Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Stand In The Fire


We Want You: The Best of 2016

Muthas, 2016 has bit the dust and I’m back with a list of the best albums, live albums, reissues and album covers.  Enjoy!

The Best Albums of 2016

Bat – Wings Of Chains

Do you like greasy, dirty, raw thrash metal that sounds like Motorhead + Venom + Warfare?  If so, you will love this LP.  I previously reviewed their demo and this picks right up where that left off with a refreshing and fun blast of speedball metal.  Another great band from Ryan Waste.  Check out “Primitive Age.”  Raw future indeed!

Diamond Head – Diamond Head

Well what do you know? After releasing a couple of crappy albums that didn’t reflect their classic sound, Diamond Head comes roaring back with a cracking album that is replete with good songs.  Thankfully, the vocalist – Rasmus Bon Andersen – sounds a lot like Sean Harris, and Brian Tatler has penned some great songs. Check out “Bones.”

Grand Magus – Sword Songs

It seems that Grand Magus wanted to answer some of the complaints about their last album being too “epic” because Swords Songs is a return to more straight ahead, faster material.  It’s a very good album that features many anthemic cuts that will be sure to get your head banging.  Check out “Forged In Fire – Crowned In Iron.”

Gygax – Critical Hits

Arising from the ashes of the now sadly defunct Gypsyhawk is the excellent Gygax which play a tasty selection of heavy-70s metal that is heavily influenced by Thin Lizzy. Sinewy, twisting dual guitar leads are everywhere and the songs are catchy as all hell.  Oh, the splatter vinyl is quite simply the most stunning I have ever seen. Check out “Draw Breath.”

Metal Church – XI

The long awaited return of Mike Howe did not disappoint in the slightest!  XI is a phenomenal album that is one of the better comeback albums in the history Metaldom.  It’s great to hear Mike’s powerful voice ladled on top of choice power/thrash compositions once more.  The songs are excellent and Metal Church are back to reclaim their rightful throne!  Check out “Killing YourTime.”

Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake

If you’ve liked the previous two Testament albums you will love this one.  It’s in the same vein as Formation and Dark Roots – Chuck Billy roaring over a superb rhythm section and great guitars.  There’s lots of thrashing to be heard here and several of the songs form a sort of concept album about lizard people?(!) The songs are heavy and catchy with several memorable choruses that will worm their way into your brain. (It’s probably because of unholy influence of the lizard people.)  Check out “Stronghold.”

Striker – Stand In The Fire

Fun! Fun! Fun!  Striker once again unleash an album that is just damn fun and high energy!  These guys know how to craft great power metal in the vein of Vicious Rumors or Leatherwolf and the cuts are full of great hooks.  The songs are very upbeat and positive and are sure to lift your spirits.  More people should be talking about these Canadians, so get out there and buy this album.  Check out “Too Late.”

Metal Massacre 14

A compilation in a best of list?  You’re damn right!  Metal Blade has finally released a worthy follow up to their classic 80s series of compilations by focusing on lesser- known traditional metal bands on small or independent labels.  If you are a fan of the NWOTHM many of these names will be familiar to you, but there are several gems here by Stone Dagger, Savage Master, Crypt Sermon, Gatekeeper and others.  Check out “The Demented Force” by Assassin’s Blade.  Buy or die!

Megadeth – Dystopia

Maybe the album of the year.  Full review here.  It’s so much better than the other Big Four releases it’s not even close.  What about Metallica you say?  It was a big pile of meh.  Not list worthy. 

Eternal Champion – The Armor Of Ire

Sweet Odin’s Raven this is good!  I’ve had a hard time listening to anything else for the last three months.  Eternal Champion is from Austin, Texas but they may as well have been born in the Hyborian Age because their music is a virtual soundtrack for Conan and Kull.  This is the way epic metal should be done – songs with fantasy based lyrics and killer music.  Thick, pummeling rhythms abound and the songs are very catchy.  I have nothing to criticize here – the artwork is great and there’s even a map included!  Album of the year?  Sure, why the hell not?  Check out “I Am The Hammer” and buy this album you knaves!

The Best Live Album

DirkschneiderLive – Back To The Roots

Good old Udo is back with a live set of Accept classics and some not so classics to close the books on the Accept stage of his career.  Udo sounds great here and so does his backing band, and he even pulls out some tunes that haven’t been played in years - when was the last time you got to hear “Monsterman” or “T.V. War” live? Pick this up and you’ll be able to compare it to the soon-to-be-released Restless and Live from Accept. Check out "Breaker."

The Best Reissues

Banshee – Cry In The Night + Race Against Time

Divebomb Records thankfully released the debut EP and LP from Banshee with beautiful remastering and a nice, thick booklet.  This is top notch USPM that was mostly lost in the shuffle back in the day and deserves to be heard by the metal faithful.  Definitely pick up this absolute gem of a two CD set.  Check out “We Want You.”

Skol Records NWOBHM CD Replica Single Series

Great idea from Skol Records and Bart Gabriel to release these cd replicas of NWOBHM singles.  Each CD has the original cover art and tracks from the vinyl singles, and they haven’t picked totally obvious singles either - who thought Hellrazer would ever be reissued for instance?  I hope they continue with this series in the future!

The Biggest Disappointment

Anthrax – For All Kings

What a mess.  I had high hopes, but they crapped the bed.  Full review here.

The Best Album Cover

Megadeth – Dystopia

Robot Samurai Vic Rattlehead in a dystopian future? Yes please!  Stunning cover art for an excellent album.  Kudos!


That’s it muthas! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here in 2017.


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