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)

    Judas Priest, Whitesnake & Pop Evil live in concert at Comcast Center (Mansfield, MA) – 7/7/09

    Second concert of the season and it was a good one…..Judas Priest & Whitesnake! Same venue that I saw the Def Leppard/Poison show last week but what a difference in the crowd! Def Leppard and Poison packed the seats under the roof and the seats on the lawn for about a 10,000+ audience…..Judas Priest and Whitesnake didn’t even sell out the seats under the roof, I’d say anywhere from 5000 – 7000 in attendance last night. I was sitting center stage 20 rows back so I had a perfect seat for a night of BRITISH STEEL and an ’80s greatest hits set from Whitesnake.

    Pop Evil setlist:

    I have no idea who Pop Evil are and what songs they played. All I know is that they are from Michigan and they sound like Nickelback, Creed, Puddle Of Mudd and Godsmack all rolled into one. I’m not a big fan of those bands but Pop Evil weren’t that bad, I’ve seen worse openers, and they only played for 30 minutes.

    Whitesnake setlist:

    Bad Boys
    Fool For Your Loving
    Love Ain’t No Stranger
    Slow An’ Easy
    Lay Down Your Love (includes double guitar solo from Reb Beach & Doug Aldrich)
    Cryin’ In The Rain (includes a quick drum solo mid-song)
    Is This Love
    Give Me All Your Love
    Is This Love
    Here I Go Again
    Still Of The Night

    No big surprises here and it’s pretty much what I expected from David Coverdale and company. The band sounded tight and Coverdale had good voice but I could do without some of the over the top screaming he does. He still has a good voice but he likes to scream a lot live I guess. I could have done without the solos and gotten an extra song especially with ‘Slide It In’ missing from the set. Good to hear ‘Lay Down Your Love’ from GOOD TO BE BAD (2008), it came off well live and David’s intro mentioned that their label (SPV) went bankrupt. I’m not surprised the band kept it to their three most popular albums from the ’80s, unless of course you’re a diehard and recognize that ‘Fool For Your Loving’ (from 1980′s READY AN’ WILLING) and ‘Here I Go Again’ (from 1982′s SAINTS & SINNERS) were earlier tracks the band re-recorded. It was a good set and a solid performance that the crowd really got into.

    Judas Priest setlist:

    Rapid Fire
    Metal Gods
    Breaking The Law
    Grinder
    United
    You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
    Living After Midnight
    The Rage
    Steeler
    The Ripper
    Prophecy
    Hell Patrol
    Victim Of Changes
    Freewheel Burning
    Diamonds & Rust
    You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

    This was the 30th anniversary of BRITISH STEEL (1980) and the band is playing the entire album (a trend I am enjoying from a lot of bands lately) from start to finish. Good to hear the band play the album with the original tracklisting, most of the crowd thought that they would open with ‘Breaking The Law’ but I educated more than a few people that the record company had changed the running order so ‘Breaking The Law’ & ‘Living After Midnight’ would be the first songs to start each side of the album and that ‘Rapid Fire’ was the true first song. Then I had a kid in his late teens ask me what I meant by a “side”. I gave up!

    Priest rammed right through the entire album almost without pause: Halford did his usual ‘Breaking The Law’ intro (“Breaking the what?”) and he spoke about the band’s biggest “hit” before ‘Living After Midnight’ but it was pretty much non-stop. Highlights from the BRITISH STEEL set were everything but the hits I’ve heard before at a Priest show except for ‘Metal Gods’, one of my favorites. I got to hear ‘Grinder’ and ‘The Rage’ and they went over HUGE with the crowd but the best was yet to come…..

    ‘The Ripper’ and ‘Victim Of Changes’ are classics from SAD WINGS OF DESTINY (1976) and I got to hear ‘Freewheel Burning’ from my favorite Priest record DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH (1984) that has to be one of the fastest they’ve done. Even the new NOSTRADAMUS song ‘Prophecy’ came out good live and there were a lot of people singing it word for word so I guess I’m not the only one out there who liked that album! The band sounded great as usual and Rob’s voice sounded stronger, he was also a little more animated on stage rather than his “stand in one place and look at my boots” phase he’s been in since 2006. Overall a great show and a diehard’s dream of a setlist…..maybe next year they can do a 20th anniversary of PAINKILLER (1990)!

    Current Playlist

    I haven’t been posting but I have been listening…..here’s what’s been assaulting my ears the last couple of days…..

    Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009): I picked this up in the last couple of weeks but I didn’t get around to listening to it until this past weekend. There is some classic Primal Fear on 16.6 but there is also some more melodic songs like on the band’s last album, NEW RELIGION (2007). I definitely need some more spins with this.

    Wolf – Ravenous (2009): This CD hasn’t left the stereo yet and it’s getting a daily spin or two. One of the best albums of the year.

    Def Leppard – On Through The Night (1980): Great debut from a band that rocked big time when they were hungry for success…..and the Leps haven’t been hungry in a long time! The concert is Tuesday night so I’m reliving some old glories!

    Def Leppard – High ‘N Dry (1981): I had this record BEFORE the reissue in 1984 when PYROMANIA was hitting the top of the charts. To this day, one of my favorite Def Lep songs is ‘Let It Go’ and I’m hoping to hear live again, last time was back in 2006.

    Poison – Greatest Hits (1996): I like a taste of Poison now and then but not enough to get me to listen a lot. I already know the setlist the band is playing on tour…..all the predictable hits that are on this compilation. If I could have one song off this album it would be ‘So Tell Me Why’ from the studio tracks on SWALLOW THIS LIVE (1991).

    Judas Priest – British Steel (1980): The show with Whitesnake is next week so I figured I’d give this a spin seeing they are playing the whole thing live. Looking forward to hearing the band tear up ‘Rapid Fire’ and ‘Grinder’.

    Press Release: Judas Priest – A Touch Of Evil Live (2009) artwork, tracklisting, release dates revealed

    From Bravewords.com & JudasPriest.com:

    Judas Priest - A Touch Of Evil Live (2009)

    As the creators of a live release that is considered to be one of the all-time great concert recordings in the realm of heavy metal (1979’s Unleashed In The East), whenever Judas Priest announce a new live album, metalheads worldwide instantly take note. And on A Touch of Evil: Live (due for release in July 2009 via Sony Music and Epic Records), the mighty Priest – which includes singer Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis – doesn’t disappoint. Focusing primarily on fan-revered album cuts (all previously unreleased in live form on CD), A Touch of Evil: Live features absolutely scintillating renditions of such Priest gems as ‘Riding On The Wind’, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, ‘Dissident Aggressor’, ‘A Touch Of Evil’, ‘Eat Me Alive’, and the set-closing ‘Painkiller’. Also of note are the first live album appearances of standouts from Priest’s critically acclaimed 2008 concept double disc, Nostradamus (‘Death’ and ‘Prophecy’).

    Recorded by Martin Walker and Brian Thorene during the Judas Priest’s mammoth 2005 and 2008 world tours, A Touch Of Evil: Live also marks the first Priest album that producer Tom Allom has worked on since 1988 (co-producing along with the band). It was such Allom-produced albums as the aforementioned Unleashed In The East, as well as British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance (among others) that made Priest not only one of the premier metal acts, but one of the leading global rock acts. As heard throughout A Touch of Evil: Live, Priest remain a must-see live act…and a must-hear one, as well.”

    The complete tracklist for A Touch of Evil: Live is as follows: ‘Judas Rising’, ‘Hellrider’, ‘between The Hammer And The Anvil’, ‘Riding On The Wind’, ‘Death’, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, ‘Dissident Aggressor’, ‘A Touch Of Evil’, ‘Eat Me Alive’, ‘Prophecy’, ‘Painkiller’.

    Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America DVD (2009)

    severed_ways

    Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (2009, Heathen Films/Magnolia Pictures)

    (Region 0, NTSC, Total Running Time = 147 minutes)

    Director: Tony Stone

    Severed Ways
    Severed Ways MySpace Films page
    Severed Ways on IMDB
    Heathen Films
    Magnolia Pictures

    I enjoy good movies but I’m hardly film aficionado. I took a few film classes in college and I did well in them so I understand, and look for, things that most people might miss when they sit in front of the screen and veg. I enjoy independent films because most offer an alternative point of view and/or subject matter than big budget blockbusters that Hollywood crams down our throats. I got my first exposure to SEVERED WAYS through a news item I read at Bravewords.com that included the two trailers (first one is normal, second is Metal):

    Anything that combines Metal music to a unique film concept is right up my alley so I’ve been anticipating watching this DVD for a few weeks. Once I got my copy in my DVD player I kicked back and watched one really good independent film! The film centers around two Viking explorers that have been abandoned by their expedition after a losing battle with the natives (Skrealings) of this newly discovered land (North America). The film tracks their survival and journey as they try to make their way North to rejoin their comrades. The Vikings hunt, build shelter, encounter Christian priests (complete with a church burning), and ultimately meet their demise. The plot doesn’t seem like much but it’s the realism that really hooks you in. Nothing is as real as watching the Vikings survive in the lush forest landscape from their hunting and fighting to actually taking a dump and wiping off with leaves! Honestly, I could have done without a Viking taking a dump but think about it…..isn’t that something that would need to be done? The fight scenes and the killing that is done in the film is brutal in it’s rawness but not gory like a B Horror flick. It’s all about bringing the viewer into the adventure with as much reality as possible. I don’t want to simplify everything here but that is essentially the plot, there really isn’t too much to it. The sub-plot is each Viking’s personal attitudes and their personal journey of self-awareness.  

    What makes the film for me is the way it was shot. Obviously this isn’t a Hollywood action flick with millions behind it but I liked the way director Tony Stone used regular cameras as well as handhelds to give the proper perspective. When watching scenes from the handheld cameras you get the sense of urgency and the sense of actually being in the thick of the forest as the events unfold. I also like the fact that there was minimal dialogue and that the actors spoke in what seems to be a Norse language but the subtitles kind of kill the vibe. The film is all about authenticity and realism, I would have rathered heard the dialogue with no subtitles so I could interpret the communication my own way. There is a particular scene in the beginning where the Vikings are feasting on some game and one turns to the other and mentions how “killer” the food is. “Killer”! Seriously, couldn’t someone come up with something less Hot Topic!

    The Metal aspects of the film are obvious. First…..Vikings! If there was ever a subject that the Metal world understood it’s Vikings. Second…..Norse mythology vs. Christianity. If there’s another subject that the Metal world undertands it’s Norse mythology. Take a look at most of the Scandinavian Black Metal scene and there are plenty of examples and influences of how pro-Norse/anti-Christian attitudes permeate the music. Third…..the soundtrack. It’s a more subdued Metal soundtrack than I expected, more atmospheric and ambient but still containing the heaviness of Old Man’s Child, Dimmu Borgir, and Burzum among others. There is one scene that seems way out of place…..the headbanging scene in Chapter 2 – Camp. In Chapter 1 – Stranded, the Viking pair make a shelter to survive. At the beginning of Chapter 2, the shelter is built, the Metal music starts out and you see the Viking called Orn headbanging in celebration. Totally out of place! Why go through all the effort of being as authentic as possible and then put in a quick scene of a Viking rocking out?

    Bottom Line:
    I really enjoyed SEVERED WAYS because of the way the film was presented, the more real it became the more I liked it. The actors did a great job and the way the film was shot added to the realism of being stuck in primitive North America in 1007 A.D. There really isn’t anything Metal about the film except for the underlying soundtrack but it is a cool connection with the Norse theme. If you’re looking for a fantasy based epic from Hollywood then this isn’t the movie for you. If you’re looking for some sort of Heavy Metal themed video, this isn’t the movie for that either. What you get is a basic journey of two stranded Vikings in a foreign land: they eat, they sleep, they crap, they kill, they die. It’s all very basic but the way it’s all presented is the key. Well worth checking out…..

    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!

    Judas Priest to play entire British Steel album on U.S. Summer 2009 Tour with Whitesnake

    From Bravewords:

    Judas Priest have posted the following message:

    “To celebrate the 30th anniversary of our album BRITISH STEEL, we are very pleased to announced we will be performing the whole album in its entirety during our US 2009 Summer Tour, plus some other Priest classics!!!”

    judas-priest-british-steel-1980

    As previously reported, Whitesnake have just been added to to Priest’s upcoming North American tour. The band will play select dates on the tour. More information to follow.

    Judas Priest’s itinerary is as follows:

    July
    1 – The Family Arena – St. Charles, MO
    2 – Summerfest, Harley Davidson Stage – Milwaukee, WI
    3 – Taste Of Minnesota at Harriet Island – St. Paul, MN
    9 – Molson Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON
    11 – PNC Banks Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ
    12 – Nikon At Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, NY
    17 – Moondance Jam 18 – Walker, MN
    18 – Rockfest/Chippewa Valley Music – Cadott, WI

    August
    2 – Gibson Amphitheatre – Universal City, CA

    CD Scavenger Hunt — DVD Edition

    One of the things that I didn’t do much of in 2008 was buy and watch Metal DVDs. I’m not really sure what the problem was, some really good DVDs were released, but I just kept going with CDs. I decided to correct the situation with all the gift cards and cash I got for Xmas.

    I took a trip down to my local record store to kill the gift cards first. My major purchase was one of those USB turntables so I can rip vinyl for preservation purposes and my MP3 player. They were $100 but 20% off with the weekly coupon so I used $80 in gift cards to cover it. Armed with a lone gift card for $20, and another coupon, I made my way to the music DVD section…..

    manowar-hell-on-earth-part-3Manowar – Hell On Earth Part III (2003) – $16 used: There were two copies of this 2 DVD set: one new for $30 and this one for $16. I’ll take half price any day! I have the first Hell On Earth DVD and it was awesome because Joey DeMaio decided to pack it with content and extras. Part 3 is no exception, it clocks in at 5 1/2 hours WITH over 2 hours of bonus material! Close to 8 hours of Manowar? I hope I’m reading that correctly!

    manowar-hell-on-earth-part-2-fire-and-bloodManowar – Hell On Earth Part II: Fire And Blood (2002) – $0 used: If you have Hell On Earth Part 1 and Part 3 then you need to buy Part 2. This DVD has been very hard to come by in my area over the last few years because it always sells out as soon as it comes in to the local shop. For the Xmas season this year, they ordered two brand new copies of Part 2…..one sold the week before Xmas (yes, I keep track of these things!) but the new copy was there the day after Xmas for $25. The good news was that they had a used copy too for half price ($12) so I grabbed it. The tricky part comes at the register…..I had a coupon for 20% off any used DVD (limit 3 DVDs) so the clerk rang both DVDs and took the coupon off but it brought my total to $17 (tax included). Turns out the coupon took the whole price off Part 2 and the guy couldn’t get it to work right. After deleting the transaction twice and trying the ringing it a couple more times, the guy gave up and said “Merry Xmas”. So I got Part 2 for free!

    With all the gift cards used I decided to hit Ebay to compare prices with what I saw in the record store. All the new Halford DVDs were on my list this time around…..

    fightwarwordsfilmFight – War Of Words The Film (limited edition) (2007) – $16: I’m a huge Rob Halford fan and I am into all of his bands (except Two) so this DVD/CD set should have been bought when it came out but it was so pricey. Halford.com had it for $21 + shipping and the local shop priced it at $28 so I put it off. One of my favorite Ebay sellers got a bunch of new copies and started the bidding at $13. Add the $3 shipping and I’m a happy Metalhead…..

    fight-into-the-pit-dvd1Fight – Into The Pit (limited edition) (2008) - $16: One DVD and 3 CDs for close to 2/3 off, that’s a great deal! The record store had it for $40 and Halford.com had it for $39 + shipping so I went with the same Ebay seller and the same exact price as the War Of Words Film DVD. If I was a happy Metalhead before, I’m even happier…..

    halfordrockinrioHalford – Resurrection World Tour: Live At Rock In Rio III (2008) – $15: Seeing that my favorite Ebay vendor had Rock In Rio III also I decided to complete the set. Both Halford.com and the record store had this for $25 so I got another good deal. Now I’m an ecstatic Metahead…..with a tons of DVDs to watch!

    Total = $65  (I saved $85 by buying used and checking Ebay!)

    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.

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    Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30) 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

    Metal Mixtape – 10/12/08

    Tale Of The Tape:
    Dell DJ 30 (1st Gen)
    4555 songs (385 albums)

    One of the problems with taking a weekend off is that you need to take care of all the little things around the house that you let slip when you are working and doing all the things you need to do to keep life going. I had some chores around the house to do, bills to pay, a dog to walk and a house that needs it’s Halloween transformation. The only way to get through it is to put the headphones on, press SHUFFLE, and go about your business! Here’s the first 20 songs that played…..

    1. Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Badger Badger’ (1980)
    2. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Angel Eyes’ (2008)
    3. Uriah Heep – ‘Tears Of The World’ (2008)
    4. Icarus Witch – ‘Queen Of Lies’ (2007)
    5. Alcatrazz – ‘God Blessed Video’ (1985)
    6. UFO – ‘Hunger In The Night’ (1988)
    7. Alice Cooper – ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ (1971)
    8. Extreme – ‘Slide’ (2008)
    9. Iron Maiden – ’2 Minutes To Midnight’ (1984)
    10. Mogg-Way – ‘Totaled’ (1997)
    11. Motley Crue – ‘Down At The Whiskey’ (2008)
    12. Judas Priest – ‘Wheels Of Fire’ (2005)
    13. U.D.O. – ‘ The Devil Walks Alone’ (2007)
    14. Mogg-Way – ‘Death In The Family’ (1999)
    15. Krokus – ‘Shotgun Boogie’ (1990)
    16. Scorpions – ‘Mind Like A Tree’ (1999)
    17. Saxon – ‘Empty Promises’ (1986)
    18. Krokus – ‘Backstabber’ (1999)
    19. Balance Of Power – ‘No Place Like Home’ (2003)
    20. Black Sabbath – ‘Zero The Hero’ (1983)

    Bonus Track: KISS – ‘Charisma’ (1979)

    Weekend Playlist – 10/11 & 10/12

    It’s been awhile since I had a long weekend off so I decided to do my best and relax, listen to some music and get back on track with the website. The good news is that the laptop is fixed, all it needed was a little compressed air into the fans and it works! So here’s what I’ve listened to this weekend and what I have on tap for late night tonight…….

    Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008): Alice is one of my favorite artists but I really haven’t given this album much play since it’s release. I’m really not sure why because he has had an excellent track record with his last 4 records. I’ve been spinning this more than any album lately and I’m really starting to get into it. Alice is just creepy and this serial killer concept is great.

    J.C. Cinel – Before My Eyes (2008): Very cool acoustic melodic rock from singer/songwriter J.C. Cinel. This is kind of light because it’s all acoustic and it has a lot of Country influences in it. It kind of has a Jon Bon Jovi/bret Michaels solo vibe to it but a lot better. I’m a sucker for good acoustic guitar and there’s plenty of it here!

    Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper (2008): I picked this up a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t tear the wrapping until today. Heep is one of those legendary bands that I always try to get into but I never buy their albums because I find something else. I read some reviews online and grabbed it. Too early to make a judgement after one spin.

    Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): I bought this the day it come out, listened to it a half dozen times and moved on. I really want to like this album but I haven’t been able to get into it.

    Judas Priest – Jugulator (1997): I thought that this was a great album when it first came out. It’s very heavy and Tim Owens does a great job singing, even if the Halford comparisons are there. With all the news on Owens leaving Iced Earth and joining Yngwie Malmsteen for a new record, I decided to go back 11 years and hear how everything started. Some solid tunes here: ‘Burn In Hell’, ‘Jugulator’, ‘Cathedral Spires’…..the whole album is top notch, I just think people couldn’t get by the Owens vs. Halford debate.

    ‘Burn In Hell’

    Two – Voyeurs (1998): Rob Halford + Trent Reznor + John 5 (John Lowery) = one big mess! I bought this in the hopes that Halford would answer Priest’s JUGULATOR but this ended up being one of the worst albums I’ve ever bought! I give Halford credit for trying something new but Industrial Metal isn’t his thing, he was trying to emulate Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails and failed miserably.

    Round 1 to Judas Priest!

    Halford – Resurrection (2000): A huge comeback! The Two project sucked and I think Rob Halford knew it so he went back to his Metal roots and made sure everyone knew it. The title track signals the return but ‘Silent Screams’ is a gem. I also really dig the duet with Bruce Dickinson on ‘The One You Love To Hate’.

    Judas Priest – Demolition (2001): Priest was in the middle of making this album when Halford dropped his RESURRECTION bombshell, after hearing that comeback I just knew that Priest would have a tough time competing. Some good tracks here, ‘Feed On Me’ is the best, but the album feels disjointed. This doesn’t even compare to JUGULATOR so forget the comparison to RESURRECTION. When I went to get this album out I noticed that I have four copies: the promo advance, the regular U.S. CD, the Japanese pressing (1 bonus track) and the Australian Tour Edition (3 bonus tracks, one being the bonus from the Japanese release).

    Round 2 to Halford!

    Rose Tattoo – Blood Brothers (Special Tour Edition w/DVD) (2008): I only gave this one spin but it was good to hear Angry Anderson and the boys again. This one is on my list for late night listening.

    Girlschool – Legacy (2008): This album is out out in a couple of weeks, in a month for the U.S. I always liked Girlschool, they came in with the NWOBHM and I always seem to acquire their albums. This is the album I’m holding for later tonight after the NFL game…..I’m betting it’s good.

    Judas Priest – Priest…Live! (1987)

    Judas Priest – Priest…Live! (1987, Columbia)

    1. Out In The Cold
    2. Heading Out To The Highway
    3. Metal Gods
    4. Breaking The Law
    5. Love Bites
    6. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
    7. The Sentinel
    8. Private Property
    9. Rock You All Around The World
    10. Electric Eye
    11. Turbo Lover
    12. Freewheel Burning
    13. Parental Guidance
    14. Living After Midnight
    15. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

    Total Time = 1:14:01

    Judas Priest official website

    I know that putting PRIEST…LIVE! in the list of some of my favorite albums is going to spark some serious debate. Why? Judas Priest had already put out a classic live album with UNLEASHED IN THE EAST in 1979 and the TURBO (1986) album, and subsequent Fuel For Life Tour, had a more commercialized Pop Metal sound. I put this album in with my top live albums because I was 14 years old in 1987 and Judas Priest was my second favorite band (KISS being #1). The band was everywhere (radio, MTV, print) and I was along for the ride! I had been a Priest fan for a few years but the combination of the TURBO album, Metal hitting the mainstream, and the hype surrounding the band’s concerts June 4th (Providence, RI) & June 5th (Worcester, MA). I didn’t get to go to either of these local shows, my mom thought I was too young, so when the announcement of PRIEST…..LIVE! started to gain momentum in the media I was psyched! Finally I would get to hear what Judas Priest sounded like live in concert!

    Taking a look at the tracklisting you’ll see that all of the songs date from 1980 onward including 5 songs from the TURBO record: ‘Out In The Cold’, ‘Private Property’, ‘Rock You All Around The World’, ‘Turbo Lover’ and ‘Parental Guidance’. Obviously, the band was on tour supporting TURBO so it’s obvious that a third of the album promotes it. Also not surprising is that 4 songs come from the album that came before, my personal favorite, DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH (1984). I lived and breathed DEFENDERS for two years as Heavy Metal doctrine so I was glad to see ‘Love Bites’, ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’, ‘The Sentinel’ and ‘Freewheel Burning’ featured prominently. Then you spread out some classics like ‘Metal Gods’ and ‘Electric Eye’ and I knew that this would be a great live record even before I had listened to it.

    I had a problem right away with ‘Out In The Cold’ opening the album. I had been to a few concerts (not sure why my mom thought I was too young for a Priest Show!) and all the bands opened with a fast, hard-charging song. For a Metal monster like Judas Priest to open with a guitar-synth ballad was an immeadiate letdown. ‘Out In The Cold’ was a single from TURBO, I heard it played on the local Rock station, but it opened Side 2 on the album! And where was ‘Locked In’? That was the first single/video and it’s surprising that it’s not included. Moving on to ‘Heading Out To The Highway’ (from 1981′s POINT OF ENTRY), I like this live version better than the studio version…..most likely due to the fact that this version gets played more. Even the band and label have decided to include this live version on various greatest hits and box set packages instead of the original, the song is more aggressive live. ‘Metal Gods’ and ‘Breaking The Law’ are staples of the band’s live repertoire to this day but my high point is the DEFENDERS triumvirate of ‘Love Bites’, ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’ and ‘The Sentinel’. Nothing was better than hearing tracks from my favorite album live, especially ‘The Sentinel’…..a song that is a Metal feast.

    TURBO tracks ‘Private Property’ and ‘Rock You All Around The World’ were cool back then but seem out of place now. My guess is that they were put in for the audience participation factor because I would have used ‘Locked In’ instead, I think ‘Locked In’ would have come off harder and more Metal. ‘Electric Eye’ is another concert staple for Priest so it’s a welcome intrusion to all the newer tracks but the live version of ‘Turbo Lover’ sounds too close to the studio version. It also sounds too light sandwiched between the driving ‘Electric Eye’ and the Speed Metal of ‘Freewheel Burning’, one of the album’s best tracks! I always liked ‘Parental Guidance’ so it gets a pass even with the audience participation and ‘Living After Midnight’ sounds a little faster and heavier live. Ending the record is the seminal closer ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ from SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE (1982) and it’s a solid extended performance that still gives me chills when I hear it.

    I really liked this live album back in my early teens but as I got older, and my musical tastes matured, I started to gravitate towards UNLEASHED IN THE EAST. PRIEST…LIVE! today sounds a little too commercial for my ears, it’s not as aggressive compared to the actual Judas Priest shows I’ve attended since. The TURBO songs don’t have that staying power today that they might have had back in the ’86-’88 era. It’s cool to hear them but when you compare them to heavy classics from UNLEASHED IN THE EAST, they fall flat. PRIEST…LIVE! is a nostalgia trip for me now, a way to reconnect with my teen years…..if I want an all out Metal assault, I look for other records.

    This album was remastered and reissued in 2002 and it has 3 bonus tracks: ‘Screaming For Vengeance’ (recorded live in 1982), ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’ (recorded live in 1984) and ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ (recorded live in 1986). I wanted to review the original album, and that’s the ones I listened to again, but it is worthy to note that these songs are performed very well. All three were possibly in and out of the actual setlist on the Fuel For Life Tour but two of these tracks were recorded on past tours making their inclusion somewhat odd. I would rather hear these songs live from ’86 like ‘Hell Bent For Leather’, a song I think should have been on the original album maybe replacing a TURBO song.