March 2024 Best Heavy Metal Albums

The first quarter of 2024 has been a strong one, with March jam packed with quality metal albums. Here are our picks for March 2024’s best heavy metal albums.

Epic Records

1. Judas Priest – Invincible Shield (Epic)

Judas Priest’s latest album Invincible Shield comes six years after Firepower. The pandemic was an obstacle in its creation, as were some health issues, but all that time gave main songwriters Glenn Tipton, Richie Faulkner and Rob Halford plenty of opportunity to perfect the songs on their nineteenth studio album.

Many of the songs are fairly complex. Opener “Panic Attack” has a section in 7/8 time, two bridges and two solos. “Gates Of Hell” is in a similar vein, with a lengthy intro and a killer solo. The 72 year old Metal God can still crank up the falsetto, which he displays on songs like “The Serpent And The King,” the urgent “Trial By Fire” and the title track. Judas Priest have now released albums in six different decades, an incredible feat. Through lineup changes, the ebbs and flows of the music industry and other challenges, they have proven their resilience. You can add Invincible Shield to the long line of excellent Priest albums, and let’s hope there are more in their future.

BMG

2. Bruce Dickinson – The Mandrake Project (BMG)

Bruce Dickinson has had a successful solo career, dating back to 1990’s Tattooed Millionaire. Now, nearly two decades after his last solo album, Dickinson has teamed up with longtime collaborator Roy Z for The Mandrake Project. The whole idea of a solo project is to do something different than your main project, and while his distinctive voice will make nearly anything sound like Iron Maiden, The Mandrake Project does branch in different directions.

The songwriting on The Mandrake Project is impressive, each track painstakingly arranged with plenty of dynamics and variety. Not surprisingly, Dickinson’s vocals are also impressive. At age 65 he still has ample power and range, and his varied approach makes the songs even more compelling. The Mandrake Project is one of Dickinson’s most well-rounded solo efforts, with one of metal’s most accomplished artists showing he still has plenty left in the tank.

Century Media Records

3. Hideous Divinity – Unextinct (Century Media)

“This is monstrous!” These are the words that listeners will repeat to themselves over and over again while listening to Hideous Divinity‘s new album, Unextinct, which is indeed a formidable and destructive monster. These Italians, who have always been impressive throughout their career, have gone several steps beyond what they were and left behind a mark that seems to have breathed new life into technical/brutal death metal.

Stunningly produced by Eyeconoclast’s Stefano Morabito, Hideous Divinity’s long-time studio technician, Unextinct is the band’s best and most complete album to date. They have meticulously crafted the instrumentation and orchestration in each song, creating utterly breathtaking pieces musically and visually akin to works by Italian masters of classic art. Unextinct, in its extraordinary and unattainable essence, is a macabre musical interpretation of cosmic terror developed in the most epic and terrorizing death metal frame. Regarding songwriting, performance, and production, the album stands at such a point of excellence that listeners may ask: “How did they create this?”

Century Media Records

4. Necrophobic – In The Twilight Grey (Century Media)

Necrophobic, one of Sweden’s black/death metal titans, have set to ignite the most burning flames from the darkest dungeons of hell once again with their tenth studio album. In The Twilight Grey, another ghastly Necrophobic opus, confirms that the band is still grounded in a startlingly sinister foundation.

56 minutes is enough for Necrophobic to show off their reign over black/death metal, but they expose the listener to the hellish unrest even more than they need. Although the album cover, designed by Thyrfing’s Jens Rydén, follows a different picture than Necrophobic’s trademarked landscapes, the album keeps pace with the band’s most significant moments. In The Twilight Grey is brilliant, sensational, and haunting. The title track displays a hair-raising soundscape that elevates the evil spirit of both the band and the album. It shows a picture of Necrophobic still leaning like an almighty on their wicked throne, and they have no intention of taking off their infernal robes.

InsideOut Music

5. Big Big Train – The Likes Of Us (InsideOut)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from stellar international prog rock group Big Big Train after the sudden passing of lead vocalist David Longdon back in 2021. Lucky for us, though, the band decided to carry on, and they have brought in a new singer in Alberto Bravin, who played keyboards and sang on the last two PFM albums (which we reviewed favorably here).

The Likes Of Us is familiar and yet fresh and vital at the same time. Bravin is a very different singer than Longdon was and this works with the all-new material, which at times is a bit more rocking and adventurous than on past albums. Opening track “Light Left in the Day” is strong but the least memorable; the album gets better and better as it carries on. From epic tracks to poignant ballads, it’s all here in spades in what just might be Big Big Train’s best album.

Nuclear Blast

6. Exhorder – Defectum Omnium (Nuclear Blast)

Defectum Omnium is Exhorder‘s second reunion album and fourth overall. This is the first album to feature former Cannibal Corpse guitarist Pat O’Brien, who brings with him a flair for the death metal he was well accustomed to playing, albeit with the underlying groove that Exhorder are famous for. Opener “Wrath of Prophecies” feels well entrenched in the sound of their earliest albums with a bit of southern metal tinge, much like their last album Mourn The Southern Skies. Vocalist Kyle Thomas remains as potent as ever singing some verses and shouting during others, allowing him to showcase his full range.

Throughout the album’s duration, the variety of ferocity and grooves shift in and out, allowing for its tendrils to properly dig in to your ear canals, having a hard time letting go on “Under The Gaslight” and “Divide and Conquer,” among others. If you’ve enjoyed the band’s reunion, you’ll find yourself right at home with Defectum Omnium, returning to the grooving and rollicking revival of their past.

Other 2024 Best Monthly Album Lists

January 2024 Best Heavy Metal Albums
February 2024 Best Heavy Metal Albums

One Response

  1. bobsala

    2 weeks ago

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