While last month certainly had more to offer, there were still enough great metal albums to have a lot of competition for the top ten metal albums of March.
Below are albums that range the elements: the fluid, the rock-hard, the furiously hot, and the frigid cold. Brace yourself, because these records don’t fuck around!
10. Iron Savior – Kill or Get Killed
There’s nothing new in Iron Savior’s eleventh installment, Kill or Get Killed. It’s the same old song and dance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still great. The bass is cranked, the hooks are catchy, and the guitar solos are fucking phenomenal.
At this stage of their career, nobody expects anything new or different, but it’s clear that Iron Savior are veterans of the German power metal scene and they’re damn good at what they do: heavy, loud, and intense power metal.
9. Battle Beast – No More Hollywood Endings
Battle Beast has all but completely reinvented its sound this time around, abandoning its unique brand of melodic heavy/power metal for a shinier, late 90s/early 00s pop sound. If Bringer of Painwas a step in a new direction, No More Hollywood Endings is a trip to the next city over. If it weren’t for a couple individual tracks and Noora Louhimo’s iconic, raspy vocals, it’d be unrecognizable as a Beast album.
In all honesty, when it lost Anton Kabanen, the Beast lost its bite. No More Hollywood Endings is widely dynamic, but a lot of the songs are very one-dimensional. Although many of the tracks feature epic orchestras and plentiful keyboards, more parts doesn’t always mean better songs.
I have very mixed feelings about this album mainly because of how hit-and-miss the tracks are. That being said, it’s far from being bad, and it’s good enough to make it as number nine!
(Also, the following track is incredible.)
8. Darkwater – Human
Swedish power proggers Darkwater have created a fluid and intense experience in their comeback record. Human is their third record to date and is their first release in eight years. Fortunately, it was well worth the wait, because this record is one of the best prog albums I’ve heard in a long time.
The musicianship is excellent, but, by prog standards, it’s nothing special. That being said, Darkwater quickly proves that you don’t need to be a legendary musician who shreds with the utmost fucking insanity for minutes on end to make a great progressive album. The whole record feels natural and smooth.
7. Queensrÿche – The Verdict
I was as relieved as everybody else when Queensryche released their self-titled record in 2013 after the long line of bullshit they produced. So, it should come as no surprise that I absolutely love The Verdict, as it’s the third decent album in a row that Queensryche has made since the drama of the late 90s.
The Verdict is a dynamic piece of work, with the bulk of its sound being closer to their older material. There are clear grunge influences in parts and the synth is sprinkled throughout, adding a bit more detail and variety. Vocalist Todd La Torre also does an exceptional job manning the drums in Scott Rockenfield’s absence.
6. Warrior Path – Warrior Path
This album is insanely good. Being forged under Greek guitarist/composer Andreas Sinanoglou, it also features vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos (ex Wardrum, Beast In Black) and guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis (Firewind), making for quite the lineup. Now, I’m pretty biased to all things Yannis, so I’ll try to avoid talking too much about how his already-impressive vocal versatility is demonstrated in yet another new way or how he absolutely fucking masters old school heavy metal singing too much.
Well, shit. I tried.
Ok, I didn’t try at all.
Besides the vocals, the songs are very well written (a trait that is often missing from traditional metal bands), the solos and riffs are heavy and the slow parts are beautiful. You’ll come back to this record a few times; I guarantee it.
5. Bloodbound – Rise of the Dragon Empire
Bloodbound has taken all of the glorious, dragonslaying exuberance from War of Dragons and crammed it all into Rise of the Dragon Empire. Along with more dynamic and variable songwriting, it’s altogether better than its predecessor and, in my opinion, the best Bloodbound record to date. The soaring choruses are thunderous, the guitar solos are grand, and the synth is heavy in this power metal monster.
In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be nearly as good as it is.
4. Stonecast – I Earther
Stonecast rock seriously fucking hard in I Earther. Their strong energy will draw you in and their anthemic hooks will make you stay. This earthy metal is sturdy and its sound is nothing short of mountainous.
The vocal delivery ranges from powerful war cries to low, rough vocals. The guitar solos are awesome and the drums create exciting grooves. However, the highlight for me lies in ‘Cherokee’, which contains a staggering amount of variety in its eight minutes as well as an end section that is unmatched by most of the endings I’ve heard in metal.
3. Iron Fire – Beyond the Void
Let it be known that Iron Fire is king in the land of heavy metal. After twenty years in the studio, not a single one of their records has lost any heat, and they’ve perhaps hit the pinnacle of their career in their ninth: Beyond the Void. These heavy metal veterans show absolutely no sign of slowing down, and it’s greatly reassuring to see them continuously produce nothing but excellence.
Now, I’m not exaggerating when I say the songwriting is fantastic. No song sets into one feel, and the molten-hot solo sections, especially in the titular track, have some serious underlying grooves. Honestly, while Kirk Backarach’s soloing is awesome, the rhythm section underneath is just as good.
2. Brymir – Wings of Fire
Brymir is extreme metal for the power metal fan and Wings of Fire is no exception. If it weren’t for the rough vocals, it’d be epic symphonic power metal through-and-through. I’m not complaining by any stretch, that’s just the way it is.
No, I shouldn’t say that. It’s way too epic to be just that. It’s the kind of epic that’ll make you believe that you can crush mountains and fly through the sky as the bringer of life or death, sole judge of the universe, with all of the power of the gods in your hands, under your hands, through your hands, about your hands (but not over your hands). It’s that. Fucking. Epic.
Its combination of heavy synth tracks, blasting drums, and facemelting guitars is nothing short of deadly. Don’t listen to this one on an empty stomach because you’ll probably pass out.
1. Frozen Crown – Crowned in Frost
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “That’s a lot of praise to give an album. How can there be an even better one on this list?” Never fear, your question will be answered.
While Frozen Crown’s sophomore album isn’t quite as epic as Wings of Fire, every other aspect lifts it higher and into my top album spot for March. This female fronted (or should I say, “female fueled,” due to vocalist Jade Etro as well as eighteen-year-old southpaw shredder Talia Bellazecca) powerhouse has created an exceptionally refined record that is better in every way than its impressive predecessor. Now, we can’t give all of the credit to the ladies, because the men are just as good. Drummer Alberto Mezzanotte pounds out some excellent grooves and lead guitarist/songwriter/keyboardist Federico Mondelli slams his amazing solos and riffs into the forefront. Filippo Zavattari completes the sound with his big, beefy bass.
Crowned in Frost has a ton of variety and it builds upon their heavier, grittier brand of power metal that was created in The Fallen King. Complete with top-tier musicians, this is my obvious favourite of March and will certainly be a contender at the end of the year!
Think I forgot a worthy album on this list? Leave a comment!
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