Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Best Rock/Metal Albums Of 2016.

I initially intended to write an end of year top 10, but there have been so many amazing albums released this year that I got a little carried away and made a top 30 instead. I've omitted EPs (although I have to give a shout out to the particularly enjoyable EPs by Ghost [review here], Skarlett Riot, Black Sabbath, Lilith And The Knight [review here] and Novacrow), and I've also omitted my own bands album, as including it would be egotistical and a little sad. Click HERE to read about that one.

I'm sure some great albums were released in 2016 that I haven't listened to yet that I'll wish I'd included. That's Sod's Law for you. In fairness, I've listened to a hell of a lot of albums this year, and the fact that really strong albums from Korn, Alter Bridge, In Flames and Suicidal Tendencies didn't make my top 30 goes to show the ridiculously high standard of Rock and Metal albums that came out.

So here it is. My top 30 albums of 2016. If there are any artists or albums you're unfamiliar with, make sure you check them out as you may discover something awesome!

1. MGT - Volumes
2. Amaranthe - Maximalism
3. Anthrax - For All Kings
4. Reckless Love - InVader
5. The 69 Eyes - Universal Monsters
6. Stuck Mojo - Here Come The Infidels
7. Megara - Siete
8. Devilment - II-The Mephisto Waltzes
9. Lacuna Coil - Delirium
10. The Cult - Hidden City
11. Stitched Up Heart - Never Alone
12. Primal Fear - Rulebreaker
13. Testament - Brotherhood of the Snake
14. The Pretty Reckless - Who You Selling For
15. Herman Frank - The Devil Rides Out
16. Megadeth - Dystopia
17. September Mourning - Volume II
18. Killswitch Engage - Incarnate
19. Dirkschneider - Live-Back to the Roots
20. Semblant - Lunar Manifesto
21. Metallica - Hardwired...To Self Destruct
22. Hey Hello - Hey Hello Too!
23. The Mission - Another Fall From Grace
24. Glenn Hughes - Resonate
25. Splintered Halo - The Splintered Minds Asylum
26. Sonic Syndicate - Confessions
27. Ace Frehley - Origins Vol.1
28. Judas Priest - Battle Cry
29. Jinjer - King of Everything
30. Sixx A.M - Prayers For The Damned


30. Sixx A.M - Prayers For The Damned
Another strong album of polished Hard Rock and another gem in their growing back catalogue. With bands like Shinedown and Nickelback selling out arenas, I have no idea why Sixx A.M aren't one of the biggest mainstream Rock bands in the world right now.


29. Jinjer - King of Everything
The strongest album to date from this Ukrainian Metal/Jazz/Prog/Hardcore band. Imagine a cross between Tesseract and Guano Apes and that'll give you an idea of what to expect from this brutal experimental album.


28. Judas Priest - Battle Cry
Judas Priest are undeniably one of the best (if not the very best) Heavy Metal bands to have ever existed. Battle Cry is a solid live album recorded at Germany's legendary Wacken Festival in 2015. I already have plenty of Priest live material, but this album is particularly cool, and the live versions of the tracks from their latest album Redeemer of Souls sound even better than the studio versions.


27. Ace Frehley - Origins Vol.1
Original Kiss lead guitarist and living legend, Ace Frehley, released his long awaited covers album this year. There are some Kiss covers on there for the die-hard fans, and we finally get to hear Ace sing lead vocals on Parasite and Rock and Roll Hell (the latter being from the incredible Creatures of the Night album). Aside from the Kiss songs, my favourites are his cover versions of Cream's White Room, and Free's Fire and Water. The latter features Kiss' Paul Stanley. This is a great collection of songs and features a number of special guests including Slash, John 5, Mike McCready and Lita Ford.


26. Sonic Syndicate - Confessions
Sonic Syndicate have received a lot of hate since the release of their 'less metal, more pop' album, We Rule The Night. We have also seen almost all of the original members leave the band over the last few years. Confessions is by far their most Pop and commercial album yet and doesn't offer much in the way of Metal at all. it doesn't matter whether you believe they really made music "from the heart", or merely tried to make something that may appeal to fans of the last two Bring Me The Horizon albums as a last ditch attempt for mainstream popularity. The fact is it's a strong album full of good songs. If you have a soft spot for this style of music and can get past what you associated with the name Sonic Syndicate before, you'll probably enjoy it as much as I did.


25. Splintered Halo - The Splintered Minds Asylum
Splintered Halo are an unsigned band from Glasgow. I've had the pleasure of seeing them live a couple of times, and am really pleased to say that their album is great. They describe themselves as "Character Metal", with front-woman Evilyn Van Der Hyden, playing the role of various characters vocally throughout their set. With songs about The Exorcist, The Wizard of Oz, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Harley Quinn amongst many other topics, this album is soaked in creativity and is utterly mad from start to finish. There are loads of different styles of Metal in here, all expertly played and mixed together cohesively. Splintered Halo are definitely a band to watch.


24. Glenn Hughes - Resonate
The Deep Purple/Trapeze/Black Country Communion legend returns with a Hard Rock masterpiece entwined with Soul and a little Funk. He's 65 years old and his voice still sounds absolutely amazing. The music is a little darker and heavier than his previous material, but it works really well here. Glenn Hughes is a hugely important musician in the world of Rock music, and arguably the greatest singer on the planet. That should be reason alone to check this album out.


23. The Mission - Another Fall From Grace
I'm a lifelong fan of The Mission, so I was overjoyed to hear this wonderful return to form. It retains the classic Mission sound, yet has a crisp, modern production that provides it with a contemporary edge. The band has had a hugely successful 30th anniversary tour this year, and this album proves that they are still masters of their craft.


22. Hey Hello - Hey Hello Too!
After the disaster that befell the band just before their tour and album release (their singer quit), Ginger and co delivered the masterstroke of having various lead singers on the album. Some had already auditioned for the band, others were old friends or current band members. What could have been a disaster was dragged back from the abyss, and the final product is the great mix of catchy Punk, Pop and Metal I'd hoped for. I'll confess that I prefer the first album (to be fair it's one of the best albums Ginger has ever made), but Hey Hello Too! is far from a disappointment. There are some fantastic songs on here, and I'm really pleased that they pulled though. This album is a testament to perseverance and urinating in the face of adversity, as well as being a great listen.


21. Metallica - Hardwired...To Self Destruct
It's been a very long time since Metallica released an album that I wasn't disappointed with. Fortunately, Hardwired...To Self Destruct is really good. Admittedly, I think most of the songs could have benefitted from being a bit shorter, but aside from that, it is certainly the best album they've released since Metallica (AKA The Black Album). Sonically it's fantastic, and a vast improvement, production-wise, on St Anger and Death Magnetic. There's nothing really new here musically, but that's not what I believe the majority of fans are looking for. There are parts of the album that remind me of each and every Metallica album at different points. However the new album brings to mind ...And Justice For All mixed and Load more than the others. Many of the songs have the precision thrash of 'Justice..' coupled with the heavy dirty grooves of Load and the two styles works really well together. If you gave up on Metallica a few years ago, this album could be the one to reignite your interest.


20. Semblant - Lunar Manifesto
This Brazilian Dark/Goth Metal band blew me away when I stumbled upon their music video for What Lies Ahead. They sound a little like Lacuna Coil at their heaviest mixed with Devilment. Semblant have two lead singers, male and female. The angelic tones of Mizuho Lin provide a wonderful contrast to the Death Metal attack and screams of Sergio Mazul. The album is really strong, and I hope they get the recognition they deserve outside of Brazil.


19. Dirkschneider - Live-Back to the Roots
Ex Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider announced that he was going to do a tour where he played all the Accept classics one last time, before moving away from those songs and focussing on other music. This double live album is the result of that tour. The production is fantastic, and it's great to hear Udo singing all of these classics again. Every track you could hope for is here: Fast As A Shark, Midnight Mover, Balls To The Wall, Monsterman. If you love classic Accept, you need this album.


18. Killswitch Engage - Incarnate
Another solid album from Killswitch Engage. They don't stray too far from the usual formula in regards to the writing, but Incarnate is a bit snappier and more brutal than its predecessor. It's another great album in their consistent catalogue.


17. September Mourning - Volume II
I bought their debut album Melancholia a while back, and liked it enough to pick up this second album when it came out. The band have definitely gone for a more commercial sound, which I think works well for their style. The lyrics and music are tied in with a comic, making September Mourning more of an original project than just a band. I love comics, so I thought this was a really cool idea, although I have to confess I haven't read it yet. The tracks Superhuman and 20 Below are the stand out tracks for me, along with a curveball cover of Ben E. King's  Stand By me.


16. Megadeth - Dystopia
A technical thrash album with a contemporary feel, Dystopia reminded the world that Megadeth was not done. The addition of Lamb Of God's Chris Adler on drums and Angra's Kiko Loureiro on lead guitar clearly helped to put the band back on track after 2013's disappointing Super Collider album. Dave Mustaine's writing is back 'on point', and for me this album is their best since the underrated Cryptic Writings.


15. Herman Frank - The Devil Rides Out
This is the Ex-Accept guitarist's third solo album. It's a shame he never got to write for Accept, but it's their loss as he's a great writer as well as an awesome lead guitar player. His albums are straight up traditional Heavy Metal. Even his logo is made of metal! The Devil Rides Out is a solid album and sounds exactly as one would expect. Badass.


14. The Pretty Reckless - Who You Selling For
This is the third studio album from Taylor Momsen and crew, and this time they've drawn more heavily on their Grunge and 70's Rock influences. It's as though they listened to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Alice In Chains relentlessly before writing the new material. That works for me!


13. Testament - Brotherhood of the Snake
My Thrash album of the year. Click HERE for my full review.


12. Primal Fear - Rulebreaker
Imagine a mix of Painkiller era Judas Priest and Accept, and that's pretty much what Primal Fear sound like. Add some ludicrous lyrics about how amazing Heavy Metal is, and there you go. The musicianship here is outstanding, and vocalist Ralf Scheepers is truly world class. He could certainly give a young Rob Halford a run for his money! Traditional Metal like this will always have a place in my heart. It is a bit ridiculous, but that's part of the charm. There's no denying that Primal Fear always hit the spot when you need a Heavy Metal fix.


11. Stitched Up Heart - Never Alone
Since the huge success of In This Moment, Halestorm and New Year's Day, record labels are adding female fronted Rock and Metal bands to their rosters like never before. Stitched Up Heart fit with the pre-mentioned bands perfectly. They have great songs, they're Heavier than an armoured buffalo, and lead singer Mixi is a rock star in the making. I expect this band will get a lot bigger in 2017.


10. The Cult - Hidden City
The Cult are one of my favourite bands in the world. The chemistry between Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy is pure magic. This album did not grab me as instantly as some of their earlier works, but once it got its hooks in, there was no letting go. Hidden City is a wonderful piece of art.


9. Lacuna Coil - Delirium
Delirium is the best Lacuna Coil album for some years. It's a bit heavier and darker than the last three or four albums, and the darkness is where this band truly shines. The title track and House Of Shame are my favourites, but the whole album is really strong. All killer, no filler.


8. Devilment - II-The Mephisto Waltzes
Devilment is the band fronted by Dani Filth that isn't Cradle Of Filth. I've never been a big Cradle.. fan, but I watched a Youtube video of a track off the first Devilment album, and to my surprise, I loved it. Devilment has more groove and slamming riffs. Coupled with some Gothic piano and melodic female vocals, I find Devilment far more to my taste. This new album is even better than the first. I was fortunate enough to catch them on tour earlier this month, and was really impressed. The whole album is great, but I'll go as far as to say that the single Full Dark, No Stars is not only the best track, but is also my favourite Rock/Metal song of the year.


7. Megara - Siete
This Spanish language Hard Rock album was a real find. Check out my full review HERE.


6. Stuck Mojo - Here Come The Infidels
Stuck Mojo returned this year with a new vocalist and a killer album. Check out my full review HERE.


5. The 69 Eyes - Universal Monsters
I absolutely love this band. I've been listening to them since Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams came out, and they've never let me down. What's really impressive is that, after all these years, they still have the same line-up! Universal Monsters may not break new ground, but it is certainly a finely crafted collection of Gothic Hard Rock songs that sees The 69 Eyes doing what they do best.


4. Reckless Love - InVader
If Reckless Love existed back in the 80's, they may have been one of the biggest bands in the world. Their albums are all consistently brilliant, and InVader is no exception. Their lyrics show a great sense of humour, but retain the credibility that stops them from being a joke band like Steel Panther. If you love Van Halen, Kiss, Motley Crue and Def Leppard, I'd be amazed if you didn't love Reckless Love too. In fact, when did any of those other bands put out an album as good as this? Not for a very long time! For this genre, Reckless Love are probably the best band in the world right now.


3. Anthrax - For All Kings
What an amazing album. The song writing is superb, as is the production, and well..everything. Somehow Joey Belladonna sounds better now than he did back in the 80's. This record has it all. It encompasses all the things I love about Anthrax: The heavy riffs, the soaring melodic vocals, the Thrash sections, and most importantly these elements are all brought together as part of great songs. Congratulations Anthrax, you've made a masterpiece.


2. Amaranthe - Maximalism
What do you get if you mix Euro-Pop music with cutting edge state of the art Metal, all written and performed by some of the finest musicians on the planet? The craziness that is Amaranthe! The production and musicianship here our out of this world. With three lead singers, Amaranthe are one of the most interesting and diverse bands on the scene. At times it sounds like 'Abba meets Dream Theater' or Beyoncé fronting Soilwork. I've been a huge fan since their album The Nexus came out a few years ago. Amaranthe are truly different and provide a breath of fresh air to a scene full of bands that all sound a bit too similar. Maximalism builds on the previous releases, and showcases their strongest material to date. Unbelievably good!


1. MGT - Volumes
This is the first solo album from guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite (AKA MGT) and features a host of guests. It's utterly brilliant and you should check out my full review HERE.


So there you have it! Here's to 2017!

Best Rock / Metal Albums Of 2016

About: LESBIAN BED DEATH - Evil Never Dies



Lesbian Bed Death - Evil Never Dies

Only an utter cretin would review their own band's album. However, I'm incredibly proud of Evil Never Dies so please indulge me, as I'd like to write a bit about it.

The previous line-up of Lesbian Bed Death fell apart at the end of 2014, shortly after our landmark show at Whitby Goth Weekend. I was left in a difficult situation. I considered giving up playing music altogether. I'd worked incredibly hard building the band, and the brand. I had made so many sacrifices both financially and in my personal life that I resented the idea of it all being over, especially as we were finally starting to get somewhere. So I decided to rebuild. With the help of lead guitarist Vik Voodoo (aka Dan Carden who'd played guitar with me in Razorwire, and also on a few of the songs on the first Lesbian Bed Death album I Use My Powers For Evil) and drummer Russ Gwynne (who played drums on I Use My Powers For Evil) we started working on new material. After a long search for a new lead singer we found the incredibly talented Sienna Venom. We continued writing together, and the fruits of our labour is this new album Evil Never Dies. We made a conscious decision to make the definitive Lesbian Bed Death album, encompassing the elements that made the band popular before, but adding something new and exciting to take the LBD machine to the next level. I believe we achieved that.

One setback we faced was that Russ had changed his mind about being in a touring band. He retired from drumming after recording our debut album, and had only recently decided to start playing again shortly before I phoned him to see if he'd be interested in working with Lesbian Bed Death. I don't believe in fate, but I can see how it may have seemed that way. He's an old friend, and it felt right having the guy from the debut album being part of our resurrection. It was agreed that he'd stick with us to make our album before leaving the band. We recorded the album at The Chairworks in Castleford over two five day sessions. Russ recorded his drums for the entire album in just one day. He's a great player and just went in there, nailed it, and went home. Soon after, we found a fantastic new drummer in Aaron Samedi. We're extremely happy to have him on board and he's been touring this album like a boss.

We finished recording the album over the summer. A few weeks later, we had it mixed and mastered by the brilliant and highly recommended Sam Bloor at Lower Lane Studios in Stoke-on-Trent.

I'm still really happy with the album. I don't think there's a single thing I'd change about it in hindsight, and I'm sure that's a first for me. Seriously though, I can't thank my band mates enough. They dragged me out of a pit, and together we made an album that I'm sure I'll be proud to have been a part of for the rest of my life. Not many musicians have the luxury of being able to say that.

Anyway, about the songs...


1. Evil Never Dies - This was the band's comeback track. It was the first song written for the new album and features a big timeless rock riff worthy of Kiss or any 80's giant. Just listening to it makes me want to buy a Lamborghini and drive it into a tree. Naked.

2. Claws - A song about a woman scorned. The music shows off a more 'Rock n' Roll' side of Lesbian Bed Death. If Slash tried to rip off The Cult's 'Firewoman', it'd probably sound a bit like this. Well, a little bit. Maybe.

3. Make Your Wish - This is an instant Goth classic. The lyrics were inspired by the Wishmaster movies (well, the first two anyway!)

4. Book Of The Dead -  We all love the Evil Dead franchise, especially the original movie. The song is quite fast paced for us, and turned out like the missing link between Ozzy's 'Bark at the Moon' and early Megadeth.

5. Satan in the Swamps - Satan on the Beach didn't sound menacing enough. It started off as a working title due to the heavy southern American feel of the music. We got carried away and wrote about Satan being in the swamps, doing something or other.

6. She Sells Hand Grenades - A trippy little rock song with a theme of self empowerment.

7. Church of V - We love the television show V, both the original from the 80's, and the more recent remake. However the original has the drop when it comes to excessive use of hairspray and ludicrous costumes.

8. Son of a Thousand Maniacs - This song had a real party vibe to it. We also wanted to write a song about Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, so we mixed both concepts together and came up with this upbeat little number. It clearly deserves to be a hit single and launch the band to worldwide stadium filling status. Oh, and yes, we know Freddy was the son of a hundred maniacs, not a thousand. Thousand sounded better. Besides, when was the franchise particularly concerned about continuity?

9. Survive The Night - Another Horror movie song. Inspired by the Purge movies, especially the second one (The third hadn't been released when we wrote it), it's slow, and really atmospheric, whilst delivering a heavy swagger.

10. Drag Me To Hell - A heavy slamming rock song with lyrics that pay tribute to a huge number of Horror movies. We crammed a lot in there, so it will be fun to see if the fans can list them all.

11. The Final Curtain - Our outro song has a Bowie meets Pink Floyd spacey vibe and finishes off the album nicely.


Have a listen to it on Spotify, or whatever you use. If you like it, please support us and buy an album. CDs are available direct from us here: http://www.lesbianbeddeath.bigcartel.com/product/evil-never-dies-cd-album


Thanks for reading.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Movie review: THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR




I'm a huge fan of the first two Purge movies, so much so that my band wrote a song about them (Check out Survive the Night by Lesbian Bed Death on the Evil Never Dies album). To say I was very excited to see this third instalment in the franchise is an understatement. Unfortunately, I missed it at the cinema this year. I'm lucky enough to have three cinemas close to where I live, yet only one showed it. Even then, the movie disappeared really quickly. I was genuinely gutted when I looked at the listings to go and see it and it was already gone. It's sad that Horror movies don't seem to have the mainstream appeal in the UK that they do in America. So alas, my sorry ass had to wait for several months to watch it. I bought the Blu-Ray on Boxing Day, the day it went on sale here. I'm pleased to say it was worth the wait.

If you're unfamiliar with The Purge movies, the basis of them is that they're set in America in the near future, and for one night (7pm to 7am) a year all crime is legal. The political undertones involve the thinning out of the poorer members of the population who can't afford to defend themselves, and consequently the State has to pay out less in Welfare, Housing etc. In addition insurance companies can charge extortionate amounts to local business etc. The cities turn into lawless hunting grounds where murder becomes sport, under the guise of a cleansing of the soul. There are plenty of analogies within the movie regarding corruption within The Church and the bastardisation of Christianity to serve political agendas and justify killing. Like all good Dystopias, the story is really more about the present than the future. It provides a scathing look at modern society and tells a cautionary tale of a frighteningly plausible future.

The first movie was more of a Thriller, whereas the second was more of a Horror. This third movie is definitely more of a Horror sharing the tones of the second. The crux of the story is that the political candidate opposing the New Founding Fathers (played by Elizabeth Mitchell [Lost, V Remake]) wants to end Purge Night for good, should she be elected. Her popularity is increasing, so the ruling party remove the exclusion of targeting politicians from Purge Night, so anyone is fair game. They use this new ruling to attempt to assassinate her. The movie is essentially her trying to survive the night with the help of her bodyguard (played by Frank Grillo, who was also in the previous film).

I'm not going to spoil the movie by going into further detail, but I will tell you that I loved it! The aesthetics of the movie are fantastic, and a number of the scenes are nothing short of being beautiful works of dystopian art. The movie oozes creativity, and the awesome costumes worn by the characters partaking in The Purge provide mountains of inspiration for next year's Halloween costumes! Both the general 'urban danger' scenarios and the looks of the film definitely had a feel that reminded me of Escape From New York and The Warriors. I'm a huge fan of those movies, which is possibly one of the reasons The Purge appeals to me so much. The previous film, The Purge: Anarchy, is one of my favourite movies, and this one topped it. It's action packed and genuinely terrifying in places. The actors are fantastic, and really draw you into the world of The Purge, reminding the viewers that there are no monsters more cruel and terrifying than Human Beings.

The Purge: Election Year isn't just my favourite Horror movie of the year, it's my favourite movie of the year. Utterly brilliant.

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