The Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30)

2008 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I buy a lot of music but the failing economy took it’s toll on my music budget. I was very lucky to have caught the attention of many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review (to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU), without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. The ranking of the Top 30 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into two posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16 – #30):

#16

motorhead-motorizerMotörhead – Motörizer

The only thing that Motörhead does year in and year out is make really good Heavy Metal albums and this year is no exception. MOTÖRIZER isn’t groundbreaking, it sounds just like all the other Motörhead records before it, but it’s a solid consistent effort from a band that is legendary but never gets the success it deserves. Any year with a new Motörhead album in it is a good one.

#17

acdc-black-iceAC/DC – Black Ice

It only took 8 years but AC/DC finally came roaring back with a really strong album in BLACK ICE. It’s more Blues than in your face Hard Rock but the typical AC/DC punch is still there. Brian Johnson sounds like he turned back the hands of time and the team of Angus & Malcolm Young on guitars still has the fire that burned in the ’70s & ’80s. A great comeback!

#18

Gypsy Pistoleros - Para Siempre (2008)Gypsy Pistoleros – Para Siempre

Technically, PARA SIEMPRE is a reissue of the Gypsy Pistoleros’ debut, WILD, BEAUTIFUL, DAMNED (2007), remastered with two additional songs added in. I wasn’t sold on taking traditional music from Spain and mixing it into a Hard Rock blender but the Pistoleros do a great job of channelling the Crue, GNR, and Hanoi Rocks mixed with flamenco and Spanish music. I’m half Colombian so I dig the Spanish influences and I really like the mix of English & Spanish (the band calls it “Spanglish”) to give it an added dimension.

#19

jorn-lonely-are-the-brave-2008Jorn – Lonely Are The Brave

Jorn Lande continues to make some of the best Metal records of the last decade and LONELY ARE THE BRAVE is no exception. Jorn is a monster vocally and the surrounding cast is as solid as they come. Unfortunately, I bought this very late in the year so I haven’t had much time to enjoy it.

#20

Brainstorm - Downburst (2008)Brainstorm – Downburst

Another great album from one of the most underrated bands in Heavy Metal. Brainstorm plays great epic Power Metal but DOWNBURST shows a band that is willing to evolve it’s sound and becoming more dynamic. It’s not a groundbreaking album but the band follows the path laid down by Primal Fear and Kamelot.

#21

dokken-lightning-strikes-again-2008Dokken – Lightning Strikes Again

Dokken’s best album since 1999’s ERASE THE SLATE, the band continues to play melodic Hard Rock with a great musicianship and songwriting. Jon Levin adds some George Lynch style playing back into the overall Dokken sound and the rhythm section of Barry Sparks and Mick Brown is as solid as ever. Don Dokken’s vocals are a little underwhelming because he doesn’t hit the highs he used to and there really isn’t a solid backing track. Still a very good album.

#22

nightranger-holeinthesun-usa coverNight Ranger – Hole In The Sun

HOLE IN THE SUN is a more modern sounding Night Ranger but there is still the trademark melodic sound that made them a big success back in their ’80s heyday. Best performance on the album goes to drummer/singer Kelly Keagy because his vocals were excellent. This album didn’t really get me at first but it grew on me as I played it more.

#23

temujin-1000-tears-2008Temujin – 1000 Tears

I’m a big fan of female-fronted Gothic/Ambient Metal and Temujin debuts with an album that has the guitars leading the way and the vocals keeping the listener entranced. Temujin vocalist Kelly has a beautiful voice that reminds me of The Gathering’s Anneke Van Giersbergen in that her performance is powerful without going over the top. A solid debut.

#24

tyr-landTýr – Land

LAND was my first experience listening to Týr and I was pleasantly surprised. Sometimes the terms Pagan Metal or Viking Metal throws fans off but what really is happening is Metal mixed with Nordic influences. Týr blends traditional folk to their Metal and uses their native language, as well as choir style backing vocals, to enhance their sound. This album got me into a whole new genre of Metal.

#25

Pharaoh - Be Gone (2008)Pharaoh – Be Gone

Pharaoh creates gool old traditional U.S. Metal based on good guitars, a solid rhythm section and good vocals. The band puts the power forward but you get the general idea after the first few songs. The album gets better as it continues and the band stretches out a little.

#26

the-sword-gods-of-the-earth (2008)The Sword – Gods Of The Earth

I didn’t get into The Sword’s first album but, when I put on this new album, I immeadiately heard what I was missing. GODS OF THE EARTH has an early Thrash and NWOBHM element added to a sludgy Doom Metal groove. It’s a very heavy record that’s grown on me all year long.

#27

Griffen - Linked In Eternity (2008)Griffen – Linked In Eternity

I found out about Griffen because of my obsession with ’80s Swedish metallers Torch: two current members of Torch are in Griffen. Technically, LINKED IN ETERNITY is a promo demo E.P. but it’s done so well I’m throwing it in the countdown. The band plays a really good blend of Traditional Metal and melodic Hard Rock so I have no idea how these guys aren’t signed to a label.

#28

uli-jon-roth-under-a-dark-skyUli Jon Roth – Under A Dark Sky

Anytime guitar maestro Uli Jon Roth releases a new album it’s a good year! How can you deny the talent of a man that was so unsatisfied with regular guitars that he went out and invented one (the Sky Guitar) that suited his ability? I gues you could call this a true Rock opera with all the classical elements and orchestral movements but the underlying focus is Roth’s playing.

#29

Black Tide - Light From Above (2008)Black Tide – Light From Above

A strong debut from a band whose members are only a couple years removed from high school. I was surprised with all the old school Metal influences in the music from such a young band. What the band lacks in experience they more than make up for in attitude and energy. A solid debut.

#30

metallica-death-magneticMetallica – Death Magnetic

See what happens when a band goes back and listens to their previous records, they make a Heavy Metal album! This is the album that Metallica needed to make to prove that they can still play Metal. Some of the songs are a little long but that’s a small complaint, the songs are really good…..better than I expected. Hopefully Metallica continues in this direction.

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Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15) for the other half of my Top 30 list.

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In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2008:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion

Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
Metal Excess

The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages

Gypsy Pistoleros – Para Siempre (2008)

Gypsy Pistoleros - Para Siempre (2007)

Gypsy Pistoleros – Para Siempre (2008, Bad Reputation)

  1. Shotgun Kiss is Ay Que Dolor
  2. Un Hombre Sin Rostro, Pistolero
  3. Forever Is Para Siempre
  4. Senor, Mangi Acqui
  5. What’s It Like To Be A Girl In The House Of 1000 Dolls?
  6. Jet, Jet, Jet Boyz
  7. Una Para Todo Es Bandido!
  8. Livin’ La Vida Loca
  9. Chicas Peligrosa
  10. Moonchild
  11. The Crazy Loco Loquito
  12. Switchblade Kiss Comes Close
  13. 1-2-3-4 Kiss Me Then I’m Damned For Sure

Band Lineup:
Lee J. Pistolero – Lead Vocals
Iggie Pistolero – Guitars
Angel Pistolero – Bass
Leeroy Pistolero – Drums

Producer: Joe Gibb

Total Time = 49:50

Gypsy Pistoleros MySpace page
Bad Reputation

One of the bands that is taking the Hard Rock world by storm is Gypsy Pistoleros. Taking ’80s style Hard Rock and mixing it with sleazy Glam and Spanish flavored music, lead singer Lee Pistolero and his gang of bandidos are taking no prisoners with their latest album, PARA SIEMPRE. 

PARA SIEMPRE is considered the band’s latest release but it is a reissue of the Pistoleros’ debut, WILD, BEAUTIFUL, DAMNED (2007, Evil Boy Records), remastered with two additional songs added in for good measure. I’ve never heard the first release but, listening to PARA SIEMPRE, it’s easy to recognize that this is a band with talent and a unique sound. Imagine early Motley Crue, some Guns N’ Roses, Hanoi Rocks, a dash of Ramones, and Flamenco…..the Pistoleros are covering all the old school bases and then adding their own stamp. The lyrics are a mix of Spanish and English…..depending on the song you get a serious mix of “Spanglish” and that lends another unique characteristic to the band’s identity.

I wasn’t sold on the concept of taking traditional music from Spain and blending it with Hard Rock but I was surprised at just how well the two styles actually came together. Songs like ‘Un Hombre Sin Rostro, Pistolero’ and ‘Jet, Jet, Jet Boyz’ show the bands Sleaze Glam roots while ‘Una Para Todo Es Bandido!’ is THE prime example of of to blend flamenco, Spanish horns and guitar to early Motley Crue from the TOO FAST FOR LOVE era. Listen to Lee Pistolero’s vocals especially on this track and tell me he doesn’t sound like a really young Vince Neil.

The two additional songs are ‘Chicas Peligrosa’ and a rocked out cover of the Ricky Martin hit, ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’. ‘Chicas’ has Punk elements mixed with Metal while the rendition of the Ricky Martin tune shows that the band is just out to make music and have fun. I’m not a guy that enjoys covers over originals but I have to admit that the Pistoleros’ version is better than Ricky’s, even if it is just for a laugh. My favorite track is ‘Moonchild’. It has that Vince Neil vocal but it has a really nice acoustic guitar in the middle and that shows a bit of diversity.

Bottom Line:
The Gypsy Pistoleros have been the talk of the town in Hard Rock circles for a few months now and all the accolades are well deserved. Instead of re-hashing what has been done over and over again, the Pistoleros decided to blend styles and come up with something different. Lee Pistolero sounds like Vince Neil but there is enough separation between the two to hear the difference. Iggie Pistolero is an absolute monster on guitar and shows a diversity by going from electric to acoustic, from Hard Rock to Flamenco. And I also dig the Spanish horns that back half the tracks up. It’s not hard to hear that Gypsy Pistoleros have brought something new to a genre that can become stagnant very easily. Favorite songs here: ‘Un Hombre Sin Rostro, Pistolero’, ‘Moonchild’, ‘Forever Is Para Siempre’, ‘Una Para Todo Es Bandido!’ and ‘Switchblade Kiss Comes Close’.

Gypsy Pistoleros – ‘Un Hombre Sin Rostro, Pistoleros’ (video, 2008)

Check out the new video by Gypsy Pistoleros, a band that is leading the charge in today’s world of Glam. There is a better quality video on MySpace but I couldn’t get it to work in this post. Thanks to Lee Pistolero for coming in and posting the link in the comments. Now watch the video!

Gypsy Pistoleros – ‘Un Hombre Sin Rostro, Pistoleros’ (video, 2008)