Iron Maiden & Alice Cooper in concert at Tweeter Center (Mansfield, MA) – 6/26/12

I went to go see Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper last night at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield…..it’s been a long time since I caught a live show (almost 4 months!) so it was great to catch these two Heavy Metal icons at one show. Iron Maiden was the headliner and they always draw a good crowd at this outdoor arena and the seats were all packed under the roof and on the lawn for an announced 14,000 fans! Not a bad way to start the summer: Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper and 14,000 Metal friends!

Alice Cooper setlist:

Vincent Price intro
The Black Widow
Brutal Planet
I’m Eighteen
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Hey Stoopid
Billion Dollar Babies
Feed My Frankenstein
Poison
Wicked Young Man
I Love The Dead (outro)
School’s Out (Pink Floyd – ‘Another Brick In The Wall (Pt.2)’ medley included)

I’ve caught Alice Cooper live many times in the last 10 years and he never disappoints. Alice and the band always puts on a top notch show both musically and theatrically so it’s no doubt that Alice could have done a full set with full production and had the crowd eating out of his evil hand. Unfortunately, Alice was an opening act and he had to play an abbreviated set…..but what a show! After the intro tape of Vincent Price introducing ‘The Black Widow’, Alice and the band played an 11 song set with a scaled down, but still high quality, production. An Alice Cooper concert is always about the theatrics then the music but a shorter set puts the focus on the songs.  The bulk of the setlist are Alice Cooper staples but it was very cool to hear a couple of songs make it back into the set. The entire set was awesome but the highlights for me were the return of ‘Brutal Planet’, ‘Wicked Young Man’ and ‘Hey Stoopid’ back to the setlist. The last time I caught Alice live with Rob Zombie, he played a full set as a co-headliner but these three songs weren’t played. Actually, ‘Wicked Young Man’ was done but in a medley. Both albums (2000’s BRUTAL PLANET and 1991’s HEY STOOPID) are really great and totally underrated albums because Alice has so many classic records and songs. For an older performer, Alice didn’t disappoint, he had tons of energy for the performance and he sounds as good as he did when I saw him on the BRUTAL PLANET tour 12 years ago. The band was tight and sounded great, you could tell that half a set was just a warm up and they could have kept it up for another hour easily. Alice Cooper is a true Rock legend and he proved it live once again!

Iron Maiden setlist:

Intro song (‘Doctor, Doctor’ by UFO)

Moonchild
Can I Play With Madness
The Prisoner
2 Minutes To Midnight
Afraid To Shoot Strangers
The Trooper
The Number Of The Beast
The Phantom Of The Opera
Run To The Hills
Wasted Years
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
The Clairvoyant
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore
Churchill’s Speech into
Aces High
The Evil That Men Do
Running Free

It’s been 4 years since I’ve seen Iron Maiden in concert, the last time I saw them was at the Tweeter Center in the summer of 2008 and they were playing a greatest hits set billed as “Somewhere On Tour 2008″. That was one of the best times I’ve seen Iron Maiden live but do they ever put on a bad show? This time around, the band was focusing on songs from the SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON (1988) album and they played a solid 5 songs from it including ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’, ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’, ‘The Clairvoyant’ and ‘The Evil That Men Do’. The show production was centered around the SEVENTH SON album as well with plenty of different Eddie’s popping up and a solid stage show but, as always, the concert comes down to one thing…..the band.

Iron Maiden doesn’t disappoint…..ever! This concert was another superb performance by the band, who I consider the #1 Metal band in the world, with solid musicianship and excellent vocals. Maiden just came out and played…..not a lot of talking in between songs, not a lot of rehearsed intros like some bands I love, just flat out Metal songs one after the other. The setlist was solid, not a bad song in the bunch and, as I mentioned, the SEVENTH SON songs were the focus. When I saw Maiden in 2008, they played ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’ and ‘The Clairvoyant’ but they aren’t always in the set so it was good to hear them again but hearing ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’ and ‘The Evil That Men Do’ was simply awesome. Good to also hear ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ make the set instead of more popular songs from PIECE OF MIND (1983) and the debut record and it’s always cool to hear another song from FEAR OF THE DARK (1993) with ‘Afriad To Shoot Strangers’. As always, my favorite song of the night was ‘Fear Of The Dark’, it just sends chills up my spine everytime I hear it! Just a couple of words on the band themselves…..as I mentioned, the band played and sounded great which is no surprise but, aside from Bruce Dickinson, they weren’t as animated as they have been in the past. Maybe it’s because this was like the 2nd or 3rd show of the U.S. tour or maybe it was because they were focusing on the playing but it seemed like they didn’t move around a ton as they have in the past. Not complaining at all…..I’d prefer a flawless performance to an action packed show anytime! Solid performance, great show, I wish the band was coming back again soon.

 

Metal Mixtape – 5/6/12

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

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

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

Current Playlist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Schenker Group (featuring Robin McAuley) in concert at Showcase Live (Foxboro, MA) – 3/8/12

It’s been a little while since I posted anything here at Heavy Metal Addiction but nothing gets the writing juices flowing like a good concert! I had my ticket in advance for Michael Schenker’s return to the New England area this past Thursday night, this time promoting his new album TEMPLE OF ROCK (2011) and featuring another former frontman, Robin McAuley. I caught MSG on the last tour in 2010 at Showcase Live to promote MSG’s 30th anniversary and the last two albums featuring original frontman Gary Barden and it was excellent, I expected the same this time around. Michael’s latest album, TEMPLE OF ROCK, is a great album and ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ is my favorite song on the album and features Robin McAuley. I saw the classic early ’80s Gary Barden led MSG last year, now I get to see the McAuley Schenker Group (the late ’80s/early ’90s lineup) live! What’s next? Will Michael bring Graham Bonnet out next? Wishful thinking…..

I arrived at the club about an hour before the 8pm start time, picked up my ticket at the box office, grabbed a real nice shirt for $30 and went inside. Another great crowd for another great show, capacity is about 1000 people so I guesstimate that there was at least 500, maybe more. No opening band this time around which was good news because everyone I spoke with wanted a nice long set from the band…..considering that the tickets were only $25 each, I expected a spectacular show. I got as close to Michael’s side of the stage as I could and ended up about 4 feet away from the master and between him and McAuley the entire show.

Michael Schenker Group setlist:

Into The Arena
Armed And Ready
Love Drive
Another Piece Of Meat
Lover’s Sinfony
Save Yourself
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Rock My Nights Away
Shoot Shoot
Love To Love
Too Hot To Handle
Let It Roll
Natural Thing
Lights Out

Encore:
On And On
Rock Bottom

2nd Encore:
Doctor Doctor

Honestly, that was like going to see UFO! Almost the second half of the set was classic Schenker-era UFO and the crowd was EXTREMELY receptive to hearing almost all of the STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT record. There’s no denying Michael’s guitar genius when he’s effortlessly soloing through ‘Rock Botton’, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Lights Out’ but the UFO highlight for me was ‘Love To Love’ with Robin giving a powerful performance of one of the most underrated and underappreciated ballads of all-time! While I’m on the subject of Mr. McAuley, let me just say that the man is a spectacular performer with great vocal range and energy, he looked genuinely happy to be on stage with Michael (and vice versa for the guitar maestro!) and he just looks like a rock star. Seriously, has Robin aged at all? The guy looked awesome for a 59 yr.old rocker. As for the rest of the band…..Wayne Findlay is Michael’s jack-of-all-trades on stage performing that Paul Raymond role perfectly, Elliot “Dean” Rubinson (CEO of Dean Guitars) proved to be a great addition on bass and Pete Holmes (from Black ‘N Blue) hit the drums like a madman…..you can’t ask for more if you’re a guitar legend.

Back to the set…..the show kicked off with Michael’s showcase ‘Into The Arena’ and promptly went into crowd favorite ‘Armed and Ready’. If that wasn’t enough to get the crowd pumped immeadiately, the band kicked the show into high gear with back to back Scorpions songs ‘Love Drive’ and ‘Another Piece Of Meat’. The applause alone for those two songs was so great that you would have thought that Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker had joined the band on stage! A great moment of the night to see Michael soloing away on those two classics and Robin really nailed each song…..vocally I can hear some similarities to Klaus Meine. My favorite part of the set was the next two songs: ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ and ‘Save Yourself’. Now I realize that the setlist was full of classic Schenker tunes but hearing ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ (my favorite song off the new album) and ‘Save Yourself’ (the title cut from the 1989 record) were awesome! I never got to see the McAuley Schenker Group back in the day and SAVE YOURSELF is an underrated album from the late ’80s, actually the whole McAuley-Schenker era is completely underrated. It was cool to have Robin acknowledge many of us fans up front who sang all the words to ‘Save Yourself’ but I did notice a couple of looks towards a couple of us singing every word to ‘Lover’s Sinfony’…..honestly, that would be the highlight of the set if MSG played more recent material from the last 15 years. It was great to hear ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, ‘Rock My Nights Away’ and ‘On and On’ from early MSG albums but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that more MSG songs weren’t done. Of course that means you would have to cut a UFO or Scorpions song for proper MSG but it was good to hear the band run through Michael’s career and ending the second half of the show with almost all UFO classics. The band played close to two hours and the fans all had a blast, the band could have easily played a few more songs and the club would have exploded! Hopefully Michael and the band will come back again soon to the Showcase Live, judging by the crowd’s response I have no doubt they will.

Here’s a few videos I found on Youtube from the Foxboro show on 3/8/12…..

CD Scavenger Hunt (February update)

I’m late again posting the CD Scavenger Hunt updates! If you’re reading this, I’m actually writing this in mid-April but I’m back dating it for the end of February. It’s not that I don’t want to share my hunting, but I just can’t seem to get motivatd to write. Just a quick note: I’m taking out the savings totals because they are irrelevant considering I buy everything either on sale or used…..when I feel the need to express my keen bargain hunting savings strategies, I will mention it in the summary. I did a lot of shopping again so here’s the treasures for February 2012…..

Newbury Comics

Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth (2012)- $14
Metallica – Beyond Magnetic E.P. (2012) – $6
Lillian Axe – XI: The Days Before Tomorrow (2012) – $10
Treat – Coup De Grace (2010) – $6 used
Sunstorm – Emotional Fire (2012) – $16
UFO – Seven Deadly (2012) – $10
Scorpions – Live In 3D: Get Your Sting & Blackout Blu-Ray (2012) – $20
Queen – Days Of Our Lives DVD (2012) – $12

I made three separate shopping trips to my local Newbury Comics in February for all the new releases at sale prices. Tops on my want list this month were the new Van Halen album (which I sprung for the special edition with the bonus DVD) and the new UFO album, SEVEN DEADLY, that came in a digipak with two bonus tracks. I also bought the new Lillian Axe album, the Queen documentary DVD and my first ever Blu-Ray Disc with the Scorpions – Live In 3D…..all on sale. I grabbed the Metallica E.P. because it was a cheap six bucks and I’m hoping it helps me recover from LULU and I found a used copy of Treat’s COUP DE GRACE album from 2010 for another six bucks. Unfortunately I had to bite the bullet and pay the full import price for the new Sunstorm record but being able to hear the smoothest voice in Hard Rock, Joe Lynn Turner, is worth the price paid.

Wal-Mart

Jon Bon Jovi – Blaze Of Glory: Young Guns II Soundtrack (1990) – $5
Ozzy Osbourne – Live At Budokan (2002) – $5

I hate shopping at Wal-Mart! Nothing is worse than being in a Wal-Mart on a rainy day at 2pm when it’s crowded! Wal-Mart is one of the true evils of U.S. retail but I’m not going to get into all that right now. I was with the family and we had to go into Wal-Mart for some reason (I can’t remember why!) but I found the silver lining to the worst shopping experience — the CD bins! Now Wal-Mart has no selection as far as CDs & DVDs go, they basically cater to the new releases and greatest hits in order to get “Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public” to make an impulse buy. In front of the “music dept”, were two large round plastic bins and they were filled with CDs so I went bin diving and came up with two CDs I didn’t own: the Jon Bon Jovi solo album for the Young Guns II movie and Ozzy’s live album from the Budokan in Japan. Both were brand new, both were $5!

Think Tank Media

Lana Lane – El Dorado Hotel (2012) – $15
Lana Lane – Curious Goods Special Edition (2002) – $5

Think Tank Media is the record label and distributor of all the Lana Lane albums…..it’s run by her husband Erik Norlander who plays on her albums and is in the band Rocket Scientists. I read about the new Lana Lane album, EL DORADO HOTEL, so I surfed over to the website and found a sale! A ton of back catalog titles from Lana Lane, Erik Norlander solo amd Rocket Scientists were all priced around $5! Unfortunately, I have almost all the Lana Lane albums but I was able to grab the new album for a reasonable $15 and the double CD special edition of Lana’s 1996 album CURIOUS GOODS. The special edition includes the original CURIOUS GOODS album from 1996 (that’s way out of print!) with the cover of Steely Dan’s ‘Do It Again’ on the first disc and the 2002 reissue of CURIOUS GOODS (also out of print!) that replaces the Steely Dan cover with a cover of the classic James Bond theme ‘You Only Live Twice’.

Ebay

Zebra – s/t (1983) – $11 used
Mass – Sea Of Black (2010) – $4
Sister – Hated (2011) – $6
Vollmer – When Pigs Fly (1999) – $5 used
Helix – White Lace & Black Leather (1981) – $5 used

Ebay had some great bargains this month! I finally found the first Zebra album and finished off my Zebra collection…..’Tell Me What You Want’ is a great old tune! I got both the Mass and Sister albums from the same seller but different auctions. Both CDs were sealed and brand new and I got them for peanuts, the seller was kind enough to combine shipping and send them together so both discs and shipping totalled $10! I finally get to hear what Sister sounds like because I couldn’t bring myself to pay the $15 at the record store and I was able to replace the CDR of SEA OF BLACK that I made from the promotional download I was sent before Mass released the album. I also got closer to completing my Helix collection by winning an auction that included mainman Brian Vollmer’s solo album from 1999 and Helix’s second album WHITE LACE & BLACK LEATHER (rare to find on CD!). Both CDs were used but in mint condition and the total price of $10 for both CDs included shipping costs.

Total = $155

Total (year) = $411

Average Price (per item) = $8.75

Total CDs (year) = 47

Total DVDs (year) = 2

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

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

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

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

Newbury Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total (year) = $256

Average Price (per item) = $7.76

Total CDs (year) = 32

Total DVDs (year) = 1

R.I.P. — Mark Reale (1955-2012)

R.I.P. – Mark Reale (June 7, 1955 – January 25, 2012)

From Bravewords.com:

Yesterday (Wednesday, January 25th), RIOT guitarist and founder Mark Reale passed away due to complications stemming from Crohn’s disease in a San Antonio hospital. He was 56 year old. Reale had been in a coma since January 11th due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He had battled Crohn’s for most of his life, working and performing while enduring almost constant pain and the side effects of treatment for his illness. He was in Texas bravely attempting to practice for the band’s scheduled shows, but was felled by a severe onset of Crohn’s symptoms, which eventually put him in the Intensive Care Unit.

A statement at his official website reads as follows:

“Our brother Mark Reale went home to be with our Lord this day January 25th, 2012 after a long battle and complications from Crohns disease. He is survived by his father Anthony Reale and was precede in death by his mother Frances Reale. Mark was born June 7th, 1955 in Brooklyn New York at a time when rock and roll was flourishing with many new sounds. Early in his life, his first interest had been the movies. ever so curiously, he had shown an interest in films. But then, songs he heard on the radio began to change that. He quickly began to love music from THE BEATLES and CREAM. Mark lists GEORGE HARRISON and ERIC CLAPTON as great influences. When he was seven years old his grandfather bought him his first basic guitar to practice on and later his father bought him a new guitar and amp, his passion had begun.

In the early to mid ’70’s his influences included the likes of EDGAR WINTER, RONNIE MONTROSE and RICK DERRINGER. He also loved a range of bands and artists from AL DI MEOLA to DEEP PURPLE. In 1975 Mark formed his band Riot, then at a block party Mark’s father found vocalist Guy Speranza. Mark’s guitar style and his passion for writing songs that told stories that were so deep and moving had made a real connection with those who would become life long fans. The fans felt so connected to Mark because the lyrics in Riot’s songs were extremely close to the stories of their own lives. His song writing style could weave tales of anything from old lore to battle fields and warriors, personal loss and triumph. And heavy metal anthems that will be with us for decades to come.

The brethren of brothers that Mark spent his life long career in music with and whom he leaves behind or joins in heaven are, Guy Speranza, L.A. Kouvaris, Kip Leming, Peter Bitelli, Rhett Forrester, Rick Ventura, Jimmy Iommi, Sandy Slavin, Tony Moore, Don Van Stavern, Mike Flyntz, Pete Perez, Bobby Jarzombek, Mike Dimeo, John Macaluso, Bobby Rondinelli, Mike Tirelli, Frank Gilchriest and Damon Di Bari who was always like the “6th” member of the band being Riot’s lighting director / production manager / tour manager and Mark’s personal assistant. Mark’s final days were spent with Damon at his hospital bedside, sharing the fans thoughts, well wishes and prayers. Even though Mark began his career in New York, San Antonio was a special place he loved and not only lived here for a while but had planned on moving back here to make San Antonio his permanent home.

With heart felt thanks to the fans around the world, the United States, Japan, Europe and all points in between. The Riot army meant everything in the world to Mark., it’s what kept him going. The loyalty and love of the fans fueled his passion and desire to continue making music for as long as possible.

Please keep the Mighty Tior in your hearts and the memory of Mark alive within you.

Shine on, Mark shine on!”

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

It’s a very sad day for me here at Heavy Metal Addiction because I am a huge Riot fan and Mark Reale is one of my favorite guitar players. I knew that Mark suffered from severe Crohn’s disease for years, and I had been following Mark’s recent hospitalization due to Crohn’s complications because Riot was scheduled to tour the U.S. and the band had been rehearsing in Texas with Mark. When I read the news early this morning, I was shocked to find out Mark had passed…..it’s always a shock when one of your heroes passes, they seem so indestructible. Mark’s music, whether it be in Riot or Westworld, has been some of my favorite Heavy Metal and Hard Rock in the last 30 years, he was a criminally underrated guitarist, very influential and a great talent…..the music world has lost another great musician. Albums like Riot’s FIRE DOWN UNDER and RESTLESS BREED, and Westworld’s debut album, are some of my favorite all-time albums and are worth seeking out if you are a true Metal fan.

Sincere condolences go out to Mark’s family, friends, bandmates and fans…..shine on and rest in peace.

– Steve

The Top 25 Albums of 2011

I think I say the same things every year when I write the introduction to my Best of the Year list…..this year was one of the greatest years for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! More and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2011 was no exception, this was the biggest year for Heavy Metal Addiction as far as promotional review copies go. Usually, I physically buy all my new albums but this year I partnered with more labels, more promotional people and more bands and I received more albums for review than any other year. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up and I came nowhere close to listening to all of them properly. Looking at the piles on my desk, the boxes next to it and the separate iTunes folder I reserve for promo downloads, it’s easy to estimate that I have more new 2011 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than in 2010! Add in all the new releases I bought on my weekly trips to the record stores, and my daily online searches, and it’s fair to estimate that the total number of new releases is on par with what I had for 2010. Unfortunately, I’ve let the website go a little in the last couple of years so, while I’ve been listening to almost everything, I just haven’t posted about it.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 25 was the same criteria I’ve used for the last few years: the album had to be a studio album (not a live record, best of, or covers collection) AND the album had to be released in 2011. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2010 internationally, but was released in the U.S. in 2011, qualified as a 2011 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 25 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I could have continued with a Top 40 list but I got so far behind listening and writing so there are definitely albums I haven’t heard yet or didn’t give proper time to. We’re talking a couple hundred albums though so anything that got missed might end up in an expanded “Albums I Missed in 2011″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 25 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 25 Albums of 2011:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(drum roll please…..)

#1

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

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

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

The 2 Worst Albums of 2011

Here we go again! 2011 was another great year for new albums…..bands from all different genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal released good albums this year and I was on the frontlines buying them up as they were released. Of course there were some bad albums too. I bought more new releases, and had more new albums submitted for review, in 2011 so there were bound to be some bad ones in the pile. In previous years, I’ve received a lot of email about my decision to call this list the “Worst” albums of the year, some people have thought that it is too negative. My feeling is that no matter if the album is a major disappointment because you were looking forward to it so much, or the album is just plain awful from the packaging, to the production, to the performance, then it qualifies under the heading of “Worst”. Of all the albums I picked up some releases were just plain bad, some were huge disappointments, some I just couldn’t stand, the problem is that I didn’t listen to everything I bought or had submitted for review. This year was probably my worst year posting album reviews on the site, as well as, my worst year catching up on all the listening I needed to do. As a result of my inconsitency, I decided to cut the list down from the normal Top 5 to a Top 2. Don’t worry! The two albums that made this list are truly the worst I heard this past year and I can’t really recommend them to anyone…..so here is my list of The 2 Worst Albums of 2011:

#1

Metallica & Lou Reed – LuLu (2011): This collaboration between Metallica and Lou Reed definitely raised eyebrows when it was announced and I have to admit that, even though I had some interest in it, I knew that this album was going to blow! Can any true Metallica fan really say that this was a good idea? Especially after the excellent DEATH MAGNETIC (2008)? The music is Metallica but it sounds like a constant drone when you add in Lou Reed’s spoken word poetry that is so immersed in late ’60s hippie culture. It’s two different forms of music that completely clash. I understand poetry…..I’ve read many different poets’ works and I even used to write some myself so I understand it’s an expression and, believe me, Reed expresses himself. But does it makes sense? Does it go with the Heavy Metal score that Metallica produces? My interest was solely to find out if this was going to be the train wreck I thought it would be and I was right. Forget ST. ANGER (2003), LULU is the worst album Metallica has ever put their name to! I’m going to get emails that tell me that this isn’t a Metallica album or a Lou Reed album but a collaborative project…..if that’s the case, come up with a better name than “Lou Reed & Metallica”, using their respective names leads both fanbases down the primrose path. The music is fine but it gets killed by Reed’s semi-coherent spoken word babble. I made it through one listen and it was hard to do, I mean it’s really bad! Thank god I bought this used and cheap! Absolutely the worst album of 2011!

#2

Queensryche – Dedicated To Chaos (2011): Queensryche should be thanking Metallica and Lou Reed for releasing such a turd this year because DEDICATED TO CHAOS was the clear cut winner of the Worst Album award until LULU. Let me start out by saying that I was really looking forward to a new Queensryche album because I was under the impression that the band was going to continue moving forward with the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal direction they went with on AMERICAN SOLDIER (2009). I thought that AMERICAN SOLDIER was a great comeback for a band that had been floundering with their sound and direction for years, that album was so good that any Queensryche fan would be excited for a new record. I even ran out and bought the deluxe version so I could have the extra three bonus tracks! Unfortunately, Queensryche disappoints again! The album starts off well with the late ’90s sound of ‘Get Started’ but that’s where the good times end. The songs slow down, get grungy, industrial, even Nu-Metal in some spots. I knew there was a problem when I heard the word “YouTube” in the lyrics for ‘Hot Spot Junkie’. Lead singer, and band leader, Geoff Tate has made no bones about his dislike of the Progressive Metal, or Heavy Metal, label that gets attached to the band. Geoff tries his best to steer Queensryche away from the Metal genre (listen to 2003’s TRIBE) any chance he gets. At least the music is listenable even if the lyrics are just bad, as is the “slave to technology” theme that fills the album. I’m not digging all the effects used for dramatic license to enhance the songs. In the grand scheme of things I guess DEDICATED TO CHAOS isn’t awful like LULU, it’s more of a major disappointment and an obvious setback to a great band. It’s not unlistenable like LULU in the fact that it blows but in the fact that it sounds nothing like classic Queensryche.

The Top 5 DVDs of 2011

2011 was a pretty good year for music DVDs and I made sure I picked up my fair share. Actually, this turned out to be one of my better years for DVDs, I bought straight up DVD release but I also picked up a few special CD/DVD releases that turned up in The Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2011. Bands and labels are continuing to raise the bar by putting a lot of content into these DVDs so that the fans get a lot of value for their hard earned dollar and most of them are very well done. I wanted to list pure DVDs here but I’m realizing that some of these special package releases technically qualify for this category because, well, they include a DVD! I think that I’ll have to revisit my criteria for 2012 and there may be some overlap between the best DVD list and the best miscellaneous list. Here is my list of  The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2011:

#1

Lemmy (49% Motherfucker. 51% Son of a Bitch) (2011): This documentary on Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister was released in early 2011 (even though the date says 2010!) and it was the clear winner upon first view! You’re not going to find a bigger icon of Heavy Metal than Lemmy and you’re not going to find another band that hasn’t compromised themselves or their sound over a 36 year career like Motorhead. Well, there’s also AC/DC! For those who don’t own this DVD, you may have caught the edited version on VH-1 Classic…..that just doesn’t cut it for me! The uncut documentary if two hours long but the bonus footage on the second DVD adds over three more hours! That’s over fiver hours of interviews, concert footage, current and archival footage, backstage action and basically Lemmy’s every day existence. It’s great to get a glimpse of a rock star’s life and watching this document of Lemmy’s lifestyle is eye-opening. It’s not all mansions, money and sex…..it’s hard work, hard drinking, candid conversation and a unique way of living. I could go on and on but those who love Metal know that Lemmy is just as much an icon, just as much a founding father of Heavy Metal, as Ozzy, Iommi, Dio, Halford and Blackmore are. Looking into his life and career in five hours probably doesn’t uncover the surface. One of my favorite parts of the DVD is in the beginning when you get a look at Lemmy (with his son) in his L.A. apartment…..talk about being a prime candidate for the TV show Hoarders! Easily this was the best DVD of 2011 and one of the best of the last few years, highly recommended.

#2

Deep Purple – Phoenix Rising (2011): Had there not been a five hour DVD on Lemmy, PHOENIX RISING would have been my top DVD of 2011. This DVD set is a special edition DVD/CD covering the Mark IV lineup of Deep Purple that included Jon Lord, Ian Paice, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and Tommy Bolin performing live in Japan in December 1975 and an documentary on the band titled ‘Gettin’ Tighter’. Also included is a bonus interview from December ’75 in Jakarta with Glenn Hughes & Jon Lord, an electronic press kit for the COME TASTE THE BAND record and two awesome booklets full of vintage pictures, articles and a great history. Add the audio CD that includes rare live tracks from the Mark IV lineup on tour in Japan and Long Beach, California and you’ve got a serious package for Purple fans. When you think of Deep Purple, you really don’t think past the classic lineup of Blackmore/Paice/Lord/Gillan/Glover (Mark II) or the Mark III lineup that included Coverdale and Hughes replacing Ian Gillan and Roger Glover…..there really isn’t much out there documenting the Mark IV lineup but this DVD package makes up for it. Deep Purple is one of the most consistent bands of all-time despite various (many!) lineup changes.

#3

AC/DC – Live At River Plate (2011): AC/DC is another band that just churns out consistently good material all the time, this time around it’s the excellent LIVE AT RIVER PLATE concert DVD. The DVD was shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina in December 2009 on the Black Ice World Tour and features the full 19 song setlist that was featured throughout the tour, including the concert I attended in Foxboro, MA on the U.S. run. Obviously this is like a tour souvenir for me but if you attended this tour then you know that the band was at their best and the show was excellent. It’s a big stage production that looks great on my 52″ HDTV and the 32 camera HD production makes it like you’re actually there. Aside from the concert is the bonus documentary and the show opening animation that started each concert. Of all the DVDs I bought this year, LIVE AT RIVER PLATE is the best pure concert DVD.

#4

Iced Earth – Festivals Of The Wicked (2011): It was really tough to put this new Iced Earth live DVD at #4 because I really thought it was a great tour document for 2007 & 2008 for FRAMING ARMAGEDDON (2007) and THE CRUCIBLE OF MAN (SOMETHING WICKED Part 2) (2008). I’ve been a fan of Iced Earth since the early ’90s  and this double DVD set packs in 5 hours of Iced Earth with three full concerts featuring both Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Matt Barlow on lead vocals. Ripper performs on the Wacken Open Air Festival 2007 and Barlow at Rock Hard 2008 and Metal Camp Slovenia 2008, my favorite is the Wacken show because I’ve warmed up to the Ripper fronted Iced Earth more as the years have passed. Don’t get me wrong, the Matt Barlow eras of the band are the classic periods and sound but I love seeing Ripper perform. Add in the 60 minute documentary on the 2008 tour to start the first DVD with the bonus material videos and slideshows that end the second DVD and you’ve got a solid package. Up above, I stated that LIVE AT RIVER PLATE was the best pure concert DVD of 2011 but FESTIVALS OF THE WICKED comes close because of the three full shows. I probably should have made this a tie between AC/DC and Iced Earth but my attendance at the AC/DC show put them ahead of Iced Earth.

#5

Twisted Sister – Double Live: North Stage 1982 & New York Steel 2001 (2011): Twisted Sister is one of those bands that, as the years go by, I come to appreciate more and more. I’ve bought a few of the reissues, bought the Xmas record and DVD and I even saw the band live a few years ago but there really isn’t much future for live shows or a studio album. The one thing Twisted Sister does well is release DVDs of archival concert footage and this time around one of the most important concerts in the band’s career is featured – New York Steel 2001 – a concert for the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, a fund set up for the families of rescue personnel involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. That concert is the main reason to buy this DVD, not only is it a benefit show for a serious cause but it documents the band’s reunion after a 13 year breakup. For me, the North Stage show from the band’s 1982 club days is a bonus compared to the importance of the NY Steel 2001 concert but it’s also a great live document of the band just before they started recording their bebut album UNDER THE BLADE. Add in the fresh interviews from the band commenting on both shows and you have a solid DVD.

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.

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Albums I Missed in 2010

It never fails…..every year goes by and there are always a ton of albums I end up missing. There are so many new albums released every year that it’s almost impossible to keep up. Usually I spend the first two months of the new year acquiring all the albums I didn’t buy the previous year before all the new releases start to flood the market. 2010 was no exception as I missed more than a few notable Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums. The following is a list of albums I missed in 2010 that I picked up in 2011…..some of the albums I just didn’t buy until 2011, some I bought but never got around to listening to and some I just forgot about! As many of you collectors know, if you acquire a lot of albums, they tend to pile up, and my pile kept growing! The more the pile grows, the more albums get pushed to the bottom of the pile. With all the submissions coming in and all the albums out there to buy, things can get lost in the shuffle quick. The following list of albums are CDs that were either in a pile on my desk waiting to be listened to but I never had the opportunity to listen to or albums I picked up at some point in 2011.

Airbourne – No Guts, No Glory (Special Edition) (2010): I was a huge supporter of Airbourne when Runnin’ Wild came out in 2007 and I thought they were a breath of fresh air playing simple barroom boogie Hard Rock like their countrymen AC/DC. Airbourne impressed and I looked forward to a follow-up. When NO GUTS, NO GLORY was released I had every intention of buying it but then I found out there were multiple versions: the regular 13 song CD, the Japanese pressing with 4 bonus tracks, this special edition with 5 bonus tracks and another pressing that included the 18 song special edition and a bonus live DVD. Overwhelmed with the choices, and the various prices, I waited until I found the special edition with all the bonus tracks (no DVD) at a decent price. By the time I ordered it on Ebay and it was delivered it was already July, close to 5 months after it’s release, and my pile of 2010 albums was already large.

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony (2010) and Angel Of Babylon (2010): Just like the Airbourne album, I had to shop around to get these two albums. Both of these new Avantasia records were released in Europe before the U.S. so I had the choice of buying each CD separately as an import, buy the special edition that had both albums in digipaks with an expanded booklet for a lower price or wait for the inevitable U.S. release. I opted for the special edition on Ebay and spent about the same money I would have if I’d waited for the U.S. releases. WICKED and ANGEL are parts 2 and 3 of The Wicked Trilogy (part 1 is 2007’s THE SCARECROW, my favorite album of 2008) and I wanted to hear these so bad but by the time I bought these in May 2010 and they got into the pile, they ended up getting lost in the shuffle. These two albums are so good I have no reservations that they would have made my 2010 Year End Awards had I gotten around to listen to them.

Dream Evil – In The Night (2010): I’ve been a fan of Dream Evil since DRAGONSLAYER (2002) so this new record was on my radar when it was announced in early 2010. Here’s another case of my collector’s disease running wild because I wouldn’t settle for the regular CD version in the record store, I needed the limited edition digibook with the two bonus tracks and patch. That meant searching online, ordering on ebay, waiting for it to arrive and slotting it in my “neatly” ordered pile on my desk. I did get to listen to the album here and there but I didn’t give it enough proper spins to actually come to any conclusion about it’s merits. Of course, I took the time to give it a fair listen this year but too late to qualify for any of 2010’s awards.

Helloween – 7 Sinners (2010): Talk about missing a major album! I’ve listened to 7 SINNERS this past year and I’m kicking myself for not giving it proper time in 2010 because this would have easily made my 2010 Year End Awards! The problem here was that I was lucky enough to receive a promotional copy from the record label/PR people but that’s a completely separate pile. With all the CDs coming in from bands, labels and PR firms, not to mention the daily emails with promotional downloads…..I got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of music at my fingertips. Helloween has always been one of my favorite bands, and I have really enjoyed their last few albums, but they got lost in the shuffle of promos and it was definitely my loss last year.

Holy Grail – Crisis In Utopia (2010): I picked this up at the beginning of the year when I was burning all of my Xmas gift cards but this ended up getting lost in the shuffle with all the 2011 releases coming out early and often. I did spin this for awhile this past year and it’s a really good Power Metal record from another solid new band…..the lineage here is that Holy Grail is an off-shoot of White Wizzard (one of my favorite new bands) s0 this was going to get more interest albeit late interest. I’m not sure if this would have made any of my year end lists but it was definitely a solid album and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Holy Grail in the future.

Issa – Sign Of Angels (2010): I ended up accidently deleting the digital promo I received from Frontiers Records after one spin but that was enough to put Issa on the want list. I ended up waiting to buy SIGN OF ANGELS because of the high import price at the local record shop, buying online would have cost more with shipping. Plus I had the digital promo but once it deleted, I had to have it. Really solid Hard Rock with a Pop sensibility, the songs are melodic and catchy and Issa has a great voice with looks to match! Compared to other bands on this list, this album is almost a little out of place but it was a really good break from the harder side of Metal. Actually, if this album was released 20 years ago, it would have easily charted and sold…..definitely an album I should have explored more when it first came out.

Lillian Axe – Deep Red Shadows (2010): I have no idea what my problem is with new albums from Lillian Axe but I buy them and I never get around to them! The same thing happened with the last two Lillian Axe releases…..I buy them immeadiately, give them an initial play and they get put in the pile only to be lost for months. DEEP RED SHADOWS was another casualty of the ever growing pile of CDs on my desk and I actually feel kind of bad about it because I’ve listened to more classic Lillian Axe than I have the new stuff and the new stuff is really great! There’s another new album coming in 2012 and I swear that this time I’m not going to make this band a pile casualty.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Relentless (2010): RELENTLESS is the second Yngwie album in a row that was released late in the year and ended up getting no airplay until the new year. Is there a reason why Yngwie has to do this to me? The same thing happened when PERPETUAL FLAME came out late in 2008 and I totally missed it! RELENTLESS is the second album in a row where Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens offers his talented pipes to Yngwie’s guitar arsenal and it’s another great match, one I hope Yngwie keeps for more new records. I was able to listen to this over the course of this year and it’s one of the better Malmsteen albums of recent years, definitely a record that would have made some noise on my 2010 lists.

Y&T – Facemelter (2010): Another pile casualty! I picked up FACEMELTER a few weeks after it came out because the prices online were too steep for this Frontiers release and my local record store didn’t have it stoced. I found it in stock at another store about an hour from my home and I decided I couldn’t pass it up when i found it. I gave the album one listen and piled it. I have to get a lot more spins in because Y&T is scheduled to play a show in Rhode Island in early March 2012 and I want to know some of the new tunes to go along with all those Y&T classics!