Top Ten Metal Albums Of November

2019 is just wrapping up but, while November was probably the most scarce month of the year so far on the metal front, there’s still plenty of new, high-quality albums to check out. From the daring to the digital, here’re ten of the strongest metal albums of November!

10. Metal De Facto – Imperium Romanum

Hailing from Finland, Metal De Facto have thundered down with their debut, Imperium Romanum. Despite the band’s origins, their overall sound comes close to your typical German power metal band, such as Iron Savior or Gamma Ray. There’s also a heavy dose of neoclassical influence which comes to a peak in the instrumental shred piece ‘Colosseum’. If gritty, fast-paced, hard-riffing power metal is your thing, Metal De Facto have you covered!

9. Magic Kingdom – MetAlmighty

This album kicks all sorts of fantasy ass. It rides forth with cheesy lyrics in a wide variety of dynamic tracks. The overall sound is grittier than a lot of modern power metal, which helps separate Magic Kingdom from the crowd (despite having one of the most unoriginal names in metal history). MetAlmighty may not be the best that Magic Kingdom’s ever put out, but it’s certainly worth giving a spin.

Full Review

8. IronThorn – Legends of the Ancient Rock

Italian hard rock/heavy metallers IronThorn have bested their debut album in Legends of the Ancient Rock, which is heavier, more versatile, and more riff-driven. While IronThorn formerly sat closer to the rock side than the metal side, the metalness here has been beefed way up, which is good for those of us who wanted a bit more aggression out of the band. There are a few great tracks, such as ‘Legends’, ‘The Call of Silence’, and ‘Werewolf’, that make the album worth listening to, but every track is still high-quality. Legends of the Ancient Rock is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a damn solid album.

7. Celesti Alliance – Hybrid Generation

Finland’s latest melodic heavy metal addition comes from the brand new Celesti Alliance. After two EPs, these cultivators of classic steel are finally ready to smash onto the scene with their full-length debut. Pulling from a range of influences from late-80s heavy/power metal (Accept, Judas Priest) and modern heavy metal, Hybrid Generation is a super catchy album that’s generous with the riffs and heavy on the solos.

Full Review

6. Stormwarrior – Norsemen

Speed metal isn’t usually my go-to, but badass, expertly-done speed metal is one of my favourite things, especially when it’s badass speed metal with a power metal lining and viking themes. Fortunately, this is something Stormwarrior excell at, and their sixth album is as good as the rest. Between the destructive onslaught of non-stop tremolo picking and drums that never quit, Norsemen takes it to the next level by actually having quality melodies (and a very unusual vocal delivery for the genre) to guide its rampant intensity. This isn’t your typical speed metal album, and that’s a damn good thing.

5. Signum Regis – The Seal of a New World

After more than a decade of metal mastery, it seems like Slovakia’s Signum Regis are incapable of making a bad album. The mighty power metallers never fail to deliver an exciting, heroic adventure that swings the sword of sick riffs and their sixth album, The Seal of a New World, sees the band return to familiar lands. Between ultra-catchy melodies and jumpy energy, you won’t know what’s gonna be thrown at you next.

Full Review

4. Scarleth – Vortex

Melodic metallers Scarleth’s third album, Vortex, combines elements of heavy, power, symphonic, and gothic metal, synthpop, and even Middle Eastern and folk music. On top of that, the album is full of colourful rhythm section parts and some sick guitar solos. Seriously. They suddenly explode into existence and demand your attention with shredtastic, sweep-picked mystery. The result of this well-balance mixture is a memorable melodic metal album that’s sure to be a favourite among fans of the genre.

Full Review

3. Thunder and Lightning – Demonicorn

For whatever reason, Demonicorn was more elusive than a Japanese metal album upon its release. Maybe I just missed hearing about it, but I had no idea Thunder and Lightning had something new coming out until a week after it was released. I’m pretty fucking psyched that I caught it, though, because this is one god damn impressive work of power metal. The first thing that jumps out (and continues to jump until the album’s demise) is the incredible guitarwork. Between the huge tones, facemelting solos, and thrashy riffs, the guitars are the clear highlight of the album, but the mighty vocals and dynamic arrangements elevate the album into being a serious contender for any Album of the Year list.

2. The Dark Element – Songs the Night Sings

The Dark Element was formed in 2016 by former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon and former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen. Their self-titled debut combined elements of symphonic metal and pop to deliver a strong, synth-heavy melodic metal album. While that debut was pretty good, their sophomore effort, Songs the Night Sings blows it out of the fucking water. The sound is fuller, the arrangements are more diverse, and everything else has gotten a serious upgrade.

Full Review

1. Wilderun – Veil of Imagination

Not many bands can pull off an exceptional atmospheric album so, when one does, it always gets me excited about it. One of the few (and latest) this year to accomplish such a feat are Boston’s Wilderun with their third album, Veil of Imagination. It expertly conjures deep feelings like wonder, determination, aggression, hate, fear, reflection, and everything in between. With rich orchestrations supporting it, Veil of Imagination is as colourful as its album cover would have you believe.

Full Review

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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.

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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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Top Ten Metal Albums Of September

It’s been a crazy month on my side of things, but it’s been even crazier in the metal world. There was almost more to listen to this month than there was for the entire summer, so, needless to say, my Top Ten Metal Albums of September had a few runner ups.

10. Ancient Empire – Wings of the Fallen

While not exceptional by their own standards, Ancient Empires Wings of the Fallen is an excellent traditional metal record. With solid, chugging riffs and strong melodies, it’s everything you’d want in classic heavy metal, plus a bit extra.

09. Excalion – Emotions

Melodic, expressive, keyboard-driven. It doesn’t take many more words that that to get me excited about an album. These characteristics are hardly unique when it comes to power metal, and more often than not I’m left disappointed upon actually hearing an album described by them, but, what can I say? I’m a hopeful guy. So, you can imagine my relief when Excalion laid this piece of work before me. Emotions is the fifth album of the Finnish outfit, and it checks all those boxes with massive checkmarks.

Full Review

08. Ereb Altor – Jartecken

Ereb Altor are no stranger to viking metal. With eight albums since their 2008 debut, they’ve worked steadily to bring the best of true viking metal. Their latest album, Jartecken, is pretty much what you’d expect at this point, but that isn’t to say it isn’t something new, too; it continues down the same path as the past couple albums, delivering a dynamic mix of mournful folk melodies and vicious atmospheres.

Full Review

07. DragonForce – Extreme Power Metal

DragonForce is back with their best album of the decade: Extreme Power Metal. One thing EPM does better than, well, every album up to Reaching into Infinity is variety. It has your typical, fast-paced power metal bangers like ‘Troopers of the Stars’ and ‘Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred’, as well as a surplus of more commercial, poppy songs. There are a few songs that aren’t driven solely by spine-splitting speed, such ‘Remembrance Day’ and the excellent cover of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, but the intense dragon energy is never lost. There are also a lot of instrumental breaks that utilize strings, folk instruments, and the usual videogame SFX that are so characteristic of DragonForce. These video game themes run strong, with most of the songs having retro synth (or outright 8-bit) intros. Unsurprisingly, ‘The Last Dragonborn’ is the most videogame-fueled of them all, albeit more in content and less in sound.

Full Review

06. Borknagar – True North

Norway’s black/folk masters Borknagar pumps out great albums on the worst of days, so it should be no surprise that True North is on this list. In a word, the album is captivating. Between thunderous highs and serene lows, it’s as if Borknagar have invoked the very spirits of the mountains. To add to this dynamism, the album makes use of everything from clean vocals and bouncy grooves to furious blastbeats and skin-tearing growls. Of all the “winter-themed” albums to come out this month (like Everfrost’s Winterider and Sonata Arctica’s fucking mess), this one embodies that theme the best.

05. Cerebellar Rondo – The Realizing

It’s been a little while since I’ve heard a decent new Japanese power metal album, so it caught me off guard when the first one I’d heard in months swept me off my feet the way The Realizing did. The debut of Cerebellar Rondo, it’s fast, pleasantly melodic, and displays all of the flare and technicality that keeps bringing me back to Japanese power metal. Aside from the killer vocal performance, there are some seriously cool riffs that separate Cerebellar Rondo from a lot of the other (albeit still good) Japanese power metal bands.

04. Everfrost – Winterider

From the frozen north of Finland come Everfrost with their sophomore album, Winterider, which is one of the most expressive symphonic power metal albums of the year. The band bleeds musical excellence and, when their power is directed into over-the-top, cheerfully epic arrangements, they produce a truly unique sound, even by power metal standards. Everfrost’s winter-themed metal shows clear influences ranging from Blind Guardian to late-80s glam metal to Queen, which further pushes the boundaries of what you might expect from this genre.

Full Review

03. Centurion – Centurion

Centurion is an insatiable riff-beast, ready to prey on the ears of all who are close enough to listen. Not only that, but we’re also attacked with an onslaught of powerful melodies, facemelting solos (especially in ‘Ruka Sudbine’ and ‘Virtuelno Ognjiste’. Holy fuck.), and drumming that never settles for satisfactory. Seriously. This is one damn impressive group of musicians who are as mighty as the badass warriors on their album cover.

Full Review

02. Kybalion – Black Painted Skies

If you want a bit of a change from the usual 16th-based, djenty, instrumental modern prog that has recently flooded the metal world, give this EP a spin. Black Painted Skies is the first release (they call it an EP but I would consider it a full-out album, but maybe that’s just me) from America’s brand new instrumental proggers, Kybalion. This speed demon of death is super heavy and its ever-changing form will have you happily kissing the comfortability of 4/4 goodbye. With a diverse mix of highs, lows, feels, and time signatures, it’s evident that this trio doesn’t fuck around.

Full Review

01. Wind Rose – Wintersaga

Well, summer’s over. That means the time for beaches, bimbos, and barbecues is at it’s end, being instead replaced by the dark, wind, and cold. However, this is the perfect season for a dwarf! And what better way to explore your potential dwarfhood than cranking out the meanest, mightiest of man-metal? Enter Wind Rose, Italy’s finest dwarf metal army, and their fourth album, Wintersaga. As the band’s most impressive album to date, it’s as if it was smithed in the forges of Khazad-dum itself. If its epic chants and upbeat hymns aren’t enough to get you into the season, they’ll at least get your blood flowing hard enough to keep you warm.

Full Review

Did I miss something worthy of being a Top Ten? Bitch at me in the comments or send me a message!

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Top Ten Metal Albums Of August

August regained the momentum of 2019 with tons of contenders for the best of the month! After careful consideration, I managed to pick out the Top Ten:

10. Ivory Tower – Stronger

Ivory Tower is no stranger to the prog scene. While they’ve only put out four albums since the late 90s, their sound has made plenty of changes, from power prog to nu metal. In their fifth album to date, Stronger, the band shows that the eight years since their previous album (which was, in all honesty, a fucking mess) have been dedicated to evolving their sound for the better. It’s full of super sick riffs, exciting songwriting, and vengeful melodies that often carry classic Queensryche vibes.

Full Review

9. Astralium – Land of Eternal Dreams

Astralium aren’t your typical, generic symphonic metal band. Land of Eternal Dreams marks one hell of a debut, and proves that these guys are a step above the rest. They manage to produce a bright, unique sound and, while some of their influences are vividly apparent at times (Nightwish, Amberian Dawn, and even Hans Zimmer), they do a great job at maintaining originality. The orchestrations are broad and epic, but they don’t overbear the guitars or vocals, which is a common mistake in the genre.

Full Review

8. Dialith – Extinction Six

The debut album from American symphonic metal outfit Dialith was an unexpected surprise this month. Extinction Six is a riff-heavy beast of a symphonic metal album, with guitarwork that’s as rich as its lively arrangements. All of this is under a strong female lead that delivers diverse melodies with emotion and precision.

7. Finsterforst – Zerfall

Furious German folkers Finsterforst are back with a fifth backbreaking album, complete with lengthy arrangements, chanted melodies, and intense orchestrations. Zerfall is a very unique take on folk metal, combining keyboards, orchestras, and heavy guitars with elements of death metal and folk melodies. The choruses have a slight ring of Orden Ogan to them that amplifies already-huge atmospheres, so it’s safe to say that you’re in for a pounding, heavy ride with this one.

6. Unprocessed – Artificial Void

German prog newcomers Unprocessed have returned with a bang in their sophomore record. Coming out only a year after their debut, Artificial Void shows that the band’s passion is burning hotter than ever before. The album still retains Unprocessed’s underlying, beefy djent feel, but it’s a farther progression into more experimental modern prog territory. Whether you’re looking for insanely deep riffs or choppy jams, Artificial Void delivers on all fronts.

Full Review

5. Scimitar – Shadows of Man

Canadian pagan metal warriors Scimitar have been around for just over a decade. Early on in their career, they released their debut album, Black Waters, but the band took a bit of a break soon after. Now, nine years later, the band have finally unleashed their sophomore album. Shadows of Man is gritty, furious, and packs way more variety into it than I would have ever expected. With a sound that’s in the realm of Ensiferum and Vanir (although far less refined, production-wise), Scimitar’s combination of death, black, and folk elements will be welcome with any fan of the dark side of folk metal.

Full Review

4. Elvenking – Reader of the Runes – Divination

Elvenking’s tenth album, Reader of the Runes – Divination, kicks all sort of ass, pagan-style. Fans will be pleased that Divination still retains the core Elvenking sound: a primarily-pop/punk vocal style, folk melodies, proggy song structure, and a power metal energy. Conversely, though, the album is as much a breath of fresh air as it is an Elvenking album, as it takes the band in two directions that they haven’t really explored in depth before; the road of Divination is generally darker and heavier than their previous material, and it also brings a whole concept that tells of a journey into a mystical world of runes and magic.

Full Review

3. Twilight Force – Dawn of the Dragonstar

Twilight Force’s third album, Dawn of the Dragonstar is full of unlimited, overblown, storybook energy. With the exception of maybe two moments, the album is consistently happy and heroic from the very first seconds of the galloping ‘Dawn of the Dragonstar’ into its final note. This hyper-melodic, smile-demanding work isn’t all sheen and shine, though; there’s an absolutely staggering degree of talent and proficiency to behold in every track.

Full Review

2. HammerFall – Dominion

Since their founding in 1993, heavy metal templars HammerFall have fought to continue the legacy of 80s heavy metal, smithing more than ten full-length records and establishing themselves as Sweden’s and Europe’s premier heavy metal masters. Their latest album, Dominion, is an epic powerhouse that easily contends with their early material in terms of quality and heart.

Full Review

1. NorthTale – Welcome to Paradise

NorthTale was born of vocalist Christian Eriksson (ex-Twilight Force), drummer Patrick Johansson (ex-Yngwie Malmsteem) and guitar maestro Bill Hudson with the dream of bringing back the glory of late 90s/early 00s power metal. Whether you’re in the mood for that golden-age power metal, anthemic stadium metal, or even a vegan happy meal, Welcome to Paradise delivers all that and more, complete with facemelting solos, diverse arrangements, and catchy melodies. This is one of the year’s best power metal albums and is as technically impressive as it is fun.

Full Review

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Top Ten Metal Albums Of July

It’s that time again! As is typical, July was more lean than previous months, but there was still plenty to check out!

10. TraumeR – History

Even though it’s already been out in Japan for just over a year, TraumeR’s third record, History, is finally ready to be heard by the international power metal community. While it doesn’t venture too far from the power metal norm, History will still be a hit for any fan of the genre. Soaring vocal lines, tight rhythm section, fast-paced double kicks; at the end of the day, these are the things that are looked for in a power metal album, and on this front, TraumeR deliver.

Full Review

9. Mind of Fury – The Fire

If you haven’t already listened to The Fire, then I’ll give you the following advice: start with the third track, and then come back to listen to the first two if you so desire. Seriously. I nearly gave up on this album because the first two songs are pretty rough. However, the other eight songs are really good, so I’m glad I gave the rest a chance.

Mind of Fury is a heavy metal band from the US with a brand of metal that is a solid mixture between catchy hard rock hooks, fast-paced power metal beats, and a classic metal aesthetic that gives the whole thing a gritty, rugged feel. There’s a really good amount of variety among the tracklist, including a phenomenal instrumental, ‘The Champion’. It’s also worth mentioning that there are only single-tracked guitars, so the bass actually has to hold the foundation during solos (which are fucking awesome, by the way), which it does very well.

8. Velesar – Dziwadla

It’d been a while since I’d heard a really good folk metal album, so you can imagine my excitement when I first heard Velesar’s debut a couple weeks ago. Dziwadla incorporate various European folk melodies into its three main leads: throaty vocals, flute, and violin. The backing guitars and drums keep the energy flowing. This is by no means a unique folk metal makeup, but the execution and songwriting keep Velesar fresh and well above other bands in the space.

7. Valis Ablaze – Render

Valis Ablaze’s sophomore record Render is primarily made up of groovy riffs and fluid pop-punk vocals. You’d be hard-pressed to find a passage that isn’t driven by some intricate 16th-note groove, so if you’re a fan of bouncy, djenty prog metal that you can feel in your stomach, this one’s definitely for you.

While Render‘s sound isn’t necessarily unique, Valis Ablaze offer a certain intensity that separates them from the crowd. This is a kickass album that demands the listener to move with it.

6. Mind Key – Mk III – Aliens in Wonderland

After a decade of absence, Mind Key’s comeback album is a prog metal powerhouse. Mk III – Aliens in Wonderland is full of power metal and 80s pop influences, making the album’s music as pleasingly colourful as its album artwork. Mind Key also favour a clear, cohesive sound over too much flare, which allows for a steady balance throughout the album.

Full Review

5. Desert – Fortune Favors the Brave

The third album by war metal warriors Desert is a harsh attack of heavy/power metal. With the highlight of this record being the incredible guitarwork, the rhythm section has nearly as much to offer in terms of ferocity. Fortune Favors the Brave manages to legitimately earn the title of “war metal” through a unique, raw sound that’s driven by a huge guitar sound, clashing riffs, and badass lead vocals that push the music with backbreaking force.

Full Review

4. Turilli / Lione Rhapsody – Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution)

Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution) is the latest brainchild of the aforementioned multi-instrumentalist and composer, Luca Turilli. As such, it’s (as expected) full of cinematic orchestrations, destructive synth lines, huge riffs, and vibrant arrangements. Oh, and we can’t forget about those ridiculous, facemelting, virtuoso guitar solos. Along with Turilli’s magic fingers and Lione’s pipes, Zero Gravity also features other members of the Rhapsody universe: guitarist Dominique Leurqui, drummer Alex Holzwarth, and bassist Patrice Guers. These Rhapsody-ers, with all of their combined might, have created a monster of an album.

Full Review

These next three albums took longer to figure out that the entire rest of the list. So, rather than read them “3, 2, 1”, it’s actually something closer to “1.3, 1.2, 1.1”.

That’s the same thing, you say? Whatever. Just know that they’re all really close in ranking.

3. Control the Storm – Forevermore

Forevermore came way the fuck out of nowhere this month. I was actually in the middle of making this list when I chanced upon it, and I had to bump another album off. But you don’t care about any of that; you just care whether or not it’s worth listening to.

And, let me assure you, this album is incredible: female-fronted power metal at its finest. Behind the versatile lead vocals, orchestrations, keys, and vocal harmonies fill the spaces, alongside a killer rhythm section. The arrangements are dynamic and exceptionally written and, if that isn’t enough for you, the guitar solos are just ridiculous. If you haven’t heard of them before, you need to go listen to Control the Storm’s stuff right now.

Full Review

2. ShadowStrike – Legends of Human Spirit

Legends of Human Spirit is probably the strongest power metal debut of the entire year. It’s insanelyfast, vibrant, true power metal to the core. It’s really as simple as that. ShadowStrike, hailing from New York, have busted out of the gate with a DragonForce-influenced sound that manages to steer clear of being too derivative, delivering a unique, shredtastic album.

Part of the driving force of this individuality is the band’s tasteful use of symphonic elements (I would never consider this album “symphonic metal”, though) as well as sophisticated song arrangements. With nothing short of excellent on the record, ShadowStrike have quickly become one of my favourite power metal bands, ever.

Full Review

1.Sabaton – The Great War

Amidst the salvo of excellent albums this month, Sabaton’s The Great War stands above the rest. While I did only score this album an 8.5 (mostly because of some reusage of older material that’s typical of Sabaton), for myself, this album is a 10; it’s everything I want in a Sabaton album, plus more. On top of that, compared to any other album on this list, it’s the one I’ll relisten to the most.

With ten pounding, ultra-anthemic heavy metal tracks and a beautiful choral closer, there’s a fair amount of variety (by Sabaton’s standards, anyway) that will especially please the diehard fan. There’s also a hefty dose of epic choirs, as well as some classical details that add some sophistication to the album. Combine this all with the best drumming that’s ever been seen in a Sabaton record and you’ve got yourself a seriously strong album of the month!

Full Review

Let me know if one of your favourites didn’t make the cut. Maybe I missed it!

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Top Ten Metal Albums Of March

While last month certainly had more to offer, there were still enough great metal albums to have a lot of competition for the top ten metal albums of March.

Below are albums that range the elements: the fluid, the rock-hard, the furiously hot, and the frigid cold. Brace yourself, because these records don’t fuck around!

10. Iron Savior – Kill or Get Killed

There’s nothing new in Iron Savior’s eleventh installment, Kill or Get Killed. It’s the same old song and dance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still great. The bass is cranked, the hooks are catchy, and the guitar solos are fucking phenomenal.

At this stage of their career, nobody expects anything new or different, but it’s clear that Iron Savior are veterans of the German power metal scene and they’re damn good at what they do: heavy, loud, and intense power metal.

Iron Savior – Stand Up and Fight (AFM)

9. Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings

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 Painwas 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.

In all honesty, when it lost Anton Kabanen, the Beast lost its bite. No More Hollywood Endings is widely dynamic, but a lot of the songs are very one-dimensional. Although many of the tracks feature epic orchestras and plentiful keyboards, more parts doesn’t always mean better songs.

I have very mixed feelings about this album mainly because of how hit-and-miss the tracks are. That being said, it’s far from being bad, and it’s good enough to make it as number nine!

(Also, the following track is incredible.)

Battle Beast – The Golden Horde (Nuclear Blast)

8. Darkwater – Human

Swedish power proggers Darkwater have created a fluid and intense experience in their comeback record. Human is their third record to date and is their first release in eight years. Fortunately, it was well worth the wait, because this record is one of the best prog albums I’ve heard in a long time.

The musicianship is excellent, but, by prog standards, it’s nothing special. That being said, Darkwater quickly proves that you don’t need to be a legendary musician who shreds with the utmost fucking insanity for minutes on end to make a great progressive album. The whole record feels natural and smooth.

Darkwater – Alive (Pt. II) (Ulterium)

7. Queensrÿche – The Verdict

I was as relieved as everybody else when Queensryche released their self-titled record in 2013 after the long line of bullshit they produced. So, it should come as no surprise that I absolutely love The Verdict, as it’s the third decent album in a row that Queensryche has made since the drama of the late 90s.

The Verdict is a dynamic piece of work, with the bulk of its sound being closer to their older material. There are clear grunge influences in parts and the synth is sprinkled throughout, adding a bit more detail and variety. Vocalist Todd La Torre also does an exceptional job manning the drums in Scott Rockenfield’s absence.

Queensryche – Man the Machine (Century Media)

6. Warrior Path – Warrior Path

This album is insanely good. Being forged under Greek guitarist/composer Andreas Sinanoglou, it also features vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos (ex Wardrum, Beast In Black) and guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis (Firewind), making for quite the lineup. Now, I’m pretty biased to all things Yannis, so I’ll try to avoid talking too much about how his already-impressive vocal versatility is demonstrated in yet another new way or how he absolutely fucking masters old school heavy metal singing too much.

Well, shit. I tried.

Ok, I didn’t try at all.

Besides the vocals, the songs are very well written (a trait that is often missing from traditional metal bands), the solos and riffs are heavy and the slow parts are beautiful. You’ll come back to this record a few times; I guarantee it.

Warrior Path – Sinnersworld (Symmetric)

5. Bloodbound – Rise of the Dragon Empire

Bloodbound has taken all of the glorious, dragonslaying exuberance from War of Dragons and crammed it all into Rise of the Dragon Empire. Along with more dynamic and variable songwriting, it’s altogether better than its predecessor and, in my opinion, the best Bloodbound record to date. The soaring choruses are thunderous, the guitar solos are grand, and the synth is heavy in this power metal monster.

In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be nearly as good as it is.

Bloodbound – The Warlock’s Trail (AFM)

4. Stonecast – I Earther

Stonecast rock seriously fucking hard in I Earther. Their strong energy will draw you in and their anthemic hooks will make you stay. This earthy metal is sturdy and its sound is nothing short of mountainous.

The vocal delivery ranges from powerful war cries to low, rough vocals. The guitar solos are awesome and the drums create exciting grooves. However, the highlight for me lies in ‘Cherokee’, which contains a staggering amount of variety in its eight minutes as well as an end section that is unmatched by most of the endings I’ve heard in metal.

Stonecast – Goddess of Rain (Pitch Black)

3. Iron Fire – Beyond the Void

Let it be known that Iron Fire is king in the land of heavy metal. After twenty years in the studio, not a single one of their records has lost any heat, and they’ve perhaps hit the pinnacle of their career in their ninth: Beyond the Void. These heavy metal veterans show absolutely no sign of slowing down, and it’s greatly reassuring to see them continuously produce nothing but excellence.

Now, I’m not exaggerating when I say the songwriting is fantastic. No song sets into one feel, and the molten-hot solo sections, especially in the titular track, have some serious underlying grooves. Honestly, while Kirk Backarach’s soloing is awesome, the rhythm section underneath is just as good.

Iron Fire – Beyond the Void (Cime)

2. Brymir – Wings of Fire

Brymir is extreme metal for the power metal fan and Wings of Fire is no exception. If it weren’t for the rough vocals, it’d be epic symphonic power metal through-and-through. I’m not complaining by any stretch, that’s just the way it is.

No, I shouldn’t say that. It’s way too epic to be just that. It’s the kind of epic that’ll make you believe that you can crush mountains and fly through the sky as the bringer of life or death, sole judge of the universe, with all of the power of the gods in your hands, under your hands, through your hands, about your hands (but not over your hands). It’s that. Fucking. Epic.

Its combination of heavy synth tracks, blasting drums, and facemelting guitars is nothing short of deadly. Don’t listen to this one on an empty stomach because you’ll probably pass out.

Brymir – Wings of Fire (Ranka Kustannus)

1. Frozen Crown – Crowned in Frost

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “That’s a lot of praise to give an album. How can there be an even better one on this list?” Never fear, your question will be answered.

While Frozen Crown’s sophomore album isn’t quite as epic as Wings of Fire, every other aspect lifts it higher and into my top album spot for March. This female fronted (or should I say, “female fueled,” due to vocalist Jade Etro as well as eighteen-year-old southpaw shredder Talia Bellazecca) powerhouse has created an exceptionally refined record that is better in every way than its impressive predecessor. Now, we can’t give all of the credit to the ladies, because the men are just as good. Drummer Alberto Mezzanotte pounds out some excellent grooves and lead guitarist/songwriter/keyboardist Federico Mondelli slams his amazing solos and riffs into the forefront. Filippo Zavattari completes the sound with his big, beefy bass.

Crowned in Frost has a ton of variety and it builds upon their heavier, grittier brand of power metal that was created in The Fallen King. Complete with top-tier musicians, this is my obvious favourite of March and will certainly be a contender at the end of the year!

Frozen Crown – Neverending (Scarlet)

Think I forgot a worthy album on this list? Leave a comment!

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Stay Metal \m/