Sunday, January 3, 2016

See Me Burning

Death Or Glory:
The Best of 2015

Muthas, 2015 has bit the dust and I’m back with a list of all the best, and some of the worst albums, EPs, concerts, reissues and album covers.  Enjoy!

Thunder & Lightning - The Best Albums of 2015

2015 seemed to be a slower year for releases, but there were several excellent albums that grabbed my attention.  Here’s the best of them:

Black Trip – Shadowline

This is a great sophomore release from these Swedish purveyors of tasty, melodic, heavy 70s style hard rock.  They sure do love Thin Lizzy which makes them all right in my book.  Check out “Berlin Model 32” for a rollicking good time.

Visigoth – The Revenant King

Crushing and bruising their way into my ironclad heart is the debut LP from Salt Lake City’s own Visigoth.  Full review here.

Venom – From The Very Depths

Cronos and crew roar back to life with a solid and unexpectedly good album of signature latter day Venom.  Full review here. 

Raven – ExtermiNation

NWOBHM stalwarts, Raven, have crafted a superb album that easily eclipses their last couple of albums.  The LP is chock full of their “athletic rock” stylings, and harkens back to their first three albums. Check out the excellent “Fight.”

Armored Saint – Win Hands Down

The new album completely wipes the floor with their weak sauce last album and has energy and inspiration to spare.  The fire in the belly is palpable here as these traditional metal stalwarts offer up an album of blistering guitar work and amazing vocals.  At least seven of the cuts are classics and this is definitely their best album since Symbol of Salvation.  Guitars, guitars, guitars everywhere!!!! Check out “An Exercise In Debauchery.” 

Sorcerer – In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross

I can’t blame you if you’ve never heard of Sorcerer, because they had only released two demos and then faded into obscurity over twenty years ago.  They reformed in 2010 and this year they cranked out this spectacular album of epic doom metal.  If you like Tony Martin era Black Sabbath you will love this.  Each track is like a pounding anvil of doom straight to the skull!  Check out “TheDark Tower Of The Sorcerer” for an idea of how good this album is.

Satan – Atom By Atom

Yet another superb album from these NWOBHM merchants.  Check out the full review here.

Saxon – Battering Ram

Cleary, Saxon can do no wrong.  They are rivalled only by Motorhead and Overkill when it comes to only releasing excellent and consistent albums in the last 25 years.  On Battering Ram, the band offers up an album that is full of top-notch power metal sprinkled with rock solid traditional metal.  Damn this is good.  Check out the title track.

Ram – Svbversvm

Whatever Sweden is doing to encourage excellent metal, they are doing it right because Ram has released the best album of their career.  I like their entire discography, but this LP displays loads of Screaming For Vengence era Priest-ish style and very memorable songs.  I can’t recommend this one enough!  Please buy it and support this type of traditional metal.  Check out “Enslaver” and you’ll understand my effusive praise.

Night Demon – Curse Of The Damned

What can I say about Night Demon’s first LP that I haven’t already said in the full review here?  Not much, other than to tell you that it’s easily one of the best traditional metal albums released in the last 25 years.  Buy or die!

Enforcer – From Beyond

Damn Enforcer is good.  They always deliver and this year is no different.  Check out my full review here.

Motorhead – Bad Magic

I am writing this shortly after Lemmy slipped this mortal coil for the great mead hall in the sky and it’s nearly impossible to overstate just how important he was to heavy music of the past 40 years.  He always delivered the goods.  Always.  No faltering.  No trend hopping.  No “return to form” because he never was out of form. No comeback because he never left.  This album is no different.  Sure, he might sound a bit threadbare, but he was 69 when he recorded this and on his last legs.  Guess what?  Bad Magic is better than 99% of the bullshit that most magazines, blogs, writers, journos and other idiots drone on and on about.  Was there ever an album that was as much of a goodbye as this one?  The lyrics are full of farewells and no regrets.  It’s a biography of a life of no bullshit and no compromises.  Check out the lyrics to “Thunder & Lightning” which tell you all you ever need to know about Lemmy and Motorhead:

I always wanted the scream in the night
I always wanted the noise and the light
     Standing on the stage the thrill never fades
     The ultimate rage, raving and fighting
     Maybe you’ll shake, maybe you’ll break
     You’ll never escape, thunder and lightning

One Short Life – The Best EPs of 2015

Orchid – Sign Of The Witch

Surprise! Orchid’s back with another great EP. Of course they are.  Check out the full review here.

Denner / Shermann - Satan's Tomb

This is a killer little EP that features the always amazing Michael Denner and Hank Shermann ripping it up with solos and riffs galore.  On top of that, the EP features the stellar vocals of Sean Peck who also fronts Cage and Death Dealer.  This blows Force of Evil out of the water and it's very good, old school power metal.  A full length LP is supposed to follow in 2016.  Check out “Satan’s Tomb.”

No Sleep At All – The Best Live Album of 2015

Enforcer – Live By Fire

Not content with having one of the best studio albums of the year, Enforcer have released the best live album of the year – Live By Fire.  If you haven’t heard anything from the band this is as good as any place to start because this is a virtual greatest hits set.  The band sounds great as they blast through sixteen tracks live from the Kytarro Clue in Athens, Greece.  The CD version of the album also include a cracking DVD featuring nine songs live from Japan.  Finally, all versions of the release have a bonus 3 track EP – Speak The Tongue Of Heathen Gods – included to further add more bang for the buck for the fan.  Check out the ripping “Scream Of The Savage.”

Dancing On Your Grave - The Best Reissues of 2015

Wargasm – Why Play Around?

Finally an official reissue of the debut from Boston’s Wargasm!  This album has been bootlegged for years, and now we get a real reissue with great sound and nice packaging.  If you are a fan of Motorhead and especially Tank this will be right down your alley.  This is a definite must buy!  Check out their classic “Revenge.”

Shok Paris – Steel And Starlight (The Auburn Sessions)

Hello Cleveland!  Auburn Records has thankfully released their version of this 1987 USPM classic!  This reissue features a completely different mix from the I.R.S. Records release, the original running order and a host of bonus tracks. The band sounds great on this and Vic Hix’s vocals are stellar as always.  His soulful, passionate tone added so much to Shok Paris and set them apart from their contemporaries.  Check out their all time great cut “Tokye Rose.”

I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care) – The Biggest Disappointments of 2015

The Sword – High Country

I love The Sword and I was looking forward to their new album.  Unfortunately, High Country sounds like an album by a band that's rushed and confused. They can’t seem decide what they want do or sound like, and as a result the album never really gels. Also fifteen tracks is about five too many and the album needs some judicious trimming.  Nothing stuck with me after repeated listens and quickly faded from my playlists.  Oh well, maybe the next release will be more focused.

Panzer – Send Them All To Hell

Who didn’t think a band featuring Schmier from Destruction and Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann of Accept wouldn’t be great?  Well, it wasn’t.  The album did absolutely nothing for me and is lacking any real hooks.  It also got lost in the early January release shuffle here in the United States.  Maybe things will get better on the next LP.  

We’re Artists! We’re Sensitive As Shit! – The Best Album Cover of 2015

Panzer’s album may have been a pile of meh, but their album cover is kick ass!  A giant panzer!  Flamethrowers!  Fire! Skulls!  Apocalyptic visions!  Count me in with those visuals. Well done Gyula Havancsak.  Your artwork is everything a heavy metal cover should be.  Hail and Kill!

Stone Deaf In The USA – The Best Concerts of 2015

Night Demon – June 6th, Gooski’s, Pittsburgh PA

Night Demon killed it in a tiny Pittsburgh club for a small group of hardcore fans. Check out the full review and setlist here.

Overkill – September 21st, Altar Bar, Pittsburgh PA

I hadn’t seen Overkill since the Relixiv tour back in 2005, and thankfully they hadn’t missed a step in the intervening decade.  They were a well-oiled machine and played an excellent set of classics and newer material that had the pit going all night.  I was nursing a cold, but even I was singing along at the top of my lungs.  I hope to see them again in the near future!

Saxon/Armored Saint – September 17th, Altar Bar, Pittsburgh PA

Saxon hadn’t played Pittsburgh since 1983 and Armored Saint had never played Pittsburgh so this was destined to be a special night.  The Altar Bar was completely full and the crowd was electric.  This might have been the most enthusiastic crowd I have ever been in.  Armored Saint seemed stunned by the thunderous response they received from the crowd and they were in fine form.  I hope they come back to the Steel City soon.  I haven’t seen Saxon since 1998(!) and they were amazing.  The crowd was euphoric and sang along to every song.  The band even took requests because they had been absent from Pittsburgh for so long.  God damn it was great.  It’s nights like these that remind me why I put up with all the bullshit of going to a live show.  There’s nothing better than being in a crowd that’s completely at one with a band’s performance – totally chill inducing.

Y&T – May 5th, Altar Bar, Pittsburgh PA

Finally!  Y&T is one of my all-time favorite bands and I own their entire discography, but I had never managed to see them.  Thankfully, I have now and they more than delivered.  Dave Meniketti still sounds great and his playing is superb.  The band was in great form and they had a great rapport with the audience.  Thanks for the great show and I hope to see you again!


That's it muthas!  Thanks for reading and I'll see you all right back here in 2016.


No comments:

Post a Comment