(Read the 2010 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10)
My favorite time of year is here again…..Halloween!
A couple of years ago, I did the 2007 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10. What I was trying to do was pick out some songs that were creepy, spooky and fit into the Halloween mood. Of course I left out a few obvious ones for my own personal picks. Last year I forgot to do one and I got a ton of email to do one for Halloween 2009 so I went through my collection again. I tried not to repeat any songs from the 2007 list, with one obvious exception, so here’s this year’s list (in no particular order except #1)…..
- Black Sabbath – ‘Black Sabbath’
- Helloween – ‘Halloween’
- King Diamond – ‘Halloween’
- Alice Cooper – ‘Killer’
- Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Mr. Crowley’
- Fastway – ‘Trick Or Treat’
- W.A.S.P. – ‘Scream Until You Like It’
- Helloween – ‘Escalation 666′
- King Diamond – ‘Voodoo’
- Iron Maiden – ’22 Acacia Avenue’
Bonus Track: Alice Cooper – ‘Keepin’ Halloween Alive’ (new song for Halloween 2009)
Another week…..more new releases…..another Hunt!
Went to the local record store to grab the new releases from Queensryche and The Answer but a couple of surprises were in store at great prices!
Queensryche – American Soldier (2009) – $12.88: Always been a Queensryche fan, straight from the days of the first E.P. and RAGE FOR ORDER, so I always support a new album from the band. Another new record that’s another concept album so I’m going into it with a little hesitation but I like the subject matter: U.S. soldiers coming back after tours in the Middle East…..a topic very relevant today. Fingers are crossed that this is a good record, I haven’t read any reviews going in.
The Answer – Everyday Demons (2009) – $9.99: I bought this based on the hype and the sale price. I figure if The Answer sucks then I’m only out ten bucks! I’ve read all the reviews on RISE (2006) and the hype surrounding this new record, I also hear the band is performing well opening for AC/DC. I usually tend to stay away from the current media darlings but I find myself interested enough to blow some cash…..fingers crossed on this one too.
Halford – Resurrection (2009 remastered) – $14: Like any good fan of Rob Halford, I went out and bought RESURRECTION when it came out originally back in 2000 and it’s a great album. Of course, Metal-Is (a division of Sanctuary Records I believe) is defunct and Rob owns his catalog so the reissue was unavoidable. So why buy it? Four new songs tacked in the middle of it that were part of the release to iTunes back in 2006. Just a heads up…..LIVE INSURRECTION (2001) was remastered/reissued too but there are no extra tunes on it, I’m waiting to see what Halford does with CRUCIBLE (2002).
Grave Digger – Liberty Or Death (2007) – $9 used: I’m starting to fill in some holes in the Grave Digger collection but finding the albums locally is a pain. This CD was just traded in for store credit and I watched the guy price it up and I snatched it! A bargain at $9! The odd thing is that my CD says the year is 2006 but every website I’ve checked, including the band’s website, lists it as 2007.
Alice Cooper – Raise Your Fist And Yell (1987) – $7: Sealed original press of this mid-80s Alice classic for seven bucks…..not bad. I thought I already had this CD but I was armed and ready with my database of my collection (I’ve been able to input up to letter D!) and it wasn’t there! I’ve seen this CD sitting in the rack for months at a great price and I’m surprised nobody bought it. I grabbed it and double checked my collection…..not there! Later on, I went through a shoebox that holds the remainder of my old cassettes and there was RAISE YOUR FIST AND YELL on tape…..I knew I had it somehow.
The only good thing about inventory week at work is that I get the entire weekend off! Faced with plenty of time on my hands, and a lot of new CDs, I spent a lot of time in front of the stereo…..
Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus (2009): I just realized that I made the new Edguy March’s album of the month and I never got around to reviewing it! I’ve been spending a lot of time on this CD all week and I can’t get passed some of the juvenile lyrics but so far I like the album.
Nashville Pussy – From Hell To Texas (2009): I started on Nashville Pussy with their first record, LET THEM EAT PUSSY (1998), but I never got into them past 2000’s HIGH AS HELL. I got this CD in the mail and I really got into it…..look for a review this week.
Siren’s Gate – Haunt Me (2008): I enjoy all forms of female-fronted Metal but I do like the atmospheric/gothic/orchestrated style the best. Bands like The Gathering, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Lana Lane and After Forever all occupy space in my collection. Siren’s Gate is in the same mold as the bands and this E.P. is a more like a demo but still pretty good. Review coming…..
Great White – Rising (2009): I just got this in the mail the other day and I broke the cellophane and gave it a single spin.
Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009): Just like the new Great White, I got this CD in Saturday afternoon so it only got the first spin this weekend.
My 10 yr. old daughter is starting to raid Daddy’s CD collection and sample different bands so I had to teach Metal 101 to her a little over the weekend. I pulled out a few greatest hits/live albums to give her an idea of what some bands sounded like but she started looking on her own. Here are some of the albums she picked out and we listened to…..her Twisted Sister obsession is still going strong!
Alice Cooper – Hey Stoopid (1991)
Saxon – Denim & Leather (1981)
AC/DC – Back In Black (1980)
Motorhead – Everything Louder Than Everyone Else (1998)
Scorpions – Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years (1997)
Desperado – Bloodied, But Unbowed (1996)
Dee Snider – Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down (2000)
Twisted Sister – Still Hungry (2004)
Anvil – Anthology Of Anvil (2000)
2008 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I buy a lot of music but the failing economy took it’s toll on my music budget. I was very lucky to have caught the attention of many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review (to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU), without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases.
The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. The ranking of the Top 30 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 doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into two posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15):
Avantasia – The Scarecrow
Tobias Sammet (Edguy) has the magic touch this year and his new concept album THE SCARECROW takes the top spot as Album Of The Year. The album is similar to the first two Avantasia albums, METAL OPERA 1 & 2, in that it is full of guest stars (Alice Cooper, Jorn Lande, Rudolf Schenker, Michael Kiske, Eric Singer, and more) performing this combination of epic Power Metal blended with hard Rock, Classic Rock, Classical and Folk. That’s a lot to take in at once! Every song is very melodic and I found myself easily singing along after a couple of spins. A good album is one that leaves a lasting impression and THE SCARECROW has been part of my weekly playlist since it’s release in January.
Ayreon – 01011001
A close second! Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Ayreon project is similar to Avantasia with all of the guest stars performing and the epic nature of the music. The difference is that Ayreon’s music is longer, more epic and follows a storyline that started on previous albums. (For a good explanation of the plot, read this album’s Wikipedia page.) This album is almost 2 hours of Progressive Rock & Metal, Power Metal, and Symphonic Metal that is both melodic and heavy…..there is a lot to take in! Even the packaging is complex! There are layers of sound in each song that you sometimes here something different the next time you here it. 01011001 is a little less accessible than THE SCARECROW due to it’s length (2 CDs) and heavy concept but it was a very close second. So close in fact that I almost called a tie!
It took 11 years but we finally got a new Whitesnake record and it is a great comeback for David Coverdale. Most of the album retains the Blues Rock that was the basis of the early Whitesnake album while leaning on that big ’80s sound. The songs are full of hooks and great guitar work (Doug Aldrich & Reb Beach) along with that thick Coverdale voice. I had seen the band tour with the Scorpions a couple of years earlier and they were awesome in concert. I knew a new record would have a great sound. It was also good to see this album get a ton of promotion, especially on U.S. television, I didn’t expect to see constant commercials on different channels advertising the CD. In a year full of comebacks (AC/DC, Guns N Roses, Journey), I have to give Whitesnake the best comeback of the year!
Judas Priest – Nostradamus
Let the debate begin! Of all the big releases this year from big time bands, no album had more debate then Judas Priest’s double concept album NOSTRADAMUS. I’ve heard all the arguements from “it’s not straight forward Judas Priest” to “it’s too long” to “the concept sucks” to “Iron Maiden could have done it better”…..I think a lot of fans were down on the project due to purely nostalgic reasons. We aren’t going to get the BRITISH STEEL era Judas Priest because they have evolved as musicians and this concept album is what they wanted to do. I’ll admit that Priest isn’t known for their albums being complete epics, they’re more straight forward in their approach, but that doesn’t mean that NOSTRADAMUS is devoid of what makes Priest great. Half the album is instrumental intros that kind of make the album drawn out but the songs do have the Metal that Priest is known for. Rob Halford’s voice sounds better than it has in years and he puts in perhaps the performance of his career. The music is really good if you listen without prejudice and I don’t want to get into that synth guitar arguement because KK Downing & Glenn Tipton have been using them all along. Give NOSTRADAMUS a spin without hoping for 1980 Judas Priest and you will find a great album. This album was tough to get through due to the length (close to 2 hours) but repeated listens have pushed this album from a grower to #4.
This has to be the year of the concept album because the latest offering from Royal Hunt is the 4th concept album in the Top 5! Let’s not even get into the conceptual aspect, the music alone is melodic Power/Progressive Metal with solid musicianship and great vocal performance from new singer Mark Boals. The last few Royal Hunt albums have been disappointing but COLLISION COURSE proves that the band is still a force. I was surprised at how melodic this album really is because some of the band’s previous efforts were held down by too much keyboard noodling, I think adding Mark Boals to the band adds a fresh influence and creativity.
Like the entire Top 5, GLOBAL DRAMA has remained part of my weekly playlist since it’s release. I’ve had the album since late July and I just keep playing it…..that’s the sign of a good record! Cloudscape is a Progressive Metal band but they are very melodic (like Royal Hunt) while retaining their heaviness. The first couple of spins made me think of Kamelot, Balance Of Power and Symphony X…..that’s a good group to be in. Cloudscape was on my list to check out and now they are one of the best newer bands I’ve heard in a long time, I’m currently on the hunt for the band’s previous albums.
When guitar legend Michael Schenker puts his head down and stays focused, he makes truly great records. There is no denying his talent on guitar but his career has been plagued with different challenges and the subsequent results aren’t always the best musically. IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY is an almost full reunion of the original MSG: Gary Barden is back on the mic, Don Airey on keys, Simon Phillips on drums and Neil Murray handling bass instead of Mo Foster. That’s as solid a lineup as you’re going to get and I think the strong supporting cast influenced Michael because he created some of the best music of his career, it’s as if you can hear Michael’s happiness in his playing. The album is melodic and heavy with a ton of riffs for the guitar enthusiast but the music is enhanced by that cool Hammond organ Airey commands giving the album a late ’70s/early ’80s sound, almost like classic UFO. If Whitesnake was my comeback of the year then Michael Schenker is a close second.
If there ever was a band that described AOR/Melodic Rock then Journey is that band. The last couple of years have been trying for the band with all the rotation at the lead singer slot (Steve Augeri, Jeff Scott Soto) but the band grabbed a virtual unknown, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, and made an album that is pure classic Journey. Melodic Rock at it’s finest, Journey’s new songs are full of harmonies, good melodies, soaring vocals and really good guitar. Let me add they are also well written and produced too. The band new that another new lead singer would be a gamble but Pineda puts on a great performance that is on par with Steve Perry’s legacy. There was also great value here with a second disc of re-recorded greatest hits and a bonus live DVD…..you can’t beat that for $15! All year long I have been saying that if the music industry wasn’t so screwed up then Journey would have a multi-platinum hit album with REVELATION.
I know it’s not fashionable to like Def Leppard because they have “sold out” and downplayed their NWOBHM and Hard Rock roots over the years but they do make very good records. SPARKLE LOUNGE is one of those albums that just has that mix of catchy ’80s Hard Rock and current modern Rock that mainstream radio lives for. The music is full of hooks and melody and the songs are all well done except for one repetitive dud (‘C’mon C’mon’). The Leps know how to make a catchy record and this one had me hooked in and singing along. I like the trademark big sound combined with the ’70s influences and modern updates. Def Leppard takes a lot of criticism but they make good music.
I wasn’t expecting much from a new Moonspell album but I was completely surprised by NIGHT ETERNAL and it’s variety of sound. Moonspell plays a blend of Black, Death, Gothic and Power Metals all rolled into one with grand orchestration and both clean and harsh vocals. Get all that? The album is dark and heavy but it’s also very melodic and there are some beautiful orchestrations that enhance the overall sound. As I started re-listening to my 2008 CDs to make this Top 30, NIGHT ETERNAL kept creeping closer and closer to the Top 10. I had the promo for a long time but I ended up buying a proper copy at the local shop for around $13 and the value was really good: a bonus track ‘Age Of Mothers’ and a two alternate versions of ‘Scorpion Flower’ along with a bonus DVD of live Wacken 2007 performances. This kind of music isn’t my usual first choice but I expanded my horizons this year and I rediscovered Moonspell.
I’ve had SEASONS OF TRAGEDY since it’s U.S. release in March and it is one of the best Traditional Metal albums of the year. A lot of Metal fans might be thrown off by having a female frontwoman but I can tell you that Veronica Freeman kicks a whole lot of ass on the mic! Her vocals are extremely powerful to go along with the fast pummelling music that’s behind her. This is Benedictum’s second album and they steer clear of the sophomore jinx with an album heavy on Power Metal and Thrash that I can only describe as an aural assault. One of the best new U.S. Metal bands out there.
Another concept album making the Top 30? Of course! Especially if it’s an Alice Cooper album! I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan, always have been, and this is one of the best albums he’s released in the last few years. ALONG CAME A SPIDER has a perfect character for Alice to play (a serial killer named Spider) and he adds his own blend of shock, horror and humor to the performance. The one thing that Alice has done successfully with his last few albums is to revisit some of the classic ’70s sounds that made him the king of Shock Rock and he incorporates this sound with enough modern tendencies to make it sound fresh. the concept might not be all that original but Alice plays it perfectly and the songs are all very good with top production.
Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper
I’ll bet a lot of you are scratching your heads. If you don’t know who Uriah Heep is then you are missing out, the band has been around for close to 40 years and their sound is similar to Deep Purple but with a bit more Progressive Rock. WAKE THE SLEEPER is the first Heep album in a decade and I wasn’t really expecting much but these elder statesman have roared back with a heavy melodic album. Mick Box still plays a mean guitar and Phil Lanzon adds his Hammond organ in to fill out the sound but the performance of the album goes to long time singer Bernie Shaw who puts in one of the best vocal performances of the year.
ANGEL IN DISGUISE turned out to be one of the surprises of 2008. I had the album in my growing pile for a couple of months before I got to it and I wasted all that listening time because the record is top flight melodic Metal. Usually, there are a couple of duds in the tracklisting but each song is well done and has plenty of melodic hooks and Euro-Metal power to satisfy a wide range of Metal fans. It’s always a great year when you discover new bands, Shannon will be a band I watch closely in 2009.
2008 was the year of the concept album and the year of the comeback and Testament came back in a big way with this pounding Thrash assault. This is the album that we all wish Metallica had in them, it’s an in your face old school Thrash attack by a band that I consider one of the best in the genre but sometimes overlooked. This album is one heavy record that easily blows away a lot of modern Thrash out in the last couple of years.
Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30) for the other half of my Top 30 list.
In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2008:
All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion
Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine
Layla’s Classic Rock
The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense
Rock Of Ages
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008, SPV)
- Prologue/I Know Where You Live
- Vengeance Is Mine
- Wake The Dead
- Catch Me If You Can
- (In Touch With) Your Feminine Side
- Wrapped In Silk
- Killed By Love
- I’m Hungry
- The One That Got Away
- I Am The Spider/Epilogue
Alice Cooper – Lead & Background Vocals
Calico Cooper – Background & Spoken Word Vocals
Bernard Fowler – Background Vocals
Chuck Garric – Bass & Background Vocals
Greg Hampton – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Strings & Background Vocals
Jason Hook – Guitars on ‘(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side’
Keri Kelli – Guitars
Whitey Kirst – Lead Guitar on ‘I’m Hungry’
David Piribauer – Drums
Stefen Presley – B3 Organ on ‘Wrapped In Silk’
Danny Saber – Guitars, Keyboards, Bass & Background Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums
Slash – Lead Guitar on ‘Vengeance Is Mine’
Produced by: Alice Cooper, Greg Hampton & Danny Saber
Total Time = 44:24
2008 has been one of the biggest years for one of the most overdone ideas in Metal…..concept albums. So far this year we have had concept albums from Avantasia, Ayreon, Judas Priest and Iced Earth to name just a few. Metal’s godfather of shock and horror, Alice Cooper, has unleashed his latest terror tale about a serial killer named Spider and his pursuit of female victims. The concept doesn’t stray too far from the Alice norm does it? It’s a natural persona for Alice to portray and the Spider character mirrors an old one (Steven) from the glory days.
ALONG CAME A SPIDER is an album that follows the same formula as 2005’s DIRTY DIAMONDS by bridging Alice’s classic ’70s shock rock sound with a more modern updated sound. Most of the band that creates the musical blueprint has been a part of Alice’s touring ensemble for a number of years: Keri Kelli, Jason Hook, Chuck Garric and Eric Singer…..all are accomplished Hard Rock musicians that have collaborated on Cooper albums over the last decade. There are also a couple of guest musicians here with Slash adding guitar to ‘Vengeance Is Mine’ and an unlisted Ozzy Osbourne providing some harmonica to their writing collaboration on ‘Wake The Dead’.
Opening number ‘Prologue/I Know Where You Live’ sets up the maniacal journey as Spider lets his victims know that he’s watching them…..closely. The prologue is more of an opening intro to set up the overall story and features Alice’s daughter Calico while the proper song sounds like an updated WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE album cut. The song sets up the story as Spider stalks his victims. The most Heavy Metal song on the album is ‘Vengeance Is Mine’ and includes the guest appearance by Slash on lead guitar. ‘Vengeance’ has that modern heavy bite to it even when it breaks down halfway to allow Alice to have a spoken word segment to add the sinister aura. ‘Wake The Dead’ offers a more modern, lightly industrial, style to an upbeat almost danceable mid-’60s to early ’70s Pop tune. The contrast between the concept, lyrics and music put the visions of Spider dancing around taunting and torturing his victims to his delight. Same thing goes for ‘Catch Me If You Can’, the song has its roots in the early Alice Cooper albums but has that modern guitar sound keeping it fresh. You can picture the psychotic Spider gleefully taunting his victims, and the authorities, while he performs his evil deeds and battles his own mind.
‘(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side’ isn’t my favorite song on the album but it keeps the sinister feel going as Spider speaks to one of his victims in an almost “getting to know you” and reassuring tone. Of course, it’s all a ploy to capture yet another unsuspecting innocent female. I like the spiderweb theme with the title of ‘Wrapped In Silk’ and the song reminds of early Alice from KILLER (1971) through GOES TO HELL (1976). The guitar tone sounds like it came straight from that early era and the drums just pound away uneasily. Another song inspired by the classic Cooper era is ‘Killed By Love’, a ballad that sounds strikingly similar to ‘Only Women Bleed’ and ‘I Never Cry’ with Alice actually singing in a more melodic style. Just like the older ballads, ‘Killed By Love’ has that emotional fragility to it that gives the protagonist Spider a more human quality despite his horrific persona.
So far, ALONG CAME A SPIDER is a fairly serious and sinister piece of work and ‘I’m Hungry’ continues that trend but with a fair bit of humor. Spider sings “Gimme, gimme, gimme something to eat…” and we delve into the possible cannibalistic side of the character as he descends further into madness. Listen to the opening guitar line, it reminds me of ‘Refrigerator Heaven’ (1970) and ‘Is It My Body?’ (1971). The end is near as Spider battles with himself as he is stalking another victim during ‘The One That Got Away’. Before he approaches the girl mid-song, Spider goes through all the things that he could do to her, building up to the eventual communication. Calico Cooper guests again as the girl who gets away as Spider uses a similar tactic that Buffalo Bill used in Silence Of The Lambs when he kidnapped the senator’s daughter…..asking for help to his car. The piano based ballad ‘Salvation’ reminds me more of early Alice around the WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE/GOES TO HELL era with the orchestration and melodic singing. ‘I Am the Spider’ finishes the descent into the madness of the serial killer’s mind and the second half, ‘Epilogue’, is spoken word by Alice who sums up his crimes just like a spider behaves: “You trap. You kill. You eat.”. I also like the reference Spider makes to the Steven character that first appears on WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE and makes sporadic appearances throughout Alice’s career.
The serial killer concept really isn’t a new one, even for Alice Cooper, but he pulls it all of perfectly. The sense of evil, deceit, and horror mixed with emotion and a touch of humor all plays into the usual Alice Cooper shock rock theme. Musicianship and production are top level and the songs retain the modern 2008 technique while drawing inspiration from the ’70s Rock heyday. Overall, a really good album with a simple concept that gets a little extra attention with the comparisons to spiders and their behaviors. Of the five albums Alice has released since 2000, ALONG CAME A SPIDER is the best.
Favorite Songs: ‘Vengeance Is Mine’, ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘Wrapped In Silk, ‘Killed By Love’, ‘Salvation’
Tale Of The Tape:
Dell DJ 30 (1st Gen)
4555 songs (385 albums)
One of the problems with taking a weekend off is that you need to take care of all the little things around the house that you let slip when you are working and doing all the things you need to do to keep life going. I had some chores around the house to do, bills to pay, a dog to walk and a house that needs it’s Halloween transformation. The only way to get through it is to put the headphones on, press SHUFFLE, and go about your business! Here’s the first 20 songs that played…..
- Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Badger Badger’ (1980)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Angel Eyes’ (2008)
- Uriah Heep – ‘Tears Of The World’ (2008)
- Icarus Witch – ‘Queen Of Lies’ (2007)
- Alcatrazz – ‘God Blessed Video’ (1985)
- UFO – ‘Hunger In The Night’ (1988)
- Alice Cooper – ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ (1971)
- Extreme – ‘Slide’ (2008)
- Iron Maiden – ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ (1984)
- Mogg-Way – ‘Totaled’ (1997)
- Motley Crue – ‘Down At The Whiskey’ (2008)
- Judas Priest – ‘Wheels Of Fire’ (2005)
- U.D.O. – ‘ The Devil Walks Alone’ (2007)
- Mogg-Way – ‘Death In The Family’ (1999)
- Krokus – ‘Shotgun Boogie’ (1990)
- Scorpions – ‘Mind Like A Tree’ (1999)
- Saxon – ‘Empty Promises’ (1986)
- Krokus – ‘Backstabber’ (1999)
- Balance Of Power – ‘No Place Like Home’ (2003)
- Black Sabbath – ‘Zero The Hero’ (1983)
Bonus Track: KISS – ‘Charisma’ (1979)
It’s been awhile since I had a long weekend off so I decided to do my best and relax, listen to some music and get back on track with the website. The good news is that the laptop is fixed, all it needed was a little compressed air into the fans and it works! So here’s what I’ve listened to this weekend and what I have on tap for late night tonight…….
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008): Alice is one of my favorite artists but I really haven’t given this album much play since it’s release. I’m really not sure why because he has had an excellent track record with his last 4 records. I’ve been spinning this more than any album lately and I’m really starting to get into it. Alice is just creepy and this serial killer concept is great.
J.C. Cinel – Before My Eyes (2008): Very cool acoustic melodic rock from singer/songwriter J.C. Cinel. This is kind of light because it’s all acoustic and it has a lot of Country influences in it. It kind of has a Jon Bon Jovi/bret Michaels solo vibe to it but a lot better. I’m a sucker for good acoustic guitar and there’s plenty of it here!
Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper (2008): I picked this up a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t tear the wrapping until today. Heep is one of those legendary bands that I always try to get into but I never buy their albums because I find something else. I read some reviews online and grabbed it. Too early to make a judgement after one spin.
Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): I bought this the day it come out, listened to it a half dozen times and moved on. I really want to like this album but I haven’t been able to get into it.
Judas Priest – Jugulator (1997): I thought that this was a great album when it first came out. It’s very heavy and Tim Owens does a great job singing, even if the Halford comparisons are there. With all the news on Owens leaving Iced Earth and joining Yngwie Malmsteen for a new record, I decided to go back 11 years and hear how everything started. Some solid tunes here: ‘Burn In Hell’, ‘Jugulator’, ‘Cathedral Spires’…..the whole album is top notch, I just think people couldn’t get by the Owens vs. Halford debate.
‘Burn In Hell’
Two – Voyeurs (1998): Rob Halford + Trent Reznor + John 5 (John Lowery) = one big mess! I bought this in the hopes that Halford would answer Priest’s JUGULATOR but this ended up being one of the worst albums I’ve ever bought! I give Halford credit for trying something new but Industrial Metal isn’t his thing, he was trying to emulate Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails and failed miserably.
Round 1 to Judas Priest!
Halford – Resurrection (2000): A huge comeback! The Two project sucked and I think Rob Halford knew it so he went back to his Metal roots and made sure everyone knew it. The title track signals the return but ‘Silent Screams’ is a gem. I also really dig the duet with Bruce Dickinson on ‘The One You Love To Hate’.
Judas Priest – Demolition (2001): Priest was in the middle of making this album when Halford dropped his RESURRECTION bombshell, after hearing that comeback I just knew that Priest would have a tough time competing. Some good tracks here, ‘Feed On Me’ is the best, but the album feels disjointed. This doesn’t even compare to JUGULATOR so forget the comparison to RESURRECTION. When I went to get this album out I noticed that I have four copies: the promo advance, the regular U.S. CD, the Japanese pressing (1 bonus track) and the Australian Tour Edition (3 bonus tracks, one being the bonus from the Japanese release).
Round 2 to Halford!
Rose Tattoo – Blood Brothers (Special Tour Edition w/DVD) (2008): I only gave this one spin but it was good to hear Angry Anderson and the boys again. This one is on my list for late night listening.
Girlschool – Legacy (2008): This album is out out in a couple of weeks, in a month for the U.S. I always liked Girlschool, they came in with the NWOBHM and I always seem to acquire their albums. This is the album I’m holding for later tonight after the NFL game…..I’m betting it’s good.
I’m back from a quick vacation! I didn’t realize that I had to use some vacation days up quick or I would lose them so i took a quick unscheduled vacation from work. I love being in a union! I decided that I was going to also take the week to get away from my dependence on the Internet and television and just concentrate on listening to music and reading a good book or two. I won’t lie and say I cut both totally out but I did limit my time to an hour for each every day. Sometimes I just need to tune out!
Some other things I did last week involved birthdays, my youngest daughter turned 5 and my mom turned 59 the same day, so there was a birthday barbecue. The return of regular season NFL Football came last Thursday with the reigning champion New York Giants facing the Washington Redskins. As many long time readers know, I’m a New England Patriots season ticket holder so I had the opening regular season game today (I am not discussing Tom Brady’s injury at this time), so I tried out a few new recipes on the grill for the pre-game tailgate in the parking lot. Add my 4 hour fantasy football draft Saturday morning and you can see that I may have been on vacation but I still had a lot going on!
I spent a lot of time with new albums and live albums this past week. I have to catch up on reviews and I want to do a “live album week” at the end of the month so I pulled out a few candidates for those reviews.
Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008)
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (2008)
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008)
Cloudscape – Global Drama (2008)
Maiden Heaven: A Kerrang! Tribute To Iron Maiden (2008)
Venom – Hell (2008)
Motorhead – Motorizer (2008)
Ayreon – 01011001 (2008)
Royal Hunt – Collision Course – Paradox II (2008)
Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008)
These are the new albums that I have been rgiving serious rotation to the last couple of weeks. I’ve never really taken Avantasia and Judas Priest out of my weekly playlist, same goes for the new Ayreon but I’ve given it just a little more focus because there is so much to hear. The new albums from Royal Hunt, Motorhead, Cloudscape and Alice Cooper are all very good and I haven’t stopped enjoying them. I just picked up the new Venom recently (along with something else I know I’m forgetting, watch for an update on my purchases soon) and it’s…..well, Venom! Venom and Motorhead are so much alike in that they do the same thing over and over. Most of my listening went to advances of the new Iced Earth and Metal Church that I’ve had a few weeks now…..I’m preparing the Iced Earth review for this week, Metal Church next week.
KISS – Alive! (1975)
KISS – Alive II (1977)
Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)
Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)
UFO – Strangers In The Night (1979)
UFO – Werewolves Of London: Live In Wolverhampton 1998 (1999)
Royal Hunt – Live In Japan 1996 (1996)
Michael Schenker Group – Live Unforgiven World Tour (1999)
Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982)
Black Sabbath – Reunion (1998)
Queen – Live At Wembley ’86 (1992)
Queen – On Fire: Live At The Bowl ’82 (2004)
Judas Priest – Priest In The East (1979)
Judas Priest – Priest…..Live! (1987)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed (1982)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.2 (1998)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.3 (2006)
Krokus – Alive & Screamin’ (1986)
Jeff Scott Soto – Live At The Gods (2003)
That’s a pretty good list of live albums! Some of these albums were instrumental in my discovering studio albums from the bands, some were important in my understanding of different eras of the bands, but all of them had a profound influence on me. The first two KISS ALIVE albums are cornerstones of my love for Heavy Metal and KISS but I would also have to put LIVE AFTER DEATH and WORLD WIDE LIVE right there with them because they were cassettes I played to death back when I was kid. I should probably add the Krokus and Judas Priest live records to that list too.
I did a lot of comparisons: PRIEST IN THE EAST vs. PRIEST…..LIVE!, LIVE EVIL vs. REUNION, all 3 Saxon live albums. Some are no brainers so I expect everyone to comment how bad PRIEST…..LIVE! & REUNION are to two all-time classic live albums. Some of these albums like the UFO records, the Royal Hunt, MSG and Jeff Scott Soto have become favorites over the years and you can’t dispute Queen’s legacy in the live arena. My plan for the “live album week” is to pick 7 out of this list, or maybe pick 6 and throw in a surprise, for reviews and memories.
It’s been a couple of months since I posted my last Hunt and there’s been a few good reasons:
1. Money is being spent wisely — I don’t think I have to tell anyone, especially here in the U.S., how bad the state of the economy is. Electricity has gone up, gas is still over $3.50/gallon, Heating Oil is $4.20/gallon this season, and food has gone up. A sign of the times! The extra money I usually spend on music has been saved.
2. End of Summer slowdown — The labels like to save some key releases for the last third of the year and some heavyweights are releasing albums in the next couple months: Metallica, AC/DC, Iced Earth, Metal Church, Tesla and many more. July and August are usually slow with bands out on tour for the summer season and the promotion teams gearing up for the Fall releases.
3. I’m way behind! — I never thought that a simple blog about my Heavy Metal & Hard Rock collection would connect me with so many bands, PR people, and record labels. Everyday brings a new CD submitted for review and I have a good 50 albums or so sitting in a pile waiting for more spins. I need to catch up!
So here’s what I managed to buy in the last couple of months:
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008) – $9.99: I bought this the day it came out for a nice sale price. Unfortunately, I haven’t really given this record all that much attention. I’ve listened a few times but that’s about it, this is in my pile for extra consumption this week and I just uploaded it to my MP3 player so I can listen at work.
Mad Margritt – Cold Sweat (1997) – $25: This album has been on my want list for a long time but the price usually goes through the roof on Ebay. I was browsing on Ebay a couple of weeks ago and I typed in the band name but misspelled the word “Margritt”, I left off the 2nd “T”. Good thing I did because I was able to win this CD for $20 & $5 shipping with no competition. There was another copy from another seller up for sale at the same time but the band name was spelled correctly in the listing title, everyone was after that one and the bids rose. This takes COLD SWEAT off the WANTED! list.
Kerrang! – Maiden Heaven (A Tribute To Iron Maiden) (2008) – $7: I haven’t bought an issue of Kerrang! in years, I usually thumb through it in the bookstore. When the tribute CD was announced, I figured that I would drive the 20 minutes to the Barnes & Noble and actually buy it…..but I got lazy. True Rhode Islanders believe that anything more than a 15 minute drive is too far and, in true native fashion, I couldn’t have been bothered. I ordered online and the issue showed up a month later with the CD.
My birthday was August 16th and I decided to have a low key day. My kids are usually good for taking mom to the local record shop for a gift card but they decided that Dad should get himself a new tour shirt from the Metal Masters show instead. A mysterious package was delivered that day from my estranged father in Texas. The package contained 3 CDs: the new Motley Crue, the new Disturbed, and the new Miley Cyrus! I gave the new Miley to my 5 yr old daughter (my 10 yr old daughter has it already), I already own the new Crue and I hate Disturbed. All the discs were sealed so I walked into the local shop and returned them for a $30 credit!
Extreme – Saudades De Rock (2008) – $9.99: Always loved Extreme, especially their debut album. I saw their reunion show in Boston back in June 2006 and I have been patiently waiting for some new material. I’ve read some really good reviews about this album so this was a no-brainer…..I still haven’t taken off the shrinkwrap!
Motorhead – Bomber (Deluxe Expanded Edition) (2005) – $19.99: This was the last 2 CD deluxe edition I needed of the Motorhead studio albums. I should have bought it right away a few years ago when it came out and was on sale but I didn’t and I’ve been staring at the same copy with the same $20 price tag for close to 3 years! I could have passed again but I wanted to complete my set.
From SPV USA:
Here is the trailer for the new Alice Cooper album, ALONG CAME A SPIDER…..
There are only a handful of rock artists that have proven to be as enduring and influential as ALICE COOPER has over the years. Name just about any hard rock artist, and they’ve probably borrowed a thing or two from Alice. And on his latest studio recording, Along Came A Spider (issued via SPV Records on July 29 in the U.S.), Alice has returned with a concept album with a sinister streak.
‘A dark and menacing album for dark and menacing times’ is perhaps the most fitting description for Alice’s 25th studio album overall, as a chilling conceptual thread runs through the songs, which are told through the voice of a serial killer named Spider – one that Alice describes as “an arachnophobic psychopath” (in the song ‘Catch Me If You Can’). Alice, the master storyteller, weaves a web of danger, intrigue and death that rivals his best work.
Co-produced by Danny Saber, Greg Hampton and Alice himself, Along Came A Spider manages to marry both vintage and modern day Alice. As theatrical as ever, the album is a sonic combination of familiar Alice musical elements from albums as diverse as Billion Dollar Babies and Brutal Planet, with the storytelling of Welcome To My Nightmare, capturing the historic dark side of Alice in peak form, an instantly recognizable presence that will be welcomed by his fans. Joining Alice on the album are members of his touring band – longtime Alice drummer Eric Singer (KISS), bassist Chuck Garric, and guitarists Keri Kelli and Jason Hook, with additional contributions from others, including Saber, Hampton, and renowned backing vocalist Bernard Fowler. Slash also lends some guitar style to ‘Vengeance Is Mine’.
Saber and Hampton co-wrote several of the album’s songs with Alice, while others were collaborations with Alice’s band members. Danny Saber, best known for his role as member and producer of BLACK GRAPE, has also worked with many other artists, including THE ROLLING STONES, OZZY OSBOURNE, and DAVID BOWIE, while Greg Hampton’s been working on a new album project teaming up Buckethead and Bootsy Collins.
Who else but Alice Cooper, with Along Came A Spider, would create a “love story” about a serial killer named Spider? His trademark is wrapping his victims in silk, and his victims are specifically chosen to feed his hunger to kill. But, upon meeting his (possibly) last victim, he falls in love with her and cannot kill to complete his plan. That could be his demise.
Though it is often said about artists with as rich a history as Alice that their newest albums capture the essence of their greatest work, it may honestly be proposed that Along Came A Spider does exactly that. It’s got hard rock with hooks, an Alice trademark (‘Vengeance Is Mine’, ‘I Know Where You Live’), classic balladry, another Alice trademark (‘Killed By Love’, ‘Salvation’), and always with an overtone of evil, yet another Alice trademark. Throughout the album, Alice BECOMES Spider, telling the story of a cold-blooded killer to life vocally, as if this were the soundtrack to an as-yet unmade horror film.
Before such theatrical rockers as DAVID BOWIE, THE NEW YORK DOLLS, KISS, SLIPKNOT, ROB ZOMBIE, and MARILYN MANSON, there was Alice Cooper. The original Alice Cooper group quickly became despised by adults and authority figures, while being idolized by teens and rock fans everywhere, on the strength of a succession of all-time classic albums (‘Love It to Death,’ ‘Killer,’ ‘School’s Out,’ ‘Billion Dollar Babies,’ etc.) and anthems (‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Under My Wheels’, ‘School’s Out’, ‘Elected’, ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’, etc.). Alice had continued success as a solo artist, releasing successful albums like ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ and ‘Trash,’ featuring classic hits such as ‘Only Women Bleed’, ‘I Never Cry’ and ‘Poison’. All one has to do is look at the many other artists that have covered Alice to understand how far reaching his influence is – the list is endless — or just keep in mind that Johnny Rotten auditioned for THE SEX PISTOLS to the tune of ‘I’m Eighteen’.
Along Came A Spider tracklisting: ‘Prologue/I Know Where You Live’, ‘Vengeance Is Mine’, ‘Wake The Dead’, ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side’, ‘Wrapped In Silk’, ‘Killed By Love’, ‘I’m Hungry’, ‘The One That Got Away’, ‘Salvation’, ‘I Am The Spider/Epilogue’.