CD Scavenger Hunt – June update

Another month behind as usual but here’s a large purchase update from June. I’m breaking it up just a little because the beginning of the month was boring but I caught a huge sale at the record store mid-month and Ebay was really good again…..

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Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 CD (2013) – $14
Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose (2013) – $12
Anvil – Hope In Hell (2013) – $9
Black Sabbath – 13 (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $15
Burning Rain – Obsession (2013) – $10
Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 BluRay (2013) – $14
Megadeth – Supercollider (2013) – $12
Aerosmith – Pandora’s Box (1991) – $20 used

The beginning of the month wasn’t really exciting, just catching some new releases on sale. I picked up the new live Dio CD and the new Black Star Riders (aka Thin Lizzy) and I wanted the Dio BluRay but they only had Finding The Sacred Heart on DVD. Opened the Amazon app on my phone and started price comparisons while in the store! Found the Dio BluRay for $14 saving $2 in the process compared to the in store sale price. I started comparing the prices on the new Anvil ($4 difference), Black Sabbath ($2 difference), Burning Rain ($6 difference), Megadeth ($1 difference) so I placed an order right away. I saved $15 by checking my phone while in the record store! I know, buying online kills record shops, and I’m against killing record shops but how can I deny saving $15 online compared to the SALE prices in the store? And I also saved the sales tax! I ended up taking that $15 savings and applying it to a used original pressing of the Aerosmth Pandora’s Box set for $20 so the store still got my business.

W.E.T. – Rise Up (2013) – $18
Snakecharmer – s/t (2013) – $18
Gloryhammer – Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife (Deluxe Edition) – $0
Jorn – Traveller (2013) – $18
Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – The Land Of New Hope (2013) – $17
U.D.O. – Steelhammer (2013) – $0
Children Of Bodom – Halo Of Blood (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $16
Bon Jovi – What About Now (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $15 used
Rhapsody Of Fire – Live From Chaos To Eternity (2013) – $0
Anthrax – Among The Living (1987) – $8 used
Anthrax – I’m The Man (1987) – $8 used
Slayer – Christ Illusion (2006) – $0 used
Anthrax – Spreading The Disease (1985) – $6 used
Warrel Dane – Praises To The War Machine (2008) – $4 used
Mercyful Fate – Into The Unknown (1996) – $0 used

I’ve been debating the Amazon vs. record store thing for a while but you can never pass up a great sale at the record store. Newbury Comics had a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” on all CDs mid-month so I decided to drive the 20 minutes to the Warwick, RI location with my daughter for some bargains. Is it wrong to teach my kid that you have to be first in line at the door before they open and you race for everything? That’s how it was back in the day. Of course, we were first but also the only ones there…..we got first dibs! Within 15 minutes the place was packed but I already grabbed a handbasket and had the major purchases inside. The goal was to get a lot of new releases from this year that I’ve passed on and I did an awesome job.

(Here’s a tip for all you record store rookies…..if you have the opportunity to go to the record store before a big sale like this, go immediately and put all the CDs you really want in one spot. That way you won’t miss out! I like to hide Metal CDs in the Classical section the day before. Who really shops the Classical section? How many times do you think the staff organizes the Classical section?)

Guilty as charged, I went the night before and hid 9 new releases. Did I think I was going to miss out? Maybe…..its happened before. And what if I was late getting there? Good thing I was in the area the day before! So the first 9 CDs were all high priced new releases NOT on sale (the staff usually pulls most sale stickers in advance). Some of these releases are imports (that means anything from Frontiers Records) so the new album from the Jeff Scott Soto led W.E.T. and the new Snakecharmer were $18 each but I saved $18 getting the limited edition Gloryhammer CD for free. Jorn Lande’s new album, Traveller, was expensive (AFM Records) at $18 and so was Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, The Land Of New Hope, at $17 but I scored the new U.D.O. album for free and saved $17. Saved $35 so far! I saved another $14 when I got the latest double disc live album from Rhapsody Of Fire for free when I paired it with the deluxe edition of Halo Of Blood from Children Of Bodom for $16 on sale and a $15 used copy of Bon Jovi’s What About Now (also deluxe). If you look at these CDs, the Rhapsody Of Fire was on sale for $14 but regular was $16 and both Children Of Bodom and Bon Jovi had regular prices of $22!

After I grabbed all the “hidden” CDs, I started on the used bins. I found three Anthrax albums I didn’t have on CD but have on cassette, an original pressing of Slayer’s Christ Illusion (recently reissued), and two cheap copies of Warrel Dane and Mercyful Fate. I saved $7 on the Slayer by pairing it with two Anthrax CDs, and I saved $4 on the Mercyful Fate. Total savings on free CDs this trip = $60.

Richie Sambora – Stranger In This Town (1991) – $5.50 used
Bruce Kulick – Audio Dog (2001) – $12.70
Cutty Sark – Die Tonite (1984) – $10 used vinyl
Cutty Sark – Heroes (1985) – $10 used vinyl
Rainbow – Finyl Vinyl (1983/1999 2CD reissue) – $13 used
KISS – Monster (International Tour Edition) – $16
Coney Hatch – s/t (1982) – $7 used vinyl
Coney Hatch – Outa Hand (1983) – $7 used vinyl
Coney Hatch – Friction (1985) – $7 used vinyl
Cheap Trick – Sex, America, Cheap Trick Box Set (1996) – $17.50 used

Can’t forget Ebay! I always watch Ebay daily because there have always been bargains since I joined in 1999. It’s not the same as it was back then but, if you search properly, the bargains are still there. I found the Richie Sambora solo album while watching a Bruce Kulick solo album from the same seller. I missed Bruce Kulick but got Richie Sambora and then had to go to another seller and pay slightly extra for Audio Dog. I picked up the two Cutty Sark vinyl LPs while searching for Die Tonite on CD at a decent price. After careful communication with the seller about the LPs condition, I pulled the trigger and paid a little extra for fast shipping. Finyl Vinyl fills the last hole in my Rainbow collection and it’s the complete two disc version and the international edition of KISS Monster was necessary for the bonus track ‘Right Here Right Now’ that was only previously available on iTunes. Add the digipak format and poster along with the bonus track to make it even more necessary for this KISS diehard. Technically, my international version is from Canada and this is the 4th version I own of this album (I also have the original release, the Wal-Mart zine pak and the Best Buy version with the 3D cover)…..all I need is a Japanese import or a German version with the alternate KISS logo! I bought more vinyl while researching Coney Hatch CDs and I got copies in really awesome condition but the real gem from Ebay this month was the Cheap Trick box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick. I’ve been immersing myself in all things Cheap Trick and I had to have this rarities box set but it’s out of print and high priced most of the time. I picked this up for $15 plus $2.50 shipping because the seller misspelled Cheap as “Cheep”. Another bargain through someone else’s mistake!

Total = $339.70

Total (year) = $1446.50

Average Price (per item) = $10.88

Total CDs (year) = 116

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 4

Total LPs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) =7

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NOTE:
Just to compare, here’s the mid-year totals from 2012…..

Total (year) = $1171

Average Price (per item) = $8.87

Total CDs (year) = 127

Total DVDs & Blu-Rays (year) = 5

CD Scavenger Hunt – May update

In keeping with the tradition of not posting the Hunts at the end of the proper months, here is another big update, this time for this past May…..

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Fozzy – Happenstance (2002) – $4 used
High Noon – No Turning Back (2009) – $6 used
Lance King – A Moment In Chiros (2011) – $6 used
Heaven’s Edge – s/t (1990) – $12 used
Rush – Moving Pictures (1980) – $2.50
Rush – Signals (1982) – $2.50
Deep Purple – Now What?! (2013, Deluxe Edition) – $16
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Control (2013) – $12
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Blood Lust (2012) – $15
Queensryche – Frequency Unknown (2013) – $10
Stratovarius – Nemesis (2013) – $10
Avantasia – The Mystery Of Time (2013) – $10
Amaranthe – The Nexus (2013) – $10
Free Fall – Power & Volume (2013) – $10
Ugly Kid Joe – Stairway To Hell E.P. (2012) – $6

Poison – Sexyback (promo CD single) (2007) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Black Earth (1996) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Burning Bridges (1999) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Wages Of Sin (2001) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Dead Eyes See No Future E.P. (2004) – $7 used
Shok Paris – Go For The Throat (1984) – $7 used
Shok Paris – Steel & Starlight (1987) – $11 used
Shok Paris – Concrete Killers (1989) – $11 used
Trixter – New Audio Machine (2012) – $12
Waysted – Save Your Prayers (1986/2013 reissue) – $10
Jorn – Symphonic (2013) – $11
Torch – Electrikiss (1985) – $14 used
Airbourne – Black Dog Barking (Special Edition) (2013) – $22.50
Armored Saint – March Of The Saint (1984) – $9.25 used
Armored Saint – Delirious Nomad (1985) – $9.25 used

May was a really good month but I kind of stayed away from the record stores and did more online. I’m torn right now because technology is providing me a means to compare prices on Amazon and Ebay while I’m in the record store and I’m making decisions based on price. I’ve always been a record store rat and I always will be but, I buy and devour so much music yearly, that I need to save as much money as possible. I support local record stores but it’s hard to when Amazon offers the same CD cheaper than the record store sale prices and no sales tax. No shipping for me because I’m an Amazon Prime member and the membership has already paid for itself. Let’s move on to the treasures I found…..

My first outing of the month was a quiet one. I hadn’t planned to go to Newbury Comics but I was driving through Warwick, RI and decided to stop in. I picked up the Fozzy, High Noon, Lance King and Heaven’s Edge CDs all in the used bin for some really great prices. The Lance King CD replaces the promo digital download that Lance’s label, Nightmare Records, sent me to review but the gem was the original pressing of the self-titled Heaven’s Edge album. It’s a highly bootlegged CD and there have been some shoddy reissues so I was cool spending $12 for a used CD. I checked Ebay while I was in the store and original pressings were listed for $25+ so I feel like I got a bargain. After the record shop, I went across the street to Best Buy so I could burn a $5 off coupon that was expiring the next day. Best Buy doesn’t have much of a selection and they aren’t big on organization so it can be a crap shoot finding a gem. I knew what I wanted…..Rush! I’ve been filling the holes in my Rush CD collection with Best Buy purchases because they are all $5 each so I grabbed Moving Pictures (1980) and Signals (1982). Take that $5 coupon off the $10 total and I got both for $2.50! My last trip out before I went online shopping was to my usual Newbury Comics location in North Attleboro, MA to grab the new Deep Purple album special edition. I wanted the CD/DVD edition so I paid a little extra than the regular CD. While I was there the store was playing the new Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats record, Mind Control, so I added that in on sale and caved in to buy their 2012 release Blood Lust also.

Now we get to the dilemma…..online vs. record stores. I had been watching a few new releases at the record stores and passed on them because I either thought the sale price was too high or I was skeptical about the material therein. The releases in question were the new albums from Geoff Tate’s version of Queensryche, Stratovarius, Avantasia, Amaranthe and Free Fall.  The Queensryche record has gotten terrible reviews so I was holding out for a used copy and I was actually shopping for the new Stratovarius online for the special ecition with three bonus tracks and those two were well stocked at the sale price. Also, I wasn’t in the mood for another concept record so I passed on Avantasia on sale and I really wanted to try out Amaranthe and Free Fall but those CDs were available at regular price. I finally caved in towards the end of the month and checked the prices on Ebay and Amazon and decided that the best value was to order through Amazon. I got all five CDs for $10 each ($50 total) with free shipping (I have Prime) and no sales tax, had I bought in the record store, with sale prices, the total would have been $68. So I actually saved $18 for the same exact items on Amazon vs. my favorite Newbury Comics…..that’s 1 or 2 CDs! If the Queensryche, Stratovarius and Avantasia albums were bought in store at their respective regular prices ($17 each regular price) then my total in store would have jumped to $80. And those figures in store don’t include state sales tax! The savings is obvious and I guess that’s why record stores are having a hard time competing. As a bonus for saving all that money, I also ordered a hard copy of the Ugly Kid Joe E.P. that I bought digitally back in 2012. The actual CD was $6 so it wasn’t a large add on.

Ebay was extremely lucrative in May. There were a few CDs I paid a little extra for and there were some good bargains. I had to have Poison’s cover of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexyback’ but I didn’t want the entire Poison’d covers album so I found the CD single for a cheap $4 + $3 shipping. As soon as that CD was taken off the want list, I focused on Shok Paris. I found a copy of Go For The Throat from a seller who was also selling a four CD lot of Arch Enemy CDs I needed so I went for both auctions and won for a grand total of $35. So I’m averaging $7 per CD on Ebay but the rest of the month was higher. I finished the Shok Paris discography (Steel & Starlight and Concrete Killers) for $11 each, grabbed the latest Trixter record from 2012 for a cheap $12 (replacing the promo download I was sent), the Waysted – Save Your Prayers 2013 reissue from Cherry Red Records and Jorn Lande’s Symphonic album for $11. I grabbed a CD copy of Torch – Electrikiss even though I already own the vinyl…..I’ve never seen a CD version so I grabbed it for $11 + $3 shipping and it’s in mint condition. The CD says Metal Blade for a label and I checked all Metal Blade releases through 2002 (through the anniversary box set) and didn’t see it listed. I think it was a Metal Blade Europe release and it’s a real silver pressed, factory made CD…..I’m still researching it. I had to have the new Airbourne album but I wanted the 2 disc special edition so that cost me a total of $22.50 and the seller who sold me the Arch Enemy lot had both Armored Saint CDs listed in one lot so I grabbed that for $18.50.

Total = $284

Total (year) = $1106.80

Average Price (per item) = $11.07

Total CDs (year) = 91

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 3

Total LPs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) =5

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

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

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

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August update

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

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

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

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

September update

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

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

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

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

October update

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

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

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

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

November update

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

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

December update

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

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

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

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

Final 2012 Totals

Total (year) = $1804

Average Price (per item) = $7.71

Total CDs (year) = 227

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

Total iTunes Downloads (year) = 1

Just a quick analysis…..

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

Let the hunt continue!

CD Scavenger Hunt – July update

The Heavy Metal train keeps rolling to my 30th Anniversary of being a proud Metalhead (August 16th I turn 40!) and there is always plenty to buy! Lots of new releases, used CD treasure and great sales made of another productive, and expensive, month…..

Newbury Comics North Attleboro and Newbury Comics Warwick

Jorn Lande – Bring Heavy Rock To The Land (2012) – $13
Nile – At The Gate Of Sethu (2012) – $12
Machine Head – Unto The Locust (CD/DVD) (2011) – $15 used
Savage Messiah – Plague Of Conscience (2012) – $0 used

My first trip into the North Attleboro store was to take advantage of the sale price on the new Jorn Lande CD. Knowing it was out on Frontiers Records, it was an easy $20 but the sale price saved me $7. I didn’t have to run out for it because the label sent me the promo download but I always support my favorite artists and Jorn is one of the premier Metal singers out there. My second trip was to pick up the new Ozzy DVD and the new Nile album. When I got there, the two copies of the Speak Of The Devil ’82 DVD were sold out so I opted to take advantage of the “buy 1, get 1 free” sale on used discs…..I grabbed the last Machine Head album, Unto The Locust, and the new Savage Messiah record. The Machine Head cost me $15 used but I got the Savage Messiah free so what could have been $35 at regular price, or $23 used price, only cost the $15…..saved more than half on albums I needed. I snagged the new Nile on the way to the counter…..I never got into Nile back in the late ’90s but I’ve always wanted to pick up their 1998 debut full-length Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka. Everytime Nile releases a new record, I get the same urge to buy up some of their CDs so I fired up Spotify this time to stream their back catalog…..real solid Death Metal with Egyptian themes…..and the aren’t Egyptian, they are from South Carolina! Saved $6 buying the day of release and got the deluxe version with the two bonus instrumentals.

Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil (Live From Irvine Meadows ’82) DVD (2012) – $13
Icarus Witch – Rise (2012) – $16
HellYeah – Band Of Brothers (2012) – $12
Defender – They Came Over The High Pass (1999) – $2 used
Glenn Tipton – Baptizm Of Fire (1996/2006 reissue) – $3 used
Broken Teeth – Viva La Rock Fantastico (2009) – $4 used
Superjoint Ritual – A Lethal Dose Of American Hatred (2003) – $4 used
Agent Steel – Skeptics Apocalypse (1985/1998 reissue) – $5 used

My trip into the Warwick store in mid-July was to get the new Ozzy DVD because it was out of stock in North Attleboro. While I was there, I picked up the new Icarus Witch and HellYeah albums. Ozzy and HellYeah were on sale so I saved a few bucks but I had to pay full price for the new Icarus Witch…..it was a must buy because they are one of my favorite traditional Heavy Metal bands of the last 6 years and I’ve been following them since their first E.P. While I was there, I decided to grab a few used CDs that were low in price and I had put together in a certain section of the used Metal CD racks…..the Defender CD was nice and cheap for a Power Metal album and I’d been watching it for awhile, same with the Superjoint Ritual album, but I scored a great newer album with the used Broken Teeth CD. The Agent Steel CD was set aside in my hiding spot because I thought I already owned it but I didn’t and I grabbed the Glenn Tipton reissue because I passed on it when it came out in 2006. Baptizm Of Fire wasn’t that great of a record back when it was first released in 1996 but I can’t resist bonus tracks forever!

Luca Turilli’s Rhaposdy – Ascending To Infinity (2012) – $12

Is it Rhapsody, Rhapsody Of Fire or Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody? The whole Rhapsody name change saga is a big pain in the ass: first they were Rhapsody and I got into their Symphonic/Epic Metal, then 10 years into their career they got sued by another band named Rhapsody for copyright issues and they went on as Rhapsody Of Fire to avoid confusion. Now founding guitarist Luca Turilli has left on good terms and formed a new Rhapsody as Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody and Rhapsody Of Fire is continuing on their own path. Did you get all that? All I know is that I like the Metal and I have two band’s to get my fix from. I went to the North Attleboro store quick while running a few errands and I grabbed this because it was the last copy I saw…..they had stocked at least 6 or 7 when it came out and I grabbed the last one with the sale price tag on it to save $6.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (2012) – $18
Running Wild – Shadowmaker (CD/DVD) (2012) – $18
Baroness – Yellow & Green (Deluxe) (2012) – $0
Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth (CD/DVD) (2012) – $16
Gojira – L’enfant Sauvage (2012) – $12
Crucified Barbara – The Midnight Chace – $0

Last day of the month and an awesome sale…..”Buy 2 get 1 Free on new & used CDs”. I got in the man-van (my rockin’ Kia Sedona!) and raced to North Attleboro when Newbury opened. Everytime I buy on one of these sales, the clerks always group like priced items together so I knew I had to pay a few extra dollars on a couple of CDs to get a similar one for free. Like the Jorn Lande album, I already had the digital promo of the new Crazy Lixx album from Frontiers but I wanted the actual CD for my collection and the new Running Wild disc has been on my list ever since Rock ‘n’ Ralf decided not to retire the band. Both of those CDs were regular price at $18 each but I scored the new Baroness double album for free. Yellow & Green just came out and I have the latest issue of Metal Hammer to thank for adding them to their free sampler CD, so I splurged on the deluxe packaged double disc album and saved the full $17 sale price ($22 regular). The new Testament album was the big release of the week so I bought the deluxe version on sale for $16, added the last copy of the new Gojira album that came out a few weeks ago (thanks again Metal Hammer!) and got the new Crucified Barbara CD for free and saved the full $10 sale price ($18 regular). I was going to buy the latest Dragonforce album that I didn’t get earlier in the year but I opted for the cheaper, and less available, option with Crucified Barbara.

Ebay

White Tiger – s/t (1986/1999 reissue) – $16 used
The Rods – Wild Dogs (1982/1997 reissue) – $12 used
Venom – Cast In Stone (1998) – $6 used

I got an Ebay alert for The Rods – Wild Dogs and I decided to finally try and win one of these CDs. I collect the now defunct German reissue label High Vaultage because of the genuine fan enthusiasm they put into each reissue, each one is chock full of bonus tracks, pictures and extensive liner notes. I noticed the same seller had a copy of Mark St. John’s post-KISS band White Tiger up for auction too so I bid and won on that as well. I added in the Venom album when I did some research and found out it was a 2CD set. All total with shipping was$34 for three albums I didn’t own.

Human Cometh

Human Cometh – HC II (2011) – $13

I was going through all my saved emails and I happened upon my email from the band Human Cometh promoting their second album, HC II. I ended up getting a promo download for review but I like to support the bands so, even though the band already sent me the digital download last year, I decided to go and ourchase the actual CD from the band’s website. Can’t beat any CD that has free shipping so I paid with Paypal and it was a done deal. Unfortunately, the CD hasn’t arrived in the mail yet but I checked and it’s on it’s way!

Total = $222

Total (year) = $1393

Average Price (per item) = $8.99

Total CDs (year) = 149

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

The Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2010

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 2010…..

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol Deluxe Edition (1987/2010): Black Sabbath is one of my favorite bands and the Tony Martin era of the band is one of the most underrated eras of any band. It’s no secret that I prefer the Dio era and the Martin era to the Ozzy era (I like the Ozzy era too!) so I’ve been collecting these Sabbath deluxe editions all along. The original release of THE ETERNAL IDOL was in 1987 and was the last album under Sabbath’s Warner Bros. contract but did you know that Tony Martin wasn’t the original vocalist that recorded the album? Sabbath fans know that Ray Gillen, who replaced Glenn Hughes on THE SEVENTH STAR tour and would go on to front Badlands, did the original sessions. When Gillen left Black Sabbath, Tony Martin was brought in to re-cut the vocals and properly join the band. The original album is remastered and it sounds great but the gems here are the two B-Side singles ‘Black Moon’ and ‘Some Kind Of Woman’. Disc Two is the collectible for fans who don’t trade bootlegs: the Ray Gillen sessions! These sessions have been widely available in traders’ circles but I could never acquire a copy…..now I don’t have to!

Dio – At Donington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010): As a huge Dio fan, Ronnie’s death in May really affected me, the thought of my heavy metal heroes passing away was unbelievable because the music and the bands have meant so much to me for the last 28 years. With no new music coming from the Dio camp, unless there’s some unreleased material, it’s good to see that Ronnie’s wife and manager, Wendy Dio, is releasing archival material like this live set. Both shows have been cleaned up and sound great, you can hear the awesome power in Ronnie’s voice and both lineups are extremely tight. Both the 1983 and the 1987 sets are awesome but I keep reaching for the second disc for the DREAM EVIL setlist with tracks like ‘Dream Evil’, ‘Naked In The Rain’ and ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’ among the other Dio anthems and the Black Sabbath and Rainbow classics. Disc 1, the HOLY DIVER set, is no slouch either and might be most fans’ favorite of the two but I like the deeper tracks on Disc 2. A great live CD set that truly honors one of the greatest singers in Metal history.

Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010): Judas Priest have been my second favorite band since 1982 and BRITISH STEEL (1980) has been a big reason why. This 30th anniversary set was hard to come by because I wanted the three disc version rather than the two disc and it was definitely worth the search. The remastered album is already in my collection because it’s the same as the 2001 remaster but the reason to buy this is the live CD and DVD recorded in Florida on the 30th Anniversary tour. I saw the show in Mansfield 10 days before this show so the performance is like a tour souvenir for me. There are a lot of deluxe edition and limited edition reissues of older albums flooding the marketplace now and it’s good to see that some of them have the quality bonus material that this package does. My only complaint is that the label put out two versions: this one and a 2 disc without the live CD, it makes things confusing for the fans and harder to find what you want.

Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010): Has it really been 25 years since THE RIGHT TO ROCK came out? 1985 doesn’t seem that far away! The Keel reunion and new album was one of the reasons why THE RIGHT TO ROCK got a proper reissue on Frontiers Records. I’m putting this album in this list because I’ve had this album on both vinyl and cassette but a CD version is very hard to find. There may have been a Japanese CD edition back in 1985 but I have no information and the Metal Mayhem reissue from 2000 seemed a little basic, a little “bare bones”, even though it was officially endorsed by Ron Keel himself. The remastering sounds great and it’s cool to get a couple of bonus tracks but I would have like a little more in the way of extras. The selling point for me was getting a definitive official CD reissue to add to my collection.

Jorn – Dio (2010): This album wasn’t without some controversy with it’s release coming quickly after Ronnie James Dio’s passing but this album was already made and ready for release when Dio passed so it was just a matter of bad timing. I’m not a fan of cover songs but I can do a tribute or covers album…..odd, isn’t it? The selling point here was the original song and video ‘Song For Ronnie James’ that was to be Jorn’s special tribute to the man who influenced him as a singer. Then the balance of the album would be Jorn and band covering different Dio songs. What made this one of the better non-studio releases was the tracklisting, Jorn went through the Dio catalogue and picked out a lot of songs that don’t normally make it into Dio’s “greatest hits”. Songs like ‘Invisible’, ‘Sunset Superman’, ‘Push’, and ‘Shame On The Night’ were all good to hear as part of the tribute instead of the usual fare like ‘The Last In Line’ and ‘Holy Diver’.

MainEEaxe – Shout It Out (1984/2010 reissue) & Going for Gold (1985/2010 reissue): One of the things I like to collect is bands and albums from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and these two MainEEaxe albums have been on my radar for a long time. These two reissues are great because they have all the criteria needed: bonus tracks, extensive liner notes and credits and pictures. A lot of care on the part of Cherry Red Records/Lemon Recordings went into these packages because everything is here including album and single artworks. What makes these reissues worth it is that all the bonus tracks are songs from MainEEaxe’s hard to find singles and E.P.s…..if you do the research, every song the band recorded is on these two reissues in proper order and the singles and E.P.s are noted in the credits. When you’re talking hard to find records from the mid-80s, it’s good to get everything together on CD, I wish every reissue could be done so well.

Savage Grace – The Dominatress/Master Of Disguise reissue (2010) & After The Fall From Grace/Ride Into the Night reissue (2010): As if the two MainEEaxe reissues weren’t enough, Limb Music takes reissuing to another level with these two sets from Savage Grace. I have had the album cover for MASTER OF DISGUISE in my mind for years from when I was a record store junkie as a kid, and I just recently got around to buying it on vinyl, but I wanted proper CD versions of all the band’s albums to preserve my pristine LPs. You can tell Limb went above and beyond with these reissues by adding in all the songs from Savage Grace’s hard to find demos and the RIDE INTO THE NIGHT E.P. (1987). That alone is the selling point aside from a proper CD pressing but then there are lyrics to all the songs, pictures, extensive liner notes and band history. One of the things I was looking for on these reissues was to see if the original album artwork would be retained because it’s a bit X-rated for our time 25 years later and it is. Image this album artwork on store shelves today!

Triumph – Greatest Hits Remixed (2010): Normally a greatest hits collection wouldn’t get my juices flowing but Triumph always puts out great releases when they have full control. Back in 1989, a greatest hits package titled CLASSICS was released by MCA Records but, by then, Triumph was basically over as far as the classic lineup went and CLASSICS was a quick cash in as the band’s contract ended. There hasn’t been a Triumph compilation since but, now that the band has the rights to their music catalogue, they have created their own. This is a two disc set including a DVD of 14 music videos and the Canadian Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, that’s the selling point because it’s a great package for the price. The music CD sounds great and you can tell that the band took good care in remixing the songs for the best sound. The only problem I have is that some of the songs, when compared to the originals, sound different. I’m not one for redoing the original to the point where you can pick out obvious differences and I picked up on this when I sat down and compared these remixes to the originals…..yes, I did compare the two! Aside from that small complaint, it’s great to get so much music for so little money. I paid $12 for two discs (14 songs & 14 videos), similar packages released this year were much more expensive and didn’t have that much content.

CD Scavenger Hunt – August 2010 update

The buying never stops! Here’s a list of albums I picked up throughout August…..

Online

Cain’s Alibi – s/t (1996) – $25: I featured this CD in my Wanted column back in July 2009 and one of the band members, Paul Miller, was nice enough to leave a comment on the post. I ended up contacting Paul and he was kind enough to offer me a sealed original copy of the CD for $25 with shipping. That was a great deal! I’ve seen this CD go for over $100 many times since it became out of print years ago and Paul was cool enough to sell me one of his very few extra copies for what is basically an import price. Special thanks to Paul Miller for helping me add this to my collection.

Skullfist – Heavier Than Metal (2010) – $15: I have read a few reviews on HEAVIER THAN METAL and Skullfist sent me a press release email so I figured I would check the band out on their MySpace. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t give the music a ton of listens at the Skullfist MySpace page, I had it on in the background while I was doing something else and I just decided to buy the CD because they were a band I hadn’t heard of before. I paid $15 for a 5 song E.P. and it took about three weeks to get here from Canada.

Ebay
(price includes shipping)

Uncle Sam – Heaven Or Hollywood (1987) – $16: This album from Rochester, NY’s Uncle Sam is usually best known for it’s album cover. If you think the cover to the left is good, then you will like the original where the panties are gone and you see it all! I bought the CD, hence the censored cover art…..the vinyl has the original picture. Both formats of this album are rare and hard to find and I have been on the lookout for both for a number of years. I got this CD on the cheap because the auction ended during work hours for most people and I was able to snipe it in the last 30 seconds. I won this on my birthday, so Happy Birthday to me! The quest for the original vinyl continues.

Bangalore Choir – On Target (1992) -$10: I am one of those collector’s that always picks up those obscure, one-off albums by those obscure, one-off bands from the ’80s/early ’90s on major labels. For some reason Bangalore Choir has eluded capture for years. I used to see this album all the time at some of the old mom & pop record stores I used to hit in the late ’90s/early 2000′s but those places closed and with them went the used copies of ON TARGET. I have been watching Ebay for months since the announcement of this album getting a reissue but I never thought I would find it this cheap! Normally this is a $25+ CD!

Tokyo Blade – s/t (1983/1997 reissue) – $20: I have been collecting German reissue label High Vaultage’s releases since they debuted in 1997 but they are becoming harder and harder to find as the years go by. I also collect NWOBHM bands and Tokyo Blade is one of those bands that I like and am trying to complete their discography. This reissue came out in 1997 and includes the original album plus five bonus tracks that were originally on the MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS E.P. (1984). I found this album and won it at a decent price because the seller misspelled Tokyo as “Toyko”.

Eclipse – The Truth And A Little More (2001) – $8: I’ve known about Sweden’s Eclipse since this album debuted in 2001 and I saw it in the import section of my favorite record store. I never got around to buying the CD until I saw this album go for over $100 on another Ebay auction a few months ago. Turns out this CD is out of print and hard to find now so I started searching. Don’t the bidding war and skyrocket prices fool you, this album can be found on Ebay dirt cheap, I got mine for $5 plus $3 shipping and I was the only bidder!

Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982/2010 Deluxe Edition reissue) – $20: Deluxe Editions from Universal Music are things we have to come to expect in the age of reissues, remasters and cheating the consumer. If you already own the original releases, you are buying these for the expanded packaging and bonus tracks, it’s the fans that don’t own the original record that make out better. I’m a huge fan of Dio-era Sabbath so these Deluxe editions were interesting to me for the sole fact that one of the editions included a bonus disc of the LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH CD that was released in very limited quantities from Rhino Records in 2007. I didn’t order a LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH in 2007 and it’s sold out and hard to find at an affordable price. So why did I buy this LIVE EVIL deluxe edition when LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH isn’t included? Well, I thought it was! The seller listed that a copy of LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH would be included so I jumped on it. Maybe there was a 3rd disc? Maybe this guy is crazy and giving away the rare Rhino CD with LIVE EVIL? I got a CDR copy and it turns out that it’s actually on the MOB RULES Deluxe edition…..at least this is the original LIVE EVIL and not the chopped one I have from Castle Records in 1996.

Predator – Easy Prey (1985) – $10: This is the lone vinyl album that I bought this month, not that I have been buying up a ton of vinyl but I do like picking some up when the album never had a CD release. I have had this Predator album on cassette for years and it’s finally dead, I use it now as an “auto reverse changer” for my car tape deck so I can put my iPod cassette adaptor in. And just look at the album artwork…..classic! Sealed, mint, no cut holes…..worth the $10 and that’s with shipping included.

Stores

Buckcherry – All Night Long (2010) – $10: I’ve been a Buckcherry fan since I first read about them in 1997 in a Rock mag…..now it’s 14 years, 5 studio records and a live album later and I still love this band. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into BLACK BUTTERFLY (2008) until late 2009 so I’m hoping I latch onto ALL NIGHT LONG right away. I was going to pop the extra couple of bucks for the limited edition that includes a second disc of acoustic tracks titled RECKLESS SONS but it was priced the same as the regular edition. Saved $5 at Best Buy.

Black Label Society – Order Of The Black (2010) – $9: There was no doubt that the new Black Label Society record was going to be one of the most anticipated of the year. Just the controversy over his dismissal from Ozzy’s band is enough fuel to fire up the fans to buy this record. I would have bought it anyway, BLS albums are always high quality, high powered Heavy Metal. I also had to have the new BLS because Ozzfest was a week away in Mansfield (review coming soon) and I wanted to hear some new songs live…..unfortunately, the rain caused a full cancellation of the second stage and Black Label’s performance! Sale price couldn’t be beat and I saved $7 off the $16 regular price!

Jorn – Dio (2010) – $18: Whatever I saved buying the new Black Label Society got spent on the Dio tribute album from Jorn Lande! I had a digital promo from the label but I wanted my own REAL copy so I saw it and bought it. There’s no getting around the regular price on some Frontiers Records releases because they are technically European imports and it was a comparable price compared to buying online and paying the extra money on shipping. Click the link for the review.

The next four acquisitions were bought using a $40 gift card that I received for my birthday…..basically they were free so I will give you the prices I would have paid. I had a free $40 and I spent the exact amount including the sales tax!

Axel Rudi Pell – The Crest (2010) – $12: Axel Rudi Pell is one of those artists that always puts out great music but flies under the radar of many fans. It’s hard to believe that this is Pell’s 14th studio album as a solo artist. Add that to live albums and ballad collections, etc. and your talking 21 albums in 21 years! That’s a solid career and I’m not even getting into his time with Steeler…..the man is just consistent and one hell of a guitar player. Add Johnny Gioeli (ex-Hardline)back on the mic and Mike Terrana on drums and you’ve got a solid band. Saved $4.

Lillian Axe – Deep Red Shadows (2010) – $10: I’ve been listening to Lillian Axe since the first album in 1988 but I just haven’t gotten into the last two studio albums – WATERS RISING (2007) and SAD DAY ON PLANET EARTH (2009). For some reason I bought them the day they were released and they just sat in the pile waiting to be spun. I’ve listened to them but definitely not enough. This time around I’m planning on giving this album some regular play. I totally forgot that Lillian Axe had released a new album, I only noticed it when I made it a point to go through the New Release rack a second time…..I always hit the New Release rack first and grab all the new releases for that week  right away. This album came out at the beginning of August and it was still there! Saved $4 off the regular price.

Tarot – Gravity Of Light (2010) – $10: I didn’t plan on buying the new album from Finland’s Tarot until I caught a random song on a podcast a couple of weeks ago. I ended up writing the band name down and forgetting all about them. When I was flipping through the CD racks I happened to remember it and I couldn’t find it. I ended up finding it still in the New Release rack, where it had been since it’s July release! Further research shows this is their 8th studio album so if I like it I’m going to have to go back and check out the rest of the discography. For a new band (to me) I figured that I would take a chance while the CD was onsale rather than pay the full price later, I ending up saving $6.

Gene Simmons Family Jewels (The Complete Season 2) (2007) – $6: Aside from the first few episodes, I have never been a big Family Jewels fan. Maybe it’s because I don’t get the chance to watch primetime TV…..maybe it’s because I know that the show is staged…..maybe it’s because I don’t want to see one of my Rock heroes make a fool out of himself! It wasn’t until this past season that I watched the show religiously on the DVR and it really wasn’t that bad. I decided to start grabbing the previous seasons on DVD so when I saw this sealed for a meager $6 I snagged it. The steal of the month! Saved $14 assuming the regular price is $20.

Total = $161

Total (year) = $1206

Average price (per item) = $10.31

Total CDs (year) = 106

Total DVDs (year) = 3

Total Box Sets (year) = 6

Total LPs (year) = 2

Jorn – Dio (2010)

Jorn – Dio (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. Song For Ronnie James
  2. Invisible
  3. Shame On The Night
  4. Push
  5. Stand Up And Shout
  6. Don’t Talk To Strangers
  7. Lord Of The Last Day
  8. Night People
  9. Sacred Heart
  10. Sunset Superman
  11. Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth
  12. Kill The King
  13. Straight Through the Heart (live)
  14. Song For Ronnie James (video)

Band Lineup:
Jorn Lande – Vocals
Tor Erik Myhre – Guitars
Jgor Gianola – Guitars
Tore St Moren – Guitars
Nic Angileri – Bass
Willy Bendiksen – Drums & Percussion
Tommy Hansen – Keyboards

Producer: Tommy Hansen

Country: Norway

Total Time = 66:17

Jorn Lande
Jorn Lande MySpace page
Frontiers Records
Ronnie James Dio 

Nothing was more shocking for me than the announcement on May 16, 2010 that Ronnie James Dio, one of my all-time Heavy Metal heroes, had passed away after fighting a valiant effort against stomach cancer. I grew up listening to Dio’s music with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio so the news really hit home s it reverberated around the globe. At 67 years old, one of the greatest Rock singers of all-time was gone.

About a week later came a press release from Frontiers Records announcing the new album from Jorn Lande titled DIO. It was a little shocking to see a press release of this kind so quickly after RJD’s death and it looked like a very convenient marketing ploy to capitalize on his death. Fans worldwide started to voice their criticism on message boards and forums towards Jorn Lande and Frontiers Records for what seemed like an obvious cash-in but that turned out to not be the case. Jorn Lande has always been very vocal in his admiration of and influence from Ronnie James Dio and this tribute album was started back in the Spring of 2009 with the full cooperation and blessing of Ronnie James & Wendy Dio and Niji Entertainment. Even though it was a planned release to pay tribute to his hero, Jorn took a lot of heat for announcing DIO because it was just too soon after Ronnie’s death.

DIO is a 13 song collection of one new song, ‘Song For Ronnie James’, and twelve Dio classics taken from his work in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. What makes this tribute record stand out is the song selection. Most tribute records feature the most obvious and famous songs in order to sell product but Jorn Lande went the extra mile in my opinion by picking out some deep tracks. Some obvious song choices would have been ‘Holy Diver’, ‘The Last In Line’, ‘Heaven & Hell’ and maybe ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ but they aren’t here! Instead we get some deep tracks like ‘Lord Of The Last Day’ from MAGICA (2000), ‘Push’ from KILLING THE DRAGON (2002), ‘Night People’ off DREAM EVIL (1987) and a medley ‘Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth’ from Black Sabbath’s HEAVEN & HELL (1980) and DEHUMANIZER (1992) albums. Five of the songs come from Dio’s first album, HOLY DIVER (1983) and two come from DREAM EVIL but I was surprised that Jorn picked nothing from THE LAST IN LINE (1984).  I was also expecting at least two each from Ronnie’s days in both Rainbow and Black Sabbath but it’s great to have the focus on Dio’s solo career because it’s just as legendary as his previous works. The performances are mostly a straight rendition of the original tracks so the entire album is completely familiar…..the only difference is really Jorn’s voice, which is in top form as always. The lone original, ‘Song For Ronnie James’, is OK…..basically an average song when compared to Jorn’s original material. Most of the lyrics are song and/or album titles and it’s meant to be a tribute to the master. I can’t really fault it but it’s not really my favorite either.

Bottom Line:
Everyone knows that I can’t stand cover songs included on new albums of original material but I like tribute albums…..strange isn’t it? Aside from the questionable timing of the press release and album release, DIO is a solid tribute album with a decent song selection and excellent performances. Ronnie James Dio always insisted on high quality and Jorn Lande has learned well from his master because this is a highly listenable record and a cool overview of the legend’s career. ‘Song For Ronnie James’ isn’t the greatest original song but it’s listenable so it gets a pass. If you’re a fan of Ronnie James Dio or Jorn Lande then it’s an album worth checking out.

Favorite Songs:
The deeper tracks are the best ones. The Black Sabbath medley of ‘Lonely Is The Word/Letter From Earth’ is excellent as is the Rainbow cover ‘Kill The King’. If I had to pick the best four covers of Dio originals, I’d go with ‘Push’, ‘Sunset Superman’, ‘Sacred Heart’ and ‘Night People’…..the deep tracks!

Masterplan – Time To Be King (2010)

Masterplan – Time To Be King (2010, AFM Records)

  1. Fiddle Of Time
  2. Blow Your Winds
  3. Far From The End Of The World
  4. Time To Be King
  5. Lonely Winds Of War
  6. The Dark Road
  7. The Sun Is In Your Hands
  8. The Black One
  9. Blue Europa
  10. Under the Moon
  11. Kisses From You (bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Jorn Lande – Vocals
Roland Grapow – Guitars
Axel Mackenrott – Keyboards
Jan S. Eckert – Bass
Mike Terrana – Drums

Producer: Roland Grapow

Country: Germany

Total Time = 47:49

Masterplan
Masterplan MySpace page
AFM Records

Masterplan is back again with their fourth album, TIME TO BE KING, but that isn’t the big news…..original lead singer Jorn Lande has returned to the microphone once again! I’ve been a Masterplan fan right from the self-titled debut in 2003 through to MK II (2007) that featured ex-Riot lead singer Mike DiMeo on lead vocals…..I have also been a fan of Jorn’s since the first Ark album in 1999 so I have no idea how I missed this announcement. The change from Jorn to DiMeo in 2007 took my by surprise but the album was really good, very powerful Power Metal. DiMeo was Riot’s singer for close to 15 years and through 6 studio albums so he had the voice but I identified Masterplan with Jorn Lande.

Masterplan is always going to be thought of as a Power Metal group because of the long list of bands that the members have been involved with. Founding guitarist Roland Grapow is formerly from Helloween, drummer Mike Terrana from Rage, Yngwie and Axel Rudi Pell, then you’ve got Jorn’s long history. Add Jan Eckert’s time in Running Wild & Iron Savior and Axel Mackenrott’s involvement in Gamma Ray and you can see what direction the band is going to go in. The Power Metal tag is going to scare some fans away because of the backlash against the genre, something I have never undertsood. I’m a big Power Metal fan, I find it as close to the traditional ’80s Metal that I grew up with as you can get. The good thing about Masterplan is that, although they are considered Power Metal, the band incorporates a lot of Progressive elements into the music to give it a more epic sound. You can also hear a more traditional Hard Rock style creeping in to many songs…..maybe that’s part and parcel of Jorn’s versatile vocal ability channelling the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan and David Coverdale. Sometimes a classic voice like Jorn’s influences the songwriting more than is expected. MK II with DiMeo was more Power Metal while TIME TO BE KING with Jorn is diverse blend of styles.

Opening track ‘Fiddle Of Time’ starts out with a very prominent swirling keyboard but moves into more guitar oriented territory until that keyboard riff returns again after the chorus. It’s a heavy song, definitely a good way to start the album, and it has a very classic sound like Uriah Heep or Deep Purple but more Progressive Metal like a Royal Hunt. ‘Blow Your Winds’ follows a catchy ’80s Hard Rock path like a Joe Lynn Turner fronted Rainbow and ‘Far From The End Of The World’ is pure Power Metal with heavy keyboard arrangements. I can’t help but be reminded of Royal Hunt again by the keyboards and guitars playing off each other making ‘Far From The Edge Of The World’ sound so lush and epic. The title track has the same elements also and that kind of makes things a bit repetitive, the band using the same formula on the first and third songs already, but it’s still a solid performance. The band mixes things up a little with the quiet keyboard/acoustic guitar/marching drum intro on ‘Lonely Winds Of War’, a song that I would categorize as an epic ballad. There’s a lot of power in the song but it’s not fast by any means, Roland Grapow’s guitar solos are very melodic and Jorn’s vocal is my favorite on the record, a blend of power and emotion.

‘The Dark Road’ opens similarly to ‘Time To Be King’ and ‘Fiddle Of Time’ with the big guitar/keyboard riffs but it moves into unexpected territory of a second epic ballad in a row. Jorn does his best David Coverdale and the slower parts of the song remind me of ’70s Dio-era Rainbow mixed with the bluesier side of Whitesnake or Coverdale-era Deep Purple. Such a huge sound here, very layered and grand…..best song on the album! The music gets heavier on ‘The Sun Is In Your Hands’ but you can hear a little of that Hard Rock style mixed in with the Power Metal. Listen to the guitar solo but pay attention to the drums…..Mike Terrana is a beast on this entire album and his double kick style is as subtle as it is powerful. I like ‘The Black One’ just for it’s thick bassline that starts it off and comes back to start each verse. There’s a thick sound here, plenty of layers between the guitars, bass, keys and drums but Jorn pulls it all together with a gritty vocal. Add another solid guitar solo by Grapow, and the big drum fills by Terrana, and it’s another favorite of mine. ‘Blue Europa’ is another harder track that grabs me with it’s World War II inspired lyrics and heavy guitar while ‘Under The Moon’ is a more progressive and epic song that slows everything down but gets more powerful as the song continues. There’s an ambient tone to the song during the quieter parts when it’s really just the keyboard and the vocal, definitely subdued. I like ‘Under The Moon’ because it’s more straight-forward with not a lot of swirling keyboards and intricate guitars, it reminds me a little of the symphonic Pink Floyd-ian style The Gathering used on HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET? (1999) but with Jorn’s rich voice.

The version I picked up was the European limited edition, gold-embossed digipak with the bonus track ‘Kisses From You’. On first listen, you would swear that ‘Kisses From You’ was a Queen cover song that was done extremely well. Everything from the guitar tone, to the piano, to the complete arrangement is pure Queen. I sat in front of my Queen collection looking for the song on one of the album, maybe as a B-side or a bonus track but it wasn’t there! Turns out ‘Kisses From You’ is an original and it’s dead on Queen inspired…..definitely a favorite!

Bottom Line:
Masterplan has continued where they left off in 2005 with AERONAUTICS now that Jorn Lande has returned to the vocal slot, TIME TO BE KING is a solid album and a great comeback. I don’t get all this backlash toward Power Metal…..is it the imagery? The higher vocals? The clean musicianship? Not everything has to be harsh or extreme to be vital and comtemporary. Masterplan is a band of five solid musicians that are at the top of their game delivering a grand performance that us truly one of the best of the year. Some of the songs follow the same formula but that can be said of any song on any album in any genre. There isn’t a weak song on TIME TO BE KING and the Progressive elements outweigh and enhance the pure Power Metal formula. If you’re a fan of Power Metal then this is going to be a top album of 2010 but if Power Metal isn’t your thing then you might not like it. So far, this is one of the best albums of the year for me.

Favorite Songs:
Not a weak song on the album and I like them all but if I had to pick five highlights they would be: ”Fiddle Of Time’, ‘Lonely Winds Of War’, ‘The Dark Road’, ‘The Sun Is In Your Hands’, & ‘Under the Moon’

Press Release: Frontiers Records to release new album DIO by Jorn in Europe (July 2, 2010) and the U.S. (July 27, 2010)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Frontiers Records to release “Dio”, JORN’s offer to the musical legacy of the great singer

Napoli, May 2010 – The Norse God of Metal. The leader of the renaissance of classic Hard Rock on its highest level. One of the most prolific and sought-after singers of today, whose vocal talent has reserved him a place amongst the greatest giants in the history of Rock. This is Jorn Lande and now he offers his talents to honour the musical legacy of Ronnie James Dio, with his new album aptly entitled “Dio”, to be released on Frontiers Records on July 2nd in Europe and July 27th in the US.

Handpicking some lesser known tunes of the Dio era, along with some of the true classics, Jorn offers a fine collection of songs that present the music of the Man and the Artist, with a unique twist. In Jorn Lande’s own words: “Throughout the years I have had the privilege of  both meeting and working with many of the musicians that have inspired me on my musical journey. Ronnie James Dio has inspired me through decades, and this man’s influence continues to add colour to my creative spirit. Ever since the first time I heard his royal roar back in the 70′s, I have been fascinated by this extremely talented man’s creative force and dedication to music. His career has been going on for so long and includes so many great songs, that it was a challenge to decide which songs and what era to focus on. I ended up focusing on the DIO era”.

The album also includes an original song for which a videoclip, shot by Thomas Tjader (Pretty Maids, In Flames) was produced. Jorn says “I wrote ‘Song for Ronnie James’ as a tribute and a personal thanks to the man who has been my mentor for more than 35 years. This great man has affected my life and career in such a way that without his presence, I would not have become the artist I am today”.

The Song for Ronnie James videoclip can be watched on Youtube following this link:

Either as front man in German metal act Masterplan, which has achieved great success around the world, or as guest in  spectacular projects such as Tobias Sammet’s “Avantasia”, or in the Allen / Lande’s releases, Jorn  Lande is today a trademark for quality Hard Rock music. “Dio” is the new chapter in Jorn’s history and a sincere and heartfelt “thank you” to a great and influential Artist.

Dio” was mixed by Tommy Hansen, Jailhouse Studios, and the final tracklisting includes the following tracks: Song For Ronnie James; Invisible; Shame on the Night; Push; Stand Up And Shout; Don’t Talk to Strangers; Lord Of The Last Day; Night People; Sacred Heart; Sunset Superman; Lonely Is The Word / Letters From Earth (2010 version); Kill The King*; Straight Through The Heart (live). Song for Ronnie James (videoclip)

JORN
Jorn Lande: Lead Vocals
Willy Bendiksen: drums
Tore Moren: guitars
Jgor Gianola: guitars
Tor Erik Myhre: guitars
Nic Angileri: Bass

Weblinks: www.jornlande.com  /  www.myspace.com/realjorn  /  www.frontiers.it  /  www.myspace.com/frontiersrecordsusa

The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25)

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 is part 2, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11 – #25):

#25

Ravage – The End Of Tomorrow (2009): Living in the New England area, there really isn’t much of a local scene like there used to be, especially in Rhode Island, but there are a few bands worth checking out. Ravage has been a fixture on the Massachusetts scene for over a decade but this is only their second full-length album! With most bands on the local, and national, scene playing mostly Metalcore and/or Hardcore it’s refreshing to hear a band play old school Traditional Metal. You could call this Power Metal too, maybe even Thrash in some spots. The bottom line here is that Ravage released a solid record that reminds me of my early ’80s roots…..great to have another local band in this year’s countdown.

#24

Artillery – When Death Comes (2009): WHEN DEATH COMES was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, as well as, one of the albums I was really looking forward to. Thrash is on a major comeback and it was good to hear a new Artillery album, this one with new lead singer Søren Nico Adamsen. I feel that Artillery has expanded their overall sound and added enough melodic touches to their Thrash base to make this album even better than expected. I didn’t take WHEN DEATH COMES out of my regular weekly rotation until mid-November so I really spent a lot of time with it and it hasn’t disappointed.

#23

Slayer – World Painted Blood (2009): Any year with a new Slayer album is a good year and anytime you get a new Slayer album then you know it’s going to be good. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Slayer fan but I have been following the band since the early ’80s. 2009 was a year for me to fill all the holes in my Slayer collection and give the entire catalog a serious listen. Then the new album was released and I’ve given that all my attention. The more I listen to WORLD PAINTED BLOOD, the more I like it. It’s brutal, heavy, and dangerous…..just like a Slayer album should be!

#22

Bloodbound – Tabula Rasa (2009): The only reason I picked this album up because Urban Breed (ex-Tad Morose, current Pyramaze) was the lead singer. Besides Urban, I knew nothing about Bloodbound but TABULA RASA turned out to be a great buy! I’d call this heavy Power Metal incorporating great guitarwork, a solid rhythm section and, of course, awesome vocals. This is more or less a concept album with most of the songs having the tabula rasa (Latin for “blank slate”) idea but each song stands out on there own. Another big surprise for 2009 and an album I have kept in my weekly rotation for most of the year.

#21

Mastodon – Crack The Skye (2009): I only started listening to Mastadon in 2006 with BLOOD MOUNTAIN so I’m not as familiar with the band’s style as others might be. I’m not going to lie…..I had a hard time getting into this album at first, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the wall of sound that Mastodon is. I bought this when it was released and gave it serious listening time but I didn’t get it. After letting it sit and coming back to it, I get it! Mastodon is going to be like Dream Theater for me where I have to stop listening and then come back later for more, especially with Mastodon as they continue to evolve their sound from album to album. I didn’t rank this as high as other websites’ but this is definitely one of the year’s best.

#20

Candlemass – Death Magic Doom (2009): When Messiah Marcolin left Candlemass again in 2006 I didn’t think that a new record would be anything short of a letdown. That’s why I passed on 2007′s KING OF THE GREY ISLANDS. I picked this album up because the sale price was right and I figured I’d check out what the band sounded like with their current vocalist Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus). One listen to ‘Hammer Of Doom’ and I was hooked into the pure Doom influenced by Ozzy-era Black Sabbath…..after that, I was hooked. Robert Lowe puts in a great performance and the band hasn’t lost a step…..another great surprise for me in 2009 and definitely in the Top 20.

#19

Stryper – Murder By Pride (2009): I only bought MURDER BY PRIDE because I have been a Stryper fan since the early ’80s and I still support the bands I grew up with. I had a lot of doubts about this album because the band’s last album, REBORN (2005), was awful. Then there is the Boston connection, lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet now fronting the Classic Rock band…..I wasn’t sure about a cover of the Boston classic ‘Peace Of Mind’ being added to a new Stryper record. Talk about a comeback, Stryper does a complete about-face and shelves the grungy sound they used on REBORN for a return to their classic melodic ’80s sound. The difference between 2009 and 1983-1990 is that the overall religious message isn’t constantly crammed into the listener, the message is still there but it’s more subtle. Stryper had me singing along almost right away and that’s always a good sign…..and the Boston cover? It’s pretty good!

#18

U.D.O. – Dominator (2009): If you’re an old school Metal fan, then you should be an Accept fan. If you’re an Accept fan, then being an U.D.O. fan is basically the same thing. Udo Dirkscheider continues to fly the Accept flag through his namesake by playing uncompromising Traditional Heavy Metal that is always high quality. Every year U.D.O. releases a new record you know exactly what you’re going to get and DOMINATOR is definitely follows the same path as other U.D.O. albums. It’s great to have a veteran band that’s consistent year in and year out releasing solid Metal albums, now if they could just find a better album cover for this one!

#17

Outloud - We’ll Rock You To Hell And Back Again! (2009): First let’s settle the confusion on the album title. The band’s label, Frontiers Records, lists this as “Self-titled” or “Outloud” but there is the title of “We’ll Rock You to Hell And Back Again!” above the band logo on the album cover. Which is it? The Metal websites & blogs are split down the middle and so are the online retailers. All year I went with “s/t” but I will use what’s on the album cover for this list. Back to the music…..remember the late ’80s? Outloud does! This album is a heavy melodic Hard Rock record that is full of hooks and bombastic arena tailored riffs…..fans of Dokken, Europe, early Bon Jovi and definitely Riot will all like this. I had this ranked higher but it fell as other albums moved up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on a lot of year end lists.

#16

Jorn Lande – Spirit Black (2009): I swear that everything Jorn Lande does is near perfect! Doesn’t matter if it’s with Masterplan, Ark, solo or part of projects, Jorn always puts in a masterful performance. It’s hard to believe that SPIRIT BLACK is Jorn’s seventh studio album in ten years but he just keeps releasing album after album of great Metal. SPIRIT BLACK is a record that still has a ton of melody and hooks but a lot heavier, more Heavy Metal. When I was putting this list together, Jorn Lande was an obvious choice…..just listen to that voice, he’s becoming one of my favorite singers alongside Halford, Dio, Turner, Hughes, Bonnet, Soto and D.C. Cooper.

#15

Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009): This is one of the biggest surprises of 2009! I only picked up VAGABOND BONES a few weeks ago but it has been the most played album on a daily basis ever since. Helix always puts out consistently good albums and I have to give Brian Vollmer credit for following his musical formula and keeping everything sounding fresh. Sure, the Helix sound is rooted in AC/DC and the big ’80s but isn’t that what’s so good about them? VAGABOND BONES is an absolutly fun record with a ton of hooks that had me singing right along almost immeadiately. Some of the great songs here are ‘Go Hard Or Go Home’, ‘Jack It Up’ and ‘Vagabond Bones’. Go to the excellent PlanetHelix to give this album a listen and then go buy it!

#14

Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009): The best thing Primal Fear did in the last few years was to expand their Power Metal sound by adding in a lot of different melodic styles. They did it with NEW RELIGION in 2007 and they have continued with 16.6. You’ve got serious heavy metal with ‘Riding The Eagle’ and then  melodic balladry with ‘Black Rain’ moving into more traditional Metal on ‘Killbound’. Basically, Primal Fear keeps you guessing as to what’s next and the expansion of their overall sound makes them more diverse and exciting then a lot of other Power Metal bands crowding the scene. This album took a few listens to take hold but it became one of my favorite albums of the year and stayed in the weekly rotation for most of 2009.

#13

Kreator – Hordes Of Chaos (2009): The best Thrash album of 2009 without a doubt! I’ve had HORDES OF CHAOS since mid-December 2008 when the kind  people at SPV sent me a promo and I have been playing it regularly for the entire year. I know that Megadeth, Slayer and Artillery all released great Thrash albums this year but kreator set the bar high early on and no one has matched it. The intensity is there, the blistering guitar is there, the brutality is there too but what sets HORDES OF CHAOS apart is that Kreator wasn’t afraid to expand their Thrash formula and add in some melodic flourishes to the overall sound. I hope we don’t have to wait another four years again between new Kreator albums.

#12

Praying Mantis – Sanctuary (2009): SANCTUARY is one of the big reasons why 2009 was such a great year for music, it was one of those albums that came out of nowhere and was just excellent. I grew up with bands from the NWOBHM so I know all about Praying Mantis but I really didn’t expect much from the band 20+ years after I discovered them. SANCTUARY is one of the best AOR/Melodic Rock albums of the year…..there are enough fast songs, mid-tempo songs and ballads that blend together to create a diverse wall of sound filled with melody and hooks a plenty. Current singer Mike Freeland puts in as smooth and effortless performance as  Joe Lynn Turner would and the music is striking in it’s power and beauty. Tino and Chris Troy have kept the Praying Mantis flag flying and SANCTUARY is one of their crown jewels…..I certainly enjoyed this album all year long and it just barely missed out on the Top 10.

#11

FarCry – High Gear (2009): Another band, and album, that came out of nowhere to really captivate my attention and turn in one of the best Melodic Rock albums of 2009! FarCry is a new band and HIGH GEAR is an awesome debut filled with some of the best ’80s styled AOR/Melodic Rock I’ve heard in a long time with big harmonies, hooks and guitars. The music reminds me of classic Danger Danger, Tyketto, Firehouse and Warrant with a bit of Survivor and Journey mixed in. Sounds like good music? It is. Bottom line is FarCry isn’t reinventing the wheel here, their sound is easily 20+ years old for a new band, but they do this kind of music extremely well…..they have great songwriting, good performances, and huge production. HIGH GEAR is one of the best purchases I made this year and it just missed my Top 10. Well worth checking out, I’ve listened to it daily for months!

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Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1-#10) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40) 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!

The Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30)

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

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

#16

motorhead-motorizerMotörhead - Motörizer

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

#17

acdc-black-iceAC/DC – Black Ice

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

#18

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

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

#19

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

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

#20

Brainstorm - Downburst (2008)Brainstorm – Downburst

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

#21

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

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

#22

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

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

#23

temujin-1000-tears-2008Temujin – 1000 Tears

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

#24

tyr-landTýr – Land

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

#25

Pharaoh - Be Gone (2008)Pharaoh – Be Gone

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

#26

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

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

#27

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

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

#28

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

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

#29

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

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

#30

metallica-death-magneticMetallica – Death Magnetic

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

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

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

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion

Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
Metal Excess

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

Rock Of Ages