The Top 25 Albums of 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(drum roll please…..)

#1

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

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

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

Journey – Eclipse (2011)

Journey – Eclipse (2011, independent release)

  1. City Of Hope
  2. Edge Of The Moment
  3. Chain Of Love
  4. Tantra
  5. Anything Is Possible
  6. Resonate
  7. She’s A Mystery
  8. Human Feel
  9. Ritual
  10. To Whom It May Concern
  11. Someone
  12. Venus

Band Lineup:
Arnel Pineda – Lead Vocals
Neal Schon – All Guitars & Backing Vocals
Jonathan Cain – Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Ross Valory – Bass & Backing Vocals
Deen Castronovo – Drums, Percussion & Vocals

Producers: Kevin Shirley, Neal Schon & Jonathan Cain

Country: USA

Total Time = 1:06:26

Journey official website
Journey MySpace page

Journey marked their third comeback with a new singer in Arnel Pineda, and a great album with REVELATION, in 2008 and achieved both critical and commercial success that had been missing since TRIAL BY FIRE (1996). Credit the critical acclaim to the band getting down to business and writing well written, catchy, melodic songs and Arnel dazzling everyone with his superb Steve Perry styled vocals on record and on tour. The commercial success came through a great business deal with retail giant Wal-Mart to exclusively release REVELATION (including a DVD and re-recorded hits package) and get the band their first platinum record in over a decade. Band leaders Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain are superb musicians, as well as knowledgeable businessmen, so it’s no surprise that they hit big with the REVELATION album and tour. That was then and this is 2011 and Journey, and specifically Pineda, have to prove that this REVELATION wasn’t a fluke and that Journey has the talent and drive to continue well into the future. That proof comes with their new album, and another Wal-Mart exclusive, ECLIPSE.

As I do with many reviews I write, I have to tell you that I’ve been a fan of Journey for a long time, at least since 1981’s ESCAPE, so I’ve grown up with the band and heard all the big hits and all the albums countless times. REVELATION was one of my favorite albums of 2008 so I was really psyched up for the new record’s release especially when I read all the press that this was going to be a heavier album, a true Rock record. Neal Schon has always been one of my favorite guitarists and I’ve always thought that he doesn’t get the credit he deserves because Journey is sometimes seen as a Pop band or a ballad band, take a listen to his solo material (ELECTRIC WORLD from 1997 is awesome!), his work with HSAS, Bad English, Hardline or Soul Sirkus and you’ll hear some great riffs and solos along with more melodic, blues and jazz elements. A Journey album with more guitar? Sign me up! I drove to Wal-Mart the day of release to buy it and I don’t shop at Wal-Mart on principle! At first glance, ECLIPSE doesn’t give off the “Wow!” factor in terms of packaging especially when compared to the deluxe, three disc, brightly colored digibook that was REVELATION, ECLPISE is a darker album cover and the packaging is a simple slim digipak with a four page booklet. So they value factor isn’t there as far as bonuses (no extra discs) but the price was definitely low ($10) and the music is the whole point of an album.

Starting off ECLIPSE is the melodic and upbeat ‘City Of Hope’ that sounds like a typical Journey rocker and could have easily come off ARRIVAL (2001) and the guitar driven ‘Edge Of The Moment’ that sounds like late ’70s/early ’80s Journey from EVOLUTION (1979) or DEPARTURE (1980). Right away you notice that both songs are guitar oriented with thick riffs and heavier solos compared to the usual Journey fare but the underlying detail is that Jonathan Cain’s keyboards are not as up front in the mix. One of the reasons that Journey sometimes gets a reputation for being too “lite” is because the keyboards so up front in the overall sound, immeadiately you hear the guitar driving the songs and the keys a compliment. The other thing I hear right away is that Arnel Pineda is adding his own flair to the vocals rather than straight up copy the classic Steve Perry sound. Back on REVELATION it was obvious that Pineda could do a solid Perry imitation, listen to that second disc of re-recordings and it’s pretty spot on, but on these first two songs you can hear an edge. Of course, I write those words and there’s a keyboard intro to ‘Chain Of Love’ and Pineda’s voice soars and sounds just like Perry’s on the album’s first ballad ‘Tantra’. ‘Chain Of Love’ is a heavy mid-tempo track that gives off a dark moody feeling that is the direct opposite of typical Journey, a song full of chunky riffs that sound so thick that it may throw some people off. ‘Tantra’ is your typical Journey ballad that starts out slow with Cain’s piano leading the way and Pineda crooning like Perry but then Schon kicks the guitar in and the entire band comes together to deliver one of the most powerful songs on the album. Say what you want about straight up Rock songs, sometimes a power ballad can be as heavy, as rocking, and as powerful, that’s ‘Chain Of Love’. The first four songs on this new album are great with plenty of sonic changes and a focus on Schon’s guitar…..if the rest of the record is as good then Journey has another winner on it’s hands.

‘Anything Is Possible’ is a mid-tempo AOR number that easily recalls Steve Perry/RAISED ON RADIO era Journey and it’s definitely one of my favorite tracks on the record, very catchy and clean as far as the sound goes. I like Cain’s underlying piano and the guitar solos are a pleasure to hear but it’s Arnel’s showcase and he sounds like a seasoned veteran of the AOR ranks. ‘Resonate’ is a darker song that takes time to build and it follows a similar pattern to ‘Anything Is Possible’ as it builds to the chorus. Again, another guitar driven track that really gives off this dark tone but the contrast to the beauty of the singing is what makes it, and the entire record, work well. I like the acoustic intro to ‘She’s A Mystery’ and it just builds into one of the best songs on the album! About halfway through, the band dismisses the acoustic balladry and goes for it with a powerful full band electric swagger…..that’s a pretty good way to describe ECLIPSE: “balladry with an electric swagger”. ‘Human Feel’ has this tribal drum intro from Deen Castronovo and a cool Hammond Organ from Jonathan Cain to compliment another heavy handed riff from Schon. It kind of reminds me of ‘Ball Of Confusion’ from The Temptations in some parts with a bit of that Motown swing underneath but once Arnel sings, it sounds like straight Rock. The guitar solo is powerful but so effortless…..the hallmark of a guitar great! The rocking tempo continues with ‘Ritual’ and it’s the kind of upbeat song that was a staple of previous records post-Perry, it could use some bigger background harmonies to give it that extra punch but it’s solid.

‘To Whom It May Concern’ is another proper ballad that adds a little more Jonathan Cain in the way of piano, keyboard and orchestration. While it’s not a bad song at all, I feel a bit of a disconnect. Maybe that’s because the power of ECLIPSE is in Neal’s guitar? Arnel is the star of the show here with another great vocal but I could go for a little more harmony to make the song sound bigger. More uptempo AOR with ‘Someone’ and it’s sounds like a traditional Journey rocker and could have easily been a hold over from REVELATION. It’s got that sing-a-long hook that makes it worth the wait but I wish they had placed it more up front in the tracklisting. It’s a “happy” kind of classic Journey track and contrasts well with the darker parts of the record. Ending the album is the instrumental ‘Venus’ that uses parts of ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and is a band showcase minus Mr. Pineda…..it’s cool but not my thing from Journey.

Bottom Line:
Journey is Journey so you know what you’re going to get when you spin a Journey record: uptempo/upbeat AOR and Melodic Rock with a few ballads and top musicianship. For most fans, that’s enough but Journey music is such a part of American culture that fans always expect the best. For my money, the REVELATION album from a few years ago fit that bill easily and ECLIPSE falls a little short of my expectations when comparing the two. I’m not saying that ECLIPSE is a bad record, quite the contrary, I think it’s one of the best of the year but the darker tone/feel of the album has thrown me a little. That’s a good thing though because it shows a vibrant and creative band not willing to compromise and to continue to grow. The more I play ECLIPSE, the more I like it and the more I enjoy it. What I like most is that this is a guitar record. There are many times when the name Journey makes you think of keyboard heavy rockers and piano ballads but ECLIPSE is a Neal Schon showcase with some of the coolest riffs and solos I’ve heard on a melodic rock record. The rest of the band is as solid as ever and Arnel Pineda has turned in another outstanding vocal performance. The songs are well written and the sound is crystal clear thatnks to producer Kevin Shirley. Definitely a recommended album…..just give it a few spins so you can really get into it.

Best Songs:
‘City Of Hope’, ‘Edge Of The Moment’, ‘Chain Of Love’, ‘She’s A Mystery’, ‘Someone’

CD Scavenger Hunt (May update)

May was probably the slowest month of my collecting career! I bought only 4 CDs! That’s usually just a quick trip to the record store, not a whole month of purchases but I do have a good excuse…..money. Money is key and, in this economy, I’ve tightened the wallet a lot. So here’s May’s buys…..

Walmart

Journey – Eclipse (2011) – $10: There is nothing I hate more than having to walk into a Wal-Mart but it’s a necessity a couple of times a year now as many bands decide to use the retail giant as an exclusive deale for their new album. After the platinum success of REVELATION through exclusive Wal-Mart sales, Journey decided to partner with the company again for their brand new studio album — ECLIPSE. I reluctantly went to my local store with the plan to enter, get the CD and checkout fast to spend as little time in retail hell as possible and all went well. Can’t beat $10 for a new CD but I was initially disappointed because for $12 or $13 a few years ago I got the REVELATION album package that included the re-done greatest hits and the live DVD. Where’s the extras this time around? It was nice to see the new Journey well-stocked and displayed next to the new Lady Gaga CD…..maybe some Gaga fans will grab a Journey disc too!

Newbury Comics

Anvil – Juggernaut Of Justice (2011) – $10: Riding the wave of success from the publicity, fame and opportunity that arose from their movie documentary, Anvil finally release the follow-up to 2007’s THIS IS THIRTEEN with the long awaited JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE. Anvil was an imprtant and formative band in my Metal youth but their music became lost to me as I became an MTV and FM radio disciple and went more mainstream. THIS IS THIRTEEN and the Anvil movie were excellent and re-established Anvil as a potent metal force. Now the guys may not be on Metallica’s level now but they’ve moved up from obscurity and have people talking. Looks like the guys might have made a couple of bucks on the deal too because, after 5 years of filming, recording and touring, the band has released a solid album. I bought most of the Anvil catalogue since 2007 and I had to have the new record the day it came out. Regular price was $14, got it on sale for $10, saved $4.

The Rods – Vengeance (2011) – $10: This was a must have for two reasons: 1) David ‘Rock’ Feinstein delivered a solid solo album with BITTEN BY THE BEAST (2010) and 2) this album documents one of Ronnie James Dio’s last performances on the track ‘The Code’. For me, the Dio involvement is enough to pick this up but I remember The rods from back in the ’80s and I’ve been trying to track down their albums on CD over the last few months, specifically the High Vaultage reissues from the late ’90s. I happened to get to the local shop on time for once and I saw this album in the new release rack, I grabbed it right away! My rules for CD hunting are simple: always pick up a CD that you might want and make your final decisions later, that way you won’t miss out on something because someone else grabbed it. Also, be at the store in time for the doors to open, that way you are the first one in to grab those new releases that they only get one copy of. These rules are essential and they have been learned the hard way over the years. As soon as I grabbed this CD, another guy walked in and asked for the album at the counter. Unfortunately, his trip to the new release rack came up short and he noticed I had the CD in hand. He must have been a big Rods fan because he offered me a $5 for it but I declined, I’d rather have the disc immeadiately. Regular price was $14, sale was $10, saved $4.

Blackguard – Firefight (2011) – $10: I know nothing about Blackguard but I wanted this album for some reason. I actually wanted it so bad that I had the record store special order it because they were out of stock every Tuesday since the album came out. They brought in a few copies each week but they would sell out before I would make my weekly hunt! That tells me that there’s a buzz out there on Blackguard. That and the fact that they are touring with Amon Amarth right now. No real reasoning behind buying this, more of a luxury purchase, or maybe a risk seeing that I know nothing about the band. Anytime I take a chance on a new band, or a band I’ve never heard any music from, I like to spend as little as possible so I figured that the sale price wouldn’t last more than a month and I was snagging this about four weeks after its release. Regular price was $14, sale price was $10, saved $4.

Total = $40

Total (year) = $320

Average Price (per item) = $10

Total Savings (month) = $12

Total Savings (year) = $239

Total CDs (year) = 30

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

 

Press Release: Journey to release new album, Eclipse, on May 24, 2011 in the U.S. & Canada. 30 second preview of ‘City Of Hope’ and tour dates also announced.

From Melodicrock.com:

Journey, one of the most popular American rock bands of all time, is gearing up to unleash their latest album of brand new material, Eclipse. The album will be released in the U.S. and Canada on May 24 exclusively at Walmart and beginning June 3 in Europe on Frontiers Records.

Thanks to Frontiers Records and Journey management, MelodicRock.com can present this world exclusive first taste of the new studio album!

The 30 second preview clip of the lead track City Of Hope can be Downloaded Here.
 
 
To follow the release of Eclipse, Journey will launch the “Eclipse Tour” with Foreigner, and special guest Night Ranger, beginning July 21 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT. Fans can expect to hear new songs from Eclipse as well as classics such as Don’t Stop Believin’, Any Way You Want It, Faithfully, Lights, Separate Ways, Wheel In The Sky, and many more. The “Eclipse Tour” dates are listed below.

“I’m in love with this record, which I haven’t said about one of our albums for a long time,” says founding member and lead guitarist, Neal Schon. “It’s a rock record and it sounds amazing.” Commenting on the upcoming tour, Schon continued, “We’ve got a lot of hits to play and there’s plenty of time to do some new stuff too, so we’re gonna mix it up. We haven’t toured with Foreigner for over 10 years, so we’re really looking forward to this run.” Tickets for “The Eclipse Tour” go on sale beginning Friday March 11, at all the usual online, phone and physical retail outlets, including select Walmart Ticketmaster locations across the country. Check www.journeymusic.com for complete ticket onsale information. Journey has once again teamed up with iloveallaccess.com to offer their fans a variety of VIP ticket packages. For more details go to www.journeymusic.com.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, keyboardist Jonathan Cain recently described Eclipse as “a concept record with some spiritual themes to it…pretty tough, hard-hitting stuff.” Jonathan continued, “We just felt like it was time to send a message to the world about how we feel about life in general.” Journey toured the world for two years in support of their 2008 release, Revelation. More than a million fans attended the shows, and welcomed new lead singer Arnel Pineda. Completing the Journey lineup is Schon (guitars, backing vocals), Cain (keyboards, backing vocals), Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals) and Deen Castronovo (drums, percussion, backing vocals). Revelation marked the band’s biggest first week’s sales in more than a decade, debuting at #5 on the Billboard 200 in June 2008 and taking the top spot on the Independent Albums chart. Revelation earned the band their 11th Platinum album certification to date, leading The New York Times to declare that “the band…feels alive.” Since its formation in 1973, Journey has earned 19 Top 40 singles and 25 gold and platinum albums. The band’s Greatest Hits album is certified 15 times platinum, bringing Journey into the elite club of Diamond-certified album holders. The group also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

For more information, visit www.journeymusic.com.

Initial Eclipse Tour dates:
Thursday, July 21, 2011 Salt Lake City, UT Rio Tinto Stadium
Saturday, July 23, 2011 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Sunday, July 24, 2011 Phoenix, AZ Desert Sky Pavilion
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Maryland Heights, MO Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Saturday, July 30, 2011 Tinley Park, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Sunday, July 31, 2011 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 Cuyahoga Falls, OH Blossom Music Center
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
Friday, August 05, 2011 Columbus, OH Crew Stadium, Ohio State Fair
Saturday, August 06, 2011 Noblesville, IN Verizon Wireless Music Center
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 Darien Center, NY Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Saturday, August 13, 2011 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Hartford, CT Comcast Theatre
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Wantagh, NY Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Friday, August 19, 2011 Virginia Beach, VA Virginia Beach Amphitheater
Saturday, August 20, 2011 Raleigh, NC Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek
Sunday, August 21, 2011 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Charlotte
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center
Saturday, August 27, 2011 Burgettstown, PA First Niagara Pavilion
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Syracuse, NY New York State Fair
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 Allentown, PA The Great Allentown Fair
Friday, September 02, 2011 Saratoga Springs, NY Saratoga Performing Arts Center*
Saturday, September 10, 2011 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Arena
Friday, September 16, 2011 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Saturday, September 17, 2011 Tampa, FL 1-800 Ask-Gary Amphitheatre
Sunday, September 18, 2011 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
Saturday, September 24, 2011 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
Sunday, September 25, 2011 The Woodlands, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 Kansas City, MO Starlight Theatre
Saturday, October 01, 2011 Englewood, CO Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
Friday, October 07, 2011 Chula Vista, CA Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
Friday, October 14, 2011 Wheatland, CA Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Saturday, October 15, 2011 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Portland, OR Rose Garden Arena
Friday, October 21, 2011 Seattle, WA KeyArena

End of vacation Mixtape

Sadly all good things must come to and end…..and so must my vacation. It’s been a great week off from work: I spent time with the family, listened to a lot of music and did a lot of things I can’t do because work gets in the way…..like sleep! I have to go back to work today at 4pm so I decided to relax in the music room and shuffle the iPod one last time to see what comes out…..

  1. Queen – ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ (1986)
  2. Starz – ‘Violation’ (1977)
  3. Dokken – ‘The Hunter’ (1985)
  4. Autograph – ‘Send Her To Me’ (1984)
  5. Journey – ‘Send Her My Love’ (1983)
  6. Judas Priest – ‘Hard As Iron’ (1988)
  7. Accept – ‘Do It’ (1980)
  8. Judas Priest – ‘Solar Angels’ (1981)
  9. Quiet Riot – ‘Twilight Hotel’ (1986)
  10. Sammy Hagar – ‘Mas Tequila’ (1999)
  11. .38 Special – ‘Wild Eyed Southern Boys’ (1981)
  12. KISS – ‘Room Service’ (1975)
  13. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘No Bone Movies’ (1980)
  14. Manowar – ‘Fighting The World’ (1987)
  15. KISS – ‘Exciter’ (1983)
  16. Tim Owens – ‘Believe’ (2009)
  17. ZZ Top – ‘T.V. Dinners’ (1983)
  18. Motley Crue – ‘Hollywood Ending’ (2000)
  19. U.D.O. – ‘Infected’ (2009)
  20. Aerosmith – ‘Last Child’ (1977)

Bonus Track: UFO – ‘Diesel In the Dust’ (1983)

    CD Scavenger Hunt – Record Store Day Edition

    I’ve been a record store junkie since I was a young kid and I still get a charge out of searching through stacks of CDs and racks of vinyl. I learned about music in the record store and I entered the culture of Heavy Metal and of the collector. Record Store Day is one of my favorite days of the year. The discounts, the comraderie, the crowds! Hit the right store on Record Store Day and you can walk out with a bunch of great music at a great price, some free stuff, and the feeling that the death of physical music shopping is alive and well.

    My plan for record store day was to hit four local shops and buy up whatever I could. Of course there are always things at the last minute that impede progress and my physical health (allergies!) and work schedule meant I only had a couple of hours. I decided to hit the two closest stores to home and see what damage I could inflict on my wallet! First I hit my usual haunt: Newbury Comics in North Attleboro, MA. My initial plan was to go to the Warwick, RI location because I planned on a bigger selection but time was the overall problem and the extra 30 minutes drive time roundtrip didn’t compute. Second stop would be Luke’s Record Exchange in Pawtucket, RI: 5 minutes from home and one of the stores I grew up in. I was outside the door of Newbury Comics at 9:45am and I was in first when they opened at 10…..first stop was the Used Metal section and then a proper focused search through the general Used section followed by DVDs. the sale at Newburys was “30% off all used CDs & DVDs” so the plan was to blow $100 and get $30 off for a grand total of $70. Of course, everything is subject to change!

    Used DVDs

    West Wing (Seasons 4 & 7) – $19.25 each: I cannot tell a lie…..I bought these for my wife. Here’s a tip: if you plan on spending big $$$ at the record stores, make sure you bring something good home for the wife! Never fails! My wife’s birthday was last Thursday and I bought her Seasons 2 & 3 of West Wing (she has the 1st season) and I figured I’d get these for her to fill holes in the collection. At $19.25 each for used copies I saved more than half the regular price on each.

    Ratt – Videos From The Cellar: The Atlantic Years (2007) – $6.30: I searched the used Music DVD section for 20 mins trying to find something I really wanted and/or didn’t have. The only one I could find was this Ratt compilation and the price was right at $8.99 used, then take off the 30% off! This DVD is a combination of 2 VHS releases: RATT – The Video (1985) and RATT – Detonator Videoaction (1991) plus two bonus features: a commentary from Stephen Pearcy & Warren DeMartini and unreleased videos from the INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY and DANCING UNDERCOVER albums……13 videos total.

    Used CDs

    Battlelore – Third Age Of The Sun (2005) – $4.90: A band I’ve been wanting to check out for a while, this was the only Battlelore disc in the store.

    Cheap Trick – Lap Of Luxury (1988) – $2.80: I got nostalgic for ‘The Flame’ and this was a cool 3 bucks!

    Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers (1984) – $6.30: A major oversight in my collection! I’m not sure how I accomplished going without PERFECT STRANGERS on CD but I seem to have done it. I had to call home to make sure I was missing the album, give my wife credit for going up to the music room to check.

    Dream Evil – United (2006) – $4.20: I got bored with Dream Evil after 2004’s THE BOOK OF HEAVY METAL so I never got around to grabbing this. I’ve been keeping an eye on this used copy for a couple months but I kept passing on it. This is a 2 CD set with a second disc of 5 bonus tracks…..great value!

    Flotsam & Jetsam – When The Storm Comes Down (1990) – $4.20: Not a big Flotsam fan but I didn’t have this one and it’s from 1990 so I fugure the music has to be decent given the year. Good price too.

    Heart – s/t (1985) – $2.80: Big time ’80s AOR from Heart with catchy singles like ‘What About Love’ and ‘These Dreams’. This was a big MTV/radio album back in ’85 and I always dug Heart.

    Iron Savior – Condition Red (2002) – $5.60: Iron Savior are in the same boat as Dream Evil, after the first couple of albums I got bored with them. Actually, I stopped buying new Iron Savior after DARK ASSAULT (2001). Another used disc I’ve been passing over for a couple of months.

    Hell Bent For Metal 2: A Tribute To Judas Priest (2000) – $2.80: I know, I know…..I am the guy who hates cover songs…..but I’m also the guy who likes tribute albums. It’s a vicious circle. Some good bands here: Cage, Seven Witches, Tyrant. A good tracklisting too: ‘Rapid Fire’, ‘Tyrant’ (by Tyrant!), ‘Grinder’ and more. I bought this and I have no idea if I have it already because my compilations/tributes/soundtracks are still packed away in boxes!

    Journey – Generations (2005) – $2.80: Always been a Journey fan but I passed on this record (and the tour) when I read all the bad reviews. The good news for me is that there have been at least ten used copies of this albums floating between my two usual Newbury Comics locations all for $3.99! I figured the 30% off sale was a good time to fill a hole in the Journey collection.

    King Diamond – The Eye (1990) – $4.90: Filling the holes in the King Diamond collection and I knew I didn’t have this one. This is the 1997 Roadrunner remaster.

    King Diamond – The Puppet Master (2003) – $7: I had to call home and get my wife to go upstairs to the music room again. Turns out I skipped this one too along with DEADLY LULLABYES LIVE (2004). Not sure why but I’ll bet the price in 2003 was too much, especially for the digipak version with the bonus DVD.

    Kreator – Renewal (1992) – $3.50: Bought solely on the price and that I know I don’t have it. I’ve been slowly filling the holes in my Kreator collection since they released the excellent HORDES OF CHAOS this year.

    Operator – Soulcrusher (2007) – $2.80: I kept meaning to pick this up since it came out but I passed even though I read good reviews online. Plenty of used copies available but getting it for under three bucks is a steal.

    Slayer – Show No Mercy (1983) – $9.10: How does a self-professed Metal maniac not have Slayer’s first album in his collection? I couldn’t believe it either so I called the wife a third time and made her go upstairs again! This time she was doing laundry in the basement so she reluctantly went up two floors and reported the album missing!

    Spinal Tap – Break Like The Wind (1992) – $3.50: Tap is Tap and Tap is great! I just never got around to picking this up! This is the 2000 reissue.

    Destiny’s End – Breathe Deep The Dark (1998) – $1.40: Did you notice that I listed all my CDs in alphabetical order? I’m breaking the order with the debut from Destiny’s End because I already own it! I grabbed it when I saw it because the price was $1.40 but I kept looking at it in my basket and I couldn’t remember if I owned it or not. By the time I was ready to check out I had already called home 3 times…..the wife wasn’t going to be happy if call #4 came so I decided to risk the $1.40 and wait to check when I got home. Looks like Destiny’s End will be returned when I head to the store Tuesday and I’ll get a small credit.

    Total = $119

    I ended up running into Luke’s really quick because there were a few KISS bootlegs I wanted but I passed because I think I can get them through trades. I didn’t buy anything at Luke’s but I think I will be ordering a few things online this week that just came out…..I wish everything came to the record stores like they used to!

    The Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15)

    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 (#1-#15):

    #1

    Avantasia - The Scarecrow (2008)Avantasia – The Scarecrow

    Tobias Sammet (Edguy) has the magic touch this year and his new concept album THE SCARECROW takes the top spot as Album Of The Year. The album is similar to the first two Avantasia albums, METAL OPERA 1 & 2, in that it is full of guest stars (Alice Cooper, Jorn Lande, Rudolf Schenker, Michael Kiske, Eric Singer, and more) performing  this combination of epic Power Metal blended with hard Rock, Classic Rock, Classical and Folk. That’s a lot to take in at once! Every song is very melodic and I found myself easily singing along after a couple of spins. A good album is one that leaves a lasting impression and THE SCARECROW has been part of my weekly playlist since it’s release in January.

    #2

    Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)Ayreon – 01011001

    A close second! Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Ayreon project is similar to Avantasia with all of the guest stars performing and the epic nature of the music. The difference is that Ayreon’s music is longer, more epic and follows a storyline that started on previous albums. (For a good explanation of the plot, read this album’s Wikipedia page.) This album is almost 2 hours of Progressive Rock & Metal, Power Metal, and Symphonic Metal that is both melodic and heavy…..there is a lot to take in! Even the packaging is complex! There are layers of sound in each song that you sometimes here something different the next time you here it. 01011001 is a little less accessible than THE SCARECROW due to it’s length (2 CDs) and heavy concept but it was a very close second. So close in fact that I almost called a tie!

    #3

    whitesnakegood_to_be_badWhitesnake – Good To Be Bad

    It took 11 years but we finally got a new Whitesnake record and it is a great comeback for David Coverdale. Most of the album retains the Blues Rock that was the basis of the early Whitesnake album while leaning on that big ’80s sound. The songs are full of hooks and great guitar work (Doug Aldrich & Reb Beach) along with that thick Coverdale voice. I had seen the band tour with the Scorpions a couple of years earlier and they were awesome in concert. I knew a new record would have a great sound. It was also good to see this album get a ton of promotion, especially on U.S. television, I didn’t expect to see constant commercials on different channels advertising the CD. In a year full of comebacks (AC/DC, Guns N Roses, Journey), I have to give Whitesnake the best comeback of the year!

    #4

    Judas Priest - Nostradamus (2008)Judas Priest – Nostradamus

    Let the debate begin! Of all the big releases this year from big time bands, no album had more debate then Judas Priest’s double concept album NOSTRADAMUS. I’ve heard all the arguements from “it’s not straight forward Judas Priest” to “it’s too long” to “the concept sucks” to “Iron Maiden could have done it better”…..I think a lot of fans were down on the project due to purely nostalgic reasons. We aren’t going to get the BRITISH STEEL era Judas Priest because they have evolved as musicians and this concept album is what they wanted to do. I’ll admit that Priest isn’t known for their albums being complete epics, they’re more straight forward in their approach, but that doesn’t mean that NOSTRADAMUS is devoid of what makes Priest great. Half the album is instrumental intros that kind of make the album drawn out but the songs do have the Metal that Priest is known for. Rob Halford’s voice sounds better than it has in years and he puts in perhaps the performance of his career. The music is really good if you listen without prejudice and I don’t want to get into that synth guitar arguement because KK Downing & Glenn Tipton have been using them all along. Give NOSTRADAMUS a spin without hoping for 1980 Judas Priest and you will find a great album. This album was tough to get through due to the length (close to 2 hours) but repeated listens have pushed this album from a grower to #4.

    #5

    Royal Hunt - Collision Course - Paradox II Royal Hunt – Collision Course: Paradox II

    This has to be the year of the concept album because the latest offering from Royal Hunt is the 4th concept album in the Top 5! Let’s not even get into the conceptual aspect, the music alone is melodic Power/Progressive Metal with solid musicianship and  great vocal performance from new singer Mark Boals. The last few Royal Hunt albums have been disappointing but COLLISION COURSE proves that the band is still a force. I was surprised at how melodic this album really is because some of the band’s previous efforts were held down by too much keyboard noodling, I think adding Mark Boals to the band adds a fresh influence and creativity.

    #6

    cover_globaldramaCloudscape – Global Drama

    Like the entire Top 5, GLOBAL DRAMA has remained part of my weekly playlist since it’s release. I’ve had the album since late July and I just keep playing it…..that’s the sign of a good record! Cloudscape is a Progressive Metal band but they are very melodic (like Royal Hunt) while retaining their heaviness. The first couple of spins made me think of Kamelot, Balance Of Power and Symphony X…..that’s a good group to be in. Cloudscape was on my list to check out and now they are one of the best newer bands I’ve heard in a long time, I’m currently on the hunt for the band’s previous albums.

    #7

    msg-in-the-midst-of-beauty-2008Michael Schenker Group – In The Midst Of Beauty

    When guitar legend Michael Schenker puts his head down and stays focused, he makes truly great records. There is no denying his talent on guitar but his career has been plagued with different challenges and the subsequent results aren’t always the best musically. IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY is an almost full reunion of the original MSG: Gary Barden is back on the mic, Don Airey on keys, Simon Phillips on drums and Neil Murray handling bass instead of Mo Foster. That’s as solid a lineup as you’re going to get and I think the strong supporting cast influenced Michael because he created some of the best music of his career, it’s as if you can hear Michael’s happiness in his playing. The album is melodic and heavy with a ton of riffs for the guitar enthusiast but the music is enhanced by that cool Hammond organ Airey commands giving the album a late ’70s/early ’80s sound, almost like classic UFO. If Whitesnake was my comeback of the year then Michael Schenker is a close second.

    #8

    Journey Revelation (2008) Journey – Revelation

    If there ever was a band that described AOR/Melodic Rock then Journey is that band. The last couple of years have been trying for the band with all the rotation at the lead singer slot (Steve Augeri, Jeff Scott Soto) but the band grabbed a virtual unknown, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, and made an album that is pure classic Journey. Melodic Rock at it’s finest, Journey’s new songs are full of harmonies, good melodies, soaring vocals and really good guitar. Let me add they are also well written and produced too. The band new that another new lead singer would be a gamble but Pineda puts on a great performance that is on par with Steve Perry’s legacy. There was also great value here with a second disc of re-recorded greatest hits and a bonus live DVD…..you can’t beat that for $15! All year long I have been saying that if the music industry wasn’t so screwed up then Journey would have a multi-platinum hit album with REVELATION.

    #9

    Def Leppard - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)Def Leppard – Songs From the Sparkle Lounge

    I know it’s not fashionable to like Def Leppard because they have “sold out” and downplayed their NWOBHM and Hard Rock roots over the years but they do make very good records. SPARKLE LOUNGE is one of those albums that just has that mix of catchy ’80s Hard Rock and current modern Rock that mainstream radio lives for. The music is full of hooks and melody and the songs are all well done except for one repetitive dud (‘C’mon C’mon’). The Leps know how to make a catchy record and this one had me hooked in and singing along. I like the trademark big sound combined with the ’70s influences and modern updates. Def Leppard takes a lot of criticism but they make good music.

    #10

    moonspell-night-eternal-2008Moonspell – Night Eternal

    I wasn’t expecting much from a new Moonspell album but I was completely surprised by NIGHT ETERNAL and it’s variety of sound. Moonspell plays a blend of Black, Death, Gothic and Power Metals all rolled into one with grand orchestration and both clean and harsh vocals. Get all that? The album is dark and heavy but it’s also very melodic and there are some beautiful orchestrations that enhance the overall sound. As I started re-listening to my 2008 CDs to make this Top 30, NIGHT ETERNAL kept creeping closer and closer to the Top 10. I had the promo for a long time but I ended up buying a proper copy at the local shop for around $13 and the value was really good: a bonus track ‘Age Of Mothers’ and a two alternate versions of ‘Scorpion Flower’ along with a bonus DVD of live Wacken 2007 performances. This kind of music isn’t my usual first choice but I expanded my horizons this year and I rediscovered Moonspell.

    #11

    benedictum-seasons-of-tragedyBenedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy

    I’ve had SEASONS OF TRAGEDY since it’s U.S. release in March and it is one of the best Traditional Metal albums of the year. A lot of Metal fans might be thrown off by having a female frontwoman but I can tell you that Veronica Freeman kicks a whole lot of ass on the mic! Her vocals are extremely powerful to go along with the fast pummelling music that’s behind her. This is Benedictum’s second album and they steer clear of the sophomore jinx with an album heavy on Power Metal and Thrash that I can only describe as an aural assault. One of the best new U.S. Metal bands out there.

    #12

    Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider (2008)Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider

    Another concept album making the Top 30? Of course! Especially if it’s an Alice Cooper album! I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan, always have been, and this is one of the best albums he’s released in the last few years. ALONG CAME A SPIDER has a perfect character for Alice to play (a serial killer named Spider) and he adds his own blend of shock, horror and humor to the performance. The one thing that Alice has done successfully with his last few albums is to revisit some of the classic ’70s sounds that made him the king of Shock Rock and he incorporates this sound with enough modern tendencies to make it sound fresh. the concept might not be all that original but Alice plays it perfectly and the songs are all very good with top production.

    #13

    uriah-heep-wake-the-sleeper-2008Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper

    I’ll bet a lot of you are scratching your heads. If you don’t know who Uriah Heep is then you are missing out, the band has been around for close to 40 years and their sound is similar to Deep Purple but with a bit more Progressive Rock. WAKE THE SLEEPER is the first Heep album in a decade and I wasn’t really expecting much but these elder statesman have roared back with a heavy melodic album. Mick Box still plays a mean guitar and Phil Lanzon adds his Hammond organ in to fill out the sound but the performance of the album goes to long time singer Bernie Shaw who puts in one of the best vocal performances of the year.

    #14

    shannon-angel-in-disguiseShannon – Angel In Disguise

    ANGEL IN DISGUISE turned out to be one of the surprises of 2008. I had the album in my growing pile for a couple of months before I got to it and I wasted all that listening time because the record is top flight melodic Metal. Usually, there are a couple of duds in the tracklisting but each song is well done and has plenty of melodic hooks and Euro-Metal power to satisfy a wide range of Metal fans. It’s always a great year when you discover new bands, Shannon will be a band I watch closely in 2009.

    #15

    testament-the-formation-of-damnation-2008Testament – The Formation Of Damnation

    2008 was the year of the concept album and the year of the comeback and Testament came back in a big way with this pounding Thrash assault. This is the album that we all wish Metallica had in them, it’s an in your face old school Thrash attack by a band that I consider one of the best in the genre but sometimes overlooked. This album is one heavy record that easily blows away a lot of modern Thrash out in the last couple of years.

    ——————————————————————————————–

    Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30) for the other half of my Top 30 list.

    ——————————————————————————————–

    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

    All-time top posts at Heavy Metal Addiction

    When I started this blog back in January 2006, all I wanted to do was talk about albums in my music collection and pass along some Metal memories. Two and a half years later, close to 460,000 people have stopped by to read my album reviews, get some Metal news, and join me out on the Hunt for more music. I thank everyone for stopping by!

    One of the things I get asked often is: “What is your most popular post?”.

    Today I’m going to list the Top 5 posts and the Top 6 album reviews (with the publish date and stats) at Heavy Metal Addiction from day 1 to right now with a little commentary.

    Top 5 Posts at Heavy Metal Addiction

    1. Poison members involved in onstage fight – breakup? – (8/27/06 — 23,732 views)
    2. Journey (with Arnel Pineda) – Festival Vina Del Mar 2008 complete set from Chile (video, 2/21/08) – (2/23/08 — 20,573 views)
    3. First official band picture of the new Journey with Arnel Pineda – (1/8/08 — 19,768 views)
    4. Press Release: Arnel Pineda is the new Journey singer! – (12/6/07 — 12,064 views)
    5. Gene Simmons facelift post-op picture – (4/2/07 — 10,576 views)

    The Poison fight post has been the top dog for a long time, the day I posted it I ended up with the best single day ever with close to 17,000 hits! Before that, I think my best day was couple hundred readers. The Poison video is going to get taken out by Journey with their new singer Arnel Pineda. Like them or not, Journey has always been a worldwide band and with Filipino Arnel on the mic, they are now more than ever. If I were to expand this list to the Top 20, there would be four more Journey related posts! A lot of people are getting a chance to see/hear the new Journey from the full video of the Festival Del Mar 2008 in Chile and the two press releases. Personally, I like the fact that Gene Simmons is at #5 not just because my favorite band is KISS but because look at that train wreck! Like I said in the post, too bad they didn’t fix his vocal chords while they were at it!

    Top 6 Albums Reviews at Heavy Metal Addiction

    1. Quiet Riot – Metal Health (1983) – (1/21/07 — 10,014 views)
    2. Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain (2007) – (6/1/07 — 8904 views)
    3. Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death (2006) – (9/13/06 — 7439 views)
    4. Black Sabbath – Forbidden (1995) – (12/19/06 — 6279 views)
    5. Legs Diamond – Town Bad Girl (1990) – (2/22/07 — 5132 views)
    6. Lita Ford – Out For Blood (1983) – (1/12/07 — 5048 views)

    Quiet Riot makes the top spot unfortunately due to the news of Kevin DuBrow’s passing. Unfortunately, the hits for this post picked up when Kevin died…..RIP Kevin. No surprise that Ozzy’s last record made the list because the guy is just popular with all Metal fans. BLACK RAIN made my 5 Worst of 2007 list at #4 and I have had a ton of email pointing out what an idiot I am for calling it a subpar effort. Another no brainer was Iron Maiden’s last album making the list, this album review seems to get a fair amount of hits every week.

    The next three surprise me because they are in my Top Posts list everyday. Of all the Tony Martin era posts I did, FORBIDDEN gets a ton of hits everyday. I consider FORBIDDEN the weakest effort of that Sabbath era but people are searching and reading about it. Legs Diamond and Lita Ford are duelling for the #5 spot, that’s why I post six on the list. Everyday I see both of these reviews getting a ton of views, both are definitely “cult” albums but I didn’t think they would get that much attention, especially the Legs Diamond review.

    So there you have it, some of the top posts…..now click the links and check’em out!

    Current Playlist

    A lot has been going on in my life this weekend so the posting was put on hold for a couple of days. I changed shifts at work for this week so my assistant can have a deserved vacation week, I am returning to my natural overnight shift (12am-8am) for one whole week. For ten years I worked the overnight shift and, almost two years ago now, the powers that be changed it to 6pm-2am. That means I have a little more time to listen to music this week! Here’s what’s been spinning the last couple of days:

    Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008): Anytime the Priest returns with a new album, it’s a reason for me to celebrate. I’ve been a devout worshipper at the altar of Judas Priest since 1982 so I knew I would like the new record. The problem with NOSTRADAMUS isn’t the material, it’s the time. The album clocks in at over an hour and forty minutes! That’s serious listening. So far I like the record but I definitely need more time with it…..a lot more time…..

    Moonspell –  Night Eternal (2008): I have had an advance of this album for a few weeks now and I am still listening to it. I haven’t really kept up with Moonspell in the last few years but NIGHT ETERNAL has me checking my Moonspell catalogue so I can fill a few holes. A review is coming…..

    Headhunter – Parasite Of Society (2008): Destruction mainman Schmier has had Headhunter going since he left Destruction in 1990 and this is their fourth, and latest, album. It’s not Thrash like Destruction, more like Power Metal, and the vocals are a little hard to take. Review is coming…..

    Heidevolk – Walhalla Wacht (2008): I’ve been getting into a lot of Pagan Metal/Viking Metal lately and Napalm Records has been very good to me by sending me some of the latest releases (Tyr, Hollenthon, Heidevolk, etc). The music is superb here, very grand sounding, but the lyrics are all in Dutch. That’s just a small complaint as I’ve just enjoyed listening to the music, it’s not always about the words. Review coming also…..

    Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark (1993): I love this album! I remember back at the end of my high school years my friends and I were disappointed with 1990’s NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING. Maybe it was because SEVENTH SON was so good? When FEAR OF THE DARK came out in ’93, I waited in line for it at a local record store and got a free poster for my trouble! The title track is so good and ‘From Here To Eternity’ is just classic Maiden. A solid album that everyone forgets.

    Iron Maiden – The X-Factor (1995) & Virtual XI (1998): The Blaze Bayley era! There were some good moments in the post-Bruce Maiden like ‘The Clansman’, ‘Man On The Edge’, ‘Sign Of The Cross’, ‘Futureal’…..those were the singles. I decided after the Maiden show Friday night that I had to revisit the Blaze era to give it a fresh listen. Hard to believe these albums were released 13 and 10 years ago respectively.

    Krokus – Rock The Block (2003): Marc Storace returns to the band after an 8 year absence and Fernando Von Arb is still pumping out boogie riffs this side of AC/DC’s Angus Young. This “reunion” is basically the Storace/Von Arb show but it was the best Krokus album since HEART ATTACK (1988). This would be one of my Top 10 of 2003.

    Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (2007): What was one of my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#13) has now become an afterthought. I’ve barely listened to it since the new year and I didn’t even bother to review it. I’m preparing a post on albums I missed in 2007 that I’ve finally bought and I decided to revisit this record.

    Kamelot – Ghost Opera (2007): Kamelot is one of my favorite bands and I have been listening to this album once a week since it came out. I decided to really give it a fresh round of spins so I can review it. Another album that made my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#10), I would rate it higher today.

    Journey – Revelation (2008): I really like this record and I’ve been giving this a lot of time on the stereo…..just the new songs mostly.

    CD Scavenger Hunt – 2 month update!

    It’s hard to believe that the last CD Scavenger Hunt was way back at the end of April but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out on CD safaris! I have been visiting the local shops but money has been tight (for everyone I think!) so I have only been picking up the major releases and a couple of used ones along the way.

    I re-read all the Scavenger Hunts from this year over the weekend and I found two glaring omissions:

    Benedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy (2008) – $13: I picked this up back in March when it received it’s U.S. release. The album was released everywhere else in late January ’08 but I wasn’t paying import prices for a Rainbow cover that’s the bonus on the European release. I became a fan of the band when I heard UNCREATION (2006) so I agonized over a month & a half wait, LOL!

    Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007) – $20: I picked this up back in March as well thru CD Inzane. The band are selling the album themselves thru their website but at a price of $25 (includes S&H), I found CD Inzane to have the best price with shipping and I was impressed by the quick delivery. My version is the limited edition version that the band is selling as they currently are without a label.

    So now we’ve caught up on the really late CDs, lets move on to the rest that I’ve bought since the end of April…..

    Sledgehammer Ledge – s/t (1992) – $20: I found out about Sledgehammer Ledge about a year ago when I found this album on CD Baby. I liked the samples so I added it to my wishlist and that was that. A couple of months ago, I decided to update my wishlist at CD Baby and I saw that this CD was out of print so I started checking Ebay. Turns out that this disc was going for $20-$30 at auction so I waited to see if CD Baby would restock. I finally got fed up and used BUY IT NOW to buy the album for $15 plus the $5 for shipping.

    Dokken – Lightning Strikes Again (2008) – $13: Another case of the European edition being available before the U.S. release…..I ordered the Euro edition from an online shop I usually frequent but there was a stocking problem so i cancelled my order. With shipping, the total cost was going to be $20 but there was a bonus track called ‘Sunset Superstar’. I decided to wait the extra month and saved the seven dollars but it would have been nice to have had the Euro edition right away.

    Brother Firetribe – Heart Full Of Fire (2008) – $10: I’ve been wanting to check out Brother Firetribe since 2006 when I read many positive reviews on their album FALSE METAL. I’ve never heard much fron the band except for a few samples and some songs at their MySpace page but I couldn’t pass up the sale price and I grabbed my copy when I picked up the new Dokken.

    White Lion – Return Of The Pride (2008) – $13: I’m a sucker for ’80s Hard Rock bands that were big on MTV and White Lion is no exception. My high school years were filled with songs like ‘When the Children Cry’ and ‘Wait’ so I have a soft spot when it comes to White Lion. I waited to buy this album because I read mixed reviews but I found this a few weeks after it’s initial release with a sale sticker attached! It rang up $17 but the sale sticker got me $4 off! I still haven’t listened to it…..

    Royal Hunt – Paradox II: Collision Course (2008) – $10: Another album that has been out in Europe and Japan since late 2007/early 2008 and didn’t get a U.S. release until the end of May! I wish these albums could get released in all the territories around the same time! I couldn’t pass up the sale price and I’ve been a Royal Hunt fan since 1997 so I’m very interested in how new frontman Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) sounds.

    Journey – Revelation (2008) – $11.88: If you’ve read the site before then you know I like me some good ol’ American AOR whether it’s Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Sammy Hagar, or Journey. I’ve always liked Journey since I was a kid and I have very vivid memories of the radio and TV ads for the Providence tour stop on the FRONTIERS tour with the big emphasis on the band’s name (JOURNEY!!!) and a montage of their hits. Anyway, the new album is a 3 disc set available exclusively thru Wal-Mart with the debut of new singer Arnel Pineda on the new album, a CD of re-recorded hits with Arnel, and a live DVD from Las Vegas 2008. That’s major value for such a low price!

     

     

     

     

    Press Release: Journey’s REVELATION sells more than 104,000 units in debut week.

    JOURNEY’S ‘REVELATION’ SELLS MORE THAN 104,000 UNITS IN DEBUT WEEK

    Three-Disc CD/DVD Package Exclusively Available at Wal-Mart Stores

    June 10, 2008 — JOURNEY’s new three-disc CD/DVD package REVELATION has sold more than 104,000 copies in its debut week according to Wal-Mart Stores, marking the band’s biggest first week’s sales since 1996’s TRIAL BY FIRE. Released June 3, REVELATION is being sold exclusively at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club in North America, Walmart.com and Samsclub.com, and Journey’s official website, Journeymusic.com. REVELATION’s first week’s sales marks a 1400% increase over the band’s 2005’s first week’s sales of GENERATIONS.

    “We are thrilled with the early success of Journey’s ‘Revelation’ music project, and clearly our customer is excited about it too,” said Jeff Maas, Divisional Merchandise Manager, Entertainment, Wal-Mart U.S. “We believe that if we continue to find innovative products, priced to showcase the value, our customers will show their excitement by purchasing the product. Journey has been great to work with and clearly this reflects a win for them and for our customer.”

    The first disc consists of 11 new songs, the second is filled with 11 re-recorded classics, and the third is a live, in-concert DVD. All of the music on REVELATION was produced by Kevin Shirley (who previously worked with JOURNEY on their Platinum-certified TRIAL BY FIRE album).

    REVELATION marks a new chapter in the legendary career of multi-Platinum rockers JOURNEY, thanks to two singles at Rock and AC radio (“Never Walk Away” and “After All These Years”) and rave reviews, including the New York Times who hailed: “…the band seems to have taken rock vitamins: it feels alive.”

    JOURNEY–Neal Schon (guitar), Jonathan Cain (keyboards), Ross Valory (bass), Deen Castronovo (drums) and Arnel Pineda (vocals)—is currently on a European tour through June 28. They’ll start a massive summer U.S. tour with special guests Heart and Cheap Trick on July 9 in Denver, CO.

    For more information on Journey, visit www.journeymusic.com.

    Journey – ‘Never Walk Away’ (2008, new song) on YouTube

    ‘Never Walk Away’ is the new Journey single, from the forthcoming new album REVELATION, featuring new vocalist Arnel Pineda. This song is taken from a radio broadcast so the sound quality isn’t what it should be but I’m glad to hear a preview.

    Always great guitar work from Neal Schon but listen to Pineda…..now we know why he was picked for the job, he sounds almost exact to Steve Perry!