The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40)

2009 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I am still very lucky to have many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review, to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU! Without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases and discovered some new bands. I have totalled up the CDs and there were 125 albums up for this year’s honors!

The only criteria I followed for my Top 40 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection AND the album had to be released in 2009. In the beginning of the year I decided that an album that was released in 2008, but was released in 2009 for the U.S., qualified as a 2009 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I more than doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into three posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26 – #40):

#40

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

#39

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

#38

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

#37

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

#36

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

#35

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

#34

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

#33

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

#32

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

#31

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

#30

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

#29

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

#28

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

#27

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

#26

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

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

CD Scavenger Hunt – catching up edition

It’s been a long time since I updated what I’ve picked up at the local shops and online so here’s a list of what I’ve bought in the last couple of months…..

Ebay

UFO – No Place To Run (1980/2009 reissue), The Wild, The Willing & The Innocent (1981/2009 reissue), Mechanix (1982/2009 reissue), Making Contact (1983/2009 reissue), Misdemeanor (1985/2009 reissue) – $50: OK, that’s a lot of albums! I already own all the UFO album except for MISDEMEANOR and I had been searching for the 2000 Japanese pressing to complete my set…..it goes for $50+ on Ebay. Same thing with MAKING CONTACT, I own a Japanese copy but not the 2000 import with the bonus tracks. So what is so special about these new reissues? The first thing is that they are remastered, that doesn’t really affect me. The second is the bonus tracks from the 2000 reissues plus more bonus tracks added in. Third, these new reissues are cheaper and easier to get! I ended up buying MISDEMEANOR from one seller and the other four from another. I wasn’t planning on buying so many of these reissues but I ended up getting a good deal from the second seller on CD price and shipping. I ended spending $50 total for 5 CDs, that includes the shipping charges.

CD Inzane

Want to try a good online store? Visit CD Inzane, I use them all the time and they always have what I want at a slightly better price than a couple other stores I use. They also have things in stock, some places advertise titles before the have it in stock and then you have to wait until they get it in. Here’s my last order, $101 total with free shipping…..

U.D.O. - Dominator (2009)U.D.O. – Dominator (2009) – $25: This was my most expensive purchase but I couldn’t wait for the U.S. release. I ended up spending an extra $10 for the European edition with the bonus track ‘Pleasure In The Darkroom’ and the video for ‘Black & White’. Usually Udo Dirkschneider is good about releasing the album bonus tracks on a pre-release E.P. but this time around it didn’t happen. I’m a big U.D.O. fan so I didn’t mind spending the extra money, I already knew what the album sounded like because I was lucky enough to get a digital promo copy from AFM Records, you can read the review here.

cage-science-of-annihilation-2009Cage – Science Of Annihilation (2009) – $11: I have been waiting to pick up the latest Cage album for a while now. Just like the U.D.O. album, I was lucky to receive a digital promo download of the album so I could review it. The problem was that the download didn’t go through and I was left with nothing to review. I was going to pick this up anyway, download or not, because Cage is an excellent U.S. Power Metal band and all of their albums are great.

Jorn Lande - Spirit Black (2009)Jorn Lande – Spirit Black (2009) – $14: The new Jorn Lande album has been on my list for a while but I just never got around to picking it up. I saw one copy at the local record store and they haven’t restocked it since. CD Inzane had a great price for the European import digipak with the bonus track ‘The Sun Goes Down’ so I decided not to wait any longer. I’m not sure if the U.S. version has the bonus track but I know that I paid at least two or three dollars less than I would have in the record store.

FarCryHighGearFarCry – High Gear (2009) – $11: I’m not sure where I heard about FarCry first but all of a sudden most of the websites I frequent were raving about the band and this debut album. Usually solid melodic Hard Rock like this comes from Europe but FarCry is an all American band and they sound similar to bands like Danger Danger, Bon Jovi, Tyketto and Firehouse. So far, one of the best new bands I’ve heard this year!

outloud-cdOutloud – We’ll Rock You To Hell And Back Again! (2009) – $16: Another new band that I’ve had on my list to check out. Outloud has been getting a ton of great reviews and it’s another ’80s styled melodic Hard Rock album Frontiers Records is well known for. I had been watching Ebay and other online vendors but I saved close to $4 + shipping by ordering it through CD Inzane. So far it’s a great record…..you have to love the album cover, it reminds me of some old obscure ’80s record.

Bitchfire2009Bitchfire – s/t (2009) – $10: All I know about Bitchfire is that lead singer Sharyn Peach had been a singer on the Boston, MA rock scene for a number of years. I was researching local bands and I somehow landed on Bitchfire, found a few reviews and decided to give the band a shot. This is an independent release from the band so I was able to track it down at a decent price. I haven’t given it a spin yet but I’m hopeful.

UZI - MadhouseUZI – Madhouse (2009) – $13: UZI is one of those obscure late ’80s/early ’90s Hard Rock bands that came out just when the overblown L.A. scene was starting to unravel. MADHOUSE is a reissue of 10 long lost songs from UZI’s recording sessions close to 20 years ago. I like hearing obscure bands from back in the day and I read a lot of positive reviews so I ordered this one too. I was a sucker for the band name and the album cover, I might have given this a shot if I had found it in the record stores.

Record Stores

Megadeth endgameMegadeth – Endgame (2009) – $12: One of the most highly anticipated albums of the year! I ran out the day ENDGAME was released and pick it up at the great sale price but I still haven’t unwrapped it! That’s the thing with me and Megadeth…..I buy all the band’s albums but I end up getting around to them weeks/months later. I did the same thing with UNITED ABOMINATIONS and felt like an idiot after I finally gave it a listen.

ace-frehley-anomaly-2009Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009) – $10: Of course I ran out to Best Buy the day ANOMALY came out, I’ve been waiting 6 or 7 years for Ace to finally release this album after so much talk about it when he left KISS again. It’s been 20 years since Ace released TROUBLE WALKIN’ (1989), and his contributions to KISS – PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998) were limited, so it’s cool to hear Ace take flight with an all new record. Pretty cool artwork and packaging on top of a great album.

KISS - Sonic Boom (2009)KISS – Sonic Boom (2009) – $12: If I ran out the day of release for the new Ace Frehley album then you better believe this KISS diehard was at Wal-Mart at 9am after I dropped my kids at school! The first all new KISS studio album in 11 years, Paul Stanley in full control, and a bonus CD and DVD for $12…..that’s a deal! I already have the greatest hits bonus CD because I bought the Japanese import last year. The DVD is a nice preview of the tour but the real reason to buy this is the new songs…..so far I’m really enjoying it.

anvil-this-is-thirteen-2007Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007/2009 reissue) – $10: I’ve had this album since late 2007 when I bought it directly from the Anvil website. Two years later, the band is re-releasing the album on VH-1 Classic Records due to all the hype and success of the documentary ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL. Why not capitalize on the success and get the latest album distributed to a wider audience? The reissue gets a bonus track, the previously unreleased ‘Thumb Hang’.

3inches_doom3 Inches Of Blood – Here Waits Thy Doom (2009) – $10: 3 Inches Of Blood has become one of my favorite new Metal bands so I’m always on top of their new records. This was another highly anticipated release for me but I haven’t given this a spin yet! I’m not really sure what my problem is, I bought it right away and it’s made it’s way into the famous “pile”. I’m going to have to pull this out and listen this week.

SUNSTORM - house of dreamsSunstorm – House Of Dreams (2009) – $16: The smoothest singer in all of Rock is back with another Sunstorm project…..I will buy anything Joe Lynn Turner sings on. I had the first Sunstorm album when it first came out and it was excellent AOR/melodic Hard Rock so I was expecting much of the same from this new record. Nothing is better than a JLT record, his last solo album was one of my top albums of 2007.

Trouble - Simple Mind ConditionTrouble – Simple Mind Condition (2009) – $15: What did this take, a decade to finally get released? Trouble was one of those bands back in the day that I always thought would be HUGE! Great records like THE SKULL, PSALM 9, and MANIC FRUSTRATION. This album has had so many delays and so the U.S. release date was pushed back so many times. It’s been out in Europe since 2007 but the prices were high and the availability limited. It’s out now and time to enjoy some Trouble.

white-wizzard-high-speed-gtoWhite Wizzard – High Speed GTO (2009) – $9: Another new band that I really don’t know much about except that they are from Los Angeles and they play old school Heavy Metal. I like the band name, the logo and the cover art of the album…..it all screams NWOBHM or early U.S. Metal. It’s a 7 song disc so it’s more of an E.P. that a full length album, the band has another 7 song E.P. from 2008 titled WHITE WIZZARD that I am seeking out.

death - scream bloody goreDeath – Scream Bloody Gore (1987) – $10: My quest for trying out more extremem forms of Metal brought me to Death’s classic debut album, SCREAM BLOODY GORE. I’m determined to try out as many classic and newer Black & Death Metal bands as I can so I decided to go with what is regarded as one of the first proper Death metal albums. I’ve listened to it a few times and it’s really good, I can’t believe that I never got into Death during all these years.

Immortal - All Shall FallImmortal – All Shall Fall (2009) – $10: I’ve read a ton online about how reat Immortal was but I’ve never bothered to listen to a song. Again, I’m not the biggest Black Metal fan but I want to at least check out some of these bands so I know if I’m missing something. I had no idea that Immortal had a new album coming out so I picked it up to check out what they had to offer. Usually I like to buy the first album and work my way up but I couldn’t remember the name of their debut. Spending $10 to try something new is OK in my book.

The Story Of Anvil movie picAnvil – The Story Of Anvil DVD (2009) – $20: I have been waiting for this documentary to come out on DVD all year. Europe and Japan have had it for a few months but now VH-1 Classic Records is properly releasing the movie on DVD with extras. I already saw the movie back in May but I will still give this a full review soon, I can’t wait to watch it again. Good for Anvil, they deserve all their success!

Current Playlist

I may have let the blog go downhill a little but I have definitely been listening to a lot of music…..a lot of new releases that I’ve picked up recently. This has been another great year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! Here’s a sample of what I’ve been spinning…..

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): Of course I’m listening to the new KISS record! Nothing is better than your favorite band releasing a new album and this is 11 years in the making. I have to admit that I didn’t really get into SONIC BOOM after the first couple of spins but I’ve given it a lot of time and I’m starting to really enjoy it.

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Of course I’m listening to the new Ace album! So far I like it a lot better then KISS’ SONIC BOOM, he beat them to the punch by releasing his new album first. Ace always had the talent, he just lacked the focus, ANOMALY proves that.

Queensryche – American Soldier (2009): I have this annoying habit of picking up albums when they are released and not listening to them, this is the case of the new Queensryche record. I’ve had it, it’s been sitting on my desk, it’s was still wrapped in the cellophane. I ended up putting it in and was impressed with the overall concept and performance. I wasn’t digging the idea of another Queensryche concept album but I’m really enjoying it.

Immortal – All Shall Fall (2009): I wanted to start getting into more extreme styles of Metal so I started picking up different Death & Black Metal bands up over the last few weeks. I’ve given this only a couple of spins and I’m not really sure what to make of it. Black Metal isn’t my first genre of choice but I’m keeping my mind, and ears, open.

Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud (2009): I’ve been listening to this a lot over the last few weeks. It’s really good melodic hard Rock that leans toward Def Leppard, Poison, Dokken and Bon Jovi…..one of my favorite albums this year.

Lita Ford – Wicked Wonderland (2009): The Queen Of Metal’s big comeback! I’ve given it two spins and I’m not overly impressed. Could be a grower so I’ll give it some more time.

Spinal Tap – Back From The Dead (2009): Love the movie, love the soundtrack, love BREAK LIKE THE WIND (1992). I’m not sure if Tap’s brand of comic Metal is what we need in 2009 but it’s a cool break from the ultra-serious way the scene usually is. I could have gone for a straight up new record but I’ll take the re-done classics as a bonus.

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009): I still can’t get enough of this album, one of my favorites of the year. I still wish there were more faster songs though.

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): One of my top albums since it came out back in January. Saxon is one of those bands that I can never get enough of and INTO THE LABYRINTH satisfies both the old school NWOBHM fan in me as well as the Power Metal fan in me. This will definitely be in the running for this year’s best.

Ted Poley – Greatestits (2009): Search for the cover and you’ll understand the spelling! 2 CDs, 23 songs, all spanning Ted Poley’s career after Danger Danger. There are some excellent songs here and now I’m making a list of all the Poley projects I don’t have and need to buy.