Τρίτη 2 Ιανουαρίου 2024

Top 10 (+20) metal albums of 2023


The usual long prologue. Don't scroll down, read.
Lists suck! Is there any meaning to having a Top-20, Top-30, Top-100 list for one year? In a Top-20 list what's the actual difference between number 14 and number 17? And is number 19 better than an album that didn't make it to the list even if it was considered? Lists suck because they have transformed music in a fake contest game and in the era of the social media reign a majority of fans consumes music instead of listening (and feeling) to music. Hundreds of albums with a quick listen on YouTube or digital platforms, most of the time with a lesser quality than the physical product. I would dare to say that besides the first 5 (maximum 10) albums in every list, most of the rest are almost equal with minor differences. There are also some factors outside the actual music that affect some editors' lists in media. Someone might like more a person/musician from a band, or doesn't like someone else from another. A musician's character and the list-writer's connection or the lack of it, affects some people, while sometimes there are deeper things involving record labels, producers, events, actions, and many other things we might discuss in the future. Everyone can fall on it sometimes, even the author of this article. Let's be honest.

Boomers, Zoomers and the different generations: There will always be people saying that no new album can reach the heights and the value of the past. By past they mean the '70s, mostly the '80s, and the '90s. Bullshit. Keeping in mind that sometimes the passing of time adds (or deducts) value to albums, we should not ignore that there will always be great music coming out but the change of the music industry doesn't really allow to most of the new bands and albums to make a breakthrough and reach the sales and exposure that bands in the '80s had. Pardon me, for preferring Eternal Champion, Atlantean Kodex, Crypt Sermon and Sumerlands over Rhapsody, Medieval Steel, Tankard and Krokus, but no matter how hard you will yell, you will be just a brief note on social media. That's modern life. On the other hand, yes, it can sound annoying to me that one might also say that Sabaton, Amon Amarth and Ghost are better than Saxon, Accept and Dokken. Overall, it can be apples and oranges but also a different music taste and one's failure to understand the difference between "I prefer" and "it is better". There will always be great music but the amount of albums coming out today is huge, while the easy way music is available to you, it can distract you without allowing many individuals to dive deeper, listen deeper, feel it deeper. Music today is trapped in the "fast-food" way of modern life. Do you believe that if The Number of the Beast would have been released today, it would have the same impact like 1982? Different times, different views, different industries and the evolution of music. Each album of the past was released and set in a different time within a different moment during the evolution and change of music, so if you just bring it in today, you might lose its flame, its actual impact, you might miss its value, or there will be a devalue. You just need to understand the past, the story, the evolution, the present, (feel) the actual music/album, the different genres and subgenres, but also the standards and the albums/bands that will always be the reference for reasons beyond each individual's personal taste

Lists rule! It is always entertaining reading other people's lists, websites and magazines, and it is truly amazing reading a list and discovering something you might have missed. Actually, at some point, we should make a list with "the best albums we missed and you didn't see them on last years' lists". With lists, sometimes you also understand the other's music taste and you can even get a glimpse of one's character. For people you already know, or authors/editors you follow, you can even figure some records that will be on their lists without even reading them because you know their taste or a small part of their character, and this is beautiful because music is part of them. Music is life, so enjoy life, don't be a toxic and sad person. Listen to what you like and don't waste your time yelling at clouds for things you don't like. No matter how old or young you are, because it is not just old people yelling at clouds, it is also youngsters yelling on TikTok and Facebook without understanding the past and all of those things that make the music they know today.

Lists can change! Accept that lists are a glimpse of the present time and the author's view on that specific time. No one can claim that they have listened to everything, and if some people do, don't trust them, ignore them and their lists. Lists are fun and are just a starting point for discussions and spreading music. If you take them only seriously, you're missing the point, you're missing the music. And it is not a shame to admit after a few years that you overestimated or underestimated an album or a band by putting or not putting them on a list.

Well, lists rule!

For this year, we did what Crystal Logic firstly introduced years ago. The interaction of musicians of the feature. We invited musicians of albums included in the list (plus a few more), commenting on other albums of the list. With that, we're offering to the readers of Crystal Logic something more than just placing albums in a list and adding a few words or just reposting part of reviews, something that's usual to the majority of similar end year's lists on most media. We're always trying to make a difference and present something new and unusual, so let's go!

10. MARCH TO DIE - Tears of the Gorgon

Formed by members of Mirror, Friends of Hell and Solitary Sabred, the debut album of the Greek/Cypriot band delivers aggressive and raw epic heavy metal inspired by Manowar and the Asatru period of Bathory. Coming out of nowhere, they might lack authenticity but their iron will and strength bows to none. Swords, chains and metal, blood, smashed helmets and decapitation, this is raw, epic heavy metal by fans, for fans.

- "True metal to the end! Glorybound metal that I have really enjoyed since its release day. Bathory meets Manowar, fabulous guitar thunder, tremendous battle roaring vox, amazing bass lines straight from Valhalla and the great cannons on drumming Be sure you won't miss it... March to Die!" - D.K. Krasonis (Darklon)

Check also:

DARKLON - The Redeemer: With Omen singer Nikos Migus A. the sophomore album of the Greek-based band is an ode to the US heavy and power metal legends of the olde like Omen, Armored Saint and Attacker. The kind of vocals we're missing nowadays, a suitable metal production and riffs to die for. Strong metal.

- "Riff-driven, Americanized bullying-metal, culminating in one of the best choruses of the decade in 'Way Back Home'!" - Petros "Asgard Lord" Leptos (Solitary Sabred)

JAG PANZER - The Hallowed: A strong return with their best studio album since "Mechanized Warfare", dominated by a solid sound, flaming guitars and titanic vocals.

9. VARATHRON - The Crimson Temple

One of the leaders of Hellenic Black Metal (next to Rotting Christ and Necromantia, but also Zemial and Agatus) return with an album that grabs you by the throat. Somehow I missed them in the last many years, so The Crimson Temple caught me by surprise. Committed to the unholy past, the new album feels like a glorious return to the spirit of the olde with the advantages the present day and the musicians' experience can add, without missing a beat in terms of passion. With effective, melodic riffs and guitar parts that pierce your mind, Cimmerian strength and a cinematic approach, this temple is built by stones of glory. This is a 100% Hellenic Black Metal record.  

- "The same killer sound that they've been developing over the last couple albums but with a taste of extra grandiose bombast- what's not to love?" - Brandon Corsair (Serpent Rider, Draghkar, Drawn and Quartered)

Check also:

MALOKARPATAN - Vertumnus Caesar: The occult journey to the esoteric arts of the past through '70s art rock, pure heavy metal riffing, renaissance melodies and first wave black metal. That's (more or less) something you will mainly read in most of the reviews but the latest diverse, dynamic and sinister offering of the Slovakian band continues their unique way of expressing their creative mysticism in a parallel world with all of their influences.

- "Heavy Metal absolutely dripping with the occult and an overtly sinister atmosphere. A special, special offering, from a generationally great band." - Klauf (Morgul Blade)

THRONEHAMMER - Kingslayer: Heavier than Godzilla and stronger than Kong, this is a monster doom metal album with a diversity that flies higher than Mothra.

8. LEGENDRY - Time Immortal Wept

Established in the underground metal with three full-lengths and an EP, the fourth album Time Immortal Wept gathers all the elements that make Legendry distinguish from the current epic heavy metal scene. The use of mellotron, acoustic guitars and synths, the diversity of influences and sounds adding elements from the '70s prog rock, Rush, Eloy, Uriah Heep, up to Manilla Road, Bathory and even Warlord (listen to the beginning of the 12-minute same-titled track) and Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, creates a unique album that offers to the listener a magical quest since this is also a concept album. With Arthur Rizk's production adding the archaic soundscape and feeling this concept requires, be sure that this brave, mystical and original album can be equal to the journey your favourite sword & sorcery books can offer.

Check also:

GATEKEEPER - From Western Shores: A step forward from the previous album, with dynamics and songs such as "Shadow and Stone" that give the band their own identity. Gatekeeper is a heroic band and From Western Shores is a beautiful, ear-pleasure, nerdy underground heavy metal album for all of us enjoyers of this kind.

- "Jeff Black and crew show why Canada remains at the top of the game and how metal should be written!" - Jeff Young (By Fire & Sword, Weald and Woe)

SMOULDER - Violent Creed of Vengeance: Many men-singers claim to be the Conan-type of frontman, wielding a sword and yelling tales of sorcery and brave quests. Asides Eric Adams, probably Jason Tarpey is the barbarian king, but there is no question that Sarah Ann is the one and only Red Sonja, singing tales of vengeance, bravery and witchery. Theatrical and more diverse, Smoulder's sophomore album is not just about escapism, but also about true strength, with sharp songwriting and intense performances.

- "Tighter and harder than ever, if Violent Creed... doesn’t make you want to smite your enemies, nothing will!" - Jeff Young (By Fire & Sword, Weald and Woe)

- "Smoulder are raising their speed and offer us an absolutely rich musical masterwork with a voice who overflows with passion and energy." - Mars Triumph (Triumpher)

7. AIR RAID - Fatal Encounter

Six years after their previous album Across the Line, Sweden's Air Raid returned with a fatal album of majestic guitar virtuosity and thunderous songs. Bringing the retro '80s & '90s Malmsteen-ish guitar aesthetics and style to the present day, they're offering to us one of the most feelgood heavy metal albums of 2023. Recommended for fans of Maestro Yngwie (at his glorious days) and a more European power metal version of '80s Rainbow and '90s Riot. Don't sleep on that one, this is fantastic!  

- "Air Raid's Fatal Encounter is a heavy metal boulder with incredible guitar ideas and catchy as f... vocal lines!" - Mars Triumph (Triumpher)

Check also:

BY FIRE & SWORD - Glory: One of the most original melodic heavy power metal albums of 2023, an album that can only be more appreciated in the future. Purely entertaining and catchy, with vocal melodies to die for, magnetic riffs, glorious and full of light. The lyrics and the concept seem to confuse a few of the listeners that can't truly get it but everything is there for you. Just listen, feel, and tap the conduit.  

MDXX - MDXX: Can you imagine Ghost playing like Eternal Champion? That's the mystical debut album of Sweden's MDXX. Authentic, with fantastic guitars and melodies, it dwells deep in the underground, waiting for you to discover it.

6. LAMP OF MURMUUR - Saturnian Bloodstorm

Lacking the raw sound and the gothic atmosphere of previous releases, the mysterious M., the mastermind behind the US entity known as Lamp of Murmuur, presents one more stellar album with a strong Immortal vibe and his best production to date. Saturnian Bloodstorm strays from the underground black metal labyrinths M. used to deliver in the past few years but his black metal gaze into the past and the future of the genre remains unmistakable and authentic.

Check also:

FAIDRA - Militant : Penitent : Triumphant: Heavily inspired by the one that cannot be named and deeper than it seems, Faidra's sophomore full-length is the orthodox atmospheric black metal album that requires your attention.

MOONLIGHT SORCERY - Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle: We loved the two EPs they released in 2022 but the surprise those face-painted fellas from Finland are offering with their debut full-lenght is of a "good-new-Malmsteen-album" status. Unexpectedly. Melodic black metal with neoclassical guitars? Yes, that's it. I understand that some black metal fans won't like it, but this is beautiful and unpredictable.

5. BLOOD STAR - First Sighting


One of the best newcomers out there with one of the most catchy debut albums released over the past few years. Melodic heavy metal with fantastic vocals by Madeline Smith, amazing guitars by Jamison Palmer (Visigoth), warm rhythm section and deadly hooks, inspired by W.A.S.P., Dokken, Saxon, Dio, '80s Riot, Judas Priest and Scorpions. Songs like "Cold Moon", "Fearless Priestess" and the Blackie-Lawless'd "Going Home" could have been huge hits if they were released in the '80s. With a bittersweet melancholy in some parts but with a completely enjoyable and positive aura, First Sighting is an album that plays on repeat and Blood Star is a band to watch for the future.

- "First Sighting is a great record front to back, made by some of the best people I know. I'm truly a huge fan!" - Cale Savy (Riot City)

Check also:

TOWER HILL - Deathstalker: Ticking all the boxes of the NWOTHM fans, the Canadian band offers what a straightforward metal fans asks for, spicing up things with epic metal lyrics and European power metal influences.

HITTEN - While Passion Lasts: '80s hair metal, night games, watts and overdrive from Spain, including a few moments that if they were released by an American band in the '80s, now you would listen to them in every night metal party.

4. THY DARKENED SHADE - Liber Lvcifer II - Mahapralaya

Thy Darkened Shade's latest magical album is a Luciferian black metal masterpiece that transcends the limits of the genre in a metaphysical way. Deeply spiritual and focused on the left hand path and its creator's mindset, Liber Lvcifer II - Mahapralaya is hypnotic and sinister, bringing the unconscious (darkness) to the conscious (light). Passionate, perfectly executed and faithful to the Black Metal flame of the past, this is a rare case of a modern album of this genre, capturing what it truly means and what it is.

- "By far my favourite extreme metal release of the past few years, everything here screams attention to detail and dedication to their uncompromising vision. Thy Darkened Shade are masters of their craft and their latest album is a testament to their talent. Out of this world." - George Apalodimas (Sacred Outcry)

Check also:

DODHEIMSGARD - Black Medium Current: A band that never ceases to amaze the audience. An album that in a few years I might regret I didn't put it in the top albums of this list, or I will wonder what the hell is doing here anyway.

WAYFARER - American Gothic: What a captivating album this is! Gunpowder'd black metal americana soiled with oil, blood and you can even smell the ashes from the funeral of the American dream. Produced by Arthur Rizk and using each and every inch of the musicians' talents, this atypical album is a brave survey of violence and destruction, beauty and sadness, of the American heart.

A few honourable mentions: CIRITH UNGOL - Dark Parade, COVEN JAPAN - Earthlings, CRUEL FORCE - Dawn of the Axe, ENFORCED - War Remains, ENFORCER - Nostalgia, HELLRIPPER - Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags, KERRIGAN - Bloodmoon, MACE 'N' CHAIN - Among Ancient Pillars, MILLENNIUM - The Sign of Evil, NIGHT DEMON - Outsider, OWLBEAR - Chaos to the Realm, RAGE AND FIRE - The Last Wolf, SATAN'S FALL - Destination Destruction, STRAY GODS - Olympus, THE NIGHT ETERNAL - Fatale, TOMB MOLD - The Enduring Spirit, VALDRIN - Throne of the Lunar Soul, WEALD AND WOE - For the Good of the Realm, WYTCH HAZEL - IV: Sacrament.

3. HEAVY LOAD - Riders of the Ancient Storm

That's a still from the new video of Heavy Load for "Ride the Night", their first new song people listen to, after 40 years. That's a still of a man that's nearly 70 years old and in his face and eyes, you can see an ocean of passion, originality and emotional power. Heavy Load's comeback is not another comeback just like the countless ones we're used to. This is something special. This is the true power of heavy metal music from musicians that live for it. Live and feel the passion and power of music, their legacy, the adventure, the inner strength.

Riders of the Ancient Storm is a comeback album that makes those 40 years look like a few months. A warm and analogue sound, one of the best productions for 2023, and an honest feeling of music from the heart. Songs like "Ride the Night" and "Slave No More" are masterpieces that could be included in the classic Heavy Load albums of the past, while "Sail Away" is like an ocean of emotions, a song to cry for, something we will listen to forever; a song where once the time will put its weight upon us, we will listen to and remember the past, the joy, the life we lived. Riders of the Ancient Storm is not just a comeback album, is not just a good album, is not just music. This is a longtime friend, for now, forever.

- "If you would have told me a few years ago that we would have a new Heavy Load album in 2023, I wouldn't have believed it. And yet, here we are. Not only is it a reality, but it is one where it falls directly in line with their classic albums, both in production and songwriting." - Vidarr the Silent (Legendry)

- "In many years as a heavy metal listener, I found only two songs that carry such overwhelming emotion that, every single time, they drive me to tears: one is "Dragon Star" by Manilla Road and the other is Heavy Load's "Sail Away". Riders of the Ancient Storm has something for everyone and then some. For most records, it's a matter of tastes, but for this one you need to think in terms of absolutes, this is a timeless masterpiece in a league of its own." - Mark J. Dexter (Dexter Ward)

Check also:

CENTURY - The Conquest of Time: Swedish hard and heavy metal has an undeniable legacy, starting from Heavy Load, continuing with all of those successful Swedish hard rock and heavy metal bands like Europe, more bands such as 220 Volt, Universe and Mindless Sinner, down to all of those underground legions like Gotham City, Wizzard and Parasite. Century continues that legacy with their debut full-length, a strong statement of passionate and true heavy metal.

- "Sweden has an imposing history in terms of Traditional Metal and continues to impress me to this day. Century's full album was probably the best Heavy Metal album of 2023 for me. The band is influenced by bands like Heavy Load and Satan (Brian Ross screams are always a must) and expands their own style. Last but not least, they are really convincing live as well. A must have for traditional Heavy Metal maniacs this year." - Semjaza (Thy Darkened Shade)

HIGH SPIRITS - Safe on the Other Side: Multi-instrumentalist Chris Black returns with a new High Spirits album, probably the best since the Another Night debut full-length of  2011. High Spirits' hard-rockin' metal is always a pleasure to listen to, and the new album is once again a hook-driven addiction with fantastic songs like "Lonely Nights".

2. TRIUMPHER - Storming the Walls

Breaking the walls of Troy, Jericho, mediocrity and different metal genres, Triumpher's debut album is a clashing-of-swords statement that even today, there are albums that can make the difference. With the power of Manowar's Triumph of Steel and a variety of elements from true epic metal, extreme metal, Dissection, Slayer and Primordial, Storming the Walls is entering the Pantheon of Epic Metal. Passionate, powerful, with attention to every detail, forged in the wisdom of ancient philosophers and wizards, the strength of giants and the beauty of Olympian Goddesses, this is an album for now and forever. The future belongs to the brave.

Check also:

PRIMORDIAL - How It Ends: While once again some songs (probably) would sound better if they were shorter, Primordial still do what they're doing better than many others, with their gloomy, battle, victory metal, and Nemtheanga proves again that he is a strong performer.

SOLITARY SABRED - Temple of the Serpent: The titans from Cyprus return with their over-the-edge US-inspired power metal that sounds better from many albums of bands which inspired them.

- "One of my favorite bands, and they did it again! The Temple of the Serpent is out there and I can say until the next one that this is the band's magnum opus, my personal favourite album of 2023 for many reasons... Real played, non fake tuning on vocals, non fake drums, great songwriting, everything I love in the vein of US Metal. All hail!" - D.K. Krasonis (Darklon)

1. SACRED OUTCRY - Towers of Gold

There are so many things you probably have read about the second Sacred Outcry album. Everything is true. All of them and more, because there are not many words to describe the Towers of Gold. This is an album that every hyperbole written about it can be true and in the future you will see it mentioned next to the classic ones of what we call Power Metal. Yes, when I say "classic ones" I mean the ones that instantly come to your mind. A glorious album with a divine voice, riffs after riffs, transcending acoustic guitars, intriguing basslines, solid drumming and a cinematic structure with twists and a colourful orchestration that transforms the dramatic concept to a godly opera-like storytelling. Each song can be a web of god-like moments like the Warlordian part at "City of Stone" that guards William's majestic lyricism. With every listen, secrets will be revealed to the listener and if you dive deep in the concept and the music you will enter a realm of an impeccable enlightenment. Mastermind George Apalodimas is pushing the power metal songwriting to the sky and this is one of the rare cases that you listen to a divine album, knowing there is no limit for the future, expecting the unexpected.

- "Kick ass songwriting, musicianship, and production. Epic atmosphere and great balance of variety, dynamics, and cohesiveness throughout every song. Personal favorite track: 'The Sweet Wine of Betrayal'" - Parker Halub (Wings of Steel)

- "Towers of Gold is that rare combination of being both fun and interesting to listen to. Album of the year for me!" - Darin Wall (Greyhawk, Glyph)

"The songwriting intelligence of George Apalodimas leads us to an apocalyptic power metal album." - Mars Triumph (Triumpher)

Check also:

PROTEAN SHIELD - Protean Shield: Guitars, riffs, escapism, epic stories, true passion, guitars, solos and riffs. Elite metal for the few.

- "The best bass parts I've heard in a very long while could only be one-up'ed by the spectacular performance on the guitars. Outstanding songwriting, some of the best lyrics the genre has to offer and a complete - in equal parts noble and savage - journey that I hold very dear." - George Apalodimas (Sacred Outcry)

WINGS OF STEEL - Gates of Twilight:
Now, that's an undeniable album that can catch the attention of everyone who loves heavy metal. Based in Los Angeles and built around singer extraordinaire Leo Unnermark and the talents of guitarist Parker Halub, Wings of Steel have a star quality you meet very rarely in a new and/or underground metal band, while at the same time they have everything needed to be the next big thing. The disadvantage that some people have brought upfront has nothing to do with the (top notch) musicianship, the songwriting and the performance but the direction of the band that is balanced between the US metal style like the early years of Crimson Glory, Queensrÿche and Jacobs Dream, and the more melodic approach that is closer to what we call '80s hair metal. If they had more songs like "Fall in Line" and less ballads, that would have been the masterpiece of 2023. Still though, this is one of the year's highlights you should not miss!

- "For me Wings of Steel is one of the hottest new bands around, and I can't wait to see how many great things will come from them. Parker's guitarwork is phenomenal (one of my 2 favourites this year) and I'm pretty sure Leo came to the 2020's on a time machine, because his vocals can only be compared to some of the legends from the 80s. Flawless, diverse songwriting with a keen sense of melody, and a voice to die for." - George Apalodimas (Sacred Outcry)


+ 1

DIAMONDS HADDER - Beyond the Breakers

We don't add to the year lists albums that are available only digitally, but with the physical formats coming out in 2024, John Evermore's Diamonds Hadder is one of the most emotional, unique and original albums you can listen to in 2023. A few might disagree due to the voice similarities with Ronnie James Dio, but no person with actual ears and heart can disagree with its passion. Coming from Los Angeles and travelling through mountains, dreams and visions, Diamonds Hadder can break the borders of normality with their soulful heavy metal. Follow this website.

Best demo of 2023:
TALES OF MEDUSA - The Titan Sun: Once there is new Tales of Medusa music, we need to make a caregory to include it. This is something special, true and passionate; one of the most original metal bands ever. With an attitude beyond trends and any hype, focused only on heavy metal and how to create it from the heart and the soul.

Best EP of 2023:
SAVAGE OATH - Savage Oath: With just two songs, an underground metal dream team lays the foundation for what we will praise in the future.

- "I can't recall hearing a more grand statement made in two songs than in this EP.  Thrilled to see what's next, as many are, and can't wait to see them live!" - Vidarr the Silent (Legendry)

Best live album of 2023:
TRIUMPH OF DEATH - Resurrection of the Flesh: Tom G. Warrior resurrects Hellhammer but what we have here is not a slumb zombie, but rotten darkness itself.


What do we expect in 2024? The new studio albums of Saxon, Traveler, Judas Priest, Morgul Blade, Crypt Sermon, Triumpher, Crimson Glory, Savage Oath, and we're praying to Lord Iommi for new music by Eternal Champion, DoomSword, Domine, Sumerlands, Riot City, Atlantean Kodex, King Diamond and Mercyful Fate.

IMPORTANT: If you reached the end, I hope you enjoyed what you read, you agreed at some parts, disagreed on some others, it's OK, this is healthy. Crystal Logic blog has been in the forefront for more than a decade, influencing similar blogs and websites, but as you noticed, there weren't any posts for almost a year. It has been a year full of work but also a year building a different environment where Crystal Logic will be evolved to a website, leaving the "blogspot" status. With many articles and interviews' parts spread and reposted by a few of the bigger media worldwide (from Bravewords and Blabbermouth, even Eddie Trunk), it was obvious that Crystal Logic can leave the "blogspot" status. Having almost half a million views in the last few years' articles we can make it bigger. But it will also be deeper, with more lengthy and detailed features and interviews. That will happen soon and we will continue from that point. I am sure you're gonna love it and there is going to be a lot of food for thought, provoking and out-of-the-box articles, interviews and stories you haven't heard before.

Andreas Andreou


Δευτέρα 19 Δεκεμβρίου 2022


2022 was just like the previous year: It had countless albums! Everything is easier and everyone can record an album easier. It is easy to release it also, even if many of them sell just a few hundred copies. Everyone can become a "recording artist" and the music industry has changed a lot over the past two decades. And keeps changing.  

Everything you will read below was written within a few hours or something. This is not filtered or worked within a bigger time frame of days just like other features, just the first things that come to mind.

The Top-20 list was already completed in late November since it was asked from Metal Hammer magazine in Greece (where I am also a scribe) but let me add one short comment: No one really cares of what's added in place 18 or 19. In this list or any other list. It's all about what's in and what's not, but this also can be somehow "wrong". You know why? Because almost everything that's from 10 to 20, might change in a few years and one could add something that didn't make it to the list. For example, on a second thought, I really like a lot SAVAGE MASTER's Those Who Hunt at Night and I should add it, while the song "The Pilgrimage" from SAXON's Carpe Diem is better than most of the songs in any 10 to 20 albums of that list. Go figure...

However, the Top-5 albums on that list, are really TOP-5, 9/10 albums, with the first two ones (sharing the TOP spot) being future classics, possibly 10/10 albums. These are the best of the best, albums that we will mention many times in the future, albums that will take place in future "best of" lists.

Among the rest (most of them 8/10 albums) there are albums I really enjoyed, albums I listened to countless times, albums that I am going to listen to for a long time in the future too, and of course I bought all of the albums in that Top-20 list, plus the majority of the rest that are mentioned.

Let's go to Crystal Logic's Top-20 (plus many more you should check also!)

written by Andreas Andreou

20. FRIENDS OF HELL - Friends of Hell

Looks like a dream team including Master Tas and Albert Witchfinder. The debut release of the international group, named after the classic WITCHFINDER GENERAL album, is traditional Sabbathian doom with one of the most iconic doom metal figures on vocals, that will attract fans of early CATHEDRAL, doom-y NWOBHM and PENTAGRAM.

19. ACHELOUS - The Icewind Chronicles

From the cold winds of Olympus to the flames of war, the Mediterranean epic heavy metal of ACHELOUS is praised by the underground metal hordes.

18. MIRROR - The Day Bastard Leaders Die

Master Tas strikes again with a grower that will be appreciated more in the future. MIRROR's third album is their most "metal" one, including killer songs such as "Souls of Megiddo", meeting also Arthur Rizk's approval of a great album.

Check  also: CLARENT BLADE Return Into Forever : That's a special case that starts with the best epic metal song of 2022 most people won't listen to! It's probably because of the vocals and I can't blame them for that but the songwriting here is ace. This is something that can be huge. Remember the name.

17. SAKIS TOLIS - Among the Fires of Hell

During the covid months and lockdown days, Sakis Tolis of ROTTING CHRIST wrote an album that brings in mind late '90s vibes of his main band.

16. WHITE WARD - False Light

When multi-instrumentalist, composer and guest musician in False Light Mykola Lebed was asked to describe the art of WHITE WARD in his own words, the reply was:

"I would describe it with a picture: it is like you are strolling through the woods in the mountains while the storm is becoming more intense and harsher. But all this happens inside of you. The themes of their lyrics are resonating with me very much. It can be a song about personal feelings, about the grace of nature, or also about Kateryna Handziuk – the activist from Kherson - who was killed by an acid attack."

WHITE WARD is definitely one of the most innovative bands in the wider field of black metal, mixing experimental black metal, blackgaze and dark jazz.

15. SONJA - Loud Arriver

Often mentioned as "sounds like" UNTO OTHERS (former IDLE HANDS), this is actually a zero-fucks-given heavy metal album with an all-around-mentallity filled with different moods. Strong candidate for best debut album of 2022.

Check also: SANHEDRIN Lights On


14. KONQUEST - Time and Tyranny

In the debut album they sounded like modern day HEAVY LOAD but now they managed to add a strong MAIDEN's somewhere-in-time guitar sound. Just listen to the majesty of "The Light that Fades Again". A beautiful and a feel-good album!

13. GARGANTUAN BLADE - Gargantuan Blade


12. BLOOD TYRANT - Codex Cruor

The blackest and truest black metal album of 2022. The spirit of black metal dwells in those songs. Just for the few; the brave ones, the black souls.

11. CAULDRON BORN - Cold Steel for the Necromancer

Master Bentley returned after many years with new CAULDRON BORN music and maestro's sword is still sharp. Poserkiller, true US technical power metal.

10. DAEVA - Through Sheer Will and Black Magic

Evil and blackened thrash metal with CRYPT SERMON members can't go wrong.

9. LUZIFER - Iron Shackles

"Free yourself from iron shackles!" is one of the most addictive lines and songs of 2022! The German lads sound like '80s Swedish kids that moved to England.

8. PHANTOM SPELL - Immortal's Requiem

SEVEN SISTERS' Kyle McNeill heart is all over an emotional album coming from the depths of his soul. Beautiful melodies, a warm sound, excellent songwriting.

Check also: IRON GRIFFIN Storm of Magic

7. OZZY OSBOURNE - Patient Number 9

Teaming again with old friends, Ozzy recorded a few of the most emotional and best songs of the year, including "No Escape from Now" (with Lord Iommi), "One of Those Days" (with Eric Clapton) and "Mr. Darkness" (with Zakk Wylde).

Check also: A-Z A-Z, TONY MARTIN Thorns, SCORPIONS Rock Believer

6. GRAVESPAWN - Scourge of the Realm

Battles, swords, demons in the mist, the impaler and blood. The best black metal album of 2022 is probably the epic black metal release you ignored and need to listen to. Perhaps you think you listened to better black metal albums this year but you definitely didn't listen to more epic ones or more suitable guitar solos in a black metal album.

Check also: CIRKELN A Song To Sorrow, KARMANJAKA Gates of Muspel

5. THE TEMPLE - Of Solitude Triumphant

The DOOM METAL MANIFESTO of 2022. The purest, the truest, the saddest, the deeper. True Doom Metal.

4. SMITH & SWANSON - Smith & Swanson

Crystal Logic admires Phil Swanson. The iconic performer is teaming up again with his old friend from SEAMOUNT, Tim Schmidt, and they deliver a heavy Sabbathian doom metal debut album that obeys the RIFF. The most riff-driven album of 2022, a favourite one that will be revisited forever.

Check also: EARLY MOODS Early Moods, ERIC WAGNER In the Lonely Light of Mourning

3. DOOMOCRACY - Unorthodox

This is art. A deep concept and music worked in every detail. Technical power doom metal, not your REVEREND BIZARRE style of doom, but the one that's written and performed just by a few. Simply because just a few can record this kind of music that has an epic doom metal heart but it's not regressive and allows elements from US power and progressive metal filtered by the band's character creating something new. Do you want name dropping? SOLITUDE AETURNUS, MEMORY GARDEN, MEMENTO MORI, CONCEPTION playing doom, even SAVIOUR MACHINE vibes.

Check also: DISHARMONY Gods Made of Flesh

1. SUMERLANDS - Dreamkiller

There is a lengthy feature written for this album already. This is a classic, best album of 2022 part one.

Check also: SPLINTERED THRONE The Greater Good of Man

1. RIOT CITY - Electric Elite

Best album of 2022 part two. Everything is on fire here. The blood of a legendary classic metal album runs in Electric Elite. One of the most praised classic heavy metal albums of 2022, from both underground and mainstream media, a speed metal mayhem, an electric power metal vengeance. Many claim to be the next big thing but don't get fooled by false prophets. This is the real thing.

Check also: EVIL INVADERS Shattering Reflection

More heavy, trad, epic, doom, power and a bit of thrash metal too: AFTERIMAGE II: Beyond Horizons Infinite, AMKEN Passive Aggression, CANDLEMASS Sweet Evil Sun, FER DE LANCE The Hyperborean, FLAMES Resurgence, FALL OF THE IDOLS Contradictory Notes, INCURSION Blinding Force, INFINITY DREAM Memories, KNIGHT & GALLOW For Honor and Bloodshed, KREATOR Hate Uber Alles, MEGADETH The Sick, the Dying... and the Dead!, MIDAS Midas, MYTHOSPHERE Pathological, QUEENSRYCHE Digital Noise Alliance, SACRAL NIGHT Le Diademe d'Argent, SAVAGE MASTER Those Who Hunt at Night, SAXON Carpe Diem, SORDID BLADE Every Battle Has Its Glory, SPELL Tragic Magic, SPITFIRE Denial To Fall, STRAY GODS Storm the Walls, SWORD III, VALIDOR Full Triumphed, WITCHSLAYER Witchslayer, WOLF Shadowland

More black metal: AARA Triade II: Hemera, DOLDRUM The Knocking, or the Story of the Sound That Preceded Their Disappearance, GAEREA Mirage, GEVURAH Gehinnom, GLEMSEL Forfader, MIST OF MISERY Severance, NEGATIVE PLANE The Pact..., WATAIN The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain

Τρίτη 11 Οκτωβρίου 2022

Queensrÿche's "Rage for Order": Vampiric obsessions, digital heartbeats and chemical youth - The Order behind the Rage.

RAGE is a word with an exact and specific meaning, while ORDER can be something more. And when ORDER is combined with other words, it can be even more. While there's no "Rage for Order" song in the same-titled album, this title has a deeper meaning, so let's see what lies beyond the words. Let's find out the questions that you need to answer.

Written by Andreas Andreou


Rage for Order was recorded and mixed by Neil Kernon under the band's full control since they weren't happy with the label's treatment to the previous album The Warning, where the record label changed the sequence of the songs and remixed it, releasing what we know, without Queensrÿche's approval.

Most of the songs and ideas of Rage for Order were written before Geoff Tate (vocals, keyboards), Chris DeGarmo (guitars), Michael Wilton (guitars), Eddie Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums) enter the studio after the summer of 1985 and the end of the tour supporting The Warning during 1984 - 1985, for more than 100 shows, mainly in the United States but also in the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and Japan, among a few others.

The world was a cold place. The world was changing and every country was something totally different from another. Everything was very different in the pre-internet world and the digital era, and the members of Queensrÿche wrote stories of the future echoing their present but always looking to the sky. They felt the eyes watching them. The digital and robotic feeling of the production is giving a futuristic vibe to the album while the coldness of the world is all over the sound of Rage for Order despite its emotional depth. The lyrics were always enigmatic and the songs seemed to be linked even if there wasn't a specific and clear concept - story behind it. Or there was?

The previous world tour was an eye-opening experience. Interacting with different people and cultures around the world, visiting the night clubs of central Europe, sleeping in London and walking through its dark and misty alleys, travelling with bullet trains in Japan and watching neon lights making the night a plasmatic day.

Queensrÿche realized very quickly that they weren't just five kids from Seattle starting living their dream; they made the dreams part of their art. But dreams are always uncertain. They echo fears, deep and unknown parts of ourselves and the world, things that can happen and things that would never be. Dreams are watching you. Until you will stop dreaming.

Starting with a relationship and an obsession, "Walk in the Shadows" introduces vampirism, the night and the shadows. "I can cure the hunger that burns in your heart, just come to me, I'll take you home. We'll walk in the shadows, by day we'll live in a dream."

Can love suck your lifeblood? Queensrÿche's approach definitely can since their view on relationships (and love) had the shades of obsession, and intense but short-lived passions. In the end, those relationships left scars you see but don't clearly remember (or don't want to remember) and memories remembered like dreams.

"Our secret's safe for one more night but when the morning comes remember, I'll be with you" [...] "By day we'll live in a dream. We'll walk in the shadows. One day you'll be with me, if only you believe..."

While "Walk in the Shadows" involves an obsession in a relationship and the observation of one you watch from the shadows, "I Dream in Infrared" continues with a relationship and the dark vibe there is in these songs, starting with, "As you awoke this morning and opened up your eyes, did you notice the tear-stains lining your face were mine", as a continuation of the vampiric relationship. Can this song be a different interpretation of someone who deep within doesn't know, or remember, who he is? Someone who can't dream anymore and gave all of his secrets to his obsession "but the time is right" to leave one night.

"The Whisper" seems to continue the previous themes and while the fear of hunger is always there, the observation is stronger and someone or something else is entering and watching. Stalking for innocent victims, a new master who whispers to new slaves that should forget what they've learned in the past. But therein, you don't listen only to whispers and voices, there are also "screams from a new love"...

Choosing Dalbello's "Gonna Get Close to You" to appear on the album as a cover song, one can't think of anything else than just how suitable are the song's lyrics with the rest of Rage for Order, while the video for this song also works nicely and the ending is open to different interpretations. Originally sung by Lisa Dal Bello (woman), then sung by Geoff Tate (man) it also means that the roles can change. And are really things just "as plain as black and white"?

"The Killing Words" sound like a song with a very clear meaning about the end of a relationship, a personal song that's probably based in a real relationship (?) There's a strong pain in this song, so one wonders about the performer's mentality connecting with such songs after years, revisiting them as memories or dreams. "Do you remember the dreams, the nightmares we shared?"

Leaving behind a song that looks very personal and emotional, "Surgical Strike" is the opposite, describing fighters "programmed" and "taught not to feel". The personal feelings, the personal ORDER now becomes something universal. It's the point where the individual forces itself to view the obsessions and the scars of the past as a memory; a dream. It's the point where if it can happen to one, it can happen to all. We can reach the point as a human race where the emotions and feelings can be removed by someone. Who that someone could be? And what's the reason for that? A cause? An act of slavery? "At master control, assessment will not be by humans."

"Neue Regel" is the German for "New Rule", and it certainly didn't come randomly. The word ORDER appears again after "it leads us to order" from "Surgical Strike", to "order of a new kind". What's this ORDER? It is not personal anymore and now it becomes political and technological. The kind of ORDER that can end all dreams and hopes while there appears "a distant wanderer". "It's time for the world to hear, Neue Regel is here."
"Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)" sounds like a rebellion to everything that proceeded, still though it needs to be "chemical". However, is this rebellion against technocracy and technological ORDER? Or is it the rebellion of the technological religion? With "the media mouth open wide", humankind can be controlled and enslaved in a digital prison.

What happened in "London", stayed in London. What happened on November 4th? Can hunger be really cured? "You're just a memory now, like all the ones before" [...] They cry remember, blood-red streaks on velvet throats at night".

In "Screaming in Digital" one can say that artificial intelligence and humans have become somehow equal in controlled emotions, controlled freedom, and controlled dreams. But who's the father and who's the good boy?  

And finally, "I Will Remember" serves as a postscript where all memories, dreams and emotions seem that in the end are watched by "distant eyes" (satellites?). What's the star that came that night and the thought that feels the mind? Do we really know what we've done? Do we really live or our lives are within a screen?

Are those vampires (not humans) who walk in the shadows and see in infrared the ones who left every feeling and dream behind becoming the new kind? Or the new kind is the programmed human race? What are really the machines that can steal each other's dreams?

Human evolution does not mean leading by degrees to something superior or going to something better. It means something different. And technology evolves alongside humankind but in the end, human evolution is all about survival while technological revolution can become a revelation.

"Freedom belongs only to those without video screens for eyes and mouth."

Released on June 20th of 1986, Rage for Order still looks relevant, enigmatic and futuristic, even decades later.


Πέμπτη 15 Σεπτεμβρίου 2022

When passion, talent and shining souls unite: A study on Sumerlands' "Dreamkiller".

What do most musicians think nowadays when they're recording new music? There are many answers but let's put this aside for now. What do I believe Sumerlands had in mind when they recorded Dreamkiller? "Let's have a record that will stand the test of time". And so they did.

written by Andreas Andreou

You can go as far back as possible (literally many decades) and still can find things and techniques that inspired Dreamkiller's sound. Sometimes, the basic and old recording techniques can be the most important base to build up your sound. The automatic double tracking effect and chorused guitar signal, the synthesizer technology, even walking around the studio and the recording place in order to find the best sounding spot to place the drumkit and the mics. Everything is important, including of course the equipment and how you can use it. Once you have the songs, you always need the proper sound. The recordings also need air and space, they need to breathe, and modern recording technologies should not drink the blood of your art. Just like in life, there has to be a balance.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Arthur Rizk (with additional engineering by John Powers), Rizk, the most important and talented new producer out there nowadays, produced an album that will stand the test of time in all terms. While having a skillful usage of textural sound design, Arthur is also based in a production and recording style rooted in all-things classic (rock, hard rock, heavy metal) techniques, adding a strong work ethic and discipline. Every idea and opinion is welcome and every reference can be used. Old and new methods, doubling vocals, bass coming from everywhere, synths, lots of guitar riffs (Fender guitars only!) and melodies. Nothing is weird and crazy, everything can be placed somewhere for a reason. A couple of years ago, this site hosted a feature about the future that belongs to the brave with Arthur Rizk on top of that list, foreseeing somehow the future. Brendan Radigan was also there.

When the band was working on Dreamkiller's songs, the news of the passing of best friends Riley Gale (Power Trip) and Wade Allison (Iron Age) within a few days, broke Arthur Rizk into pieces, just like all of their common friends and circle. That happened when Eternal Champion's Ravening Iron album was already completed and scheduled for release but for a while, Dreamkiller was put on hold after Riley's and Wade's passing in late August and early September of 2020. The album’s songwriting was probably already completed by the summer of 2020, but upon listening to Dreamkiller now, you can feel a strong vibe of melancholy on it.

Eternal Champion's highly acclaimed second album Ravening Iron was released on November 6th of 2020 and Sumerlands' sophomore album took its final shape, sharing a few common members with Eternal Champion besides Arthur. The recording line-up of Dreamkiller is Brendan Radigan (vocals), Justin DeTore (drums), John Powers (guitar), Brad Raub (bass) and Arthur Rizk (guitar/synth).

Brendan Radigan replaced previous (legendary) singer Phil Swanson and just like Phil, Brendan is also a veteran underground singer with a strong background and a notable history of many different bands including Magic Circle, the cult heroes Stone Dagger, the iconic Pagan Altar, Battle Ruins and more hardcore bands, often with Justin DeTore who is also known for his hardcore background and also drumming for traditional doom metal outfit Solemn Lament, fronted by... Phil Swanson! Both bassist Brad Raub and guitarist John Powers are also part of Eternal Champion.

Sumerlands' debut album of 2016 was an artistic success, one of the best albums of the 2010s according to the author and you can read a brief review written for Iron Fist UK upon its release HERE.

Six years is a long time though... September 16th of 2022 is the street date of Dreamkiller and the 35-minute album that will be released by Relapse Records in various formats is a strong candidate for Album of the Year. But let's leave aside for a while the "Album of the Year" tag. Forget also the "Top" lists you're going to see (or not going to see) including (or not including) Dreamkiller. Just listen, feel and experience that album, because it's happening NOW. This is a future classic and you don't want to ignore it NOW.

Just like 2016's debut album, the opening track "Twilight Points The Way" also starts with a guitar solo part following the main riff and when the vocals are coming in, it sounds different and yet familiar. The guitar solo part after the bridge of "fading shadows covered by the light / such memories lost from sight" sounds like a bittersweet memory of names time forgot but you're trying to preserve.

"Heavens Above" is the first song of the album that was presented in public, part of the Ageless Life single that was also released as a limited edition cassette tape by Sword Worship, including the Fleetwood Mac cover of "I'm So Afraid". The vibes from the debut album are stronger here and the first song we listened to from Dreamkiller sounds like the perfect link and continuation to 2016 while the vocal melody also brings in mind the way Phil Swanson handles his vocal lines and words. Starting also with a beautiful guitar solo part when the chorus hits, you listen to this guitar riff that brings in mind Jake E. Lee during his Ozzy Osbourne Ultimate Sin era, something that is an important inspiration for the album and Sumerlands so far.

In the third track and the first video clip of the Philly band, "Dreamkiller", they deliver an up-tempo track with a mid-section of classical Johann-Sebastian-Bach-inspired guitar harmonies, an Yngwie-Malmsteen-vibe and Ozzy-fuelled vocals. "Night Ride" that follows has the most suitable title for its music. A perfect night ride song in an empty highway with the stars above you, with a rhythmic background that could be the soundtrack of Snake Plissken's last night-time walk before escaping from New York. Brad Raub's bass line is the heartbeat of little gain and many losses, the pulse of an uncertain tomorrow. It's extraordinary how perfectly each instrument and performance is placed within the songs in order to give life to the songs and create images for every listener. Not everyone will "see" the same things but everyone can feel the life of the songs.

"Edge of the Knife" is one of the album's highlights with the Jake E. Lee riffing style (is "Bark at the Moon" the greatest heavy metal riff?) meeting George Lynch of the '80s Dokken era while they're listening to In Solitude's "To Her Darkness" after a drunken '80s Scorpions night party. Another highlight that links Dreamkiller with the debut album and besides the massive chorus power, we need to mention the incredible work Rizk and Powers have done in the guitar solo parts. Each and every song has the most suitable and inspired solo (and there are many of them!) in this masterful guitar-driven album.

"Force of a Storm" starts with synths followed by a specific aura and style that bring an AOR and '80s hard rock touch to its metal. Once again, we have a thick and rich sound, and it’s the time to praise Brendan's beautiful vocal lines and phrasing. He is also the lyricist and just like the best ones out there, he finds the exact words to fit the vocal lines and the music, something that's very important but sometimes we're missing it from many new bands. You don't have to scream all the time, cut or pull out the words... Just find the suitable ones, the words that will also be a part of the music and Brendan shines in this part. But it's not just that, beneath the lyrics of Dreamkiller, you can feel a wider idea of hopes and dreams that in the end are crushed by reality and the fact that nothing lasts forever. That song is huge. A hit that should be included in modern series like Stranger Things or Cobra Kai, the perfect soundtrack watching Maverick touching the sky, or Lieutenant Cobretti hunting villains in the streets of Los Angeles.

"The Savior's Lie" is another example that Sumerlands can add a variety in their songwriting without losing their cohesion. In that specific song I get a Ritchie Blackmore's '70s Rainbow era touch, an imaginary Perez-and-Edling jamming, and some mid '80s Tony Iommi's Seventh Star meets Eternal Idol vibes. And while I can hear the word "badlands" in the lyrics, an instant thought of Ray Gillen comes to mind, adding another connection to Jake E. Lee and a possible influence for Brendan's performance in Dreamkiller.

Closing track "Death to Mercy" is definitely one of the best songs here with its Spector Sound. That song is huge! And there is also the line, "Warlords have gathered their soldiers..." and after a while at 2:40 you can listen to a Warlord / Lordian Guard inspired passage that's Arthur's tribute to William J Tsamis, bringing shivers to those who feel it. And you can feel the songs once you will close your eyes. You will feel them touching your soul, and you will feel them moving your body. This albums moves you!

I don’t drive, so I need around an hour to get from my home to the headquarters of No Remorse Records where I am working. I get on a bus and then I change to the urban rail transport until I reach the center of Athens. And when I return home, I also need another hour. I have the album since a few weeks, so I uploaded it on my phone and I am listening to Dreamkiller four times every day for almost a month. Two times until I reach my work, and two times until I’ll return home. The perfect album to start your day and the perfect album to finish a hard-working day. This album moves me. Physically too. It makes you shake your body. It really does. And people watching me with the headphones, moving my feet and hips but I don't care. But most important though, this album is already part of my DNA and I can say that for just a handful of records released the last decade, including Sumerlands’ debut, Agatus’ The Eternalist and the albums of Eternal Champion, Atlantean Kodex and Crypt Sermon.

Dreamkiller has its own character. It's the songs but it's also the players, the sound and the production. It's not like all those same-sounding albums from bands coming even from different genres but still sound alike, with the same drumsound and the same settings that are digitally drowning.

The performance of each member is ace! It's like a team of players where everyone is pushing and pulling each other to bring their best out. They know what they can do, they know that they can do it well, but they're not stopping there. They evolve, they're on the top of their game and they're getting even better.

Finally, you can have a great singer or a virtuoso guitarist but if you don't have the songs, you have nothing. Sumerlands have the songs and Dreamkiller is an album with a monumental songwriting. Your band is not just as good as your singer or guitarist or bassist or drummer is. Your band is as good as your songs are and how good are the performers for those specific songs. And Sumerlands, is one of the best, modern heavy metal bands, releasing one of the best albums one can listen to over the last many years. And the years that will follow.

Those dreams are not killed. Listen to this album. Now.  

Photos by Jaclyn Woollard.

Δευτέρα 18 Ιουλίου 2022

Iron Maiden, the legacy of flares, Greek c#unts, rusty metal and the rebel youth.

 written by Andreas Andreou

"Α c#nt with a f#cking flare. I’m gonna sing, you f#cking cocksucker, you Greek c#nt. I’m gonna f#cking sing. F#ck you".

I am a huge fan of The Boys series and the third season that recently ended was awesome. Billy Butcher (portrayed by actor Karl Urban) is a favourite character in the sick and bloody, adult-only TV series, using strong language. The above mentioned quote could be easily one of his, if he was a singer in the show. But he is not, he is just a guy who wants to kill the supes.

That quote though came from Bruce Dickinson in the recent Iron Maiden show at Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece (July 16, 2022). A huge football stadium with thousands of people: Heavy Metal fans, Iron Maiden fans, and people who went there just for "check-in", like thousands more in big shows no matter what the music genre is. I've done it also when Eros Ramazzotti played in Patra, Greece, in 2006. I don't even know more than 5 of his songs, I just happened to be there, and I don't really remember why and how, probably someone invited me or I was just curious? In the recent Iron Maiden show, there were also a few thousand "Eros Ramazzotti" fans, just like me, the "Iron Maiden" fan that happened to be in one of his shows. That's what's happening in huge stadium shows with brand bands and artists, no matter what the music genre is. Name them Iron Maiden, Metallica, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd, Scorpions, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Guns N’ Roses, Adele, The Rolling Stones, whatever. Some people just want to be "there", it's not just a concert, it’s a show for everyone.

So, why did Bruce Dickinson shouted and cursed someone in the Greek audience? There were flares. Lots of them. Just like a few times in open shows, no matter what the music genre is, not only in Greece but everywhere, where the show organizers and their security don't do properly their job, and don't check the visitors and the paying customers. I've been in shows and festivals in Greece, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, and I've seen it sometimes here and there. I’ve been a visitor, a guest with a backstage pass, or I’ve worked in a few of them, so I guess I know it from different views. It’s not like Greece where things are more (let’s say) "loose" but I’ve seen insane things elsewhere too in Europe. They’re not just as "often" as in Greece. However, I know many people from aboard that sometimes like this "looseness" and the trip, and really enjoy local shows and festivals. But that’s another side of the coin.

There's a history with Bruce Dickinson in Greece and we know he doesn't like flares, even if the official Iron Maiden social media posted photos with flares (I guess they look impressive in photos, right?) and you can also see flares in their famous "Fear of the Dark" official live video from Donington Park, even in the same song at the En Vivo! DVD (2012), meaning it can happen anywhere, anytime, even in official Iron Maiden releases, no matter how they try to avoid these images. Sometimes, they’re just there and you can’t hide them all the time. That's not something new, that's not happening only in Greece, it can happen anywhere, where the show organizers and their security don't do properly their job. If security does properly the job, flares won't enter the venue, the arena or the stadium, no matter where it's located in the world. Well, it appears that in Greece the security is not as good as elsewhere or the Greeks have found adventurous ways to hide stuff. 

One day before (July 15, 2022) Judas Priest also performed in another location in Release Athens Festival and during "Painkiller" there were flares everywhere while Rob Halford was singing his heart out, never complained, enjoyed every minute and you could see the look of happiness and accomplishment in his face. He thanked us all and left the stage like a Metal God. If you're far away or watching a video, flares and smoke look really impressive, you can't deny that. If you're close, that could be dangerous, we all know that, too. But we also need to mention that the Release Athens Festival was nearly perfect and no one really complained. You can also find excellent gigs and festivals in Greece, just ask a few of the bands that have been here. Many of them love to be here.

If one will consider the Iron Maiden show as a fiasco (I don't, I was lucky to be in a good spot), you can blame Dickinson, you can blame the guys with the flares, but the most important thing one should blame is the lack of proper security and the organization that allowed everything within the stadium. It is funny to see people that during the economic crisis, managed to gather 80 and 90 EUR to see Iron Maiden, and they blame the kids with the flares ruining their evening. They see the tree but they missed the forest. Most of them couldn’t even see the stage because the ticket they bought didn’t match the position they paid, or the setting wasn’t good, people fainted because they were cramped in half of the stadium on the back while others were relaxed in the front, food and drinks were expensive, and security was there just not to allow people move from their area, and make sure they won’t bring beers from outside in the stadium. However, you could even bring guns within the stadium and no one would check you. But still, "the flares bothered Dickinson blah blah blah, he was right blah blah".

The Iron Maiden show of the Legacy of the Beast Tour 2022 was similar with the previous Legacy of the Beast Tour 2018. The difference is that they didn't perform "The Evil That Men Do", "The Wickerman", "For the Greater Good of God", "Where Eagles Dare" and "2 Minutes to Midnight", adding in their place "Blood Brothers" and three songs from the last studio album, Senjutsu. The 2022 setlist was: Senjutsu, Stratego, The Writing on the Wall, Revelations, Blood Brothers, Sign of the Cross, Flight of Icarus, Fear of the Dark, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden, The Trooper, The Clansman, Run to the Hills, Aces High.

The beginning of the show was impressive even if the opening song that was very well performed doesn't really work as a show opener. However, "The Writing on the Wall" sounded better than the album version something that Maiden have done in the past too, with songs such as "No More Lies". Adrian Smith always had a cooler-than-your-favourite-guitarist stage presence but that day he didn’t really had it, but let me tell you that a cool solo part in a song like "The Writing on the Wall" - even if that song is one of the many non-top Maiden cuts - sounds better than the best songs of many other bands. When the three new songs ended, the "legacy" part took over and we can't really complain about the performance and the sound quality, they're professionals and know what to do, it’s an entertainment company now, while every move on stage is prepared beforehand. A few songs were played slower in favor of both frontman Bruce Dickinson (aged 63) and drummer Nicko McBrain (aged 70) but it didn't really matter because they all delivered and Dickinson is an iconic frontman, one of the greatest ever. One might say that McBrain lost a few drum fills or he just make a couple of songs simpler but I don’t think many people noticed that. The setlist lacked of faster and shorter songs with Maiden choosing a few longer numbers of their huge catalogue but it really worked with the show and the changing of the stage sets. During "Flight of Icarus", one of the highlights of the night, Dickinson appeared with a flamethrower on stage and flares also appeared in the audience. When "Fear of the Dark" followed, the whole stadium was singing and more flares appeared here and there. And when "The Number of the Beast" started, Dickinson also started," What did I see? Α cunt with a fucking flare. I’m gonna sing, you fucking cocksucker, you Greek cunt. I’m gonna fucking sing. Fuck you", leaving the stage for a while and the rest of the band tried to keep going. Of course the song was fucked up, Dickinson wasn't synchronized and kept doing gestures against that "Greek cunt". From that point on, the rest of the show was colder. Songs like "The Trooper" and "Aces High" are Everest-high classics but everything sounded cold, at least where I was standing with my friends. Dickinson kept doing a few gestures against "Greek cunts" during the rest of the set and if you were closer you could understand by the look of his face something that doesn’t fit in his status but all of the band members kept going with professionalism, even if there was a lack of passion on stage during the last songs.

So, "Greek cunt"? Imagine being in an open air festival in Germany or USA, and there is a random British band (not Iron Maiden), the security doesn't do very well the job they're paid for and a few flares will appear from hot-bloodied fans, and then, this random British band starts cursing, "you fucking German cunt", "American fucking cunt, fuck you" and all those offensive words we were using sometimes as teenagers just for the shock value. How would it sound if it wasn't Iron Maiden? Does it make any difference because it is Iron Maiden? I've seen that it does from many fanboys that don't bother but what would happen if there was any kind of riot from Greek fans that would be furious? I’ve seen people throwing bottles on stage because they didn’t like the band, imagine a professional, paying artist, starting cursing you. Can you imagine Maiden playing in Israel and Dickinson yelling "Israeli cunt"?

But there is something more with the "cunt" word and that's another issue most people seem to ignore or don’t know. This is not like "malakas" or "asshole". When it comes from a British, it is one of the most offensive and hateful words in the English language. It is pure hate, besides the strong misogynistic overtone. Words like "fuck" or "fucker" have lost their shock value while the "cunt" word is so hateful, offensive and nearly censored, that people in England who will use it in their business environment can lose their job and can be sued. This is not just an offensive word, this is more. Airbourne supported Maiden that day and singer/guitarist Joel O'Keeffe kept saying "malakas" but no one bothered because this is not about political correctness, this is about pure hate coming from the mouth of Bruce Dickinson.

You know what, anything that I am going to write here, anything negative that a random guy from Athens, Berlin, Chicago, London, wherever, will write about Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and all those legends that shaped the music we're listening to, won't make any difference, won't bother them, we're just dust in the wind that will disappear after a while. Even if we're right. Their impact and history will remain and that's something they achieved but we're also a small, small part of it, with the support over the years, the money we're spending in live shows, the albums and the merchandise. Every time I am seeing Mantas of Venom live, he always mentions on stage that he is there because of us, the fans. Ronnie James Dio was always kind with the fans no matter what could happen below the stage and there are countless more examples. I think that the bands should not forget about it but that’s just my opinion.

A few weeks ago, there was a Greek hip hop artist using the stage name Lex (ΛΕΞ in Greek) where he played a stadium show and gathered 20.000 young people. That show had a cheap ticket of 8 EUR or something, while at the same period there was the show of Manowar that gathered an estimated number of 10.000 people, having of course a much more expensive ticket of 50 EUR. It was then, where another issue came up in the Greek social media comparing the two different music worlds and the audience. That was a wrong comparison since it was two events with a huge ticket price difference and two completely different worlds. That issue though, is not only about Greece but it is worldwide but let's see behind that contrast because it is very important and it is giving many specific answers combined with the Iron Maiden show.

During that contrast between Lex and Manowar, hip hop & rap music with heavy metal, I've read from many Greek metal fans comments like "watch all those young kids and teenagers at the Lex gig - in the heavy metal scene we're just old guys". Those boomers that were complaining about the lack of young people in the metal scene, and compared a Manowar show of an audience mainly 35+ years old with that hip hop event, probably didn't want to notice that in the 20.000 young people event, there were countless flares that turned the night to day. Those old metal fans that justified those kids because they're having fun are the same ones who today are screaming about the "Greek cunt" who brought a flare in a Maiden stadium show of 40.000 people and it bothered Bruce Dickinson. Is this confusion or hypocrisy? Truth to be told, those kids probably don’t give a fuck about you but if you want to complain about the lack of young people in metal live shows, maybe you should just look in the mirror. We’ll go to that later, for now here is a photo of that Lex show and its flaming youth.

Heavy metal has lost the element of danger, the fun, and the reaction against whatever the young people want. The young "Greek cunt" paid 80 and 90 EUR to watch Iron Maiden, a heavy metal band and will headbang, push, yell, enter a mosh pit, do a crowd surfing, even light up a flare in a very rare occasion. Then, the young "Greek cunt" will have an old dude pointing a finger to him because the young kid does his revolution and having fun, just like everyone did a few decades ago when they were below the stage of Black Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, Motörhead and countless more. When shows had passion and it wasn't just dads sitting their ass on a soft chair, a venue corner or the balcony, complain if someone will go so close to them that will feel a touch...

Is it right to light up a flare in a concert show? I wouldn't do it, probably I never did it even when I was young. If someone does it next to me now, I will go to another place and if it bothers me I will let him know it and kindly ask him to stop. If he doesn't stop you never know how it will end. But I have no problem whatever will happen, nicely or badly. That's life.

Is it right for the artist to start cursing someone in the audience about a flare? I don't find it right but I definitely don't want it to affect the show I paid for. Also, the artist should expect a reply because it is always action-reaction. So, if the artist will do it, he should expect that probably it will be worst. That's life.

But never forget that it's not just the millionaire, professional singer and the "Greek cunt". If you want my humble opinion, it's all about the rules set by the organizer / promoter and the security paid to do a specific job. If you're paying a ticket to watch a specific show under certain rules and you don't follow them, it's the security's job to solve the problem. Of course it’s each individual’s responsibility as a human being to behave too but we’re not professional gig attenders and sometimes things can get out of hand. The professionals are on stage and the rest are working for the show (security included), so they should take care of such things.

Also, sometimes we tend to forget that this is heavy metal. We were also kids once and I have strong memories of great shows where I travelled many miles sleepless, I was yelling and screaming, and returned home with bruises. I don't regret, I don't forget, I don't want it to change, even if I am not doing it anymore. That's part of my youth and if it never happened to you, I am sorry, but in my opinion your relationship with Heavy Metal is blurry.

If all those things would bother the young Black Sabbath, the young Venom, the young Metallica, even the young Iron Maiden, we wouldn't be here, you wouldn't be here, you would be a Milli Vanilli fan. 


Do you want to know why you don't see many young kids in the heavy metal scene?

Because they're kids, and sometimes kids want to make their brief revolution against normality. You say yes, they say no. You say white, they say black. You say stop, they say fire! This is not bad, this is not a crime and you can't lock them. Unless you want them to be zombies with iPhones stucked in their hands. If Heavy Metal has become completely conservative, younger fans will find somewhere else to do their revolution, as they're doing with the recent example of Lex in Greece. Without promotion and without media, just the word of mouth. Goddamnit, I didn't know this Lex guy one month ago and suddenly he gathered 20.000 young kids in his concert! So there's a huge audience out there pointing the middle finger to dad-rockers and their dinosaur beliefs.

Because many of them can't be related with 60 and 70 year old guys running on a stage holding their breath, and having 40+ year old dudes below the stage pointing the finger to them so they will "behave" like they're in a Frank fuckin' Sinatra nightmare show.

Because many of the 40+ and 50 year old dudes keep saying "there are no good new metal bands". You can't have a new audience if there aren't new metal bands. Young people want to see young musicians too so they can relate to them; their generation. And THERE ARE excellent new metal bands but the boomer with the soft ass will never accept it because he is still living in the past. And as long as we keep saying that heavy metal will die once Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and all those legends will retire, that will happen for them too. And along with those legendary bands, the "old guard of fans" will also die and maybe then, maybe then, a young generation will be free from the boomer bullshit.

Because an "editor" in a magazine, website, whatever, will review a new band of 18-year old kids and see a photo of youngsters dressed up in leather and posing like their idols, playing whatever they want with passion, having a label supporting new blood, and that "editor" just writes whatever it takes just to project himself as a metal omniscient larger than the artists themselves. That is a failure. The boomer attitude that the "old guy" knows better and he can affect everyone's opinion. Bullshit. And that's coming from someone like me, who is 45 years old and works in the music industry.

Because metal music has been an expensive music nowadays. Records are getting expensive, live shows are sky-high expensive and young fans that don't have a work yet, can't keep asking their parents to give them 80 and 90 EUR to see Iron Maiden or 35 EUR to see Accept. They can go only to a few gigs and they can't really buy many albums.

I was not far from a company of high-school kids with flares in the Iron Maiden show. I saw them from distance having the fun of their life, like nothing else mattered. Time seemed to stop for them, they were yelling and smiling. I understand those who were annoyed and they have every right to be annoyed. But that image, for a while, it was a flame that sometimes is missing from life. And from Heavy Metal.

That was intended to be a Facebook post but a few paragraphs were expanded to a bigger feature of more than 3000 words (I did it again…), so it's added in the blog.

I can understand that a few people will disagree, that's fine and healthy, there's no problem with that. But if you believe that your opposite opinion is the correct one, the truth and the only truth, and everyone else is an idiot, then maybe you deserve a curse in a Bruce Dickinson way. Doesn't look nice, huh?

Edit: Meanwhile, a few days later in Germany...