Germany’s Souldrinker unleashed its full-length debut this year, and for the untold headbangers who have not caught wind of it yet, they are missing out on a monster of a record. The band founded by Mystic Prophecy guitarist Markus Pohl is packed with hammering riffage that recalls bands like Primal Fear and Accept, but the band’s secret weapon is vocalist Iris Boanta. Every song on the record combines heavy, riff-laden groove with infectious melodies and huge harmonies. The quartet lands sonically somewhere between traditional and power metal with perhaps a slight touch of 80s sleaze metal in the mix. War is Coming is one of those secret treats discovered accidentally, that you want to share with everyone.
4. Unleash the Archers – Apex (Napalm)
Every artist likes to believe its latest album is its best to date; that seminal opus. While it far too early in the career of Vancouver’s Unleash the Archers to proclaim Apex a seminal work, there is little argument it is the band’s strongest, most cohesive work to date. Ten years into its career, Unleash the Archers has crafted a power metal album that showcases the band’s growth and improved songwriting talents. Brittney Slayes has never sounded more powerful or confident, and the rest of the band has elevated its level of performance as well. Full Review
To paraphrase from one of Prevail I’s 10 songs, Kobra and the Lotus are truly manifesting their own destiny. After listening to Prevail I repeatedly all year, I have yet to grow tired of a single track. Kobra and the Lotus have taken their craft and their sound to the next level. Vocalist Kobra Paige has opened the floodgates on her own vocal abilities to give the band a much broader palette to work with creatively. The band’s decision to challenge themselves artistically has paid massive dividends here, and producer Jacob Hansen has done a masterful job in guiding the ship. Prevail finds Kobra and the Lotus tapping into so many elements of the heavy rock genre that they defy sub-genre labels. These Canadians have long deserved more recognition and Prevail is going to demand that attention be paid. Full Review Kobra Interview
2. Night Demon – Darkness Remains (Century Media)
With Darkness Remains, Night Demon never strays too far from its retro-roots, but it also never gets stuck in the past. The album finds the band taking everything that made its debut album so powerful and pushing it all to the next level: Improved songwriting, more diversity, and tighter more inspired performances. The final result is a 10-song beast (12 with the deluxe edition) that is going to jolt your system like heavy metal Viagra. Two years of relentless touring has proven to be just what the trio needed to solidify its identity. Darkness Remains is an album for those who still bow at the altar and raise their horns to the great masters who gifted us with Heavy Metal, and Night Demon is a band for those who still like their metal without qualifying sub-genre titles. Full Review
Fifteen years into its existence and almost seven years since the release of its debut album, Mutiny Within rises up with arguably its best record to date, Origins. The album is a throat punch reminder of how underrated and powerful Mutiny Within The scope of Origins is sonically colossal and could almost come across as too busy, but vocalist Chris Clancy’s production has blended it all together so adeptly, it works on a grand scale. Mutiny Within fuses a melange of metal sub-genres into something unique to their sound. Each member speaks to his own integral depth of virtuosity and Clancy has an undeniably distinctive voice that is instantly recognizable. Drummer Bill Fore has outdone himself behind the kit and has crafted his best artwork to date; Daniel Bage, already a masterful guitarist, has upped his game in the keyboard/synth department; and bassist Andrew Jacobs, the anchor, has delivered the solid song foundations on which Origins is built. Full Review