5. Ostura – The Room
The symphonic metal scene may be rather quiet lately, but not in the Middle East. Lebanese band Ostura lends the genre a new lease of life, performing above the rich sounds of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Room tells the story of a reclusive girl who shuts out the real world, only to enter one of her own imagination, conjured by her thoughts and fears. The concept album is pure cinematic grandeur, where operatic voices soar above the majesty of metal-infused chamber music.
4. Judas Priest – Firepower
Five decades on the scene, and Judas Priest has not slowed down by a single bit. Their latest record Firepower is just that, a powerful burst of incendiary energy incapable of the slightest flicker.
There is no one quite like Rob Halford. At age 67, the legend’s incredible vocal prowess has never once dwindled in strength, on stage or on record. Catching them live a second time, with Glenn Tipton back for the encore, definitely topped my best memories this year.
3. Greta van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army
Airbourne ripped off AC/DC, Avenged Sevenfold stole from Metallica, Led Zeppelin lifted their riffs off Delta players gone unsung, and Greta van Fleet sounds almost exactly like Led Zeppelin. Personally, I live by the simple rule – to never let comparisons get in the way of good music.
That means not missing out on grand modern anthems like Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer), and the crowd-rousing When The Curtain Falls. Their inspirations ring loud and true, but the young quartet has yet again found their own tune amidst the echoes.
2. Alien Weaponry – Tū
Alien Weaponry is ready to take the reign from their predecessors in thrash, incorporating the unique Māori culture and shadows of the legendary Sepultura into their lyric and song. Who could stay still with the mighty war cries on Rū Ana Te Whenua, or the rage and metal wairua that comes through the entirety of Tū?
That is even if they may not be of legal age to even attend some of their own shows. Barely twenty, the New Zealanders already command the crowds and own the stage like seasoned veterans. These pesky teenagers and their infectious metal spirit. When will they stop impressing us all?
1. Zeal and Ardor – Stranger Fruit
The order of my favourites list may shift in a month’s time or two, but Stranger Fruit is bound to retain its album of the year title. There is no musician comparable to Manuel Gagneux of Zeal and Ardor, who has managed to craft an utterly unique sound despite the inundated musical landscape.
Fusing black metal with the devil’s blues, the ambitious project sees the perfect union of folk spirituals and death cries. It is just as Gagneux describes it, “What if American slaves had embraced Satan, instead of Jesus?” If this album is anything to go by, we should be so lucky.
Volume 2 of my favourite albums coming right up.