CD Scavenger Hunt – August, September, October, November & December update

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here at Heavy Metal Addiction…..a real long time! Sorry to all my loyal readers but I just haven’t had the time or the inspiration to write about anything Hard Rock or Heavy Metal but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been buying my fair share of music! Seeing that we are at the end of the year, I figured it was about time I posted something and why not be a full update of everything I’ve bought since August? Enjoy and please leave some comments…..

(WARNING — This is going to be a long post!)

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

August update

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rainbow – Difficult To Cure (1981/1999 remaster) – $8
Fozzy – Sin & Bones (2012) – $13
Loudness – Eye To Dawn (2012) – $13
In This Moment – Blood (2012) – $10
Jackyl – Best In Show (2012 Best Buy Deluxe Edition) – $10
MSG – The Michael Schenker Story Live (1997/2001 re-release) – $0
Loverboy – Rock N Roll Revival (2012) – $0
Baroness – Red Album (2007) – $0
House Of Lords – Sahara (1990) – $0
Marshall Law – Power Games (1992) – $0
Headcat – Walk The Walk…Talk The Talk (2011) – $0
Exciter – Unveiling The Wicked (1986) – $0
Enuff Z’nuff – Welcome To Blue Island (2003) – $0
Zyklon – Aeon (2003) – $0
Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain (Tour Edition) (2007) – $0
707 – The Bridge (2004) – $0
707 – Anthology (2009) – $0
Starz – Brightest Starz (2000) – $0
Petra – Still Means War (2002) – $0
Rob Zombie – The Sinister Urge (2001) – $0
Sentenced – The Cold White Light (2002) – $0
Frameshift – An Absence Of Empathy (2005) – $0
KISS – Destroyer Resurrected (2012) – $13
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (1975) – $0
Helix – Breaking Loose (1979) – $26.50 used
Mass – Voices In The Night (1989) – $9 used
Tokyo Blade – Camp 334 E.P. (2012) – $3 (iTunes download)

Where to begin? Obviously August was a good month! One thing that happens evey August is that my birthday rolls around and I get a lot of gift cards to Newbury Comics, my favorite record store, so that will account for all the CDs with zeros for amounts. Let’s analyze these purchases…..

I bought the new albums by Fozzy, Loudness, In This Moment, and KISS on the day of release and on sale…..I had to have the new Destroyer Resurrected the moment the doors to Newbury Comics opened because my KISS collection isn’t complete without the latest new album! The Bruce Springsteen disc was a gift from my best friend’s son who loves Springsteen and is trying to turn me on to his music. I like myself some Bruce, mostly the stuff I hear on classic rock radio, but this is the album I would pick to start getting into The Boss if I were buying it myself. The Helix and Mass CDs were auctions I won on ebay from the same seller, both are original pressings and the Helix album is especially rare and it’s been on my radar for a long time. The last album listed is a digital only E.P. by NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade that I got from iTunes. I have NEVER bought anything from iTunes because I believe in physical media but there are no plans to release this on any other format so I had to bite the bullet and spend the $3. On to the freebies…..

Birthday = gift cards. I decided to head up to a different Newbury Comics, this time Norwood, MA, to see if there were any bargains to be had. Now this is the BIG Newbury Comics so they have excellent selection when I make the 45 minute trip a few times a year and right off the bat I found a used copy of Baroness – Red Album (2007) for what would have been $10 ($14 for the regular priced one that was there. Among the other highlights from this shopping trip, the Michael Schenker Group live double disc rerelease that would have been $14, the new Loverboy album that would have been $13 on sale ($20 regular price!), and a tour edition copy of Ozzy’s Black Rain used that has all the bonus material for all the different versions of the original album for a mere $6 used price. Of course I padded the collection with used CDs that ranged in price from $2 to $8 but they were all free for me.

September update

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last of a Dyin’ Breed (2012 Deluxe Edition) – $10
Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance 30th Anniversary Edition (2012) – $14
The Darkness – Hot Cakes (2012) – $16
Cloudscape – New Era (2012) – $15
ZZ Top – La Futura (2012) – $0
Steve Harris – British Lion (2012) – $13
Bullet – Full Pull (2012) – $13
Dokken – Broken Bones (2012) – $0

As September hits we have back to school for the kids, house preperations for winter, the beginning of football season and fantasy football and starting to think of the holidays…..that means money is at a premium and CDs have to wait. I was able to pick up some new releases in my two trips to the record store in September and I caught a great sale at the end of the month – Buy 2 get 1 Free on all regular and sale priced CDs.

On my 1st trip of the month, I had to have the deluxe edition of the new Lynyrd Skynyrd CD to get the 4 bonus tracks and was lucky to grab the last sale priced copy they had for $10 which saved me $7. Take a listen to the Skynyrd records with Johnny Van Zant on vocals, they are all excellent and rival the classic 70s era of Skynyrd with his late brother Ronnie fronting the band. Of course the legend of Skynyrd back in the day overshadows everything newer but the quality is definitely there. The other major purchase was the 30th Anniversary Edition of the classic Screaming For Vengeance from Metal legends Judas Priest. I love all the bonuses on these special anniversary releases and it makes it worth it to re-buy the album, this time around the big deal was the included DVD of Priest’s performance at the US Festival in 1983 but the live tracks and the bonus studio track ‘Prisoner Of Your Eyes’ add to the value. You can’t beat $14 for a CD/DVD combo and I still saved $3 buying it on sale.

The 2nd trip of the month was towards the end but that’s where I caught the special sale and picked up a bunch of new releases I was waiting on. My strategy is to always group the CDs by price from high to low so when I get to the register I get some of the higher priced CDs free. I had been waiting on Hot Cakes from The Darkness and missed the sale price so I had to pay the full $16 regular price and the new Cloudscape was the same deal at $15 regular price but I put them together with the new ZZ Top to get that one free and saved $14 right off the bat! The $14 was the sale price for ZZ Top but regular price was $17 so I really saved $17 in the long run. My second grouping was the new Steve Harris solo album ($13 sale/$17 regular) + the new Bullet ($13 sale/$17 regular) with the new Dokken ($12 sale/$18 regular) for free and saved more money. You have to love those Frontiers Records albums that are $17+ regular price, I would have choked if I had to pay that much for the new Dokken! At least I got it on a double sale!

October update

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

KISS – Monster (2012) – $12
KISS – Monster (2012) – $15 (Wal-Mart exclusive limted edition zine-pak)
Arch Enemy – Stigmata (1998) – $4 used
Allen-Lande – The Revenge (2007) – $8 used
Dream Evil – Evilized (2003) – $8 used
Rob Rock – Garden Of Chaos (2007) – $8 used
Motorhead – March Or Die (1992) – $4 used
Cloudscape – Crimson Skies (2006) – $4 used
Kotipelto – Serenity (2007) – $4 used
Dragonforce – The Power Within (2012) – $13
Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2 (2 CD/DVD/Blu) (2012) – $18
Ten – Heresy And Creed (2012) – $12
Sister Sin – Now And Forever (2012) – $12
Night Ranger – 24 Strings & A Drummer (CD/DVD) (2012) – $10
The Sword – Apocryphon (2012 Deluxe Edition) – $12
Praying Mantis – Time Tells No Lies (1980/2011 remaster) – $13.50 (Ebay)

September was a slow CD buying month but October’s prospects improved and there were a few new releases that were must haves. Starting the month of right was the new KISS album…..Monster. I was out front banging on the door fo the record store so I could get this album as soon as the store opened, got it on sale for $12 and saved $4 off the regular price. Of course, KISS is my favorite band and they can’t do anything simple so I ran over to Wal-Mart right after to buy the limited edition zinepak exclusive to Wal-Mart.

My second CD hunt was at the Newbury Comics in Warwick, RI (about 20 mins from home) when the family and I were out for the day and they allowed me to go and search. Actually, they dropped me off and went to the Target down the road! Nothing is better when you walk into a record store and you start to find a lot of cheap CDs that you’ve been looking for…..obviously, I hit the store after someone dumped part of their collection because I’d never seen these CDs at this location before. Right away I found a copy of the latest Dragonforce record, The Power Within (2012), still on sale for $13 while the other two copies with it were regular price at $19. Then I started through the Metal section in alphabetical order and I found the Allen-Lande, Cloudscape and Dream Evil all used and immeadiately crossed them off my want list. I only had $60 in disposable CD income so I had to make wise purchases and I already had $33 worth of discs in my hand so I had to ignore some more higher priced used gems but I did make my way over to a sale table towards the front of the store. Score! Arch Enemy for $4 used, Motorhead for $4 used and Kotipelto for $4 used and Rob Rock for $8 used…..the Motorhead – March Or Die was a missing album in my collection and both the Kotipelto and Rob Rock CDs replaced very plain promotional CDs I received from the record label years earlier. I spent $53 on this trip so i was pretty psyched to come under budget just a little.

The last trip of the month also included an Ebay auction I actually won while I was in the record store! New releases everywhere during the last week of the month: the new Motorhead, Ten, Sister Sin, Night Ranger and The Sword were all high priority buys and the Ebay auction was the Praying Mantis reissue from Rock Candy Records. I saved $35 off the regular prices of the new releases by buying them on sale the day of release with the biggest savings coming from the Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2 release at $12 off. I also saved $6 on the Ten CD and $8 on the Night Ranger (both imports from Frontiers Records), $3 on the new Sister Sin and another $6 on the limited edition of the new CD from The Sword.

November update

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mob Rules – Cannibal Nation (2012) – $14
Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $20
Kamelot – Silverthorn (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $0
Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves (2012) – $13
Twisted Sister – A Twisted Xmas Live In Las Vegas (2012) – $0
Butcher Babies – Butcher Babies E.P. (2012) – $5 (from Butcher Babies merchandise website)

Another slow month with the holidays looming…..I only made one trip to the record store but I made it count when they had a “Buy 2 get 1 Free” sale on all CDs. Of course they ring the CDs from highest to lowest so I paid for the limited edition version of the new Aerosmith record and the new One Direction limited edition new album (I have a daughter that loves that boy band!) for $20 each and I got the new Kamelot – Silverthorn limited edition for free. I forget what the regular price on the One Direction CD was but that wouldn’t count here but the regular on the Aerosmith was a crazy $29 and the new Kamelot was on sale for $18 but the regular price would have been $22. My second bundle at this sale was the new Mob Rules album for $14 and the new Geoff Tate solo album for $13, both on sale, and I got the new Twisted Sister live Xmas album from Las Vegas for free. The Twisted Sister CD was on sale for $12 with a regular price of $16 and both the Mob Rules and Geoff tate albums had a regular price of $18. The last purchase I made was the debut E.P. from the Butcher Babies for $5. I had been hearing a lot about the band on various podcasts and I finally decided to pick up the E.P. towards the end of the month.

December update

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

King Kobra – Ready To Strike (1985) – $8
King Kobra – Thrill Of A Lifetime (1986) – $8
U.D.O. – Live In Sofia (2CD/DVD) (2012) – $14
Bloodbound – In The Name Of Metal (2012) – $14
Municipal Waste – Massive Aggressive (2009) – $10 used
Ring Of Fire – The Oracle (2001) – $10 used
Tankard – Beast Of Bourbon (2004) – $0 used
Avian – Ashes And Madness (2009) – $10 used
Overkill – Feel The Fire (1985) – $9 used
Doro – Classic Diamonds (2004) – $0 used
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Pt.2) (2008) – $8 used
Municipal Waste – Hazardous Mutations (2005) – $8 used
Tristania – Midwinter Tears (CD/DVD) (2005) – $0 used
Grave Digger – 25 To Live (2CD) (2005) – $7 used
Grave Digger – Rheingold (2003) – $7 used
Gwar – Live From Mt. Fuji (2005) – $0 used
Scorpions – Taken By Force (1977) – $6 used
Overlorde – Return Of The Snow Giant (2004) – $6 used
Tristania – Ashes (2005) – $0 used
Straight Line Stitch – When Skies Wash Ashore (2008) – $6 used
Fates Warning – Inside Out (1994) – $4 used
Tristania – World Of Glass (2001) – $0 used

With the Christmas holiday looming, there was no extra money for CD shopping during December but that’s OK because the end of the year is always the slowest time for new releases. I knew there was a shopping spree coming at the end of the year because of all the gift cards I get to Newbury Comics for holiday gifts. This year was no exception, I netted $135 in gift cards so I held out as long as I could after Christmas (3 days!) and I was able to catch a year end used CD sale, Buy 2 Used CDs and Get 1 Free! The strategy for gift cards and a great sale was to get as much music as possible and to get some of those used CDs that I’d been passing over in my travels and, seeing that everything was basically free and nothing coming out of pocket, I spent a long time combing every rack in the Warwick, RI Newbury Comics. I put up all the prices above, including the sale freebies, so you could get an idea of what I would have spent.

I couldn’t pass on the King Kobra CDs because both were recent reissues in album style cardboard sleeves and brand new sealed at awesome cheap prices…..turns out they should have been $17.99 instead of $7.99 but that’s OK with me! I also couldn’t pass up the latest U.D.O. 2CD/DVD live release, Live In Sofia (2012), or the latest release from Bloodbound…..both were still on sale and they weren’t at my normal closer location. Both of these were $18 regular price so I saved $4 on each theoretically. So those are the new CDs, on to the used!

I put everything up by price because that’s how the store separates them and denotes the free ones. I like the fact that they give you a free CD closest to the price of the ones you buy so the Tankard CD should have been $10 used but it was free because the Municipal Waste and Ring Of Fire CDs were the same price. Obviously, I picked up a lot of back catalog from Municipal Waste, Grave Digger and Tristania with the biggest bargains being the two Municipal Waste and two Grave Digger CDs because you never see these albums used and, if you do, they are $12+ used because of the demand for Municipal Waste and Grave Digger is usually imports. Of the $0 CDs, the Tankard shuld have been $10, Tristania and Doro were $8 each, Gwar and another Tristania were $6 each and the last Tristania was $4 used. The final total on this hunt was $135 all paid with gift cards so I paid nothing out of pocket and I saved an additional $42 on the free used CDs!

Final 2012 Totals

Total (year) = $1804

Average Price (per item) = $7.71

Total CDs (year) = 227

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

Total iTunes Downloads (year) = 1

Just a quick analysis…..

Compared to 2011, I bought 85 more items (227 this year and 142 last year) and I spent $659 more than I did the previous year. My DVD total is low because a lot of bands/labels are packaging DVDs or Blu-Rays with live CDs now and I count those as CD packages. Also, 2012 was the first time I bought a Blu-Ray and paid for an iTunes download. I’m not sure what 2013 will hold for CD hunting but I’m hoping that I find more gems, fill a lot of holes in my collection, acquire more and spend less.

Let the hunt continue!

The Best Miscellaneaous Releases of 2011

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

The one important criteria I have each year for the best and worst albums lists is that the albums have to be new studio albums…..or at least promoted as new studio albums. The problem is that some of these live records and greatest hits packages are quality releases and there’s nothing like getting a really good reissue of some long out of print album you’ve been searching years for. That’s why this year I’m creating this new list to recognize some of the quality non-studio, non-original releases that have found their way into my collection. There were a lot of different releases that I picked up that weren’t studio albums so I’m only going to list my ten favorites. So here are my Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2011…..

Bitch – Be My Slave/Damnation Alley E.P. (2011 remaster): I had no idea that this Bitch album was getting the remaster treatment from Metal Blade and I was completely surprised when i saw this in the new release rack back in August. Not only do you get the remastered BE MY SLAVE record from 1983 but also the DAMNATION ALLEY E.P. from 1982 along with a bonus track, ‘Let’s Go’. You can still find the original CDs online but what makes this remaster a top pick is the bonus DVD that runs over 2 hours long! The DVD includes a live performance at the Keep It True XIV Festival in Germany back in April 2011 and a classic performance from L.A. from the early ’80s and a couple of music videos. The DVD alone would have been a solid purchase but it adds so much more to the remaster.

Black Sabbath – Born Again (2011 Deluxe Edition) & Dehumanizer (2011 Deluxe Edition): I’m a huge Black Sabbath fan, especially of the post-Ozzy eras of the band! So far, I’ve collected most of these deluxe editions from the Dio years and the Tony Martin led THE ETERNAL IDOL (1989) but I was waiting for both BORN AGAIN and DEHUMANIZER to get the deluxe treatment. Both editions offer two bonus tracks each, live tracks from each tour and solid packaging but the best detail on these reissues is the sound. BORN AGAIN always had that thick muddy sound to it and this remaster sounds better than my original CD and the DEHUMANIZER CD sounds just as good. Definitely a couple of highlights added to my collection this year, now I’m looking forward to the rest of the Tony Martin era getting the deluxe treatment!

Eric Carr – Unfinished Business (2011): Being a KISS fan, and an Eric Carr fan, I had to list this CD. I ended up getting an advance copy of this new Eric Carr album and I’m honored to have it in my collection. During his tenure, Eric was the most outgoing member of KISS when it came to meeting with the fans…..he loved his fans and the fans loved him. It’s been 20 years since Eric’s passing and his family, specifically his sister Loretta, has compiled this collection of rare recordings that include unreleased songs, live tracks, remixes and interview clips. There are obvious KISS links in most of the songs and I really like hearing was Eric’s audition tape for KISS back in 1980 when he sang ‘Shandi’…..now that’s a rarity! I also think the packaging is top notch: a glossy digipak with plenty of liner notes for each track.

Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More (2011): Hard to believe this is Def Leppard’s first live album but MIRRORBALL captures the band extremely well with a great overall sound. The songs are taken from the last few tours and it’s basically the same hits pack we’ve seen live since 2007 but the sound on all those hits is awesome. Lots of value here being a Wal-Mart release: 2 bonus live tracks, 3 new studio songs and a 45 minute DVD that includes a behind the scenes look at the last tour in 2008/2009, live tracks and music videos. I also like the old school, thick jewel case! Definitely a solid pickup and a solid live album…..it makes you wonder what took the Leps so long to release one.

Doro – 25 years In Rock…..And Still Going Strong (2011): Finally, a proper U.S. release of this 2 DVD & CD set celebrating Doro’s 25th anniversary in Metal. This collection was originally released back in September 2010 around the world but U.S. distribution took a little longer…..surprising considering Nuclear Blast has a U.S. branch. This package includes the 3 hour 25th anniversary concert in Germany with tons of guest stars on the first DVD, a documentary and tons of extra live performances on the second DVD, and a live disc with highlights from the anniversary concert. I spent about $20 on this release and, even though some of the performances are 3 years old, it was definitely worth it. Doro has packed a ton of material in here for a great price, my only complaint being that the live disc isn’t the complete anniversary show…..I would have easily paid the extra money to get the full show on audio.

Grave Digger – The Clans Are Still Marching (Live At Wacken 2010) (2011): It’s always great to see a band and label get it right and release a special package of a live DVD with the bonus live CD. Napalm Records and Grave Digger released THE CLANS ARE STILL MARCHING in both the CD and DVD formats but each version gave you the bonus of the other format. If you bought the DVD styled case, you received the bonus audio CD of the full show and, if you bought the CD version then you got the bonus DVD. Seems a little odd to release the show that way but you get the full experience of the band’s 2010 Wacken show either way. There’s bonus footage on the DVD and the package I bought was the CD hardbook version.

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade (Special Edition CD/DVD) (2011): Twisted Sister’s back catalogue got the reissue treatment in 2011 but this special edition of UNDER THE BLADE stands out as the best. First is the original Secret Records mix of the album with bonus tracks coming from the 1982 RUFF CUTTS E.P. Remember, there are two versions of UNDER THE BLADE: the original record from 1982 and the remixed album from 1985 on Atlantic Records (with an alternate album cover). That’s enough right there to make a solid reissue but there’s a bonus DVD included of the band’s appearance at the 1983 Reading Festival along with bonus interviews. Twisted Sister has been releasing a lot of archival material lately but getting the original version of UNDER THE BLADE out there was a must, as was getting RUFF CUTTS into circulation.

UFO – The Chrysalis Years (1973-1979) (2011): This is one of my favorite releases of the year and it’s not just because I’m a HUGE UFO fan but because this is a perfect collection to introduce a new fan to classic UFO. I was lucky to receive an advance copy of this 5 CD set and I was able to get a lot of time comparing it to other remasters that I own. This set includes UFO’s first five albums with Chrysalis Records (PHENOMENON, FORCE IT, NO HEAVY PETTING, LIGHTS OUT & OBSESSION), as well as, the classic live record STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT. Each album is remastered and sequenced in order of release with non-album singles, B-sides, bonus tracks and previously unreleased live performances all mixed in the timeline properly. Basically, you’re getting the classic Michael Schenker era UFO in all it’s glory complete with an extensive booklet that includes a new 2011 interview with lead singer/founder Phil Mogg and extensive song credits. I could have used some extra pictures and proper photos of each individual album’s cover art but that’s a small complaint. This collection is retailing for around $20-$25 depending where you buy your music so it’s a heck of a buy and a great way to get started into a great band, I hope there’s another collection like this with the rest of the UFO catalog.

Whitesnake – Live At Donington 1990 (Special edition 2CD/DVD) (2011): Another solid live package from a classic band that’s had a major resurgence in the last few years. Whitesnake is as relevant as ever by releasing two awesome studio albums in the last few years and having some great anniversary reissues of the band’s best selling albums from the ’80s but this new live set is something fans like myself want to have. 1990 was probably Whitesnake’s peak of success and this Donington perofrmance on the Slip Of The Tongue tour is a great way to re-live some of the glory days. The package includes the full live show on DVD and CDs (a huge plus for me!) and it’s got great glossy digipak packaging with plenty of pictures and great disc artwork. I love live releases like this! Both formats, full shows and a lot of care put into the package.

.

CD Scavenger Hunt (August update) – The Birthday Edition

This is one of the rarest moments in my 29 years as a practicing Metalhead…..I didn’t spend any of my own money on music!!!That’s a crazy statement considering how much I do spend! August 16th marked my 39th birthday and I gathered all my presents (cash & gift cards) and decided to spend them wisely. The first thing I did was buy my $30 ticket to the Mr. Big concert and keep some money aside for a nice meal afterward but, after that was taken care of, the rest was marked for the Hunt!

(NOTE — I will list what the actual prices were but I didn’t actually spend my own cash, the savings will be the same as the actual price.)

I did receive a few actual gifts from my wife and kids…..

Black Sabbath – Born Again (2011 Deluxe Edition) – $38: My quest to acquire all the post-Ozzy Black Sabbath deluxe editions continues and my wife and kids came through with this awesome album…..BORN AGAIN! I remember seeing this album cover in the record stores back in the day and wondering what kind of heaviness was on there. Of course when I bought it years later, I found out and it’s one of the most underrated Sabbath albums, and Metal albums, of all-time especially considering all the hype with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan replacing Ronnie James Dio. The package includes the original record remastered, two bonus tracks and the BBC Friday Rock Show broadcast of Sabbath at the Reading Festival in August 1983 along with a great booklet. Is this package worth the $38? To me, the collector and a big Sabbath fan, yes! If I was buying this on my own I probably would have found the best price online but my 13 year old daughter had a list with specific details, instructions, prices and locations for these CDs at the record store. I’d rather have the CD in my hands right away anyway so I was psyched to actually find it in a record store and have my daughter retrieve it. The price is so high because this is a new release only available as an import. Saved $38.

Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer (2011 Deluxe Edition) – $28: The quest continues! Now I only need the HEAVEN & HELL deluxe edition to keep the collection updated but that’s another post. DEHUMANIZER is one of my favorite records, especially from Black Sabbath, and it’s got Ronnie James Dio on the mic! This was a big deal record for me back in 1992 because this was the big reunion with Dio and I had tickets to the Boston, MA show at The Orpheum! The package includes the remastered album with a second disc that includes three bonus tracks and five live tracks from the concert in Tampa, FL on 7/25/92 and a great booklet. I checked my original CD copy from 1992 and the ‘Time Machine (Wayne’s World version)’ is there already so, for me, the bonuses are the single edit of ‘Master Of Reality’ and the B-side version of ‘Letters From Earth’. Is $28 worth it? Yes and the price is comparable to online vendors even though this is also an import. Again, my daughter had her instructions and she came through big time! Saved $28.

Grave Digger – The Clans Are Still Marching (2011) – $22: This was a must have purchase for me months ago when it came out because I love Grave Digger and their last few records have been great but also because this was a 2 disc package with the live record on CD and the show on DVD. When the album/DVD came out, the local record store had two versions: a DVD copy with the bonus CD and a CD copy with the bonus DVD. In the end, it’s the same thing except for the packaging, one was in a DVD case and one was a hardcover CD book. Either way you buy it, you’re getting the same deal. There were two copies of each package style on the day of release but there was a price difference of $3 between the two with the DVD style being cheaper. Of course, I waited too long and someone else bought the DVD style copy. Who are these people? Who else in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts likes Grave Digger? Obviously someone because my daughter had to pay $3 more for the CD style copy! Like I said, same content inside with both the CD and DVD containing the full show. Saved $22.

The rest of my gifts were cash and gift cards so I spent them wisely after I put money aside for the Mr. Big show…..

Ghost – Opus Eponymous (2011) – $10: I have been hearing a lot about Ghost since this album was released in Europe in October 2010 but I waited until the North American release in early 2011 to add it to my want list. A lot of Mercyful Fate/King Diamond references and influences from what I can tell but I haven’t cracked the cellophane on this CD yet to find out for myself. Probably the biggest influence on me to buy this CD was my Metal friends that work at the Newbury Comics I go to…..both recommended it highly! These guys have seen me every week for the last number or years and they know I’m a devout Metalhead so Ghost became a serious recommendation. I grew up in record stores and I used to buy a lot of albums based on the album cover, this cover screams old school late ’70s/early ’80s Metal! Regular price on this was $14 but I got it on sale for $10 so I saved $4 but, because it was gift money, I really saved the full $10.

Bitch – Be My Slave & Damnation Alley E.P.  remaster (2011) – $16: This remaster was a total surprise because I didn’t have a clue that it was going to be released. I already have the originals of both albums on vinyl from 1982 and 1983 and that’s the reason why I never got around to buying the original 1989 Metal Blade CD issue (still in print) but, when I saw this on the new release rack, I snapped it up! What makes this new remaster is the bonus DVD of the band’s performance at the Keep It True XIV Festival in Germany back in April, classic performances from the band’s L.A. stomping grounds in the early ’80s and a couple of music videos. Add in a previously unreleased bonus track, ‘Let’s Go’, that’s a recorded demo from 1985 for the subsequent album THE BITCH IS BACK and it’s a lot of bang for the buck for some classic ’80s Metal. Obviously Bitch is active so you can head over to Bitchmetal.com to find out more about the band. No choice on this one, regular price all the way but it wasn’t my money so I saved the full $16.

Black Tide – Post Mortem (2011) – $5: I got into Black Tide back in 2008 when they released their debut record LIGHT FROM ABOVE and I enjoyed it a lot so I was definitely getting the new album. I was so into that first record that it even made my Top 30 of 2008! It’s a crowded Hard Rock and Heavy Metal world so I put POST MORTEM on the want list but it wasn’t at the top…..then I got a $5 gift certificate sent to me from Best Buy for my birthday so I ended up buying this album there for $5 ($10 regular price). Again, birthday money used so I saved the full $10 including the coupon. Even though I’m psyched about the new album, and getting it for a really great price, it was really an afterthought kind of purchase. Best Buy has no selection whatsoever for music, the CD section is maybe four racks now and it’s disappointing to see that the iTunes gift card section is larger. A sign of the times?

Airrace – Back To The Start (2011) – $17: You may remember Airrace as the band that gave drummer Jason Bonham (son of the late Led Zeppelin skinsman John Bonham) his first proper recording gig with the 1984 debut SHAFT OF LIGHT. Unfortunately, the band broke up shortly after but they have reformed (without Bonham) and recorded this new comeback album. I had no idea Airrace was back but I saw this single copy sitting in the new release rack at the record store and I grabbed it before anyone else had a chance. One thing I’ve learned over the years: always grab what you see first and make a final decision just before checkout. $17 is a lot for a single CD but this is an import on Frontiers so I wasn’t surprised at the price. If I was spending my own money then I would try online first but the price is pretty much the same when you factor in shipping, etc. Saved $17.

Deep Purple – Fireball (25th Anniversary Edition) (1996) – $12 used: I love Deep Purple, probably the second most important band in the formation of what we call Hard Rock and Heavy Metal today. I got into Purple back in 1984 with their comeback album PERFECT STRANGERS , I was 11 or 12 at the time and I’ve bought every Purple album since. With all the classic albums getting up their in years, the band and record label have created some great anniversary editions that include B-sides, alternate takes and remixes along with detailed booklets. I found out about these editions back in the late ’90s when they were first released but they were extremely expensive in the $25 to $30+ range as imports. I’ve slowly started picking these up a little cheaper when I find them. I’ve learned a lot about these reissues through The Highway Star website and I have four out of seven of these anniversary editions that start with IN ROCK (1970) and are currently up to COME TASTE THE BAND (1975). I’ve seen regular price copies around $20 lately but getting this used and in pristine condition for $8 cheaper was a steal! Saved the full $12.

Alice Cooper – Love It To Death (1970) – $7: I’m trying to fill all the holes in my Alice Cooper collection in anticipation of the new album WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE (2011) and I was pleasantly surprised to see the record store oblige me by having a lot of old Alice on sale in the bargain bin. I have everything from CONSTRICTOR (1986) on but there are a few holes from the ’70s in my collection. There are some great songs here: ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Caught In A Dream’, Is It My Body?’, and ‘Ballad Of Dwight Fry’ that I’m familiar with from the Alice Cooper box set from 1999. I’ve seen copies of LOVE IT TO DEATH priced as high as $15 in some stores but my Newbury Comics had it for $10 regular price, $7 bargain bin sale price for a brand new, sealed original pressing. I saved the full $7 and I’m hoping that a little more searching will turn up a few more older Alice albums on sale.

Alice Cooper – Welcome To My Nightmare (1975) – $6: You can’t really by a new album that’s a sequel and understand it if you don’t already own the original! I surprised myself when I realized that I still had an old cassette of WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE instead of a fresh copy on CD, I swore I had already bought the CD! Called home and had the family double check and it’s not in the case so this was a quick no-brain purchase. Can’t beat the bargain bin sale price of $6 which was a savings of $4 off the $10 regular price. Unfortunately there weren’t more Alice Cooper CDs in the bargain bin besides this and LOVE IT TO DEATH because I would have bought as many as I could at these rock bottom prices. Brand new, sealed original pressing with classics like the title track, ‘Only Women Bleed’, ‘Cold Ethyl’ and ‘Department Of Youth’. Now if I could just find the first two Alice albums, PRETTIES FOR YOU (1969) and EASY ACTION (1970), I’d be really happy! Saved $6.

Cauldron – Chained To The Nite (2009) – $6 used: Check out that old school Metal album cover! It just screams ’80s Metal! I picked up Cauldron’s latest album BURNING FORTUNE (2011) back in February but I passed on buying this debut because there were so many copies in the racks (I consider more than three copies of an independent Metal release many) and I knew I could get it whenever I wanted. I kept this album on the want list but I kept passing it up until I saw a used copy among the three new ones at half the price so I went for it. Turns out that there’s a two track bonus disc included with two songs from their self-released 2007 E.P. INTO THE CAULDRON…..an added bonus! The regular price on the new CDs were $13 so buying used saved more than half the price right away but this is free money I’m playing with so I saved the entire $6 price tag.

Riot – The Privilege Of Power (1990) – $8 used: One of the very few Riot albums I don’t own…..and that’s only because it’s readily available on Ebay anytime I want it. I’ve been in a Riot mood for the last couple months because the new record is going to be released soon so I’ve been listening to the first six records (1977’s ROCK CITY through to 1988’s THUNDERSTEEL) regularly. Plus, the new album has the THUNDERSTEEL/PRIVILEGE band lineup so seeing this CD used was a sign. PRIVILEGE was re-released twice in the last few years: Collectible Records re-released it in 2003 with slightly different artwork and Cherry Red Records released it with THUNDERSTEEL as a double disc set in 2009. The copy I found is the original CBS pressing so someone had this in their collection and dumped it to the store for quick cash…..just like the old days, their loss is my gain. I estimate that the regular price would be around $15 so buying used saved half but buying with free money saved the full $8.

Nashville Pussy – Say Something Nasty (2002) – $5 used: Another used bargain! Nothing is better than someone going to the record store and dumping their collection for quick cash! I have never done that in my life with the exception of returning a CD I bought thinking I didn’t own it but that’s something different entirely. I’ve been into Nashville Pussy since their first record LET THEM EAT PUSSY (1998) after reading about the band in some of the Metal magazines and checking them out online. Plus, the album cover for that debut is pretty racy! The thing is that I never went forward buying Nashville Pussy CDs after that first album until I received their last record FROM HELL TO TEXAS (2009) and I always think I have the albums in my collection! I’m missing two more so I’ll be looking for HIGH AS HELL (2000) and GET SOME (2005) on my next trips to the record shops. I’ll take a bargain priced CD any day and I estimate that I saved around $10 just buying used but I saved the $5 price using the birthday gifts.

Paul Black’s L.A. Guns – Black List (2005) – $6 used: Are we talking about the L.A. Guns we know from the ’80s with the couple of hits? In a way….yes. Turns out Paul Black was the original singer in L.A. Guns before the band got signed and was replaced by Phil Lewis just after the band got signed to a record deal. After Tracii Guns left L.A. Guns for what seems the millionth time in 2005, he hooked up with Paul Black and started doing gigs. BLACK LIST is a collection of demos of original songs by the original L.A. Guns lineup with Black on vocals. The album came out in 2005 with it’s fair share of controversy because at the time Tracii was playing with Paul Black and the regular L.A. Guns with Phil Lewis was still recording and touring…..then Tracii Guns forms his L.A. Guns so you have two touring L.A. Guns and then the singer carousel goes round again with Black leaving for former Guns’ singer Jizzy Pearl (ex-Love/Hate) who replaced Phil Lewis years ago. Did you get all that? I never bothered paying the $20 for this CD back in 2005, especially with two different L.A. Guns out there but I’m happy to grab this used for a fraction of the price. I estimate I saved $13 buying used but I saved the full $6.

Fast Eddie Clarke – It Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over (1994) – $4 used: I never pass up a $4 Metal CD if I don’t own it especially with the Motorhead connection (Eddie was the guitarist in Motorhead) and the sticker on the front stating that Lemmy sings on one song. I checked my phone for a little research on the album and it seems that this was released twice, each time with different album artwork so i’m not even sure if I have the original artwotk (I think I do) or the re-release. This is what I call a “filler” CD for the collection…..a CD you don’t own, don’t know anything about but there’s name recognition and the price is cheap enough to justify buying it. Normally, I’m going to pass up the CD but the price dictates the sale and it pads the collection. The funny thing is that I bought this CD having never seen it in a store before and I find another copy the next visit to the store! How many of these are in circulation? I estimate a $15 regular price when this came out so I saved $11 buying used but I saved the overall price of $4.

My last bits of birthday gift money were reserved for an Ebay purchase…..

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth (1985) – $25: I have been watching and searching for this CD for at least ten years but it’s not that easy to find. I remember seeing a copy of it in an independent record store back in the late ’90s and it was $25 then for the original Metal Blade pressing so I passed…..I should have pulled the trigger because it would have saved a decade of waiting! Normally I find this CD going for upwards of $30+ but I got a search email for a newly listed copy from a seller I use often so I checked it out and pulled the trigger quickly. Price was $22 + $3 shipping for the $25 total. I thought I was buying the original Metal Blade issue from 1990 but I actually bought the 2008 remaster from Germany on EMI/10 Records. Either way I don’t care because my research shows the remaster going for the same amounts. At least I own it now and I can pick up the original pressing if I come across it in my travels. Saved the full $25.

Total = $225

Total (year) = $669

Average Price (per item) = $8.26

Total Savings (month) = $225

Total Savings (year) = $670

Total CDs (year) = 75

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

 

CD Scavenger Hunt (October 2010 update)

I’m trying to get back into regular posting, especially catching up on what I’ve been buying. With two months full of purchases sitting on my desk, the goal was to catch up quick and, hopefully, be prepared for November’s and December’s updates. I got September’s update posted a couple days ago so here’s the October update, it’s a small one because I made only one shopping trip to the record store…..

Newbury Comics

Angra – Aqua (2010) – $12: I got into Brazil’s Angra back in 1998 when I first got hooked up to the Internet, that was the year of Metal re-birth for me because I discovered all these bands that I had read about briefly in the few fanzines I subscribed to. My first Angra album was 1998’s FIREWORKS and I have collected every album since. I had no idea Angra was releasing a new album and I only found out when my Newbury Comics e-newsletter arrived in my inbox. This has happened with a bunch of releases lately and it’s due to my not being attached to the computer as much as I’ve been in the last few years…..if you’re not paying attention, then you might miss out! This was one of the two albums on my list this week so it was a definite purchase whether it was on sale or not. Regular price was $16 so I saved $4 buying the day of release.

Dimmu Borgir – Abrahadabra (2010) – $9: I don’t own any Dimmu Borgir albums but I have kept my eye on the band over the years reading about them in magazines and online and sampling their music from time to time on MySpace or their official website. I just never got around to buying any of their albums but, with my purposeful committment to try out more extreme Metal, I have been waiting for an excuse to buy a Dimmu Borgir album. The $9 sale price helped a lot considering that the regular price would eventually be $15 so I saved $6. I wasn’t going to buy this album but I saw it in the new release rack and I figured I would take a chance and check it out. The CD includes deluxe cardboard packaging, a bonus track and bonus video.

Grave Digger – The Clans Will Rise Again (2010) – $12: I’ve been a Grave Digger fan for a long time and their last album, BALLADS OF A HANGMAN (2009), just came out last year so I was surprised to see this new album on the new release list. The problem was that the store only had one copy and it was sold immeadiately at 10am when they opened. I got to the store 15 minutes later so I was a little pissed that I didn’t get the album right away. Rather than drive the half hour to the next closest location, I decided to go back to the store a couple days later when two more copies would be available! Inconvenience due to my own lateness aside, a new Grave Digger album is a must have and this was the only other album on my list along with the new Angra. The U.S. pressing includes the bonus track ‘Watch Me Die’.

Angel Dust – Of Human Bondage (2002) – $3 used: Bargain of the month! Since I had to make the 10 minute trip back to my local Newbury Comics a couple days later to pick up the new Grave Digger record I might as well take some time and browse again! I go to the same store every week because it’s so close to my house so I usually get my new releases right away but the store’s regular stock and used CD stock generally stays the same…..there’s not a lot of turnover in the North Attleboro location like there is in the busier Warwick location 25 minutes away. I pretty much have the place memorized so it was a great surprise to find this Angel Dust CD in the bargain bin that I just checked two days earlier…..and for $3! The added bonus to the whole thing is that the album comes with a bonus CD sampler from Centruy Media…..I will always take basically 2 CDs of music for $3. Assuming regular price is around $12 then I saved $9.

Ebay

Lana Lane – Ballad Collection I (1998), Ballad Collection II (2000) & European Tour 2003 Souvenir CD (2003) – $12: All three CDs were bought from the same seller who I believe is Think Tank Media, Lana Lane’s label that is run by her husband and fellow musician Erik Norlander. I have been trying to fill the holes in my Lana Lane collection but a lot of the earlier albums are out of print and hard to find, especially all of her albums prior to, and including, 2000 because they were al released exclusively in Japan on the Avalon/Marquee label. Both BALLAD COLLECTON CDs are sealed Japanese pressings and the Euro Tour 2003 CD is also sealed, usually the Ballad CDs go for $20 at the Think Tank website and $25+ on Ebay and the Euro Tour 2003 CD for $15 at Think Tank and about the same at auction. Getting all three albums for an average of $4 each was a huge score and I estimate that I saved at least $43 based on the average regular prices I’ve seen in the last few years.

Total = $48

Total (year) = $1460

Average Price (per item) = $10.28

Total CDs (year) = 130

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Box Sets (year) = 6

Total LPs (year) = 2

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.

Grave Digger – Pray E.P. (2009)

grave-digger-pray-ep

Grave Digger – Pray E.P. (2009, Napalm Records)

  1. Pray (extended version)
  2. Overkill (Motorhead cover)
  3. My Blood Will Live Forever (non-album track)
  4. When The Sun Goes Down (non-album track)

Band Lineup:
Chris Boltendahl – Vocals
Manni Schmidt – Guitar
Thilo Herrmann – Guitar
H.P. Katzenburg – Keyboards
Stefan Arnold – Drums
Jens Becker – Bass

Produced by: Grave Digger

Total Time = 16:29

Country: Germany

Grave Digger
Grave Digger MySpace page
Napalm Records

When I review the latest album from Grave Digger, BALLADS OF A HANGMAN, I mentioned the PRAY E.P. briefly towards the end. Turns out that I’ve had more then a few emails wanting a review.

The PRAY E.P. was released in the U.S. a week before BALLADS OF A HANGMAN but it had been available overseas since November 2008. For collector’s, the PRAY E.P. has 3 non-album tracks (one is a cover of Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’) and an extended version of ‘Pray’. The first single from the album is ‘Pray’ and it’s a melodic mid-tempo song that retains it’s power when the gang style backgrounds come in for the chorus. The guitars are the cleanest of the album with their clear twin melodies and solos, definitely a song that brings me back to the Melodic Metal heyday of the mid-’80s.

‘Pray’

Second song is the Motorhead cover ‘Overkill’ and it’s pretty straightforward in it’s delivery. Usually I’m against all covers on a new album but this is a special E.P. so it belongs here. A cover song is a bonus, a novelty track, to me so having one on a single or an E.P. makes it more acceptable to me. If the band had put it on the actual album then I would be critical. The two non-album tracks could have easily been included on the new record and they are worth the price of the E.P. alone (I paid $8!). ‘My Blood Will Live Forever’ has the trademark chugging riffs that Grave Digger is known for and it’s definitely a solid Power Metal feast with aggressive vocals from Chris Boltendahl.  ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ is more a mid-paced song but the heaviness isn’t lost as the band slows down, it’s the best song of the four without being typical Grave Digger. There’s a groove to it and the intensity is in the simple delivery, it’s aggressive without being overpowering.

Bottom Line:
If you’re a Grave Digger fan and/or a collector then you will want to pick this E.P. up, especially at the low price! Three out of four songs you can’t get anywhere and the two non-album originals are as good as anything on BALLADS OF A HANGMAN. Actually, I’m a little disappointed that these two songs aren’t on the new album, they would make it even better! I always like to collect different releases from bands I like and these kind of releases make it easier to pick up some cool bonus tracks.

Favorite Songs:
There’s only four tunes and I like all four but the best are the originals not found on the proper album release: ‘My Blood Will Live Forever’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’

CD Scavenger Hunt – New Release Tuesday edition

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_americansoldierQueensryche – 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_coverThe 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-remasteredHalford – 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-deathGrave 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-yellAlice 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.

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009)

grave-digger-balladsofahangman

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009, Napalm Records)

  1. The Gallows Pole
  2. Ballad Of A Hangman
  3. Hell Of Disillusion
  4. Sorrow Of The Dead
  5. Grave Of The Addicted
  6. Lonely The Innocence Dies
  7. Into The War
  8. The Shadow Of Your Soul
  9. Funeral For A Fallen Angel
  10. Stormrider
  11. Pray
  12. Jailbreak (U.S. bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Chris Boltendahl – Vocals
Manni Schmidt – Guitar
Thilo Herrmann – Guitar
H.P. Katzenburg – Keyboards
Stefan Arnold – Drums
Jens Becker – Bass

Additional Musicians:
Veronica Freeman (Benedictum) – guest Vocals on ‘Lonely The Innocence Dies’

Produced by: Grave Digger & Resetti Brothers

Total Time = 45:38

Country: Germany

Grave Digger
Grave Digger MySpace page
Napalm Records

It’s been a long and winding road for one of Germany’s best Power Metal bands, Grave Digger has survived multiple lineup changes, label changes and even a temporary hiatus to bring us studio album number thirteen…..BALLADS OF A HANGMAN. Not much has changed in the Grave Digger camp as of late, except their change to Napalm Records, they have been able to maintain a stable lineup since 2001 and it seems like every year we get treated to a studio record, live album or DVD. The band just keeps plugging away and still remains one of the founding fathers of pure German Power Metal alongside Helloween, Rage and Running Wild.

Not much has really changed in the Grave Digger sound as well. There are still blistering guitar solos, dual riffing and a double bass drum attack to go alongside Chris Boltendahl’s rough and tough Udo Dirkschneider-like vocals. The only difference is that the band continues to keep the “epic” sound in their music, something they have done well since releasing three concept records TUNES OF WAR (1996), KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS (1998) and Excalibur (1999). The album starts off with the instrumental ‘The Gallows Pole’ that leads straight into the title track, a song that has chant style background vocals open the song and lead into a furious main riff and double bass attack. Hearing Boltendahl scream right at the beginning gives you the sense that Grave Digger mean business but the song slows at the chorus for those chant backing vocals that sound like something Hammerfall did on LEGACY OF KINGS back in 1998.

‘Ballad Of A Hangman’

‘Hell Of Disillusion’ is another really fast song with breakneck riffs but the chorus actually slows things down again for the gang vocals. I actually like this song better that the title track because the drums are vicious and the solos are fast but also melodic. ‘Sorrow Of The Dead’ just kicks in and hits you in the head with pure speed and Boltendahl’s shriek while the duelling guitars make ‘Grave Of The Addicted’ one of the album’s best songs. Obviously, the band’s strongest quality is both guitarists: Manni Schmidt (ex-Rage) and Thilo Herrmann (ex- Holy Moses/Running Wild). Nothing against Chris Boltendahl, the band’s founding frontman, but the whole sound comes down to both guitarists trading off riffs and solos thoughout every song.

In 2009, there are only two ways to make Power Metal grow: do grand epics and/or go more melodic like Primal Fear has done. Grave Digger also flirts with the melodic by bringing in Benedictum frontwoman Veronica Freeman in to provide guest lead vocals on ‘Lonely The Innocence Dies’, a melodic power ballad. For Grave Digger, this is as slow as it’s going to get and it does remind me of some of the work Primal Fear did on NEW RELIGION (2007). What makes this song work is that the band brought in a powerful female lead in Freeman to go with Boltendahl’s rough style. Freeman is an excellent vocalist with a ton of power and she puts in a solid performance. What’s also nice is that the slower tempo breaks up the album a little because the band immeadiately slides right back into the frantic pace with ‘Into The War’. By now it’s the middle of the album so you already know what to expect, especially if you’re a Grave Digger fan, and ‘Into The War’ continues the power assault but it doesn’t really take any chances. Basically it’s more of the same from the first five songs that start the album. ‘The Shadow Of Your Soul’ has an extremely ’80s-retro style that sounds like Accept or maybe Judas Priest especially when the guitars cut out at times and you just have the vocal and the drums (both are kind of laid back). Unfortunately, the band falls back into the previous formula with ‘Funeral For A Fallen Angel’. I guess it’s a small complaint that the band continues to follow the same pattern but this is how a lot of Power Metal is and you either have to be a fan of the band or the genre to really enjoy it.

The opening guitars to ‘Stormrider’ signal a Judas Priest style song with the only difference being the rough vocals. It’s a good song and the riffs really don’t fall all over the place, they are more basic than anything else. Sounds like the band is going more straight forward here and it’s welcome, especially when Schmidt and Herrmann do their best Tipton/Downing harmonies. The first single from the album is ‘Pray’ and it’s a melodic mid-tempo song that retains it’s power when the gang style backgrounds come in for the chorus. The guitars are the cleanest of the album with their clear twin melodies and solos, definitely a song that brings me back to the Heavy Metal heyday of the mid-’80s. ‘Pray’ gives the album a welcome break from the constant pounding, I would have sequenced it somewhere in the beginning of the album.

‘Pray’

‘Pray’ was released in advance in the U.S. a week before BALLADS OF A HANGMAN as the title track of an E.P. of the same name. For collector’s, the PRAY E.P. has 3 non-album tracks (one is a cover of Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’) and an extended version of ‘Pray’. If you bought the U.S. limited edition digipak of the proper album like I did (it was the only version available!) then you got a bonus track: a cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’. Why do band’s do this? I realize that it’s a business decision but why not tack on the two extra studio songs from the PRAY E.P. instead of the Thin Lizzy cover? Now that would be a bonus and I wouldn’t have to buy the E.P. AND the actual album! As far as covers go it’s decent but I’m not a cover song kind of guy.

Bottom Line:
Grave Digger continues to do what they do best in churning out fast and heavy Power Metal. In the grand scheme of things they haven’t really evolved their sound, it’s basically what they continue to do and that’s not all that bad. If you’re aren’t a big Power Metal fan then it’s all going to sound the same no matter what but if you really enjoy the genre then you can appreciate the proven formula and pick out the spots where the band takes chances. I like both the all out attack on most of the songs but I think that the more melodic and retro sounding songs add a certain dimension to the overall sound. I’ve been a Grave Digger fan since the early days so I’ve enjoyed this album a lot and I’m willing to bet that it’s going to be one of the best Power Metal albums of the year.

Favorite Songs:
I’d have to go with the melodic duet ‘Lonely The Innocence Dies’ and the mid-tempo ‘Pray’ as two of the best songs along with the title track, ‘Stormrider’ and ‘Grave Of The Addicted’.

CD Scavenger Hunt – Last Week’s purchases

The buying spree continued last week both in-store and on Ebay with some very good bargains and sale prices. I ended up visiting one of the local Circuit City stores that are going out of business and CDs were 40% off but selection was very slim, I ended up supplementing that visit with a stop at Newbury Comics for some new releases……

Circuit City

Black Tide - Light From Above (2008)Black Tide – Light From Above (2008) – $6: I already have this CD but it’s a CDR promo I received for review purposes (I have a digital copy also) so I really wanted the original CD. I really enjoyed the album and it made my Top 30 Albums of 2008 at #29 but I never got around to actually buying it. There were at least 20 copies of this album in the Circuit City racks for $10 but the 40% off really made the sale. The cool thing was that the guy standing next to me in the CD section saw me pick this up and he grabbed one too, he mentioned that he had it on his list to buy also. I ended up recommending a couple other albums to him and I ended up seeing him again later at Newbury Comics!

blackstonecherryfolkloreBlack Stone Cherry – Folklore And Superstition (2008) – $7.80: I never got around to picking up Black Stone Cherry’s sophomore effort despite all the great reviews I read throughout 2008. I really enjoyed the debut but I always found something else to buy when I had this CD in hand. This was another one of the bargains at 40% off that was regularly priced at $13. There were a lot of copies left in the racks so if anyone is in the North Attleboro, MA area, go get one!

Newbury Comics

3-inches-of-blood-battlecry3 Inches Of Blood – Battlecry Under A Winter Sun (2009 reissue) – $9.99: I have become a really big 3 Inches Of Blood fan in the last couple of years and I have spent that time searching for this CD. Unfortunately, the original version on Minion Music is long out of print and the band cut a deal with Sonic Unyon and Caroline Distribution to get their debut re-released in North America. To make the new edition a little special, the band included 4 bonus tracks that were previously unavailable outside Europe. Well worth the sale price and another Cd off the Want List!

avantasia-lost-in-space-part-1-and-2Avantasia – Lost In Space Parts 1 & 2 (2009 reissue) – $11.88: Avantasia has become one of my favorite concept projects and I have been trying to track down both LOST IN SPACE E.P.s at decent prices. The problem has been that most of the prices are extremely high because they were European only releases, even Ebay has been high priced. I had no idea this was coming out and I was psyched when I saw this CD stocked next to 3 Inches Of Blood in the “New Release” section. Avantasia/Edguy mainman Tobias Sammet dropped in a bonus track for this release with an extended version of ‘Lost In Space’.

grave-digger-pray-epGrave Digger – Pray E.P. (2009) – $7: I got shut out two weeks ago when I specifically went to the store to pick this up, there are a few metalheads out there like me that actually show up BEFORE the doors open on a Tuesday. I was a little late that week so I waited for a re-stock and I was able to get the only copy they had last week AND the sale price from the initial release date. It drives me insane when bands release an E.P. before a new album release because there is usually only one exclusive track to the E.P., PRAY has 3 non-album tracks and an extended version of ‘Pray’…..not too bad for 7 bucks.

ted-nugent-cravemanTed Nugent – Craveman (2002) – $4 used: I love the Motor City Madman and I think I’ve seen him more times in concert than any other band except for KISS and maybe Aerosmith. Of course, everytime I’ve seen him it’s been as an opening act for both bands so I think the total is up to 7 or 8. I never picked up CRAVEMAN when it came out and it’s been on the Want List for a long time. There are always those albums that you mena to buy, never do, and then when you want them you need to spend as little as possible. I’ve seen this over the years but always around $15 brand new, finding this used for 4 bucks is a steal!

38-special-rockin-into-the-night.38 Special – Rockin’ Into The Night (1979) – $4 used: I like me some Southern Rock and .38 Special has been a favorite of mine since I heard ‘Hold On Loosely’ (from WILD-EYED SOUTHERN BOYS) back in 1981. I don’t know what it is about .38 Special but I always make sure I look at their section for a couple of the missing albums I need. Never heard any of the tracks except the hit title track but I know the overall .38 Special sound and I’m sure it follows the triple guitar/dual drum kit, country-fried Classic Rock that they are well known for.

Ebay (prices include shipping)

WASP - Dying For The World (2002)W.A.S.P. – Dying For The World (2002) – $5.35: This has been on the WANTED! list for a long time and I have had opportunities to grab this CD but the price was always too high. I don’t know what it is really but I have this thing where if a CD is a few years old then I expect to buy it at a used or discounted price. A lot of people have emailed me to tell me that this album is really good but I think DYING FOR THE WORLD just had a bad slot in between HELLDORADO (1999) and the two NEON GOD albums (2004). The weird thing is I picked up UNHOLY TERROR (2001) and loved it so I think I just could have been in an non-W.A.S.P. phase. This completes my W.A.S.P. collection…..

torch-self-titledTorch – s/t (1983) – $22.50: This one got a little expensive because I got into a bidding war in the last hour. The good news is that the average ending price at auction hovered around $20-$30 in the last couple of months so I really paid a decent price. I remember a few years ago I was trying to grab this one on Ebay and I wouldn’t go over $15 for it and I left it on my Want List. I already have the Torch E.P. (1982) on CD and the only release that eludes me from completing this Swedish Metal band’s discography is their 1984 release ELECTRIKISS.

gammaray_theawesomeGamma Ray – Hell Yeah! The Awesome Foursome – Live In Montreal (2008) – $8: I already had the 2 DVD set so getting the companion double live CD just keeps the gamma ray collection up to date. I really had no intention of even buying this CD but I noticed that my favorite Ebay seller had this up for auction, brand new and starting at $5. I high bid to $10 but no one even challenged my bid and I ended up winning for $5. A 2 CD set for $5? Bargain city!

armed-forces-let-there-be-metalArmed Forces – Let There Be Metal (1984) – $9: I just posted this album in my WANTED column yesterday and I decided to blow the last $10 in my Paypal account on it. It was either this album or ELECTRIKISS and LET THERE BE METAL was the cheaper decision at $5 BUY IT NOW for a near mint vinyl. Another deciding factor was that the seller of this album answered all my questions right away whereas the seller of ELECTRIKISS has ignored my question for about two weeks. I figure that the Torch record will be there next time…..I can finally say that I actually own this album after 25 years of procrastination!

Current playlist

I took most the last two weeks off because my laptop finally died and I have been completely bored with the whole blogging thing. When it stops being fun for me, I need a break. So I listened to a lot of music and didn’t really care too much for writing.

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009): I bought this the day it came out and it hasn’t left the rotation, I’m giving it heavy airtime and i should have a review soon.

Saxon – Into the Labyrinth (2009): Hasn’t left the regular rotation yet and it’s still my favorite album of 2009 so far!

Buckcherry – Black Butterfly (2008): I bought this when it came out back in 2008 but I never really got around to giving it a lot of spins. I’ve been a Buckcherry fan BEFORE they released their first album so I hate it when they get stuck in that overly sexed up first single. I like ‘Too Drunk’ but the rest of the album is good too.

Rose Tattoo – Blood Brothers (2008): This is another disc I got back in 2008 that I didn’t give much time to. This is a great record that has stayed with Saxon in my 2009 rotation and I will go as far as saying that this album is better than AC/DC’s BLACK ICE.

Ozzy Osbourne – (all albums): I decided to have a listen to Ozzy’s OZZMOSIS (1995) and I ended up pulling all the albums out and gave them all a spin. I was having a good time until I came to DOWN TO EARTH (2001) and I heard how mediocre it is (I liked it at the time). When I spun BLACK RAIN (2007), I realized that DOWN TO EARTH was better than I thought!

Twisted Sister – (all albums): My 10 yr old daughter is on a Twisted Sister binge and she has me listening to all the old records with her. Aside from skipping a few overplayed tracks, the first 3 albums are solid, COME OUT AND PLAY (1985) sucks, and LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS (1987) is better than I remembered.

Motley Crue – (all albums): I scored tickets to the upcoming show in Connecticut in March so I got all the Crue albums out and had a party!

CD Scavenger Hunt – Catching up already in 2009!

Here we go….. we are only one month into 2009 and I have been picking up some good CDs every week online, in stores and from Ebay. So here’s what I’ve bought so far this year…..

Record Store

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009) – $11.88: I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of the album back in December but I had to go out and buy the proper CD because Saxon is one of my favorite bands. Unfortunately the local shop only had the regular version and not the limited edition with the bonus DVD. I’ll get that one eventually…..

Grand Magus – Iron Will (2008) – $15: I saw this album on a ton of year end best of lists so I put it on my want list. I hit the record store to get the new saxon and I found this CD in the section reserved for picks from the staff.

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009) – $11.88: I had to get this album after I was shut out from picking up the PRAY E.P. that was released two weeks earlier. I’ve been a Grave Digger fan since around ’85 and I always like their new albums. The version I bought was the limited edition digipak that includes a bonus cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’.

Iron Fire – To The Grave (2009) – $11.88: The new Iron Fire was released the same day as the new Grave Digger (both bands are on Napalm Records) and the were both on sale for $11.88. Just like BALLADS OF A HANGMAN, TO THE GRAVE came in a limited edition digipak with a bonus track…..’Blacksmith Of Thunder’.

Alestorm – Leviathan E.P. (2009) – $7: I have wanted to check out Alestorm for a long time but I never got around to buying CAPTAIN MORGAN’S Revenge (2008) last year. I figured spending 7 bucks on the E.P. would be a good introduction.

Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus (2009) – $10: Tobias Sammet is a very busy guy with new albums from Avantasia and Edguy in one year. Technically, this record was released in December 2008 everywhere but North America and there is a limited edition 2CD set that includes a live show and videos. Unfortunately the record shop only had the regular edition but you can’t beat a $10 sale price!

Twisted Sister – Under the Blade (1982/1999 reissue) – $10: I thought I had this in my collection already but I was wrong. My 10 yr. old daughter, who is obsessed with Twisted Sister, pointed out the missing album to me a couple of weeks ago so that put UNDER THE BLADE at the top of the want list. Talk about pressure…..my kid wouldn’t stop talking about it and how I needed to buy it. I was looking through a markdown/sale bin just before checking out and I found it. I went home and loaded it into my daughter’s iPod before she got home from school.

Ebay/Online

Eden’s Curse – Seven Deadly Sins E.P. (2008) and The Second Coming (2008) – $20: I have wanted to give Eden’s Curse a try ever since Melodicrock.com listed the band’s self-titled debut in their Top 5 albums of 2007. The same website is offering special deals for visitors through an Artist Of The Week feature so I was able to get both albums for $20, a great deal! Now I need to pick up that first album!

Bittersweet – Loaded Up (1988-1992) – $13: One night last week I was searching local bands from Rhode Island (my home state) and stumbled upon Bittersweet. Taking a closer look, I noticed they were signed to Retrospect Records and an official CD of 20 songs from ’88-’92 was released recently. I checked out their MySpace page to hear samples and everything sounded really good so I went to the Retrospect website and Ebay and I won the album for $10 ($3 shipping)…..I saved $5 off the CD price by purchasing on Ebay and the seller is really the guy that runs Retrospect Records. I can’t wait to hear this album.

Loudness – Metal Mad (2008) – $18.55: I featured this album in my WANTED! column back in September 2008 and I have been on the lookout for this album for a full year. METAL MAD was released in Japan back in late February 2008 and it never got a distribution deal for North America, prices were around $35 average (shipping included) to get an import copy from Japan. Starting price on this one was $5 and I put in a high bid of $20. The seller is located in New Jersey, about an 8 hour drive from Rhode Island, so the mail should only take a few days. I won the CD for $15.55 and the shipping was $3…..a steal!

Current Playlist

Here’s what I’ve been listening to in the last week or so (reviews are coming for most of these)……

Sepultura – A-lex (2009): I’m not the biggest Sepultura fan but I have most of the early albums with Max Cavalera. When Max left and Derrick Greene came in, I started to forget about the band. I’ve had the album for a month now and I’ve been giving it a lot of play.

Kreator – Hordes Of Chaos (2009): Hard to believe that it’s been four years since ENEMY OF GOD (2005) but Kreator is back. I got this around the same time as the new Sepultura so I’ve been giving the good old Thrash on HORDES OF CHAOS a lot of play.

Suidakra – Crógacht (2009): I have never heard anything from Suidakra before and a combination of Black Metal and Death Metal isn’t really my style of choice but I received an advance copy and I will have a review soon.

Axiom – A Means To An End (2008): This debut album from Sacramento’s Axiom came out at the end of November 2008 but the logjam of CDs on my desk pushed this to the new year. So far it’s solid Progressive Metal and I will have a review of this soon. More info at Axiomband.net

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): My favorite album of the year so far! I know we’re only one month into 2009 but Saxon are one of my Top 5 favorite bands of all-time and they have really had a strong run of albums since 1997. This will easily land in my year end best of list for 2009.

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009): I’ve been a Grave Digger fan since way back around WITCH HUNTER in ’85 so this new record was a must to pick up last week. It’s also the Album Of the Month for February 2009 so a review will come this week.

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade (1982): I haven’t heard this album in a long time and I thought I had it in my collection but I didn’t. Picked this up last week and this has been the main album playing in my house because my 10 yr old daughter is obsessed with all things Twisted Sister. Not sure how that happened. I have to give my daughter credit, she knows her TS and she pointed out to me that this CD (Spitfire reissue from 1999) is the re-mixed version of the album that was released in 1985 and not the original. I have no idea how she knew that but she needs to hear the original!

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): Even though this album made my Top 30 Albums of 2008 at #30, I really never gave this album as much time as I should have. Metallica is arguably the biggest Heavy Metal band on the planet and I put DEATH MAGNETIC aside quickly. Now that I’ve had a chance to have some fresh listens, I’m starting to enjoy it more.

Ratt – Out Of The Cellar (1984): I am participating in a debut album tournament at the Hair Metal Mansion and OUT OF THE CELLAR has been voted into the final so I’ve been spinning this for comparison to…..

Cinderella – Night Songs (1986): …..who is Ratt’s opponent. I think both albums are truly solid debuts but after some serious listening I have to go with my gut and pick Ratt.