Tyr - Valkyaja

CD Scavenger Hunt – January 2014 update

Here we go…..another late post…..another late update on my continuing quest for new additions to my collection…..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PlanetHelix.com

Metal On Ice
Helix – A Heavy Mental Xmas (2008)
Helix – All I Want For Christmas…is the Leafs to Win The Cup! (7″ vinyl) - $35 bundle

Ebay

W.A.S.P. – Inside The Electric Circus (1986) – $8 used
W.A.S.P. – Live…In The Raw (1987) – $11 used
W.A.S.P. – The Crimson Idol (1989) – $8 used
Rhett Forrester – Gone With The Wind (1984/2001 reissue) – $9 used

Sammy Hagar & Friends (2013) – $7.25
King Kobra – II (2013) – $7.25
Coney Hatch – Four (2013) – $7.25
Little River Band – Cuts Like A Diamond (2013) – $7.25
Nightwish – Oceanborn (1998) – $10 used
MSG – Nightmare: The Acoustic MSG (1992) – $10 used
Great White – s/t (1984) – $5.50 used vinyl
Great White – Out Of The Night E.P. (1983) – $5.50 used vinyl

Amazon

Kill Devil Hill – Revolution Rise (2013) – $12
Tyr – Valkyrja (2013) – $10
Benedictum – Obey (2013) – $15
KISS – Best of Vol. 3 (The Millenium Collection) (2006) – $7

Newbury Comics

MSG – Bridge The Gap (Ltd. Ed.) (2014) – $24
Scorpions – MTV Unplugged: Live In Athens (CD/DVD) (2014) – $12
Iced Earth – Plagues Of Babylon (Dlx. Ed.) (2014) – $16
Nashville Pussy – Up The Dosage (Ltd. Ed.) (2014) – $16
Michael Monroe – Horns & Halos (2013) – $14
Lita Ford – The Bitch Is Back…Live (2013) – $0
Dream Theater – s/t (2013) – $14
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only (2013) – $10 used
Trouble – Distortion Field (2013) – $0 used
Circle II Circle – All That Remains E.P. (2005) – $4 used
Andersen/Laine/Readman – Three (2006) – $4 used
Sinner – There Will Be Execution (2003) – $0 used
Royal Hunt – A Life To Die For (2013) – $18
Helker – Somewhere In The Circle (2013) – $10 used
Firewind – Few Against Many (2012) – $0 used

I started off the year with a major bang by scoring a lot of older releases and many 2013 releases that I received digital promos for from the labels. One of my resolutions for 2014 was to acquire more older catalog releases…..albums that have been missing from my collection for a long time.

My first purchase was from PlanetHelix.com, the official website of Brian Vollmer and Helix. The had a holiday bundle that included the Metal On Ice album, the Helix holiday CD and a bonus 7 inch vinyl single of the new Helix holiday song for a cool $35. I bought the deluxe package with the Helix t-shirt and baseball cap for $75.

Ebay was awesome for great buys early this year! I scored original Capitol Records pressing of the three W.A.S.P. albums that are missing from my collection. I’ve always had the entire W.A.S.P. discography be it on cassette back in the ’80s, the original pressing CDs and then the reissues with bonus tracks in the late ’90s. I sold my original pressings of all the W.A.S.P. albums about ten years ago when my wife and I were strapped for cash when our second daughter was born, and I sold them for decent bucks, but I’ve regretted it ever since. It’s been an on again/off again search for these original pressings but I finally decided to acquire them all once I found a seller that had them all up at once. Same thing happened with the Sammy Hagar, King Kobra, Coney Hatch and Little River Band CDs, these were all one lot at a great price from a reputable seller. I had all the digital promos but I wanted the first three albums in my collection, would have passed on the Little River Band if it was alone but it was a great price for the 4 CD lot. The other CDs I grabbed of Ebay were ones I stumbled on when I was searching some of my favorite sellers but my favorites were the two Great White vinyls I won for $5.50 each…..both original pressing in near mint condition.

I had to kill an Amazon gift card that I received for a Xmas present so I picked up some 2013 releases: Kill Devil Hill, Tyr and Benedictum. All were cheaper than actually buying them from the record store and, to round out my gift card, I added the KISS – Millenium Collection 3 compilation for completist purposes.

I did actually go to the record store three times to start the year! I stopped by the North Attleboro, MA Newbury Comics to pick up the new Michael Schenker Group album and I dropped $24 on the limited edition digibook with the bonus track featuring Don Dokken on vocals. I know that’s a lot of money but Michael Schenker is one of those artists that I will spend the extra money on. Luckily, I caught the sale because regular price on that bad boy was $30! While I was in store I added the new Scorpions MTV Unplugged CD/DVD and the new Iced Earth to the MSG album, both were on sale and I saved $5 and $8 respectively. The Scorpions release was cheaper on sale than on Amazon and it’s the CD/DVD version, same with the new Iced Earth which was also a CD/DVD combo.

My second trip out to the stores was to catch a Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale on all CDs. I made it up to the the big Newbury Comics in Norwood, MA (nice vinyl section there!) and scored mostly 2013 releases that I never bothered to pick up. I’ve been a Nashville Pussy fan since their first record so I needed Up The Dosage and I saved $3 buying the deluxe edition (2 bonus tracks) for $16 on sale. I paired it with Michael Monroe’s latest (also on sale for $14, saving $3) to get the Lita Ford live album free (also on sale for $14, regular $17). I paired the latest Dream Theater (also on sale for $14 from $17) with a used copy of the Phil Anselmo CD ($10 used instead of $16 regular) to get the latest Trouble album free $10 used instead of $16 regular). My last bundle was a few older releases that were all $4 used: Circle II Circle + Andersen/Laine/Readman = Sinner for free.

On the way home from Norwood, I hit the North Attleboro store to buy the latest Royal Hunt – A Life To Die For for a high priced $18 regular price, paired with a used $10 copy of the latest Helker album to get Firewind’s Few Against Many free. I already bought the Firewind album once and I uploaded it into my iTunes but I realized that the used copy I bought mid-year in a record store was NOT the jewel case version I thought it was. Upon further review, it was a ripped in half digipak version stuffed into a jewel case and priced as used. Needless to say, that won’t do for my collection, no damaged CDs allowed! When I found this copy used for $8, it was a an easy buy with Royal Hunt and Helker.

Totals

Total (Jan) = $344

Total (year) = $344

Average Price (per item) = $10.12

Total CDs (year) = 31

Total LPs (year) = 3

 

 

The Top 25 Albums of 2011

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! More and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2011 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 2011 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than in 2010! 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 is on par with what I had for 2010. Unfortunately, I’ve let the website go a little in the last couple of years so, while I’ve been listening to almost everything, I just haven’t posted about it.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 25 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 2011. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2010 internationally, but was released in the U.S. in 2011, qualified as a 2011 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 25 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 2011″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 25 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 25 Albums of 2011:

25. Nelson – Lightning Strikes Twice (2011)
24. Michael Monroe – Sensory Overdrive (2011)
23. U.D.O. – Rev-Raptor (2011)
22. Riot – Immortal Soul (2011)
21. Tokyo Blade – Thousand Men Strong (2011)

Starting at the bottom of the countdown is the new Nelson album that surprised me with it’s huge melodic hooks and vocals, former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe’s latest solo album that I bought late in the year but ended up enjoying a lot and the steadiness of U.D.O.’s Traditional Metal REV-RAPTOR. I still can’t figure out what a “rev-raptor” is aside from the machine on the cover but there you go. Two huge surprises were from Riot and Tokyo Blade! Riot scored #22 with a solid record from the THUNDERSTEEL-era lineup (a record I was looking forward to big time!) but the band had to endure the loss of Riot founder/guitarist Mark Reale…..at least he left a lasting legacy with this last album. The big surprise was NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade, who came out of nowhere with THOUSAND MEN STRONG, one of the biggest comebacks of 2011! I’ve been a Tokyo Blade fan for a long time but I really didn’t expect much when I heard the band was releasing a new album but I was completely surprised and excited, sounds like old school NWOBHM with a modern touch.

20. Stratovarius – Elysium (2011)
19. Journey – Eclipse (2011)
18. Iced Earth – Dystopia (2011)
17. Royal Hunt – Show Me How To Live (2011)
16. Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (2011)

I came late to the Stratovarius party even though I’ve acquired a few albums over the years, ELYSIUM was another epic Power Metal record. Journey’s ECLIPSE was a leader for the Top 5 this year but, as other bands released new records, and I kept comparing this album to 2008′s REVELATION, ECLIPSE fell a little. It’s still a solid AOR album Arnel Pineda still shines as the new Steve Perry but it wasn’t as good as REVELATION. Iced Earth made another vocalist change adding Stu Block from Into Eternity but they released one hell of an album with DYSTOPIA…..another late year purchase that might have gone higher with more time. Same for Royal Hunt but their reunion with D.C. Cooper is just what I needed to add their new Progressive/Power Metal album into the Top 25. I know a lot of fans of the more extreme side of Metal look at Arch Enemy as somewhat of a commercial band, especially with Angela Gossow front and center, but they are still kind of new to me. As I open myself up to more extreme bands, a band like Arch Enemy is a good starting point. I’m more of a Traditional/Power Metal fan and a AOR/Hard Rock fan but KHAOS LEGIONS sounded great to my ears and I had to rate it higher than some of my favorite bands (Iced Earth, Royal Hunt, Riot).

15. Anvil – Juggernaut Of Justice (2011)
14. Scheepers – Scheepers (2011)
13. Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
12. Chickenfoot – III (2011)
11. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming (2011)

Gotta give some love to Anvil because THIS IS THIRTEEN (2007) was a great comeback album (even though they never left!) even without the movie and they had four busy years to release a follow-up. JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE continued where THIS IS THIRTEEN left off and exceeded all my expectations…..great to see the band still getting success even with the movie hoopla dying out, hard work pays off! Ralf Scheepers didn’t stray too far from the more commercial side of Primal Fear’s last few albums but his first solo album was just as good as those. What can you say about Dream Theater? They always release one great record after another and, yes, Mike Portnoy is a huge loss on drums but Mike Mangini does a great job! Another big surprise in 2011 was the new Chickenfoot album, III, because I didn’t really feel the debut album. Not to say I didn’t like the first Chickenfoot record but the songs weren’t as catchy, as memorable. On III, the songs instantly stuck too me and the harmonies were awesome between Mike Anthony and Sammy, they can take the “supergroup” label off and just be a band now. Talk about a comeback! Sebastian Bach came back and kicked his former band in the teeth with this new solo album, KICKING & SCREAMING.  Baz sounds as great as he ever did and his band is blazing! I always get disappointed with Baz because I always think he should be doing more music than interviews, or reality shows, or VH-1 related things but he really came back strong with this record.

10. Warrant – Rockaholic (2011)
9. Saxon – Call To Arms (2011)
8. Night Ranger – Somewhere In California (2011)
7. Motorhead – The World Is Yours (2011)
6. Black Country Communion – 2 (2011)

Despite original singer Jani Lane passing away, Warrant recruited former Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason (who replaced Black ‘N Blue singer Jamie St. James) and released a wicked Hard Rock record with ROCKAHOLIC. The first two songs, ‘Sex Ain’t Love’ and ‘Innocence Gone’, are two of the best Hard Rock songs of the year! Saxon is one of my Top 5 favorite bands of all time and they released another great album with CALL TO ARMS. I was a little worried when I read they were stripping back their current sound for something more like the early ’80s because they have released a string of great Traditional/Power Metal albums since 1997′s UNLEASH THE BEAST…..the good news is that the old NWOBHM guard still maintained their excellent track record of the last 15 years! I’ve been a Night Ranger fan since the early ’80s and I thought they easily made the best Melodic Rock record of 2011 after one spin of the new album, once I heard this album, the  Journey and Nelson records started to pale in comparison. Like Saxon, Motorhead is a favorite band and a staple when it comes to my year end countdowns. You know what you’re going to get from Motorhead before they album is released but you know it’s going to rip your face off and punch you in the gut! Lemmy, Mikkey and Phil just keep making great album after great album every other year…..see you in 2013 Motorhead! Coming is at #6, and just missing the Top 5 by a hair, is the sophomore album by Black Country Communion (the other supergroup in the countdown). Just hearing Glenn Hughes sing ’70s styled Hard Rock is enough to catapult any band or album into year end lists but the songs are so good and the performances so perfect that I knew this was going to be a top album of 2011 after the first spin. Hard working band too, this album came out a year after the debut, they released a live record and DVD and have toured constantly…..that’s old school work ethic and it pays off.

5. Whitesnake – Forevermore (2011)
4. Mr. Big – What If… (2011)
3. Anthrax – Worship Music (2011)
2. Michael Schenker – Temple Of Rock (2011)

Making the Top 5 is no easy task when hundreds, if not thousands, of new albums get released each year but these four albums had the #1 spot on my countdown and really put me to task to pick the best album of 2011. Whitesnake started the year off with the album to beat, FOREVERMORE being a continuation of GOOD TO BE BAD but just a shade behind that awesome 2008 album. Maybe it’s because FOREVERMORE didn’t have 11 years of waiting and then hit you between the eyes but the new album did keep David Coverdale and the band at the top again. This year’s countdown has a lot of Hard Rock comebacks with Baz and Warrant turning in solid albums but Mr. Big really made the superior Hard Rock album of 2011 and then toured the album hard with more than just a few making the live set. I expected nothing from a new Mr. Big album but WHAT IF…. was a great album from a band reuniting and not just going out for the quick nostalgia buck. I’ll tell you what, they were definitely one of the best concerts I saw this past year too! Mr. Bog would have had the top album of 2011, and the best comeback of 2011, if Anthrax decided not to release WORSHIP MUSIC! Are you kidding me? WORSHIP MUSIC is an album that should be my top record of 2011 because it’s so good, so thrashy, so hard and so melodic all rolled into one. The band is tight as usual, no problems there, but the wild card in all of this was whether the band reuniting with Joey Belladonna would make a difference. No offense to the John Bush-era of Anthrax but Belladonna is just a better fit! Joey sounds as good as he ever has, the band sounds as brutal as ever and there isn’t a throwaway song on the album. A lot of year end countdown’s have Anthrax at the top of the list and, in a year of comebacks, they have the best one but the band got trumped by one of my favorite guitarists of all-time…..Michael Schenker! The #2 album of 2011, and a serious contender for the #1 spot right to the end, was Schenker’s new TEMPLE OF ROCK solo album. Is it the Michael Schenker Group? Is it him by himself, hence a solo album? TEMPLE OF ROCK follows the lead of 2006′s TALES OF ROCK ‘N ROLL where Michael and his regular backing band teamed up with another new vocalist for the half of the new album and then did a few songs each with a different singer from Michael’s career. This time around it’s new singer Michael Voss for 10 of the 12 new songs with Robin McAuley and Doogie White each singing one…..I kind of expected Gary Barden to fit in here somewhere considering he’s done Michael’s last two albums but he’s not here. Voss sounds great, the guitar is pure Schenker mastery and the songs are all well written with big memorable hooks and solos. Best song on the album is the McAuley led ‘Lover’s Sinfony’, which I got to see live when the band came through town, with a close second being ‘Miss Claustraphobia’ performed by Michael Voss. Michael Schenker had some rough years since the mid-’90s but the guy is such a talented musician, so prolific on guitar, that the music is a reflection of the man’s genius. Definitely a tough task to beat out anyone in the Top 5, especially Anthrax, but Schenker and company came out of nowhere and blew me away.

Up until the last minute, up until I had written this post this far, I finally made the decision to place the next album as the best album of 2011…..the top album of 2011 is…..

(drum roll please…..)

#1

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

This was a hard one to call with the Top 5 albums being so good and Anthrax and Michael Schenker being in a virtual three-way tie with Alice Cooper right up until the end. Actually, I didn’t make up my mind until I gave each album a spin one last time before I wrote this up. In the end…..Alice is the winner!

WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE is not a sequel to the iconic WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE (1975) but a continuation of Alice’s nightmares…..that’s exactly how this album won. Alice and producer Bob Ezrin weren’t trying to best one of the greatest Rock albums of all-time, they were trying to continue the tale and putting a current spin on what Alice would be dreaming about 37 years later! Turns out Alice’s nightmares just get worse! Every song on the album is well written with the usual Alice Cooper trademark humor and horror mix, the production is perfect and the performances are flawless. There are more than a few guest stars, including the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band and notable names like Vince Gill and Ke$ha, and they all move into the dreamworld effortlessly. I was especially impressed with the reunion of the original Alice Cooper band members because it just shows how much impact the original band had and how much creativity they still have because they are all great musicians. Now Alice Cooper is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and now Alice has a #1 album at Heavy Metal Addiction…..what could be better?

CD Scavenger Hunt (September update)

The hunt for CDs always continues but September is always a slow month because of back to school and getting the house ready for Fall/Winter. September is also slow because there aren’t as many new releases because the Summer concert/release season has come and gone and a lot of new albums are planned closer to the Winter holidays. There were more than a few big releases though and I was at the record store buying them up on sale…..

Newbury Comics

Anthrax – Worship Music (2011) – $12: One of the most anticipated releases of 2011 for me because of the reunion with singer Joey Belladonna but also because there hasn’t been a new Anthrax record since 2003′s WE’VE COME FOR YOU ALL. That’s 8 long years! There’s been a lot of drama in the Anthrax camp at the singer slot with John Bush leaving and Belladonna coming in for a reunion tour, then Dan Nelson replacing Belladonna for a new record. When that didn’t work, Bush came back for festival dates and to try and record the Nelson material but that didn’t work and Belladonna came back for the Big 4 tour dates. Get all that? WORSHIP MUSIC has the classic lineup intact, save for Rob Caggiano on guitar, and it sounds like the band never parted ways with Belladonna back in 1992. I’ve been an Anthrax fan since the beginning and this is a classic ’80s styled release and it sounds great. Regular price was $16 so I saved $4.

Edguy – Age Of The Joker (2011) – $10: I have this love/hate releationship with Edguy. When they first came out in the late ’90s, they were a pure Power Metal band that I discovered while getting completely immersed in the growing Power Metal resurgence. As time went on, I had a harder time with the change in sound on albums like HELLFIRE CLUB (2004) and ROCKET RIDE (2006) to a more Hard Rock sound…..at least that’s what I hear. I always buy Edguy’s albums though and they’re always really good but I think they get overshadowed now by Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia projects. I couldn’t pass up the album though and it was on sale the day of release for $10, a $6 savings compared to the $16 regular price. I’ve read online that there’s a limited edition two disc version with six bonus tracks but it wasn’t available at the record store the day of release. Actually, I had no idea there was a special edition or I might have waited and bought online.

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011) – $16: The only reason why this new Dream Theater album seems so expensive is because I bought the special edition with the bonus DVD documenting the drummer auditions the band held to replace the departed Mike Portnoy. I thought that was pretty interesting and I wouldn’t mind seeing new drummer Mike Mangini’s (ex-Annihilator, Extreme, Steve Vai) induction to the band. Not really a surprise pick seeing that Mangini already worked on some of James LaBrie’s solo projects. This is Dream Theater though and I’m going to buy the album anyway, the only difference being do I want to shell out an extra $3 for a bonus DVD? The standard version was $13 on sale with a regular price of $16, the special edition was $16 on sale with a regular price of $22…..I saved $6 and got the bonus DVD that I’ll probably watch once!

Doro – 25 years In Rock…..And Still Going Strong (2011) – $20: Now here’s the reason I made the trip out to the record store this particular week! Doro Pesch has been around a long time and she is still kicking ass! I’ve been following her since the Warlock days and it seems that I’ve acquired a large Warlock/Doro collection over the years. Back in 2008, Doro celebrated her 25th year in Metal with a huge concert in her hometown of Dusseldorf, Germany with a ton of special appearances and guests from across the Metal world including a Warlock reunion! I’ve only seen and heard bits and pieces online and through various Doro releases but now the entire collection is finally seeing the light of day in the U.S…..it seems that this was released in Europe in november 2010 through Nuclear Blast Germany. The package includes 5 hours of concert footage & a documentary on 2 DVDs and a 43 minute audio CD of parts of the live 25th anniversary concert. The DVDs include the full anniversary show, the behind the scenes look at the show and a bunch of live extras from various festivals over the last few years. I would have preferred the full show on audio so I’m going to see if it’s available on that earlier European release. Regular price was $30, paid $20, saved $10.

Saxon – Call To Arms (2011) – $10: The new Saxon record was the only reason I made a second trip to the record store during September…..like I said, it was a slow month but I’m not missing a new album from one of my favorite bands! CALL TO ARMS was released a few weeks earlier in Europe and I’d read some great reviews so I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, the cover doesn’t impress but the music sure does! There were two versions of this CD: the standard and the special edition that included the Live At Donington 1980 live album. That Donington ’80 live album has been repackaged so many times that it’s become kind of a joke, if you already own the original like I do then there’s no reason to buy the special edition. The original Donington ’80 is relatively easy to find as well. Regular price here was $13 (the special edition was $16) and the sale was $10 ($13 for the special) so I saved $3.

Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming (2011) – $14: Just like Edguy, I have this love/hate thing going with Sebastian Bach. Most of the time, I find the guy to be full of himself and he really hasn’t released much since Skid Row’s SUBHUMAN RACE (1995). Granted that he did Braodway and a lot of work on television with MTV Networks and reality TV but his solo projects haven’t been barnburners for me. He had the group The Last Hard Men, a half studio/half live album, a covers album, ANGEL DOWN (2007) and the Frameshift collaboration in 2005. For me the Frameshift record is the best of them all so I wasn’t expecting much. Then I look at the guy and he embodies that “rock star” persona and you know the talent is there so I always have hope. I heard the first single, the title track, and it sounded pretty good so I decided to take the chance.  I ended up buying the special edition with the bonus DVD that include the making of the album, live bonuses and videos while the proper CD has a bonus track ‘Jump Off The Wagon’. Regular price was $20, paid $14, saved $6.

House Of Lords – Big Money (2011) – $13: One thing I like about the Newbury Comics I shop at is that they group all the Frontiers Records’ new releases together in the new release section, I end up buying albums I totally forgot about all the time! Right next to the Sebastian Bach was the new House Of Lords which, just like Doro, I seem to have acquired almost all of the band’s albums very quietly. The problem with that is I usually end up not giving these House Of Lords albums enough time on the stereo…..maybe it’s because the first two albums were so good? Frontman/co-founder James Christian is back again as the only one left from the glory days and he’s done a great job of keeping HOL alive, the guy also still has a great voice. I forgot about this album so I grabbed the only copy in the store for the $13 sale price. Regular price for this Frontiers import was $17 so I saved $4. Just a quick thought…..I realize the crest is the band’s trademark but couldn’t we vary some of these album covers a little?

Michael Monroe – Sensory Overdrive (2011) – $10: This CD was a complete out of the blue purchase. I’m not a big Hanoi Rocks or Michael Monroe fan because I just never got around to buying most of the albums. I have a few but I bought them years ago and haven’t revisited them in years. So I’m browsing the regular priced Rock section and I notice one of the clerks stocking a section so I asked the guy if he had good stuff. The guy told me to give this disc a try so I took it and added it to my shopping basket. If you’ve read this website long enough then you know I always grab a handbasket when I walk in and I fill it with all the good stuff I find. When I’m done, I make my decisions, keep what I’m buying and I restock the other CDs back on the shelves where they belong. When it came down to decision time, the reason why I took a chance on Michael Monroe was because the other competing albums had multiple copies and this had only one, the others were a few dollars more, this was a lower price and I quickly pulled up a few reviews on my phone. I figured $10 sale price was worth a chance…..regular price was $13 so I saved $3.

Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising (2011) – $12 used: I ended up find ing the latest Amon Amarth album on my third and final trip to Newbury Comics in September, I actually went back to the store the day after I bought the Saxon, Bach, Monroe and Lords albums because I forgot to buy my wife a CD she asked me to pick up. So I go back in and I decide to do a quick double check of the Metal section because how much is really going to change in 24 hours? Well SURTUR RISING wasn’t there the day before and there were two copies: a new one for $20 and this used one for $12! This is the special edition digipak that includes the 10 song CD and the 33 track DVD – BLOODSHED OVER BOCHUM, GERMANY 12/28-12/31/2008. I saved the $8 over the regular price and the content value is great for that price but this was a solid purchase because 1) the digital download I received from the promo company had a glitch in it and I couldn’t download the entire album and 2) I haven’t seen a copy of SURTUR RISING stocked in any of the various Newbury Comics locations I’ve been in since a month after the album’s release. The search is over and I paid just under what the original sale price was on the new release date.

Kik Tracee – No Rules (1991) – $3 used: If you find one great bargain then there’s bound to be another! Nothing else of any significance cam out of the quick check of the Metal section so I went over to the bargain bin for a quick check and there it was right in front of the ‘K’ section. I’ve been looking for a good copy of NO RULES for a long time but everytime I search Kik Tracee on Ebay, the available copies are either going through a bidding war or the BUY IT NOW is set extremely high. I quickly checked Ebay for some current prices and the range was as low as $15 for a used CD and as high as $75 for the Japanese import. Either way, $3 for a mint condition used CD is an awesome price, especially considering the demand and my quest for the album. Instant purchase! Of course, I forgot my wife’s CD when I was ready to check out but I did go back and get it. Average price on Ebay is around $25 but I will go with the lowest price I saw of $15 so I saved $12.

Best Buy

Chickenfoot – III (2011) – $13: There is never any reason to go to a big box retailer like Best Buy, Target or Wal-Mart for a CD unless there is some exclusive release or variation. I walked into Best Buy about an hour after the doors opened the morning the new Chickenfoot was released and I couldn’t find a copy! I asked a sales associate and he looked at me like I was insane. I asked the cashier I saw reading a magazine, she had no idea. I even got the sales flyer and showed these people the CD…..they searched the FOUR racks of CDs they had and there was nothing. New release rack? Nothing. Finally I asked for the store manager because why advertise a limited edition release exclusive to Best Buy if you aren’t going to display it on the sales floor? The manager comes up, makes a call, and a fresh box of CDs arrives from the stockroom! I got one, another guy grabbed one and the fresh out of high school sales associate stocked the other 20 or so CDs in the new release rack. All this for a simple CD? No wonder the business is in shambles! Regular was $16, sale price $13, so I saved $3.

Total = $133

Total (year) = $802

Average Price (per item) = $8.72

Total Savings (month) = $65

Total Savings (year) = $735

Total CDs (year) = 86

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

Iron Maiden announce The Final Frontier World Tour – North America 2010 with special guests Dream Theater

From Iron Maiden.com:

IRON MAIDEN ANNOUNCE NEW STUDIO ALBUM “THE FINAL FRONTIER” AND NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

IRON MAIDEN are pleased to announce that their forthcoming new studio album will be called ‘THE FINAL FRONTIER‘, and is expected be released late summer of this year.

The announcement comes with news of a North American Tour with Very Special Guests Dream Theater to open in Dallas, Texas, on 9th June and finish in Washington D.C. on 20th July, making it Maiden’s most extensive North American tour in many years.

Following these shows in USA and Canada The Final Frontier World Tour will travel back to Europe for a few selected major festival and stadium shows with the band planning to continue to many other countries in 2011 (full currently confirmed dates below).

The full Live Nation North America press release for the North American Tour is posted here.

An exclusive pre-sale allowing members of the IRON MAIDEN fan club first access to tickets to the North American Maiden Shows will be made available two days prior to them being available to the public.

Tickets for the Canadian shows will go on sale to the public on Saturday 13th March at 10am PST (10am EST for Toronto and 12 noon EST Montreal). 
Exclusive first access to the tickets will be available to IM fan club members on Wednesday 10th March at 10am PST through to Thursday 11th March at 6pm PST (EST for Toronto).
Regretfully due to technical reasons an exclusive Pre-Sale in Montreal is not possible.

Tickets for the US Shows will go on sale to the public on Saturday 20th March at 10am EST.
Exclusive first access to the tickets will be available to IM fan club members on Wednesday 17th March at 10am EST through to Thursday 18th March at 6pm EST

As IRON MAIDEN are actively dedicated to ensuring their fans always have access to the best possible tickets at the fairest possible price, without being subject to scalping for good seats, so many North American shows will operate, at least in part, a paperless ticket policy: More information on Ticketmaster Paperless Ticketing can be found here

To give IRON MAIDEN fan club members a privileged insight to their touring world, IMTV will return to http://www.ironmaiden.com to cover THE FINAL FRONTIER WORLD TOUR. This exclusive footage includes regular video from the live shows, touring, band interviews, insights into our crew and what they do and much much more. The website will also feature exclusive tour diaries, exclusive photographs and anything else that helps the fans get a real insight into the dynamics of a big tour.

**THE FINAL FRONTIER 2010 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR**
With Very Special Guests Dream Theater

JUNE
Wed 09 Dallas, TX – Superpages.com Center
Fri 11 Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Sat 12 San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
Mon 14 Denver, CO – Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
Wed 16 Albuquerque, NM – The Pavilion
Thu 17 Phoenix, AZ – Cricket Wireless Pavilion
Sat 19 San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheatre
Sun 20 Concord, CA – Sleep Train Pavilion
Tue 22 Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
Thu 24 Vancouver, BC – GM Place
Sat 26 Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place
Tue 29 Saskatoon, SK – Credit Union Center
Wed 30 Winnipeg, MB – MTS Center +
(+Dream Theater will not be performing in Winnipeg)

JULY
Sat 03 Toronto, ON – Molson Amphitheatre
Wed 07 Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
Sun 11 Holmdel, NJ – PNC
Mon 12 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
Wed 14 Pittsburgh, PA – First Niagra Pavilion
Thu 15 Cleveland, OH – Blossom Music Center
Sat 17 Detroit, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sun 18 Chicago, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Tue 20 Washington D.C. – Jiffy Lube Live

**THE FINAL FRONTIER 2010 EUROPEAN TOUR**

July 30 -Aug 1 Germany – Wacken Festival

AUGUST
Thur 05 Sweden – Stockholm Stora Skuggan Sonisphere Festival
Sat 07 Finland – Helsinki Pori’s Kirjurinluoto Sonisphere Festival
Sun 08 UK – Knebworth Sonisphere Festival
Wed 11 Norway- Bergen Bergenhus Festning – Koengen

The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40)

2009 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 am still very lucky to have 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 and discovered some new bands. I have totalled up the CDs and there were 125 albums up for this year’s honors!

The only criteria I followed for my Top 40 was that 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 2009. In the beginning of the year I decided that an album that was released in 2008, but was released in 2009 for the U.S., qualified as a 2009 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 more than doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into three posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26 – #40):

#40

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Night Castle (2009): I have been waiting five years for a new TSO album and they announced the release of NIGHT CASTLE back in December 2008! Nothing like waiting a full year but the wait was worth it. A double album full of TSO expert Rock orchestra with enough guest vocalists (Jeff Scott Soto sings) to make it interesting. I prefer TSO’s holiday albums but NIGHT CASTLE fits in great.

#39

Immortal – All Shall Fall (2009): I’ve always read a ton of great reviews and articles about Immortal but Black Metal has never really been my genre of choice. I picked up ALL SHALL FALL to try the band out and I ended up really getting into it! What impressed me most was that it wasn’t stereotypical Black Metal but there were melodic layers to the overall sound using orchestration and some great guitarwork. I’ve started to backtrack and explore the rest of the Immortal back catalog as a result.

#38

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009): Old school Power Metal at it’s best, Grave Digger has been doing it longer than most and they always seem to put out a solid album. I got this early in the year and it turned out to be a standout album for most of the year…..being a Grave Digger fan for a long time, I enjoyed it. Unfortunately there were better Power Metal albums that came out this year and I kept moving this one lower, a result of good competition.

#37

Nashville Pussy – From Hell To Texas (2009): Nashville Pussy is one of those bands I started to follow with their debut album and forgot about, subsequently missing out on a few records. I love this Southern-fried, hard drinking, sex crazed Hard Rock, it’s a cross between Motorhead, Ted Nugent and AC/DC mixed with Black Oak Arkansas & Lynyrd Skynyrd. I didn’t really expect much from this album and it turned out to be a great one, especially for the car! ‘Drunk Driving Man’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.

#36

Great White – Rising (2009): Despite my living in Rhode Island and the whole Station Nightclub Fire, Great White is still one of my favorite bands. In 2007 they released one of the biggest surprises with BACK TO THE RHYTHM so I expected another Hard Rock classic. RISING is acoustic based and slower than it’s predecessor but it’s still a solid record that reminded me of the acoustic SAIL AWAY (1994). This album grew on me over the course of 2009 but I’m still a little disappointed that it didn’t have more of the Blues Hard Rock the band is known for.

#35

Tragik – Outlaw (2009): Good to have a local Rhode Island band in this year’s countdown! Led by local AOR/Melodic Rock artist Phil Vincent, Tragik’s second album was a solid Hard Rock record with plenty of guitar and a great overall tone. Tragik follows the footsteps of ’80s AOR/Melodic Hard Rock bands like Journey, Bon Jovi and Night Ranger but there was a more modern sound. Good solid melodies and plenty of hooks to go along with the great guitar sound made this an album I enjoyed all year.

#34

Alestorm – Black Sails At Midnight (2009): I know a lot of people don’t get into the whole Pirate Metal concept but I’m definitely a sucker for a good gimmick and I really got into Alestorm this year. This album has some good songs but the one thing that pushed this album above a lot of others was that it was fun. I bought into all the whole concept and imagery of and the Pirate Power Metal is definitely different…..I really like all those traditional pirate styled instruments mixed in. Added bonus was the DVD from Wacken 2008 included inthe limited edition.

#33

Behemoth – Evangelion (2009): Kind of like Immortal, I knew nothing about Behemoth except for what I had read online. After I saw the ‘Ov Fire And The Void’ video, I had the obsession with checking out the band. Just like Immortal, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed EVANGELION because Black Metal isn’t usually my thing but what struck me was just how brutal the music sounds. The guitars, bass and drums are just so fast and heavy that you have to take notice. EVANGELION helped me start to open my Black Metal horizons and I went from trying to understand Behemoth to enjoying Behemoth.

#32

Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctis (2009): This latest album from Edguy was originally released in late 2008 but it didn’t receive a proper U.S. release until January from Nuclear Blast so I’m going with what the back of the CD says and it’s a 2009 album. I’ve been an Edguy fan since basically the beginning so their Power Metal style is what i like best but the band has gone for more of a Hard Rock style here. I had a hard time getting into this album at first because I kept comparing it to the old Edguy sound, once I got past that I started to enjoy the album a lot more. Turns out I played TINNITUS SANCTUS more as the year progressed and I kept coming back to it.

#31

Saga – The Human Condition (2009): Saga has been churning out melodic Progressive Rock for 38 years and I have been keeping up with the band on and off since 1982. One of the things that helped define the overall Saga sound through the years was the superb vocals from founding member Michael Sadler…..but he left the band in 2007 after a 36 year tenure. Enter ex-Final Frontier vocalist Rob Morrati and he puts on a performance that makes you forget that Sadler just vacated the mic. This was one of the greatest comebacks of the year!

#30

Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009): When Dream Theater releases an album I always know that it’s going to be a good one, then band just releases good albums every single time. Six songs spanning 75+ minutes and that’s just Disc 1! I always have to listen closely to Dream theater records because there are so many layers of sound and this one was no exception, what really stood out was that there was a song that clocked in just under 6 minutes (‘Wither’)! Add the 2 bonus discs and this turned out to be a great package to listen to.

#29

Queensryche – American Soldier (2009): My review is long and it may not reflect the fact that I really enjoyed AMERICAN SOLDIER, the first Queensryche album I’ve enjoyed since 1997. The first thing I needed to do was accept the fact that old ’80s Queensryche is gone and that the band has gone into more Progressive and Epic musical directions. The overall sound is full and layered but it’s the subject matter that really made the album, what is more relevant in today’s society than how soldiers cope with war? Some of the record was repetitive lyrically but the album just flowed every time I listened to it. I bought this when it first came out and I waited until late October to finally unwrap it, I think I would appreciate it more if I had listened to it all along. ‘At 30,00 Ft.’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.

#28

Megadeth – Endgame (2009): Like I said in my review, I haven’t fully recovered from 1999′s RISK debacle. UNITED ABOMINATIONS (2007) started me back on the Megadeth bandwagon and ENDGAME follows closely to cement the band back into my good graces. ENDGAME isn’t a pure Thrash record but it’s heavy, I think it’s more traditional Heavy Metal with some Thrash moments. It’s clear that Dave Mustaine and company have a solid direction and a desire to re-conquer the Metal world.

#27

Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009): If it wasn’t for me discovering Hammerfall in 1997 then I wouldn’t be the big Power Metal fan I am today. They basically single-handedly revived the Power Metal scene with it’s traditional style and soaring vocals. The problem with the last few albums is that they all just sounded the same and Hammerfall started to become a footnote in the now overly crowded Power Metal world. This album reminds me of the first three Hammerfall albums and it’s the first one since 2000 that I’ve really enjoyed. I had this ranked higher but, as 2009 progressed, there were better albums in the same genre. That said, this is still a solid album full of great powerful songs and Joacim Cans sound better than ever but I’m still not sure what the band was thinking with a cover of The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’!

#26

Stratovarius – Polaris (2009): Remember what I said about better Power Metal albums? POLARIS is one of the big reasons why both Grave Digger and Hammerfall fell a little in this year’s best of list. I really didn’t expect much from Startovarius…..I had actually forgotten all about the band because it has been four years since the bands last album. Add a lot of new members, especially replacing guitarist Timo Tolkki, and this was a recipe for disaster. I got this album when it came out and left it in the pile, I just started listening to it a couple months ago and I missed out on some serious music. Had I started listening to this record when I got it, I probably would rank it higher because it hasn’t left my daily playlist. Another great comeback this year!

——————————————————————————————

Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1-#10) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25) for the rest of this year’s countdown.

CD Scavenger Hunt – updated purchases

I haven’t been posting but I have been buying! Here’s everything I’ve picked up in the last couple weeks online and at the record stores…..

Record Stores

Dream_Theater_-_Black_Clouds_&_Silver_LiningsDream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009) – $15: The new Dream Theater came out last Tuesday and I had a choice of 2 stores to pick up the 3 CD limited edition: Newbury Comics or Best Buy. I went with Best Buy because it was $5 cheaper. The 3 CD set breaks down as follows: Disc 1 is the new studio album, Disc 2 is a bonus disc of 6 cover songs and Disc 3 is the studio album again but as instrumental mixes only. All together it’s 3 hours and 17 minutes of music on 3 CDs for the price of one regulary priced album…..a good deal!

primal-fear-166Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009) – $16: Picked this up a couple of weeks ago at Newbury Comics when the album was released officially in the U.S. The cool thing was that the only copy the store had was the European version with the 2 bonus tracks and the video…..I prefer the extra material even if that means paying a couple extra bucks. I have only had a few spins so far but it sounds like another updated sound added to the Classic Metal assault.

Spinal_Tap_Back_from_the_DeadSpinal Tap – Back From the Dead (2009) – $9.99: New album from Spinal Tap, great sale price from Newbury Comics! A lot of extras included in the package: the CD has 19 songs (6 new and 13 re-recorded from the soundtrack), an hour long DVD and the CD packaging folds out to become paper dolls of the band and Stonehenge! The only complaint is that there is no slipcase to keep everything in but it’s definitely a cool way to put together a CD.

Axel Rudi Pell - Best Of (Anniversary Edition) (2009)Axel Rudi Pell – Best Of (Anniversary Edition) (2009) – $8.99: I don’t have much Axel Rudi Pell in the collection except for a few of the newer records so I figured a retrospective release like this would give me a taste of some of the older material. I picked this up mostly based on the sale price and it fit in nicely with the Primal Fear and Spinal Tap purchases.

Ebay

JESTER DigitaliaJester – Digitalia/Tales From The Boogieman (2000 reissue) – $2.50: Back when print fanzines were still a viable source of info, I heard about New Jersey’s Jester. I think this was around 1997 when their debut TALES FROM THE BOOGIEMAN was released on Pulse Records. I always wanted to check them out but I never got around to it and now the CD is out of print, same with DIGITALIA, now that Pulse Records is no more. Escape Music came around in 2000 and reissued DIGITALIA with new cover art and TALES as a bonus CD. Some retailers still have this for $17-$20 online but I was able to snag this on Ebay for less than $3.

Lita Ford - Dancin' On The Edge (1984)Lita Ford – Dancin’ On The Edge (1984) – $21: I have been after this CD for a long time. I had it listed in the WANTED! column for about a year now and my patient searching brought me a copy at a decent price. $21 may seem like a high price to pay considering the original release was probably $12-$15 but this CD regularly goes over the $30 range. This was one of those short auctions (3 days) so I came in quick with a last minute bid.

anvil_plugged_in_permanentAnvil – Plugged In Permanent (1996) – $22: I’m slowly filling all the holes in my Anvil collection after seeing the Anvil movie. I noticed that a lot of the later albums have Japanese pressings with bonus tracks and this album gives Japan one with ‘Stolen’. There were 2 copies on Ebay: this Japanese pressing from a seller I have bought from in the past and the regular U.S./Euro pressing without ‘Stolen’. Both were $17 so but the shipping was $2 more for the Japanese pressing. I paid the extra $2 for the extra track.

Online Stores

ufo-the-visitor-2009-cdUFO – The Visitor (2009) – $22.50: I’ve had a promo copy of this album for a few months now but I have to have an actual copy when it comes to on of my favorite bands. The bonus track ‘Dancing With St. Peter’ isn’t on the promo and I wanted to hear the updated version by UFO…..the song was the title track of the Phil Mogg fronted side project $ign of 4. The album of the same name was released in 2002. The only copy of THE VISITOR readily available was the U.S. version without the extra song so I ordered the Euro version from HMV.com.

One of the things I’m doing now more then ever is ordering online. The UFO CD from HMV is what I consider a one time thing but I have been browsing NEH Records, Sentinel Steel and CD Inzane more often lately. There are just certain albums that the local record stores are not going to stock! So here’s my latest order from CD Inzane…..

Solna - EuramericSolna – Eurameric (2009) – $13: I knew nothing about this all-star project except for the fact that CD Inzane founder Zane Petersen (from China Blue)produced it and played drums. There are a lot of guests on this album including Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Pamela Moore (Queensryche) and Alex De Rosso (Dokken). There are more people included and it kind of follows the path taken by other projects like Ayreon and Avantasia. I haven’t given it a spin yet but I’ve read some great reviews.

Solna_-_Sent_From_HeavenSolna – Sent From Heaven E.P. (2009) – $4: This 6 song E.P. was released prior to EURAMERIC and included 5 songs that are on the album and an E.P.-only bonus track titled ‘I Light A Candle Too’. Only 2000 copies were pressed and the CD was on sale for $3 + $1 shipping…..can’t beat that. I figured that I might as well grab the E.P. along with the proper album to have all the songs in the collection.

bloodbound tabula rasaBloodbound – Tabula Rasa (2009) – $12: I have to plead ignorance on Bloodbound because I’ve never actually heard any of the band’s music, the only thing I know is from the reviews I’ve read online and they all seem to be really positive about TABULA RASA. The album was $5 cheaper at CD Inzane than at NEH Records so I picked it up right away. I have the U.S./Euro version that includes a bonus video…..I hear the Japanese import has a bonus track instead.

Nocturnal Rites 8thNocturnal Rites – The 8th Sin (2007) – $5: Over the years I have picked up almost all the the Nocturnal Rites albums as they have been released but, for some strange reason, I never bothered to pick up THE 8TH SIN a couple of years ago. I was going through the CD Inzane clearance section and there this CD was for $5! The bargain is better because it’s the limited edition with the bonus DVD with videos, live tracks, and documentaries on the band’s European Tour 2005 and Japanese Tour 2006. The regular version was $12 & the limited edition was $5…..easy choice! The bonus DVD is PAL format but my DVD-ROM drive on the computer plays PAL.

Gothic Knights Up From the AshesGothic Knights – Up From The Ashes (2003) – $5: An online clearance section can be even more lucrative for finding CD treasure than your local record stores used bins! I couldn’t help but notice that this Gothic Knights album was a mere $5 so I grabbed it too! I looked at this album on Ebay for $15 to $20 depending on the seller…..even Sentinel Steel couldn’t match the price on a used copy! Now I only need the out of print debut from Gothic Knights.

udo infectedU.D.O. – Infected E.P. (2009) – $12: I wasn’t going to make the same mistake of not ordering the E.P. that comes before the proper album like I did with THE WRONG SIDE OF MIDNIGHT E.P. in 2007 before the MASTERCUTOR album came out. U.D.O. always has E.P. exclusive songs and INFECTED is in different: 2 non-album tracks, a remix and a live track to go along with the title track that comes from the new upcoming record DOMINATOR. The E.P. is limited to 2222 copies worldwide so I acted fast.

Kerrang! – Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden (2008)

Kerrang! – Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden

  1. Prowler (Black Tide)
  2. Remember Tomorrow (Metallica)
  3. Flash Of The Blade (Avenged Sevenfold)
  4. 2 Minutes To Midnight (Glamour Of The Kill)
  5. The Trooper (Coheed And Cambria)
  6. Waysted Years (Devildriver)
  7. Run To The Hills (Sign)
  8. To Tame A Land (Dream Theater)
  9. Caught Somewhere In Time (Madina Lake)
  10. Wrathchild (Gallows)
  11. Fear Of The Dark (Fightstar)
  12. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Machine Head)
  13. Iron Maiden (Trivium)
  14. Running Free (Year Long Disaster)
  15. Brave New World (Ghostlines)

Total Time = 1:14:02

Kerrang!
Iron Maiden

I have explained my disdain for cover songs many times in the almost three years I have had this website but I’ll do it again so all the new readers understand my position. It’s not that I don’t want to hear a band’s interpretation of a classic song, I just don’t think that a cover song should be included on a proper album in place of original material. It could be the greatest rendition of the greatest song ever but, if it takes the place of an original song on a studio album, it bothers me. Now that this is clear, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for tribute albums and I own a lot of them! Makes no sense does it? I agree.

MAIDEN HEAVEN was released as a bonus CD to the July 16, 2008 issue (#1219) of Kerrang!, the legendary Rock magazine from the U.K. Now I haven’t read an issue of Kerrang! in years, and the price for an imported copy is around $10 here in the U.S., but for some reason this tribute album intrigued me. I wasn’t sure I would be able to score a copy at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore (the only one that stocks the weekly Rock mag) so I went online and ordered it from the Kerrang! webstore. Exactly a month later, it arrived! I thumbed through the magazine and realized why I stopped reading it years ago but the CD is pretty good.

Starting things off are newcomers Black Tide with their version of ‘Prowler’ that is spot on to the original and legends Metallica who also stay true to the original on ‘Remember Tomorrow’. It’s always good to hear the Paul Di’Anno era of the band, an era that sometimes gets overlooked. Both bands start the album on major high notes with solid performances. Fast forward to the POWERSLAVE era for the next two tracks, Avenged Sevenfold (who I can’t stand BTW) do a decent job with my personal favorite from that Maiden record ‘Flash Of The Blade’ while Glamour Of The Kill perform ’2 Minutes To Midnight’. The vocals just kill this classic song, there is no aggression to the singing and the singer whines through the chorus. Musically, it’s good but the singing ruins it for me. I have the same problem listening to Coheed And Cambria’s version of ‘The Trooper’, the vocals kill it. Much like Glamour Of The Kill’s Davey Death, I can’t get by the whiney style that Claudio Sanchez brings to the table on this song. I’ll be honest, having never heard Coheed And Cambria before this song, I thought it was a woman singing! The backing tracks are dead to rights so I am impressed by the band getting the music down.

Devildriver is the band that features former Coal Chamber frontman Dez Fafara and they take on ‘Wasted Years’. While I’m not a fan of Devildriver and the screaming vocals, I’ll give the band credit for mimicking the guitar parts very well. ‘Run To The Hills’ is absolutely butchered by Iceland’s Sign with a danceable version of this galloping classic. At least it sounds like you could dance to it, the arrangement is awful and I have a hard time getting through it a second time for this review. By this time, I’m ready for something good. After 5 newer bands, Progressive Metal legends Dream Theater make things better with ‘To Tame A Land’, a song not often heard but definitely a welcome surprise! My favorite album from Maiden is PIECE OF MIND so right away I’m psyched and I know that Dream Theater can put together a seriously good version of the song because they have done full Maiden albums live in concert.

Like Avenged Sevenfold, Devildriver, and Fightstar, Madina Lake is one of those newer bands that Kerrang! drools over. Maybe it’s just me but this down-tuned, programmed, hardcore and Nine Inch Nails cloning is not my cup of tea and ‘Caught Somewhere In Time’ suffers for it. Same goes for Gallows and there rendition of ‘Wrathchild’, I’m not digging the Punk/Hardcore/Garage performance but I give the band credit for taking a Di’Anno song (from KILLERS). Even though Fightstar is another of these hybrid Hardcore bands I kind of like their version of ‘Fear Of The Dark’. I’m a little surprised by this because ‘Fear Of The Dark’ is in my Top 3 Iron Maiden songs of all-time and I was prepared to hate it but it’s turned out to be the surprise of the album for me. It’s kept to the original as much as possible but there are some guitar flourishes that stray a little. ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ from Machine Head is pretty good also and stays true to the original. 

I never get tired of the Di’Anno era of Iron Maiden, both IRON MAIDEN and KILLERS are superb records and they get overlooked all too often. Trivium is a band I haven’t gotten into yet but the buzz from their last album, 2006′s THE CRUSADE, has them poised for greatness. That remains to be seen and heard but the band does handle Iron Maiden’s signature song very well. It’s mostly spot on musically with aggressive growling and clean vocals and a few added guitar enhancements added in. It seems that Iron Maiden’s debut has stood the test of time because Los Angeles hard rockers Year Long Disaster do a great job with the punk filled ‘Running Free’. ‘Running Free’ is the song I hear in my head when I think of Paul Di’Anno and the band stays true to the original, I’m not sure you could stray from it anyway because it’s such a straight forward Rock song. If you want something totally different then Ghostlines’ version of ‘Brave New World’ will do the trick. Ghostlines describes their sound as acoustic/electronica/alternative and that’s what their interpretation of ‘Brave New World’ is. I didn’t like it on first listen because it’s so different but, after giving it a few spins, it’s grown on me.

Bottom Line:
Overall…..MAIDEN HEAVEN is a decent tribute album, especially when it’s free from a magazine! There are enough classic Iron Maiden tracks representing all eras and most are done very well from older and newer bands alike. I would have preferred a few more deep tracks to some of the more obvious classics but that’s not too big of a deal. I also would have preferred a couple more older bands like Metallica, Dream Theater, and Machine Head but I understand that the trendy new blood is what Kerrang! focuses on these days. I already like Black Tide but the performances by Trivium and Fightstar were good enough for me to get a little interested about their original music.

Favorite Songs:
For my money, the best tracks are the ones that stay true to the original versions like the Black Tide, Dream Theater & Metallica songs but a couple of different interpretations did impress, like ‘Brave New World’ from Year Long Disaster. I also really enjoyed Fightstar’s ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and Trivium’s ‘Iron Maiden’.

Metal Mixtape – 3/30/08

As sick as I have been, I went to bed relatively early thanks to a combination of NyQuil, Chinese food, and the kids falling asleep early. Of course, early to bed means early to rise and I was up promptly at 8am! So much for sleeping in. I got up and sat in front of the CDs and started spinning different songs…..

Whitesnake – ‘Slide It In’ (1984): Everyone forgets that Whitesnake made albums before 1987! SLIDE IT IN is a great album and the title track still gets airplay on the local Rock station.

Motley Crue – ‘Too Young To Fall In Love’ (1983): I remember the video for this song, the guys fighting a gang of ninja-types in a ragtag “Chinatown” setting. It was cool back then and the song is still one of my favorites.

Fastway – ‘Say What You Will’ (1983): Saw the tail end of the video on VH-1 Classic the other day. I remember the hype on this when the band was in the studio, Fastway was supposed to set the world on fire! I always liked Dave King’s vocals.

W.A.S.P. – ‘L.O.V.E. Machine’ (1984): I pulled out the first W.A.S.P. album so I could play the whole thing later but I needed a teaser track to get back into the band. I’m still not happy with the two NEON GOD albums and I haven’t listened to DOMINATOR yet so I’m hoping some old school will get me going.

Helix – ‘Rock You’ (1984): “Gimme an R…..” This is an anthem if I ever heard it. I miss fun Hard Rock like this.

Judas Priest – ‘Locked In’ (1986): I always like the TURBO album because I worshipped at the altar of Priest in the ’80s. There are some good songs and some bad but I always thought ‘Locked In’ was the best song off the album. It was the first single too even though most people think it was ‘Turbo Lover’, which went higher on the charts.

Rainbow – ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ (1979): DOWN TO EARTH is my favorite Rainbow record because of Graham Bonnett’s awesome voice. This is a catchy single that is so unlike where Rainbow was with Dio. To this day I have to remind myself that this is a Rainbow song.

Impellitteri – ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ (1988): I had to compare this version to the original and I still prefer the original. Graham Bonnett is at the mic here too, probably the reason for it’s inclusion, but I just never dug Chris Impellitteri’s guitar heroics.

Dream Theater – ‘Pull Me Under’ (1992): Hard to believe that this came out in ’92 and it’s still Dream Theater’s highest charting tune. This band has consistently put out high quality records and is still signed to a major label (Elektra). Heard this the other day on the radio, this was a big tune here in Rhode Island back in the day.

Y&T – ‘Don’t Stop Runnin’ (1984): I’ve been on a Y&T buying spree lately and I saw this video the other night on VH-1 Classic. I hadn’t heard the song in years but I still knew all the words.

Sammy Hagar – ‘Mas Tequila’ (1999): Sammy always puts out fun tunes and this one is no exception. BTW, the Cabo Wabo Tequila is damn good! If I was off today, I’d have a drink or two!

Sammy Hagar – ‘Both Sides Now’ (1997): I got in the mood for more Sammy after ‘Mas Tequila’ so I went to the MARCHING TO MARS album for this single. “Both Sides now’ got a ton of airplay here in RI and this would have been a great Van Halen song.