Archive for December, 2010

I think I say the same things every year when I write the introduction to my Best of the Year list…..this year was one of the greatest years for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! Every year it seems like more and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2010 was no exception, this was the biggest year for Heavy Metal Addiction as far as promotional review copies go. Usually, I physically buy all my new albums but this year I partnered with more labels, more promotional people and more bands and I received more albums for review than any other year. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up and I came nowhere close to listening to all of them properly. Looking at the piles on my desk, the boxes next to it and the separate iTunes folder I reserve for promo downloads, it’s easy to estimate that I have more new 2010 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than the last two years combined! Add in all the new releases I bought on my weekly trips to the record stores, and my daily online searches, and it’s fair to estimate that the total number of new releases from 2010 that I have right now at my desk is over 200.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was the same criteria I’ve used for the last few years: the album had to be a studio album (not a live record, best of, or covers collection) AND the album had to be released in 2010. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2009 overseas, but was released in 2010 for the U.S., qualified as a 2010 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I could have continued with a Top 40 list but I got so far behind listening and writing so there are definitely albums I haven’t heard yet or didn’t give proper time to. We’re talking a couple hundred albums though so anything that got missed might end up in an expanded “Albums I Missed in 2010″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 30 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is Part 3, the Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#1 – #10):

#10

Mass – Sea Of Black (2010): The new Mass album was a complete surprise for me because I honestly really didn’t expect much. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get into Mass too much back in the ’80s, which is surprising because the band is from Massachusetts and that’s basically my backyard here in Rhode Island! I remember hearing a song called ‘Do You Love Me’ on the radio and I’ve seen the the albums on vinyl and cassette in old record stores but I never really got into the band. SEA OF BLACK is basically my formal introduction to the band it’s a great Melodic Rock/Melodic Metal album that has a serious ’80s retro sound. Opening track ‘Falling From Grace’ starts the album off right with a high powered Metal guitar crunch but with a great melodies and harmonies…..and that’s a perfect way to describe the album! Mass has re-released most of their back catalogue on Retrospect Records and they are also available on their website so now I will be filling the holes in my collection! http://www.massrocks.com/

#9

Keel – Streets Of Rock & Roll (2010): Keel was one of those bands from the ’80s that I got into because of the Gene Simmons connection but, as time went on, I forgot about the KISS connection because the band itself was really great. It’s been 21 years since the band released a true studio album so getting a reunion record as good as STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL is a major comeback. I liked the fact that the album sounds like classic ’80s Keel but with a grittier and deeper sound. Ron Keel’s voice sounds as good as it ever has, the band is as tight as it’s ever been and the quality of the songwriting is really great. A lot of times you get a reunion where the band is just going through the motions, and I thought that was going to be the case with Keel because of the 25th Anniversary of THE RIGHT TO ROCK, but the band stepped to the plate and made a Hard Rock album that could easily sit alongside the rest of their discography. http://keelnation.com/

#8

Krokus – Hoodoo (2010): 2010 was a year that a lot of bands who hadn’t been around in a while got back together and made a comeback album. Krokus has never really gone away because they’ve been releasing albums all along, the problem is that it’s never really been a true reunion, only just a member or two with a supporting cast. 2010 is the 30th anniversary since METAL RENDEZ-VOUS (1980), the band’s worldwide breakthrough album. Krokus had released three albums in the ’70s but the Metal really started in 1980. Back in the day, I was the only rocker I knew that new about Krokus so they were always like “my” band so I was looking forward to HOODOO a lot. HOODOO marks the reunion of the classic Krokus lineup from the ’80s and the band goes back to doing what they do best…..boogie woogie Hard Rock like AC/DC. That’s where Krokus sometimes gets a bad rep because AC/DC were the originators and it’s hard to imagine a band from Switzerland doing the same thing! It doesn’t matter if it’s a similar style, it’s good music that’s catchy and melodic all the while having great riffs that stick in your head.  HOODOO came out in April or early May but the single ‘Hoodoo Woman’ was released ahead of the album’s release, I still can’t get that chorus out of my head! A solid comeback, I hope this lineup does another album. http://krokusonline.seven49.net/Web/

#7

Masterplan – Time To Be King (2010): This is the third album in the row on this year’s countdown that’s a reunion and/or a comeback for a major band. The big selling point with Masterplan in 2010 is that Jorn Lande is back in the vocalist spot for the first time since 2005. The first two Masterplan albums were awesome but things happen sometimes and Jorn left in 2005 to be replace by ex-Riot singer Mike DiMeo for MKII (2006). This is another Power Metal/Progressive Metal album that really took hold of me as soon as I heard it. Maybe it’s because Jorn’s voice is so unique and he’s one of the top Metal singers around but all the songs are well-written, the musicianship is flawless and even the packaging is cool as a gold-embossed digipak. Just a quick mention here, drummer Mike Terrana is one of the most underrated drummers in Metal and he puts in an awesome performance on TIME TO BE KING. Definitely the best Power Metal album of the year and getting Jorn back in the band puts Masterplan right at the top of the heap again. http://www.master-plan.net/

#6

Crazy Lixx – New Religion (2010): Sweden’s Crazy Lixx have been on the scene for a few years now releasing single until their 2007 studio album LOUD MINORITY. When I heard that the band was releasing their second album in late March/early April, I really didn’t pay much attention to it because I really haven’t jumped on the Swedish Glam/Sleaze/Hard Rock scene that has really started to make waves around the world. I had an advance of the album and I gave it a quick listen and I was blown away! Here’s a band from Sweden that’s relatively unknown and they do ’80s Hard Rock better than some of the bands of that era! NEW RELIGION is one of the best Hard Rock albums to come out this year and I still haven’t taken it out of my weekly playlist. Big hooks and harmonies, guitar solos, and good time party Rock. I really enjoyed the Wig Wam’s NON STOP ROCK ‘N ROLL that also came out this year but NEW RELIGION takes it to a higher level and easily outshines that record. Definitely an album that travels back in time to the fun and excess of the ’80s and sounds fresh here in the 2000s. http://www.crazylixx.com/

#5

Black Country Communion – s/t (2010): Wow! Where did this album come from? Where did this band come from? Supergroups come and go and usually disappoint but, when you put Glenn Hughes on vocals & bass, Joe Bonamassa on guitars, Jason Bonham on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards, that’s a lineup of awesome musicians. But does it work? That’s the main thing and I was pretty skeptical, so much so that I blew off buying this CD for a couple of months and I didn’t pick it up until November. I put this in and I haven’t taken it out of my weekly rotation, Black Country Communion is a band that has a Classic Rock sound based on a combination of the Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll. It sounds like old school ’70s Rock that really sounds fresh today. Glenn Hughes is an amazing singer and Joe Bonamassa is a truly fantastic guitarist with a great feel, if you don’t know anything about these two musicians then you should Google them immeadiately and listen to some of their previous works. I almost put this in the #1 slot on this year’s countdown but, as I started re-listening to a lot of the albums from earlier in the year, I had to put four others ahead because of their impact. Black Country Communion is a band and album everyone should  check out. http://www.bccommunion.com/

#4

Scorpions – Sting In The Tail (2010): As soon as the Scorpions announced the release of STING IN THE TAIL, they also announced that this will be their last studio album and that the band is retiring. Sad news indeed to hear from a Hard Rock band that has been around for nearly 40 years but, if this is how they are going to go out, then STING IN THE TAIL is the way to do it! I was a huge fan of the updated sound the band created on their last studio album, HUMANITY HOUR 1 (2007), that I made it the Best Album of 2007 so I was looking for a continuation of that direction. This new record is really a continuation of the classic Scorpions Hard Rock sound from the BLACKOUT (1982) and LOVE AT FIRST STING (1984) eras. At first, I felt like this was a big step back for the band because they had done such a great job on HUMANITY but, after constant listens, this album grew on me and it’s become one of my favorites of the year. I got into the Scorpions with BLACKOUT and LOVE AT FIRST STING so this new album really brought me back in time and made me go back over the entire Scorpions discography…..they are one of the most consistent bands in the scene. Think about it, aside from EYE II EYE (1999), when was the last time you heard that a Scorpions album sucked? This may not be the best Scorpions album compared to the classics they have but it’s a great Hard Rock album and one I enjoyed a lot this year. http://www.the-scorpions.com/english/

#3

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010): In a year full of reunions and comebacks, Accept was really one of those bands that could have either hit it big or crashed and burned. One listen to BLOOD OF THE NATIONS and it’s easy to hear that they easily hit it big! A classic Accept lineup reunited headed by lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann but the distinct Accept vocalist, Udo Dirkschneider, refused to take part. That meant the band needed a singer and the biggest question mark would be former T.T. Quick frontman Mark Tornillo. The band wrote an album of killer Heavy Metal songs, put in a ton of great riffs and then Mark put in a brilliant performance on vocals. Not every band can replace such a unique singer like Udo, Accept tried that back in 1989, but Accept really hit with Mark. I can’t say enough about how Mark sounds like Udo but really puts his own stamp on the songs and takes everything to another level. I’m not sure that BLOOD OF THE NATIONS would have the same impact if Udo did re-join the band. Here’s hoping the band continues making new records because they have set the bar high, one of the best comeback albums of the year! http://www.acceptworldwide.com/

#2

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (2010): Iron Maiden is no stranger to my year end countdowns because they always release such high quality albums and DVDs that it’s hard not to automatically install them at #1. So 30 years have gone by since the band’s self-titled debut and it’s been four years since the band’s last album A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (2006), so how did Maiden do? Well, I called this the album of the year in my review and it came so damn close! Say what you want about Metallica but I would argue that Iron Maiden is the biggest Heavy Metal band in the world and they make better albums then Metallica could ever hope to make. There is a tradition, a pedigree, a reputation that Iron Maiden has and they always rise to the task and create albums that just blow every other album away. THE FINAL FRONTIER gets better with every listen with some much to hear in every song. I know a lot of old school and/or casual fans prefer to hear the quick ‘Run To The Hills’ style Iron Maiden but the band is at their best when they write new material that has a Progressive edge to it. THE FINAL FRONTIER is a 76 minute album that reflects both styles and I haven’t stopped listening to it. A lot of that has to do with being a fan for 28 years and Maiden being in my Top 5 favorite bands of all-time but the album is high quality crafted Metal. Iron Maiden are legends and innovators and everyone else should follow their lead. http://www.ironmaiden.com/

One album to go everyone! The #1 album is next but before I get to it let me say again how great this year was for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal…..my Best of 2010 list, along with the other websites’ lists, will attest to that. I’ve listened to more new releases this year than any other year that I can remember and this year’s list was a hard one to make, there were so many really good albums, so many comebacks and reunions that it became one of the hardest lists to make in the site’s 5 year history. I really had a tough time with this list because I kept going back and forth between the new Iron Maiden record and this next album…..so here is my #1 Album of 2010…..

#1

Ratt – Infestation (2010)

2010 was definitely the year of the Ratt! I never thought that after eleven years since the last reunion and album that Ratt would ever get back together with founding vocalist Stephen Pearcy since there was so much bad blood and legal issues but the band put that stuff aside and set out to make INFESTATION. I’ve been a Ratt fan since OUT OF THE CELLAR (1984) and they have always been one of my favorite ’80s Hard Rock bands. I was psyched to see them on the 1999 Poison reunion tour and I thought they blew Poison away so I was hoping for a full tour after this album was released. Unfortunately, it seems like the band have gone their separate ways again and the future is in doubt for a follow-up album. INFESTATION is the classic Ratt sound: sleazy old school Hard Rock. Right from the opening rocker ‘Eat Me Up Alive’ to the classic ’80s style single ‘Best Of Me’ to the swagger of ‘Look Out Below’, Ratt has really pulled out all the stops writing some really solid songs. The founding trio of Pearcy, drummer Bobby Blotzer and guitarist Warren DeMartini are all on board, as is long time bassist Robbie Crane, but the addition of former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo really stabilizes the band’s sound in a way that hasn’t been heard since the glory days when the late Robbin Crosby traded licks with DeMartini. I bought this album the day it was released in April and it still gets plenty of playing time in my weekly rotation and if I had to name a song of the year, it would easily be ‘Best Of Me’, that song alone brings the band right back to the classic Ratt style of the ’80. Of all the albums I heard this year, INFESTATION is the one I enjoyed the most. Great album, great comeback…..too bad it’s probably over already! http://www.therattpack.com/

I think I say the same things every year when I write the introduction to my Best of the Year list…..this year was one of the greatest years for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! Every year it seems like more and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2010 was no exception, this was the biggest year for Heavy Metal Addiction as far as promotional review copies go. Usually, I physically buy all my new albums but this year I partnered with more labels, more promotional people and more bands and I received more albums for review than any other year. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up and I came nowhere close to listening to all of them properly. Looking at the piles on my desk, the boxes next to it and the separate iTunes folder I reserve for promo downloads, it’s easy to estimate that I have more new 2010 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than the last two years combined! Add in all the new releases I bought on my weekly trips to the record stores, and my daily online searches, and it’s fair to estimate that the total number of new releases from 2010 that I have right now at my desk is over 200.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was the same criteria I’ve used for the last few years: the album had to be a studio album (not a live record, best of, or covers collection) AND the album had to be released in 2010. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2009 overseas, but was released in 2010 for the U.S., qualified as a 2010 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I could have continued with a Top 40 list but I got so far behind listening and writing so there are definitely albums I haven’t heard yet or didn’t give proper time to. We’re talking a couple hundred albums though so anything that got missed might end up in an expanded “Albums I Missed in 2010″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 30 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is Part 2, the Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#11 – #20):

#20

Brainstorm – Memorial Roots (2010): MEMORIAL ROOTS was one of the best surprises of 2010 because I didn’t really get into their last album DOWNBURST (2008). I liked DOWNBURST but it took a lot of listening for me to warm up to it and I was concerned that this album would be the same thing. What made the album more accessible to me was the fact that the songs had more hooks this time around instead of being a straight up Power Metal feast. Brainstorm expands their sound a little on this album instead of following the same old formula by becoming a bit more melodic and they really did a great job. I wanted to spend extra time with this album because I was a little letdown by DOWNBURST to I made sure to give MEMORIAL ROOTS a lot of playing time and it paid off. http://www.brainstorm-web.net/

#19

Wig Wam – Non Stop Rock ‘N Roll (2010): I’m a child of the ’80s and the new Wig Wam record sounds like it came straight from 1986 with it’s big sound, party anthems and slick production. Wig Wam is a Glam band and influenced by all the big ’80s bands like Poison, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, etc. Name a Hard Rock/Glam/Sleaze bands from the mid-’80s and you can definitely hear some influence in the overall Wig Wam sound. That doesn’t mean that the music is generic but it does have a dated feel to it in a good way. I like all the big sounding party anthems and the ballads break things up a little and are a good fit. The only problem I have is that Wig Wam take too long between albums, this one being four years after 2006′s WIG WAMANIA. http://www.wigwam.no/index.html

#18

Kiske-Somerville – s/t (2010): Here’s an album that I was eagerly awaiting and had a hard time acquiring. When I heard that Amanda Somerville and former Helloween singer Michael Kiske were collaborating I had to get a hold of it because both are great vocalists. Michael Kiske goes without saying, listen to the early Helloween records and you know how good he is and I really haven’t explored his post-Helloween career. I know Amanda Somerville from her work with After Forever, Epica, Avantasia and Kamelot but, again, I’ve never explored her actual solo work. It’s a great pairing and both of them singing together on each song is a really great idea. The problem with acquiring the album turned out to be a combination of limited availability at my local record store and high import prices online but I found it in late Fall and I ended up buying the limited edition with a bonus track and two music videos. Definitely an album worth checking out. http://www.amandasomerville.com/ http://www.michaelkiske.net/index_en.php

#17

Griffen – Life: A Way To Die (2010): I found out about Griffen back in 2008 when the band sent in their second demo, LINKED IN ETERNITY (2008), for review. I was so impressed then with Griffen that I put them in my Top 30 of 2008 at #27! I never got to hear Griffen’s first self-titled demo from 2007 and now both are unavailable. The good thing is that LIFE: A WAY TO DIE compiled all nine songs from both demos and added three new songs to create Griffen’s first proper album. Now you may ask what the difference is between Griffen re-releasing their demo material versus a guy like Bret Michaels re-releasing previously released material as a new album…..the answer is that Griffen has never officially released their material. Demos can also be rough takes, although the one Griffen sent me a couple of years ago was so well done. If you want to hear some great Melodic Metal, then check Griffen out. It’s good to see the band signed and I can’t wait to hear what the come up with next. http://www.myspace.com/griffentheband

#16

Black Label Society – Order Of The Black (2010): A lot was riding on the latest Black Label Society album because of the events going on outside the band with Zakk Wylde: getting the ax from Ozzy’s band and then getting very ill with blood clots. I have just about every Black Label release and this was one of the better ones that I’ve heard in a few years. I bought this album right away and gave it a few initial spins and then I put it aside. One of the reasons why I put it down was because I was giving it a ton of time with Ozzfest coming to town two weeks after the album came out…..of course, Black Label didn’t play due to weather and equipment problems so I kind of put the record on the backburner. About a couple months later, I saw the video for ‘Overlord’ on Headbanger’s Ball and I got back into it. Zakk has always been focused on the projects he’s working on whether it be Black Label or stuff with Ozzy but I think leaving Ozzy’s band is probably the best thing for him. ORDER OF THE BLACK sounds more focused, more ferocious and more complete. I definitely enjoyed it a lot more than SHOT TO HELL (2006) and I’m looking forward to a more powerful Black Label in the future. http://www.zakkwylde.com/

#15

White Wizzard – Over The Top (2010): I really like White Wizzard! HIGH SPEED G.T.O. (2009) just made the Albums I Missed in 2009 list and I wasn’t going to let OVER THE TOP be one of those missed albums in 2010. I think one of the reasons why the first album got missed was because I spent a lot of listening time on OVER THE TOP. I grew up with Heavy Metal and White Wizzard definitely carries the flag high for old school Heavy Metal. I like everything about the band: the music, the albums covers, the logo…..this is a band I would have listened to back when I was a kid. I had a few doubts on this initially because of all the upheaval with the band’s lineup, especially at the vocalist slot, because the debut was solid and a massive lineup change can screw up a band’s sound. I think White Wizzard have come back stronger and the future looks bright. If you like old school Metal, check them out…..http://www.myspace.com/whitewizzard

#14

Halford – IV: Made of Metal (2010): With Judas Priest being my second favorite band and Rob Halford being one of my favorite heavy Metal singers, anything Rob releases outside Priest is definitely on my radar. I picked up Halford III – WINTER SONGS (2009) last year and it was a good record, just unexpected and not as Metal as previous Halford efforts. When I read online that Rob was making the fourth Halford album while taking a break from Judas Priest, I was ready for a Metal feast. MADE OF METAL picks up for me where Rob left off with his CRUCIBLE (2002) and where Priest should have maybe gone instead of  NOSTRADAMUS (2008). I got a preview of the title track when I saw the band perform brilliantly at Ozzfest 2010 and I had already heard ‘The Mower’ online so I knew it was going to be another solid Metal album from the Metal God. What makes this album stick out is that it’s more traditional heavy Metal, more Melodic Metal than the first two Halford albums and the songs get you singing along right away. I almost feel bad for not putting this Top 10! http://www.robhalford.com/madeofmetal/

#13

Kamelot – Poetry For The Poisoned (2010): I have been a Kamelot fan since KARMA (2001) and I always expect every new album to beat that album. The last few Kamelot albums have been hit or miss for me but when I read that the band was going for a darker sound on POETRY FOR THE POISONED, I got interested. Then the band announced a local concert about 40 minutes from my house so I was definitely all hyped up for a new Kamelot album. This album definitely has the darker edge to it and it’s still the same Power Metal and Progressive Metal mix that Kamelot has been known for. There’s female background vocals and plenty of orchestration to fill out the overall sound but what I like is when Roy Khan uses a little bit of an aggressive growl here and there, it adds a different element to his excellent vocal style. I keep listening to this album and I keep discovering different sounds everytime and it always sounds fresh. That’s the mark of a really good album, when it makes you keep coming back for more. I might have rated this a little higher if I was able to catch the band in concert, that didn’t happened when they cancelled the entire U.S. tour! http://www.kamelot.com/

#12

Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (2010): Like I mentioned when I added the new Dimmu Borgir to this year’s countdown, I wanted to open myself up to more extreme forms of Metal and to bands I may have missed in the past. One of those bands was Celtic Frost and it was easy to do both with Tom G. Warrior’s new band Triptykon. I’ll admit that it took a little while to get used to it but I really started to get into it as I kept listening. You’ve got a mix of Black, Death and Thrash with some Doom and the sound it just plain heavy. What drew me in was the guitars on the first song, the 11 minute epic ‘Goetia’. The guitar playing on ‘Goetia’ made me take notice and I kept playing just that tune over and over, it has such an early Black Sabbath influence to it. Anyway, Triptykon led me to more Celtic Frost (I only have 1985′s TO MEGA THERION) and Hellhammer and onto some other extreme bands. I know that ESPARISTERA DAIMONES is going to be high up on a lot of Metal websites’ best of lists this year and I might have ranked it higher if I was more familiar with more of this kind of Metal. Definitely one of the top albums of the year! http://triptykon.net/

#11

Treat – Coup De Grace (2010): I really didn’t think much of the news of Treat’s new album, COUP DE GRACE, because it had been 18 years since the band released a new studio album. I ended up being sent a digital promo of the album for review and I knew as soon as I heard the first song (‘The War is Over’) that this was going to be one of the best Melodic Rock albums of the year. Despite the 18 year hiatus, Treat doesn’t compromise their sound, it’s still a combination of ’80s era AOR, Melodic Rock and Hard Rock. It’s still a huge sound that compares to the better known bands from back in the day like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi but Treat is doing it better than those bands in 2010. The production here is so good and the songs are great, I really had a hard time keeping this out of the Top 10. This is one of the best comebacks of 2010 and one of the best albums, definitely worth picking up if you grew up with that ’80s sound. http://www.treatnews.com/

I think I say the same things every year when I write the introduction to my Best of the Year list…..this year was one of the greatest years for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! Every year it seems like more and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2010 was no exception, this was the biggest year for Heavy Metal Addiction as far as promotional review copies go. Usually, I physically buy all my new albums but this year I partnered with more labels, more promotional people and more bands and I received more albums for review than any other year. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up and I came nowhere close to listening to all of them properly. Looking at the piles on my desk, the boxes next to it and the separate iTunes folder I reserve for promo downloads, it’s easy to estimate that I have more new 2010 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than the last two years combined! Add in all the new releases I bought on my weekly trips to the record stores, and my daily online searches, and it’s fair to estimate that the total number of new releases from 2010 that I have right now at my desk is over 200.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was the same criteria I’ve used for the last few years: the album had to be a studio album (not a live record, best of, or covers collection) AND the album had to be released in 2010. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2009 overseas, but was released in 2010 for the U.S., qualified as a 2010 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I could have continued with a Top 40 list but I got so far behind listening and writing so there are definitely albums I haven’t heard yet or didn’t give proper time to. We’re talking a couple hundred albums though so anything that got missed might end up in an expanded “Albums I Missed in 2010″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 30 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#21 – #30):

#30

Van Canto – Tribe Of Force (2010): A Capella Power Metal…..that’s the best way to describe the Van Canto sound. I was skeptical when I first heard about Van Canto but after a few listens to the first single, ‘Lost Forever’, I got more interested. What drew me in was the uniqueness of the project but that also made the album a little hard to take after multiple listens. I’m adding TRIBE OF FORCE to the countdown because of the uniqueness of the idea and the fact that the band pulls it off extremely well. The only instrument used was the drums, everything else is vocal instrumentation. You have to admit, it takes a lot of talent to pull something like that off! Not having proper guitars and bass may take some getting used to for some fans but Van Canto is definitely more than a novelty band. http://www.vancanto.de

#29

Human Cometh – Evolution (2010): Human Cometh has to be one of the biggest surprises for me this year. I’m not sure how I found out about the band, either I found them through other Metal websites or the band contacted me about their debut album EVOLUTION. It doesn’t matter because I found them and the album is an excellent blend of different styles including Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, Power Metal and Progressive Metal. Every song on EVOLUTION is well written with solid musicianship and it’s hard to believe that this is a new band. One of the things I thought was cool about Human Cometh was that they offered this album as a FREE download to anyone interested and, if they wanted, fans could send a donation to the band via Paypal. It’s all about getting the music out there and Human Cometh have done just that. From what I understand, there is a proper CD pressing available so head over to their website to preview the music and support the band by purchasing a CD. http://www.humancometh.com

#28

Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2010): After re-reading the review I wrote on SCREAM back in July, I noticed that it may be a little too influenced by the previous two subpar albums. I sat down and gave this album a fresh listen and it’s actually pretty good. When you start to compare it to Ozzy’s last two records it sounds like a solid comeback for the Prince Of Darkness. I’m always skeptical of anything Ozzy does because of that stupid TV show that made him look like an idiot and his puppetmaster wife Sharon but I have to give Ozzy credit for trying to stay relevant in an ever-changing Metal climate. SCREAM isn’t the Ozzy of old, it isn’t the Ozzy of the ’90s, but it’s definitely the Ozzy for the new millenium. Dropping Zakk Wylde and replacing him with Gus G. added some fuel to the fire and seeing Ozzy live this past summer proved that he is back in a big way. SCREAM was a grower and it turned out to be a solid record. http://www.ozzy.com

#27

Raven – Walk Through Fire (2010): WALK THROUGH FIRE is one of those albums that got a worldwide release in 2009 except for North America. Metal Blade Records stepped to the plate and distributed the album here in the U.S. and I finally got to here the new raven at a decent price! Nothing is better than hearing new music from one of my old favorites, especially from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Raven was one of those bands I picked up on from the Metal magazines in the ’80s and I have slowly acquired a lot of their back catalogue. This new album sounds like the Raven of old, like the Raven that made WIPED-OUT (1982) and ALL FOR ONE (1983). A ton of high powered energy here and John Gallagher sounds like he hasn’t aged at all. This an album well worth waiting for, I just hope the next one isn’t another nine years in the making! http://www.ravenlunatics.com/

#26

Dimmu Borgir – Abrahadabra (2010): Two of my goals for 2010 was to open myself up to more extreme styles of Metal and bands that I have always wanted to check out but never get around to. Dimmu Borgir fit both goals perfectly, I have been wanting to check out more Black Metal and Dimmu Borgir has been one of those bands that I have wanted to check out for a long time. I’m very new to the whole Black Metal scene, I’ve read a ton about it and I’ve heard some songs but it’s safe to say that my personal collection and listening habits don’t include a lot of it. Dimmu seemed to be the most popular Black metal band so grabbing this new album was a perfect opportunity. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this album, it had a lot of different sounds and orchestration and the vocals weren’t completely unintelligible. ABRAHADABRA has the same effect that Immortal’s ALL SHALL FALL (2009) had on me last year, it’s opened up a new appreciation for Black Metal and now I’m starting in explore Dimmu’s previous records and check out other Black Metal bands. http://www.dimmu-borgir.com/

#25

Heavenly – Carpe Diem (2010): It’s kind of funny following Black Metal’s biggest band with a band name Heavenly. CARPE DIEM is another one of those albums that got a release everywhere but the U.S. in 2009, we finally got the proper release from AFM Records in early 2010. I’m a big Power Metal fan but I had never heard any songs from Heavenly’s previous four records so they were a totally new band for me. I have to admit, the reason why I got so interested in this album is the album cover, it’s so old school and so ’80s that it’s great. Seriously, album cover of the year! The music is well done with plenty of soaring vocals, orchestration and powerful guitars and I was completely surprised by the overt Queen influence on a few songs. Heavenly is a perfect example of a band that makes music I like but has fallen below my radar, CARPE DIEM has me searching out the band’s previous albums. http://www.heavenly.fr/

#24

Overkill – Ironbound (2010): When you get into discussions about Thrash Metal, the first four bands people bring up are the big four of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. As you move along, you get the second tier of Thrash bands like Testament, Exodus and Overkill. I don’t know if it’s because Overkill was an East Coast band and the focus always went to the San Francisco Bay area scene back in the day but Overkill always seems to get forgotten. The band has been going strong for 26 years and they have released great album after great album the whole time. IRONBOUND continues the tradition and it’s one hell of an old school Thrash album following the same formula Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and D.D. Verni have been using their entire career: high powered, in your face Thrash. There’s no frills here just straightforward power and that’s why IRONBOUND is one of the best Metal albums of 2010. http://wreckingcrew.com/Ironbound/

#23

Bruce Kulick – BK3 (2010): KISS is my favorite band so anytime a former member releases a solo project I run to the record store! Bruce Kulick was one of the biggest reasons KISS remained a vital entity from the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s…..his playing was always great and he added that sense of stability at the lead guitarist position that the band needed since Ace Frehley left. I never really got around to buying Bruce’s two previous solo albums but I did follow him post-KISS with Union so I knew a little of what to expect. What I didn’t expect was a high quality and very personal Hard Rock album and that’s a statement made without all the KISS fandom attached. The songwriting is great as is Bruce guitar work but the surprise is how well Bruce sings because he only ever got one song to sing in KISS (‘I Walk Alone from 1997′s CARNIVAL OF SOULS). Another great surprise is how well the collaborations went with other musicians singing like Gene Simmons, Nick Simmons, Tobias Sammet, John Corabi and Doug Fieger from The Knack…..these are some of the best songs on the album. Maybe Bruce could teach Slash how it’s done? http://www.kulick.net/

#22

Mob Rules – Radical Peace (2010): I’ve been a Mob Rules fan since 1999′s SAVAGE LAND but I missed out on the band’s last album ETHNOLUTION A.D. (2006). When I read that Mob Rules was releasing a new record, I jumped at it as soon as it came out but the problem was that it didn’t get released until 2010 in the U.S. but everywhere else got it in late 2009. This is another one of those albums from AFM Records in Germany…..I don’t know if it’s a distribution thing or what but I wish these album would come out at the same time in all territories. RADICAL PEACE is a mix of Power and Progressive Metal and it has a HUGE sound, it kind of reminds me of one of my favorite records from 2008, Cloudscape’s GLOBAL DRAMA. All the songs on this album are really good but the standout is the 18+ minute long ‘The Oswald File’, a song that is the second part of ETHNOLUTION A.D. and is broken up into six chapters. Definitely an epic! http://www.mobrules.de/

#21

Sister Sin – Sounds Of The Underground (2010): I had Sister Sin on the list of bands to check out but once I saw them open up for the Michael Schenker Group in July, I ended up putting both their albums at the top of the listening pile. Sister Sin plays a traditional style of Heavy Metal and I was blown away by how much energy and power they had live. Lead singer Liv has a great Metal voice that reminds me of Doro Pesch and she kicks a ton of ass on stage. Sister Sin’s overall sound reminds me of Doro, Warlock and also Judas Priest, the aggressiveness gives it that early ’80s Metal sound. I like the fact that the music is guitar oriented and aggressive, the only other band I can remember in recent years that kicked this much ass doing female-fronted Traditional Metal is Benedictum. Sister Sin is definitely a band to check out and watch in the future. http://www.sistersin.com/

2010 was another great year for new albums. Bands from all different genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal released good albums this year and I was on the frontlines buying them up as they were released. Of course there were some bad albums too. I bought more new releases, and had more new albums submitted for review, in 2010 than I have any other year that Heavy Metal Addiction has been active so there were bound to be some bad ones in the pile. In previous years, I’ve received a lot of email about my decision to call this the “Worst” albums of the year, some people have thought that it is too negative. My feeling is that no matter if the album is a major disappointment because you were looking forward to it so much, or the album is just plain awful from the packaging, to the production to the performance, then it qualifies under the heading of “Worst”. Of all the albums I picked up some releases were just plain bad, some were huge disappointments, some I just couldn’t stand…..so here is my list of The 5 Worst Albums of 2010:

#1

Methods Of Mayhem – A Public Disservice Announcement (2010): Without a doubt, this is the WORST album I heard in 2010. I tried, I really did, but it was so hard to try and sit through the entire album and I tried at least a half dozen times. I’m all for solo projects, I’m all for experimenting with different styles but when you advertise and market a new album in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal circles then it better have some Hard Rock or Heavy Metal in it! This is Alternative, Nu-Metal and Rap beats all thrown together, with outside contributions from guest musicians and fans, to create a wall of sound that is so just a bunch of noise. This album is 10 years too late and even then that’s a stretch. I never bought this album and I am so glad I didn’t waste my $13, I just feel bad for the guy I borrowed this from because there’s no way this album was worth 13 cents rather than $13. I would even go as far as saying that this album might even be worse than last year’s Worst Album of the Year.

#2

Bret Michaels – Custom Built (2010): Big bad Bret is no stranger to the Worst of the Year list because he made the list in 2008 with his last “new album” ROCK MY WORLD (2008). The problem the last time was that Bret advertised ROCK MY WORLD as a “new studio album” and only three songs were actually new with the rest coming from previous Bret solo records. Fast forward two years and Bret is at it again with CUSTOM BUILT! He advertised this album as a “new studio album” but only four songs were actually new with the balance coming from the out of print FREEDOM OF SOUND (2005) and LETTERS FROM DEATH ROW (1998). Add in a cover and a couple alternate mixes/demos and you’ve got a 1/3 of a new album. Is it right to rip-off fans like this? Why not re-release the three real studio albums Bret has done outside of Poison? I understand you want to promote your reality television career but what about the fans? If it wasn’t for Tommy Lee, Bret Michaels would take the top honors this year.

#3

Dark Age – Acedia (2010): This is one of those albums that got released everywhere else in the world in late 2009 but got a North American release in early 2010. Dark Age is a Melodic Death Metal from Germany and one of my goals this year was to open myself up to more of the extreme forms of Metal. The problem with ACEDIA is that it’s very light on the Death Metal and very heavy on the Nu-Metal and Alternative Metal. The comparison I made in my review was Linkin Park…..I’m not and never have been a fan of Linkin Park and their style of whining Rap infused music. This album is ten or eleven years too late to the party, I’m not sure if Dark Age’s previous albums were a lot heavier and more Death Metal but there really isn’t a lot of Metal here to enjoy. I may not be an expert in the Death Metal, or Melodic Death Metal, scenes but I’ve heard enough to know that there is still Heavy Metal in it!

#4

Slash – s/t (2010): This new album from Slash was highly anticipated and highly disappointing, making it a leader for “Worst Album of 2010″ since it’s release. There’s no doubt that Slash is a guitar icon and that he has had a hand in some excellent Hard Rock & Heavy Metal albums with Guns ‘N Roses, Velvet Revolver and Slash’s Snakepit but not everything can turn to gold or platinum. There’s an all-star cast on this album and some of the names are well known in Metal circles: Lemmy, Ozzy, Duff, Izzy and Dave Grohl. Then there are the names well known in Pop circles: Adam Levine from Maroon 5, Kid Rock and Fergie. Fergie? Are you serious? I’m all for Slash experimenting with different musicians and different styles but, when you advertise an new album heavily in Metal magazines and Metal television shows, shouldn’t you put some extra Metal in it? I really wanted to like this album because I really like Slash, especially in GNR and Snakepit, but Fergie? The guy from Maroon 5? I would have rathered Slash make an entire rock record with one singer handling most of the album and adding in the Lemmy, Ozzy and Ian Astbury tunes, I’m sure Myles Kennedy could have done some Rock songs instead of the mid-tempo/ballad types he did here. But Fergie? Really?

#5

Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila (2010): I really debated adding this album in because I did hear some other albums that could have qualified but TATTOOS & TEQUILA was a major disappointment. Vince had all the cards lined up: a summer tour coming with Motley Crue on Ozzfest, the album was being released on Nikki Sixx’s label, solid producers and a great backing band. This had the potential to be a really good album on par with the latest albums from Vince’s main band Motley Crue. The problem is that there was no effort. Vince has “Bret Michaels Syndrome” (BMS): let’s hype a new record as a “new studio album” and then give the fans only a couple new originals. Granted, Vince didn’t re-release previously recorded material like big Bret but how hard is it to go in and sing some well known cover tunes? I read all the press and hype and it went from “a brand new studio album” to “an album of songs that influenced me”…..let’s call it what it is, a quick cash grab! I bought it, I listened to it, I was fully disappointed especially when the two originals were really good. Then again, Vince didn’t have a hand in the writing so where’s the effort?

2010 wasn’t a bad year for music DVDs but I think it was very similar to 2009. In 2009, there weren’t that many notable DVDs released from the big name bands and a lot of bands used DVDs as special bonuses in first pressing of new releases. I also missed a few DVD releases in 2009 and that carried over to 2010 as well. The difference between the last few years, aside from Iron Maiden not releasing an awesome DVD this year, is that I made sure I picked up a few more DVDs. Actually, this turned out to be one of my better years for DVDs, I think I acquired about ten and all of them were very well done. Bands and labels are continuing to raise the bar by putting a lot of content into these DVDs so that the fans get a lot of value for their hard earned dollar. So here is my list of  The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2010:

#1

The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) - Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010): Technically this is a box set but the reason you’re buying the box set is to see the concert. It was obvious from the second I opened the package that this was going to be the DVD of the Year because the expectation of seeing all four Thrash heavyweights on one bill, and then on one stage together, was the whole point. As far as content goes, this was definitely the best DVD. You got full sets from each band, along with the ‘Am I Evil?’ jam during the Metallica set, and they were all great performances. There was also enough bonus footage of the backstage are and the ‘Am I Evil?’ rehearsals to make that a special add-on. Maybe the fact that I got the DVD in the box set has something to do with it because the box set did include the audio CDs, booklet and photo cards but the DVD can be purchased separately and, if I got that version, it would still be at the top spot.

#2

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live In Tokyo (2010): I’m putting Michael Schenker in the second spot because this was a tour souvenir for me after I caught the show in Foxboro, MA a few months later in July. Michael Schenker has been one of my favorite guitarists for a long time and the early MSG albums are still classics. When I caught the show in July, it was one of the best concerts I’d seen this year, if not all-time, Michael and the band put on a great show. This concert in Tokyo is basically the same show I saw in Foxboro with a little different running order, a couple extra songs and a different touring lineup. The concert is superb and it’s obvious that the magic between Schenker and original MSG singer Gary Barden is still there. Not a lot of extras here (some backstage footage and interviews) but the performance more than makes up for it with classic songs and great musicianship.

#3

Jeff Scott Soto – One Night In Madrid 2009 (2010): ONE NIGHT IN MADRID 2009 was released in Europe in late 2009 but got a proper U.S. release in early 2010 along with the two disc live album. Not only is Jeff Scott Soto one of the best Rock singers in the business, he is also extremely fan friendly when releasing CDs and DVDs. This DVD set includes the 21 song setlist from Sala Heineken in Madrid and and extensive bonus section that is longer than the main show! The Madrid show includes songs from all over Soto’s career and is a superb performance. The bonus section features eight music videos from Soto’s solo albums and second bonus section that includes behind the scenes tour footage and a tribute to Marcel Jacob, Soto’s bandmate in Talisman who passed away unexpectedly in 2009. The total running time for the single DVD is 4 hours & 5 mins but the concert itself is only 1 hour & 42 mins long…..that means there’s over 2 hours of bonus material. Now that’s really giving the fans something extra! This DVD would have easily made the #2 spot but the MSG performance was just a bit more special because I had seen it live. ONE NIGHT IN MADRID is a very close 3rd…..maybe if the live album was included in the package instead of a separate release it would have put it in 2nd.

#4

Halford – Live In Anaheim (2010): LIVE IN ANAHEIM is another one of those releases that got a separate DVD and a separate live CD release, it would have been nice to have the whole package together but that’s another issue. This DVD is two parts: Part 1 is a band documentary including four songs performed in Tokyo, Japan in February 2003 and Part 2 is the full 19 song concert in Anaheim from June 2003. This Halford footage is prior to Rob Halford reuniting with his Judas Priest bandmates so the Halford band was his only focus and, at the time, they were promoting and touring the band’s then latest record CRUCIBLE (2002). The band’s performances are tight, Rob is in fine form vocally and the Anaheim setlist is varied enough where there are twelve Judas Priest songs but seven songs coming from CRUCIBLE, RESURRECTION (2001) and some songs from Rob’s days in Fight. Personally, I would prefer more solo/Fight/Halford tunes than the Priest stuff because, well, it’s Halford but at least Rob and the band pull out some lost Priest nuggets like ‘Rapid Fire’, ‘Never Satisfied’ and ‘Riding On The Wind’.

#5

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: Live In Europe (2010): This Heaven & Hell live DVD captures the band live headlining the Thursday night opening day of the 2009 Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. Obviously, with the death of Ronnie James Dio, NEON NIGHTS: LIVE IN EUROPE is the final recorded document of the Dio-era Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell…..ten months later, Ronnie would pass away. This DVD is the basic Heaven & Hell concert in support of the band’s latest studio album THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009) and it’s basically the same set that I saw a month later in Boston. As far as extras go, just a couple of interview segments with each band member including Ronnie. I’m adding this DVD in ahead of a few others I have because the performance is superb and the impact of the music is great. If this is the way we remember Ronnie James Dio and his time in Sabbath, then this is the way to do it.

Not every album released is a new studio album…..but it sure seems like they are! Every year there are a ton of live albums, greatest hits packages, reissues, remasters, box sets, special edition and limited edition releases that flood the marketplace. Sometimes there are multiple versions of these releases depending on which part of the world they are released in!

The one important criteria I have each year for the best and worst albums lists is that the albums have to be new studio albums…..or at least promoted as new studio albums. The problem is that some of these live records and greatest hits packages are quality releases and there’s nothing like getting a really good reissue of some long out of print album you’ve been searching years for. That’s why this year I’m creating this new list to recognize some of the quality non-studio, non-original releases that have found their way into my collection. There were a lot of different releases that I picked up that weren’t studio albums so I’m only going to list my ten favorites. So here are my Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2010…..

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol Deluxe Edition (1987/2010): Black Sabbath is one of my favorite bands and the Tony Martin era of the band is one of the most underrated eras of any band. It’s no secret that I prefer the Dio era and the Martin era to the Ozzy era (I like the Ozzy era too!) so I’ve been collecting these Sabbath deluxe editions all along. The original release of THE ETERNAL IDOL was in 1987 and was the last album under Sabbath’s Warner Bros. contract but did you know that Tony Martin wasn’t the original vocalist that recorded the album? Sabbath fans know that Ray Gillen, who replaced Glenn Hughes on THE SEVENTH STAR tour and would go on to front Badlands, did the original sessions. When Gillen left Black Sabbath, Tony Martin was brought in to re-cut the vocals and properly join the band. The original album is remastered and it sounds great but the gems here are the two B-Side singles ‘Black Moon’ and ‘Some Kind Of Woman’. Disc Two is the collectible for fans who don’t trade bootlegs: the Ray Gillen sessions! These sessions have been widely available in traders’ circles but I could never acquire a copy…..now I don’t have to!

Dio – At Donington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010): As a huge Dio fan, Ronnie’s death in May really affected me, the thought of my heavy metal heroes passing away was unbelievable because the music and the bands have meant so much to me for the last 28 years. With no new music coming from the Dio camp, unless there’s some unreleased material, it’s good to see that Ronnie’s wife and manager, Wendy Dio, is releasing archival material like this live set. Both shows have been cleaned up and sound great, you can hear the awesome power in Ronnie’s voice and both lineups are extremely tight. Both the 1983 and the 1987 sets are awesome but I keep reaching for the second disc for the DREAM EVIL setlist with tracks like ‘Dream Evil’, ‘Naked In The Rain’ and ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’ among the other Dio anthems and the Black Sabbath and Rainbow classics. Disc 1, the HOLY DIVER set, is no slouch either and might be most fans’ favorite of the two but I like the deeper tracks on Disc 2. A great live CD set that truly honors one of the greatest singers in Metal history.

Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010): Judas Priest have been my second favorite band since 1982 and BRITISH STEEL (1980) has been a big reason why. This 30th anniversary set was hard to come by because I wanted the three disc version rather than the two disc and it was definitely worth the search. The remastered album is already in my collection because it’s the same as the 2001 remaster but the reason to buy this is the live CD and DVD recorded in Florida on the 30th Anniversary tour. I saw the show in Mansfield 10 days before this show so the performance is like a tour souvenir for me. There are a lot of deluxe edition and limited edition reissues of older albums flooding the marketplace now and it’s good to see that some of them have the quality bonus material that this package does. My only complaint is that the label put out two versions: this one and a 2 disc without the live CD, it makes things confusing for the fans and harder to find what you want.

Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010): Has it really been 25 years since THE RIGHT TO ROCK came out? 1985 doesn’t seem that far away! The Keel reunion and new album was one of the reasons why THE RIGHT TO ROCK got a proper reissue on Frontiers Records. I’m putting this album in this list because I’ve had this album on both vinyl and cassette but a CD version is very hard to find. There may have been a Japanese CD edition back in 1985 but I have no information and the Metal Mayhem reissue from 2000 seemed a little basic, a little “bare bones”, even though it was officially endorsed by Ron Keel himself. The remastering sounds great and it’s cool to get a couple of bonus tracks but I would have like a little more in the way of extras. The selling point for me was getting a definitive official CD reissue to add to my collection.

Jorn – Dio (2010): This album wasn’t without some controversy with it’s release coming quickly after Ronnie James Dio’s passing but this album was already made and ready for release when Dio passed so it was just a matter of bad timing. I’m not a fan of cover songs but I can do a tribute or covers album…..odd, isn’t it? The selling point here was the original song and video ‘Song For Ronnie James’ that was to be Jorn’s special tribute to the man who influenced him as a singer. Then the balance of the album would be Jorn and band covering different Dio songs. What made this one of the better non-studio releases was the tracklisting, Jorn went through the Dio catalogue and picked out a lot of songs that don’t normally make it into Dio’s “greatest hits”. Songs like ‘Invisible’, ‘Sunset Superman’, ‘Push’, and ‘Shame On The Night’ were all good to hear as part of the tribute instead of the usual fare like ‘The Last In Line’ and ‘Holy Diver’.

MainEEaxe – Shout It Out (1984/2010 reissue) & Going for Gold (1985/2010 reissue): One of the things I like to collect is bands and albums from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and these two MainEEaxe albums have been on my radar for a long time. These two reissues are great because they have all the criteria needed: bonus tracks, extensive liner notes and credits and pictures. A lot of care on the part of Cherry Red Records/Lemon Recordings went into these packages because everything is here including album and single artworks. What makes these reissues worth it is that all the bonus tracks are songs from MainEEaxe’s hard to find singles and E.P.s…..if you do the research, every song the band recorded is on these two reissues in proper order and the singles and E.P.s are noted in the credits. When you’re talking hard to find records from the mid-80s, it’s good to get everything together on CD, I wish every reissue could be done so well.

Savage Grace – The Dominatress/Master Of Disguise reissue (2010) & After The Fall From Grace/Ride Into the Night reissue (2010): As if the two MainEEaxe reissues weren’t enough, Limb Music takes reissuing to another level with these two sets from Savage Grace. I have had the album cover for MASTER OF DISGUISE in my mind for years from when I was a record store junkie as a kid, and I just recently got around to buying it on vinyl, but I wanted proper CD versions of all the band’s albums to preserve my pristine LPs. You can tell Limb went above and beyond with these reissues by adding in all the songs from Savage Grace’s hard to find demos and the RIDE INTO THE NIGHT E.P. (1987). That alone is the selling point aside from a proper CD pressing but then there are lyrics to all the songs, pictures, extensive liner notes and band history. One of the things I was looking for on these reissues was to see if the original album artwork would be retained because it’s a bit X-rated for our time 25 years later and it is. Image this album artwork on store shelves today!

Triumph – Greatest Hits Remixed (2010): Normally a greatest hits collection wouldn’t get my juices flowing but Triumph always puts out great releases when they have full control. Back in 1989, a greatest hits package titled CLASSICS was released by MCA Records but, by then, Triumph was basically over as far as the classic lineup went and CLASSICS was a quick cash in as the band’s contract ended. There hasn’t been a Triumph compilation since but, now that the band has the rights to their music catalogue, they have created their own. This is a two disc set including a DVD of 14 music videos and the Canadian Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, that’s the selling point because it’s a great package for the price. The music CD sounds great and you can tell that the band took good care in remixing the songs for the best sound. The only problem I have is that some of the songs, when compared to the originals, sound different. I’m not one for redoing the original to the point where you can pick out obvious differences and I picked up on this when I sat down and compared these remixes to the originals…..yes, I did compare the two! Aside from that small complaint, it’s great to get so much music for so little money. I paid $12 for two discs (14 songs & 14 videos), similar packages released this year were much more expensive and didn’t have that much content.

It never fails…..every year goes by and there are always a ton of albums I end up missing. There are so many new albums released every year that it’s almost impossible to keep up. Usually I spend the first two months of the new year acquiring all the albums I didn’t buy the previous year before all the new releases start to flood the market. 2009 was no exception as I missed more than a few notable Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums. The following is a list of albums I missed in 2009 that I picked up in 2010…..some of the albums I just didn’t buy until 2010, some I bought but never got around to listening to and some I just forgot about! As many of you collectors know, if you acquire a lot of albums, they tend to pile up, and my pile kept growing! The more the pile grows, the more albums get pushed to the bottom of the pile. With all the submissions coming in and all the albums out there to buy, things can get lost in the shuffle quick. The following list of albums are CDs that were either in a pile on my desk waiting to be listened to but never got around to giving them a proper spin until the new year or albums I picked up in early 2010. Some of these albums might have made my Top 40 Albums of 2009 or at least extended it to a Top 45 or 50!

3 Inches Of Blood – Here Waits Thy Doom (2009): Here’s a case of an album being bought and getting lost in the shuffle! I picked up this new album by 3 Inches Of Blood back between September 2009 and mid-October 2009 for $10. If I’m not msitaken, I picked this album up around the release date because the price I paid reflects what would be the sale price at the record store. I’ve been a fan of 3 Inches Of Blood since their second album FIRE UP THE BLADES (2007) and I’ve gone backward and picked up their previous two releases but I completely ignored HERE WAITS THY DOOM. I know exactly what happened: I bought it, put it in the “BOUGHT” pile and other CDs got put on top of it as my CD hunts continued. I think I may have listened to it once before the year ended! I even forgot about it as this year started and I went back and started to listen to it around the Spring. HERE WAITS THY DOOM is a pretty good record and I kind of wasted time by not getting to it sooner!

Cage – Science Of Annihilation (2009): Here’s another album that I picked up in 2009 but never got around to listening. I’m a big Power Metal fan and Cage has been on my radar since 2003′s DARKER THAN BLACK, I own that album and 2007′s HELL DESTROYER. Back in mid-2009, I was sent a digital download of the album for review purposes so I didn’t plan on picking it up right away. I had the album download link but it didn’t work so I started looking for the CD…..nothing in the record stores and the prices online were way too high so I waited. I ended up picking this album up through an online store that was having a sale about five months after it was released. By then I had deep piles on my desk, SCIENCE OF ANNIHILATION got added in and lost in the shuffle. I did get a the album uploaded to my iPod so I gave it a couple late night spins but not nearly enough for a review or to be eligible for my year end awards.

Charm City Devils – Let’s Rock ‘N’ Roll (2009): I had no intention of buying this album because of all the hype. First, the singer, John Allen, was the drummer in the punk band SR-71. Second, the band signed to Nikki Sixx’s Eleven Seven label. Third, there were all the comparisons saying that the band was a combination of AC/DC and Jet. Now I like AC/DC but I think Jet sucks, I didn’t like SR-71 and most of the bands on Nikki Sixx’s label aren’t for me…..with that stacked against them, there was no buying Charm City Devils’ debut. Then I started reading all these positive reviews and seeing decent sale prices at the record shops…..but I still passed. It wasn’t until early January 2010 that I found this CD used for half price and I finally decided to pick it up. It went in the pile and stayed there because I just couldn’t get over the initial reasons NOT to buy it. I ended up playing this a few times early in 2010 but not revisiting it until August and September. Definitely an AC/DC clone and I can hear the modern similarities to Jet. Overall, not a bad record, I just never gave it a fresh chance.

Epica – Design Your Universe (2009): I bought this album on the same trip as Charm City Devils in January. DESIGN YOUR UNIVERSE came out in mid-October 2009 and I passed on it even with the good sale price. I’m not sure what I was thinking about because I’ve been an Epica fan since 2007′s THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY, going backwards to explore their previous releases. Obviously, Simone Simons has a beautiful voice but a lot of people I’ve spoken with seem to think that’s all Epica is about. Actually, the band’s music is aggressive and orchestrated at the same time and Simons isn’t the only singer because Mark Jansen provides the more aggressive vocals. Definitely Power Metal and the selling point is Simone Simons especially in the seemingly endless sea of female-fronted Metal bands. I ended up grabbing this album early in 2010 and I have been listening to it on and off for the entire year…..had I just picked it up when it was released, it would have easily made the 2009 Top 40.

House Of Lords – Cartesian Dreams (2009): That first shopping trip of 2010 was a good one because this CD by House Of Lords is the third record of five on this list that came from that trip. I was a fan of House Of Lords back in the ’80s because of the Gene Simmons connection and the Giuffria connection but you couldn’t escape the singles ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ and the cover of ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ on FM radio in 1988 and 1990. I had those first two albums (HOUSE OF LORDS and SAHARA) on cassette back in the day but I lost touch with the band as the ’90s closed in and I missed a whole bunch of albums. I rediscovered the band in 2006 when they released WORLD UPSIDE DOWN  and 2008′s COME TO MY KINGDOM but this new record wasn’t high on my priority list when it came out in October 2009. I ended up buying CARTESIAN DREAMS on the basis of seeing the it end up in a lot of Best of 2009 lists and, well, name recognition. I’ve played it a few times over the course of 2010 and I liked what I heard…..time to revisit the House Of Lords back catalogue!

GWAR – Lust In Space (2009): With all the copycat bands out there like Mushroomhead and Lordi, the originators of taking Shock Rock to the ultimate level is undeniably GWAR. I’ve been listening to GWAR since my last year of high school when SCUMDOGS OF THE UNIVERSE (1990) was released and I’ve been picking up their albums here and there over the years. When the band announce the August 2009 release of LUST IN SPACE, I started to go back and listen to a lot of GWAR and then I picked this album up. Maybe it was too much GWAR at one time or too many new albums to go through but I ended up losing this one to the growing pile. I pulled this album back out when I heard that the band was releasing their new album, BLODDY PIT OF HORROR. Usually there’s a couple of years between GWAR records so getting a new one before I really got into the previous one put me in a bind because I hate missing out on music and I like to listen to bands I’ve followed in order. Seeing that I’m missing more than few GWAR albums, that idea goes out the window, but it’s cool to at least hear the last record before the new one. I enjoyed LUST IN SPACE and I see it easliy bouncing an album out of last year’s Top 40.

W.A.S.P. – Babylon (2009): Here’s the fourth album from the first shopping trip of 2010! I have been a W.A.S.P. fan since the first album and I have picked up, and enjoyed, every W.A.S.P. album through HELLDORADO (1999). Actually, I didn’t like HELLDORADO, it sucked and that album has made me delay buying every new W.A.S.P. record since. I picked up both UNHOLY TERROR (2001) and DYING FOR THE WORLD (2002) years after they were released but they were good records. This is W.A.S.P.’s second time on a list like this because they made the Albums I Missed in 2007 list with DOMINATOR (2007). DOMINATOR made the list because of the bad hangover I had from both NEON GOD albums released in 2004, they were awful and DOMINATOR suffered from that and no proper U.S. distribution until late in the year. BABYLON suffered the same fate but I played it a lot in 2010 and it easily would have made last year’s Top 40.

W.E.T. – self-titled (2009): Jeff Scott Soto is involved? I’m buying! The problem is that the import prices both in store and online were way too much for me so I waited until January of this year. The W.E.T. debut is the fifth album from the first shopping trip of the year and I ended up still paying a high price ($17) but all was good because I had gift cards to burn! Couldn’t go wrong with the value here with the bonus DVD of videos included. Seriously, Jeff Scott Soto could sing the alphabet and I would buy it but add in Robert Sall from Work Of Art and Erik Martensson from Eclipse and you have a solid group of musicians. This debut is an extremely great melodic rock album and I can definitely hear why it made a lot of top album lists for 2009…..if I had bought this right away and given this proper listening time, it would have easily cracked last year’s Top 40.

White Wizzard – High Speed G.T.O. (2009): This is more of an E.P. than a full-length album with only seven songs but it’s a solid seven songs! HIGH SPEED G.T.O. was released in July 2009 but I waited a few months to pick it up. I grew up with the NWOBHM and traditional Heavy Metal so White Wizzard sounded like a band I would get into but it seemed like everyone was giving them high praise. When that happens, I get skeptical. I picked this up, gave it a couple introductory spins and put it in the pile. Big mistake on my part because this ended up being one of my favorite albums of 2009. I revisited this album because White Wizzard’s second release, and first full-length, OVER THE TOP, was released in February and I quickly got attached to it. I would have put this in last year’s Top 40…..or by this point, extended it to a Top 45 or 50! Traditional, old school Heavy Metal is alive and well coming from the U.S. with bands like White Wizzard around.

Winger – Karma (2009): Winger has had a stigma attached to them since the Beavis & Butthead cartoons aired on MTV back in the ’90s but they have released some of their best music in the ’90s and beyond. The first two Winger albums were huge during Hard Rock’s heyday in the ’80s and early ’90s but PULL was released in 1993 and that was a solid album. I didn’t get into Winger’s last album, IV (2006), but it got them back on my radar so, when my friend bought the album and recommended it, I decided to grab it on my last CD Scavenger Hunt of 2009. This album really surprised me because it’s not the ’80s Hard Rock Winger is well-known for, it’s grittier and heavier, but it also retains that ’80s sound. Make sense? KARMA is a pretty good album but I still haven’t given it enough listening time because of the backlog of CDs to listen to but it’s been cool to revisit this album over the last few weeks.

2010 is almost over and it’s been a good year for buying music. There have been so many new albums, so many reissues and so many discovered treasures that it’s been hard to keep up! Actually, I didn’t keep up…..I have literally hundreds of albums  on my desk and in boxes next to it that I either bought or were sent in by bands. There is just no possible way that I can listen to every album that crosses my desk but I do make a point to give every CD I buy a listen. I’ve bought a lot this year through online stores, band websites, Ebay, private sales and…..my favorite…..the record stores! Record stores are a dying breed, more and more are closing every year, especially the mom & pop stores that cared about the music and the customer, go out and support them!

December is always my slowest month of the year because the holidays are right around the corner and the hard earned cash has to be spent on more important things…..like presents and holiday dinners and, well, more presents! This is also the time of year when not much comes out because most of the new albums have already been released and it’s time for labels and stores to focus on greatest hits packages. The problem is that there are ALWAYS great sales this time of year, especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and I can’t pass things up sometimes.

So here it is, the final update of 2010…..make sure you check out my final totals and analysis at the bottom…..

Online

Lana Lane - Gemini (2006), Garden Of The Moon Special Edition (2002), 10th Anniversary Concert CD/DVD (2005) & Rocket Scientists – Revolution Road (2006) - $20: I was going through my CD collection making lists of things I was missing the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I decided to head over to Think Tank Media to see how much the Lana Lane CDs were because there are some glaring holes in the collection even after I picked up a few on Ebay this year. When I got to the website, they were having a $5 sale with free shipping on select inventory…..how could I pass up this sale? So I started going through the list and I picked up three Lana Lane releases I needed and I decided to try a Rocket Scientists album, the band that Lana’s husband, Erik Norlander founded. What a great deal! GEMINI is a covers record so I never bought it when it came out, the GARDEN OF THE MOON Special Edition is a 2 CD set, the 10 ANNIVERSARY CONCERT is a CD & DVD set and the Rocket Scientists album is a 2 CD set also. That’s like getting 6 CDs and a DVD! Plus free shipping? SOLD!

Ebay

Bret Michaels – Freedon Of Sound (Vol. 1): A Collection Of Songs Past & Present (2005) – $15: I have been on the search for all the Bret Michaels solo albums because, if Bret’s going to repackage everything with a couple extra new songs and new artwork and call it a new album, I’d rather get the out of print original. This album is interesting because it has a lot of new songs for 2005 but it also has the start of the repackaging of older material with two songs each from the two previous Bret solo albums, A LETTER FROM DEATH ROW (1998) and SONGS OF LIFE (2003). Most of these songs are out there on Bret’s newer albums ROCK MY WORLD (2008) and CUSTOM BUILT (2010) so you can definitely hear them but, if you want the originals on Bret’s label, you’re out of luck…..out of print! I have been scouring used bins and Ebay for a while and I came across this CD on Ebay as a BUY IT NOW with free shipping…..I pulled the trigger immeadiately!

Helix – Half-Alive (1998), Jackal – Vague Visions (1993), Jaded Heart – Slaves And Masters (1996), Letter X – Time Of The Gathering (1991), Mercyful Fate – In The Shadows (1993), Rattlebone – s/t (1992), Samson – Refugee (1990), Tokyo Blade – Mr. Ice (1998), Tyketto – Strength In Numbers (1994) – $27 used ($3 each): I found this lot on Ebay when I was cross-referencing a different Helix album, so I saved it and kept my eyes on it. I don’t own any of these CDs and the price was right to add all of them at once to my collection. How can you pass up 9 CDs at $3 each? I have been trying to pick up all the Helix CDs I’m missing so getting HALF-ALIVE is a big deal seeing that I’ve seen just that CD go for $20+…..the rest of the bands I’ve heard of, some like Tyketto, Samson and Jaded Heart I already own other records but this lot is more like a cool grab bag for me. It adds so bulk to the collection and maybe a hidden gem or two.

Final Stats for 2010

Total (December) = $62

Total (year) = $1820

Average Price (per item) = $10.23

Total CDs (year) = 162

Total DVDs (year) = 7

Total Box Sets (year) = 7

Total LPs (year) = 2

2010 is almost over so that means it’s time for my year end awards! It’s been another awesome year for Hard Rock and Heavy metal and I have listened to more new albums, discovered more new bands and watched more new DVDs than any other year in Heavy Metal Addiction’s almost five year history! I have had more albums submitted for review this year than any other year as digital promos have taken over as the easiest way to get the word out as quickly as possible and I have done my part as a consumer and purchased plenty of new and old albums & DVDs from record stores, Ebay, online vendors and direct from bands and labels.

With all this music it’s been every hard to keep up so this has been the worst year for posting but I have made a serious push in November and December to listen to as many CDs, and watch as many DVDs, as possible to prepare for my year end lists. I have piles on my desk and boxes right next it chock full of CDs and DVDs released in 2010, as well as, albums I missed in 2009 so there’s a lot to write about and I will try and catch up on as many 2010 reviews as I can in early 2011. I have been re-listening to as many 2010 albums that I can so I can post my best and worst of 2010 lists, last year I did a Top 40 Best Of but this year I will pair it back down to a Top 30 again. I will post those picks along with my top 5 DVD picks, albums I missed in 2009 that could have made my best of 2009 list, and the last CD Scavenger Hunt of 2010…..a new feature will be The Top Miscellaneous Releases of 2010 and that will include any live albums, greatest hits packages, reissues, etc. that were released and need to be mentioned. I’ve got my sights set on 2011 and I expect and even bigger year in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal as I keep checking out new releases and catching up on things I missed from 2010!

Here is the schedule for the 2010 Awards Week:

Friday 12/24The final CD Scavenger Hunt of 2010

Saturday 12/25Albums I Missed in 2009

Sunday 12/26The Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2010

Monday 12/27The Top 5 DVDs of 2010

Tuesday 12/28The 5 Worst Albums of 2010

Wednesday 12/29The Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#21-#30)

Thursday 12/30The Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#11-#20)

Friday 12/31The Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#1-#10)

———————————————————————————————————-

For the last few years, a bunch of us bloggers/writers out there have linked our year end lists together and 2010 continues the tradition. The best thing about these lists is that there is always room for debate and there are always many albums some of us may have missed during the year. Please check out the websites below for more best of/worst of 2010 lists by some excellent writers with a serious passion for music. Some of the websites published their lists earlier in the month, some later and some as a month long daily post so check out the websites’ December 2010 archives for everyone’s picks. There may also be some lists that extend into January 2011 so bookmark these excellent websites and check them out daily for superb Hard Rock and Heavy Metal coverage.

All Metal Resourcehttp://allmetalresource.com/ 

Bring Back Glamhttp://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

Hair Metal Mansionhttp://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideouthttp://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nightshttp://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addictionhttp://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machinehttp://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoeshttp://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rockhttp://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Excesshttp://metalexcess.com/

The Metal Minutehttp://rayvanhornjr.blogspot.com/

Metal Odysseyhttp://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effecthttp://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Extreme – Take Us Alive: Boston 2009 (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. Decadence Dance
  2. Comfortably Dumb
  3. Rest In Peace
  4. It (‘s A Monster)
  5. Star
  6. Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
  7. Medley: Kid Ego, Little Girls, Teacher’s Pet, Play With Me
  8. Midnight Express
  9. More Than Words
  10. Ghost
  11. Cupid’s Dead
  12. Take Us Alive
  13. Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee
  14. Get The Funk Out
  15. Am I Ever Gonna Change
  16. Hole Hearted

DVD Bonus Material: Videos for ‘King Of The Ladies’, ‘Interface’, ‘Run’, & ‘Ghost’ from SAUDADES DE ROCK (2008)

Band Lineup:
Nuno Bettencourt – Lead Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Gary Cherone – Lead Vocals
Pat Badger – Bass & Vocals
Kevin Figueiredo – Drums

Producers: Extreme & Devin DeHaven (DVD)

Country: USA

Total Time (DVD) = approx 2 hours (includes concert & bonus videos)
Total Time (CDs) = approx 1 hour 40 minutes

Extreme
Extreme MySpace page
Frontiers Records

Recorded live on August 8, 2009, TAKE US ALIVE is a live album and DVD that showcases Extreme playing in front of a sold out hometown crowd at the House Of Blues in Boston, MA. I was able to catch Extreme live a couple of years before in Boston at another venue while they were touring in support of their reunion but I was unable to catch this show last year. Now I’m kicking myself because, as the DVD shows, it was a solid energetic concert full of hits and new songs from their latest album SAUDADES DE ROCK (2008). What we have here is two separate releases a DVD and a 2 CD live album…..not sure why this can’t be packaged together as a special set but this seems to be the trend for most of the live CD and DVD releases this year.

DVD:
The DVD version of TAKE US ALIVE captures Extreme live on stage in front of a sold out Boston crowd. The DVD contains the full 16 song concert and has a bonus section that includes four music videos made for songs from the band’s latest studio album, SAUDADES DE ROCK (2008). As far as the setlist goes, you get all the big hits like ‘Decadence Dance’, ‘Rest In Peace’, ‘Get The Funk Out’, ‘More Than Words’ and ‘Hole Hearted’ alongside new songs like ‘Star’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Comfortably Dumb’ and ‘Take Us Alive’ and they all work well together. Extreme have always been excellent musicians and that always translated into their songwriting and performances and this DVD really showcases how well the band plays and interacts on stage. I’ve been a fan of the band since their first album, only saw the band live once back in 2006, so I was really analyzing how the band played live. First off, drummer Kevin Figueiredo, who played on SAUDADES DE ROCK (2008), plays solidly throughout the show and fits seemlessly into the band. Back in 2006, the reunion show in Boston had original drummer Paul Geary on the kit, as well as, a guest appearance by Mike Mangini who ended up replacing Geary. For some reason, I was looking for one of these guys on the drums but Figueiredo is excellent. Turns out that Paul Geary is one of the band’s managers now! The energy of the band is powerful…..Gary Cherone prowls the stage with serious presence and superb vocals, Nuno Bettencourt is every bit the guitar god he has been made out to be and Pat Badger is the solid rock that keeps it all together. Honestly, I couldn’t believe the energy Cherone has on stage, this guy is pushing 50 and in excellent shape but he moves and sings like he was back in his 20s. Nuno’s guitar work is awesome, giving me a fresh appreciation for the man’s skills, and he really shines both on the electric and acoustic, touring with Pop superstar Rihanna hasn’t dulled his Hard Rock skills at all. I guess what I took most out of this DVD was how much fun an Extreme show is and how many solid songs these guys have. We all know the hits and they are the highlights of the show but the newer songs off the latest record are great too. Best one of the four is ‘Star’ because it sounds like classic Extreme and features their signature harmonies but ‘Ghost’ was also solid live. The highlight for me was the medley of songs from the first Extreme record released in 1989: ‘Kid Ego’, ‘Little Girls’, Teacher’s Pet’ and ‘Play With Me’…..that debut record is still my favorite and it brings back a ton of memories, good to see the band still play stuff from it. There’s no bonus material listed on the packaging but I found some on the DVD menu…..four videos from the SAUDADES DE ROCK album, best of the bunch being ‘King Of The Ladies’. It’s great that the band included these here because you’ll never see them on MTV or VH-1 Classic. The booklet is sparse, just pictures of the band members with the credits on the inside panel of the DVD digipak.

CD:
As far as the double CD live album goes, well, it’s basically the same thing as the DVD just without the visuals and the bonus videos obviously. The booklet is sparse also but the band pictures are different and the credits are in the booklet and not on the digipak. I like having the live album for the car, iPod and stereo and the concert holds up well in an audio-only format.

Bottom Line:
TAKE US ALIVE is a solid live release both on DVD and CD. I’ve been an Extreme fan since their first album back in 1989 and I’m surprised that they don’t already have a live album out there. TAKE US ALIVE is worth checking out because Extreme has a ton of great songs and the performance is great but it’s also a great way to experience some of their new material. For me, a must have release…..a little short on extras, although the videos were a nice surprise, but the concert speaks for itself.

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live In Tokyo (2010, Inakustik)

  1. Welcome Howl intro
  2. Feels Like A Good Thing
  3. Cry For The Nations
  4. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
  5. Armed And Ready
  6. Victim Of Illusion
  7. Are You Ready To Rock
  8. I Want You
  9. A Night To Remember
  10. Into The Arena
  11. Lost Horizons
  12. Rock My Nights Away
  13. On And On
  14. Attack Of The Mad Axeman
  15. Ride On My Way
  16. Rock Bottom
  17. Dance Lady Gipsy
  18. Doctor, Doctor

DVD Bonus Material: The L.A. Rehearsal and Backstage Impressions

Band Lineup:
Michael Schenker – Lead Guitar
Gary Barden – Vocals
Wayne Findlay – Guitars, Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums

Producers & Directors: Kiyoshi Iwasawa, Kota Akutsu, Shin Yamamoto

Country: USA & Germany

Total Time (DVD) = 1:39:54 (concert) & approx 25 minutes (bonus material)
Total Time (2 CDs) = 1:39:54

Michael Schenker
Inakustik Music

On June 13, 2010, the Michael Schenker Group performed a concert at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan as part of the Japanese tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band and the first MSG lineup. You could call this a reunion of sorts with Michael joining forces again with original vocalist Gary Barden and drummer Simon Phillips, who played the drums on the first MSG album. Also along for the ride is long time Schenker guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay and former Whitesmake/Black Sabbath/Vow Wow bassist Neil Murray. Japan has always been a country in love with their guitar heroes and Michael is certainly fits that bill, I have been a fan of his career for years spanning his time with the Scorpions, UFO, MSG and solo. I caught this tour with a different lineup back in July and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen this year and the first time I saw MSG live but the lineup was different for the U.S. tour. What we have here with the 30th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT: LIVE IN TOKYO is two separate releases: a DVD and a 2 CD live album.

DVD:
The DVD version of the 30th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT captures the all-star MSG lineup in full force at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan in front of a sold out crowd. There’s the full 18 song concert shot with multiple cameras and a bonus section that includes part of the tour rehearsal in Los Angeles with band interviews and a behind the scenes backstage look at the Tokyo show. As far as the setlist goes, it’s basically the same as the one I saw in Foxboro, MA except that the running order is different and there are thwo additional songs: ‘Feels Like A Good Thing’ and ‘Victim Of Illusion’. There are plenty of classic MSG tracks and the band focuses on the first two MSG albums with a combined ten songs including ‘Cry For The Nations’, ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘On And On’ and ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, as well as, ‘Rock My Nights Away’ from the Barden led BUILT TO DESTROY (1983). Also thrown in the mix are two UFO classics, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, and four new songs, ‘I Want You’, ‘A Night To Remember’, ‘Ride On My Way’ and ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’. I really enjoyed watching the DVD as each musician is an expert at their intruments but the real treat here is watching Michael play from right up close. When I went to see the concert in Foxboro, it took a while for me to get myself positioned in front of Michael because that’s what everyone wants to do! The DVD allowed me to sit and watch one of the greatest guitarists play with ease and grace and truly enjoying himself. The performances are top notch and the set highlights for me are all the MSG classics but the new songs really fit right in. I saw ‘I Want You’, ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘Ride On My Way’ (from 2008′s IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY) live in Foxboro so I knew they were going to be great watching this DVD but the added bonus is getting ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’ from the Schenker Barden Acoustic Project – GIPSY LADY (2009). What you are buying this DVD for is the concert but there is a 25 minute bonus section that is pretty cool too. The first part is rehearsal footage from 1/9/10 in Los Angeles mixed with interviews with all the band members. The best interviews are with Michael,as he recounts his career with all his bands, and Simon Phillips, who provides a little more insight into his involvement on the debut MSG record. The second part of the bonus material is behind the scenes backstage footage of mostly soundcheck and the backstage are but there is also some cool footage of Michael interacting with fans after the show. As far as bonuses go, this is pretty basic stuff but cool nonetheless.

CD:
As far as the CD goes, it’s a 2 CD set that is a carbon copy of the DVD…..the setlist is identical as is the booklet but there are no bonuses on the CD version. I like having the live album for my stereo, car and iPod because it’s all about the music and there is plenty of classic songs on this live album.

Bottom Line:
A solid release here both on DVD and CD and a definite tour souvenir for me. I’ve followed Michael Schenker throughout his career but I’ve only seen him live once, on this tour almost two months after this DVD was shot. Seeing MSG live was one of my all-time favorite concerts so this DVD and CD has a special place in my musical history and, when I listen to the CD, I see the show I saw. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since the first MSG album debuted but 1980 was a long time ago for sure. It’s great to see and hear all these classic tracks from the first two MSG albums live and it’s great to hear some of the newer songs fit in seemlessly. Definitely well worth your time checking out if your an MSG fan, a great concert.

David Rock Feinstein – Bitten By The Beast (2010, Niji Entertainment)

  1. Smoke On The Horizon
  2. Evil In Me
  3. Break Down The Walls
  4. Metal Will Never Die (featuring Ronnie James Dio)
  5. Kill The Demon
  6. Rocks Boogie
  7. Give Me Mercy
  8. Run For Your Life
  9. Gambler Gambler

Musicians:
David Rock Feinstein – Guitar, Bass & Vocals
Nate Horton – Drums
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals on ‘Metal Will Never Die’
Carl Canedy – Drums on ‘Metal Will Never Die’
Garry Bordonaro – Bass on ‘Metal Will Never Die’

Producer: David Rock Feinstein

Country: USA

Total Time = 44:30

David Rock Feinstein
Bitten By The Beast.com
David Rock Feinstein MySpace page
The Rods
Ronnie James Dio/Niji Entertainment

You may know David Rock Feinstein as the current guitarist/vocalist for the New York Heavy Metal legends The Rods but he was also a member of Elf with his cousin Ronnie James Dio. Feinstein has been on the music scene for close to forty years, playing on Elf’s debut album, releasing seven albums in the ’80s with The Rods and one record under the band name Feinstein but it’s his family affiliation with Dio that most fans knwo about. BITTEN BY THE BEAST is Feinstein’s second solo record (the first was 2004′s THIRD WISH by the band Feinstein) and the main draw is the final studio recording of Ronnie James Dio on vocals. This record has been a two year labor of love for Feinstein who plays all the instruments except the drums, cut all the vocals except for the Dio led ‘Metal Will Never Die’ and was the producer. The album has been released on Niji Entertainment (Wendy Dio’s company) and not only features Ronnie James Dio on ‘Metal Will Never Die’ but a full Rods reunion with Carl Canedy (bass) and Garry Bordonaro (drums) also playing on the track.

I am Metal and I will never die….” A very prophetic and eerie line in ‘Metal Will Never Die’. Like I mentioned, the draw here was the last studio recording of the late Ronnie James Dio on ‘Metal Will Never Die’…..honestly, this is the only reason why I bought the album. ‘Metal Will Never Die’ is a slow, doomy Sabbath style song that fits Ronnie perfectly…..always the consumate professional, Dio puts in a solid vocal performance. Listen closely after the opening guitar intro and as Dio starts singing, the rhythm section gets into a groove that has touches of the underlying rhythm parts of the Black Sabbath classic ‘Heaven & Hell’. As I mentioned, Carl Canedy and Garry Bordonaro of The Rods join Feinstein and Dio on this song and that also leads us into the ineveitable Rods reunion, I heard there’s an album being worked on right now! Obviously, this song is going to get BITTEN BY THE BEAST the most mileage in the press and it should, it’s the best song on the album. I’ve heard a couple of interviews with Feinstein about the production and mixing of this song, and of the album, and Ronnie was also involved in the mixing process.

Now that we have the Dio portion of the album out of the way, how does the rest of the album stack up? The rest of BITTEN BY THE BEAST is a meat & potatoes, old school ’80s Metal feast that features your basic guitar, bass , drums and vocals all primed to Rock. Feinstein vocals are very raspy and gritty and at times I hear a but of Brian Johnson (AC/DC) and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) in his delivery. There really isn’t a set style to all the songs but more of a wide range of styles that include straight Heavy Metal on tracks like ‘Smoke On The Horizon’, ‘Evil In Me’, ‘Kill The Demon’, ‘Break Down The Walls’ and’Give Me Mercy’, to a southern Blues Rock boogie groove on ‘Rocks Boogie’ that sounds like ZZ Top mixed with AC/DC, to Power Metal on ‘Run For Your Life’, to a ’70s sludge on ‘Gambler Gambler’. This entire record is based on one thing…..the guitar. Every single song has killer riffs and solid solos, they may be basic guitar parts compared to the intricate stylings of current day Metal guitarists but Feinstein does a solid job of putting the riffs out there and in your face. What draws me in is the old school Metal sound, it all sounds dated and you can hear the influences on some songs: ‘Evil In Me’ and ‘Kill The Demon’ have that Dio sound, ‘Break Down The Walls’ has Judas Priest written all over it and the Black Sabbath influence on ‘Metal Will Never Die’ is obvious.

Bottom Line:
I’m an old school metalhead so I enjoyed BITTEN BY THE BEAST. The songs may sound dated but they are well done and definitely in your face. The songs are catchy,powerful and well written and performed, that’s all you can really ask for in a true Heavy Metal record. The obvious reason to buy this album is ‘Metal Will Never Die’ with the late Ronnie James Dio on vocals but I think that song also overshadows what is a pretty solid album. I’m not taking away from the Ronnie song, it’s an integral part of the album, but if people buy this and don’t go beyond to the other songs then it’s a waste. Take that one song off the album and you still have a solid Metal album that’s worth checking out.

Favorite Songs:
‘Smoke On The Horizon’, ‘Break Down The Walls’, ‘Metal Will Never Die’