Top Ten Metal Albums Of October

2019 is still going strong! October held nothing back, unleashing exceptional albums (especially in heavy and power metal). There were a few notable folk metal releases which almost made this list (albums by Forgotten North, Tandra, and Nifrost) but, after a lot of back-and-forth, I settled on the following Top Ten Metal Albums of October!

10. Dawn of Destiny – The Beast Inside

When a unique band like Dawn of Destiny comes around with a new album, it always gets me excited. Fortunately, my excitement was well-founded in The Beast Inside, which is the band’s seventh full-length album. The songs range from energetic power metal to heavier, darker metal to unconventional-yet-melodic metal. Some songs are definitely stronger than others, with ‘Signs in the Sky’ and ‘If We Close Our Eyes’ being my favourites, but every track offers something different from the last, so make sure to give the whole album a spin!

Full Review

9. Secret Chapter – Chapter One

Sit down and strap the fuck in because Secret Chapter are going to take you on a nostalgic ride back to the 80s with their hyper-melodic, solo-rific debut, Chapter One. While Chapter One treads a similar sound he likes of Skid Row, TNT, Europe, and 80s hair metal in general, it keeps things interesting by maintaining a modern heavy metal undertone. The production, layered instrumentation, and driving riffs combined with undoubtedly 80s choruses allow for the best of both worlds, and there’s no shortage of passion or aggression. A lot of 80s metal bands just sound like refined metal from the era (if that), but Secret Chapter manage to maintain individuality by putting their own musical spin on things.

Full Review

8. Crow’s Flight – The Storm

Crow’s Flight have swooped in with a new drummer, new vocalist, and new album that’ll be a hit for fans of melodic metal as well as traditional heavy metal. While I wouldn’t call The Storm a classic metal by any means, there are enough traits that it’s worth a mention. Regardless, if you’re looking for strong melodies accompanied by kickass riffs and atmospheric keyboards, look no further.

7. Rumahoy – Time II: Party

Blowing in only a year after their debut, the self-proclaimed “Best True Scottish Pirate Metal Band in the World” Rumahoy are back with another booze-fueled party album ready to go: Time II: Party. After sailing the seas of the Wild West, Captain Yarrface and his skimask-clad crew have written ten catchy sea shanties of the most fucking ridiculous variety. Within you’ll find the expected power/folk metal combo that’s typical of pirate metal, but with a variety and dynamism that’s all but unseen in the genre.

Full Review

6. Iron Kingdom – On the Hunt

Vancouver’s own Iron Kingdom have dropped yet another solid slab of classic metal. Combining old school dual guitar sounds with clear, crisp vocals and some of the best drumming I’ve ever heard from a classic metal band, On the Hunt offers a bit more of a modern approach to the style of old. It’s the perfect balance, production-wise, because every part is clear and separated but there’s still an organic feel to the whole thing. There’s no lack of passion and sincerity, but there’s also just enough flare to keep me excited about it.

Full Review

5. Cathubodua – Continuum

Belgium’s female-fronted symphonic metal outfit Cathubodua have unleashed their devastating debut album: Continuum. Featuring folk, symphonic, death, and power metal elements, Continuum wastes no time in displaying its melodic, balls-to-the-wall epic onslaught.

Full Review

4. Aerodyne – Damnation

Smithed by the mighty Aerodyne, Damnation is, in short, one hell of a sophomore album. It’s energetic, anthemic, charismatic heavy metal with a blatant Ozzy undertone. Sound kickass? Of course it does! It’s true metal to the core, no doubt about it.

Full Review

3. Induction – Induction

In one of the strongest symphonic metal debuts of the year, Induction deliver shameless bombast, insane grooves, and killer musicianship. Featuring guitarist Tim Hansen, vocalist Nick Holleman, and Sean Brandenburg on drums, Induction is a dynamic symphonic power metal album with tons of prog influence.

2. Galneryus – Into the Purgatory

The finest neoclassical power metal band east of the Silk Road have unleashed yet another album of facemelting ferocity. Into the Purgatory is the twelfth album to come from the mighty Galneryus and, despite such a long career, it lives up to the band’s glory, and then some. A slice of Galneryus’ neoclassical edge has been swapped for a bit more of a progressive influence this time around so, while you can still expect a hyper-melodic work of shred insanity, it’s different enough from their other albums to keep things feeling new.

Full Review

1. Noveria – Aequilibrium

Italian proggers Noveria don’t fuck around. As soon as it starts, Aequilibrium explodes into high-intensity with a death metal atmosphere and epic choirs. Through the rest of the album, we encounter sick riff after sick riff (not the least of which can be found in ‘Awakening’ and ‘Broken’) in all their beefy, syncopated glory, as well as beautiful interludes and pulled back sections. Another aspect that makes Aequilibrium stand out is the fact that, while there’s a dark tone to most of the album, it’s never depressing and it’s always energetic.

Full Review

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Vanden Plas – The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening Review

Score7/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime46:36
Release Date11 October 2019
Record LabelFrontiers

Germany’s Vanden Plas is the only veteran band I can think of off the top of my head that’s had the exact same lineup since their beginning. For more than thirty years, the band’s five members have delivered great progressive metal albums without fail, all the while never getting sick enough of each other to split up. If that doesn’t scream musical commitment, then I don’t know what does. That’s a damn impressive feat in and of itself, so the fact that their ninth album, The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening, is yet another solid piece of prog is just icing.

Stylistically, The Ghost Xperiment treads pretty closely to the albums of bands like Fates Warning (and especially Arch/Matheos) and mid-Queensryche. As is common in prog, the album only consists of six songs, but each clocks in at close to ten minutes, so it actually feels a lot longer than its 46-minute runtime. There’re a few parts that could probably be condensed a bit, but the tracks are dynamic enough that it really isn’t necessary.

Everything about The Ghost Xperiment is really good; the melodies are strong, the riffs are great, and the grooves are heavy. The only real downside is that nothing really jumps out. Sure, there are a couple notable melodies throughout the album (such as in the closer, ‘the Ghost Xperiment’), but the album as a whole is pretty homogeneous. If I had to pick a highlight, it’d be the solos. They’re super sick, although, since the backing parts are pretty straightforward, they don’t deliver a huge impact.

For a band that’s been around for more than three decades, The Ghost Xperiment – Awakening is worlds more than I’d expect. However, for Vanden Plas, this album is exactly what I’d expect. The whole band is on point, the arrangements are genuine, and there’s enough energy and passion in the music that, while it doesn’t throw any showstoppers, the album delivers a commendable prog metal performance.

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Melodic Metal: New Single From Edge Of Paradise

Edge of Paradise unleash the ‘Fire’ in their latest single, which is the opening track of their upcoming album, Universe.

Edge of Paradise are a female-fronted melodic metal band from the US. Their style combines elements of symphonic, classic, melodic, and industrial metal to form an electronic, catchy, contemporary style.

Vocalist Margarita Monet on the new video:
We are thrilled to unleash the ‘Fire’ music video, which is the opening track of our new album Universe! With ‘Fire’, we wanted to ignite the album from the start. For me, music, lyrics and visuals always go hand in hand, and I wanted this song and video to be an explosion of empowering energy, exciting adventures, and breathtaking imagery. The song is about following your passions, no matter what obstacles life throws your way. We all have fire and drive inside of us, and we want you to fearlessly follow it!

01. Fire
02. Electrify
03. Universe
04. Alone
05. Hollow
06. World
07. Perfect Disaster
08. Face Of Fear
09. Stars
10. Burn The Sun

The band will also join HammerFall and Battle Beast on their North American Tour in Fall 2020

Their album, Universe, is set to be released on 8 November via Frontiers Records.

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Rumahoy – Time II: Party Review

Score9/10
GenreFolk Power Metal (Pirate Metal)
CountryArgentina
Runtime38:29
Release Date25 October 2019
Record LabelIndependent

Blowing in only a year after their debut, the self-proclaimed “Best True Scottish Pirate Metal Band in the World” Rumahoy are back with another booze-fueled party album ready to go: Time II: Party. After sailing the seas of the Wild West, Captain Yarrface and his skimask-clad crew have written ten catchy sea shanties of the most fucking ridiculous variety. Within you’ll find the expected power/folk metal combo that’s typical of pirate metal, but with a variety and dynamism that’s all but unseen in the genre.

As with any comedic metal band, like Nanowar, Alestorm, Tenacious D, or Gloryhammer, the jokes and humour are definitely important, but the true key to success is the music itself. If you take away the hilarity of the lyrics, the music should still be able to hold its own, otherwise the act gets pretty old pretty fast. Fortunately, the talented Rumahoy have fucking nailed their songwriting, so, while you’re not busy laughing your ass of at things like “Hooks out for Harambe!” and “pirate erection”, you can appreciate the musical arrangements almost as much.

As far as contrast goes, these party pirates have nailed that, too. ‘1000 Years of Dust’ brings a darker, heavier sound than the rest of the album (as you’d expect from a song about pirates kidnapped by mummies), and there’s the electropop dance tune ‘Poop Deck Party’ which features some unexpected rapping by Gloryhammer/Alestorm founder Christoper Bowes. Every track on the album commands a contagious, heroic energy, along with anthemic “yo-ho-ho”s, “oogachaga”s, or similar chantable choruses and killer grooves and riffs. Group that together with clean mixing and a tight band, and you’ve got yourself an unstoppable pirate force.

If you like your pirate metal with a heavy serving of sick riffs, ripping solos, jokes about poop, and the occasional cheesy keyboards, this album is exactly what you need. Rumahoy have effortlessly outdone all of their competition with Time II: Party. It’s fun, it’s clever, and it’s crazy good.

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Metalite – Biomechanicals Review

Score4/10
GenreMelodic Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime48:51
Release Date25 October 2019
Record LabelAFM

Sweden’s up-and-coming female fronted melodic metal troupe Metalite have returned (and with a new vocalist) with their sophomore album, Biomechanicals. As the title alludes to, you can expect a melodic metal sound that’s drenched in electronic elements, layered vocals, and digital synths all over the place. And usually, that shit gets me pumped. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case here, because I have a bit of a bone to pick with this album.

But, to conserve a bit of my sanity, we’ll hit the positives first. The most obvious plus about Biomechanicals is that it outdoes Heroes in Time in every aspect. The production quality, songwriting, diversity, and musicianship is all better. Metalite have also proven once again that they know how to lay down an album full of catchy melodies, and the electronic arrangements are excellent. Additionally, there are some pretty good tracks on the album, namely ‘World on Fire’ and ‘Eye of the Storm’ (which has a sick solo), as well as a handful of other cool sections.

However, despite the good parts, Biomechanicals is outweighed by its negatives. The biggest contributor to these is the fact that Metalite, as they did in their debut, are trying way too hard to become Amaranthe. Seriously, I fully expect to hear three vocalists in their next album. Despite such a strong effort to hijack their sound, Biomechanicals is missing nearly every thing that makes Amaranthe so likable; the vocals are one-dimensional, the rhythms are basic, and there’s none of that metal punch that’s necessary to take the music from being just a pop metal album to a kickass metal album with a pop sound (because there is a huge difference, and it’s a very important difference).

I know you’re probably thinking, “Hey, man, you can’t just knock Metalite for not being as good as Amaranthe; they’re two different bands,” and that’s absolutely right. I usually don’t make that the point of my comparisons. However, this comparison becomes necessary once you hear a track like ‘Breakaway’, which is literally a blatant ripoff of Amaranthe’s ‘Infinity’ from The Nexus (see: the chorus and solo (and everything else)). Metalite have crossed the line from influence into straight-up copy-and-pasting and I think that warrants a bit of collation. So, yeah, maybe I’m being unfair, but are you fucking kidding me?

While it occasionally shines, Metalite’s Biomechanicals is all flash and no flare. Behind the album’s sparkly exterior is a dull foundation that can barely stand under the force of scrutiny. If they focused more on embracing their own path and strengths, Metalite could probably make an album that I’d be all over. But, until then, I’ll just be left with a persistent, metallic taste in my mouth.

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Heavy Metal: Running Wild To Release EP In December

Three years after seventeenth album, Rapid Foray, pirate metallers Running Wild will issue their next release in the form of a new EP. Entitled Crossing the Blades, this four-track should tide fans over until the next full album comes out next summer.

01. Crossing The Blades
02. Stargazed
03. Strutter
04. Ride On The Wild Side

According to the band, the first track, ‘Crossing the Blades’, will be a harbinger for the Summer 2020 album; the song (although as a completely different version) will also be present on the new album.

Also included on the EP’s tracklist is ‘Stargazed’, which the band has played live at Wacken, as well as the KISS cover ‘Strutter’.

Crossing the Blades will be released on 6 December, which also falls on Saint Nicholas Day, via SPV/Steamhammer.

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Noveria – Aequilibrium Review

Score9.5/10
GenreProgressive Power Metal
CountryItaly
Runtime01:01:08
Release Date25 October 2019
Record LabelScarlet

Rising above the ocean of Italian progressive power metal are Noveria in their third full-length, Aequilibrium. Where other bands shy away with uninspired riffs and lazy songwriting, Noveria unleash hell with their strongest, heaviest foot forward. The grooves? Vigourous. The riffs? Insane. The solos? Ho. Ly. Fuck.

These guys don’t fuck around when it comes to metal. As soon as it starts, Aequilibrium explodes into high-intensity with a death metal atmosphere and epic choirs. Through the rest of the album, we encounter sick riff after sick riff (not the least of which can be found in ‘Awakening’ and ‘Broken’) in all their beefy, syncopated glory, as well as beautiful interludes and pulled back sections. Another aspect that makes Aequilibrium stand out is the fact that, while there’s a dark tone to most of the album, it’s never depressing and it’s always energetic.

To match the weight of their sound, Noveria have also built an emotional concept over their album; Aequilibrium tells of a psychological journey after a massive earthquake strikes, and it does so without coming off as pretentious or jaded. While the guitars, drums, bass, and keys all perform how you’d expect a high-level prog band to, the biggest reason behind the album’s emotionality are the versatile vocals of Francesco Corigliano, who can project powerfully with the might of the gods as well as craft a masterful light melody.

Despite my excitement for this album, there is one track that it could probably do without. ‘Losing You’ would probably do just fine on its own, but, since it’s tucked toward the end of the album, it ends up being pretty forgettable compared to the raw badassery that ensues in the songs around it.

But there are so many good songs here. One of my favourites is ‘Darkest Days’, which is super dynamic. It’s also the perfect way to end the album, if you ask me. My second (and most) favourite track, though, is the spine-splitting speed demon ‘Broken’, which throws aggression, a killer chorus, and a stupid ridiculous solo section at you with limitless power. I’m serious; this track is fucking awesome. And the neoclassical part of the solo is extra awesome.

It should be pretty clear why this is a must-listen album. It’s got all the fancy virtuoso playing you could want and the production is crystal clear (courtesy of Simone Mularoni, who never seems to not be involved with an Italian power metal project). In Aequilibrium, Noveria deliver a sound similar to DGM, Dream Theater, and a bit of Firewind, but it’s way heavier and darker. If you aren’t amped to check this album out, then you probably hate metal and fun in general.

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Progressive Metal: Sonus Corona To Release Album In November

Finland’s new prog outfit Sonus Corona have announced the release date for their sophomore album, Time is Not on Your Side. It will drop on 22 November under Inverse Records and will be the band’s first release with a record label.

Along with the album announcement, Sonus Corona have also revealed the first single, which is for the titular track.

Here’s what vocalist Timo Mustonen has to say about the single:
“Time Is Not On Your Side” is the most definitive song on the new album as a whole, so we figured it makes a great single and a name for the whole album, too. The keyboards, the melody, and rhythmic elements all compliment each other. Harri‘s solo on this moves me every time. It’s also a great song to perform live, we all love it. I rewrote the lyrics in the middle of the night after we had rehearsed the song together. Ari had laid the foundation and melody-rhythm of the words while composing the song, and I turned them around to complement the storyline of the whole album.

The song is about not leaving decisive action on the matter at hand too late. Other people or circumstances might change the game, so one might not have any options left. The protagonist is fighting his own demons, while he knows he should take action instead of focusing inwards. Still, he questions his own motives all the time. His friend comes along to stir things up, and tries to help him see all the options available and give a nudge in the direction the friend thinks is the one for him.”

The band combines intense musical atmospheres accompanied with heavy riffs and strong melodies and relies on strong songwriting. They say they have been heavily influenced by Haken, Toto, Tool, Dream Theater and Leprous.

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Silent Call – Windows Review

Score7/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountrySweden
Runtime1:00:52
Release Date11 October 2019
Record LabelRockshots

Swedish prog outfit Silent Call have been around since the mid-2000s. Since then, they’ve put out only a handful of albums, with their latest, Windows, being their fourth. Even though this is the final album of the band’s career, they’ve enlisted Göran Nyström (Sarpedon, Twinspirits) as their new vocalist, whose style gives the album a very Greek power metal feel, similar to Firewind or Diviner.

For the most part, Windows is a really solid prog metal album. The riffs are heavy, the drums and vocals are expressive, and there are numerous synth parts in the background and foreground. Additionally, the intros to pretty much every song are very well done. The album’s only real downfall is its amount of excess. With an hour-long runtime, it’s a bit long, which would be ok if every song got the care it deserved, but that, unfortunately, isn’t the case. Songs like ‘Imprisoned in Flesh’, ‘Shifting Shape’, and ‘Clouded Horizon’ (among others) don’t offer much past your typical Queensryche-y or power metaly progressive metal song. It’s not like they’re awful songs, but they’re forgettable and come across as mainly filler.

But that isn’t to say there aren’t any awesome tracks; tucked far into the album’s end, the final three, ‘Invisible’, ‘Bleeding Me Dry’, and ‘Eye of Destruction’, all blow the rest of the tracklist out of the fucking water. Between excellent synthwork, great guitar soloing, strong arrangements, and the best riffs on the entire album, it makes me wonder why they’d be stuck on the tail end of such a long album. Upon consecutive listens, the album has a sort of sagging feeling after the second track because, aside from a few cool moments, there’s not a whole lot to see in between the main good songs.

It’s often a shame when a band announces its end, but sometimes, as is the case here, it’s better to make a clean exit than to be remembered for falling apart in the latter portion of your career (I’m looking at you, Sonata Arctica. Fuckers.). Despite having some issues with it, Windows is still a very enjoyable album, and its highlights deliver some seriously killer performances.

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Storchi – Outside Review

Score8/10
GenreProgressive Metal/Fusion
CountryIsrael
Runtime44:51
Release Date10 October 2019
Record LabelDutch Music Works

I don’t know what’s in the water over there, but Israel has pumped out some seriously good prog albums this year. The unforgettable Lotus Graveyard by Tillian is just one example, and I still listen to that record on a regular basis. The latest addition to this effort is the debut album of Storchi, entitled Outside. It brings an interesting combination of prog metal, fusion, and club jazz, finished off with a deep-rooted Middle Eastern feel. If you want to listen to something with its very own distinct sound, look no further.

Aside from the raw skill its musicians display (more on that in a minute), Storchi’s best quality is its blatant uniqueness. While, at times, Outside beckons to a sound similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra and 70s/80s fusion in general, the sound it ends up with can’t be compared too closely to these because it is simply very individual. The music is driven by the flute, courtesy of Danielle Sassi, which carries all of the melodies over top of the guitars, bass, and drums, which constantly transition between intense metal riffage and light grooves.

There’s a good ratio of metal to jazz here, with most of the songs leaning more one way than the other. For example, ‘Surroundings’, ‘Hidden Truth’, and ‘Lights Out’ are far more metal, whereas ‘Paracosm’ (after the first third of the song, anyway) and ‘Midnight’ are almost entirely ethnic jazz tunes. It becomes evident in the album’s first minutes that Outside will be a dynamic experience, but that’s a bit of an understatement.

And now we get to the musicians themselves who, strikingly, are all teenagers, which blows the shit out of my mind because I can’t play anything half as good as these guys. The guitarwork is great, with some notable soloing in ‘Paracosm’ and ‘Hidden Truth’, and the bassplaying follows in like fashion. The flute, of course, is excellent throughout the album’s entirety, but my favourite part of Outside is that fucking drumming. Noam Arbel proves himself to be quite the beast behind the kit, and he bangs the shit out of the highs and patters away on the lows with tasteful precision. Right off the get go I was impressed with this guy, but on the fifth track, ‘Midnight’, I was fucking blown away. Seriously. The five-minute drum solo constantly reminded me of drummers like Joe Morello and (to a lesser extent) Buddy Rich. Damn. Not too bad, if you ask me.

There are also a handful of guest musicians lending support on piano and string instruments, but the core of Outside‘s energy comes from its main quartet. While a couple of the arrangements could do with some trimming and touching up, this album is an all-around blast and I’m damn excited to listen to what Storchi lays down next.

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