2019 was a year for newcomers and almost-newcomers. The big names have hardly published anything, or could not really convince. But that doesn’t matter, because a scene lives from fresh winds, even if they blow very nostalgically (what they obviously did). With a little luck and perseverance, some of these winds could develop into full-blown hurricanes.
Here are my ten Heavy Metal highlights of 2019 in alphabetical order:
Aggressive Perfector – Havoc at the Midnight Hour
The raw and filthy energy of this Manchester based band immediately blew me away. The old school of Speed Metal has been enriched with Thrash and Punk on this debut album. The band sounds like EXCITER and MOTÖRHEAD, but above all they also sound like a rawer version of NIGHT DEMON. Be sure to keep these guys on your radar!
Angel Witch – Angel of Light
HEAVY METAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR
One of the few long established bands that could qualitatively convince me last year. And even more so! More than 40 years after their founding, the Londoners still know how to write good NWOBHM songs without making them sound old-fashioned. The resulting tunes are sometimes gloomy, sometimes lively, but always catchy as hell. This record manages to sound enthusiastic and grounded at the same time – and to live up to the band’s legendery debut!
Atlantean Kodex – The Course of Empire
The third album by this Epic Metal band from Bavaria is demanding and rousing as ever. And yet the band sounds different than before, because the new material is more direct and catchy than on its widely acclaimed – but more difficult to access – predecessor. A rousing album with a long-term effect.
Crypt Sermon – The Ruins of Fading Light
To be honest, pure Doom Metal is mostly too boring for me. Fortunately, this does not apply to this band from Philadelphia, because they do not follow the true Doom teachings. The album is modernly produced (in a positive sense) and occasionally even reminds of MEGADETH. The sometimes unusual instrumentation gives the album that certain something, as do the GHOST-like theatrics. This great album is guaranteed not to be boring at all.
Midnight Force – Gododdin
I was blown away by the debut album from the year before last by this Scottish-German NWOBHM Metal band. So my expectations for the guys’ second album were unfairly high. In fact, it took me some spins, but then the new songs were more than convincing (even if none of them can match the debut’s “Scarlet Citadel”). Despite the lack of a surprise effect, this is again a terrific album!
Mystik – Mystik
The girls and the guy from Stockholm present classic Heavy / Speed Metal with – indeed – a mystical touch on their debut album. This is mainly due to the dense atmosphere of the songs and the perfectly fitting vocals. An also perfectly fitting production and reminiscences to WARLOCK and early BLIND GUARDIAN set this debut at an astonishingly high level.
Riot City – Burn the Night
At first I was skeptical about the big hype about this album – not to say I was reserved. But what can I say? This record is simply awesome! JUDAS PRIEST flows through the veins of the musicians, but thanks to their origins, Canadian Metal also plays an important role in this debut. A really great album that absolutely lives up to the hype.
Screamer – Highway of Heroes
In their ten-year band history, these Swedes have not delivered a single weak album. But they have never been as strong as on their fourth album. Tradition and dedication are still at the top of the trademark list, always underpinned by a good mood vibe, which is far from getting cheesy. Heavy Metal as it is supposed to be!
Traveler – Traveler
The Canadians are among the best that traditional Heavy Metal currently has to offer. For their debut album, the band around its exceptional singer Jean-Pierre Abboud (also known from GATEKEEPER) has re-recorded the songs of their demo (and upgraded them) and added new hits. If you like the British veterans as much as the new Canadian heroes, you really should listen to this album.
Vultures Vengeance – The Knightlore
Not only DARKTHRONE’s Fenriz (and he knows his stuff!) has taken the Romans to his heart, this debut album was also represented in various annual polls. And deservedly so, as the great melodies, the nostalgic vocals (somewhat reminiscent of Hansi Kürsch from BLIND GUARDIAN) and the overall Heavy Metal feeling impressively emphasize.