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Top 10 Power Metal Albums of 2016

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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.

Music Discovery Monday – 11/14/16

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Music Discovery Monday – 11/14/16

Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.

This week, in a Hard Rock Daddy exclusive, Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy shares the story behind two songs from the band’s recently-released album, The Last Hero. 

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

 

 

 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

ALTER BRIDGE – “My Champion”

Much to the delight of many, Alter Bridge is back with a new album in 2016, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  In a year of chaos, division and loss, it’s nice to know that you can count on AB to wash away the worries of the world and lift your spirits.

Unlike their previous album (2013’s Fortress) – which saw a wide gap between singles – this time around, the band has already released three singles.  This is following along with the current trend in rock where high-profile artists are literally overlapping singles in order to get the most traction and build excitement.

From the first notes of “My Champion,” you can feel the positivity flowing before the lyrics even kick in.  Not only is the vibe of the song uplifting, but the lyrics are as well.  Myles Kennedy’s vocals are stellar as usual, as he delivers a song of hope and inspiration (something that many people can use nowadays).  The riffs, the leads, the vocals, the harmonies, the lyrics.  Everything just works on “My Champion.”  It’s the kind of song that makes you feel better with each listen.

 

In an exclusive Hard Rock Daddy interview, Myles Kennedy shared the meaning and inspiration behind “My Champion”

“The song was inspired by things that I would hear while growing up from role models, parents and whatnot.  I was a real late bloomer growing up.  Once my friends started to hit their teen years, they were starting to look like real men and women, and I looked like a child.  I look back on it now and it was kind of funny, but going through it was real challenging.  You don’t want to feel alienated and different than your peers.  You want to be able to keep up with your friends.  I would hear these words of wisdom to keep pushing forward.  Kind of like… “buck up little camper” (as they say), so I think that a lot of the lyrical content for ‘My Champion’ resonates that.”

 

 

ALTER BRIDGE – “Poison In Your Veins”

Along with “Show Me A Leader” and “My Champion,” Alter Bridge has also released a video for “Poison In Your Veins.”  The tone of this song is more along the lines “Addicted To Pain” (the lead single off of Fortress).

Like “My Champion,” the song is incredibly melodic, but a bit edgier to go along with the lyrics that delve into fear of loss.  The soaring vocals of Myles Kennedy, blended with beautiful harmonies and haunting moments, is exactly what you want from an Alter Bridge song.  Although Kennedy is also the voice of Slash’s solo work, when you listen to AB, you can hear a signature sound that is instantly recognizable.

 

During the Hard Rock Daddy exclusive interview with Myles Kennedy, he also shared the meaning behind “Poison In Your Veins”… 

“This is another song that has a certain amount of personal meaning.  I guess that you can look at it as any sort of fear, not wanting to take chances or risks and not believing in yourself at the end of the day.  It’s about looking into the psychology of that.  It’s a pretty common theme in a lot of our material, and I think that it probably always will be, because those concepts and mantras in songs like that end up becoming very useful in my own life.  It’s nice to know that it resonates with others, and that they can find inspiration from it as well.”
 

 

 

 ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout

SICK OF IT ALL “Black Venom”

Sick Of It All just released their new album, When the Smoke Clears, and fans of the New York Hardcore genre should be as excited as I am.  “Black Venom” is classic Sick Of It All…heavy breakdowns, angst-filled lyrics and screams of Lou Koller all balled up into one huge mosh pit, slam dancing great time.  The band has been around since 1986, and is still going strong 30 years later!

 

SERPENTINE DOMINION “On The Brink Of Devastation”

What do you get when you mix Cannibal Corpse and Killswitch Engage together?  You get Serpentine Dominion of course!  Adam D’s guitar work is phenomenal as always, but when combined with the death metal vocals of George Fisher, it becomes a great listen for fans of the technical death metal genre.  There’s even a semi-melodic chorus in the song (reminiscent of Killswitch Engage).  This album is a great example of why I love supergroups.
 

 

 

ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout

HAMMERFALL – “The Sacred Vow”

Swedish power metal giants Hammerfall have just released their tenth studio album, Built To Last.  As that title might suggest, they have a winning formula when it comes to this genre and they don’t stray from it.  This song tip-toes in on an acoustic guitar before exploding into galloping intensity.  The riffs are tight and memorable, there are poignant interludes to contrast with the speed and power, and the chorus layers in the vocals for deep harmony.

 

CIVIL WAR – “Tombstone”

I’ve reviewed Civil War twice before on Music Discovery Monday for songs from each of their previous albums.  The collaboration of vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson with ex-Sabaton members returns for a third album, The Last Full Measure, again marrying power metal to military and historical themes.  Here they tell the tale of the gunfight at the OK Corral, in Tombstone, New Mexico.

 

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 – 11/3/16

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Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 11/3/16

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)

GUNS N’ ROSES – “Civil War” (1991)

There are a handful of songs that I can recall hearing for the first time, and picture the moment as if it happened yesterday.  “Civil War” is the most prominent among them.

By 1991, Guns N’ Roses had already become one of my favorite bands after the release of their incredible debut album, Appetite For Destruction.  You would think that a band with as much momentum as GNR would want to strike while the iron was hot, but instead, they made their fans wait over four years for their next release, an epic double album (Use Your Illusion I and II).

It was a stormy Long Island night, and driving conditions were terrible.  I was en route to meet friends at a comedy club as I drove down Hempstead Turnpike.  As I passed a Dunkin’ Donuts, “Civil War” came on, and I was immediately floored.  The stormy weather blended into the background as I was mesmerized by long-awaited music from (what I believed would be) the next great rock and roll band.

A quarter of a century has passed since that fateful night, and I can still remember the moment as if I was living it right now.  What more can be said about a song that is so epic, that it has held the same luster for 25 years?
 

 
ROGER DALTREY – “After The Fire” (1985)

Three years after The Who’s “farewell tour” in 1982, Roger Daltrey emerged with a solo album entitled Under A Raging Moon.  The title track gained some traction, but “After The Fire” is the song that resonated the most.  Originally written by Pete Townshend, the plan was for The Who to play the song during their performance at Live Aid.  However, because they were a late commitment to the event, and they hadn’t had time to properly rehearse it, “After The Fire” was given to Daltrey for his solo album.

I don’t know the exact meaning behind the song, but the message of a fire still burning after the fire has taken on a whole new meaning for me today than it did back in ’85 (when life was infinitely simpler).  America has spent over a year-and-a-half immersed in a firestorm of sorts.  And though the end of it is now in sight, I can’t help but wonder what happens “After The Fire.”
 

 

 

 ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout

HELMET – “Unsung” (1992)

If I had to sum up my memory of ‘90s hardcore and metal, this song would be one of the top five that comes to mind.  Helmet’s “Unsung” (from their second album – Meantime) exploded onto the charts in the early ‘90s due to its “alternative” sound.  Even though this was probably their only “alternative” sounding song, it still had all of the hardcore elements that the band excels in.  Eventually labeled post-hardcore, Helmet influenced scores of other post-hardcore, alternative and nu-metal bands for the next two decades.  The rest of the album was angry and scathing, with Page Hamilton screaming the lyrics to every song, and the band chugging away with their heavy, tuned-down riffs.  Helmet was a great, heavy band back in the day that always takes me back in time to the ‘90s.

 

MASTODON – “Blood and Thunder” (2004)

If there was ever a song to capture my attention and make me love a band, “Blood and Thunder” off of Mastodon’s second album (Leviathan) was the one.  From the opening simple riff, to Brann Dailor’s drum-fill explosion into the main verse, this song is everything that I love about Mastodon.  Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds scream and growl with wild abandon as they play one of the most recognizable and memorable guitar riffs ever written.  And if that wasn’t enough, this song features additional vocals by Neil Fallon (from one of my favorite bands ever, Clutch).  Add the disturbing video of clowns, circus and carnival performers, and you have one hell of an unforgettable song.  Mastodon has now become one of the most influential bands in metal, and (in my opinion) Leviathan is one of the best metal albums of the 21st century.
 

 

 

ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout

BLIND GUARDIAN – “Age Of False Innocence” (2002)

From their 2002 album A Night at the Opera, German power metal veterans Blind Guardian delivered this bombastic exploration of a man’s struggle between religion and science.  Technical brilliance is layered in thick, with the signature vocals of Hansi Kursch somehow towering over every epic passage.  An amazing song from an amazing album.

 

FAIR WARNING – “Generation Jedi” (2006)

German melodic hard rockers Fair Warning formed in 1991 around vocalist Tommy Heart and bassist Ule W. Ritgen (ex-Zeno).  They had a hit back in 2006 with this cynical rocker that launches from a well-known movie quote.  They have just released a new album, Pimp Your Past, where, fittingly, they rework the most important tracks from their first three albums (all from the ‘90s).  Coming from a later album, this one wasn’t included, but is a great introduction to the band.