Malta's main metal man without a doubt, Noel Mifsud has been part and parcel of the local metal scene for as long as I can remember. He is the presenter of two key shows, Rock Moods on ONE and Heatstrokes on AllRock. Here, in no particular order, he picks out his Top 5 local metal releases for 2015 and lets us know what he's lookig forward to in 2016.
12th Ode - The Awakening
2015 was a great year for NWOBHM in general, with a number of very good releases, among them Iron Maiden's Book of Souls, Saxon's Battering Ram and Satan's Atom by Atom. 12th Ode is Malta's answer to the genre with tracks that can transport any forty-plus NWOBHM fan back by least 25 years.
Weeping Silence - Opus IV Oblivion
Once one hears this collection of great gothic doom songs, it's easy to realise why Weeping Silence are being invited to play in prestigious festivals all over Europe, alongside big names.
Ascendor - Drive my Demons Away
The Gozitans are the flagbearers of Maltese thrash metal. Drive my Demons Away, their second full-length release, shows the band has matured in leaps and bounds in its songwriting, something that also visibly translates in their live performances.
Sahhar - Kruha u Kefrija
Malta's black metal scene is getting stronger and stronger. Marton (aka Sahhar) is one of the pillars of the genre on the island, with old school black metal sung in his native language Maltese. 2015 also saw Sahhar performing live for the first time as well.
Draugul - Chronicles Untold
The Maltese viking history enthusiast is back with another collection of great Nordic tales. Now residing in Sweden, one can easily imagine what to expect now that Mark Azzopardi (aka Draugul) can touch history first hand. Chronicles Untold sees Mark using once more more traditional instruments as well.
What I'm looking forward to in 2016
Malta's four major metal festivals Shellshock Metalfest, X-Treme Metal Assault, Metal Over Malta II and of course Malta Doom Metal Festival. But apart from these I am really looking forward to Albert Bells' Sacro Sanctus second release, plus the debut gigs from two bands. One fronted by none other than Forsaken's Leo Stivala and the other by ex-Relicuia's front man Juan Xerri.