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!

Album Review – Lamb of God / Lamb of God (2020)

Re-energized and unrelenting, Richmond, Virginia’s own Groove Metal titans are finally back after five years with their pulverizing eighth studio album.

At long last, five years after the release of the excellent VII: Sturm und Drang, Richmond, Virginia-based Groove Metal titans Lamb of God are finally back with a brand new album self-titled Lamb of God, the band’s eighth studio effort, for our vulgar delectation. Produced by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Megadeth, Gojira, Trivium), the fact that their new effort is self-titled is a testament to the band’s pride and satisfaction with these songs and this period in their creativity, showcasing a true and healthy collaboration between frontman Randy Blythe, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell and newcomer Art Cruz on drums, a re-energized and unrelenting lineup that’s more than ready to lay claim to the metal throne. “Putting only our name on it is a statement,” Mr. Randy Blythe said. “This is Lamb of God. Here and now,” expressing in words all the rage, groove and darkness found in each of the album’s ten original and extremely acid songs.

An eerie start evolves into a pounding Groove Metal feast in the opening track Memento Mori, where Willie and Mark and infernal with their riffs, inspiring us all to slam into the pit like true metal maniacs while Randy darkly vociferates the song’s psychological lyrics (“The hardest hour, the cruelest sign / I’m waking up from this wretched lie / I fight it the same, don’t waste this day / Wake up, wake up, wake up / Memento mori”), whereas in Checkmate we’re treated to more of their modern-day, austere words (“Watch the gears grind off their teeth / The screeching halt machine digging heels in disbelief / Two reactional identities, opposing policies / A bait and switch routine”), while Art brings forward all his fury and dexterity on drums, proving why he was chosen to take the band’s drumming duties. And in Gears, my favorite song of the entire album, Randy sounds inhumane with his enraged roars accompanied by Art’s pounding beats and the groovy and thunderous bass by John, resulting in a very intricate, multi-layered and thrilling aria from start to finish.

Speeding things up a notch, the quintet fires the neck-breaking, pulverizing tune Reality Bath, bringing an amazing shredding blasted by the band’s guitar duo while Randy alternates between his trademark growls and dark, eerie clean vocals, followed by New Colossal Hate, keeping the album at an insane level of wrath and violence. In other words, it’s another song perfect for jumping up and down with the band, with John and Art making the foundations of the earth tremble with their hellish kitchen, and they continue to crush our heads with the wicked and visceral Resurrection Man, one of the heaviest and most obscure of all tracks, with Art hammering his drums fiercely while Rady fires deep, vicious roars nonstop. Then featuring guest vocalist Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), the band delivers more of their hybrid of Groove and Thrash Metal in Poison Dream, with the sick riffage by Willie and Mark adding an extra kick to the overall result, not to mention the song’s vibrant and aggressive vibe.

The one and only Mr. Chuck Billy (Testament) lends his thunderous vocals to the high-octane Groove and Thrash Metal hurricane entitled Routes, sounding very melodic and at the same time as vile and caustic as possible, offering our avid ears their usual frantic beats, rabid screams and strident guitar solos, and you better get ready for another round of insanity and heaviness spearheaded by Randy and his demented screams in Bloodshot Eyes, also bringing some introspective moments while John and Art deliver endless groove through their unstoppable weapons. And last but not least, Lamb of God fire one last breath of first-class, demolishing metal music entitled On the Hook, with all of its crisp and thunderous riffs and bass jabs being nicely spiced up by Art’s rhythmic beats, uniting the heaviest elements from Thrash and Death Metal to the band’s core essence and, therefore, putting an amazingly heavy and explosive end to the album.

You can follow Lamb of God on Facebook and on Instagram (if you haven’t done so yet, of course) to stay up to date with everything that surrounds the band, including their tour dates, new songs and videos, news and other nice-to-know details, but I highly recommend you invest a small amount of your hard-earned money into their brand new album by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of it, as this is among the best metal albums of the year hands down. It might have taken a little longer than expected for Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen to released their new album due to all this horrifying and tedious COVID-19 pandemic, but at least the wait is over and, if you look on the bright side of life, all the wait was relatively worth it, making us insanely eager to see what Lamb of God had to offer us all in such obscure times. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint at all, with their self-titled installment certainly fueling their inner selves to keep composing and delivering more of their unique Groove Metal for many years to come. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for metal concerts to be back on, buy your tickets to see Lamb of God live, and witness them kicking some serious ass with both their classics and the new fulminating songs from their new album, just the way we like it.

Best moments of the album: Memento Mori, Gears, Reality Bath and Routes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Epic Records/Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Memento Mori 5:48
2. Checkmate 4:30
3. Gears 3:55
4. Reality Bath 4:32
5. New Colossal Hate 4:30
6. Resurrection Man 4:59
7. Poison Dream 4:57
8. Routes 3:04
9. Bloodshot Eyes 3:57
10. On the Hook 4:30

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

Guest musicians
Jamey Jasta – vocals on “Poison Dream”
Chuck Billy – vocals on “Routes”

Concert Review – Slayer (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/29/2018)

And Slayer said goodbye to Toronto in the most pulverizing (and best) way you can imagine.

OPENING ACTS: Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God

I don’t know what to say about the absolute devastation that happened at the always perfect (and I dare you to name one place in this planet that’s better than that for a live concert) Budweiser Stage yesterday in Toronto. When it was announced that there was going to be a Slayer Farewell Tour, I guess they forgot to say it was going to be a farewell to their diehard fans, brave people who lost their lives while crushing their heads and spines into the nonstop, infernal mosh pits that took over the entire venue (and I believe I saw some smaller ones even in the seated areas) during the more than SIX HOURS of brutal Thrash and Death Metal blasted by some of the best bands in the history of heavy music. As a matter of fact, whoever had the initial idea of putting together on the same day/night the great Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, Lamb Of God and Slayer deserves a huge prize and our utmost respect forever. It was totally and amazingly insane from start to finish, on a beyond beautiful and sunny day in the city. My neck hurts and I’m as tired as hell, so I’ll try to be brief in writing a little about what was supposed to be the last fulminating performance by the almighty Slayer in Toronto (and I really, really hope it was not the last time we saw those guys here).

It was past 4pm when the gates finally opened and the fans could enter the venue for some beer, for getting a little shade away from the scorching sun, and for a few curious ones to enjoy the official pre-show party with Canadian Black Metal horde Panzerfaust at the River Bar at 4:30pm. As I was dying for a beer and pumped up already for TESTAMENT at 5pm, I unfortunately couldn’t attend that mini-gig, but I guess the band won’t be mad at us for doing that, right? Anyway, at 5 o’clock high there they were Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, Steve Di Giorgio and the demonic stone crusher Gene Hoglan for a short and demolishing lecture in Thrash Metal, still promoting their latest installment, the flawless Brotherhood Of The Snake, from 2016. It was insanity in the form of seven faster-than-a-bullet songs (who doesn’t love the thrashing classic Into the Pit?), with the bestial drums by Gene sounding like he was hired by TTC to help with the excavations for a new subway station, making our chests and even hats tremble with his beats. Yes, as awesome as that.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
Practice What You Preach
The Pale King
Into the Pit
The New Order
Disciples of the Watch

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

After a short bathroom break, it was time for Poland’s most iconic metal band of all time to darken the stage with their blasphemous and sulfuric music. Polish Blackened Death Metal institution BEHEMOTH lived up to the expectations even playing a shorter setlist than usual (and at daylight, something they might not be used to), mixing classics with kick-ass songs from their latest album, their 2014 opus The Satanist, plus a brand new song named Wolves ov Siberia. Mr. Adam “Nergal” Darski was on fire throughout the entire performance, proving why he’s one of the most respected metal artists of the past decade, leaving the fans eager for more of their obscure music in a not-so-distant future. One funny thing is that Behemoth were the only band to not throw to the fans any guitar picks or drumsticks, but instead they were spitting blood on the people at the front row. If that doesn’t tell you how dark their music is, I don’t know what would.

Setlist
Ov Fire and the Void
Demigod
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Another bathroom break, another beer, and at 6:55pm sharp (don’t you feel amazed with how punctual all events are in Toronto?) it was time for the old school, slamming, riff-oriented Thrash Metal by the one and only ANTHRAX, who (guess what?) delivered a sequence of seven ass-kicking, frantic songs, including Evil Twin, from their 2016 album For All Kings, and beautiful classics such as I Am the Law, Madhouse and Indians. Scott Ian and Frank Bello were in their usual “I’m playing on stage but I’m also moshing up here together with you guys in the pit” mode, while Joey Belladonna was beyond happy with the warm reaction of the fans to each one of their songs. The low point of the show was that unfortunately Charlie Benante couldn’t play with the band as a result of an ongoing battle with carpal tunnel in his wrists, but the good thing is that he was replaced by the monstrous Gene Hoglan. Do I need to say more? In addition, Mr. Belladonna said that the concert yesterday was Anthrax’s biggest crowd ever in Toronto, and I’m sure everyone who was there banging their heads to their music was more than happy to have been part of such important day to the band.

Setlist
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
I Am the Law
Madhouse
Evil Twin
Antisocial (Trust cover)
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Gene Hoglan – drums*

*Replaced Charlie Benante due to illness.

After all the havoc generated by Testament, Behemoth and Anthrax, there was still more to come with Groove Metal titans LAMB OF GOD, still promoting their 2015 album VII: Sturm und Drang, and let me tell you the show was so heavy and insane I think some people went missing after the demented circle pits ignited by Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen. Playing a solid mix of songs from all of their albums, with all of them of course being as brutal as hell, Lamb Of God put a huge smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with Randy also praising all the bands of the “mini-festival”, requesting everyone to pay a humble tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair with a few WOOOOO’s, and jumping up and down like a maniac on stage nonstop. Well, everything a Redneck loves in life, right? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but was Randy wearing some sort of ankle monitor still due to the manslaughter case he was involved and arrested for a few years ago? If that’s the case, well, that’s what I call a badass frontman, ladies and gentlemen.

Setlist
Omerta
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
512
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

SLAYER

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It’s with these classic words that I want to introduce you to the end of all days in the form of the Satanic Thrash Metal blasted by the heaviest, the most awesome and the most destructive band in the world, the all-powerful SLAYER. Actually, I should say FUCKIN’ SLAYER, or even SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR, as this is the right way to refer to the unrelenting Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and the second stone crusher of the night, the barbaric Paul Bostaph (another guy that probably got some money from TTC to speed up the subway excavations yesterday). Playing at least one song from each one of their crushing albums, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy to their 2015 opus Repentless (with the exception of their 1998 controversial album Diabolus in Musica), Slayer put on a flammable performance (and I’m not using the word flammable in vain, as there was A LOT of fire during the whole concert), turning the entire floor section into one supreme, hot-as-hell, motherfuckin’ savage circle pit.

And that mix of classic Slayer with their more contemporary albums workd extremely well, creating a hellish balance of sounds for the total delectation of all admirers of their undisputed Thrash Metal. It was fantastic watching them performing faster, newer tunes like Repentless, Disciple, Hate Worldwide and Jihad, while at the same time delivering their classic infernal melodies in Mandatory Suicide, Postmortem and Black Magic. For instance, in my humble opinion the sequence comprised of Payback (one of the most pulverizing songs of the night), Seasons in the Abyss, Dittohead and Dead Skin Mask simply proves how timeless their music is, and how important they’ll always be to the world of heavy music. Then from Hell Awaits until the grand finale with the all-time classic Angel of Death it was an absolute chaos, with the circle pit getting bigger and bigger, people screaming at the top of their lungs and crowd surfing nonstop like if there was no tomorrow, and sweat and beer flowing everywhere. And I’m not going to say how cataclysmic the metal hymn Raining Blood was. If you were not there, you don’t deserve to know.

One thing I’ll never understand is how Mr. Paul Bostaph managed to play drums at that insane speed and intensity with all those blistering hot fires burning almost all the time all around his drum set. I think that proves he’s not human, as none of the guys from Slayer are. As a matter of fact, Slayer are a four-headed, rabid beast that would make even the “hound of Hades” Cerberus put his tail between his legs and run away, and if this was in fact their farewell tour, well, they’ll be beyond missed by all of us, diehard Slayer fans who consider Dead Skin Mask one of the best “ballads” ever composed by any band. Let’s wait and see if we’ll be treated to at least one more Slayer apocalypse in Toronto in the coming years as a second, third or whatever leg of their farewell tour, I don’t care, as long as they return. Now it’s time to take some rest from all madness from yesterday, do the body count (and maybe there are even some bodies floating in Lake Ontario near the venue), take a deep breath and keep doing what we all know how to at home, at school, at work or anywhere else where some good and reverberating screaming in required. And you know what word you need to burst your lungs screaming, right?

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Blood Red
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Jihad
When the Stillness Comes
Postmortem
Black Magic
Payback
Seasons in the Abyss
Dittohead
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Chemical Warfare
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Movie Review – Wacken 3D – Louder Than Hell (2014)

Experience the biggest metal festival in the world, in 3D, and louder than hell.

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Wacken 3DIt’s undeniable that Wacken Open Air is the biggest, most exciting and most badass Heavy Metal festival in the entire world. For instance, it only takes couple of days after the festival is over for the next year’s edition to be sold out. If you’ve already had the indescribable pleasure of attending this 4-day monstrous gathering in your life (and I’m pretty sure that if the answer is “yes” you’ve already repeated that metallic ritual many times through the years) you have the chance to go back in time and feel that energy again by watching the awesome documentary entitled WACKEN 3D – LOUDER THAN HELL. And if you’ve never been to Wacken, this is your chance to take a special journey to the heart of the festival, with the 3D screening making you feel like you’re right there with over 75,000 metalheads from all over the world celebrating life and heavy music.

Filmed with 18 stereoscopic 3D cameras during the 2013 edition of the festival, this excellent documentary by award-winning director Norbert Heitker will show you exactly what happens once a year to a calm farming village in the middle of a Northern German countryside, when it becomes the centre of the universe for all things metal. You’ll be able to see in details what it is to camp at Wacken, the daily routine of fans and bands, what musicians think of the festival, and even go crowd-surfing and mud-diving with the more lunatic fans. Not only that, you’ll also have a good time watching some electrifying performances by metal giants such as Deep Purple, Anthrax, Motörhead, Rammstein, Alice Cooper, Lamb Of God, and many more.

12_WackenIn my opinion, as a huge supporter of the underground of heavy music, the best part of the entire documentary is when they focus on some of the national winners of the already famous Wacken Metal Battle, showing what it is to be an up-and-coming band playing at the most important metal festival on earth. There are awesome bands from Uruguay, Romania, Canada and so on showcasing their music to thousands of fans, but my favorite one in terms of creativity and feeling were the Chinese Metal Battle winners Nine Treasures. All members of the band are from Inner Mongolia, with all lyrics being sung in Mongolian, which is beyond incredible. You have to watch it to understand what I’m talking about, and if one day those guys read this review, I would like to ask them to kindly send us their material for review. It would be a huge pleasure for us at The Headbanging Moose to do that.

06_WackenIn case you live in Canada and do not have any plans for tonight (well, even if you do have plans you should definitely cancel them), there will be a special WACKEN 3D – LOUDER THAN HELL “One Night Only Across Canada” event today, October 29 at 7:30pm at several Cineplex theaters. You can check more details at the official Facebook event, see where the movie will be playing by clicking HERE, and also grab your tickets at the official Cineplex website. In addition, following the Cineplex Yonge-Dundas screening in Toronto, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner of Anvil will be in attendance for a Q&A, and if you cannot make it today but you live near Ottawa the movie will also be playing soon at the Mayfair Theatre, located at 1074 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

Best moments of the movie: The unique moments of glory provided by the Wacken Metal Battle bands from different countries, the iconic Rammstein playing Du Hast with thousands of fans screaming the lyrics together with the band and, of course, all the classy mud scenes.

Worst moments of the movie: The fact that there were no subtitles when a fan or a band spoke in a language different than English, especially when it was in German. At least the version I saw had no subtitles. Oh, and unfortunately there were no interviews with Lemmy.

Released in 2014 Jumpseat 3Dplus/Wüste Film

Bands and artists featured in the documentary
Rammstein
Alice Cooper
Deep Purple
Motörhead
Henry Rollins
Trivium
Ragnarok
Lamb Of God
Annihilator
Anthrax
…and many more!

Album Review – Lamb of God / VII: Sturm und Drang (2015)

Braving all the storms and stress in their lives, Mr. Randy Blythe and his squad boldly externalize their deepest fears through their aggressive new album.

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CoverSeveral bands and artists all over the world would love to benefit from the type of exposure frontman Randy Blythe got on the media after his manslaughter case, focusing on the external situation rather than on the music itself to sell more and consequently make more money. Fortunately for fans of high-quality heavy music that’s not the case with his own band, American groove metallers Lamb of God, who put together instead their talent and personal experiences to generate another excellent and violent studio album, this time entitled VII: Sturm und Drang.

Of course there are many references to Randy’s period in prison, but this is not a “prison record” according to him.  The whole album is in fact about the psychology of humans reacting under extreme conditions, which also explains its subtitle “Sturm und Drang” (a German term that means “Storm and Stress”), how we deal with our personal demons and what to expect for our future. And when the music supporting such emotional concept is as thrilling as what Lamb of God can craft, you know the album is already more than halfway to success.

Longtime fans of Lamb of God will connect instantly to the new album as soon as the brutal and vicious Still Echoes begins, led by an enraged Randy Blythe and with Chris Adler, who will drum on the new Megadeth album, proving here why he was chosen by Mustaine for the duty. And the battle rages on in the awesome Erase This, a violent but still very melodic tune where the band will break your neck mercilessly, with highlights to the great job on guitars by Willie Adler and Mark Morton, especially their solos. Then in the dark and heavy tune 512 you will be able to feel in details the time Randy spent in prison. He actually wrote the lyrics to the song in Pankrác Prison, in the Czech Republic, cell number 512 (most of his time was spent in a basement dungeon), while he was contemplating how the experience was changing him, and you can feel his desolation and pain flowing through his words (“Six bars laid across the sky / Four empty walls to fill the time / One careless word, you lose your life / A grave new world awaits inside”).

Embers, featuring lead singer Chino Moreno of Deftones, whose clean vocals sound good but nothing truly remarkable, is a rhythmic and melodic devastation perfect for their live performances to ignite some circle pits, while Footprints showcases a modern version of the band’s Groove/Thrash Metal with an amazing dark atmosphere, with Chris kicking ass on drums and Randy vociferating all his anger and frustrations. Randy is definitely not in a good mood in this song, no doubt about that. Following that bestial massacre, Overlord cools down the animosity a bit, reminding me of some of the old classics by Stone Temple Pilots but obviously heavier. It’s a good “break” from all the havoc the band has delivered so far, but that’s just until its melancholic and introspective instrumental suddenly becomes another demonic metal feast.

lamb of godThe magnificent Anthropoid is the perfect depiction of contemporary extreme metal, where although violence is the most important element present in the music, its level of complexity is still extremely high and astonishing. It’s a nonstop headbanging tune fueled by huge doses of madness and electricity, and knowing this song hasn’t been included in their most recent setlists makes me deeply sad. In Engage the Fear Machine, they slow down the rhythm once again without losing their ferocious vibe thanks to the growling vocals by Randy, to its groovier than usual riffs and to its frantic drums, which sound like bullets hitting solid metal to be more precise.

Closing the regular version of the album, it’s time for war with Lamb of God in Delusion Pandemic, where the cohesiveness among band members beautifully enhances the song’s obscurity. In addition, the metallic guitar lines by Willie and Mark provide Randy all he needs to keep kicking ass and delivering aggressive words (“Allocate your future to the delegates / Relegate your muses to the surrogates / Long green apron stings that end in hooks / Sunk deep, written off, and on the books”). And finally, Torches, featuring lead singer Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan, is in my opinion the weakest of all tracks, very bland and generic compared to the rest of the album with nothing special to offer to the listener like most of the other songs of the album. Moreover, if you acquire the limited digipak edition of VII: Sturm und Drang, you’ll be treated to two bonus tracks, Wine & Piss and Nightmare Seeker (The Little Red House), both as good and exciting as the regular album tracks.

To sum up, it’s good to see Lamb of God are leaving their comfort zone by exploring new approaches and heights and facing their inner demons, which in the end translates into more meaningful music for the total delight of their loyal fans as we can enjoy in VII: Sturm und Drang. That is to say, if there’s a band that truly learned how to externalize all their weaknesses and fears through their music, braving all the storms and stress in their lives without showing any signs of backing off or giving up at any moment, that’s undoubtedly the ruthless squad led by the one and only Randy Blythe.

Best moments of the album: Footprints, Anthropoid and Delusion Pandemic.

Worst moments of the album: Embers and Torches.

Released in 2015 Epic Records/Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Still Echoes 4:22
2. Erase This 5:08
3. 512 4:44
4. Embers (feat. Chino Moreno) 4:56
5. Footprints 4:24
6. Overlord 6:28
7. Anthropoid 3:38
8. Engage the Fear Machine 4:48
9. Delusion Pandemic 4:22
10. Torches (feat. Greg Puciato) 5:17

Limited Digipak Edition bonus tracks
11.Wine & Piss 3:33
12.Nightmare Seeker (The Little Red House) 4:56

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

Guest musicians
Chino Moreno – additional vocals on “Embers”
Greg Puciato – additional vocals on “Torches”

Concert Review – Heavy Montréal 2014 Day 2 (Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC, 08/10/2014)

A scorching hot Sunday of impeccable heavy music in Montreal.

DEATH ANGEL

IMG_2880After a good night of rest I was ready for more Heavy Montréal at Parc Jean Drapeau on Sunday. However, not only I was able to arrive really early that day (missing only a couple of minor bands), but also the sun was a lot hotter and the lineup  a billion times heavier, turning that day into some kind of heavy music survival camp, which was totally awesome.

The first attraction I was able to check on Sunday was American Thrash Metal band Death Angel, who at 1:30pm delivered a very consistent concert at the Heavy Stage, mixing some old songs with new ones from their most recent album from 2013 in their SETLIST, with highlights to the title-track The Dream Calls For Blood, one of the songs with the highest response from thousands of thrash metallers already present at the festival. And, of course, the energy lead singer Mark Osegueda emanates throughout the entire show was more than admirable.

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – lead guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitars
Damien Sisson – bass guitar
Will Carroll – drums

EXODUS

IMG_2883When American Thrash Metal beasts Exodus started their sonic Armageddon at 2:15pm at the Molson Canadian Stage, especially with the return of Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals, the smile on the faces of all fans perfectly represented what Exodus are: a nonstop Thrash Metal machine ready to rumble until there’s no one standing anymore. I’ve always considered them the “extra” element that would transform the Big Four into a Big Five, and everytime I see them live I believe in that even more.

Despite not playing any new stuff from their upcoming album Blood In, Blood Out (which I really cannot wait to take a listen to), their short but superb SETLIST was a perfect lesson in Thrash Metal: Bonded By Blood, Blacklist, Toxic Waltz, Piranha, Strike of the Beast, among other masterful songs, were the soundtrack for intense circle pits, furious headbanging and constant beer drinking.

All band members were on fire, especially the returning Zetro (and his HUGE belly) and the riff master Gary Holt, a man that deserves a lot more recognition in the world of heavy music than he actually has. Maybe the only issues with their concert were sound of the guitars, which were too low compared to the drums, and the fact they had only 45 minutes to play. Anyway, the “Exodus Atack” might have been short, but it was indeed extremely effective.

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – guitar
Lee Altus – guitar
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums

EPICA

IMG_2886After the BEASTS from Exodus, it was time for everyone to relax (and bang their heads, of course) with the BEAUTY Simone Simons and her bandmates from Dutch Symphonic Metal band Epica at 3:00pm, at the Heavy Stage. Their SETLIST was also pretty short, but instead of playing their classics they decided to offer their fans a concert full of new songs from their brand new album, the excellent The Quantum Enigma, which worked really well for them: everybody watching their performance truly enjoyed songs like The Second Stone, The Essence of Silence and Unchain Utopia.

Obviously, everyone had their eyes fixed on the stunning Simone, who is not only extremely gorgeous, but an awesome singer and a very sympathetic and charismatic frontwoman. Her headbanging was also amazing, especially due to the effect her beautiful long red hair had on that. Lastly, Simone mentioned they’re getting back to Canada in October with Machine Head and Children of Bodom, this time for a full 2-hour concert. Are you going to miss that unique opportunity?

Band members
Simone Simons – lead vocals
Mark Jansen – rhythm guitar, grunts, screams
Isaac Delahaye – lead guitar, backing vocals
Rob van der Loo – bass
Coen Janssen – synthesizer, piano
Ariën van Weesenbeek – drums, grunts, spoken words

BODY COUNT

IMG_2898I skipped Symphony X not only because they’re quite boring, but also to breathe some fresh air, watch good-quality wrestling matches at the Heavy Mania Stage, drink a couple of beers, and get ready for American Crossover Thrash band Body Count. At 4:30pm there they were at the Heavy Stage, or I should say that Body Count was literally “in the house”: that was a very entertaining concert, full of classics such as Body Count’s In the House, Disorder (my favorite of their SETLIST), Cop Killer and Talk Shit, Get Shot.

I must say that Ice-T, the mastermind behind Body Count, is a motherfuckin’ great frontman. Even after all those years, the man still got it and perfectly interacted with each and every person from the crowd. The funniest part was when he pointed to a girl and asked her age. She said she was only 16, for his surprise, as he replied back saying he would expect to see her at a Justin Bieber concert, not at Body Count, but he was 100% happy with her being there. He then pronounced some “beautiful” words for her, saying it was a pleasure to have her there and that the whole band truly respected that “bitch”. Well, the “bitch” seemed to be honored with his words. A day to remember, “bitch”!

Band members
Ice-T – vocals
Ernie C – lead guitar
Juan of the Dead – rhythm guitar
Sean E Sean – sampler, backing vocals
Vincent Price – bass
Ill Will – drums

BAD RELIGION

IMG_2902After skipping another concert, Hatebreed, and watching only 5 minutes of Alestorm’s performance at the Apocalypse Stage, I ran back to the Heavy Stage at 6:00pm for a memorable performance by American Punk Rock icons Bad Religion. The band was back in town just one year after their last performance there, or as frontman Greg Graffin said during the show, Bad Religion were back to Montreal “1 year later, 10 years older, and all fans looking better than ever”.

And what can be said about a nonstop SETLIST with 22 songs, including masterpieces such as Recipe for Hate, Struck a Nerve, 21st Century (Digital Boy), Infected, Punk Rock Song and American Jesus? It was pure madness, with kudos to drummer Brooks Wackerman for pounding his drums so intensely that each and every song became even better than the studio versions. Bad Religion might look 10 years older, but they sound like if they were all in their mid-20’s.

Band members
Greg Graffin – lead vocals
Brian Baker – lead guitar, backing vocals
Mike Dimkich – guitar, backing vocals
Brett Gurewitz – guitar, backing vocals
Jay Bentley – bass, backing vocals
Brooks Wackerman – drums, percussion

LAMB OF GOD

IMG_2907The sun was still scorching hot at 7:00pm when Twisted Sister hit the stage, so I decided to rest for a while at the Wi-Fi zone before heading back to the Heavy Stage, where at 8:00pm American Groove Metal band Lamb of God began their sonic massacre to the total delight of their diehard fans. They played a pretty decent SETLIST, with powerful songs like Walk with Me in Hell, Laid To Rest and Redneck, all accompanied by their respective awesome disturbing videos depending of course on the lyric theme, showing random images of junkies, religious fanatics such as Jim Jones and his followers, among others. That was an amazing addition to the show, holding the attention of even who was not a fan of their music.

However, it was lead singer Randy Blythe who stole the show with his close interaction with the audience, especially his funny jokes and messages, like when he said Dee Snider is one of his biggest idols (as they both have their issues with the law), his admiration for the badass names “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan”, and mainly when he asked everyone to give him a huge fuckin’ “WOOOOOO!” in honor of the Nature Boy, the one and only wrestling legend Ric Flair. And I guess I don’t need to mention anything about the insane mosh pits, right?

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Mark Morton – guitar
Willie Adler – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

SLAYER

IMG_2909You don’t need to ask anyone what you should or should not play when you’re FUCKIN’ SLAYER! At 9:15pm, American Thrash Metal behemoths tamed the Molson Canadian Stage for a brutal performance that almost devastated the whole island, bringing even the “plague” (or tons of mosquitoes) to Heavy Montréal (according to Tom Araya himself) and closing the festival on a perfect note. The most evil band in the world didn’t play any new songs, not even the recently released Implode, and of course there were no fuckin’ “requests” in their SETLIST. They simply chose to stick to their basics instead, bombarding each fan attending the concert with undisputed Thrash Metal classics such as War Ensemble, At Dawn They Sleep, Spirit in Black, Disciple, Raining Blood, Die By the Sword and Angel of Death.

It was another flawless performance by Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, and one thing must be said about Gary and Paul: they had some absurdly humongous shoes to fill when they replaced the gods Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo, but their synergy with the other guys and their passion for heavy music make it look like they’ve always been with the band. Gary Holt is a guitar beast, as I’ve said a billion times already, and Paul Bostaph is so awesome he makes playing drums look like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

In between the songs and all the sick circle pits happening all over the festival, Tom Araya thanked the fans a thousand times for being there, saying they were the reason for that kind of festival to exist. He seemed really happy and honored by how loud everyone was screaming their names and singing their songs during the entire concert. In addition, he also tried to send some meaningful messages to the crowd while introducing some songs, like when he mentioned the horrible conflict that’s happening now between Israel and Palestine, before playing the masterpiece Die By the Sword. Do I need to say a “Slayer by Request” is totally unnecessary, especially when a band is so impressive as they are, no matter what they choose to play? I believe all the “SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER!” screams that echoed really loudly at the venue when the concert was over, at all subway stations and even at a McDonald’s where I had a pit stop to get some food can answer that.

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was probably the best edition in the history of Heavy Montréal, because not only the main-eventers were brilliant, but mainly because the way everything was set up made the whole experience really pleasant for any type of person attending the festival. For instance, the extra stage this year allowed even more independent and/or newer bands to get known by the audience, the continuation of the Heavy Mania Stage was a great success, and the Heavy Montréal 2014 App was more than helpful for everybody.

Moreover, I don’t remember seeing any incidents during both days at Parc Jean-Drapeau. I cannot believe it’s 2014 and some idiots keep insisting on saying headbangers are violent people, when in fact we’re the most easy-going people in the whole fuckin’ world. Anyway, it’s time to recover from those two intense days, work, study, listen to metal and enjoy the local concerts wherever you are, until a new edition of Heavy Montréal is forged in the fires of heavy music next year for our pure delectation. What are your thoughts about Heavy Montréal 2014? Which attractions did or did not meet your expectations? And who do you want to see at Heavy Montréal 2015? Leave your comments below (if you have any) and, of course, keep listening to heavy music.