave of that style in the whole year.

05. Murder Made God - Irreverence
This album had the most tightest riffs in the whole year with the most clinical and digital sounding production as well. Imagine if Decapitated turned into a faster digital riff machine and you get these guys. The riff kings of 2013 no doubt!

04. Dysmorphic - A Notion of Causality
A more human sounding kind of technical death metal to me. The album was also the grooviest and not so much a dazzling array of notes but an exercise in hitting a groove and ramming it home until the listener got the message. Great stuff!

03. Incarnator - Caeca Superstitio
One of the best Death worship albums ever. The Chuck-like melodies were truly exceptional and the band delivered them with conviction.

02. Reciprocal - New Order of the Ages
This album came a bit late but damn was it worth the wait. A hugely impressive and vast array of crushing riffs in a thick and warm sound made this a joy to listen to especially with headphones of course. This album was pretty much encapsulates everything I look for in death metal.

01. Deeds of Flesh - Portals to Canaan
Finally the number one album of the year from the new kings of masterful tech death from the US of A. The album was like an unrelenting juggernaut of shuddering riffs and drums with the staccato catchiness to send you over the edge whilst listening. Yes all these album are pretty one dimensional but you can't help but get taken for an exhilarating ride when an album with this much class and brutality hits the shelves. A lesson in high precision level death metal brain surgery!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Primitai Live at Our Black Heart

With the new Primitai being so fantastically awesome I could hardly pass over a chance of seeing the guys live. Granted I was a bit iffy about the gig at first 'cause it was in this tiny place I've never been to, so I was a little meh in my in original enthusiasm but when I saw the tiny ticket price and the venue or shall I say room's proximity to Camden I took the plunge and bought a ticket.

When i got to the pub it was pretty full but with no stage to be seen but I spotted a door saying venue upstairs with the stage times for the support band and the headliners. So I gingerly made my way up the stairs and was greeted by a guy who had my name written down and I was ushered into a tiny room with the smallest stage I have ever seen at one end. There was literally no room to swing a cat and God knows how five guys got on that stage by the Primitai went on. The attendance was obviously not gonna be huge but I saw a few familiar faces from the gigging metal scene as usual. A few people have good taste to support Primitai at least. By the end of the night I would guess the attendance at around 70 or so.

The support band Motherload soon took to the stage and started playing some raspy hard riffed heavy metal. I have never heard of them before but they were ok. They had livewire bearded frontman though of course his beard was not on Guy Miller's level. The Primitai singer has monster fuzz stuck on his chin. Must itch like something rotten.

Anyway I digress - Motherload were quite good and got a good response from the 20 or 30 or so early comers. They had some nice riffage and some cool grooves. Not bad. I didn't buy their cd 'cause I didn't have any money in my pocket but I'll try to check'em out online soon enough.

Primitai got that minuscule stage ready and took their positions and launched straight into the opening track off the amazing new album. The sound was a little loud for that sweaty tiny little room and the bass was the loudest of all and needed toning down. I'm not sure I saw a soundman or mixing desk even but I'm guessing there was one lol! The sound finally settled down and whilst remaining pretty loud was crystal clear.

Frontman Guy Miller is a hell of showman and even though this was a tiny room full of diehards he was giving it everything he had with plenty of forays on to the main floor to sing with the crowd and back onto that tint stage again. I must admit I am not over familiar with the early Primitai material. Whilst they sound ok I have only been blown over by Rise Again I must admit and had them down as an also ran kind of band. I must admit though even their old songs sounded pretty cool so maybe I should go back and try them again as well. The best songs of the night were Pound for Pound which is my favourite song off the new album and Scream When You See Us. My only quibble about the whole night was Guy's vocals getting somewhat buried under an avalanche of guitars and especially bass. If they had toned those down a little and allowed us to hear the vocals a little bit louder and clearer it would have been better still.

Overall a fun cheap night of heavy metal and the band can certainly bring it live. Hopefully next time in 2014 I'll see them on a bigger stage with a better sound system. As for now the album is still in constant rotation on my death deck and will feature highly on my 2013 albums list to be published shortly.




Thursday, 28 November 2013

2 gigs in 2 days - thrash then Death!

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of nights of metallic bliss this week. The second of the two gigs was long planned. When I heard that the Death to All tour featuring the Human line up of Death, would be touring over here I snapped up a ticket with gay abandon! I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would ever see Death's amazing music performed live ever again by most of the original band. I waited impatiently for the night to come. However over the last couple of weeks I noticed that on the day before the Chuck tribute gig, American thrashers Havok would play along with a great supporting cast namely Angelus Apatrida and the UK's Savage Messiah. I ummed and ahhhhhed a little as I usually do but I buckled down and thought it should rule, so I got a ticket for that as well. Trust me it was a wise decision!

So the first gig featured a full on thrash triumvirate. Savage Messiah I have seen before and they are enjoyable although I wasn't a huge fan of their last album. Spaniards Angelus Apatrida I saw last year I think and they are really great live. Havok's last record was good but the previous album Time is Up is a masterpiece of thrash. First up were the UK mob and to be honest I was really impressed with them when I wasn't expecting to be. They played very tight and got a good response from the 250 or so crowd although they hadn't all turned up yet. Front man Dave Silver looks like a very young Dave Mustaine and he sang a bit like him too which always gets you a few rep points for thrash coolness in my book. SM played a couple of new songs which sounded much catchier than their previous CD as well. I really look forward to that album in 2014.

Next up were the crazy Spaniards Angelus Apatrida. These guys got the first pits of the night going with their ferocious riff work and crazed, frenetic songs. They were super tight as well and a sight to behold as they churned out riff after riff after riff. They also boast the runner up in the Dave Mustaine lookalike competition with their front man! The dude has the Mustaine hair to a tee like Dave Silver if not wuite the look. Anyway I have nothing but praise for these guys. The sounded afforded the band was super slick and the played very tight and rocking. They shredded hard as nails and got some seriously mental pit action with the thrashers in full pit fury mode. Great stuff. I hope to see an album from these guys in 2014.

Finally headlines Havok took to the stage and started to shred like there's no tomorrow. The sound was the crunchiest and best it had been all night. The Underworld sound is normally pretty solid and good but it was just superb tonight. Crisp and crunchy as hell. The songs from Time Is Up were the best especially the title track which was just immense. The moshers were going completely insane and taking photos at the side of the stage was a pretty dangerous prospect but I managed it although it was easier for the other two bands. Havok created havoc so to speak and it was pretty damn mental all night and a great time was had by all who attended. Thrash works best in tiny clubs like this IMO with 2-300 crazed metallers banging away like there's no tomorrow. An awesome gig and a great starter for the main course to follow on the next night. Solid thrash in the live setting never lets me down and it was no different with these three great bands!

So fast forward 24 hours and I walked in to the Forum in Kentish Town to a pretty empty big room. I was thinking this gig would be pretty undersold. Damn! I needn't have feared though as the first support band Darkrise, who were on stage already, sucked pretty hard and I guess most hadn't bothered to turn up yet. They sounded so average that it hurt to see them struggling. Just some standard death metal that you couldn't make out anyway due to a less than stellar sound. Mind you I was a bit worried about the sound at this venue cause just a week or so back I saw Amon Amarth and Carcass here and the sound was really bad for both of those as well. However thankfully it improved no end soon enough. Thankfully the Darkrise came to a close soon enough and the less than enthusiastic crowd were probably happy to see the back of them as was I to be honest.

The main support band was the mighty Obscura, one of the best Death worship bands around these days. I saw these guys in the Underworld last year and they were totally gobsmackingly awesome. Their technical expertise is just something special to witness in the live environment. This was a much bigger gig for the band and I guess a huge honour for them to pay tribute to the great Chuck and his ex band mates. They were very tight and good with a huge punchy heavy sound. Much tighter and crunchier than the first band thankfully. I was thinking they would end their set with the Death cover Flesh and the Power it Holds but it wasn't to be although I didn't know it at the time the main man would join the Death guys for a crushing cover of er..Spirit Crusher later on in the night more of which in a while. Obscura were tight as hell overall and were a perfect support band on this bill and had the crowd well pumped up for the Chuck anthems to follow.

The crowd had filled out pretty well now and I would guess would near the 1000 mark or just below which is a pretty big attendance even if Chuck had been alive and well. Actually if would probably have been far less come to think of it but it just goes to show Chuck was much loved and he's very badly missed in the metal scene even after all these years. I saw ex Death manager Eric Grief milling around as the roadies set the stage up for the band. he is the guy behind the Death to All tours and it's him we must thank for bringing this awesome tour this side of the pond. So thank you Sir!

I never imagined it possible that I would see live Death songs played by genuine ex members of the band with the help of Max Pheps on vocals and guitar. Amazing stuff indeed. The band was on shit hot form especially the bass genius Mr DiGiorgio who sounded as good as he does on the records. All that from a three stringed fretless bass no less! I've never seen a 3 stringed guitar before that's for sure hehe! The guy is a tech bass genius make no mistake and nailed the awesome and famous Death bass lines that we know and love. He's got a bit of a whiny speaking voice though lol. He was the only guy on stage that spoke to the crowd though and he thanked the crowd and spoke a little about Chuck and his legacy. I don't know who Max Phelps is but he nailed Chuck's vocals pretty well and ditto the guitars so I guess the guy was chosen for a reason. Paul Masvidal was ace on the lead guitar and was smiling and doing his little funny jigs on the faster guitar parts. The sound was crystal clear and super loud for the Death band as well which helped matters no end. The songs sounded vibrant and very close to the albums.

The set list was always gonna be a devisive issue as you will never please everyone in the time allotted for the band considering how many great songs Death had. To be honest it never bothered me what song they played as every Death song is pretty much brilliant anyway. The crowd was going pretty nuts as well and there were lots of smiles and fun being had by the fans as they listened and moshed to the crazy Chuck riffs on display. Taking decent photos proved beyond me more or less for the Death set as the pit was just a little inconsiderate to good photographic work shall we say! Anyway great fun even though it was pure mayhem at times.

My fave songs of the night were In Human Form, Suicide Machine, Crystal Mountain and an almighty and amazing version of Spirit Crusher as mentioned earlier with lead vocals and guitar from the Obscura mainman. That wsa just phenomenal and made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. During the middle of the set there was a Chuck tribute video which was nice to look at and made the crowd pause a little to fully realise that Chuck's spirit was there with us and it made the evening that much poignant.

Even though to be honest they could have used that time to play a couple more tunes if I'm being greedy! The main set ended with a blistering Lack of Comprehension and the band left to huge thanks and applause. Of course the set had to end as every Death gig did with the band's anthem and probably catchiest song ever namely Pull the Plug. It was pure bedlam on certain parts as the crowd mimicked the guitar parts with  woah whoahs and belted the chorus out louder than the singer Max Phelps ever could.

A flat out awesome way to end a fantastic gig which brought so many memories flooding back of the one and only time I saw Chuck and Death back in 95. Once again we must thank Death manager Eric Grief for bringing this tour over to Europe as the night was something special to remember Chuck's music  and enhance his legacy authentically with ex members of the band bringing these great songs to life once again. Only thing is they should have played a bit longer and more songs from Symbolic hehe! But how can I complain really - to see a bona fide Death tribute night of any shape or form here in the UK is a dream for us Death fanatics. Thanks again guys!

Flattening of Emotions
Leprosy / Left to Die
Suicide Machine
In Human Form
Spiritual Healing / Within the Mind
Cosmic Sea

(Chuck Schuldiner Tribute Video)

Zombie Ritual / Baptized in Blood
Crystal Mountain
Spirit Crusher
Lack of Comprehension

Pull the Plug

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Defenders of the Faith IV - with Amon Amarth and Carcass

Holy crap this gig was completely sold out. So much so that when I bought my ticket way back in early October, only upstairs seating tickets were available. When I heard that Carcass would be the main support to the Viking overlords I just had to be here. It was my first time seeing the Metal Hammer sponsored Defenders of the Faith tour in it's fourth edition. My main reason for going to see the legends of the UK death scene for the first since their comeback. Carcass provided me with my first ever live experience of metal music at the old Marquee club way back in December 1994, nearly 19 years ago almost. After 19 years of going to metal gigs finally I saw the band that started it all for me.

The rather large queue meant that I arrived in the balcony and managed to find a seat in a tight corner pretty high up and had a very distant view of the stage. the first support band Hell, were on stage already and I only caught the last 3 songs of their set. They sounded pretty good though and the front man David Bower is a very engaging front man with his Shakespearean tones. The sound was reasonable but believe it or not would slowly get worse!

Next up were Scottish deathcore mob Bleed From Within. I had the misfortune to see them supporting Megadeth at Brixton back in the summer and they went down like the proverbial lead balloon and their breakdown infested deathcore fared no better this time really. The sound was literally horrible for them as well. A deathcore band amongst 3 classic heavy metal bands was always gonna be a hard task for BfW and this crowd was never gonna give them the time of day. We were here for the legends Carcass and the Hirsute mob from Sweden.

Finally Carcass took to the stage and were greeted with rapturous applause as they tumbled headlong into Buried Dreams from their best album Heartwork. The sound was again iffy to say the least. from my position I could hardly make out the guitar riffs that made the Carcass songs so memorable and catchy. They obviously played well but I could hear a lot of drums and a lot of rumble but all subtlety and melody was completely lost up in the gods. I still enjoyed their set of old and new though some of Jeff Walker's Scouse wit was lost on me, as I couldn't understand what he was saying at all lol!

I hope to see the Carcass reformation again but this time in a smaller club so I can actually see their faces and feel the intensity up close.

From my high vantage point I could see the raised platforms for the elaborate AA setup clearly as the roadies set up the stage with large steps and a monster backdrop. The Swedes were treated like victorious Viking warriors returning from battle once again as they launched headlong into the opening cut. Not that I could tell what it was cause  once again the sound problems seem to continue.

Either my ears have gone or the soundman's has cause I couldn't tell what song was being played unless Johan introduced it beforehand. Last time I saw AA I was a little disappointed in them because whilst they are highly professional and engage the crowd well, they sort of seem a bit faceless and semi bored. They all head bang in unison and look n imposing metal band who play with power and conviction but all the melody they show on record and in the studio seems robbed from them in the live arena. I'm not criticising their actual playing skills but I guess the complete lack of sound clarity rendered their songs a mash of fast pounding devoid of the epic melody that you can hear on record.

An ok gig overall and the youngsters downstairs were going truly apeshit no doubt but I wasn't feeling it up here though I guess being an old bastard like me you complain at the smallest thing. I don't think I'll be going to see AA again in a hurry as I've seen them a few times now and the novelty has completely worn off though I continue to enjoy them on record. Carcass, I hope to see again in a more intimate venue in the near future hopefully.

A few photos from on high: