Κυριακή, 17 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017

Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears

On this day (September 17th of 1991) "No More Tears", Ozzy Osbourne's sixth studio album was released.

With a recording line-up of Ozzy, Zakk Wylde (guitars), Bob Daisley (bass), Randy Castillo (drums) and John Sinclair (keyboards), "No More Tears" is one of Ozzy's favorite albums and it also marks a new era free of heavy alcohol and drugs use. While the 80s had been a turmoil for Ozzy, there are no weird myths or drama behind this album.


Song writting and recording sessions were very easy for this one. It was produced by Duane Baron and John Purdell, Ozzy was sober and Zakk Wylde came up with some great ideas. Daisley had some lyrics but finally they weren't used and at this point Lemmy (Motorhead) came up with lyrics and ideas for some songs. Ten songs were recorded for the album and while Ozzy was auditioning the tracks, Mike Inez came up with a random bass line (Daisley recorded the album but he wasn't part of the band). Ozzy's magic ear heard that line and they built one more song around it. This one was "No More Tears"... so they entered studio again, recorded one more song, the album got a title and the world got another classic hit.

The following tour was named "No More Tours" and it was supposed to be the last huge Ozzy tour according to the management but Ozzy himself had serious doubts about it later. Even during the tour he was mentioning to the audience that he won't stop. And he didn't.


At this time, Ozzy's fame surpassed by far Black Sabbath and he is established as the most successful solo artist in metal music. It will take few more years for Sabbath to be recognized by all (especially with their influence in the 90s and other genres besides metal, like grunge and stoner) even if their impact in metal music was already undeniable. In the early 90s, three albums by Metallica ("Black Album"), Ozzy ("No More Tears") and Queensryche ("Empire") were by far the most successful heavy metal releases in United States and these specific albums gain multi-platinum status with millions of sales, keeping some of the highest positions even until today. Keep in mind that bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest don't have any album reaching these sales in the States.


"No More Tears" stood the test of time. Even if upon its release wasn't received very well by few Ozz die-hards in Europe. This album gave to Ozzy's career a new big burst and introduced him to a new generation of fans (mainly in the United States). However, the angel wings on the cover is also a change from the past... Ozzy is no more the "prince of darkness" and even if there is a strong metal edge on "No More Tears", the 80s sound starts to fade over the next years.


Track list:  1. Mr. Tinkertrain, 2. I Don't Want To Change The World, 3. Mama, I'm Coming Home, 4. Desire, 5. No More Tears, 6. S.I.N., 7. Hellraiser, 8. Time After Time, 9. Zombie Stomp, 10. A.V.H., 11. Road To Nowhere



Τρίτη, 12 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz

Ozzy Osbourne's first solo album, "Blizzard of Ozz" was released on September 20th of 1980. Let's remember...

Black Sabbath no more. Ozzy is on the edge of the abyss. 1979. Enter Sharon. A blizzard is coming.

"Blizzard of Ozz" is a monumental release for heavy metal music and one of the albums that inspired what we love in metal during the glorious 80s. This wouldn't be possible without the proper team that included phenomenal guitarist Randy Rhoads, bass player and lyricist Bob Daisley, drummer Lee Kerslake and Don Airey on keyboards. The album was recorded between March to April of 1980, it was produced by the band and engineered by Max Norman. Most likely it was produced by Max Norman but he wasn't the one who started to work on the album from the beginning... However we will speak soon for his complete work at next Ozz albums where he takes full credits.

Now, keep in mind that we are still in 1980, when Iron Maiden and Angel Witch just had their debut albums released, Saxon just started riding on wheels of steel, NWoBHM was all over with countless new bands (some great, some average, most of them with few songs and lot of rock attitude and sound), Motorhead were doing their thing, and just a handful of groups were trying to play heavy metal with the "SOUND" it is meant to be and not with just some distortion or just few (actual) metal songs in hard rock or rock-driven albums. In fact, two other albums that were the bridge from 70s to the 80s metal sound were also released in 1980, and defined-unlocked the "SOUND". These are "Heaven and Hell" and "British Steel". Of course, Judas Priest was already the second greatest metal pioneer (after Black Sabbath) with their 70s metal albums but the production of Tom Allom in "British Steel" and Martin Birch in "Heaven and Hell" is the turning point for what followed. From that year and on , heavy metal already had the "SOUND" and the structure. It wasn't "hard-rock-ish", "rock-driven" or "proto-metal" (funny term of the last years, if you want my opinion), or whatever; it is pure Heavy Metal now, in all terms, and that is more than obvious in the 80s, despite that thunder during February the 13th of 1970. There was heavy metal in the 70s of course, but from 1980 there is a real explosion and "Blizzard of Ozz" is among the albums that settled the template for 80s heavy metal.

Back in "Blizzard of Ozz". Its production is not such a defining moment as the two albums mentioned above but there are some monumental songs in this album; no doubt about it. There are parts that inspired a generation of metal fans, among them musicians that created bands and albums we love. Ozzy, Randy and Daisley were putting most of the music together. Usually Ozzy had a song title, some lines and a vocal melody. He was singing the vocal melody with random words, Randy came up with most of music and Daisley with the majority of the lyrics and some music, with most of the songs completed by the end of 1979 - early 1980. None of those songs was laid on paper or partitures and they were created on jamming and countless rehearsals, by ear and mutual approval.

Randy Rhoads was free to play and compose on classical scales and arrangements. Since 1979 you could hear "this" in some hard rock guitar players and songs but he was probably the first heavy metal artist using classical phrasing. Guitarists like Blackmore, Schenker and Van Halen were a revelation for countless young musicians, but now we are in 1980 and a 100% heavy metal album sets new standards. Also, according to Ozzy, "one day Randy came to me and said that most heavy metal songs are written in an A to E chord structure. Randy said, 'let's try to change that', so we made a rule that almost every number that we recorded on an album was never played in the same key". Just imagine how things would evolve if Randy was still with us. Most likely he would surpass guitarists that are now considered "greatest". 

Ozzy still gives the greatest credits to Randy and he always remembers him. According to Ozzy, Randy was the first one that gave him time and had the patience and time to hear his ideas and work with them. Randy Rhoads (who surprisingly didn't like Black Sabbath) admired guitarists like Leslie West (Mountain), Glen Buxton (Alice Cooper Band) and Jeff Beck, and he was a fan of David Bowie's music but his playing was mainly a result of classical study; a unique revelation that inspired many guitarists like James Murphy, Joey Tafolla, Criss Oliva and Phillip Sandoval, just to name few, besides the indirect inspiration to countless more.

However, Ozzy's first choice for his solo band was Gary Moore, but this didn't happen because Gary wanted to start his own band. The Randy Rhoads audition story says that Randy was tuning up, doing some arpeggios and Ozzy stopped him and said, "you got the job". Of course this is a lovely myth (or half of the truth, if you prefer) and a couple of days later, Ozzy auditioned Randy again because he wanted to make sure that it would all work out in a band situation. Frankie Banali played drums and Dana Strum was the bass player in those early auditions that took place in Los Angeles. When Ozzy returned to UK, the label and management (Jet Records and D.Arden) wanted to keep Ozzy's new band all British, so Bob Daisley entered the band and finally they accepted Randy because Ozzy wanted him without any further discussion.

The first song written for "Blizzard of Ozz" was "Goodbye to Romance", a farewell to Black Sabbath and a commitment to the future, with Ozzy writing and singing "I've been the king, I've been the clown, still broken wings can't hold me down, I'm free again".
"Mr. Crowley" is a neo-classical heavy metal piece of art in the true essence of this description, before the term "neo-classical" start to appear in metal music. "Revelation (Mother Earth)" is a milestone of lyrical heavy metal before the term "lyrical" accompany the music of some beloved underground US metal acts in the years to come. No need to mention the heartbreaking performance of Ozzy in this song...

1980. Heavy metal is already here. Complete as we know it. In form, stracture and sound, stronger than ever before. The doors are opened.

"Blizzard of Ozz" is a true groundbreaking album that has sold over 6,000,000 copies worldwide and has been certified 4 times Platinum in the United States.


Track list: 1. I Don't Know, 2. Crazy Train, 3. Goodbye To Romance, 4. Dee, 5. Suicide Solution, 6. Mr. Crowley, 7. No Bone Movies, 8 Revelation (Mother Earth), 9. Steal Away (The Night)



Κυριακή, 11 Ιουνίου 2017

Up The Hammers Festival 2017: The Might of Chaos Descends

Now the dust has settled. The might of Chaos was unleashed upon the (decadent since ages)  cradle of civilization, on May 27th, of 2017. 

Up The Hammers festival (Athens, Greece) started from small basements, growing every year with hard work from the right people and associates, and on its XII edition, it moved to the best venue of its history. On May 26th and 27th, the 2-days underground metal festival took place at Gagarin 205 club with a line-up that was mainly dominated by the headline acts of Ross The Boss (performing Manowar) and Cirith Ungol. The strong support of metalheads around the world over the last years, helped Up The Hammers to move to the next logical step, that is a bigger venue. That wouldn't happen without the support of the metal hordes and friends coming from Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, even United States or Australia and many many more places... Manolis Karazeris (promoter of the festival, along with Dimitris Papanastasiou of Music Box Prod.) thinking most of the times as a fan, had the right thoughts and ideas about the line-up of the festival, depending on its budget, and managed to establish it as one of the best underground metal festivals of our times, that was expanded with the support of the fans.

This year's edition was dominated by the performance of Cirith Ungol, one of the last two and most wanted reunions in traditional heavy metal; the other one is Heavy Load. Behind the Cirith Ungol reunion lies a fairytale gone right. Many people tried over the years, but finally it happened thanks to few individuals with most notable Jarvis Leatherby (founder of Night Demon and promoter of Frost And Fire festival), and of course the will of the band members. Cirith Ungol is hailed as an underground metal band and not a famous, maistream or established act, but I have to say that this specific reunion is one of the most professional and successful ever happened. Everything was organized slowly, correct and beyond our wildest dreams. The present line-up includes all the right members, with both Greg Lindstrom (he played guitar on the first CU album "Frost And Fire") and Jim Barraza (he played guitar on the last CU album "Paradise Lost"), since Jerry Fogle (guitar on first three albums) left this mortal world one August day of 1998. Tim Baker (vocals) and Robert Garven (drums) are of course here, and Jarvis Leatherby handles bass duties, since Flint isn't part of this reunion. Jarvis is also the manager of the band and another crucial thing is that Metal Blade Records (the best metal label in my book) is supporting Cirith Ungol with great reissues of their albums, among other things. Important label stuff are also supporting the band in person, and travelling in the Cirith Ungol shows, promoting and helping them. If we will add that at this period of time "old" metal is somehow back in the rails, this was the perfect timing for such a reunion. Traditional metal is not mainstream in terms of older times, but for sure it has more exposure in magazines (the ones left), many small festivals appear here and there, countless reunions of old bands (even ones with just an album) happen, and I can't even mention the hundreds reissues... And all these in a period where the music industry is a living dead entity, but still, things happen despite the low physical sales and the minimal support and of the younger generation, if we will compare them with the years that all these bands were active. On the other hand, when these bands were active back in the 80s, most of them were really underground and nowadays they play to wider audience. So this reunion really matters and deserves every success, and a new album is probably scheduled somewhere at the end of 2018.

When Cirith Ungol walked the stage, on their third show after the reunion, everything we saw before was forgotten and the might of Chaos was unleashed upon us. Each band member performed with passion and it was obvious that they had many rehearsals before. The Cirith Ungol music is not 100% the best festival soundtrack, but it was exactly what the people of Up The Hammers wanted to hear. This was one of the best shows in the history of Up The Hammers festival.

The night before, Ross The Boss with a killer line-up including Rhino (ex-Manowar, Burning Starr) on drums, Mike LePond (Symphony X, Heathen's Rage, Silent Assassins) on bass and Marc Lopez (ex-Meliah Rage) on vocals, performed a special Manowar setlist with songs from his Manowar-era. You cannot fail when you play eternal hymns like "Thor" or "Blood Of My Enemies". These songs are so powerfull and unique, and this was a great festival addition, with guaranteed satisfaction for this specific crowd. I cannot even imagine what would happened if we would witness the real deal in this venue...

The only disadvantage of this festival, is that these two performances - names were by far superior than anything else we saw. There were more great acts and shows, but there was a significant difference between the headliners and the rest billing of the festival. Night Demon were amazing, though. These guys live and breath metal, and their shows are always full of energy. Probably one of the three or five best bands of the so called "new wave of traditional heavy metal". Other new bands should watch them and learn how to "work". When you play countless shows over the world and already have 2 great full-length albums in a period of three years, you are doing something right. 

Attacker was another cool addition and this kind of US metal is needed in these festivals. Especially when the band members perform with passion, and you have songs like "(Call On) The Attacker"! US metal was represented also by Thrust who tried to kill the posers, Tyrant who killed our ears, and Resistance who was indeed a Metal Machine.

Myhtra was the surprise of the festival. It is always great to see some old bands performing with the passion of their youth. That was great, and also a NWOBHM band is always needed in this kind of festival. Lord Vigo from Germany was the second big surprise of the festival. Their paranormal doom metal was performed flawless and their stage performance was also special. Monasterium was the other doom metal band of the festival, and the Polish act was closer to the traditional epic doom style of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus, but both bands played in front of few people as opening acts of both days. Blizzen were just ok in their traditional metal style and Holy Martyr was a perfect addition even if I believe that the doom elements on their new album don't fit in the character of the band. However, none of us can tell to a musician how to play and I really enjoyed their "classic" tunes. Diviner and InnerWish were the Greek bands of the festival and both of them were professionals. Lot of people enjoyed their shows, some "old-school" metalheads didn't enjoy so much Diviner and many others would prefer a better setlist from InnerWish, since they supported mainly their last album. Fans from Greece are already familiar with them and have their opinion, but I am sure they gained some fans from abroad, even if they were different from the "true underground metal" character that few individuals have for a festival like Up The Hammers. At this point, with bands like InnerWish, I will have to mention that the sound was also very good at the venue. 

Top - 10 artists of UTH:


10. Vince High: A performer with a  complete NWOBHM feeling.


9. Rhino: The triumph of steel. A metal machine.

8. Bobby Lucas: The leather lungs of US metal.


7. Ross The Boss: THAT guitar tune!


6. Mike LePond: A true unsung legendary musician.


5. Greg Lindstrom: The silent force (aka: the man who wrote "Frost And Fire")


4. Robert Garven: The atom smasher. The master of the pit.


3. Jarvis Leatherby: The demon of the stage.


2. Tim Baker: The voice of Chaos.


1. Jim Barraza: A true guitar master. An Idol.



The first bands of Up The Hammers 2018 are already announced and tickets are already on sale. You can reserve your ticket HERE and trust me, this will be something you don't want to miss.



Τετάρτη, 22 Μαρτίου 2017

HEAVY LOAD Back Catalog To Be Reissued; More Things To Come



HEAVY LOAD - DEFYING THE POWERS OF THE DARK SEA

No Remorse Records and Gabriel Management are immensely proud to present something on many Heavy Metal fans wish list: the most exciting series of re-issues of the decade.

They are widely held as the band that started the whole Swedish Heavy Metal wave with their first album in 1978. In addition, they are regarded as the first Viking Metal band in the world. HEAVY LOAD, a name that electrifies fans around the globe. A band - a name that never ceased to reverberate and fascinate. In fact, a list of the bands that officially admit that they were influenced or inspired by this mythical Swedish act could turn out to be endless. 


THE RESURRECTION OF THE LOST HEAVY LOAD RECORDINGS

Due to the  famous flood that  devastated Thunderload Studios back in 2001 (one meter of water for five hours), the HEAVY LOAD tapes had been evacuated, scattered, misplaced and believed to be damaged beyond repair. After arduous efforts trying to find and restore the tapes, the band´s founding members Ragne and Styrbjörn Wahlquist discovered that the recordings could be re-mastered.

These legendary albums have been out of print since the eighties. Bootlegs with poor sound quality have been abundant, and they are continuously selling in increasing numbers to new audiences around the world. In fact, no licensed CDs have ever been made (despite their often legal appearances) except for the rare Japanese releases from the Eighties. But, for ages, fans, journalists, musicians influenced by the band, as well as people of the music industry have tried to persuade Ragne and Styrbjörn to reissue their original recordings on both CD and vinyl LP. And now, at last, they will.


THE EXPANDED HIGH QUALITY REISSUES          

In order to guarantee the best sound quality, the reissued LPs and CDs will be remastered directly from the original analogue tapes. This will be done by Ragne and Styrbjörn themselves at Atlantis Grammofon in Stockholm – one of the few studios that still have the capacity to handle recordings the old analogue way. Now, finally, you will be able to hear the albums the way they were meant to be.

These official reissues will be expanded with bonus tracks. Some of these tracks have never been heard by the public before – demos and songs recorded for the albums which had to be dropped due to the limited playing time on LPs. The reissues will be available both as CDs (in deluxe digipak packages) and vinyl LPs (in gatefold covers). Both the CDs and the LPs will have the same bonus tracks. The CD covers will be coupled with great booklets, designed by the Wahlquist brothers themselves. Both the CD and the LP booklets will feature previously unpublished photos, as well as stories about how the songs came about.

HEAVY LOAD - FOUNDED IN 1975

HEAVY LOAD was founded in 1975 by two brothers: Ragne Wahlquist (vocals, keyboards and guitar) and Styrbjörn Wahlquist (vocals and drums). In 1978 HEAVY LOAD released their first album "Full Speed at High Level" - during an era when the Swedish media and record industry claimed that Hard Rock was dead and that the band was doomed to fail. The Wahlquist brothers’ vision has always been the core of what HEAVY LOAD was all about. So after expanding the band with a second guitarist, they founded their own recording facility, the famous Thunderload Studios, along with their own label, Thunderload Records. On their own label, they released timeless classics such as "Metal Conquest" (1981), "Death Or Glory" (1982) and "Stronger Than Evil" (1983) by HEAVY LOAD.

THINGS TO COME

At last, due to an epic pact between the band and No Remorse Records, the back catalogue will be made available again. This series of ultimate reissues will start in the early Summer of 2017, with their last album "Stronger Than Evil" and continue back through their production.

But that’s not all of it. Far from it! As 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of their debut album, HEAVY LOAD prepares something special. Something special to DEFY THE POWERS OF THE DARK SEA.


HEAVY LOAD Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/heavyloadofficial
NO REMORSE RECORDS: www.noremorse.gr
GABRIEL MANAGEMENT: www.gabrielmanagement.eu

Παρασκευή, 6 Ιανουαρίου 2017

The metal albums we enjoyed most in 2016

2016 was a great year for metal music. When you are working in music industry and being part of a record label, store, magazine and website, you are associated with musicians, labels, promoters and editors daily, so metal besides of music, is your reality. One more year, I had the opportunity to listen to many new albums, but still, no one can say that listened everything. Everyone who claims that, is wrong. Also, you need to check the physical format to have the complete experience of an album, and not just have a quick listen on social networks, downloads or whatever. There are also the unlucky ones (the albums that released during December) that haven't got all the proper attention, since a few plays are not enough.



Below you will find (for start) 10 albums that I enjoyed most in 2016, and some of them (like 'The Eternalist') will follow me for the years to come, as pure classics.

1. AGATUS - The Eternalist
14 years have passed since the last Agatus album ('The Weaving Fates', 2002) but this long wait worth’s every single day, because with this release we witness history in the making. 'The Eternalist' is a genre-breaking album that captures the soul and passion of metal music through the visionary mind of its creator, Eskarth The Dark One. The Dark is without doubt a pure artist, a multi-instrumentalist, a creator with original ideas and vision. With the precious help and creative input of Vorskaath (Zemial), The Dark is offering to the metal universe an artistic creation that combines elements like the passion of Bathory, Warlord and ’70s-inspired prog melodies (in the vein of Eloy); epic majesty and pure metal that through the eyes and heart of The Dark transcends to a unique soundscape of dark heavy metal.


2. ETERNAL CHAMPION - The Armor Of Ire
Hammers, balls, guts and epic metal. One of the underground metal highlights of 2016 inspired by the Legends.


3. SUMERLANDS - Sumerlands
Genuine 80s metal worship and Phil Swanson on mic. Catchy, inspired, riff-driven and passionate, this is the kind of heavy metal we are looking (and praying) for, in the years to come.


4. FATES WARNING - Theories Of Flight
A great album by an old 80s established band. This is not something you see very often but Fates is not an ordinary band. 'Theories Of Flight' is the band's best album since 'A Pleasant SHade Of Gray' and it is filled with melody, their "regular" top notch songwriting, the best Ray Alder since ages and the heavy presence of Bobby Jarzombek. 


5. TAROT - Reflections
Do you miss Pagan Altar? 'Reflections' is the first full-length album of Tarot from Australia, after 'The Warrior's Spell', that was actually a compilation of the band's EPs. Nostalgic and beautiful, 'Reflections' is made of dreams, eerie landscapes and poetry, transformed in pure artistic music.


6. ASSASSIN'S BLADE - Agents Of Mystification
Another great debut album for 2016. A Swedish mob join forces with singer Jacques Belanger (ex-Exciter) and deliver us a pure metal offering inspired by Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Manilla Road and the spirit of Heavy Metal.


7. KHEMMIS - Hunted
Just a year after their debut full-length album ('Absolution'), the doomsters from Denver, Colorado, return with the perfect follow-up keeping their momentum strong. Once again, a great cover catches your eye before you even listen to the five songs herein. 'Hunted' is dominated by melody, the emotional vocal performance and along with gigantic riffs and the menhir-solid rhythm section it is irritant bizarre and defies the borders of traditional doom metal. 


8. THE TEMPLE - Forevermourn
Doom metal is perhaps the hardest sub-genre of our precious music sphere to get right. It really needs spirit and true passion to achieve the right result. All the songs on 'Forevermourn' seem to be forged and conceived from sorrow, regret and struggle, inspired by bands like Solstice, Warning and Isole. This is true doom metal indeed and so few new bands can truly claim that heavy crown.


9. SPELLCASTER - Night Hides The World
These guys, from Oregon, USA, have a great evolution and you won’t believe how good their third (and best so far) album is. 'Night Hides The World' is diverse and full of catchy, feel-good melodies. It might bring you in mind to a few of the (real) greats in metal, from bits of the Alder-era Fates Warning to Queensryche and Iron Maiden.


10. SACRED STEEL - Heavy Metal Sacrifice
Well, if you want to experience Heavy Metal in its purest form, you can't go wrong with Sacred Steel. Every time I listen an album by this German metal armada, I pray to transferred in their live shows at once.



 

Top 5 + 1 EPs / singles

1. SOLSTICE - To Sol A Thane
Loud uncompromised epic metal. Not for cunts.


2. WATCHTOWER - Concepts Of Math: Book One
Decades in the making, the line-up of 'Control And Resistance' cannot fail.


3. THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM - Never Machine
The Doomfather (Leif Edling) with Niklas Stalvind (Wolf) on vocals, deliver us 4 tracks from the Sabbath catacombs. 


4. ASCALON - Reflections
UK vigilantes and probably the best newcomers of the so called "new wave of traditional heavy metal"


5. MAUSOLEUM GATE - Metal And The Might
A unique blend of 70s sounds, obscure metal and personality.


+ BLACK SABBATH - The End
Available only during their first live shows of the final tour, this is a special edition that contains 4 new studio tracks and 4 live recordings. Those 4 new tracks are in the usual Sabbath standards. Meaning, best of the best.




2016 was a great year for metal music. After many many years, QUICKSAND DREAM released their second album 'Beheading Tyrants' and that was a really nice surprise for 2016! Doomy epic metal with beautiful melodies and a great aura surrounding the songs. Portoguese metal warriors RAVENSIRE released their best effort yet, 'The Cycle Never Ends', in the beginning of 2016 and this is what you need before the battle in order to destroy your enemies and drink blood from their skulls.

DANG 'Monstrum Ex Machina' is the absolute outsider of 2016. A great multi dimensional album with 70s rock and prog elements, doom metal, heavy atmosphere and monsters from the underworld. Completely "outside of the box" is also the latest artistic creation of ZEMIAL 'The Repairer Of Reputations' that is available only digital at the moment, but you need to check it yourself.


Two classic US power metal acts had a killer comeback. HELSTAR with 'Vampiro' and METAL CHURCH with 'XI'. The latest album of METAL CHURCH was marked by the return of vocalist Mike Howe and even if few of the previous albums with Ronny Munroe on vocals were really good, it seems that this album was what fans wanted. On the other hand, the latest HELSTAR albums were not really good and had a more aggressive edge, that wasn't welcome by many of their fans, but 'Vampiro' is their best effort since their golden years in the 80s.


From older bands, the line-up change in German power metal legends RAGE was a relief for captain Peavey and 'The Devil Strikes Again' was indeed a strike we were looking for, from this great band. However, the real captain Rock n' Rolf returned with RUNNING WILD and 'Rapid Foray', and even if there are some strongs ideas and songs in the album, he really needs to consider again the band's line-up. I think that a call to Jorg Michael (drums) will be something that fans will really appreciate.


New (or close to "new") bands had also their share in 2016 with cool and enjoyable albums like MONUMENT ('Hair Of The Dog'), DEXTER WARD ('Rendezvous With Destiny'), HIGH SPIRITS ('Motivator') BLAZON STONE ('War Of The Roses'), HITTEN ('State Of Shock'), MONASTERIUM ('Monasterium') and WYTCH HAZEL ('Prelude') but few other not so new bands like SPIRITUS MORTIS ('The Year Is One') and WIDOW ('Carved In Stone') were nearly to the very best.


Besides what I really liked in 2016, there were many more albums and bands that must be mentioned if you want to have a right and correct retrospect, but this is not the point here. However, it is always important for the metal universe when a brand name like METALLICA or MEGADETH has a new album out there, but let's keep this for other sites.


What should we expect in 2017? A new album from the other few brand names is needed. Let's say that in my dreams I am expecting an album from OZZY in the vein of 'Bark At The Moon' and 'The Ultimate Sin' but let's stay on earth, where we are waiting for new albums from HEIR APPARENT, SOLSTICE, PAINFUL PRIDE and SAXON.


News are expected on the MANILLA ROAD family, too. Three albums are ready and scheduled for release during 2017. The new MANILLA ROAD album, the new HELLWELL album where Mark Shelton is working again with Randy 'Thrasher' Foxe on drums, and also a project where Mark Shelton is working with Rick Fisher on drums.


While BLACK SABBATH is coming to an end, Tony Iommi will probably compose music easier and according to some rumors he will might write few songs with Tony Martin that probably will be part in the future (?) reissues of albums like 'Headless Cross' and 'Tyr'. Meanwhile, since he already wrote a song like 'How Good It Is', we are expecting more surprises.


Have a great, healthy and lucky 2017.