BravePicks 2015 - The Scribes Speak: Mark Gromen

January 11, 2016, 8 years ago

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BravePicks 2015 - The Scribes Speak: Mark Gromen

Now that we have completed the BravePicks Of 2015 countdown - which Slayer ruled supreme (see the entire list here) - it is time now to shine the spotlight on the people that actually built our mountain of metal! It is a massive task, as BraveWords gets flooded with hundreds and hundreds of releases, showcasing the fact that the scene is as vibrant as ever! Each day, the BraveWords scribes will chat about the good, bad and ugly for 2015 and thoughts on this year! So check out our individual Top 20s (new studio albums ONLY),  Top 5 Brave Embarrassments, Top 3 Concerts, What/Who Needs To Stop In 2016? and Metal Predictions For 2016.

BravePicks 2015

Mark Gromen

1) NIGHT DEMON - Curse Of The Demon (SPV/Century Media)
2) SPEEDTRAP - Straight Shoter (Svart)
3) ENFORCER - From Beyond (Nuclear Blast)
4) GHOST - Meliora (Loma Vista Recordings)
5) PARADISE LOST - The Plague Within (Century Media)
6) ARMORED SAINT - Win Hands Down (Metal Blade)
7) LANCER – Second Storm (Despotz)
8) BLACK TRIP - Shadowline (SPV)
9) SAXON - Battering Ram (UDR)
10 IMPELLITTERI – Venom (Frontiers)
11) EVIL INVADERS -Pulses of Pleasure (Napalm)
12) RANGER – Where Evil Dwells (Spinefarm)
13) MELECHESH - Enki (Nuclear Blast)
14) DEAD LORD - Heads Held High (Century Media)
15) FLIGHT - Flight (Bad Omen)
16) VISIGOTH - The Revanant King (Metal Blade)
17) CRYPT SERMON – Out Of The Garden (Dark Descent)
18) U.D.O. - Decadent (AFM)
19) MY DYING BRIDE - Feel The Misery (Peaceville)
20) ROCKA ROLLAS - The Road To Destruction (Stormspell)

Top 3 Concerts
1) NIGHTWISH, SABATON - Fillmore: Silver Spring, MD
3) BLIND GUARDIAN, GRAVE DIGGER - Union Transfer: Philly

Top 5 Brave Embarrassments

1) SCORPIONS - Return To Forever (New Door)
Aged rock by and for old fogies. As former (greatest!) Scorps guitarists Uli Roth and Michael Schenker (w/Francis Bucholz and Herman Rarebell in his band) not only tour, but air many of the pre-80s classics, this incarnation should call it a day.

2) STORMWITCH – Season Of The Witch (Massacre)
Nothing sadder than a once great athlete who doesn't know when to hang it up: going through the motions, a pale imitation of their once great self. Witness a boringly pedestrian Stormwitch.

3) THE SANITY DAYS - Evil Beyond Belief (Candlelight)
Conceived as resurrecting the In Search Of Sanity-era line-up (which isn't considered a “proper” album in Onslaught catalog), this ain't a slamming thrasher, but more reserved (some say plodding) mid-tempo endeavor.

4) CAIN'S OFFERING - Stormcrow (Frontiers)
Look, love the debut and Stratovarius vocalist Timo Kotipelto is a bud (even enjoyed the Blackoustic covers album he did with former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen, also heard here), but this is more sugary (and less healthy) than a 70s Saturday morning breakfast: Tang, Super Sugar Crisp and a frosted Pop Tart

5) BLAZON STONE - No Sign Of Glory (Stormspell)
No sign of melody either! After a stellar debut, Running Wild doppelgangers change vocalist and lose the plot, especially now that Rock N Rolf's real McCoy proudly sails again.

What/Who Needs To Stop In 2016
Revolver: Metal mag named after a Beatles album? Come on! Corporate offices may have moved to NYC, but still entrenched in the image over substance LA mentality, never really looking beyond their own doorstep. Each issue packed with ads that keep it afloat, between a few articles on hipster bands that disappear before receiving the next issue (two months hence). Only comes out six times a year, rendering content & touring info outdated, not to mention the self-aggrandizing Golden Gods issue, post-event recap, the offensive Hottest Chicks mag and NAMM coverage. About as much relevance to real metalheads as The Grammys!

Thoughts On 2105
Deaths, reunions and rebirths...Great to have new Slayer and Iron Maiden platters (although Dickinson's future was touch and go there, for a while), with rumors of Judas Priest hitting the studio soon, but Motley Crue has called it quits, Twisted Sister is supposed to and Lemmy/Motörhead has died. Some of those still touring, are simply milking a dead horse (Do metalheads still care about a "Black Sabbath" swansong? Personally, grew tired of their/Ozzy shenanigans ages ago). The establishment is getting old and/or dying off, time to start supporting younger, less established bands, before the metal wellspring runs completely dry. And I don't mean the next tier of American acts: Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold or 5 Finger Death Punch. Dig deeper! With audio/video streaming and online samples, there's no excuse. Hell, you're reading BraveWords, just look at some of what we have already unearthed for you!!

Apart from the niche vinyl resurgence, sales of physical product continue to wane. To combat the trend, labels are off-loading anything and everything by established artists (to the detriment of newer acts), as their fanbase tends to be older and still willing to buy CDs, etc. To that end, there are a few worthwhile successes, like the spate of Scorpions 50th Anniversary reissues, including incomplete demo tracks that never would have seen the light of day in a better economic climate. Same with vintage concerts (Anthrax) be it on DVD or just the audio portion. In the clubs/arenas, with more competition, there's better packages for the fans, few willing/able to go solo (Ghost). Witness Nightwish/Sabaton (both arena headliners overseas) hitting small theaters together, Blind Guardian/Grave Digger, Motörhead/Anthrax, Saxon/Armored Saint, Evergrey/Voyager, even the low budget, DIY ethic of Night Demon/Skullfist.

After 15 consecutive trips, threw in the towel with Wacken Open Air. Still plenty of other festivals on the docket, overseas or on the open sea, including 70000 Tons Of Metal, Bang Your Head, Tuska, Knockout, but also excited about Brave Words' new partnership with Summer Breeze, late August in Dinkelsbuhl, Germany.  Although the traveling Mayhem fest has called it a day, there are more credible multi-day events cropping up around the US, including Ragnorak (Chicago), Deland (Florida) Rock & Metal festival, NJ Food Truck & Rock Carnival, Frost & Fire (Ventura, CA).

Metal Predictions For 2016
German staples: Brainstorm, Axel Rudi Pell, Primal Fear, all promise new releases in January, to be followed by the likes of Destruction and the live disc Blind Guardian recorded during their just completed North American tour. Emerging North American underlings like Holy Grail, Spellcaster, Striker also getting a shot. With revenue streams continuing to dry up, more overseas outfits hitting the road over here, like Enforcer, Venom Inc. and Abbath

Sadly, undoubtedly more postponements/cancellations due to ailing/dying musicians. Take care of yourself. Want you to be around for next year's run down, and there after.

BraveWords scribes speak!

Kim Baarda
Nick Balazs
Alitzia Tyminski
Greg Pratt
David Perri
Aaron Small

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