Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016

Bobby Bevilacqua

This past year has been excellent for metal music. We saw a lot of great newcomers and debut albums, a return to form from the genre’s heavyweights, and a lot of fantastic releases covering many different types of metal music. For someone like myself, who just recently started exploring more of the genre, it’s been a ton of fun.

This is the first time that I’m doing a Best Album list, and I don’t think I could have picked a harder year to give it a shot. There were legitimately 25-30 albums that I was considering for the top 10 spots and they all deserve to be listen to. But this is my best attempt at narrowing it down to be what I consider the 10 best releases in metal music for 2016.

Honorable Mentionshardwired-album

Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct – A return to form from the legendary thrash metal band, which sees them return to what made them great. Tracks like “Moth Into Flame,” “Spit Out The Bone,” and “Hardwired” are some of the high points on the band’s best album in 28 years.

Hatebreed – The Concrete Confessional – Hatebreed has been around since 1994, perfecting their blend of hardcore and metal full of anger and aggression. The Concrete Confessional doesn’t necessarily do anything new, but it’s a really solid release full of some awesome songs. Continue reading

Metal Music, its misrepresentation in society and its impact on adolescents

Bobby Bevilacqua

metal-kid

In today’s society, music is everywhere. It’s in our cars, on the television, in movies, on the computer and on our phones. Needless to say, it’s a major part of the everyday American lifestyle. Since the days of Elvis Presley, there have been concerns about if the music, whether it be the content, image or the message effects society, particularly adolescents, teens and young adults. When Elvis Presley was gyrating his hips in the 50s, parents were worried that it was corrupting the youth. The same thing happened with the social revolution in the 1960s. But perhaps the most criticized type of music of all time is Rock and Roll, first popping up in the 1950s and exploding in popularity in the 1960s. With bands focusing on the new sound of the electric guitar, along with a bass guitar and drums, the genre began to gain steady airtime. As with most genres of music, it continued to evolve and create new types of music. And in the 1960s, kick started by bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, Heavy Metal was born. Continue reading

The Transcendence of Myth through Music

Bobby Bevilacqua

fleshgod-apocalypse-band-photo

Greek mythology and the stories surrounding the in-depth culture originated over three thousand years ago, with stories of gods and goddesses permeating the ancient Greek society. The stories were told in many ways: literature, poem, spoken word, theater, and more recently, film and television. But perhaps the most lasting use of mythological adaptation and representation in forms other than written is musically. With mythology being as old as it is, it is quite impressive that it is still being represented in modern society. It is more common in film, where people can tell a story and use visuals, but in music, people may not recognize the references. Yet bands across all genres and musical performers across many generations have used songs and music as a way to continue to tell these stories and continue the tradition of Greek mythology and the lore associated with it. Like an epic poem or a novel, music is something that crosses all generations and time periods, with music from the 1930s, like Frank Sinatra, still being played and cherished today. Music, like mythology, transcends time, and songs about the stories and lore of Greek mythology allow for the tales to continue in a new form for future generations to learn from and appreciate. Continue reading

Album Review – Jomsviking by Amon Amarth

Bobby Bevilacqua

Jomsviking Album cover.png

Photo courtesy of

Amon Amarth have cemented themselves as one of the best bands in the melodic death metal genre, crafting their own unique sound and brand of music since they were formed back in 1992. Some of the criticism the Swedish band receives comes from the fact that they have been consistent with their sound, creating an aura of similarity on the last few albums. But they broke the mold a bit, and delivered with one of their best albums to date.

With Jomsviking, Amon Amarth took a crack at their first ever concept album, weaving a tale of love, murder and revenge based on the story of the legendary Jomsvikings, a fierce group of Viking mercenaries in the 10th and 11th century. Here’s Hegg’s own description of the album (From Metalinjection.net);

“It’s a pretty simple story where a young man is in love with a girl but unfortunately she’s being married off. He accidentally kills a man when this happens and he has to flee,” … “But he swears to have revenge and win her back. He can’t let go of the past. He feels that he’s been wronged and his life has been destroyed. The story of the Jomsviking is in the background – it’s the way he finds to go back and claim his revenge. The way the story evolves is not a happy story… it’s a tragedy, I guess! But I like sad endings, because they’re the ones that affect you the most.” – Johan Hegg Continue reading

Rock & Metal music a dominant force in album, track and concert sales

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Wacken Open Air, a festival that draws over 75,000 metalheads every year. Photo courtesy of Wacken Open Air Festival.

While much of the mainstream music scene seems to be permeated by pop and rap music, rock and metal music is actually being consumed and purchased at a much higher rate.

This might come at a surprise because of how often pop stations and Top 40 stations come up on the radio dial. There are a total of 464 Contemporary Pop Hit radio stations compared to just 165 Active Rock stations and just 73 Mainstream Rock stations as of May 2016 according to News Generation.

But when looking at other types of music consumption, pop took a backseat to rock and metal. Data from Nielsen Music about the US Market shows that rock music claimed 29 percent of total consumption across album purchases, track purchases and on streaming platforms in 2014. Continue reading

Moshing; Addressing the culture of “violent” dance at metal shows

Bobby Bevilacqua

moshing

Photo courtesy

Mosh pits and metal concerts essentially go hand in hand. A longstanding concert tradition of the metal community, moshing has caused controversy since its inception, raising questions of whether or not it’s safe or if it should even be allowed.

With the rise of hardcore and metal music, mosh pits could be seen at concerts, with people forming an open circle and doing things like pushing each other and running into one another. There are many variations, including push pits, circle pits, and more extreme variations such as the wall of death.

Despite the physical nature of it, moshing is meant to be a fun, cathartic experience according to Garren Lewis, assistant program director at WSOU, Seton Hall’s metal station.

“A good mosh pit should be something you look back on as adding to the concert,” said Lewis. “Even if you get an injury, as long as it’s not bad then you’ll have a good time.” Continue reading

Track of the Day – “Moth into Flame” by Metallica

Bobby Bevilacqua

metallica-band-pic

Photo courtesy of metalsucks.net

One of the first metal bands I ever listened to was Metallica. Like most people, I had heard some of their most famous songs in passing but never sat down and listened to their other songs or records. Everyone knew “Enter Sandman,” but everything I knew about music changed after listening to their album, Master of Puppets.

That album opens up with “Battery,” and after listening to it you find it hard to believe that another song on the album could top that first track. “Master of Puppets” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” are just some of the other songs on the album that blow you away with the song writing, the fast, classic thrash sound and the classic Metallica spin on the genre.

After listening to that album, I went and listened to pretty much everything else they have to offer. Their debut album Kill ‘Em All is one of the strongest debuts in metal, Ride the Lightning might actually be better than Master of Puppets, and their fourth album, …And Justice For All contains some of my favorite individual songs. Continue reading

From t-shirts to touring: Jon-Erik Pantorno’s rise to Dr. Acula’s lead singer

Bobby Bevilacqua

jon-erik-pantorno-headshot

Photo courtesy of Jon-Erik Pantorno.

Dr. Acula, a deathcore band formed in Long Island, N.Y., is not your traditional metal band. With a name derived from a joke from comedian Mitch Hedberg and songs based on Goosebumps books, it makes sense that one of their earliest singers didn’t take the traditional route to joining the band.

Jon-Erik Pantorno, a native of Howard Beach, Queens, didn’t audition for his role in the band. Instead, he worked his way up from selling merchandise for Dr. Acula after hitting it off with the band members while on tour with a friend.

“I wanted to go on a trip so I said sure I’ll sell merch for [my friend’s band],” Pantorno said. “We met Dr. Acula and they asked me to come on tour with them to do merch, and that’s how that started.” Continue reading

Don’t hate on fringe metal bands, they do a lot for the genre

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Photo courtesy of fivefingerdeathpunch.com

When I first started getting into the genre of Rock as well as Metal, Avenged Sevenfold was one of the first albums that drew me into the genre. Their self-titled album was basically the only thing I played for months, and it still remains one of my favorites to listen to.

Before listening to Rock and Metal, I was primarily a fan of country music. Guitar Hero drew me into classic rock, and Avenged Sevenfold was my first foray into the heavier spectrum of rock; something I call “fringe metal.”

Disturbed was one of the other bands I really enjoyed. System of a Down and Slipknot helped me become more attracted to the heavier sides of rock and metal. Five Finger Death Punch was the first metal band I became a huge fan of, and the first metal concert I ever went to. Even Linkin Park, who combined electronic sounds with guitar and helped make riffs and solos mainstream. Continue reading

Track of the Day – “The Soulless” by Charred Walls of the Damned

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Photo courtesy of metalblade.com

One of my favorite things is finding new metal bands and hearing one great song that you’re into. Sometimes it happens on a Spotify playlist, by word of mouth, or the radio.

Recently I started as an overnight DJ at WSOU, my college’s on campus radio station. The radio codes different genres and bands by color and has a set playlist to follow so all of the genres and bands get represented and get airtime.

I like to choose bands that I haven’t heard of before so I get to hear new music as well as the listeners. So one of the bands I randomly chose was Charred Walls of the Damned. It sounded pretty heavy and aggressive which is right up my alley so I figured I’d give it a shot. Continue reading