10 Best Rock and Metal albums of 2016!!

In a year filled with killer albums, I’ve been tasked with putting together what I believe are the 10 best. This, in theory, should be a fun endeavor. However, once I began going back and realizing just how many strong albums there were this year, it quickly became obvious that this would be no easy undertaking. Some of the biggest names in the business dropped albums this year from Megadeth and Anthrax to A7x and  Metallica. Not to mention everything in between, including Death Angel and Metal Church, to name a few. With that said, let’s get to it.

 

10) Death Angel ” The Evil Divide “

Whenever a band that has been around as long as Death Angel has, you start to wonder if they still have what it takes to write songs that can not only strike a cord with their long time fans, but with the younger generation as well. You have your answer right here. This was as strong an outing as these guys have ever had. If you consider Act III as their pentacle as myself and many others do, then you’ll find this is a close second.

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9) Texas Hippie Coalition ” Dark Side Of Black “

When Big Dad Rich and the boys aren’t too busy fishin’ or bbqin’, they’re out kickin’ ass. It was obvious right away when I heard the first single “Rise” that this was going to be one hell of an album. I was right. THC has locked down a southern sound all their own and it shines in a big way on this album.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIvSP2aKFPY[/embedyt]

 

8) Ashes In The Sky ” Relentless “

Here’s an album that embodies the term “Metal”. Killer vocals? Check! Slick guitars? Check! Powerful drums and bass? Check! These young bad asses beating up the air waves of  New York appear to be the real deal and have shown up big time with this album. The youth movement in the metal scene right now is on fire and Ashes In The Sky appear to be at the forefront. This entire album kills it from beginning to end.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1yEQtCoPJM[/embedyt]

 

7) Brutai ” Born “

Coming in from the London area is Brutai with their debut album for Transcend Music “Born”. When I first heard the single “Deep” I couldn’t get it out of my head. I drove my fellow HB staff nuts singing it over and over. It’s so unique and catchy. This is one of those albums that could prove to be a game changer in the genre. These guys have found a formula for writing songs that will be around for a long, long time. Every note on this album is so perfectly placed that you feel like the music is telling a story from note to note. Lots of stand outs on this album. “Dear Emily” is probably my pick as the strongest all around.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrYnWehkSCQ[/embedyt]

 

6) Crystal Lake ” True North “

While many people may tell you that “Babymetal” is the premiere metal band from Japan right now. They would be wrong. Dead wrong. When it comes to sheer crazy over the top musical ability, nobody is stronger than Crystal Lake right now. “True North” will grab you from beginning to end and proceed to make you feel as though you have experienced what incredible metal is all about.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvJQ1pFBi8A[/embedyt]

 

5) Incite ” Oppression “

It seems as though there is a bit of a metal scene running through Arizona right now and the leaders of the pack are known as Incite. The best way that I can describe this album upon listening to it is it’s as if somebody threw me into a metal trash can, beat it with a baseball bat and rolled it down a mountain side only to fly off a cliff and crash in the fiery canyon below. It’s brutal. That’s what makes it so great. This album is not for the casual metal fan. It’s for the hard core bastards that love to mosh to oblivion.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFCl7qKpUSs[/embedyt]

 

4) Megadeth ” Dystopia “

I know that a lot of people will question this albums entrance in the 10 best. The fact is that it’s good. Real good. I think that too often people can’t separate the music from the personality which is Dave Mustaine. Granted, he can be an egotistical moron. I’ve even heard many people refer to the band now as “MegaDave”. Put that aside and listen to what they put out this year with the additions of Kiko Loureiro and Chris Adler and you have the 4th best album of 2016.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEkXyEIu3OU[/embedyt]

 

3) Holy Grail ” Times Of  Pride And Peril “

Oh yes! Holy Grail. Perhaps one of the most talented overlooked bands out there right now. There is not a better guitar duo on the planet right now than Eli Santana and Alex Lee. I wish that more bands would utilize their guitarists the way that Holy Grail does. Often times the art of the guitar solo gets lost and doesn’t seem to find it’s way back into metal songs the way that it should. Vocally, James Paul Luna puts on a clinic in how to use your pipes in metal. I personally can’t get enough of this album.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzqKgGC2zH8[/embedyt]

 

2) Jinjer ” King Of Everything “

You know that feeling you get when you’re listening to an album and you start to develop a smile and you can’t wipe it off of your face. Yeah, that’s how I felt when listening to “King of Everything”. This album has it all. Incredible musicianship and most notably the vocals of Tatiana Shmailyuk. She may very well be the best vocalist in music right now, let alone metal. Don’t believe me? Just listen to “I Speak Astronomy”. That’s all that you need to hear to know that I’m right. Match that with the spectacular musicians in the band and you’ve got pure metal magic.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJoPIgg17U4[/embedyt]

 

1) Black Inhale ” A Doctrine Of Vultures “

I understand that most people have never even heard of this band out of Vienna Austria. That’s unfortunate. These guys have managed to craft a masterpiece without the help of a label or the use of a P.R. firm. From the time that you hear the opening notes on the opening song “The Die Is Not Yet Cast”, you know that you are in for something special. I love the sound of a good crunchy guitar and vocals that make you believe every word that they are saying is from a place of angst. The songs on this album are epic. Many written specifically for arenas. Both the title track and “Die Alone” will haunt you with their dark overtones. These guys are hard working and ready to break. This is the album to do it with.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR8AJwut61w[/embedyt]

 

Rich “Big Sloppy” Markum

Honest Brutality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Has A Hard Act To Follow!

In reviewing 2015, one has to wonder just how crazy 2016 will have to be in order to live up to it’s predecessor? With everything from the G ‘n R burying  of the hatchet, to the loss of arguably one of the greatest metal legends to ever rock a stage, as well as all of the incredible stories and music that were created throughout the year, it’s going to take a lot to stand out from 2015. Before we look ahead, let’s take a quick look back at what 2015 gave us. It seemed as though every week last year a band would produce another incredible album. Bands such as  Lamb of God, Iron Maiden, Trivium, Motorhead, The Sawyer Family, Art of Dying, Bullet For My Valentine, Atreyu, Skindred, Clutch and Slayer all poured out standard fantastic albums. Other bands that we haven’t heard from in a while such as Ugly Kid Joe and Bullet Boys came out and proved that they still have what it takes to make kick ass music.  As every week went by, another album or 2 would drop much to the delight of rock and metal fans around the world. We said goodbye to Motley Crue and Black Sabbath announced “The End”. Sadly though, the year also came with much tragedy. With horrific bus crashes including one that cost the lives of a couple of drivers and mangling an entire band (The Ghost Inside), to a club burning down during an album release party that killed the majority of another band (Goodbye to Gravity) and several of their fans , overdoses, of which we lost Scott Weiland, a muderous rampage in France that rolled into an Eagles of Death Metal show and as the year was about to come to a close, we lost our very own metal legend Lemmy. His loss will almost certainly leave a hole that may never be filled. Now we look forward into the coming year. What will it bring us? Nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that there is a lot coming our way. Megadeth, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Death Angel, Metal Church and Anthrax all have new albums slated to drop in the coming year. With younger bands such as Holy Grail, In Search Of Sun, Second Rate Angels and others slated to make their presence known with new material as well. The biggest story of the year should be the resurrection of the original Guns and Roses line up at Coachella. Any way that you look at it, 2016 should be a hell of a good time. I’m coming along for the ride. Who’s with me?

“In Search of Sun” and “Second Rate Angels” are proving that the London music scene is alive and well.

Over a period of the last few months I have been seeking out new fresh music to listen to. So far I have found a lot to like. However, there are 2 bands that have really stood out in my mind, both hailing from the London area. The first of which is “In Search of Sun”. This band first caught my ear a few months ago. Intense, methodical, intriguing music that is not like the cookie cutter music that seems to be so prevalent these days. Tons of energy to go along with excellent song writing. The song that introduced me to these guys is titled “The world is yours”, which is the title track from their 2014 album. From the first note to the last, this song is flawless. This led me to purchase the entire album, which I must admit is not always the case for me when I purchase music. Most of the time I will simply pick out the songs that I like and move on. In the case of this album, it would have been a mistake. Every song on this album stands on it’s own. A rare treat these days. The even more exciting news is that these guys are working on a new album. They recently released a video for the song “Elevation”. Once again, a great song and excellent video, as well. It’s obvious that these guys are talented and should be on the cusp of a potential breakout year. The other band from the same area is “Second Rate Angels”. Just like In Search of Sun, these guys are starting to crank out new original sounding music that keeps you wanting more. Don’t let the name fool you. There is nothing second rate about these guys. They recently released  a new single, “2 in 24”, that is as catchy a rock song as you are going to find. Hopefully it will garner some air play and get these guys noticed. What stands out to me is how tastefully they wrap the music around the vocals. Spot on guitar work and some kick ass drumming.  It’s easy to see that these guys are professionals. I can’t hardly wait for the rest of their second EP to be released in February. With the emergence of these 2 bands, one has to wonder if London is the next launching point for rock and metal, much like L.A. was in the 80’s and Seattle in the 90’s. As a true rock and metal fan, I hope that it is.

The time is now to get on the “Sawyer Family” bandwagon

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Every once in a while, you tend to stumble across something so cool that it makes you a little bit giddy inside. This was the case for me when I was checking out the results of the GWAR-BQ back in mid August. As I was reading the various posts and viewing the different videos that were being tossed out for viewing, there was one particular band, the “Sawyer Family”, that stood out due to the stand up bass that the lead singer was holding. Of course I had to check it out. It was then that I realized that I was hearing something totally unique and different from anything that I had ever heard. I couldn’t describe it. Was it metal, punk, psychobilly, folk rock? I didn’t know.  For what it’s worth, I still don’t know. What I do know is that I really dug it. Then, I turned the Butcher onto these guys and he was as awed as I was. As I delved deeper into their history, I found that they had actually been at this since 2001. How in the hell have I not heard of these guys before now? As fate would have it, these guys were coming to our little town here in northern California to play a little hole-in-the-wall bar (I call it that affectionately)  called the “Firehouse Lounge” . Actually, a really cool atmosphere for a show. Very up close and personal. Fortunately for us, we were given an opportunity to meet with the band before hand. When speaking with these guys, you could tell that they were very humble and forthcoming about what they do. You could also hear the passion for what they do in their voices. This was all building up to what I thought would be a “pretty good” show. Put me down for understatement of the year. In the 34 years that I have been going to concerts and shows, there have only been a precious few times where I was so blown away that I couldn’t hardly believe what I was seeing before my eyes. This was one of them. It’s difficult to describe. The precision and timing of a band this tight is hard to come by in any genre. These guys were laying it down like the ultimate professionals that they most certainly are. The telling moment was when Butcher looked at me and said “These guys are way bigger than this stage”. He could not have been more right. In the end, I concluded that this was not merely a concert, but rather an “experience”. An experience that I won’t soon forget.

“Ghost” keeps haunting my mind.

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Recently on one of our podcasts we discussed the band Ghost. Having listened to a number of their songs and watching their videos, I just couldn’t get into them. No matter how hard that I tried, it just didn’t register well with me. They seemed like this cool, creepy band that I should dig but the music just wasn’t as metal as the band portrayed themselves to be. At least that was “my” perception. With that said, their has been a lot of positive press on these guys recently. I keep hearing how brilliant the music is and that they are growing in popularity with no end in sight. So, I decided to give them one more try. I’m glad that I did. I dialed up a song from the new album titled “From the Pinnacle to the Pit”. As I was listening, it dawned on me that these guys are not a “metal” band but a straight ahead rock band with their own unique sound and style. I had allowed the imagery that they portray to mislead me into thinking that they should be heavier than they sounded. At the very least, the vocals should sound more menacing than they are. Shouldn’t they? Turns out that I was wrong. The vocals are actually perfect and haunting. The more that I listened, the more I was drawn in. I found the music to be almost hypnotic, subtle and dark. Now, as I crawl deeper into their catalog, I can’t help but hear the influences of bands such as “Q and the Mysterians” and “Batlord”. Does this mean that they are going to be my new favorite band? No, probably not. However, they have gained a new fan. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up painting a skull on my face and sing “Cirice” while in line at the grocery store. You never know.

Black Sabbath reaches ” The End “

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As it was announced earlier this week, Black Sabbath will be calling it a career with a tour titled “The End”. Of all the farewell tours that have either been announced or embarked upon over the past decade or so, this one hit me the hardest. After all, these are the guys who played the soundtrack of my life. Even though I knew that this day would eventually come, it didn’t make it any easier to accept. As I sit and ponder why it is that this announcement bothers me so much, I am forced to remember why I feel the way that I do. Is it that Sabbath was my first foray into the music that I would eventually come to love and enjoy? Possibly. Perhaps it’s the bond that they helped forge between my uncle and I when he gave me a used copy of “Paranoid” as a gift when I was only 12. Could be. Maybe it’s a matter of me realizing that I, myself, am not getting any younger. Makes sense. Truthfully, it’s more likely a combination of all these things. Even though it saddens me to see the conclusion of a career that spans decades, I am glad that I was able to enjoy it and come along vicariously for a ride. Thanks for the memories boys. You will truly be missed.