2006 is almost over and it is safe to say that, if you are a fan of AOR, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal, then you had a fine year full of great releases. Every year seems to bring more new releases and reissues competing for the collector’s hard earned dollar.

This year I spent most of my money on catalog releases and reissues…..trying to fill some of those holes in the collection. I kept up on many new studio albums but there were so many that I had to be a smart shopper and buy the ones I absolutely had to have. It’s never an exact science but I got some great albums this year at very good prices.

Below is my Top 5 of 2006. Of all the albums I bought this year, these are the cream of the crop, the very best in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal this year. From bottom to top:
————————————————

Honorable Mentions: Krokus – Hellraiser, MSG – Tales Of Rock’n Roll, Lacuna Coil – Karmacode, Axel Rudi Pell – Mystica, Warrant – Born Again, and Toto – Falling In Between (who would have slid into #5).

5. Taz Taylor Band – Welcome To America
The surprise of the year! I bought this solely because of Graham Bonnet’s (ex-Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz) involvement on vocals but I got a fine Hard Rock album full of hooks and melody. Can’t go wrong there! Well written songs and good musicianship = a good album.

4. Paul Stanley – Live To Win
This exceeded my expectations and, as a KISS diehard, they were very high. I wasn’t looking for a new KISS album, I was looking for a good Hard Rock album (something KISS has forgotten about). A bit modern and Pop flavored but Paul writes good songs and his voice sounds in fine form.

3. Motorhead – Kiss Of Death
If it wasn’t for the next two bands releasing new albums in 2006, Motorhead would have taken the top spot. How many excellent albums does Lemmy and co. have to make before people outside the Metal community take notice? Basic “in your face” Heavy Metal that picks you up and smacks you across the head. Motorhead continues to churn out good albums year after year.

2. UFO – The Monkey Puzzle
Another member of the “old guard” that just makes good Hard Rock albums. The Monkey Puzzle is an album of superb quality of blues-based Hard Rock full of melody, hooks, and solos. Songwriting is top notch and the performances are dead on for a band pushing 35+ years on the scene. This release flirted with the top spot for most of the year and would have been the top album if it wasn’t for the next release.

<<insert drum roll>> “And the top album of 2006 is…..”

1. Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death
When Iron Maiden releases a new album, it is almost a given that it will be a classic release and one of the best of the year. Since reforming with Dickinson and Smith, Maiden had put out two excellent albums but A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH really stands out. The songs are longer, more progressive, but they are high quality. Seasoned veterans like this write great albums and this is a great album. I haven’t enjoyed a Maiden album this much since POWERSLAVE (1984).

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Comments
  1. Rene says:

    Nice to see the new IRON MAIDEN album on number 1. I love that album too but i think KROKUS new album will be on my number 1 but not sure yet. I will make a top 20 with my fave 2006 releases at the beginning of 2007. Now i can not do it because yesterday for exemple i still got some new releases, like the new UNREST album (BACK TO THE ROOTS), or new BEWITCHED album (SPIRITUAL WARFARE).
    Paul stanley´s solo album will also be on my list but i dont think in my top 5. Did you bought the last MEAT LOAF album BAT OUT OF HELL III:THE MONSTER IS LOOSE. Its realy a killer album brother.
    Take careeeeeeeeeeee.

  2. Bill says:

    Good selections…. my top 5 came out at 1) Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death 2) The Answer – Rise 3) Thunder – Robert Johnson’s Tombstone 4) Motorhead – Kiss Of Death 5)The Who – Endless Wire….. so other than number two I hold with you comments that the older bands still know how to make a great album. Honourable mentions must go to Wolfmother and Sheershock Revival as well tho – if I’d have heard them earlier one would’ve been in at 5.

  3. Earl says:

    Maiden’s release was way and above the best of 2006.

    I’ve often wondered why Motorhead is Energizer Bunny of metal – they’re never the ones you see hitting the big time, but they’re the ones who never go away.

    Maybe the fact they never got noticed is why they’ve never lost their touch. They never had to sell out to sell.

  4. JR says:

    Big fan of the Maiden album. Whilst veterans such as KISS have lost the plot completely and are now a bonafide *JOKE*, Iron Maiden continue to release outstanding material. This is a classic album which featured highly in my top 10 as well.

  5. Metal Mark says:

    I had Maiden as my top album as well. This was a pretty good year for hard rock and metal. Next year may be good as well. Trouble, Fu Manchi, WASP and Orange Goblin are some of the bands due to release albums in 2007 that I am looking forward to.

  6. I am still having trouble with my top 5, I may have to go with a top 10 instead. There are some very strong releases that have come out in the last couple of months, some of which, I haven’t reviewed yet.

    It is so hard to pick, with so much good music! I agree with your Maiden Pick. I didn’t like the Paul Stanley disc as much as everyone else. I need to check out that new one from UFO.

  7. Rene – I also had a lot of new releases come my way towards the end of the year and I didn’t listen to them a lot. It always happens: I always try to get caught up at the end of the year but I end up buying/listening to 2006 releases well into 2007.

    Bill – Haven’t heard the new Thunder yet but I am going to be ordering it soon, looking forward to it.

    Earl – I agree, Motorhead just keep going, and going, and going. They never seem to make a bad album. Even when they make an average album, its still better than most other bands’ releases.

    JR – Whoa! Watch the KISS bashing! Seriously, you’re right, KISS has become a joke. The different lineups, no new material, the whoring of the brand like the late 70s…..it’s all come full circle.

    Metal Mark – I hope that new WASP is good because I thought both Neon God albums sucked. Blackie needs to ditch the concepts and make a straight up Hard Rock record.

    Hard Rock Hideout – The Paul Stanley seems to be hit or miss for a lot of people. If you like blues-based Hard Rock, UFO is a great band to check out.

  8. Metal Mark says:

    I liked the Neon God albums, but they were almost like a remake of the Crimson Idol. I think their last really good album was Unholy Terror. The new album has already like two delays for the release date I believe.

  9. Rene says:

    METAL MARK, DYING FOR THE WORLD is much better then the cd before (UNHOLY TERROR) by WASP in my opinion and to be honest, its one of my all time fave album by the band (the debut is till my fave).

  10. Metal Mark says:

    I couldn’t get into Dying for the world. I mean it was better than say Helldorado, but just kind of decent.

  11. David Amulet says:

    I, too, think Iron Maiden is up there. I haven’t heard the UFO album; now I’m curious.

    – david

  12. KING says:

    I was kinda dissapointed in the Paul Stanley solo lp. Was hoping for a more hard rock album.

    Tops of 2006 for me would be Dream Theater-Score DVD and JORN-The Duke.

  13. Helldorado was a bad album. I liked KFD (1997) and I thought Still Not Black Enough (1995) was superb. Listen to the into to ‘Dirty Balls’ on Helldorado and that’s all you need to know that it is a bad album. Blackie was trying to recreate WASP circa 1985 and it was a disaster.

    Unholy Terror and Dying For The World were much better.

  14. Rene says:

    I honestly dont thing HELLDORADO is a bad album but of course its not their best. I hated KFD when it came out but i listen to it some days ago, and its not so bad. Still sound much like WASP only very angry, same with DYING FOR THE WORLD (no industrial sound in this one but still very very angry).
    I also love STILL NOT BLACK ENOUGH very much.

  15. Rene says:

    I was going to make my top 20 at the beginning of 2007 but finaly i decided to do it now, a couple of hourse before the end of the year.
    This is my top 20 of 2006 (no live albums, tribute albums are on it):
    1.HAMMERFALL:THRESHOLD
    2.KROKUS:HELLRAISER
    3.MEAT LOAF:BAT OUT OF HELL III:THE MONSTER IS LOOSE
    4.BOB CATLEY:SPIRIT OF MAN
    5.SACRED STEEL:HAMMER OF DESTRUCTION
    6.IRON MAIDEN:A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
    7.POWER PROJECT:DINOSAURS (from this year, not from 2005)
    8.EMPIRE:THE RAVEN RIDE
    9.AXEL RUDI PELL:MYSTICA
    10.REKUIEM:TIME WILL TELL
    11.OBSESSION:CARNIVAL OF LIES
    12.FATE:V
    13.DEICIDE:THE STENCH OF REDEMPTION
    14.PRETTY MAIDS:WAKE UP TO THE REAL WORLD
    15.RANDY RIPPER´S ANIMAL:VIOLENT NEW BREED
    16.CLOVEN HOOF:EYE OF THE SUN
    17.LORDI:THE AROCKALYPSE
    18.PAUL STANLEY:LIVE TO WIN
    19.DARKTHRONE:THE CULT IS ALIVE
    20.UNREST:BACK TO THE ROOTS.
    I dont want to forget about this cd´s(LOUD AND DANGEROUS from LA GUNS, MSG:TALES OF ROCK´N´ROLL, SAXON:THE EAGLE HAS LANDED III, IT´S ELECTRIC by DIAMOND HEAD, HOLY DIVER LIVE by DIO, BOLTED DOOR by FIST, SUNSTORM by SUNSTORM, YEAH! by DEF LEPPARD, ARMY OF ONE by RIOT, andl MIDVINTERBLOT by UNLEASHED.
    The worse album was METAL BLACK by VENOM and i was disppointed by X-TENSION by BISS, SONS OF A NEW MILLENNIUM by MAJESTY and VISIONS OF EDEN by VIRGIN STEELE.

  16. Rene – Looks like you’ve kept up with ALL the new releases! Awesome, keep it up> i made a promise to myself to buy more new releases in 2007.

  17. Rene says:

    A good Promise steve ha ha ha. Anyway, you are already buying many new releases and thats great. People like you deserve much respect. HAIL TO YOU FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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