Saturday, 16 January 2016

#1 - Top of 2015

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (Sanctuary Records)

...And finally we arrive in the best album of 2015, and contrary to most albums presented in this list is from a band that is anything but unknown. But then, this list is not just great albums that you might have not heard of, it is about the best albums of the year, and, frankly to me, the new Iron Maiden album WAS the best album of the year. Iron Maiden, in their post-2000 reunion career have matured further and further with each album, making a turn to a progressive sound and favoring 10-minute epics. In this endeavour, coming out strong from Bruce Dickinson's battle with cancer, Iron Maiden put out the best post re-union record  yet (excluding Brave New World). They have songs for all tastes, culminating to the very personal song "Empire of the Clouds", written by Bruce himself.  A record worthy of their name and a worthwile listen even for people that are not Iron Maiden fans.


Even though there is no reason for that, below is a music video from the album. After this, this blog will take a short break before returning for the top albums of 2014.

#2- Top of 2015

The Gentle Storm - The Diary (Inside Out)

Can a band formed by the one and only Arjen Lucassen and the amazing vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen (well known for her work with The Gathering as well as a plethora of projects including but not limited to Ayreon and Devin Townsend) go wrong? The answer is hell no! “The diary” is the first album from The Gentle Storm and it is more than you would expect. Set in the 17th century the album narrates a love story, and although sounding predictable, the concept of this album should not be underestimated. While not on the same caliber as some of the Ayreon album concepts, it takes you on a world tour in that time from the port of Amsterdam to the shores of India.
 The songs come in two versions, the "Gentle" album which is dominated by Anneke’s voice and acoustic guitars and the "Storm "edition where you can hear Lucassen’s guitars shredding as well as more powerful renditions of the songs. Most recommended!


Below are two music videos taken from the album.


#3- Top of 2015

Visigoth- The Revenant King (Metal Blade)

If you are looking for a traditional heavy metal band, Visigoth with their album “The Revenant king” are exactly what you have been looking for. The album has a lot of strong heavy metal songs on and no dull moments despite this being their debut album! The songs are epic and range in duration (going upto almost 10 minutes long) without missing out in rhythm or layers. With epic songs like “Dungeon Master” and the great cover of Manilla Road’s “Necropolis” they are guaranteed to stick to your heavy metal playlist. But wait, they also have heavier songs with slower riffs and variations in speed like “Blood Sacrifice”, with the most metal pounding of all being the “Iron Brotherhood” because of great vocals by Jake Rogers and an amazing chorus that makes you wanna join the Brotherhood. Fucking Metal.


Below the Epic Video of the Epic Song "The Revenant King"

And as a bonus a kick-ass live performance of the Iron Brotherhood.

#4 - Top of 2015

Clutch - Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker Music)

This is the eleventh album by famous southern/sludge rockers Clutch. It is a great album and excellent follow-up to their very successful previous effort Earth Rocker. In this album, Clutch keep the formula of the last album, by leaving the best tracks for the end of the album. Up-beat strong tracks such as "X-Ray Vision" are a great start to the album, but closing tracks "Our Lady of Electric Light" and "Son of Virginia" are really special. This album combines the groove of the first half of the album and the southern heaviness of the latter exceptionally, making it overall one of the best releases of 2015.


Below is the video for one of the upbeat tracks that kickstart the album, X-Ray Vision

Thursday, 7 January 2016

#5 - Top of 2015

Drifting Sun - Trip to the Life Fantastic (Horus Music Distribution)

Moving to number 5, we move to another unknown progressive rock band, this time originating from the UK and bringing one of the most interesting progressive albums of the year. Despite lacking the high profile of other releases of 2015, Drifting Sun bring a highly melodic and
inspired offering to the table, rightly occupying one of the top spots of the year. They existed for many years, but this is their first release I happened to hear and I was really impressed by these guys.
If you find their release, have a listen, I can guarantee they will occupy your playlist for a considerable period of time!


Below is an audio track taken from the album, as they did not release any videos.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

#6 - Top of 2015

Witchwood - Litanies from the Woods (Jolly Rodger Records)

Witchwood is a psychedelic/heavy prog band from northern Italy with southern and hard rock influences. This is their debut album and it is truly a masterpiece of its genre. They draw infuences from bands such as Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Hawkwind and Lynyrd Skynyrd, while at the same time demonstrating excellent songwriting skills, going beyond their influences. The album consists of compositions of varying length and disposition balncing between straightforward composition and long trippy ones. The highlights of the album include "The Golden King" and "Shades of Gray" as well as the 15 minute epic "Farawell to the Ocean Boulevard". For fans of progressive music, this is another quality release of 2015, promising hours of music exploration into the Witchwood.


This is their official video release from "Litanies from the Woods" for the track "A Place for the Sun"

Monday, 4 January 2016

#7 - Top of 2015

Wolvespirit - Free (Spirit Stone Records)

On number 7, we come across a special kind of band. These guys play good old-fashioned rock music , it roots tracing back to 70's and 60's rock bands and a female vocalist. They incorporate psychedelic elements into a Janis Joplin style vocal style and an easy going rock vibe. They are hard rocking at times and mellow and tripy at times. They really feel like they came up with this record literally after return home from Woodstock and inspired by bands of that time. If you like 70's rock and psychedelic influences in your music and are looking for a mellow sound that at times packs an old school punch, gives these guys a chance.


Below this time are 2 videos: The first is from the first eponymous track of Free, the second is from their new EP that came out this month. If you feel like supporting them, check out their Facebook page

#8 - Top of 2015

Jorn Lande & Trond Holter - Dracula, Swing of Death (Frontiers Records)

Jorn Lande is a very well known person in the power metal community, to say the least. He gained prominence as the lead singer of Masterplan and then went on to sing in multiple other bands and guesting in at least twice as many. Thus, when the new album he created with the guitar player for Wig Wam, I did not expect anything of note. Sure, it would be a quality work, but I was expecting  nothing really special. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! These guys show some terrific chemistry between them. The album flows effortlessly and all the songs have wonderfull hard rock/power metal melodies that keep getting better every time you hear them. This seems to truly be one of the best and most inspired records of Lande's career. Recommended as probably the best power metal release of the year.


Below is one of the best tracks from the record "Walking on Water"

#9- Top of 2015

Vexillum - Unum (Limb Music GmbH)

Vexillum, previously known Shadow Vexillum, are a power/folk metal band from Italy. Although they may not sound as something innovative Vexillum manage to incorporate all the traits that someone is looking from a power metal band  with a folklore theme. ‘Unum’ has a number of guest singers for this album including Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian (The Sentenced: Fire and Blood) and Chris Bay from Freedom Call (The Jester: Over the Clouds). The album is great and strong from the first to the last song and doesn’t tire the listener as it gets you to follow the storyline, athough that is not a requirement for enjoying the band. Vexillum, signifying the flag worn by armies during battle, call everyone to gather and follow Dario (the main character of the concept) through his journey and immerse themselves in an epic quest.


Below is the video of the song Chris Bay participated in. Enjoy!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

#10 - Top of 2015

Horisont - Odyssey (Rise Above)

Counting down the top 10 albums of the year that just left, on number 10 we find Horizont's newest album Odyssey. Horisont were intially formed in Sweden in 2006. They are playing retro-style Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal Their production is retro, their craftmanship is retro, their vocals are retro. And yet nothing seems fake or forced. These guys are living it up like it's 1980: Synth sound is starting to become popular and these guys try to incorporate 80's elements to their true to fashion 70's rock. And they are great, catchy tunes, groove and good times  for everyone! I cannot recommend these guys enough. If you would like to learn more about them check their website.


Below is their clip for Bad News.

Friday, 1 January 2016

#11 - Top of 2015

The bright light social hour - Space is Still the Place (Frenchkiss Records)

Moving closer to the top 10 we encounter a very interesting case of a band. These guys are a psychedelic rock band that was born out of a university art rock collective. Now, this sounds a bit pretentious, and probably was, but these guys came together to create a wonderful psychedelic progressive rock band with a distinct identity and a retro-oriented sound. Progressive here, comes in terms of how this sound would be defined back in the 70s and not by today's progressive rock records criteria. Nine out of the ten tracks are less than six minutes each and the whole record has a total length of only 45 minutes!Nevertheless this could not be more of a prog record if it tried. Take a seat, relax and let this take your mind off your worries and into a wonderful weird world. You can hear it for yourselves as these guys have streamed the whole album in Youtube.


Below is the music video for the track Infinite Cities.

#12 - Top of 2015

Sorcerer - In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross (Metal Blade Records)

Next up,  on number 12 we move away from prog but not from Scandinavia as we have the debut full length from Sorcerer, hailing from Sweden. Sorcerer are playing Epic Doom Metal and were formed way back in 1988, subsequently splitting up in the early nineties, as their members joined other well known acts (Therion, Tiamat). They reunited recently and started working on new material culminating in their spring release of "In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross". This album is EPIC. Heavy riffing, wonderful vocals, reminiscent of Tony Martin and a VERY metal attitude. The opening track "The Dark Tower of the Sorcerer" is simply an instant classic. The rest of the album follows suit changing between slow and more mid-tempo tracks, culminating in the epicness that is "Pagan's Dance".  If you like your doom metal extra epic or your epic metal EXTRA heavy, then by all gods of Doom, I implore you to listen to Sorcerer!


This is the video for the opening track. It looks a bit shit but the music is chilling.

#13-Top of 2015

Leprous - The Congregation (Inside Out)

Unlike what could be expected from a Norwegian band with such a name, Leprous gave everyone this year a run for their money, with a new and interesting progressive rock/metal album named ‘The Congregation’. With songs bound to stick to your mind and music playlist, like ‘Rewind’, this album is a worthy heir of their previous discography. It gets you instantly hooked and this can be attributed to the lead vocalist’s (Einar Solberg) unique vocals and catchy grooves.  Leprous is a promising band both lyrically and in terms of sound. They combine progressive metal norms from bands like Opeth and such with easy to listen vocals and minimal electronic elements. If you want to hear something different that is also excellent and easy to listen to, definitely check out "The Congregation"


Below is the audio track for the sickeningly addictive "Rewind".