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Top 10 Power Metal Albums of 2016

top-10-power-metal-albums-of-2016

By Rob Dell’Aquila

1 – INNERWISH – Innerwish

It had been six long years since their last album, during which they lost their lead singer and their drummer, but Innerwish returned stronger than ever in 2016 with this self-titled album. Clocking in at nearly two hours, it’s filled with powerful and often deep songs with staggering vocal harmonies. They hail from Athens, Greece.

 

2 – THEOCRACY – Ghost Ship

This band is out of a different Athens – Athens, Georgia – and they put their mark on 2016 with another album filled with their trademark layered harmonies and monster riffs.  This is Christian power metal with strong progressive and symphonic influences.

 

3 – CIVIL WAR – The Last Full Measure

For 2016, Sweden’s Civil War wrapped up a trilogy of amazing albums dedicated to historic battles and famous final stands. The collaboration of vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson with ex-Sabaton members works wonderfully, yet again, for another compelling romp through history.

 

4 – SABATON – Last Stand

Sweden’s Sabaton continued to marry power metal to military themes with a knockout album dedicated to famous last stands in battle.  No song ends well for the heroes here, but the listener is in for a treat on every single one.

 

5 – AVANTASIA – Ghostlight

Tobias Sammet returned in 2016 with another symphonic, power metal masterpiece from his supergroup, Avantasia.  This one clocks in at nearly two hours, with appearances from Dee Snider, Geoff Tate, Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Sharon den Adel, Ronnie Atkins, Robert Mason and Marco Hietala.

 

6 – EVERGREY – The Storm Within

Heavy riffs, complex compositions, deep yearning.  These are the three elements that Sweden’s Evergrey deliver in their best work, and all three were in strong supply on this veteran band’s latest release.

 

7 – PRIMAL FEAR – Rulebreaker

Primal Fear returned in 2016 with another hard-hitting entry into the genre.  Ralf Scheepers, Matt Sinner and the rest of the band nailed it again with a mix of straight-up power metal and epic masterpieces like the ten-plus-minute “We Walk Without Fear.”

 

8 – LORDS OF BLACK – II

Lead singer Ronnie Romero was tapped by Ritchie Blackmore to front the long-awaited reunion of classic rock legends Rainbow, but that didn’t stop him from putting out another album with his bandmates in Lords of Black.  Hailing from Madrid, Spain, the band debuted with a powerful album in 2014, and deliver again in 2016 on their sophomore effort.

 

9 – THUNDERSTONE – Apocalypse Again

After a seven-year absence, Finland’s Thunderstone returned in 2016 with their sixth album.  Reunited on this one with former lead singer Pasi Ranaten, the chemistry is still there.  This one was worth the wait!

 

10 – SERIOUS BLACK – Mirrorworld

Serious Black delivered one of the best power metal albums of 2015 with their debut, and return strong again just a year later. Urban Breed and the band pour it on heavy again with some impressive writing and musical performances.

Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 9/15/16

hard-rock-music-time-machine-avantasia-f-joe-lynn-turner

Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 9/15/16

Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).

Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs.   On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.

In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
 

 

 

 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

AVANTASIA (f. JOE LYNN TURNER) – “The Watchmaker’s Dream” (2013)

Avantasia – a supergroup rock opera – is the brainchild of Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammet, who plays bass with the group (in addition to being the primary songwriter and vocalist).  The first five studio albums featured mainly European power metal guest vocalists.  However, on 2013’s The Mystery Of Time, Joe Lynn Turner appears on a number of tracks, adding an interesting mainstream rock element to the intricate musical composition.  The song also showcases a theatrical side of JLT that might surprise fans of Rainbow, Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen.

Most classic rock fans would think of The Who’s Tommy upon hearing the term “rock opera,” but Avantasia takes the concept to an entirely different level.  “The Watchmaker’s Dream” blends the bombast of Jim Steinman’s writing style with prog-infused power metal, and the theatricality of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The challenge for projects like Avantasia is exposing the music to the masses.  Because there is no natural radio fit, this is best achieved when artists share the music directly with their fans.  Although I am a lifelong fan of JLT, I only discovered this brilliant track when he shared it on Facebook on a recent “flashback Friday” post.
 

 
KANSAS – “Play The Game Tonight” (1982)

In early 1982, after parting ways with Steve Walsh due to creative differences in lyrical direction, Kansas chose John Elefante to replace their original vocalist.  Elefante, who landed the gig over the likes of Sammy Hagar and Doug Pinnick (King’s X), took the band in a more Christian rock direction with his lyrics.  Ironically, though the majority 1982’s Vinyl Confessions featured Christian lyrics that appealed to founder Kerry Livgren, “Play The Game Tonight” was not one of those songs.  It ended up being the biggest hit on the album, and the third biggest hit in the band’s history behind “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind.”  Elefante’s time with the band only lasted for two albums – Walsh would return a few years later with a different lineup – but while he was there, he left a big mark with “Play The Game Tonight.”
 

 

 

 ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout

STONE SOUR “Get Inside” (2002)

Metal musicians love side projects.  It allows them to explore, and write music that they normally are not associated with.  In the realm of side projects, Stone Sour made an impressionable mark mainly due to Corey Taylor’s job screaming and growling for his main band, Slipknot.  Stone Sour is a far cry from Slipknot.  The band features a lot more melodies and harmonies.  Despite the difference in styles, Stone Sour has done well over the years with their stripped down modern rock/metal sound.  “Get Inside,” from the band’s self-titled debut album, is probably one of their heavier tunes, although not as heavy as the likes of Slipknot.

 

DAMAGEPLAN “Breathing New Life” (2004)

Founded by two of the greatest musicians of all-time, Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell Abbott, Damageplan was a powerhouse metal band in 2004.  “Breathing New Life” was probably one of the best songs from their only album, New Found Power.  It was heavy, it was angry, and it showcased Dimebag’s phenomenal guitar playing.  One of the saddest days in metal history took place on December 8, 2004, when Dimebag was murdered on stage during a Damageplan show.  The world lost one of the best guitarists, and kindest, most genuine people in metal that day.  His legacy lives on in his recordings.
 

 

 

ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout

CROWN OF GLORY – “Inspiration” (2008)

Swiss melodic metal band Crown of Glory crafted a complex piece of power metal with progressive influences on this song from their 2008 album, A Deep Breath Of Life. Complementing the yearning vocals and staunch guitar riffs are subtle orchestrations, hints of the Middle East, and delicate piano interludes that explode into guitar fury.

 

LORD – “New Horizons” (2009)

This lamenting power ballad was the closer on Australian band Lord’s 2009 album, Set In Stone.  The band began in 2003 as a side project for singer/guitarist “Lord” Tim Grose.  It gave him an outlet to share some amazing music that he wrote, but had been saving because it was unsuitable for his main band, Dungeon.  When Dungeon broke up a couple years later, LORD became his full-time endeavor.  Pete Lesperance of Harem Scarem contributes a guest guitar solo on this track.
 

 

 

   CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout

SPLIT HEAVEN – “Iron Witch” (2008)

Split Heaven has a terrific throwback, heavy metal sound that is enhanced by quality production.  “Iron Witch” – from the band’s 2008 release, Psycho Samurai – showcases this style.  The standouts on this track are the excellent drum work of Tommy Roitman, and the terrific guitar work from Armand Ramos and Pedro Zelbohr.

 

LEIDER – “Dream Of Dragon” (2012)

Killer heavy metal from Mexican band, Leider.  Tremendous vocals from Diego Trejo lead the way on this kickass track from their 2012 album, Seven.  Julio Romo and Japo Lopomontiel drive the relentless, menacing rhythm while, Sergio Trejo and Jhovany Lara complete the track with great wailing guitars.

 

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums – 2/20/16

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums

Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart for the week ending 2/20/16.  Top 15 albums ranked by sales data and compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. ***Click on the hyperlinked titles to read full album reviews***

THIS WEEK’S TOP 15:

      1. DREAM THEATER – The Astonishing
      2. MEGADETH – Dystopia
      3. DISTURBED – Immortalized
      4. VARIOUS ARTISTS – NOW That’s What I Call Rock
      5. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – Got Your Six
      6. SHINEDOWN – Threat To Survival
      7. AVANTASIA – Ghostlights
      8. BREAKING BENJAMIN – Dark Before Dawn
      9. RED – Of Beauty And Rage
      10. BRING ME THE HORIZON – That’s The Spirit
      11. PRIMAL FEAR – Rulebreaker
      12. TY SEGALL – Emotional Mugger
      13. TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA – Letters From The Labyrinth
      14. BURY TOMORROW – Earthbound
      15. DEF LEPPARD – Def Leppard

RELATED ARTICLES:

Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2015

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2014

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2013

Billboard Top 15 Hard Rock Albums Archives

Music Discovery Monday – 1/25/16

Music Discovery Monday - Smashing Satellites

Hard Rock Daddy presents Music Discovery Monday – 1/25/16.

Each week, the HRD team shares songs that fly below radio’s radar, ranging from lesser-known artists to deeper cuts from both up-and-coming and established artists.

In addition to exposing the Hard Rock Daddy audience to new music that isn’t getting the attention that it deserves from radio, Music Discovery Monday also features a segment called “Hard Rock Music Time Machine,” which showcases older songs (from the ’70s to today) that hard rock music fans may have missed at the time of release.

In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlists beneath each section, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles.

This week, Music Discovery Monday features an exclusive interview with Salvatore Costa (ex-My Darkest Days) discussing the inspiration behind two recent singles with his new band, Smashing Satellites, and an underrated album cut by My Darkest Days.

 

 

 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

SMASHING SATELLITES – “Gamblin’ Man”

From the ashes of My Darkest Days rises Smashing Satellites.  Former MDD guitarist Salvatore Costa steps up into a much greater creative role as the lead singer, songwriter, co-producer and guitarist of this exciting new band from the Great White North.  Although Costa has made his bones playing modern-day hard rock music, his goal is to bring rock back to the mainstream with his brand of music that pulls from numerous different influences ranging from the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson to Nirvana to Triumph and everything in between.

His career goal is to grab for the brass ring, not just find his place in a very crowded genre, so it makes sense that the single that has been garnering attention on SiriusXM’s Octane is called “Gamblin’ Man.”  Every once in a while, you can tell within a few bars that you’ve discovered a memorable track.  This song definitely fits into that category.

Costa is well on his way to achieving his goal with a song that incorporates various influences, yet remains a perfect fit on Active Rock radio (albeit as a standout track that doesn’t blend into the background of typical playlists).  On “Gamblin’ Man” Costa shows that he is more-than-capable of stepping up into a more high-profile role than he had with My Darkest Days, displaying a nice vocal range and dynamic songwriting.

 

In a recent exclusive interview with Hard Rock Daddy, Sal Costa discussed the inspiration behind “Gamblin’ Man”

 

“ ‘Gamblin’ Man’ is a song that people have interpreted in different ways.  I’ve had someone tell me that it completely spoke to him about his relationship with his girlfriend.  Others have told me that they have a gambling problem, so they related to the song in a totally different way.

The song is actually about my career, and the constant struggle and gamble that comes with being an artist.  It’s about my relationship with music, how you fall, you get back up and you keep trying.  It’s about having those shots, sinking, and then trying again.  It’s kind of like a scratch-off ticket.  Sometimes you scratch it off and win twenty bucks; sometimes you win nothing, but if it’s something that you love to do, you’ll keep gambling.”

 

SMASHING SATELLITES – “Taste Of Fame”

When Adam Gontier surprisingly parted ways with Three Days Grace, the obvious choice to fill his rather sizable shoes was Matt Walst of My Darkest Days (his brother Brad is the bassist in the band).  Gontier is known for being a bit edgy, while Walst comes off as more reserved, but things aren’t always the way that they seem at face value.

You might think that “Taste Of Fame” is written from the point of view of a jilted ex-bandmate who felt abandoned when his singer left for greener, more high-profile pastures, but that is not the case.  Salvatore Costa actually parted ways with My Darkest Days while Walst was still in the band.

Not unlike the theme of “The Trees” (a classic by fellow Canadians – Rush), Walst cast a large shadow that prevented Costa from getting the sunlight that he felt was deserved.  Like many others in life, Costa felt like he needed to spread his wings and fly, unencumbered by the restrictions that were placed on him by someone else’s vision.  The story told in the lyrics unveil Costa’s frustrations, but the music is far from angst-ridden, falling more under the melodic realm of classic Styx or Kansas than today’s more aggressive Active Rock, but it works!

 

Costa shares the inspiration for “Taste Of Fame”

 

‘Taste of Fame’ is really a song about somebody that I was in a band with in My Darkest Days.  I felt during the entire time that I was in the band that as I was growing as an artist, singer, writer and player, that I was always being pushed down from really achieving my goal.  It’s a song about my old singer, talking about him having his taste of fame, and my departure from the band.  It’s a song about us getting our taste of fame, and having our moment, but it all had to end because of ego.  The song was written at a pretty dark and angry point in my life.  When I look back at it now, it seems pretty harsh.  I don’t really feel that way anymore because I’ve had a lot of time to marinate with it, but at the time, it was very true towards my singer Matt (Walst).  It’s a song that I wanted people to hear because there’s a lot of truth to it.  As an artist, you can have your taste of fame.  It can come and go, and a lot of people get jaded along the way.  This actually took place when I had left the band and they got another guitar player.  It was a few weeks after that when he ended up joining Three Days Grace.”

 

 

 

 JON LOVELESS – HRD Music Scout

THREE DOORS DOWN – “In The Dark”

The lead single from the band’s first studio album in nearly five years is a bit of a departure from the sound that you might expect, but it’s still very comfortable, coming from one of the bands that helped revive my interest in music after the long, dark “flannel decade.”  The band has said that they were hoping for a more organic sound with the forthcoming record, and if this in any indication, then it should be a treat.

 

HANDS LIKE HOUSES – “New Romantics”

The lead track from the third studio album by this Australian band is getting some early airplay from SiriusXM’s Octane, and might eventually find its way into the Active Rock Top 50.  The scream vocals are kept to a minimum here, with an overall sound that reminds a bit of Nothing More (by way of comparison).

 

 

 

ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout

AVANTASIA – “Ghostlights” 

German vocalist and songwriter Tobias Sammet (Edguy) put together the supergroup Avantasia in 1999.  Grand compositions with layered vocals and driving guitars characterize their brand of metal opera. Their seventh studio album, Ghostlights (due out January 29th), will feature quite the lineup of guest vocalists:  Dee Snider, Geoff Tate, Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Sharon den Adel, Ronnie Atkins, Robert Mason and Marco Hietala.

 

THE 69 EYES – “Jet Fighter Plane”

“Elvis meets Dracula” is how these Finnish Goth metalers bill themselves.  This catchy, dark number captures their classic sound together with an early-‘80s punk vibe.  This is the first release from their upcoming album, Universal Monsters (due out in April).

 

 

 

   CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout

VINDICTIV (f. MARK BOALS)  “Day”

“Day” is bright and positive prog metal song from Sweden’s Vindictiv.  Mark Boals – of Yngwie Malmsteen and Dokken fame (among many others) – leads with his tremendous vocals.  The expert musicianship features a good mix of heavy chords to go along with a haunting keyboard refrain that anchors the song.  Great chorus, plus skilled guitar work from Stefan Lindholm.

 

UNISONIC – “Blood”

Michael Kiske’s (Helloween) excellent vocals are showcased on “Blood,” a power-ballad from Unisonic’s last release, Light of Dawn.  Tremendous veteran talent powers the music, with the great work of Kai Hansen (Helloween, Gamma Ray) and Mandy Meyer (Asia, House of Lords) on guitars, and the rhythm from Dennis Ward on bass and Kosta Zafiriou (both from Pink Cream 69).
 

 

SUBMISSIONS

To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com

 

 

HARD ROCK MUSIC TIME MACHINE

 ADAM WALDMAN

MY DARKEST DAYS – “Love Crime” (2012)

Before they parted ways, the relationship between Salvatore Costa and Matt Walst once made for a talented writing duo with good chemistry.  As mentioned above, Costa has moved on to form Smashing Satellites and Walst is now the singer in Three Days Grace.

My Darkest Days gained the most traction in America with their two songs tailor-made for strip clubs (“Porn Star Dancing” and “Move Your Body”).  The relatively short-lived band’s discography only includes two albums, so a good portion of their music fell under the radar (including “Love Crime”)The song tells the story of the scorn that both Costa and Walst felt at the hands of unfaithful women.  It’s a fairly straight-forward rocker with an interesting back story (as shared by Costa in a Hard Rock Daddy exclusive interview)…

 

‘Love Crime’ is a song that really didn’t get much attention, but I had such a great time writing it towards the end of the recording of our second record.  We never even really played it live.  The song is about a girl who isn’t really faithful to the one that she loves.  It’s kind of like comparing a robbery to a relationship, and how sometimes, you can be robbed of love.  Matt (Walst) and I wrote ‘Love Crime’ after going through moments where we both felt completely stripped and robbed by the people that we loved.  We started writing it in New York City, in an apartment by Central Park.  There’s a really cool story to go along with it.

After we finished writing the song, both of us had to catch flights to different cities.  Since my flight was a few hours later than Matt’s, I walked around the city for a bit, and saw a small, independent movie theater.  I looked up, and on the marquee, it said ‘Love Crime.’  I thought that it was the weirdest thing ever because we had just finished writing a song with the same exact title.  I took a picture of the sign and sent it to Matt when he was on the way to the airport.  It was less than an hour after we finished the song, so I always thought that was kind of cool, and that there was something special there.”

 

 
EAGLES – “Heartache Tonight” (1979)

The first two Music Discovery Mondays of 2016 were both musical tributes to fallen rock icons (Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie).  The hope was that we would resume the typical format this week, but Glenn Frey’s passing has prevented that from happening.  It should also be mentioned that there have other lower-profile deaths this week as well, as the “heartache” of 2016 continues.

While Lemmy’s influence to the hard rock community was obvious, and Bowie’s just as strong (in a less obvious way), Frey’s was not so strong as to warrant the kind of coverage that the aforementioned received on Music Discovery Monday.  However, I would be remiss not to acknowledge his passing at all, since a number of hard rock artists did talk about his influence after his untimely death.

“Heartache Tonight” is one of the heavier songs in the Eagles catalog, which is part of the reason why it was selected here.  It is also the song that turned me on to the band back in ‘70s; and the album from which it came (The Long Run), remains one of my favorite releases from the band to this day.  In fact, I still have the cassette somewhere packed up in a box.

Frey’s passing in yet another stark reminder that the rock icons who helped shape a generation of music will not be around forever.  RIP Glenn!  Another rock legend taken too soon.

 

 

 

JON LOVELESS

THREE DOORS DOWN – “Duck And Run” (2003)

“Duck And Run” is a non-singled track from the band’s 6x platinum debut album, The Better Life.  This is a chance to look back at where the band has been, while fans look forward to where they’re going with the forthcoming new album.

 

ALL THAT REMAINS – “Two Weeks” (2008)

The first chart success single for this Massachusetts band finally came with the second single from their fourth studio album.  Cleaner vocals and more melody did the trick, for a song that still holds up pretty well some seven years later.

 

 

 

  ROB DELL’AQUILA

BILLY IDOL – “Postcards From The Past” (2014)

I completely missed Billy Idol’s Kings And Queens Of The Underground when it came out two years ago, and what a shame.  It is easily one of his best works, and one of the best albums of that year. After his failed return from the ‘80s with 1993’s Cyberpunk, he only put out one other album.  Who could have guessed that, after another almost decade-long hiatus, he would return with such great writing and clever delivery. On this favorite from that album, he rocks out with a modern vibe while still managing to capture a magical sense of nostalgia.

 

MASTERPLAN – “Black In The Burn” (2005)

Helloween’s Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch were already in the planning stages of a side project when they were fired from the band. The eventual name of their side project was conceived with the idea that they would be “master musicians” with control over their own destinies.  The band has gone through numerous lineup changes since, but this is a masterful piece of power metal from their second album featuring the original lineup of Grapow, Kusch, and Jorn Lande on vocals.

 

 

 

 CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH

CLOUDSCAPE – “Under Fire” (2004)

Sweden’s Cloudscape broke onto the scene back in 2004 with their eponymous debut album.  Hard, heavy and driving, “Under Fire” showcases Michael Andersson’s outstanding vocals and the tremendous lead guitar work Björn Eliasson.

 

ALPHA TIGER – “Martyr’s Paradise” (2011)

Alpha Tiger made their debut in 2011 with Man or Machine. “Martyr’s Paradise” displays uncomplicated, straight-forward heavy metal with a late-‘80s/early-‘90s-era appeal.  This track gets its driving force from the talented guitar duo of Peter Langforth and Alexander Backasch.