Saturday, 29 April 2017

#3 - Top of 2016

Eternal Champion- The Armor Of Ire (No Remorse Records)

Eternal Champion blast their way to number 3 with their debut album, "The Armor Of Ire" which is an amazing journey to epic heavy metal inspired by none other than Michael Moorcock's stories about the quests of the Eternal Champion! "I Am the Hammer" sets the mood in a blaze of heavy footsteps, a brooding riff and clear strong vocals by Jason Tarpey, along with Manowar/ Grand Magus vibes that are made for headbanging! "The Armor of Ire" is another instant heavy classic with awesome guitar riffs and interludes that is logically followed by "The Last King of Pictdom" with its even more infectious Maiden-like riffs and blasting drums by Arthur Rizk! The instrumental "Blood Ice" is a refreshing break before the next blast under the title " The Cold Sword" that is everything you want to hear from an epic heavy metal song! The equally epic "Invoker" and "Sing a Last Song of Valdese"merit the listener with exciting lyrical themes and powerful anthems! The final instrumental "Shade Gate" showcases great guitar lines by the band's three (!) guitarists Carlos Llanas, Blake "Rossover" Ibanez and Nujon Powers! The length of the record doesn't takes away from the epicness, leaving you wanting to hear the next chapter from the Eternal Champion's struggle for Cosmic Balance!

seriously and unapologetically smuggles a doomed quote from Skeletor into the mix:
"Madness! I demand of destitution, shame, and loneliness of scorn. It is my destiny! It is my right! Nothing will deter me from it…"
- See more at:
seriously and unapologetically smuggles a doomed quote from Skeletor into the mix:
"Madness! I demand of destitution, shame, and loneliness of scorn. It is my destiny! It is my right! Nothing will deter me from it…"
- See more at:
seriously and unapologetically smuggles a doomed quote from Skeletor into the mix:
"Madness! I demand of destitution, shame, and loneliness of scorn. It is my destiny! It is my right! Nothing will deter me from it…"
- See more at:


Below is the lyric video for the song "I Am The Hammer".

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

#4- Top of 2016

Spiritual Beggars- Sunrise to Sundown (InsideOut Records)

"Sunrise to Sundown" is the 9th album of hard rock band from Sweden, Spiritual Beggars which despite having changed a couple (or three!) lead singers, seems to have found yet another perfect match with the current lead vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (since 2010). The record sets the feel-good mood with the titular song "Sunrise to Sundown" and maintains this road-trip/rock jukebox vibe throughout in all of the songs! The groovy "What Doesn't Kill You", the catchy "Hard Road" and the aggressive "Still Hunter" are filled with great heavy guitar tunes and interludes, while a change can be heard with the rocker "No Man's Land" which stands out for its unexpected middle-song piano section! The second half of the record adds different elements to the mix with songs like the stoner-oriented "Dark Light Child " and the more melancholic "Lonely Freedom"! "Southern Star" with its Deep-Purple inspired themes acts as an ideal closer to a highly energised retro hard rock album that unveils the many styles and aspects of the characteristic "Spiritual Beggars" music style! A great listen if you are looking for record chock full of hard rock vibes, heavy/ clear vocals and amazing 70s nostalgic riffs!


Below is the official video for the song "Dark Light Child".

Sunday, 23 April 2017

#5 - Top of 2016

Ironwood - Well and Tree (Independent)

In number 5 of the top 2016 albums, we have the third full length from a very intriguing less known progressive outfit, Ironwood. Ironwood play a breed of prog rock with heavy metal, folk and black metal elements mixed throughout, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable, innovative and thought provoking album, truly worthy of a place among the top 5 of last year. The album kicks off with "Song of Mimir" that starts with a whisper of wind and develops to a progressive metal orgasm with a truly inspirational riff, which  stands out as a testament to the abilities of these guys. The second song "Solace in Memory" starts with a mix of Fates Warning and blastbeats (!) and evolves in a beautiful progressive heavy metal folk piece with influences ranging from the aforementioned prog giants to the folk heaviness of bands like Primordial. Especially noteworthy is the acoustic passages that tie the composition together and fuse these elements in a true epic of modern heavy music. The third song "Sanctuary" is very mellow, offsetting the blasting first two compositions and starting with an acoustic passage mixed with forest sounds with mellow choral vocals coming in around the 3 minute mark. "Flowing Through" acts as a natural continuation of Sanctuary with music veering towards a more folk-oriented sound (bordering on epicness) coupled with, again, amazing guitar work, and closing out with dynamic blastbeats which complement the composition and lead into "The Glorious Tree", a song starting out with vocals within the Avant-Garde Black Metal genre with a falsetto leading into a blastbeat attack and a guitar based extravaganza. This is a very experimental composition with a host of different music themes changing throughout and aggressiveness alternating  with serenity and quiet mysticism. The final song "Origin" starts slowly with a catchy acoustic riff and as it evolves through its twists and turns, it provides "Well and Tree" with a balanced and emotional way to temporarily fade out, until next time...
If you can only listen to one thing from 2016, listen to this!


Below is the full album from Bandcamp. Listen to it and support the band!

Friday, 14 April 2017

#6 - Top of 2016

Freedom Call - Master of Light (SPV)

Freedom Call have been a known quantity for a while now in the power metal circuit. Always "quite good", but more often than not, not really "exceptional". The band here attempts and succeeds in subverting that stereotype by creating one of the best (and more optimistic) power metal albums of 2016, Master of Light. From the get go to the end of this album, you can feel the positive energy of the band oozing through the tracks. There is no unifying concept to the album, except for an undying love for positive power metal music and what it truly represents. Despite that, the album is by no means an anachronism. It is an effort truly representative of the band's state of being in 2016 and a contemporary unification of power metal with more "modern" metal elements which are not oppressive throughout the album but instead are carefully dispersed here and there, serving as subtle reminders of freshness. There is not much more to delve into here, as all the tracks are (more or less) in the same hyper-energetic and super-positive vein, but this should not dissuade the listener. Freedom Call prove here that they have matured in a very positive manner and have evolved their music while maintaining a romantic approach to their sound. Awesome album and a great getaway point to the career of Freedom Call!


Below is the music video for "METAL IS FOR EVERYONE"

Monday, 10 April 2017

#7- Top of 2016

Iron Mask - Diabolica (AFM Records)

Iron Mask's "Diabolica" is an excellent example of how to make a great and entertaining power metal album, using the right amount of epic and outrageous themes! Right from the first song "I Don't Forget, I Don't Forgive" you know this is gonna be a great listen full of catchy power metal riffs, clear vocals (by lead vocalist Diego Valdez) and powerful choruses! The neoclassical "Doctor Faust" is an example of a longer song that doesn't overdo it due to its amazing orchestration and theatrical elements that can also be seen in "Diabolica". There also contrasts in terms of tone with  "Oliver Twist" showing an energetic and feel-good vibe while "The Rebellion of Lucifer" moves towards a darker tone. "All for Metal" is a guilty pleasure made for sing alongs and "Ararat" adds different elements and tunes while "The First and the Last"'s chorus competes with "Galileo" for the album's catchiest tune (of course both are bound to stick to the listener for a while)! This symphonic pandemonium is perfectly wrapped up by the "Cursed in the Devil's Mill" (in all its 13:45 glory) which serves as an fitting epic closure to this power metal journey!


Below is the official music video for the song "I Don't Forget, I Don't Forgive".

Saturday, 8 April 2017

#8 - Top of 2016

Wolf Clan - Pagan Preachers (Independent )

Going into number eight, we have a truly obscure one! Wolf Clan are a very young and fresh band, founded in 2014 and releasing this (their first EP) in 2016. Drawing inspiration from mythological themes, while at the same time blending female-fronted modern metal with old school hard rock of the 70s, this band offers a refreshing new addition to the (already blooming) female-fronted metal/hard rock scene with a personal touch that is very promising for their future releases.
The EP kicks off with "Witch Hunt", a heavy metal track with a strong old school vibe that mixes in modern vocal approaches for a very satisfying and groovy final result. The second track, "Muses of the Underworld", is more catchy with a very melodic chorus, heavily influenced by Iced Earth. The third  track "Dear Lizzy", is more on the slow side and here the singer Elena "Mirabelle" Erokhina shows off a different aspect of her vocal range. The album continues with "Sins of our Fathers", with a more Sabbath-like riff and a very dynamic choral part that integrates flawlessly with the rest o the composition. The EP concludes with "Send me to the Sea" , a song where the folk influences of the band are unveiled with the song serving perfectly as a melancholic send-off. If the band continues on their own unique style, as they have here, I only see good things in their future!


Below is the audio for "Dear Lizzy".

Sunday, 2 April 2017

#9 - Top of 2016

Mountain Witch - Burning Village (This Charming Man Records)

Moving up the top 10, is an interesting stoner/ hard rock metal band from Germany, Mountain Witch, who released their third full-length album, "Burning Village". Despite its short length (just over 39 minutes), the record is packed with doom groove and hard rock vibes! The trio, René Roggmann in drums/vocals, Tobert Knopp in bass and René Sitte in guitars/vocals, manage create a heavy atmosphere starting with the "The Dead Won't Sleep" which sets the mood leading to the heavy but groovy riffs of "Stone Age Funeral"! "The Cold Hands of Fate" picks up the pace without losing the doom elements that are distinctively more dominant in the "At the Mountains of Madness"! "Haunted by War" with its infectious chorus and tunes, and the "Burning Village" with its clear/ powerful vocals and epic riffs is are the highlights of the second half of the album which wraps up perfectly with the galloping quick-paced "Forbidden Forest" and the melodic 70s hard rock - oriented "Isle of Bones". A very interesting hard rock/doom entry for 2016!


Below is  the link for the stream of the full album! Have a listen, these guys are worth it. You can also support them in their Bandcamp page.