The 2012 Heavy Metal Addiction Awards

2012 is over so that means it’s time for my year end awards! It’s been another awesome year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with so many releases on CD, DVD, Vinyl and Digital formats, not just new studio albums but also live records, reissues and special edition releases. I have had more albums submitted for review this year from bands, labels and PR agents 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. The only problem has been finding the time to do through everything!

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 said the same thing at the end of 2010 & 2011 but 2012 was in fact the worst year for posting at Heavy Metal Addiction…..I only managed to post 19 times! I couldn’t even break 20 posts on a blog I started 7 years ago as an extension of my hobby! Pathetic! Obviously sitting in front of a computer writing wasn’t something that interested me again this year.

I did listen to a lot of albums this year but I stayed mainly with albums in my collection even though I have piles on my desk, and in boxes right next it, chock full of CDs and DVDs released in 2011 and 2012. I bought a ton of new releases as they came out and I’ve spent some time listening to them, I just didn’t get around to writing about them. I haven’t completely abandoned this website as I plan to continue it because there’s a lot to write about and I will try and catch up on as many reviews as I can but the reality is that there’s no way to “catch up”. I think it’s best to try and concentrate on 2013 and add in what I can from previous years.

I have been re-listening to as many 2012 albums that I can since November so I can post my year end awards. Usually I break this up into a week’s worth of posts but I decided to take advantage of a couple new WordPress features and do it all as one big article. I’m pairing down my lists a bit to give you the absolute cream of the crop in each category and I’ve also decided to re-define a couple categories. This year the Best DVD category will include DVDs that came with CD releases, because that seems to be the current trend,  and the Worst Album category will get a name change to Most Disappointing Album so I can try and maintain some positive spin…..but if an album makes it into this category, then I thought it sucked! Last is the Miscellaneous Release category, that stays the same but there could be some crossover between this and the Best DVD category with all the multiple CD and DVD or Blu-Ray combo releases coming out. I tried to limit the crossovers but the best package is going to get on both lists.

That’s all I’ve got for changes so I hope you enjoy the 2012 awards, please leave comments and give me your thoughts on what was the best & worst of the past year. I’ve got my sights set on 2013 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 the last couple of years.

The Top 15 Albums of 2012

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  1. Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth
  2. UFO – Seven Deadly
  3. 3 Inches Of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal
  4. KISS – Monster
  5. Accept – Stalingrad
  6. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
  7. The Darkness – Hot Cakes
  8. Kamelot – Silverthorn
  9. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
  10. Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth
  11. Rush – Clockwork Angels
  12. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last Of A Dyin’ Breed
  13. Lita Ford – Living Like A Runaway
  14. L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever
  15. Lamb Of God – Resolution

There were a ton a great albums in 2012 but only one album can earn the top honor of being the best of the year and that is reserved for A Different Kind Of Truth from the “reunited” Van Halen. By reuniting with David Lee Roth a few years ago, the only thing the Van Halen brothers had to do was release a new album with Diamond Dave on lead vocals. Let’s call it like it truly is: this isn’t a TRUE Van Halen reunion because Michael Anthony is out of the band and replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang. The good news is that A Different Kind Of Truth is a great album! Forget the fact that Eddie and Alex went through the Van Halen tape vault for ideas because EVERY band does it…..hasn’t the father of Heavy Metal, Tony Iommi, stated often that he has tapes of riffs for miles? Every band looks for ideas and revisits demos and music they created years before, it’s the updating that counts. This album has that unmistakable classic Diamond Dave/Van Halen sound circa the late ’70s and early ’80s and, even though he’s a bit older, Dave does a great job on the mic. The first single, ‘Tattoo’, wasn’t the best song on the album and might have been better suited to a follow-up single but everything after is classic Van Halen. ‘She’s The Woman’ is a re-worked demo from the ’70s that is clearly the best song on the album for me and it definitely fits that 1984 album era well. ‘China Town’, ‘Blood And Fire’, ‘Stay Frosty’, ‘Big River’…..all new Van Halen classics that sit right up against anything in their back catalog. A Different Kind Of Truth is the true follow-up to 1984, unfortunately 28 years after the fact, and it’s my top album of 2012.

Taking a look at the rest of the Top 5…..UFO released Seven Deadly and earned the 2nd spot with another excellent album of bluesy Hard Rock. UFO has done much wrong since they came back in 1995 and I can’t find a weak track on the album. Phil Mogg’s lyrics are modern poetry and there is no slack in the guitar department because Vinnie Moore has more than a few albums under his belt with the band. Hard to pick a favorite track here but ‘The Last Stone Rider’ is my favorite this week! Had Van Halen not released their new record, UFO would easily be #1. The third best goes to 3 Inches of Blood with Long Live Heavy Metal, probably the best pure and traditional Heavy Metal record of the year. Take one listen to the opener ‘Metal Woman’ or the Judas Priest influenced ‘Leather Lord’ and that’s a great example of not only this record but the band’s career. Of all the Metal albums I heard this year, 3 Inches of Blood got the most rotation on my stereo and iPod. My favorite band KISS comes up a bit short of the top spot but still maintains the #4 album with Monster. When it comes to KISS, I’m extremely critical because they are my favorite band and they have barely released anything since new in 15 years. We got Sonic Boom in 2009 and it took the top spot that year and Monster is just as good but I had a harder time getting into it like I did with Sonic Boom. Maybe it was the anticipation of the previous album, or the travelling circus atmosphere that KISS creates with everything they do, but after repeated listens the album is just as good if not better. Anyone worrying about Dave, Eddie and Alex recycling should give Gene Simmons grief too because it’s obvious he does it but his songs are the better ones on the album. Paul Stanley has great moments too but I worried about his vocal issues going in and Gene hasn’t lost a step vocally. a lot of good songs here: ‘Wall Of Sound’, ‘Back To The Stone Age’, ‘Shout Mercy’ and ‘Eat Your Heart Out’…..here’s hoping they give us another one! Rounding out the Top 5 is Accept’s Stalingrad, the second record to feature new vocalist Mark Tornillo (formerly of TT Quick). The last Accept album with Mark debuting on vocals, Blood Of The Nations, was a superb record and Stalingrad is a great follow-up and it might be more powerful. I think Accept shares the same fate as KISS here, the anticipation for the first new album was so high on my part that a second release suffers just a little. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Hung, Drawn and Quartered’, the title track, and ‘Shadow Soldiers’ are awesome tunes but can anyone explain the meaning behind ‘Flash To Bang Time’?

Rounding out the Top 15…..Nightwish’s Imaginaerum was very close to the Top 5 but came up short because they first 5 albums were so good. I expected nothing from The Darkness but I bought Hot Cakes when it came out and I loved it immeadiately, same thing with Silverthorn from Kamelot despite the change at singer. Gojira was a surprise of the year because I’d never bought an album from them before and L’Enfant Sauvage kicked major ass, so did the new Testament album at #10 and the new Lamb of God at #15, giving the more extreme side of Metal a presence. Rush picked up #11 with Clockwork Angels but I expected a great album so their was no surprise there but Lynyrd Skynyrd surprised with their latest album proving that good music always prevails despite the genre, time or legacy. Lita Ford had a great comeback with Living Like A Runaway, a very introspective Hard Rock record, especially after the debacle of Wicked Wonderland and L.A. Guns proved that they still write great songs and that usually the lead singer’s version of the band will always out do the founding guitarist’s version because the singing voice is the most identifiable thing to most fans.

The 5 Most Disappointing Albums of 2012

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  1. Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension
  2. Steve Harris – British Lion
  3. Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves
  4. Slash – Apocalyptic Love
  5. Great White – Elation

Usually I call this “the worst albums” of whatever year it is but I wanted to keep a positive spin on this category because who am I to say an album sucks? I have no musical talent, I don’t write songs or play an instrument. I could change it back next year if a bunch of albums do indeed suck but, for 2012, these are the most disappointing records of the year. I heard the first two singles from the new Aerosmith album and I was hooked right away, especially with ‘Lover A Lot’, but the bulk of Music From Another Dimension sounded formulaic and forced. Too many outside writers, too many ballads, too many predictable songs. Do we need another Diane Warren ballad? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and the ballad is what gave the band ultra-success from the Pump record straight through Nine Lives. I was really looking forward to a reunited Aerosmith and a bunch of rocking songs but there’s too much filler. Take a page from KISS…..lock the band in the studio and do it mostly yourself.

There was a lot of surprise when it was announced Iron Maiden’s founding bass player, Steve harris, was releasing a solo album that he had been working on for a long time. With Maiden’s hectic schedule, who knew? Apparently Steve did and he enlisted musicians from a band he had been producing called British Lions, to create the British Lion record. It’s supposed to be a throwback album to the days of classic Thin Lizzy and UFO that had a big impact on a young Harris but, aside from the hard Rock style, I didn’t hear much of the influences. Let’s call it like it is: anything Steve Harris does outside of Iron Maiden will always be compared to Iron Maiden. There’s a different style to the music on this album compared to Maiden but I expected the same excellent quality from Steve. The songwriting seems too pedestrian, too simplistic……then again, we are used to epic lyrics on Maiden albums. The band can play well but Steve seems pushed back purposely in the mix (probably due to the Hard Rock style) and the singer has no range…..then again, we are spoiled with Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden. There’s no helping the comparisons to Iron Maiden but the quality of the material just lacks on this solo album from Steve Harris.

Rounding out the Top 5 here…..Geoff Tate’s new solo album comes on the heels of his split with the Queensryche camp, who are no strangers to this category! In the back of my mind, I knew this wouldn’t be good but I had hope but Kings And Thieves was just plain boring. Same thing with Apocalyptic Love from Slash. Slash is an iconic guitarist and hopes were high for this album with lead singer Miles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) but it was just boring. remember that Izzy Stradlin and Axl Rose were the creative forces in Guns ‘N Roses, not to say Slash didn’t contribute, but anything he does will always come back to Guns…..and even then, Guns only had two albums of classic material with Appetite For Destruction and if you cherry pick off the Use Your Illusion albums. Last album in this category is Elation from Great White, featuring former XYZ singer Terry Ilous on vocals replacing the fired Jack Russell. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on this album but, for me personally, it comes down to the voice and Jack Russell’s fits the bluesy Hard Rock of Great White’s music better than Terry Ilous. It’s by no means a bad album and, considering the vocalist change, it a solid effort. I just couldn’t get into it and I expected a bit more after the last two records, Back To The Rhythm and Rising.

The Top 5 DVDs of 2012

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  1. Scorpions – Live In 3D: Get Your Sting & Blackout
  2. Iron Maiden – En Vivo!
  3. Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009
  4. Queen – Days Of Our Lives
  5. Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil: Live At Irvine Meadows ’82

This year I decided to included DVDs and/or Blu-rays that came with CD releases or box sets because this seems to be the way bands and labels are adding something extra for fans. My favorite DVD of the year is also the first Blu-ray release I ever bought…..Scorpions – Live In 3D: get Your Sting & Blackout. An excellently produced concert film with plenty of extras, this got the top spot because I saw this tour live over the summer and that put Live In 3D over the top. The Scorpions needed that emotional attachment because iron Maiden delivered another excellent DVD in a long line of excellent DVDs with En Vivo! Does Iron Maiden ever do anything wrong went it comes to video releases? Plenty of awesome concert footage from Santiago, Chile and plenty of documentary film as well the only thing I could complain about is to package the DVD or Blu-ray with the double CD live album for a special package (that’s the next category). The new Saxon DVD is solid and part of the Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009 release, the DVD incorporates the band’s best performances from the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany for 2004, 2007 and 2009…..that’s 31 songs! and some behind the scenes footage and you’ve got a Saxon fan’s dream DVD, only bettered by the super limited edition box set of this release that included separate DVDs of the full concerts. Had I been able to get one of those, Saxon would own the top spot easily. Rounding out the Top 5 is the Queen documentary, Days of Our Lives, finally getting a proper DVD release and the famous often duplicted, VHS only Ozzy Osbourne concert Speak Of The Devil: Live At Irvine Meadows ’82.

The Top 10 Miscellaneous Releases of 2012

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  1. Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009
  2. UFO – The Chrysalis Years (1980 – 1986)
  3. Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2: Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else
  4. Motorhead – The world Is Ours Vol.1: Everywhere Further Than Everywhere Else
  5. U.D.O. – Celebrator
  6. Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance (30th Anniversary Edition)
  7. KISS – Destroyer Resurrected
  8. U.D.O. – Live In Sofia
  9. Dio – The Very Beast Of Dio Vol.2
  10. Quiet Riot – Live At The US Festival ’83

I never like to put these kind of releases into my top albums category because I like to reserve that for albums of new material but there are always other great new releases aside from new studio albums and 2012 was no exception.

The #1 spot goes to the 2CD/DVD release from Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009 because that was my favorite release with the DVD of the best of the band’s last 3 appearances at Wacken Open Air and the double audio CD from Glascow on the Call To Arms Tour in 2011. My only regret is not knowing about the preorder for the limited edition that came with extra DVDs and CDs but it was also a couple hundred bucks. The second slot goes to the second volume of the UFO back catalog on Chrysalis Records from 1980 thru 1986. You get 5 CDs that include the 5 post Michael Schenker albums (No Place To Run, The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent, Mechanix, Making Contact, & Misdemeanor) all with bonus tracks, plus a full BBC In Concert from February 1980 and the live tracks from the Headstone compilation from Hammersmith 1983. I was lucky to have the label send me a copy but to get all this at retail for around $50 is a steal! I already have all the UFO albums on Japanese import with bonus tracks but this is another great compilation for a great band.

The #3 and #4 spots belong to Motorhead with The World is Ours Vols 1 & 2. I couldn’t decide which was better so I put the second volume first because it was fresher in the memory. Both sets have 2CD live sets and a live DVD in great packaging just like the Saxon set. Their label UDR is really putting out great stuff! U.D.O. also gets 2 slots in this Top 10 with the Celebrator two disc compilation of rare tracks and the Live In Sofia 2CD/DVD set. I put Live In Sofia at #8 but it’s a solid live package, AFM Records doing what UDR is doing and, for $14 on sale, it was a no brainer. The Celebrator album is really great because it collects all those hard to find Japanese bonus tracks remixed, some previously unreleased songs and a few songs from various tribute albums. I could have done with out the remix treatment and had the originals but I’m sure that was done to get thru legal label red tape. Its a great compilation of 25 songs on two discs with a great full color booklet. I put the Judas Priest Screaming For Vengeance 30th Anniversary Edition in at #6 more for the DVD from the US Festival ’83 than anything else, same with Quiet Riot at #10…..now that makes three bands that have released live DVDs of their US Festival performances (Triumph did it a few years ago). KISS released Destroyer Resurrected and it made #7, basically it was a 36 year celebration release restoring all the original artwork and having producer Bob Ezrin remix the album. It’s a nice novelty to have especially for the original guitar solo on ‘Sweet Pain’ as a bonus track but I will admit that my KISS fanaticism pushed this higher. Last to mention is The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 covering the best of the Dio band’s work from the ’90s up until Ronnie’s death, the track here to have is ‘Electra’ the first completed song from what would have been from the Magica II album that the band was working on when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

3 Releases I Missed In 2011

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  1. Royal Hunt – Future Coming From The Past DVD
  2. Benedictum – Dominion
  3. Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination

Just a quick note on a couple releases I missed out on in 2011…..the Royal Hunt DVD is a formal worldwide release of the Japan only video release of Live 1996 and, even though it’s all over Youtube, it’s a welcome addition to my collection. Benedictum keeps churning out great albums and their third, Dominion, is awesome as is Forever Abomination from Skeltonwitch, a band I finally got around to checking out in 2012.

CD Scavenger Hunt (April update)

Still catching up on posting my purchases…..here’s what I bought in April…..

Newbury Comics

Accept – Stalingrad (2012) – $10
Municipal Waste – Fatal Feast (Waste In Space) (2012) – $10
Jeff Scott Soto – Damage Control (Deluxe CD/DVD) (2012) – $20
Fastway – Eat Dog Eat (2012) – $15
Roulette – Lifeline (2011) – $4 used
Primal Rock Rebellion – Awaken Broken (2012) – $10
Into Eternity – Incurable Tragedy (2008) – $4 used

I made a few trips around the Rhode Island area to various Newbury Comics locations because I wasn’t banging on the door of the closest store on consecutive Tuesdays for new releases! My first trip to the North Attleboro, MA store netted me the new Accept, Municipal Waste and Jeff Scott Soto albums all at sale prices. The Jeff Scott Soto album is the limited edition with bonus tracks and bonus DVD so it’s still a pricey $20 but, when it’s an artist I enjoy, I will always pay the extra money. The second trip on the second Tuesday of April was where the problems started this month! I went to my usual Attleboro location for two new releases, Fastway and Adrian Smith’s new side project Primal Rock Rebellion, but I got there about an hour late and the two copies of Primal Rock Rebellion were sold! Not to be shut out, I had the store call the Warwick location to hold a copy for me. After I bought the new Fastway on sale, and added a dirt cheap used copy of Roulette’s LIFELINE (2001), I went the 25 minutes to Warwick, RI for the Primal Rock Rebellion album and added a cheap used copy of Into Eternity’s INCURABLE TRAGEDY (2008) to make the drive worth it.

Ronnie James Dio – The Elf Albums (1994) – $12 used
Shark Island – Gathering Of The Faithful (2006) – $1 used (was $10)
Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination (2011) – $10 used
Rush – Caress Of Steel (1975) – $1 used (was $9)
Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire (2009) – $8 used
Rush – Power Windows (1985) – $1 used (was $8)
Rush – s/t (1974) – $8 used
Elegy – Forbidden Fruit (2000) – $1 used (was $7)
Rush – Grace Under Pressure (1984) – $7 used
Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes – Loaded For Bear (The Best of) (1999) – $1 used (was $5)
From The Inside – Visions (2008) – $6 used
DeAllen – Twisted Inside (2000) – $1 used (was $6)
Arabia – 1001 Nights (2001) – $6 used
Black Robot – s/t (2009) – $1 used (was $4)
24K – Bulletproof (2001) – $4 used
Faith Circus – s/t (2006) – $1 used

The third trip of the month came just a few days later because there was a used CD sale, “Buy 1 get 1 for $1″, so I made sure I was outside the door of the Attleboro location early so I could grab some of those used albums I’ve been watching for a while. I use these sales to fill up some band collections quick and I had two bands in mind: Rush and Skeletonwitch. The problem on this sale was that the used CDs were a little thin compared to how many they usually have so there wasn’t a ton of Metal to chose from but I did get the Skeletonwitch records I was looking for and I was able to add four more Rush albums to fill those holes up but I also grabbed a couple of gems that I had been eye-balling with the Elf collection and the Shark Island reunion record. If you look at the prices, I listed the actual used prices for the $1 CDs and, after Rush – s/t & Rush – Grace Under Pressure, all the used CDs came from a special bargain bin the store’s had for years. What I like most about this type of sale is that the store takes the highest price CDs and pairs them all together for maximum savings instead of pairing the highest price with the lowest price, etc.

Dario Mollo & Tony Martin – The Third Cage (2012) – $18
The Sign – The Second Coming (2004) – $6 used

April was kind of a thin month for new releases so I started to search for for the new Mollo/Martin album because I never saw it in Attleboro or Warwick. I found it at the Providence Newbury Comics at the mall which is a dead zone for Metal and Hard Rock because it caters more to the Pop and Rap demographic of the area. I was a little surprised to actually find the CD at this location on a rare trip into the Providence Place Mall so I also bought The Sign’s second album at a nice used price while I was there.

Ebay (includes shipping)

King Kobra – s/t (2011) – $13
Black ‘N Blue – Hell Yeah! (2011) – $9

Just a little Ebay action this time around…..I found both the latest King Kobra and Black ‘N Blue albums for decent prices. I already had both as downloads from the label but I need the CDs for the collection. Both CDs were mint condition but the Black ‘N Blue CD was a pressing from Argentina. Nothing against pressings from other territories but I prefer the U.S., European or Japanese pressings because I’m worried about bootlegs. HELL YEAH! is from Argentina but the booklet shows that it was licensed from Frontiers Records for release so I felt a bit better about it. I wish the seller had noted the pressing in the auction but what can you do?

Amazon

Scorpions – Lovedrive (1979) – $7

My wife was buying a book so we needed something to else to get the free shipping on Amazon so I threw in a copy of LOVEDRIVE with the original cover. I already have LOVE DRIVE with the “scorpion” cover so it’s not like I was missing anything., it was a quick impulse buy.

Sentinel Steel

Sergeant – s/t (1984) – $15

Last but not least, I ordered this Sergeant reissue from Sentinel Steel mailorder because I noticed the price start to rise on Ebay. This limited edition reissue was released through Stormspell Records a few years ago but it’s sold out. The CD arrived and I found the booklet inside was damaged…..not good at all. I’m not going to return the CD because it’s too much hassle but I will keep my eys open for a copy on Ebay and sell the damaged one cheap at some point.

Total = $210

Total (year) = $868

Average Price (per item) = $8.35

Total CDs (year) = 99

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

Metal Mixtape – 5/6/12

Tale of the Tape
Ipod 120
9983 songs (858 albums)

  1. Gwar – ‘Parting Shot’ – Lust In Space (2009)
  2. Thunder – ‘An Englishman On Holiday’ – Backstreet Symphony (1990)
  3. AC/DC – ‘Walk All Over You’ – Highway To Hell (1979)
  4. Night Ranger – ‘Penny’ – Dawn Patrol (1982)
  5. Saxon – ‘Rockin’ Again’  – Innocence Is No Excuse (1985)
  6. AC/DC – ‘Live Wire’ – High Voltage (1975)
  7. Accept – ‘Sick, Dirty And Mean’ – Objection Overruled (1993)
  8. Black Country Communion – ‘Stand (At The Burning Tree)’ – Black Country (2010)
  9. Extreme – ‘Play With Me’ – Extreme (1989)
  10. Airbourne – ‘No Way But The Hard Way’ – No Guts, No Glory (2010)
  11. Megadeth – ‘Guns, Drugs & Money’ – Th1rt3en (2011)
  12. Riot – ‘Heart Of Fire’ – Rock City (1977)
  13. The Doors – ‘Back Door Man’ – The Doors (1967)
  14. KISS – ‘Lick It Up’ – Jikogu Retsuden (2008)
  15. Buckcherry – ‘Cream’ – Black Butterfly (2008)
  16. UFO – ‘Borderline’ – High Stakes And Dangerous Men (1992)
  17. Symfonia – ‘Rhapsody In Black’ – In Paradisum (2011)
  18. Blue Tears – ‘Innocent Kiss’ – Blue Tears (1990)
  19. Primal Fear – ‘Conviction’ – Unbreakable (2012)
  20. Tesla – ‘I Wanna Live’ – Forever More (2008)
  21. Accept – ‘Bound To Fail’ – Metal Heart (1985)
  22. Autograph – ‘Everytime I Dream’ – Loud & Clear (1987)
  23. Yngwie J. Malmsteen – ‘Now Is The Time’ – Odyssey (1988)
  24. Anvil – ‘Shadow Zone’ – Forged In Fire (1983)
  25. Chickenfoot – ‘Down The Drain’ – Chickenfoot (2009)

Bonus Track — Def Leppard – Switch 625 – High ‘N” Dry (1981)

Current Playlist

I’m back on the attack! Maybe I’ll post a little more now that music has just re-energized me completely! I’ve been listening to a ton of albums the last couple of weeks, old and new, and it just feels great. I’m not going to list every album I’ve played, just a few notable highlights and a couple podcasts so here’s what I’ve been listening to recently…..

Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth (2012): Say what you want about this reunion album being 16 years late (should have happened in 1996!) and say what you want about the material being old (they went through the VH archives like other bands do in theirs!) but this is one smokin’ record! Like everyone else, I was skeptical and I didn’t get into ‘Tattoo’ right away but I didn’t hate the tune. After hearing ‘She’s The Woman’ and the rest of the record, it’s one of the best of the year and I haven’t stopped playing it.

UFO – Seven Deadly (2012): UFO just keeps putting out solid records every couple of years and it’s always great to hear one of your favorite bands stay creative and vital, I marvel at singer Phil Mogg’s songwriting. Here’s another CD that I just can’t get enough of, I play it at least once everyday since it’s release earlier in the year.

Accept – Stalingrad (2012): After hearing Accept’s 2010 comeback record, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS, I knew that it would be a tough album to follow but, after a couple of spins, STALINGRAD could actually overtake it! Founding guitarist Wolf Hoffman hadn’t really been doing Metal until the Accept reunion shows with Udo Dirkschneider in the late 2000s so the fact that he’s churning out awesome Metal riffs is legend. Add Mark Tornillo again at the mic doing his best Udo and you’ve got another top record this year!

Iron Maiden – En Vivo! (2012): Iron Maiden live albums are always great and I always buy them. Granted, LIVE AFTER DEATH is the benchmark by which all others will be compared but the energy and sound of the band 27 years after is still there and they are, dare I say, better! Maiden is THE Heavy Metal band of all-time, forget Metallica. Maiden has never sold out and their fans are rabid all over the globe. Listen to this crowd from Chile…..amazing! I’ll be seeing this summer’s tour.

Saxon – Call To Arms (2011): Just like UFO, Saxon is one of my favorite bands and they have been releasing consistently excellent albums for the last 19 years. There was a little lull in the late ’80s & early ’90s but since 1997 Saxon has released a prolific string of studio and live albums that have made the second half of their career. I got CALL TO ARMS when it came out in 2011 but I didn’t give it a lot of time on the stereo or iPod so I’ve been really enjoying a fresh listen the last couple of weeks.

Ghost – Opus Eponymous (2011): I just can’t get enough of Ghost! A mix of NWOBHM, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Black Sabbath and old church music. What a haunting sound and the gimmick is awesome. http://ghost-official.com/

I’ve also been listening to a couple of sampler CDs I received with Metal Hammer and Classic Rock presents AOR #6. The Metal Hammer CD came with the latest issue with James Hetfield on the cover and it’s titled BONESNAPPERS. New tracks from Soulfly, Dragonforce, Meshuggah, Moonspell and Overkill are on there but the jewel of the CD is a track by Huntress called ‘Spell Eater’. On the AOR CD (titled SILK & STEEL) there’s a new UFO track off SEVEN DEADLY, the new Beggars & Thieves, Sunstorm (featuring Joe Lynn Turner), and Donnie Vie from Enuff Z’nuff but the tune I wanted to hear the most was from De La Cruz – ‘Lust Fame Money’.

Check out Huntress — http://huntresskills.com/
Check out De La Cruz — http://www.facebook.com/DeLaCruzAustralia

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts recently…..well, trying to catch up on all the podcasts I subscribe to. I’m going to list a few of the ones I subscribe to and you should check them out either by the website of getting them for free through iTunes. The following podcasts are part of a website that links them all together called The Cast Iron Ring and there are 8 podcasts there but I’ve only been through three so far. I’m listing the podcasts’ websites but you want to go to The Cast Iron Ring because it’s just easier…..one stop shopping!

Iron City Rocks — http://www.ironcityrocks.com/
Focus On Metal — http://www.focusonmetal.net/
Radioactive Metal — http://www.facebook.com/radmetal

CD Scavenger Hunt (January update) — The first hunt of 2012!

Just like last year, I’m late posting the first CD Scavenger Hunt of the new year! If you’re reading this, I’m actually writing this in mid-March but I’m back dating it for the end of January.

One thing I like about the beginning of the year is that I start things off right with gift cards I received at the holidays…..my family knows that I get a thrill everytime I walk in a record store so gift cards are always a perfect gift. I also like that I can catch up on some of the previous year’s releases and there always seems to be some great used CDs that people turn in for extra holiday cash! Armed with $90 in gift cards, I began the hunt early the day after New Year’s…..

Newbury Comics

Benedictum – Dominion (2011) – $10: Benedictum is one of my favorite newer bands of the last ten years or so but I never got around to buying their latest album until now. I had a good reason…..I was lucky to get a promo download of DOMINION from Frontiers Records early in 2011 and I just kept passing up the actual CD. I’m a collector at heart and I like having the physical CD in my possession so I was going to buy the DOMINION CD eventually but I didn’t NEED to buy it right away. The other problem was that my waiting meant that I missed out on the sale price from the new release making the regular price $17. Two days into the new year and the first thing I find is a new sale price on two of the three copies of DOMINION so i scooped one up right away! Sale price was $10 so I saved $7 off the regular price.

Tesla – Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions (2011) – $16: I really had no intention of ever buying this album because I was never a fan of unplugged Tesla (I can’t stand ‘Signs’ and the rest of FIVE MAN ACOUSTICAL JAM) but I wanted to hear the new songs. I was also intrigued by the fact that the band decided to go acoustic on some lesser known songs rather than their usual string of big hits. Now I’m a big Tesla fan, I buy all the albums and I catch them on tour, but acoustic? Not sure I could take it again. The only saving grace here was that I knew that I was armed with gift cards from the holidays so I was able to splurge and pick up this CD when I normally wouldn’t spend the hard-earned cash unless it was used. The other deciding factor that I’ve only seen two copies in my recent travels to different record stores, I figured I’d buy it while I saw it because I would never order it online unless, of course, it was used on Ebay. No savings here as I had to eat the $16 regular price.

KISS – Ikons (2008) – $20 used: KISS is my favorite band but I’ve been finished for many years buying every compilation that Polygram sees fit to release…..and Polygram decides to release multiple every year with no need for Paul & Gene’s involvement because the label owns the back catalogue. When IKONS came out in 2008, I thought it was a different take on the usual compilation: 4 CDs with one CD for each original KISS member featuring their prominent songs. I remember seeing the $40 price tag back then thinking to myself: “I can make that compilation at home from the studio albums!”. I never bothered to buy it and never bothered to look for it. I hadn’t seen it for 3 years and someone decided to trade it in for store credit while I was there! For some reason, I had to have it! Mint condition, slipcase included (not pictured), I saved $20 off the regular price waiting 3 years and buying used.

Alice In Chains – Facelift (1990) – $6 used: I never got around to buying FACELIFT way back in the day and people tend to forget that Alice In Chains was more Heavy Metal on this debut than part of the Grunge movement. I’ve been on an Alice In Chains kick lately on Spotify and I realised I only owned one Alice In Chains CD, MTV UNPLUGGED (1996). I’ve always enjoyed the band’s music and I remember having a dubbed cassette of FACELIFT from a friend back in ’90 so I figured it was time to pick up this band’s catalog. I always start at the first album when I can and there were tons of copies to be found all at different prices for both new and used. I found the lowest used price (by a dollar!) but $6 is better than paying the $15 regular price.I saved $9 and added an esential debut album by a solid band.

Royal Hunt – Future Coming From The Past (Live In Japan 1996/1998) DVD (2011) – $18: Released on Frontiers Records for international consumption, this DVD was originally released only in Japan and only included the 1996 Japanese concert that is featured on the LIVE 1996 live record. With the return of D.C. Cooper to the band, and the new album SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE (2011), the band has finally released this show on DVD for the rest of us not in the land of the rising sun. Added to the 1996 performance is a 1998 Japanese performance of the PARADOX (1997) album in it’s entirety, a show which may have been another separate DVD for Japan only but was featured as a bonus CD titled CLOSING THE CHAPTER on the PARADOX limited edition box set. This DVD was released in December 2011 at the same time as the new studio album but I missed out on the single copy my favorite store decided to stock…..when I saw this after the holidays and still on sale, I jumped on it. Regular price was $22 so I saved $4.

Nightwish – Imaginaerum (2012) – $13: I was never a big Nightwish fan until 2007 when the band released DARK PASSION PLAY with new singer Anette Olzen (formerly of Alyson Avenue). I had a few Nightwish CDs with original singer Tarja Turunen but I just never got into them even though I like similar female-fronted bands. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 5 years since DARK PASSION PLAY so I rushed out the day of release to grab IMAGINAERUM. There were two versions of the album: regular CD and the double disc deluxe digipak that included an instrumental version of the entire album. Sale price for the regular was $13 and $20 for the deluxe…..I went with the single disc version because when am I really going to listen to the album without the vocals? The whole reason I became a bigger Nightwish fan was because of Anette’s vocals! Usually I buy the limited editions right away but this one seemed unnecessary. Regular price for the single disc version was $17 so I saved $4.

Nothing is better when someone decides to take a chunk of their collection and sell it to the record store for credit. It reminds me of the old days (1997 – 2002) when I used to hit this one mom & pop record store about 20 minutes from home twice a week. Back then, before used CDs really hit big, people would bring CDs in for cash on a Friday afternoon so they could go clubbing at night, same thing would happen on Saturdays. I would head up Saturday mornings and scoop up all the recently acquired used CDs from Friday at cheap prices and then I would show up on Tuesdays for the new releases and to plunder the Saturday used CD stash. This particular store used to have a “Buy 3, get 1 free” policy for used CDs, and they were anywhere from $5 to $8 depending on the title, so I used to go in and get anywhere from 4 to 20 CDs at a shot and really pad the collection with bands and albums that I wanted to try or had never seen before or hadn’t seen in a long time. My third trip to my usual Newbury Comics store was like a trip through time! Someone had gone in and sold a box of CDs for store credit…..an absolute ton of CDs! Looking at the album covers below you may or may not recognize some names but I sure did! I also noticed the record labels: MTM, SPV, Locomotive Records, Frontiers Records, Z Records, Escape Music, Majestic Rock, Chavis Records, AOR Heaven and a few self-released titles. There were way more CDs than I could buy so I had to leave a good amount behind (in case anyone in my area reads this, I’m not saying if the ones I left behind are still there!) but I bought 16 CDs that I knew I wouldn’t have an opportunity to buy again.

Action – s/t (2007) – $4 used
Affair – No Substitute (2002) – $2 used
Artension – New Discovery (2003) – $4 used
Bad Habit – Above And Beyond (2009) – $4 used
Cry Havoc – Fuel That Feeds The Fire (2002) – $4 used
Fisc – Break Out (1985/1999 reissue) – $6 used
Fisc – Too Hot For Love (1987) – $4 used
Ivory Tower – Heart Of The City (1987/2003 reissue) – $6 used
Kick – New Horizon (2004) – $4 used
Tony Martin – Scream (2005) – $8 used
Andre Matos – Time To Be Free (2008) – $6 used
N.O.W. – Forces Of Nature (2010) – $4 used
Sonic X – s/t (2004) – $6 used
Subway – Don’t Look Back (2000) – $2 used
Token – Tomorrowland (2002) – $2 used
Token – Punch (2004) – $2 used

This used CD score was only $68! Assuming each CD sold for a regular price of $10 (could be more or less depending on the release year, label and popularity), I saved approximately $92! A lot of AOR, Melodic Rock and Hard Rock in this bunch but some Metal with Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath), Andre Matos (ex-Angra) and Artension. The two Fisc CDs go for big bucks on Ebay, even for reissues. It was nice to also score the N.O.W. album because I recieved a digital promo from Escape Music for review back in 2010 and I had been watching for a good price for the last two years to avoid the high import prices online. On to the final trip of the month to the record stores…..

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (2012) – $12: I haven’t missed a Primal Fear album yet and I wasn’t going to start now! I haven’t really kept up on the Metal news the last few months so I was surprised to hear that Primal Fear had a new record coming out…..usually I know when one of my favorite bands is releasing a new record! I’m a Power Metal guy and I consider Primal Fear and Hammerfall to be the leaders of the genre since it’s resurgence in 1997. I couldn’t pass up getting this the day of release because the band’s last two albums, NEW RELIGION (2007) and 16:6 (BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD) (2009), were awesome and the sal price was only $12 for the limited edition digipak with the bonus track ‘Night Of The Jumps’ and the video for ‘Bad Guys Wear Black’. Regular price was $17 so I saved $5.

Lacuna Coil – Dark Adrenaline (2012) – $12: When Lacuna Coil started in 1998, I became a fan. The whole Gothic Metal movement was really starting up with female-fronted bands and I jumped into the genre with bands like The Gathering, Lana Lane, Epica and Lacuna Coil to name a few. I really got into Lacuna Coil in 2002 (like everyone else!) with COMALIES and then I thought KARMACODE (2006) was a good record as well. I didn’t get into SHALLOW LIFE (2009) though, I just thought it was more of the same, nothing groundbreaking, and I was kind of sick of seeing the bandwagon get attached to the band just because Cristina Scabbia is hot! There’s a lot more to Scabbia than being hot (she’s a great singer!) and I just couldn’t take all the mallrats getting on board at Hot Topic or reading her “love advice” column in Revolver Magazine. I’m a loyal fan though and, if a band has a good track record, I keep coming back for more despite any subpar albums. I had to give DARK ADRENALINE a shot and I figured buying it the day of release on sale wouldn’t hurt as much if the album sucked. I did buy the deluxe version with the bonus DVD but it was only $2 more than the regular CD version. Regular rpice for the deluxe digipak was $17 so I saved $5…..and I’m crossing my fingers that I’m not disappointed!

Iron Savior – The Landing (2012) – $10: More Power Metal! Back in 1997 when I got my first dial-up AOL account, I discovered a whole new world of Heavy Metal with the click of a mouse. Everything I was reading about in magazines was now (almost) instantly available. That’s when I got back into a lot of bands I grew up with like Helloween…..who brought me to Gamma Ray…..who brought me to Iron Savior. The Kai Hansen connection is obvious but I got into Iron Savior with UNIFICATION in 1999 and I’ve picked up most of their albums despite Hansen leaving in 2001. I think this is one of the really underrated bands in the Power Metal scene, maybe that’s because the do get over looked by Helloween and Gamma Ray. THE LANDING came out everywhere else in late 2011 but the U.S. release was at the beginning of January 2012 so I was able to get a nice sale price saving $6 off the $16 regular price.

Lamb Of God – Resolution (2012) – $10: Feeding the Extreme Metal need! I’ve never paid Lamb Of God much attention because I’m not usually into their brand of Metal but I wanted to buy this new record in the hope that it will catch me and I can go back and check out their back catalog. I’m starting to get into a lot more extreme bands, more Thrash, Death, and Black Metal but I’m always wary of anything with “core” at the end. When asking some younger Metal dudes I know about Lamb Of God, they labelled them Metalcore and I wasn’t sure what that meant but I had visions of Hot Topic lemmings again! Reviews of the band’s albums and live shows are always great and I decided to bite the bullet and check out a newer band (they’ve been around for around 15 years or more!). I think there might have been a deluxe version of RESOLUTION but I grabbed the regular CD and saved $4 off the regular price.

Motorhead – The World Is Ours – Vol.1: Everywhere Further Than Everyplace Else (2012) – $14: I knew this was coming out and it was the main reason I went on this last shopping trip of the month. First, it’s Motorhead, one of my favorite bands. Second, it’s a 2 CD & 1 DVD live set. Third, sale price was $14 and I would save $6 off the regular price. Motorhead always gives a nice package and great live albums so this is worth picking up for that alone but what I like is that the audio CDs are exact to the DVD. Too many times you get a live DVD and a live CD set and they are sold separately (Hello Iron Maiden!). I understand it’s a business but give the fans a break! The people that buy this stuff are the diehards, the people who buy the tickets, buy the merchandise and spend their hard earned money on their favorite band. Motorhead gets it, that’s why they are loved by the fans. It’s in your face, straight up Heavy Metal on DVD and 2 CDs…..easy to spend $14 on!

Ebay

One thing I didn’t do as much last year was use Ebay to get a lot of older releases so I decided to step up my research this year and see if there are better bargains on Ebay for new and old CDs. I got off to a great start this year by acquiring some albums I’ve been watching for a long time. Prices here include shipping…..

Salty Dog – Every Dog Has It’s Day (1990) – $20 used: $20 may seem a little pricey for a CD that is 22 years old but you’d be surprised how much this CD goes for. I’ve been watching this debut by Salty Dog for years and I’ve never been able to find it on Ebay for less than $30. I’ve seen this CD go for over $60 many times over the last few years after bidding wars occurred during auctions. I haven’t seen this CD in a record store in at least 10 years so maybe there was only a small pressing back in the day? I read somewhere recently that Salty Dog had a good initial run but the album stalled when MTV decided not to continue to play the band’s video because there was a dispute between MTV and Geffen Records. Who knows if that’s true or not but the album is hard to find here in Rhode Island. This copy is a promotional copy as stamped on the CD itself but the inserts have no punch holes.

Great White – Hooked & Live In New York (1990) – $53 used: Another CD that’s over 20 years old! So why is this over $50? It’s a Japanese import that includes both CDs in this limited edition pressing and includes all inserts, OBI strips and the original cover artwork for HOOKED. I’ve had HOOKED since it came out in 1991 but I never acquired the original artwork on vinyl, CD or cassette so I’ve been watching for a decently priced copy for a while. The LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY disc is sold separately for around $15 usually but it’s a unique Japanese pressing so when I had the opportunity to grab it, I splurged a little. Everything is in perfect mint condition so I was pretty psyched to cross another indulgence off the growing want list.

Danger Danger – Revolve (2009) – $13: I wrote a WANTED column on this Danger Danger album two years ago and I never bothered to pick it up. I had plenty of opportunities to buy it online but I always pushed it aside for newer releases and, as the want list grew, REVOLVE went down the list. I was cleaning up my desk and I found a paper that had a few albums written on it and REVOLVE was one of them so I went over to Ebay and started looking for the best price. I ended up paying only $13 total for a U.S. pressing which is a great price for a brand new sealed CD…..I wish I could get more as reasonable! Nothing is better than crossing off an album from my want list, especially one that I featured here on the website, but I’ve been looking forward to this album because the reviews are all so positive.

Accept – Objection Overruled (1993) – $13 used: After I bought the Danger Danger CD, I started to check all the other WANTED posts I published for CDs that have gone down the priority list…..enter OBJECTION OVERRULED, a huge hole in my Accept collection! I wrote this album’s WANTED column back in March 2008, and it’s one of my Ebay alerts, but it always seems to fetch a higher price than I am willing to pay. The Japanese issue with the bonus track ‘Rich & Famous’ goes for $30+ easy but the U.S. pressing on CMC International I’ve seen draw $25+ on many different occasions. I already own the ‘Rich & Famous’ song on another release so buying a Japanese import wasn’t necessary unless the prices evened out but I found a seller with a great BUY IT NOW price and I bought it the first day it went up.

AC/DC – T.N.T (1975) – $30 used: I was on a roll buying up CDs from the WANTED posts so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt. I’ve been watching the Australian only release T.N.T. from AC/DC for years and I’ve never been able to buy one for under $40 because most of the copies come from Australian sellers and the shipping is always enormous. I wrote this album’s WANTED post back in September 2008 and I’ve had T.N.T. as an Ebay alert for at least 7 years so I really wanted to get this one off the list and it was easy once I found a U.S. seller. I ended up getting into a slight bidding war at the end but my top price of $27 won it for me with seconds to go…..add the $3 shipping and you get the $30 total. Now I just need to acquire the Australian versions of HIGH VOLTAGE and DIRTY DEEDS so I can have the original artwork.

Zebra – IV (2003) – $8 used: I’ve been on a massive Zebra kick since I kept hearing ‘Tell Me What You Want’ a few times on the local Rock station’s “classic lunch” show but I realized I only had that one song on a CDR someone made me and I had no way of playing my Zebra tapes because I don’t own a cassette deck anymore. I bought the second and third Zebra studio albums on a previous Hunt but the first album, Zebra’s most successful, eluded me at a good price. While I was searching for the first Zebra record, I found the band’s fourth (ZEBRA IV) and I got an awesome price of $6 + $2 shipping. I’ve never seen ZEBRA IV in stores since 2003 so I knew that this was going to be a rare one at that price, usually it still lists for around $15. The search continues for the debut album…..

Total = $346 – $90 in gift cards = $256

Total (year) = $256

Average Price (per item) = $7.76

Total CDs (year) = 32

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Metal Mixtape – 3/13/11

Tale of the Tape
Ipod 120
8370 songs (725 albums)

I usually work a double shift Saturday night into Sunday morning so good Metal music is a must on the overnight. I usually listen to a lot of new albums but I have to start the overnight (the 2nd part of my long shift) with some familiar tracks to get the blood pumping. Here’s the first 20 songs (band-song-album-year):

  1. Dio – ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Children’ – Sacred Heart (1985)
  2. Dio – ‘I Could Have Been A Dreamer’ – Dream Evil (1987)
  3. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘I Just Want You’ – Ozzmosis (1995)
  4. Great White – ‘Rock Me’ – Once Bitten (1987)
  5. Guns ‘N Roses – ‘Anything Goes’ – Appetite For Destruction (1987)
  6. Van Halen – ‘I’ll Wait’ – 1984 (1984)
  7. Def Leppard – ‘Armageddon It’ – Hysteria (1987)
  8. Whitesnake – ‘Fool For Your Loving’ – Ready An’ Willing (1980)
  9. Scheepers – ‘Cyberfreak’ – Scheepers (2011)
  10. Quiet Riot – The Wild And The Young’ – QR III (1986)
  11. Scorpions – ‘The Zoo’ – Animal Magnetism (1980)
  12. Firewind – ‘The Ark Of Lies’ – Days Of Defiance (2010)
  13. Helix – ‘Best Mistake I Never Made’ – Vagabond Bones (2009)
  14. Accept – ‘Flash Rockin’ Man’ – Restless & Wild (1982)
  15. Metallica – ‘Holier Than Thou’ – The Black Album (1991)
  16. Cinderella – ‘Winds Of Change’ – Heartbreak Station (1990)
  17. Crazy Lixx – ‘Road To Babylon’ – New Religion (2010)
  18. Yngwie Malmsteen – ‘Death Dealer’ – Perpetual Flame (2008)
  19. Diamond Head – ‘It’s Electric’ – Lightning To The Nations (1980)
  20. Primal Fear – ‘Black Sun’ – Black Sun (2002)

Bonus Track: AC/DC – ‘War Machine’ – Black Ice (2008)

The Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#1-#10)

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/

CD Scavenger Hunt (September 2010 update)

It’s been a while since I posted my latest purchases and I have about two months worth right now! I will try and catch up as quick as I can, my purchases always slow down as the year ends so I should have October’s wrap up in early November. So here it is…..September 2010’s update…..

Online

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010) – $24: Buying the new Accept album is a complete no-brainer but I couldn’t find a pre-order price I liked at the usual online stores so I went straight to the Nuclear Blast USA webstore. $22 is a high price for a new CD but that pre-order also got me a new camoulage Accept Blood Of The Nations t-shirt (in XXL), even the shipping was cheap! I placed my order and within a week I was wearing my Udo-styled shirt and rocking out to the new Accept CD…..before the U.S. release date! The other reason why I pre-ordered straight from the label is because I had read online that the initial U.S. pressing would be a special digipak including a bonus track.

Ebay

MainEEaxe – Shout It Out (1984/2010 reissue) & Going For Gold (1985/2010 reissue)- $30: I have had both of these MainEEaxe albums on my radar since I remembered the band when I read their bio in my NWOBHM Encyclopedia. I actually posted a WANTED column for these two albums back in July 2008 and both the original German and Japanese CD pressings still top out at close to $100 on Ebay if you ever come across them. The cheaper idea has always been vinyl but even a good vinyl copy has been running upwards of $15 to $20 lately. I got a tip from former MainEEaxe drummer Nigel Harrison through an email (after he read the WANTED column) that Lemon Records (a division of Cherry Red Records) in the U.K. was re-releasing both albums on CD and including bonus tracks from the various E.P.s and singles the band released. Taking Nigel’s tip, I found a seller on Ebay that had both in stock for pre-order for $15 each and free shipping…..can’t beat that deal!

Newbury Comics

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell (3-CD 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010) – $20: I’m a sucker for these Anniversary Editions of classic Metal records but I’m very picky on which ones I buy. There has to be value, especially if I already own the original release. I look for bonus tracks, unreleased tracks, DVDs and any other extra that will make me pick up another copy of an album I already own. In the case of COWBOYS FROM HELL, I was replacing a cassette. I’ve been slow to replace the last few cassettes I have left but I decided to pony up the extra money for this set: the original album, a live disc and a 3rd CD of demos with deluxe packaging. Pantera is one of those bands that has a couple of holes to fill in the collection so my renewed interest in the band is sparking the hunt! Regular price was $28 so buying it the day it came out saved $8.

Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power (1992) – $12 used: I know what you all are thinking, “You paid $12 for a used CD?”. Newbury Comics was having a used CD sale for one day and it was “Buy 1 Get 1 Free”…..I was looking at Pantera discs and knew that I had this album on cassette so I figured I would spend the extra money on this disc and get a free one making the cost for both $6 each. Logical thinking in my book. I haven’t listened to this album in a long time but it’s still a classic…..even the cover is a classic! And to think that a fan actually subjected himself to that harsh a punch to be on the album cover (or so the story goes). I was pretty psyched to find this used CD because the store had at least six regular priced copies at $17 each, I saved $5 despite the high used price.

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell (1990) – $0: I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t you just buy the 3 CD deluxe edition on the same trip?”. Yes I did and I snagged the original pressing CD too! I was looking through all the used CDs and I just couldn’t find one that I really wanted. There were a few that I didn’t have but holes in the Pantera collection were bothering me. In my collection, the CDs are organized alphabetically by artist and chronologically within the artist so, technically, the deluxe edition would be a 2010 release. That would leave a hole even though it’s the same record so I figured that the CD was free and I wouldn’t be taking a big loss on the money. Here’s the kicker: the CD wasn’t used, it was brand new. Somehow a sealed copy was priced for $8 used while the other new sealed copies were priced at $17, I saw the bargain and snatched it. Saved $17.

Heart – Red Velvet Car (2010) – $9: Now I could have gone to Best Buy and bought this album for $8 but I like to support my local independent record stores so i gave the extra buck to Newbury Comics. I’m a big fan of ’70s Rock and Classic Rock, that’s the stuff that was on FM radio when I was a kid, so I have more than a few Heart albums in my collection. I didn’t really know Heart was releasing a new album, I knew they were working on material but the news of this album’s release date passed me by. There’s been a Heart revival on VH-1 Classic and on some of the Classic Rock stations in my area so I figured I’d pick this one up and keep supporting the band. Assuming that regular price for a CD is $15 then I saved $6 even with spending the extra dollar at the smaller store.

Blind Guardian – At The Edge Of Time (2010) – $13: I love Power Metal so its a no-brainer that I’m a Blind Guardian fan. I have been following the band since 1998, the musical renaissance for me when I got a computer and Internet access, I discovered a lot of Metal bands this way and I have been a fan since. Just like Heart, I knew the band was working on new material but the album’s release date got by me. I would buy a new Blind Guardian CD anyway but what made the purchase was that this was the limited edition with the bonus CD of 8 songs, different versions/demos/edits of the songs on the proper album. The other thing was that the regular single CD version was also available and it was also priced at $13…..which one to buy? Regular price for the 2 CD version was $18 so I saved $5…..I can’t see why anyone would buy the single disc version.

Kamelot – Poetry For The Poisoned (2010) – $15: Just like Blind Guardian, I discovered Kamelot in the late 90s when I got Internet access and I have been a fan ever since. The last couple of Kamelot albums haven’t really taken hold of me like I have wanted them to but that didn’t stop me from really looking forward to this album when I received the first press release. This is another album that has a two disc limited edition, this time it’s a bonus DVD, and the price compared to the regular edition was only two dollars more. What made this album even more exciting was that Kamelot was making a tour stop in Worcester, MA at The Palladium and I bought a ticket. After waiting the better part of three months with ticket in hand, Kamelot cancelled the entire U.S. tour because vocalist Roy Khan got ill. At least they didn’t cancel the CD! Regular price would have been $18 so I saved $3.

Lordi – Babez For Breakfast (2010) – $10: I got into Lordi a few years back with their 2006 record THE AROCKALYPSE but I totally missed 2008’s DEADACHE so I figured it would be good to check out the band’s latest album. First thing, the cover is just so cheesy, it reminds me of an old ’80s album cover. I have always been into visual bands like KISS, Alice Cooper, GWAR so I like the whole monster persona the band has and concept that put to the recording. When I was in the record store trolling the racks, I had totally forgotten that Lordi had released a new album and I was about to check out when one of the guys behind the counter decided to start playing the album over the store’s stereo system. Of course, I went right back to the racks and picked this up…..I also stuck around the store a little longer so I could listen to the album. Regular price was $15 so I saved $5 on sale.

Megadeth – Rust In Peace Live CD & DVD – $20: RUST IN PEACE (1990) is the best Megadeth album hands down so when I heard the band was releasing a live album that included a full performance of the album, I was definitely buying! The CD and the DVD were sold separately but on sale for $10 each, there was no way I was buying the CD and not the DVD. I always like it when bands perform a classic album in it’s entirety in concert and it’s even better when you can see the show and then get an official release for your collection. I wish I could have seen this show live but I’ll take the CD for the iPod & car and the DVD for the 52″ HDTV in the living room! The regular price on the CD was $14 and the DVD was a buck more at $15 so i saved a grand total of $9.

Tarja – What Lies Beneath (2010) – $12: I’m a loyal fan so I give artists/bands a second chance when I don’t care for a first or second album…..that was the case with former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen. I always liked Nightwish so when Tarja left the band for a solo career I figured that it would be pretty similar to the Nightwish sound. I picked up Tarja’s second solo album (her first out of Nightwish), MY WINTER STORM (2007), and I never got into it. It was a bad record, it just didn’t grab hold of me and I wanted it to because I paid a decent amount for the limited edition import from Europe. Fast forward to this year and Tarja has a new album but I wasn’t sure if I should buy it. I decided to give tarja another shot and I was able to score the limited edition of WHAT LIES BENEATH with three bonus tracks at a decent sale price. Regular price was $16 so I saved $4.

Alabama Thunder Pussy – River City Revival (1999) – $3 used: Deal of the day! I was browsing one of the delete bins at the record store the same day I picked up the Tarja CD and I couldn’t find anything worth buying, usually those bins are full of Pop and Rap. I checked every letter and then I found this CD in the “P” section…..someone filed this using Pussy as the last name! Good for me because my digging got me a $3 treasure! I know nothing about Alabama Thunder Pussy aside from the cool name and I always mean to pick up one of their albums so I can hear what they are like. Well why not pick up their second album for a cool $3? That’s a good deal to check out a band! Added bonus is that this is the now rare original pressing on Man’s Ruin Records and not the Relapse Records reissue from 2005. I estimate regular price to be $13 so I probably saved $9.

Halford – IV: Made Of Metal (2010) – $10: Buying the Metal God’s new album is a complete no-brainer! How can you NOT buy an album from one of the most prolific voices in all of Metal? I have been looking forward to this new album for a long time…..Judas Priest is my second favorite band so Rob Halford’s solo career is an imprtant off-shoot and/or continuation of Priest for me. I followed Rob from Priest to Fight to Two and on to Halford and all his albums kick ass (except for the Two record), especially his work in Halford. I was going to pre-order this album directly from Halford’s webstore but I knew ahead of time that the record store was going to have a good sale price, I’d rather go to the store and pick up the album than order it online and have to pay shipping. Regular price in-store was $15, same at the Halford website, so I saved $5 but I probably saved more if you factor in shipping costs.

Alice Cooper – Theatre Of Death: Live At Hammersmith 2009 CD/DVD (2010) – $12: Just like the Halford CD, this was a no-brainer to buy because Alice Cooper is one of my favorites and I never miss an album or tour. This was another album I was thinking of pre-ordering direct from the band’s website but I didn’t really want to pay the shipping costs and have a possible delay to to the post office, I want the instant gratification of buying it and having it in my hands! Unlike the Megadeth release above, this live album from Alice is packaged together with the DVD so it makes for a great value to get both a CD and a DVD for 12 bucks! Regular price in the store was $18 so I saved $6 but, if you compare it to Megadeth – RUST IN PEACE LIVE at $10 each for CD & DVD, I got a huge bargain!

Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2 (2010) – $10 used: I’ve had my eye on this album since it came out in February but I never picked it up. First, I never bought it the week it came out so I missed the sale price and, once it came off sale, regular price was $17! I like Rob Zombie but not for $17 so I passed and decided I would pick it up if I found it used. Then I saw that the album was getting a re-release with a few bonus tracks and a DVD of videos and my interest renewed. Add to that the ticket I had to the upcoming concert so i figured I’d pick it up and get to know the new music. The day I bought this used was 9/28, the same day the re-release came out. I had my eye on the new release with the bonuses but it was sale priced at $20 and I figured that was too much too spend, what if I didn’t like the album? Turns out I like it a lot but I’ll save that for an upcoming review. Saved $7.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Attack!! (2002) – $6: Deal of the day! I picked up ATTACK!! on the 9/28 shopping spree with the Halford, Alice & Zombie CDs and this was a good bargain because there were two copies of the CD: one regular priced at $15.99 and this one regular priced at $5.99. Someone’s mistake is my gain because I snatched the $5.99 CD as quick as Yngwie can shred! Right off the bat I saved $10. The problem was that I was sure I had this album in my collection already because I have this tendency to blow off new Yngwie records and then I find them cheap. I was sure I had this so I did called home to send either my wife or my daughter upstairs to check my racks…..another problem because my wife was at work and my daughter at school, it was around 11 in the morning! I think I spent about 15 mins re-browsing the shelves trying to think back to see if I had bought this already, I took the chance and I ended up being right.

Total = $206

Total (year) = $1412

Average Price (per item) = $10.46

Total CDs (year) = 123

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Box Sets (year) = 6

Total LPs (year) = 2

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010)

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010, Nuclear Blast)

  1. Beat The Bastards
  2. Teutonic Terror
  3. The Abyss
  4. Blood Of The Nations
  5. Shades Of Death
  6. Locked And Loaded
  7. Time Machine*
  8. Kill The Pain
  9. Rolling Thunder
  10. Pandemic
  11. New World Comin’
  12. No Shelter
  13. Bucket Full of Hate

* (U.S. bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Mark Tornillo – Vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – Guitars
Herman Frank – Guitars
Peter Baltes – Bass
Stefan Schwarzmann – Drums

Producer: Andy Sneap

Country: Germany & USA

Total Time = 1:12:59

Accept
Accept official MySpace page
Accept official Facebook page

After a long wait, Accept have finally reunited! After the successful Summer 2005 tour of the European festival circuit, rumors of a complete Accept reunion made it’s way across the Internet and infiltrated all corners of the Heavy Metal world. Unfortunately there was no reunion as original Accept singer Udo Dirkschneider declined to participate due to his committment to solo band U.D.O. The seeds were planted though and guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes started writing together in 2009. Adding guitarist Herman Frank, who joined & recorded on BALLS TO THE WALL (1983) in 1982 and participated in the 2005 reunion tour, and drummer Stefan Shwarzmann (ex-Helloween, U.D.O., Running Wild and more) to the band, the search was on for a lead singer. While Hoffmann and Baltes were demoing new material, a suggestion was made to bring in former TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo to sing guide vocals on the demos. That chance meeting landed Tornillo the job as Udo’s replacement in the reunited Accept and led to the recording of this new album, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS.

Basically, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS is an album that captures the classic Accept sound. There is no compromising to be more commercial or follow current Metal trends, the music is pure, traditional Heavy Metal that sounds like the Accept of the 1980s. Was there really anything else to expect? The core of the band is intact with Hoffmann, Baltes and Frank and Schwarzmann is an excellent Metal drummer who can play various styles…..the wild card in all of this is Mark Tornillo. As the original singer for Accept, Udo has carved his name into the true Accept sound, a sound he continues forward with in U.D.O. While Accept has been on various forms of hiatus, Dirkschneider has maintained U.D.O. since 1987 and has made excellent traditional Heavy Metal that sounds like Accept. Udo’s unique vocal style and image are synonymous with Accept, and not many bands can change singers and be successful, and Accpet tried that already once in 1989 when they brought in David Reece for the EAT THE HEAT record. EAT THE HEAT was a failure by Accept standards and the band broke up so I was disappointed and skeptical when I heard that Udo had declined and Tornillo had joined the reformed Accept. I hadn’t listened to a TT Quick album in a long time so I gave METAL OF HONOR (1986) a few spins…..I just didn’t hear the Accept sound. All of my fears of how well Mark would take over the mic were dashed as soon as the band released a video for the single ‘Teutonic Terror’ back in May.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? And Mark Tornillo sounds pretty close to the power-packed Udo doesn’t he? Once I saw this video and heard ‘Teutonic Terror’, I knew that the band was going to make a solid record. The entire album is a traditional Heavy Metal feast full of churning guitar riffs, twin leads, a pounding rhythm section and the band’s trademark backgound vocals and chants that supplement Tornillo’s vocals. The songwriting is dead on classic Accept and, musically, it sounds like 25+ years haven’t gone by since the days of albums like RESTLESS & WILD, BALLS TO THE WALL and METAL HEART. The key to success rests with Tornillo and his vocals fit the band and material perfectly. He plays it straight with a gritty singing style but his shrieks and screams are the most impressive and it’s those techniques that keep him close to sounding like Udo and the classic Accept style. Obviously fans worldwide agree because BLOOD OF THE NATIONS has entered high on most of the international album charts but the impressive feat is that the album cracked the barren Metal wasteland known as the Billboard 200 at #187. To break the U.S. charts with fourteen years between studio albums and a new lead singer is a great accomplishment.

Just some quick notes on the packaging…..first, there is a bonus track for the U.S. pressing (‘Time Machine’) that appears in the middle of the album. I know that the bonus track was advertised on the pre-order directly through Nuclear Blast so I’m not sure if subsequent pressings (if any) will include ‘Time Machine’. If you want to spend the big bucks on the Japanese import, then you get another bonus track titled ‘Land Of The Free’. This is a glossy digipak with a 14 page glossy booklet full of lyrics, liner notes and pictures so it looks as good as it sounds.

Bottom Line:
Like I mentioned before, not many bands can replace a unique singer, a lot of bands have tried (including Accept) and only a few have had success. On BLOOD OF THE NATIONS, Accept not only replaced the gravel-throated Udo Dirkschneider successfully with Mark Tornillo but they also wrote an album of killer Metal songs full of power and punch. Throughout this review I used two words a lot: “classic” and “traditional”. Using those two words to describe any band or new album in 2010 immeadiately gives a stigma of being dated…..many veteran Metal bands like to stay current and evolve their sound but it doesn’t always work. The basis of the Accept sound is found in album like RESTLESS & WILD (1982) and BALLS TO THE WALL (1983) and that is what they are beloved for, any deviation from that specific formula would be a failure, especially with a new singer. Accept have successfully gone back in time and brought their brand of Heavy Metal from the ’80s and made it sound fresh, exciting and full of power. Choosing a singer that sounds like Udo and enhances the true Accept sound was the right move and Mark Tornillo holds nothing back and makes the position of Accept’s frontman his own. I pre-ordered this album from Nuclear Blast back in the summer and it has been on my daily playlist since it arrived in my mailbox. As a longtime Accept fan, I can honestly say this is one of their best records and one helluva comeback! I had this album as my Album Of The Month for September 2010 but, due to my hiatus with the site, I am posting it now. BLOOD OF THE NATIONS is one of the best records I’ve heard this year!

Favorite Songs:
‘Teutonic Terror’, ‘Blood Of The Nations’, ‘The Abyss’, ‘Shades Of Death’, ‘Pandemic’

Accept – ‘Teutonic Terror’ video (2010)

This is the brand new Accept video for the first single, ‘Teutonic Terror’, from the upcoming new studio album BLOOD OF THE NATIONS (Nuclear Blast Records). Accept have a new singer, former TT Quick lead singer Mike Tornillo, and the band are moving forward to continue the Accept legacy. BLOOD OF NATIONS now has a tentative North American release date scheduled for September 14th.

Accept 2010 is:

Wolf Hoffman – guitar
Peter Baltes – bass
Herman Frank – guitar
Mark Tornillo – vocals
Stefan Schwarzmann – drums

U.D.O. – Dominator (2009)

U.D.O. - Dominator (2009)

U.D.O. – Dominator (2009, AFM Records)

  1. The Bogeyman
  2. Dominator
  3. Black And White
  4. Infected
  5. Heavy Metal Heaven
  6. Doom Ride
  7. Stillness Of Time
  8. Devil’s Rendezvous
  9. Speed Demon
  10. Whispers In The Dark

(NOTE — This is the U.S. release. The European digipak has a bonus track titled ‘Pleasure In The Darkroom’ and the Japanese version has a bonus track titled ‘Bleeding Heart’)

udo_main_02

Band Lineup:
Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Stefan Kaufmann – Guitars
Igor Gianola – Guitars
Fitty Wienhold – Bass
Francesco Jovino – Drums

Producer: Stefan Kaufmann

Country: Germany

Total Time = 44:48

U.D.O.
U.D.O. MySpace page
AFM Records

Doesn’t it seem like there is a new U.D.O. album every year? It just seems like the band puts out record after solid record and there is never a break! Looking back at all the U.D.O. studio album, DOMINATOR is the band’s 12th studio album and, if you count live albums, their 15th. I could add in all the E.P.s with the excusive tracks but that would get a bit too much. One thing is certain: U.D.O. releases new material consistently and it’s always very good. I have to give Udo Dirkschneider a lot of credit for carrying on the Metal tradition he helped start with Accept back in 1979. His voice was an integral, and unique, part of Accept’s Traditional Metal sound and he has kept that sound alive with U.D.O. There are a lot of metalheads out there that would love to see Accept reunite (again) but U.D.O. is the natural continuation. Like I mentioned, the U.D.O. sound is the same as the Accept sound so, if you know Accept, then you basically know U.D.O. This new album picks up right where 2007’s MASTERCUTOR left off by providing pure heavy Metal of the highest order full of melody, thunderous metallic riffs, and Udo’s unmistakeable growl…..all in trademark German Metal style. If the formula ain’t broke, why fix it? U.D.O. has been giving us the same kind of Metal since 1988’s ANIMAL HOUSE!

DOMINATOR starts out with a short subdued piano intro to ‘The Bogeyman’ but it quickly kicks into the main riff and Udo’s grating vocals. I like the fact that Udo does his own backing vocals because it adds a bit more range when he puts his own scream vocal over his regular growl. ‘The Bogeyman’ doesn’t really surprise, it’s the same traditional style the band usually goes for but the chorus cauhgt me and had me singing along. Another thing U.D.O. does well: they put in enough hooks to grab the listener. The title track is definitely faster than ‘The Bogeyman’ with a more focused twin guitar attack and rhythm. Again, there really isn’t much difference here from other U.D.O. material but the simplicity and straightforward delivery is what makes this so good! It’s kind of like being an AC/DC fan! I like the lower vocal on the chorus (with me singing along again) and the guitars are blazing…..the solo trade-off between Stefan Kaufmann and Igor Gianola are awesome!

What to hear a trademark Accept style “balls to the wall” style riff? Listen to the opening of ‘Black & White’. Heavy but slower than the first two songs with that cool Udo drawl over subdued guitars before everything kicks into high gear. The only problem with this song is the repetitve chorus, I would have liked and different line or two. I did detect a melodic Scorpions-like quality to the guitar solo…..definitely a Teutonic Metal flavor. I know ‘Infected’ from the INFECTED E.P. (2009) that preceded DOMINATOR, the song is a speedy metal attack that sounds like METAL HEART (1985) era Accept. Listen to that pounding drum sound too, Francesco Jovino and Fitty Weinhold (bass) keep everything heavy. One thing you will always find on an U.D.O. album is one of those Manowar-esque “we love Heavy Metal” sounding songs…..that’s ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’. It’s a heavy mid-tempo track with melodic guitars and a gang chorus that really sticks in your head. A bit simple though but I could see this song getting played live to get the crowd involved in a sing-a-long. Moving along for a ‘Doom Ride’, the band uses another Accept styled riff for another heavy tune that gets the headbanging right away, the only drawback being the overly simple chorus.

You could probably call ‘Stillness Of Time’ the album’s ballad but it’s more of a guitar driven mid-tempo than pure ballad. It’s a melodic song and Udo sings in a very subdued melodic style. It’s hard to really call this a ballad but the opening piano, keyboard textures and pace of the song really grab hold. It’s definitely the most commercial song on the record, dare I say “radio-friendly”, with an ’80s Whitesnake style. I like the song, it’s something different among the straight forward Metal assault. U.D.O. always has a novelty song on their albums and ‘Devil’s Rendezvous’ sounds like something off Queen’s A NIGHT AT THE OPERA but metallic…..I keep thinking of ‘Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon’ and Freddie Mercury camping it up! Can you imagine Udo camping it up. The song is like a metallic showtune…..a throwaway for me. Things get back on track with the heavy as hell, pedal to the metal ‘Speed Demon’. Traditional Power Metal with blazing guitars, change vocalists and this could be a Primal Fear, Judas Priest or Hammerfall song…..the deulling guitars on this track are worth the price of the CD! The last song on DOMINATOR is ‘Whispers In the Dark’ and it starts with that ballad feel like ‘Stillness Of Time’ does. The song opens with a soft piano, melodic singing from Udo with soft background vocals and acoustics. Then the electric guitars kick in to bolster the sound but the song still has that sense of balladry…..I would call this a ballad more than I would ‘Stillness Of Time’. An odd way to close a heavy album.

Bottom Line:
You can always count on U.D.O. to deliver the goods and the band does it again with DOMINATOR. It’s another solid album in a long line of solid records made in the same style…..Udo Dirkschneider has been doing this for 30 years and he has stayed true to his sound. That’s what I like most about U.D.O., and DOMINATOR: you know exactly what you are going to get and the music is expertly done with high quality musicianship and songwriting. If you want solid Traditional Metal then this is the album to pick up. I followed Udo after the Accept breakup and I have been an U.D.O. fan since 1988, I always look forward to a new U.D.O. album and I rarely get disappointed. My only complaint is with the album cover (it’s terrible!) and the bonus tracks for Japan and Europe. Usually U.D.O. will include these bonus tracks on a preceding E.P. to give all the fans a chance to hear them. My copy is the U.S. version: no bonuses. No matter, DOMINATOR is easily one of my favorite releases this year.

Favorite Songs:
‘The Bogeyman’, ‘Speed Demon’, ‘Stillness Of Time’, ‘Infected’, ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’

U.D.O. – ‘Black & White’ new video available

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow Flash players so the best thing I can do here is post the link for the new U.D.O. video, ‘Black & White’, from the upcoming DOMINATOR album.

Check it out on RockTube.us — http://tinyurl.com/l7fcfv