I think we have mentioned a few times in recent weeks that we are living in strange times. Covid-19 has affected, just about, everyone on the planet, in one way or another, and we are far from seeing what the outcome of everything will be.
Regardless of how we are all feeling, there are a massive amount of people around the globe, who are, shamelessly and bravely, helping the rest of us to try and live as normal a life as possible. Emergency service personnel and carers, who are helping the sick, vulnerable and elderly, and providing other vital services. Shops and stores who are staying open, and delivering supplies to the general public. Cleaners, members of the armed forces, postal workers, and industries who have re-purposed their businesses to make vital equipment, and many, many more. They are all Heroes!
Sister Shotgun vocalist Chloe Ozwell decided to record a version of ‘Hero’ by Skillet and asked some of these heroes to send her pictures of themselves so she could make a video to thank them and here is a link to that video!
All that remains to be said is huge love and respect to Chloe for doing this and THANK YOU to all of these wonderful HEROES for doing what they do.
Lotty’s Top Ten Albums of 2019 By Lotty Whittingham
Hi Everyone – Rick Here. Before I pass you over to Lotty we would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her continued hard work in 2019. As well as writing for us she also runs her own great Blog/Site (https://www.facebook.com/rockoutstandout/) but she continues to send us great album reviews, live reviews and interviews. Once again, she has not only given us a very interesting top ten but she has also written mini reviews for each entry as well as a good list of honourable mentions. Thanks Lotty
The end of the year is upon us and I must say there have been some brilliant releases this year. I have been particularly impressed with the amount of new bands that have released albums. This is reassuring as it means the metal/rock scene is still alive and well. From listening pleasures to albums I enjoyed reviewing; here are my top ten albums of the year.
10. Sabaton – The Great War
Kicking off my top ten is Sabaton’s latest historical account of “The Great War”. It’s no secret that Sabaton write songs based around historical battles and events whilst donning the camo trousers. “The Great War” looks at the different aspects from The First World War. The Swedish icons tend to produce sterling albums and this is no exception. I’ll admit I didn’t take to this album right away but after listening to it a few more times, it grew on me. From the booming opener ‘The Future Of Warfare’ to the touching ‘In Flanders Field’, the album takes you on a historical journey told through bombastic melodies. My personal favourites on the album are ‘Seven Pillars Of Wisdom’, ‘82nd All The Way’, ‘Devil Dogs’, ‘Red Baron’ and ‘Great War’. I look forward to experiencing these songs live next year.
At the beginning of the year, I got an email from a guitarist to ask if I could help promote his band via a review and interview. After listening to their music, I was very keen to do so. Melodic Death Metallers Aephanemer are now signed to Napalm Records and they are gathering new fans by the second. I had the pleasure of reviewing their latest album “Prokopton” before they were signed and given the strong content from the record, I knew they would go far. The thing that sticks out on this album is the strong mix of Melodic Black and Melodic Death Metal; you can hear this within Marion Bascoul’s varied vocal style. The strongest examples of this can be heard in ‘Snowblind’ and single ‘Bloodline’. Amongst the prevailing growls and brutal musicianship, there is a poignant message in their sound. Prokopton means making progress. It’s a Greek word describing someone who practices stoicism in their day to day lives. You can see this within their powerful lyrics. I highly recommend this band to fans of Moonsorrow and Ensiferum.
I was happy to see the return of Swedish Hard Rockers Eclipse this year via their latest release “Paradigm”. There were some strong single releases leading up to the release and from hearing those, I knew I needed to hear the rest of the album. I had the pleasure of reviewing it this year. In tough times, we need something to lift our spirits and “Paradigm” does exactly that. There is an eclectic selection of songs on this record; it wouldn’t surprise me if songs such as ‘Viva La Victoria’, ‘The Masquerade’ and ‘United’ were live show anthems already. It’s albums like this that prove rock is still alive and kicking.
A few years ago, I witnessed Massive open up for The Treatment at The Joiners, Southampton. I remember being taken with their high energy and passionate music. Fast forward to the present and I can say I watched them headline the same venue with that same energy and passion. Talking to lead vocalist Brad Marr earlier this year, he mentioned the influences for the writing. “Rebuild Destroy” came from hard times they have had as a band. They used all this frustration and energy to create this no nonsense, straight up Hard Rock album and there is a fantastic collection of songs included. You have the party sounds on ‘Gettin’ Heavy’, the punchiness of ‘Bullet’, the rebellious ‘What You Gonna Do’ and the ballads ‘Face In The Crowd’ and ‘A Mile In My Shoes’. This is a Hard Rock gem that should be treasured and given your undivided attention.
I first came across Coronatus when I was sixteen years old, particularly, when I was starting to discover Symphonic Metal. I was attracted to the fact there were two different vocal styles taking the lead. Fast forward and in 2019 they released “The Eminence Of Nature”. Once I pressed play on this album, I was taken instantly by the striking vocals and grand musical arrangements.
Their important message is told through a great selection of bombastic melodies that encompass both folk and symphonic metal elements. It’s no secret that we need to work together and make drastic changes to ensure the future of our planet changes for the better. You hear this instantly in the lyrical content in the opening track ‘Planet B’! It doesn’t take much explanation what the lyric “no planet B, no more earth, only one chance” is referring to.
Other favourites on the album include the fun folk sounds of ‘Midsommar’, the haunting sounds of ‘Echo Of Souls’ and the gallant ‘Set Sail To North’. Highly recommended for fans of Symphonic and Folk Metal!
Ever since I caught them on tour supporting Sabaton a few years back, I have been hooked on Bloodbound. Their latest tale “Rise Of The Dragon Empire” only reinforces my love for the Swedish Dragon Slayers. The album contains gallant melodies that will make you want to unleash your inner warrior and join the band on their noble quest. Those who have been fans of the band for a while may have noticed the development in their sound.
My personal favourites on the album are the title track, ‘Blackwater Bay’, ‘Giants Of Heaven’ and ‘Reign Of Fire’. The title track shows us Patrik Selleby’s brilliant vocal range, ‘Blackwater Bay’ is majestic, ‘Giants Of Heaven’ is a standard Bloodbound track that contains the elements I love about the band and the uplifting sounds in ‘Reign Of Fire’ give me hope when times are tough.
Unleash your inner dragon slayer and join them on their quest, you know you want to!
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual listener, the name BEAST IN BLACK has been hard to miss. I was initially attracted to their straight to the point and no-frills Heavy Metal sounds through the strong content they produced. After hearing their latest release “From Hell With Love”, I knew instantly it was going to be at least top five material.
Like their previous album, it is no frills and no fuss; just solid sounding Heavy Metal. The record contains a great array of songs that will get you pumping and ready to go. Great examples of this get up and go energy can be found in ‘Repentless’, ‘Heart Of Steel’ and ‘True Believer’. I also like the eighties-esque sounds in ‘Sweet True Lies’ and ‘Die By The Blade’. It’s nice to have a break through the track ‘Oceandeep’ that shows us a different side to vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos, especially when it comes to his vast vocal range.
Like your Heavy Metal straight to the point whilst needing a get up and go? Give “From Hell With Love a whirl”.
Control The Storm have been favourites since I caught them at a local show a few years ago, I likened them to Britain’s answer to Nightwish and after their hiatus and a few line-up changes, their sound is stronger than ever before and I still say they are the British Nightwish. The concrete content in their anticipated second album Forevermore is solid evidence of this.
Even though I could hear influences from Nightwish, I can hear instantly that they have their own sound. For the duration of this album, I am taken with the beautiful melodies that have a sense of empowerment. I know that some of the band members have been open about their struggles regarding mental health and there is strong lyrical content in the album describing perfectly what it’s like; “I’m trapped in my mind” from ‘In The Night’, “Feeling defeated, life will take its toll” from ‘Follow Me’ and “Now I’m at war with my inner peace” from ‘Chaotic Mind’.
The song ‘Chaotic Mind’ is a perfect embodiment of struggling with ill mental health and to keep on fighting through it all. This particular song is another that helped me through some difficult times this year.
With all these reasons in mind, this was the ideal album to open my top three.
I had heard of Skillet in passing, but it was only this year I managed to sit and listen to them. This came on the off chance when listening to a radio show and the song ‘Legendary’ came on. I was instantly taken with the power and passion in the song, so much so that I eagerly waited to give the album a try.
From start to finish, I was taken with the pumping, strong and empowering content that this album gave. When you listen to it, you realise the title is more than appropriate. There is a great variety of tracks that suit every mood under the sun. I know it is a cliché but it rings true in this case.
Highlights for me include the first pumping notes of ‘Legendary’, the sweeping title track, the bouncy rhythm in ‘Rise Up’, the poignant message about having someone there for you in ‘Anchor’ and the straight to the point sounds of ‘Never Going Back’.
Music fans looking for something different then give this album a spin and feel Victorious.
It’s very different to the rest of my list but when I listened to the relaxing sounds of this record, I knew instantly that this would be my number one pick. For “Ancient Winter”, Leah strips back her usual Symphonic Metal sounds for a earthier ambience. It’s within this album you can hear why she is referred to as Metal Enya from her fans.
‘The Whole World Summons’ and ‘Light Of The World’ begin the album and I was taken away to a far-off land instantly and it genuinely helped me forget my troubles for hours. This album highly encourages the phrase “dance as if no-one is watching”, which is what I found myself doing whilst listening!
Speaking of being taken to a far-off land, I thought of Dark Crystal and Lord Of The Rings when listening to the record. The earthy sounds are given to us through Leah’s haunting vocal work and some of the international names featured on the album. These include the stunning Pipes from Nightwish’s Troy Donockley, the quirky Hurdy Gurdy sounds from Cellar Darling’s Anna Murphy, and a few others. My personal favourites on this album are the hypnotic sounds in ‘Redemption’, the stunning rendition of traditional song ‘Gaudete’ and the merry arrangements in ‘Puer Natus’.
In today’s fast paced world, it’s more important than ever to step back and slow down. “Ancient Winter” helped me to do this; it made me to relax and take a breath. If slowing down is something you need to do, take yourself away with “Ancient Winter”.
I would also like to give honourable mentions to the following albums:
A New Tomorrow – Universe
I really enjoyed the vast sounds of this album. I caught their live show a year ago and was really taken with them. Imagine Alter Bridge meets Foo Fighters and throw in Queens of The Stone Age and you get the sounds of A New Tomorrow. Their music matches the positivity and hope behind their band name. It’s albums like this that prove the rock scene is alive and kicking. I personally really liked the tracks ‘Golden Sands’, ‘A Million Stars’ and ‘Step Into The Wild’. The future for these guys is looking bright.
A few years ago, I reviewed Obsidian Tide’s debut EP and really took to the hazy sounds. Fast forward to the present and I got to review their debut album “Pillars Of Creation”. This isn’t just an album; it’s an experience that requires your undivided attention. It’s a journey full of unexpected twists and turns that I won’t reveal here, it’s recommended you buy the album to find out what those are. If this album doesn’t get the band swooped up by a big record label, I don’t know what will.
I am a huge fan of the bold and exciting sounds of eighties rock, I also have a huge admiration for modern bands bringing those sounds back. The appropriately titled “Forever Wild” by Crazy Lixx is the key to feeling free and wild. The songs contain sounds that make you feel like you are free and invincible; this is evident in my personal favourite tracks ‘Wicked’, ‘Eagle’ and ‘Terminal Velocity’. I also love the fun antics in ‘(She’s Wearing) Yesterday’s Face’. Feel free and Forever Wild with this album.
Crystal Viper are a new discovery for me this year and after hearing the strong sounds from “Tales Of Fire And Ice” I hope to see more of them. It’s a straight up, no nonsense album that delivers top class heavy metal sounds. Powerful vocals, finger blistering guitar work and thunderous rhythms; You can place a big tick by all of these items on this list of essential elements to create a Heavy Metal gem. There are some fierce tracks here such as ‘Bright Lights’, ‘Under Ice’ and ‘Tears Of Arizona’. They are definitely ones to keep your eyes out for.
As most of you know, Rotting Christ have been personal favourites of mine since I caught them headline the Sophie Stage at Bloodstock a few years ago. Their latest release “The Heretics” only upholds my admiration for their mesmerising music. The album doesn’t mess around as it opens with ‘In The Name Of God’ and the album keeps up the strong music from there. Highlights include ‘Vetry Zlye’, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’, ‘Dies Irae’ and ‘Fire God And Fear’. What I like about this album is that it proves beauty can be found in the darkest places if you look hard enough. This was one of the things that drew me to the band in the first place.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Lotty Whittingham and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.