The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020

“Rock stars come and go. Musicians play until they die.” – Eddie Van Halen

What can I say about the year of 2020? No words can describe all the pain, fear, anxiety, losses and struggles we all had to endure during what’s going to be sadly remembered as the worst year of our modern times. We saw the rise of coronavirus, which had a huge negative impact on pretty much everything and everyone we know, with millions of hardworking people unfortunately losing their jobs, concerts being cancelled, restaurants and other businesses being shut down, people getting stuck in their homes and having to deal with psychological issues like depression, and more important than that, with countless lives, and in some cases people really close to us, people we love, losing their battle against such horrible disease. We also witnessed a gut-wrenching surge in racism against black people all over the world, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in the never-ending fight for freedom and justice, trying to make our world a better place for everyone. And last but not least, we lost so many iconic figures it’s hard to list everyone without crying a little. We lost sports titans such as Kobe Bryant, Diego Maradona and Paolo Rossi, amazing, talented actors and actresses including our beloved “Black Panther” Chadwick Boseman, the original “Darth Vader” David Prowse and the unstoppable Mad Max’s villain “Immortal Joe” Hugh Keays-Byrne, and music geniuses like Rush’s unparalleled Neil Peart and one of the best and most revolutionary guitarists of all time, the one and only Eddie Van Halen. May their souls rest in peace.

However, although we might be living such difficult and stressful times, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with the development of effective vaccines that will certainly put our society back on track sooner than later, giving us all some hope and pointing to a much better future for all of us. In the meantime, I guess one thing that we metalheads have been doing (and will always do) throughout such shitty year is using the music we love to face all of our problems and fears with our heads and horns high in the sky, never giving up nor giving in. Having said that, I’ll leave you with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2020, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, showing to us all that it doesn’t matter what happens with the world, heavy music will always stand strong. From the most primeval form of Black Metal to fast and electrifying Power Metal, from a beyond amazing soaring numbers of women kicking ass in an array of styles such as Doom, Symphonic and Death Metal to the most underground Atmospheric Black Metal entities you can think of, from our good old Rock N’ Roll to modern-day Alternative Metal, music prevailed above darkness, pain and hate, and that’s how it will be forever and ever. Enjoy our list of top metal albums for this (terrible) year that’s coming to an end, and let’s keep raising our horns and banging our heads together in 2021!

1. Primal Fear – Metal Commando (REVIEW)
Join Primal Fear’s undisputed rock brigade and become a true metal commando to the sound of their breathtaking new album.
Best song of the album: Infinity

2. Trivium – What The Dead Men Say (REVIEW)
It’s time to listen to what these four (un)dead men from Orlando, Florida have to say in their thrilling new opus.
Best song of the album: Amongst the Shadows & the Stones

3. Testament – Titans Of Creation (REVIEW)
The titans of Thrash Metal are back in action with another technical, melodic and absolutely pulverizing album of extreme music.
Best song of the album: Night of the Witch

4. Lamb of God – Lamb of God (REVIEW)
Re-energized and unrelenting, Lamb of God are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.
Best song of the album: Gears

5. Sepultura – Quadra (REVIEW)
A sensational concept album based on Quadrivium embraced by a fusion of Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Guardians of Earth

6. Onslaught – Generation Antichrist (REVIEW)
These UK veterans are ready to set the world on fire once again with one of the most ferocious Thrash Metal albums of the year.
Best song of the album: Religiousuicide

7. Ecclesia – De Ecclesiæ Universalis (REVIEW)
This army of French inquisitors stands strong on their crusade against every doom heretic with their incendiary debut album.
Best song of the album: Antichristus

8. Eleine – Dancing In Hell (REVIEW)
Time for us all to dance in the fires of hell to the sound of the striking new opus by this unstoppable Swedish Symphonic Metal group.
Best song of the album: Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie (W.Y.R.C.L.)

9. Grave Digger – Fields of Blood (REVIEW)
Grave Digger celebrate 40 years of their undisputed Heavy Metal on a journey back to the vastness of the Scottish Highlands.
Best song of the album: Freedom

10. Konvent – Puritan Masochism (REVIEW)
A dark, primeval and stunning fusion of Death and Doom Metal masterfully crafted by four unrelenting women hailing from Denmark.
Best song of the album: Puritan Masochism

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Genus Ordinis Dei – Glare of Deliverance (REVIEW)
12. Paradise Lost – Obsidian (REVIEW)
13. Axel Rudi Pell – Sign of the Times (REVIEW)
14. Raventale – Planetarium II (REVIEW)
15. Hellsmoke – 2020 (REVIEW)
16. My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion (REVIEW)
17. Burning Witches – Dance with the Devil (REVIEW)
18. Naglfar – Cerecloth (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Stormbreaker (REVIEW)
20. Thundermother – Heat Wave (REVIEW)

And how about we also pay a tribute to the bands that released short and sweet albums that condensed pretty much the same amount of electricity, rage and intricacy than any of the full-length albums from the list above? That’s why we’re also going to provide you as usual our Top 10 EP’s of 2020 for you to see that size doesn’t really matter.

1. Front – Antichrist Militia (REVIEW)
2. Malfested – Shallow Graves (REVIEW)
3. Tøronto – Under Siege (REVIEW)
4. Soul Dissolution – Winter Contemplations (REVIEW)
5. Lutharö – Wings of Agony (REVIEW)
6. Póstuma – Moralis (REVIEW)
7. Black Sun – Silent Enemy (REVIEW)
8. MĀRA – Self​-​Destruct. Survive. Thrive! (REVIEW)
9. Serocs – Vore (REVIEW)
10. Invocation – Attunement to Death (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2020? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2020 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2021!

And before we go, let’s bang our heads one last time in 2020 with a classic Christmas song by an amazing Romanian band that loves Heavy Metal from the bottom of their hearts, pointing to much better times ahead for all of us! Enjoy!

Concert Review – Van Halen (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 08/07/2015)

How to almost ruin what was supposed to be a memorable night in Toronto, by David Lee Roth.

OPENING ACT: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

van halen 2015Although American guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his band members (Noah Hunt, Chris Layton, Riley Osbourn and Scott Nelson) are undeniably talented, I don’t think they were the best option to open the night for Van Halen at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. I might be wrong, but the Blues Rock played by this good band from Shreveport, Louisiana was not exactly what fans of the electrifying Hard Rock played by Mr. Edward Lodewijk Van Halen & Co. really wanted to see as an opening act, cooling down the temperature among the fans on a perfect night in Toronto.

Anyway, as I said before, their music was solid enough to get a positive reaction from the crowd even if they had opened for Slayer or Cannibal Corpse, and their concert was short and sweet to avoid any signs of boredom among the Van Halen fans. You can check their setlist HERE, and if Blues Rock is your cup of tea or if you are a guitarist you should definitely go after the music by Mr. Shepherd, in case you haven’t done so already.

VAN HALEN

IMG_0492Aging is not a curse, but an essential part of life. If we do not age, there’s nothing to accomplish, there’s no adrenaline to make our own lives more interesting, to keep us moving forward until the inevitable end comes. We all grow old, and although we might not have the same energy as when we were in our 20’s we still have a lot to offer to the world. During the North America Summer/Fall 2015 tour by Hard Rock heroes Van Halen you’ll be able to see how growing old is not a bad thing and how to keep kicking ass through the years (Eddie and Alex Van Halen), and how trying to be the same person you were 30 years ago is not a good idea (David Lee Roth).

In other words, if you attended or is planning to attend any of the concerts from the current Van Halen tour, you’ll witness how David Lee Roth is unfortunately capable of destroying almost all the electricity and atmosphere brought forth by the other members of the band. Don’t get me wrong, I love Diamond Dave and I believe he’s one of those guys that truly revolutionized rock music with his unique charisma and voice, but his performance nowadays is getting to a point it’s better if he call it quits and Eddie brings back even the tedious Gary Cherone to be the frontman of the band.

The setlist was quite lengthy (25 songs in total), which is not an issue if you have guys like Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford or Dave Mustaine to entertain you, but David Lee Roth can’t keep it up with Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang anymore even during their biggest classics such as Runnin’ With the Devil, Hot for Teacher and Jump. For instance, Hot for Teacher is by far my favorite Van Halen anthem of all time and the speed they played the song here in Toronto, especially Alex who was beautifully smashing his drums as if he was playing some Thrash Metal tune (by the way, his drum solo a few songs before that was also fuckin’ awesome), was outstanding, but I was yawning during most of the song because Dave “forgot” to sing it properly and decided to do some weird screams instead. He was not even trying to sing the chorus.

Of course fans got more into the concert after they started playing Unchained, mainly because the following songs were all classics and we got a PERFECT guitar solo by Eddie, but before that it felt like people were about to fall asleep and never return to consciousness so bored everyone seemed to be. No one was dancing during Dance the Night Away, can you believe that? I guess that says it all. And what were all those lame “speeches” Dave insisted on giving every two minutes, most of the time in the middle of a song, including a boring story about a bicycle he had when he lived in New York City? Van Halen doesn’t need that type of shit, they have one of the best guitar players in the world, and one of the most charismatic frontmen on earth, why not focusing on the MUSIC itself instead?

In summary, what was supposed to be a memorable night for all Van Halen fans that attended the concert this Friday in Toronto became a sad letdown, thanks to the once mesmerizing but now disappointing performance by David Lee Roth. I enjoyed the show as much as I could (and so did lots of other fans), getting thrilled with every single riff and solo fired by the guitar god Eddie, banging my head to the precise beats by Alex, and enjoying Wolfgang’s increasing consistence with his bass lines, but you know it’s not perfect without the magic crafted by Diamond Dave in front of the band. Let’s just hope he finally learns how to age soon, and then we will surely get back the real Van Halen we all love so much.

Setlist
1. Light Up the Sky
2. Runnin’ With the Devil
3. Romeo Delight
4. Everybody Wants Some!!
5. Drop Dead Legs
6. Feel Your Love Tonight
7. Somebody Get Me a Doctor
8.She’s the Woman
9. China Town
10. I’ll Wait
11. Drum Solo
12. Little Guitars
13. Dance the Night Away
14. Beautiful Girls
15. Women in Love
16. Hot for Teacher
17. In a Simple Rhyme
18. “Dirty Movies”
19. Ice Cream Man (John Brim cover)
20. Unchained
21. Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love
22. Guitar Solo
23. You Really Got Me (The Kinks cover)
24. Panama
25. Jump

Band members
David Lee Roth – lead vocals
Eddie Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals
Wolfgang Van Halen – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Van Halen – drums