Slayer Reclaims The Metal Throne In 2015

There’s only a week and a half left in 2015 after this week. That means that the days are finally really ticking away. And as they pass by so do the year-ender lists from all of the critics. That includes this critic. So far this month, Phil’s Picks has revealed its top new EPs, World Music albums, County, etc. albums, Rap and Hip-Hop albums, Children’s albums, and Rock albums. There have even been lists for the year’s best new live CD recording and album re-issues. Now we come down to the last two lists of the music universe for this year. Today the first of those lists will be revealed. That list is the list of the year’s best new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums. The second and final music list of the year is the year’s best overall albums. That list will come alongside the list of the year’s top new movies later on. So for now, today brings the last of the music year-enders. And it’s quite a doozy. It was anything but easy to assemble. Slayer grabbed the top spot with its new album Repentless. Saxon is there, too as is Annihilator, Gloomball, Between The Buried and Me, and many others. As with every previous list, the Top 10 albums make up the main body of the list. The bottom five are each honorable mention as they simply could not be ignored. That brings the total list to fifteen albums. SO without further ado, here for your reading pleasure, dear readers, are the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW HARD ROCK/METAL ALBUMS

  1. SLAYERREPENTLESS

 

  1. TESSERACT – POLARIS

 

  1. SCALE THE SUMMIT – V

 

  1. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME – COMA ECLIPTIC

 

  1. SEVENDUST – KILL THE FLAW

 

  1. GLOOMBALL – THE QUIET MONSTER

 

  1. ARMORED SAINT – WIN HANDS DOWN

 

  1. SAXON – BATTERING RAM

 

  1. LAMB OF GOD – VII: STURM UND DRANG

 

  1. MOTORHEAD – BAD MAGIC

 

  1. ANNIHILATOR – SUICIDE SOCIETY

 

  1. ATREYU – LONG LIVE

 

  1. ACT OF DEFIANCE – BIRTH AND THE BURIAL

 

  1. BATTLECROSS – RISE TO POWER

 

  1. HAMMERCULT – BUILT FOR WAR

 

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Gloomball Shows Impressive Growth On Its Sophomore LP

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV

German-based hard rock band Gloomball has made quite a bit of “noise” with its new album The Quiet Monster ever since the album was released late last month.  The follow-to the band’s 2013 debut LP The Distance, the band’s latest opus is one of this year’s best new albums in the hard rock/metal category.  While it is only available in its physical form overseas, audiences in America and elsewhere can download the album now via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/gw/album/the-quiet-monster/id968831621.  In hearing the twelve total tracks that make up the album, listeners around the world will agree that this is an album that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should have on his or her playlist this year whether in physical or digital format.  The album’s lead single ‘Straight To Hell’ proves this all by itself.  Of course it isn’t the album’s only song, nor is it the only song that proves the album’s value to the metal legions, either.  ‘Monster,’ the album’s first full length song is just as solid an example of what makes The Quiet Monster such an outstanding work from Gloomball.  The band even boasts an instantly radio ready piece that would fit in perfectly on any mainstream American rock radio station in the form of ‘One More Day’ for those wanting something slightly less intense.  All three of the tracks noted here prove in their own way just how much Gloomball has grown since the release of its debut record only two years ago.  They are not the only tracks that display that growth, either.  There are plenty of others that exhibit that growth, too including: ‘Sullen Eyes,’ ‘Blood Red World,’ and ‘(Don’t) Surrender’ just to name a few.  Whether for any of those tracks, for the ones more directly noted, or those not noted here, it can be said of The Quiet Monster in whole this record shows so much growth from the members of Gloomball.  And it is that growth that makes The Quiet Monster one of this year’s best new albums in the realm of hard rock and metal.

Only two years have passed since Gloomball released its debut album The Distance in 2013.  In that short span of time, the members of this German-based Quintet have honed their talents quite a bit.  That is evident throughout the course of the band’s new album The Quiet Monster.  This twelve track, fifty-minute album boasts so many impressive songs that are just as good as anything churned out by the likes of Hellyeah, Sevendust, and other major American hard rock acts over the years.  That being the case, it makes one wonder why the album would only be released in its physical form overseas while audiences elsewhere can allegedly only get it digitally.  The reason for that is anyone’s guess.  That aside, there is a lot to like about The Quiet Monster including its lead single, ‘Straight To Hell.’  This full-throttle song was a great choice to re-introduce the band to its fans and to introduce the band to its new fans for the first time.  Musically speaking, the combined talents of guitarists Bjorn Daigger and Jossi Lenk, and drummer Danny Jo Hofmann give the song something akin to the classic Gothenburg sound made so popular by the likes of Soilwork, In Flames, and others of that ilk over the past decade or so.  Hofmann’s solid time keeping balanced with his ability to switch his cymbal hits to either side of the beat is an impressive feat.  It is impressive because of how easy it is to get lost trying to make such transitions while trying to maintain the song’s tempo at the same time.  From one drummer to another, Hofmann is to be applauded for such talent.  On the song’s lyrical side, ‘Straight To Hell’ shows itself to be one of those songs to which so many people can relate.  Front man Alen Ljubic sings about a person that is never happy, no matter what and the frustrations of dealing with said person.  He sings directly to said subject in the song’s opening verse, “Wait/Again, I warned you not to cross my line/Why/Don’t you understand me/I/I played it fair/There’s no way/You can’t deny/Your/Your bluff is called/But there is no way out.”  His subject goes on to go toe-to-toe with that negative individual in the second verse singing, “Burn/You’re one of those who are never satisfied/Why/Do you always force me/Lies/All I hear from you are god&@^! Lies/You/You’ve gone too far/But there is no way out.”  Such lyrics are needless to say, a rather forceful indictment.  Ljubic comes across as saying to the intended target, “I gave you fair warning.  I tried to spell it out in no uncertain terms so that it would be clear to you.  You’re such a fake, pessimistic person and I called your bluff.  So now you’ve got nowhere to turn and no lies left to tell.”  That is of course only this critic’s interpretation of this song.  It could be entirely wrong.  Hopefully it’s more right than wrong.  Regardless, the combination of the song’s lyrics and its music together gives it one heck of a punch.  That punch in question makes clear why it was chosen to be not only one of the album’s representative works, but its lead representative work.

‘Straight To Hell’ is one of the best of the best from The Quiet Monster.  The seemingly Gothenburg-influenced sound of the song’s musical side coupled with its no nonsense lyrics make it a song to which every member of the Metal Nation worldwide will relate.  Because they will be able to relate to its lyrics and enjoy its musical side too, it makes sense that it was chosen as the album’s lead single.  It is not the only song that could be used to represent The Quiet Monster.  ‘Monster’ is the album’s first full length song.  And it is just as viable a representative song for this record, too.  Just as with ‘Straight To Hell,’ ‘Monster’ is a high-energy piece that will have any member of the Metal Nation worldwide putting his or her horns high with pride.  Its full throttle sound, driven mostly by the dual guitar attack of Bjorn Daigger and Jossi Lenk, stands out from that of ‘Straight To Hell.’  The sound on this song is more comparable to that of Hellyeah, Adrenaline Mob, Five Finger Death Punch, and certain other well-known names from the hard rock realm here in America.  On the song’s lyrical side, it is sure to interest audiences just as much.  That’s because of its seeming metaphorical language.  Ljubic sings in the song’s opening verse, “Wake up/Time to feed them all/They’ve been cravin’ for your soul since the day you were born…how could anyone on Earth be so f****** blind.”  He goes on to sing in the chorus, “Light the world up/Feed the monster/I will never break/And I know I can take this monster/Time to man up/Kill the monster/Higher than the sky/I’m gonna fly for real.”  The tone of the song’s lyrics comes across as being rather positive, despite the song’s title.  There’s almost a sense of overcoming one’s inner metaphorical monster and being better than what people want a person to be.  Again, that interpretation could be completely incorrect.  Hopefully it is at least somewhere in the ballpark.  That aside, the overall positive theme of overcoming and pushing on in itself more than shows it to be another standout addition to The Quiet Monster and one more way in which The Quiet Monster proves to be one of the best of this year’s hard rock and metal crop.

Both ‘Straight To Hell’ and ‘Monster’ are key additions to Gloomball’s new album.  They both exhibit in their own way just how much the band’s members have grown both by themselves and as a unit.  As audiences can hear, in comparison to the band’s 2013 debut The Distance, this album feels much more focused.  That is just from the album’s first two songs, too.  That focus is exhibited well throughout the rest of the album, too.  Perhaps one of the clearest examples of that focus comes in the form of ‘One More Day.’  This song is heavy in its own right.  But it shows a softer side to the band, too.  The song’s more reserved sound makes it a perfect fit for any mainstream American rock radio station.  With any luck, some brave program director out there will read this and take a chance on this song (or any of the other outstanding songs that make up the album’s body), too.  Musically speaking, the comparison to the likes of Five Finger Death Punch and certain other bands is clearly evident.  Lyrically, it is the standard song centered on a broken relationship.  The delivery of the lyrics against the song’s musical side actually makes the whole thing surprisingly catchy.  Ljubin sings of the lost love, “Awake/But it’s like shoving needles in my eyes/Estranged/Can’t control the void you left behind/One day/It’s all I ask/To see you one more time/We never cared/Never cared at all/All I ask for is one more day/Cause the lies we’ll never tell/Escape this prison cell/All I ask for is one more day/Is to find peace inside this hell/Locked inside this hell.”  The rest of the song continues in much the same fashion in terms of its lyrics.  While the song does continue on in similar fashion, lyrically speaking, it never really reaches the level of cheese that so many American rock bands are capable of reaching (and in many cases do reach).  That it doesn’t sink to that level and that it stands out so blatantly against the album’s other, higher-energy songs is exactly why this song serves as such an excellent example of what Gloomball has to offer audiences on this, its sophomore album.  It is one more example of just how much Gloomball has grown collectively as a band since the release of its debut album two years ago.  And together with the likes of ‘Monster’ and ‘Straight to Hell,’ that growth is made even clearer.  Such clarity and focus exhibited throughout the album’s body shows once more exactly why The Quiet Monster is one of the best of this year’s crop of new hard rock and metal albums.

The Quiet Monster exhibits a noticeable growth from Gloomball in comparison to its 2013 debut record The Distance. From the album’s lead single ‘Straight to Hell’ to its opening number ‘Monster’ to its fully radio ready song ‘One More Day,’ the growth exhibited in these three songs alone shows clearly how far Gloomball has come in just two years. They are not the only tracks that display that growth, either.  There are plenty of other songs on this disc that exhibit that growth, too including: ‘Sullen Eyes,’ ‘Blood Red World,’ and ‘(Don’t) Surrender’ just to name a few.  Whether for any of those tracks, for the ones more directly noted, or those not noted here, it can be said of The Quiet Monster in whole this record shows so much growth from the members of Gloomball.  And it is that growth that makes The Quiet Monster one of this year’s best new albums in the realm of hard rock and metal. The Quiet Monster is available now in stores overseas and online via iTunes everywhere else at https://itunes.apple.com/gw/album/the-quiet-monster/id968831621. The band is currently touring in support of its new album and fans can check out all of the band’s upcoming tour dates online now along with the latest news from the band at:

Website: http://www.gloomball.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GLOOMBALL

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Gloomball Impressive On Its Debut Record

Courtesy:  SPV/Steamhammer

Courtesy: SPV/Steamhammer

Most people in the metal community have either heard of heard of Godsmack or heard them.  Mudvayne, Hellyeah, and Five Finger Death Punch are just as well known in the metal world.  So what if one were to take these bands, toss them into a pot and stir them all together?  One would get Gloomball.  This German five-piece is primed to be one of the next big acts in the United States, given the right support from rock radio programmers.  The band’s debut album, The Distance, is a solid mix of all of the aforementioned bands that at the same time it shows their influences, still manages to solidly maintain its own identity.  It goes without saying that this record is one of the year’s best of the hard rock and metal category.

The album’s opener, ‘Burning Gasoline’ is fittingly titled.  It’s a full throttle hard rock song that wastes no time getting listeners’ blood boiling.  The song’s chorus is just as high powered as the music itself from band members Bjorn Daigger (guitars), Danny Joe (drums), Basti Moser (Bass) and Jossi Lenk (Guitars).  Front man Alen Ljubic sings in the song’s chorus, “The more that you throw/I’ll be back for some more/I have told you before/I’ve told you/What I/Feel a-bout you/Just because/I Don’t see/The point/To help you/Anymore/You’re just gonna stay here/Progress/No less/Just like you were before/Overcome/I’m overcome.”  The somewhat syncopated style of the chorus is reminiscent of Godsmack front man Sully Erna’s vocal style from much of that band’s songs.

The ability of Ljubic to change his vocal style from one song to another on this album is interesting to say the least.  The same can be said of the band’s sound overall.  On the album’s title track, the band has gone from a heavy, up-tempo adrenaline racer to a more controlled piece that still has a certain heavy element.  It’s something more akin to something one might hear from Five Finger Death Punch.  The song’s lyrical side shows a very deeply emotional topic.  Ljubic sings in an almost mournful style, “This will be difficult/We all want things we cannot have/Don’t drown in disbelief/Control yourself/You learn it’s a lie/Don’t betray yourself/It’s just not there/Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” He goes on to sing “This distance makes the heart grow colder.”  This song’s subject is pretty obvious.  And the talent of Ljubic’s band mates to interpret the lyrics makes this one more piece of the whole that will make any rocker proud.

Save for the album’s closer—a cover of ‘Living Within My Tender Pain (from the Rocky IV soundtrack)—the album’s energy picks right back up after the title track from Gloomball’s debut record.  It carries listeners straight through to that much more subdued closer, leaving audiences completely breathless, even after this much more gentle moment.  As gentle as it is, its proof of Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde’s statement long ago that a song can be heavy lyrically and musically without heavy guitars.  The strains of the piano set against Ljubic singing, “I, I’m the only thing that’s real/Deep inside is where I bleed/Living with my tender pain/Ever since you’ve gone away/Why/Does it still feel like a dream/All my pain feels so unreal/And your shadow it will stay/Right beside me every day.”  Yet again, Ljubic has shown his talent with this piece.  Unlike so many other songs of love lost, the combination of his vocal tone expertly comes together with the sad sounds echoing from the piano to truly catch the pain one must feel in having lost someone close to one’s self.  Of course as already noted, its only one of two moments when the album slows down.  Those wanting something with more energy have plenty to choose from throughout the heart of The Distance.  And by the time that audiences have finished their musical journey with the band, they just might find themselves wanting to travel “The Distance” with this band again.  The Distance is available now in Europe and will be available in the United States on Tuesday, May 7th.  The band’s only current planned performance in support of the record is a release show in Mannheim, Germany on Friday May 17th.  Fans can check in on the band’s Facebook page and official website for all of the latest updates on its tour and more at http://www.facebook.com/GLOOMBALL and http://www.gloomball.com.

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