Top Ten Metal Albums Of February

What a fucking month! We got a slew of new singles and tons of great albums, including some from big names in metal. I covered what I could, and I think I covered most of the worthwhile releases, but I’m bound to have missed some. Nonetheless, enough of them really stuck out to make me struggle at least a little bit with this list.

Also, for the full reviews of these (which I did for all but two of them), click the album title in the heading!

Anyway, here’re my top ten metal albums of February!

10. Herman Frank – Fight the Fear

Now, I know I only gave this album a 6.5, but I had to include it for the guitar solos. There’s no shortage of facemelting fire on this list, but Herman Frank’s heavy metal meltdowns are simply exceptional. Seriously. If you’re in the mood for some straightforward, tried-and-true classic heavy metal, this record is definitely for you. The drums are hard, the vocals are hard, the bass is cranked up, and the riffs and solos are furious.

Herman Frank – Sinners (AFM)

9. Avantasia – Moonglow

Tobias Sammet’s eighth installment of his rock opera/collaberation project is a definite hit. It isn’t his best, but it’s up there for sure. The whole lineup (or should I say “cast”) performs absolutely wonderfully to produce a massive and powerful delivery, including the fantastic guest vocalists, including Michael Kiske (Helloween), Candice Night, and Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids). The arrangements are full and lively and there aren’t many moments when it feels like there isn’t enough going on.

Avantasia – The Raven Child (Nuclear Blast)

8. Vanir – Allfather

I don’t often listen to anything close to death metal unless it’s very melodic. Examples of these exceptions would be Exmortus and Brymir, where the power elements are strong enough that I don’t mind the more extreme sound. In Vanir’s case, not only does it fall under a similar category as those for me, but it has managed to raid its way into my heart. It’s harsh and rough, but it’s never too messy. It’s viking metal done extremely well.

Vanir – Shield Wall (Mighty Music)

7. Against Myself – Unity

Spanish outfit Against Myself’s new record is very impressive. The musicians are all top-tier and the prog underbelly of the album’s symphonic atmosphere makes for a refined and dynamic experience. Irene Villegas’ vocals create a beautiful focal point over the creative rhythm parts.


There’s a surprising amount of variety in Unity, especially when compared to other bands and albums in the same space. All in all, despite its clear musical influences such as Nightwish, Unity is entirely unique.

Against Myself – Hero’s Soul (On Fire)

6. Sylvania – Testigos de las Estrellas

Sylvania’s Spanish roots are impossible to miss in Testigos de las Estrellas. The dual vocals (and many guest vocals) are extremely passionate and add an almost mariachi sound to its uplifting power metal. Despite its less-than-perfect mixing, this album is stellar and earns a clear place at number six.

Sylvania – Espiritu de Fuego (Rock-CD)

5. Mortanius – Till Death Do Us Part

Mortanius’ debut album is wonderful. Its lively symphonic foundation and exuberant tenor vocals make it a very interesting listen. To describe it in a few words, it’s symphonic power metal with a medium-heavy prog influence, as well vocal harmonies and harpsichord that give it a vampirey feel. Make sense? Probably not. Go check out the review and listen to it yourself. You’ll get it.

Mortanius – Facing The Truth (Rockshots)

Let’s take a minute or two to prepare ourselves for what’s to come. Stretch your legs, give your eyes a little break, go get some junk food to stuff your face with (as if you haven’t been doing that already, unless that’s just me). There’ve been some great records on the list so far, but the next four are in a whole other league.

Ok, got your shit together? Great. We’re about to unleash the dragons and enter the glorious hellfury that awaits.

4. Rhapsody of Fire – The Eighth Mountain

After five years of letdown after unholy letdown, Rhapsody of Fire has produced a redeeming and glorious symphonic beauty in The Eighth Mountain. It’s back to its former epic, dragonslaying glory, and the band displays the skill of true warriors.

It seemed like all was lost for Rhapsody after Luca Turilli’s departure. He kept producing quality music, and they kept producing, well, hot, steaming, brimstoney shit. However, The Eighth Mountain has turned all of that around with this fantastic display of orchestra-backed metal. With a runtime of more than an hour and the entire band giving excellent performances, I was left more than satisfied and with my faith in Rhapsody restored.

Rhapsody of Fire – Rain of Fury (AFM)

3. Thornbridge – Theatrical Masterpiece

This might seem like a strange pick (especially when it beats Rhapsody of Fire for number three), but Theatrical Masterpiece is so awesomely epic that it has earned its place. Thornbridge has surfaced with a second album that takes everything great about their first record and tags it with a newer, more original feel. The choruses are still fairly Orden Ogany but the overall sound is heavier, more sincere, and more badass than their debut, making for a blast of an album.

Thornbridge – Ember in the Winter Grove (Massacre)

2. Dream Theater – Distance over Time

Holy balls, is this ever an incredible record. Distance over Time is the best Dream Theater record since 2009 as well as one of the best overall. They’ve returned to their earlier sound, but it’s hardly derivative. There are a few more unique songs, notably the bluesy ‘Viper King’ (below), and the songwriting strikes a perfect balance between proggy timechanges and more conventional beats, with phenomenal instrumentation that lifts the album to great heights.

Dream Theater – Pale Blue Dot (InsideOut)

1. Beast in Black – From Hell With Love

Intense keyboard melodies? Check. Intricate quintuplet-based guitar solos? Check. Synthetic fanfares that’ll make you want to do a training montage? Check. Pack it up, every other band ever. From Hell With Love is the pinnacle of modern music. It’s all downhill from here. Go home. Show’s over. Nothing else will ever excite you as much as this album will.

Just kidding. Well, mostly. The Beast’s sophomore album stands far above anything that Anton Kabanen has produced thus far and easily catapults its fucking way into my top three albums of all time. It’s melodic to the max. It’s absolutely doused in cheese. It’s the pump up record to end all pump up records.

I could go on but, alas, I don’t want to take any more of your time when you could be listening to this (and all of the other albums).

Beast In Black – Sweet True Lies (Nuclear Blast)

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Meridian – Margin Of Error Review

Score6.5/10
GenreMelodic/Heavy
CountryDenmark
Runtime50:07
Release Date22 Mar 2019
Record LabelMighty Music

In a world where mediocre and experimental metal outfits stir up a storm of over-saturation, Danish outfit Meridian’s third record, Margin Of Error, offers a journey that rarely strays from its course. There’s not a bad song on the album and there’s excellent musicianship displayed by all. There is a limited amount of variety in the song selection, but the album is nonetheless enjoyable.

The overall sound is heavy, with many classically-influenced dual guitar riffs, especially apparent in ‘Scream For Me’, and plenty of decent groves in songs such as ‘Circle The Drain’ and the titular track. However, not a lot really stick out and there’s nothing truly exceptional about the music.

Except for one thing. Martin Andersen’s guitar solos in don’t take any shit. He’s an absolute shredder. There are often multiple per song, but they never overtake the band or wear out their welcome. The guitar fx are applied tastefully and add some tasty flavour to the already awesome shredding.

A few solos deserve some special attention. Each ripping solo in ‘Disconnect’ is full of facemelting energy. The one in ‘Drowning The Miracle’ is interesting and, strangely enough, sounds like a Matt Bellamy solo (you know, before Muse sold out and started producing absolute fucking garbage). My personal favourite, however, is played in ‘The Fate Of Atlantis’; it may not be the best one on the record, but I really love well-done solos on slower tunes.

You know what, while I’m on the topic, I’d better mention the solos in ‘Scream For Me’ and ‘Margin Of Error’. And ‘In Nothingness’. And ‘Fragments Of A Life’. Fuck it. Just listen to all of them. They’re really good.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. It’s straightforward, it’s fun, and it’s true heavy metal. Lars Märker does a wonderful job with his strong, clean, and expressive vocals. The high point for me, obviously, is the colourful soloing. But, don’t take my word for it. Go check it out!

Originally written for metal-observer.com

Imperia – Flames of Eternity Review

Score4/10
GenreGothic Symphonic/Power Metal
CountryInternational
Runtime58:51
Release Date22 Feb 2019
Record LabelMassacre

This album starts off with a fucking bang. The orchestrations are juicy, the rhythm parts pound away, and Helena Michaelsen’s voice leads your ear like a lighthouse in a storm. It’s dynamic, expressive, and easily takes its place even as one of Imperia’s best tracks ever. A flame is ignited in your heart as you anticipate what’s to come.

But then, it happens. You’re left wondering where the ‘The Scarred Soul”s promises of grandeur and hard-hitting symphonic metal have gone, as they’re replaced only by the disorienting flurry of conflicting instrumentals and a whirlwind of shattered dreams and betrayal until you’re left musically starved and stranded on the desert island that is uninspiration.

Ok, it’s not that bad, but it’s not great, either. I definitely expected way more from this record, especially from that first song, but it’s a really mediocre product from a band that has otherwise seemed to know what they were doing with their previous four albums. Each track continues the downward spiral of quality, with bits and pieces here and there that tease better things that never come to fruition. The progressions and melodies are extremely predictable, and the orchestrations and songwriting are sloppy at best.

Honestly, there’s not a whole lot that I like about this album. The production quality is clean, but the symphonic elements are mixed way too loudly. Most of what keeps the album afloat are the guitar solos, which are pretty good and easily overshadow everything else, except maybe Helena’s beautiful vocals.

There’s no shortage of variety in Flames of Eternity as far as feel goes, but the underlying tone doesn’t vary much. There are some slow (albeit not super great) songs, such as ‘Book of Love’ and ‘Beauty Within’, as well as some fiery features like ‘Blinded’ (which, quite honestly, made me cringe a bit from Helena’s operatic vocals). However, variety is meaningless if the music lacks substance and quality.

Needless to say, this album lacks any sort of fire whatsoever. It’s not crap, but it’s not good, either. Grap? Crood, maybe? Anyway, I think a huge part of the problem is that Imperia is trying way to fucking hard with this one, especially considering the fact that the four core members have been together for fifteen years. It feels neither sincere nor heartfelt, which is especially crucial in a gothic symphonic band. Go ahead and check it out if you think I’m full of shit, though. Maybe the entire thing went over my head.

Imperia – Fear Is An Illusion (Massacre)

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Norvhar – Kauna Review

Score6.5/10
GenreFolk Metal
CountrySwitzerland
Runtime39:32
Release Date16 Feb 2019
Record LabelIndependent

Rising from the ashes of the long-stagnant band Harmoniks, Norvhar’s first EP, Kauna, is a promising beginning. It’s vibrant, epic, and folk to the core. Norvhar’s sound is in the same realm as bands like Equilibrium and Ensiferum. The vocals are rough but the instruments deliver a bright and uplifting sound. There’s no shortage of tankard-raising tunes and the band is relatively tight for this kind of music.

There aren’t many guitar solos in Kauna, but the bouncy guitar melodies and lively traditional instrumentals make up for that. It’s honestly better that way, because guitar solos don’t always have a place in folk metal, and it’s great that these guys recognize that. The few on the release are short and sweet, and don’t steal the show too much, which makes for a greater appreciation of the band as a whole.

I’m not crazy about the spoken parts of the record, which encompass short parts throughout as well as the entirety of the introductory and final tracks. They just don’t contribute much to the album and seem to be used mainly for filler. But, maybe I’m missing something.

There aren’t a ton of wow moments, but there are a few sections that stick out to me. ‘Goblins’ Outpost’ hits hard and heavy, and the contrast with the bells throughout is a really nice touch. The ten minute ‘Fields of Fate’ has a lot of variety packed into it, beginning soft and light but also pounding out some of the heaviest parts on the whole damn album (especially around the halfway point).

If you’re looking for some more epic folk metal to add to your collection, Norvhar should definitely be on that list. There’s a fair amount of dynamism in its short runtime (less than half an hour if you don’t include the spoken songs), but I found myself slightly unsatisfied. Nonetheless, this is a pretty good EP and is worth checking out!

Norvhar – Fest In Midgard

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News This Week (February Week 3)

Tons of new metal surfaced this week, including albums by two huge names and a full load of new singles and EPs. There were already a lot of contenders for the top albums of the month, but Jesus Christ did this week ever make my job a hell of a lot harder.

Anyway, here’s your metal update for the week.

Singles and EPs

Mötley Crüe – The Dirt (Est. 1981) (feat. Machine Gun Kelly)

These metal legends have been around for a long fucking time and their lineup has been mostly consistent since their founding. From the upcoming biopic The Dirt (22 March), ‘The Dirt’ is classic Crüe.

Iron Savior – Kill Or Get Killed

My anticipation for this album only grows with each new single we get. It’s fast, heavy, and the solo is absolutely killer. Plus, that dramatic reading in the middle had me just as uneasy as the band!

Iron Savior – Kill Or Get Killed (AFM)

Darkwater – In Front Of You

As I’ve already heard Darkwater’s Human (it’s out 1 March, but you can see the review here), I almost didn’t catch this one. It’s a great prog track (not the best on the album, though) that sums up the album as a whole quite nicely.

Darkwater – In Front Of You (Ulterium)

Frozen Crown – Neverending

Power outfit Frozen Crown’s second record Crowned in Fost (great name, isn’t it?) is set to come out 22 March. Judging by this new single, it’ll contain a similar sound as their debut album, which is fine by me. This is a great new group and you should definitely check out their material if you haven’t before!

Frozen Crown – Neverending (Scarlet)

Norvhar – Kauna EP

Relatively new as far as real releases go, folk metal group Norvhar’s first EP is exceptional. The vocals are rough but the instrumentals are fairly lighthearted and the overall sound is far from being gloomy, with the exception of the ten minute ‘Fields of Fate’, which varies quite a bit.

The musicianship and songwriting are very good, and there’s a lot of variety packed into its seven tracks.

Norvhar – Fest In Midgard

Delain – Hunter’s Moon EP

Delain came out with a new EP on Friday, which features four new tracks, as well as ten live songs and (if you got the physical copy), some Blu-Ray content as well.

I only cared to listen to the new ones, because I’ve heard the other songs already. They’re pretty good; they’re poppy, with some symphonic epicness sprinkled throughout, and Charlotte Wessels’ chops are as beautiful as ever.

Delain – Masters Of Destiny (Napalm)

Albums

Rhapsody of Fire – The Eighth Mountain

Rhapsody is back with an album that makes up for their last few colossal disappointments in The Eighth Mountain. It’s back to its former epic, uplifting glory, and the band displays nothing but skill.

You can read more about the medieval madness here!

Rhapsody – The Legend Goes On (AFM)

Mortanius – Till Death Do Us Part

Mortanius’ debut album is wonderful. Its lively symphonic foundation and exuberant tenor vocals make it a very interesting listen. To describe it in a few words, it’s symphonic power metal with a medium-heavy prog influence, as well vocal harmonies and harpsichord that give it a vampirey feel. Make sense? Probably not. Go check out the review and listen to it yourself. You’ll get it.

Mortanius – Facing The Truth (Rockshots)

Vanir – Allfather

I don’t often listen to music that comes close to melodic death metal unless I really like it. Examples of exceptions would be Exmortus and Brymir, where the power elements are strong enough that I don’t mind the more extreme sound. Vanir falls under a similar category for me. It’s harsh and rough, but it’s relatively melodic and never too messy. It’s viking metal done extremely well.

Vanir – Fejd (Mighty Music)

Dream Theater – Distance over Time

Distance over Time is the beast Dream Theater record since 2009 as well as one of the best overall. It’s got a few more unique songs, such as ‘Viper King’ (below), and the songwriting strikes a perfect balance between proggy timechanges and more conventional beats, with phenomenal instrumentation that lifts the album to great heights.

Read more about it here.

Dream Theater – Viper King (InsideOut)

Sylvania – Testigos de las Estrellas

Sylvania’s Spanish roots are impossible to miss in Testigos de las Estrellas. The dual vocals (and many guest vocals) add a unique sound to its already impressive power metal prowess. Despite its less-than-perfect mixing, this album is stellar and should be given a listen.

Check out the full review.

Sylvania – Sangre Sudor y Lagrimas (Rock-CD)

Other News

A handful of good heavy and classic metal albums also came out this week, but I don’t want to make this article much longer, so there’ll be a separate post for that.

We’ll finish off with Sabaton History Channel’s newest video, for ‘Panzerkampf’, based on one of the largest tank battles of all time, between the Soviets and the Germans.

Sabaton History 003 – Panzerkampf

Want to know what’s coming up? Go check out the Upcoming Albums List.

Thanks for stopping by! Come back tomorrow for another article!

Stay Metal \m/

Dream Theater – Distance Over Time Review

Score9/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountryU.S.A.
Runtime56:51
Release Date22 Feb 2019
Record LabelInsideOut

Dream Theater is back with a bang in their fourteenth full-length release, Distance over Time. This is easily their best album since the near-masterpiece of Black Clouds & Silver Linings back in 2009. While it doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground, there’s nothing within it that’s distractingly derivative and it’s not overly predictable. Each song is refined, organized, and extremely fluid, especially compared to the borderline mess that was The Astonishing. That being said, there’s no shortage of ridiculous time changes and their iconic, choppy beats.

As usual, the musicians are so immensely talented that it’s almost not even worth mentioning. John Petrucci emits serious riff power, especially evident in the intro in ‘At Wit’s End’ and throughout ‘Room 137′, and his and Jordan Rudess’ solos are as facemelting as ever. Drummer Mike Mangini has been around for a few albums now, replacing Portnoy in 2011, and his cohesion with the rest of the band doesn’t go unnoticed.

There are some really phenomenal tracks on this album. ‘S2N’ kicks off with a thick slapping bass line before Petrucci’s funky riffage and kickass instrumentals ensue. The oozing keyboard solo at the end is my favourite on the entire album, too. (Also, did you catch that Owen Wilson sample hidden in the background?) ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is Dream Theater tried and true. It features plenty different heavily-syncopated grooves, the time changes are all over the fucking place, and the dynamic solos within are nothing short of masterful. There’re big and beefy riffs and rhythm licks that make the song an absolute blast. The bluesy ‘Viper King’ is the metal shuffle to end all metal shuffles. It’s not overblown and stays far away from becoming absurd, with serious keyboard solos and a super catchy hook.

Dream Theater’s prog switch has been noticeably dialed down in the past ten or so years, and, as a result, much of the music has suffered. The age of fifty-fucking-time-changes-per-song has been over for some time, but there has been nothing to counteract the loss of such a prominent characteristic. This combined with the darker-leaning trend that began years ago has steadily weakened them at their core. However, as if containing years’ worth of sincerity and energy, Distance over Time regains all of their velocity and reasserts their place as the prog kings.

Dream Theater – S2N (InsideOut Music)

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Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings Review

Score7/10
GenreHard Rock/Heavy Metal
CountryFinland
Runtime53:29
Release Date22 Mar 2019
Record LabelNuclear Blast

Battle Beast has all but completely reinvented its sound this time around, abandoning its unique brand of melodic heavy/power metal for a shinier, late 90s/early 00s pop sound. If Bringer of Pain was a step in a new direction, No More Hollywood Endings is a trip to the next city over. If it weren’t for a couple individual tracks and Noora Louhimo’s iconic, raspy vocals, it’d be unrecognizable as a Beast album.

As a longtime fan, I’ll come clean and admit that I’m more than a little upset at this change, but I get it; it’d be foolish to carry on your past sound when your lead songwriter has been kicked out of the band only to take the entire essence of the music with him and to do his damn best at making sure he overshadows your every effort (which he did anyway with the masterpiece that is From Hell With Love). There had to be a change because the core of the band has changed.

However, it’s beyond me as to why Battle Beast would choose the fucking dark ages of pop culture to draw inspiration from: circa year 2000. Many of the tracks, such as ‘Endless Summer’ and the emotional ‘Bent And Broken’ sound like one of those bittersweet songs they’d run during the credits of a shitty early 2000s romantic comedy. And in others, like ‘Unfairy Tales’, the melody sounds like it belongs in a nu country song.

But, it’s unfair for me to judge this album by nostalgia, so I’ll get on with it. Despite my feelings, this a good record. Not fantastic, mind you, because I think every musician in the band is capable of far more, but good. The pop songs are incredibly poppy, but there are a couple of heavier tracks and there is a lot of variety.

There are three tracks that I really like. ‘Raise Your Fists’ has some heavy instrumentals, a driving 6/8 beat, and a ridiculously good guitar solo. Probably the most organically-Beast song on the record is ‘World On Fire’, which is pretty straightforward but has some small trademark keyboard parts that pay homage to their older material.

My favourite on the album, however, is ‘The Golden Horde’, which begins with a cool techno intro before kicking off into thudding baddassery. Its undoubtable epicness will make you want to ride into battle on horseback to conquer whoeverthefuck stands in your way. The whole song is super fun, and the solos are in like fashion. On a side note, I think that this song could have made an amazing baseline for a new Beast sound, as it’s different enough from old Beast but still maintains a true, metal feel, but I digress.

The aforementioned ‘The Golden Horde’ has the most power metally lyrics on the entire album. The rest of the content has almost entirely shifted away from machine uprisings, Berserk, and general fantastical battle themes and replaced them with more slice-of-life relatability. It adds a bit more substance to the music but, honestly, this is heavy metal and I think I speak for most when I say, “Give me more over-the-top heroism and nonsensical lyrics!”.

Now, I have to judge this album on its quality as a metal album. Not on the past, not on my feelings, and not as a pop album (otherwise it’d easily be an 11/10. Move the fuck over, Biebs.). No More Hollywood Endings is widely dynamic, but a lot of the songs are very one-dimensional. Epic orchestras and keyboards run rampant throughout, which does add some depth to the music, and the guitar solos are excellent (though they rarely get a chance to shine). All things considered, I think this iis a fair score. But, be sure to check it out. It’s definitely worth listening to.

Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings (Nuclear Blast)

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Hulkoff – Kven Review

Score8.5/10
GenreHeavy/Power Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime47:10
Release Date17 November 2017
Record LabelFaravid

This album is a couple years old, but I think it belongs on this site!

Pär Hulkoff’s first album of his solo-project, Kven, can only be described as true warrior metal. Its vocals are throaty and coarse, its songs are about battle, and its choruses are, well, hulking. Each track packs enough firepower to knock even Odin on his ass, from the thunderous booms of ‘Blood and Iron’ to the chanting cries of ‘Faravid’.

My first thought on the album was that it’d probably sound exceptional if it were accompanied by Joakim Brodén (Sabaton). I was both pleased and surprised to hear the third track, ‘Ibor & Aio’, which actually features him, exaggerating the power of Hulkoff as they bellow in unison. The guitar solo on this song is also one of the best on the album. Hulkoff’s vocals are definitely ideal for this kind of epic music, but, as a huge Sabaton fan, Brodén’s contribution makes this a top track for me.

The meter and rhyme schemes in most of the verses throughout Kven are almost exactly similar, but that doesn’t do much to decrease its appeal. Each song has enough meat and metal prowess and each chorus is so heroic that such a detail is shoved to the wayside. That being said, ‘Aegishjalmr’ and ‘Dragonrider’ especially stand out, being structured slightly differently than the rest.

This record is more power metally than the releases of Hulkoff’s industrial metal band, Raubtier, and it is almost devoid of synth, holding true to its traditional viking ethos. It only seems to fall short, and even then only slightly, in the guitar solo department. There are a couple tasteful rippers, like the ones in ‘Erilaz’ and the closing track ‘Kvenland Will Rise Again’, but as a whole I do prefer the solos in Raubtier. 

Any fan of Sabaton, Battle Beast, Amon Amarth, or Brothers of Metal will absolutely love this album. It’s a formidable force that pounds and roars until its final breath. While the song structures are very conventional, it still has plenty to offer and will instantly get your blood flowing if given the chance to. I thank the gods for this album and I look forward to releases containing the same overbearing vigour from Hulkoff.

Originally written for metal-archives.com

Hulkoff – Einherjr (Faravid)

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Stonecast – I Earther Review

Score8/10
GenreHeavy Metal
CountryFrance
Runtime47:19
Release Date8 Mar 2019
Record LabelPitch Black

Stonecast rocks seriously fucking hard. Their strong energy will draw you in and their anthemic hooks will make you stay. Their third album, I Earther, is no exception. This earthy metal is sturdy and its sound is nothing short of mountainous. There’re incredible performances by all of the bandmates, but Franky Costanza’s (ex-Dagoba) drumming is something else. His grooves are always colourful and complement the rest of band perfectly.

The first three songs are exceptional. I Earther begins with some weird spaceship samples but quickly proceeds into a chugging beat in the opener, ‘Captors of Insanity’. It’s definitely the best song choice to kick off the album; the vocal variety is shown, from lower rough vocals to powerful shrieking, there’s some solid riffage, and the chorus is catchy. ‘Goddess of Rain’ delivers ridiculous shredding power and is the first taste of “Flying” Saliba’s insanely impressive soloing.

The best song on the album, however, is the third song ‘The Cherokee’. It contains so much in its eight minutes, with mighty war cries from “Kanon” Ghirardi and more impressive soloing. The real highlight of the song, though, is the rhythm section. Every one of the riffs and grooves are skillfully done and the drums don’t fucking quit. Similar to the rest of the album, the beats have some intricate details sprinkled in that separate Stonecast from being just another heavy metal band. Oh, and the ending is one of the best endings to a song I’ve ever heard; it’s actually an ending section, rather than just the final chord of the progression being dragged out or a lazy tagline.

The rest of the album is great, except for the only song that I can’t seem to enjoy: ‘Resistence’. It’s relatively slow, drags on for a couple minutes too long, and, especially when compared to the rest of the record, is pretty messy. It’s the only point of the album that the lo-fi production quality really bothers me, because the combination of the song and mastering make it pretty rough.

Aside from that, however, this is a phenomenal record. It’s got great musicians, excellent songwriting, and has massive replayability. Stonecast is rock-solid when it comes to metal, and they’ve pounded their way into my heart.

Originally written for metal-observer.com

Stonecast – Goddess Of Rain (Pitch Black)

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Top Seven Pump Up Albums

My favourite kind of metal is the blood-boiling, heart-burning, testosterone-fueling power metal that makes you want to ride into battle on a majestic, translucent steed into the Mists of Avalon. I listen to it when I’m working out, when I’m getting ready for something, when I’m doing nothing, when I’m driving, and pretty much everything in between. Taking that into consideration, this is also close to my list of favourite albums of all time.

Honestly, I could have chosen most of the discography from the following bands, but I managed to pick a winner from each. Anyway, without further ado, here are the best ball-busting albums known to the world of power metal.

Sabaton – Heroes

Sabaton is by far the most obvious choice, and Heroes has exactly what you need when you’re looking for a kick in the ass to kick some ass. With the exception of ‘The Ballad Of Bull’ (which is a pretty weak song altogether), it’s epic, thumping heroism for your soul.

Sabaton – Far From The Fame (Nuclear Blast)

Brothers of Metal – Prophecy of Ragnarök

Brothers of Metal took the metal world by storm upon their arrival in 2017 with their almost-comically badass tunes. Its lyrics of Norse mythology and battles are perfect for getting your blood going, and the bass is cranked so fucking high on this record that you’ll feel its banging war drums in the soles of your feet.

Brother of Metal – Yggdrasil (AFM)

Powerwolf – The Sacrament of Sin

Powerwolf is certainly a veteran in the area of fast paced, chugging, heathen power metal. Attila Dorn’s vocals are enough on their own to get the job done, but, fortunately, the rest of the band doesn’t hurt the cause.

On a side note, I’ve always found the soloing in Powerwolf to be consistently underwhelming, but I also find myself not minding that fact one bit.

Powerwolf – Fire & Forgive (Napalm)

Firwewind – Immortals

What else could be as motivational as some high quality Spartan-themed power metal with ridiculously awesome guitar solos? Firewind can always be counted on to deliver serious heat, and Immortals takes the music through the gates and into something even more intense.

Firewind – Ode To Leonidas (Century Media)

Battle Beast – Battle Beast

All-out cheesy songs about machines destroying mankind with a tinge of 80s spice? Sign me the fuck up. If this album doesn’t do anything for you, then I’m convinced that you’re unmotivateable. ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Let It Roar’ start the record off with a bang, and, aside from a few misses (like ‘Over the Top’ and ‘Black Ninja’, which are crap), it’s sure to get you ready for the machine uprising.

Battle Beast – Out Of Control (Nuclear Blast)

Hulkoff – Kven

To me, Hulkoff is the same flavour of metal as Sabaton, but a little less likeable. The thrashing Kven is Pär Hulkoffgarden’s first solo record and it throws some massive punches. It’s dense, heavy, and rugged.

Hulkoff – Dragonrider (Faravid)

Beast In Black – From Hell With Love

The newest (and my favourite) album to make the list is Beast In Black’s latest. As a child who grew up with 80s action movies (although it was twenty years after the fact), this album is a godsend; it takes all of the catchy, cheesy goodness of 80s pump up songs from the likes of Rocky and combines it with the heavy energy of power metal, sticking a clean, pristine bow on top of the mixing.

Beast In Black – From Hell With Love (Nuclear Blast)

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Stay Metal \m/