CD Scavenger Hunt (May update)

Continuing to play catch up…..here’s the May hunt!

Newbury Comics

Tyketto – Dig In Deep (2012) – $13
Soulfly – Enslaved (2012) – $12
Huntress – Spell Eater (2012) – $15
Moonspell – Alpha Noir/Omega White (Ltd. Ed.) (2012) – $20
Angel Witch – As Above So Below (2012) – $10
Sepultura – Roots (1996) – $9 used
Soulfly – s/t (1998) – $7 used
Slash – Apocalyptic Love (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $17
Sonata Arctica – Stones Grow Her Name (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $10
Unisonic – s/t (2012) – $10
Sabaton – Carolus Rex (2012) – $10

Just a few quick trips this month to the record store to grab new releases at sale prices. I already had the new Tyketto album from Frontiers promo department and I did download it but I support the artists & labels, as well as my collection, so I picked it up at a great price. My second trip was to buy the new Huntress and Moonspell CDs but I also grabbed the new Soulfly while I was there. I never got into Soulfly back in 1998 but I figured now was the time since I’ve heard a lot of Soulfly as of late. The new Moonspell I grabbed was the double disc limited edition with a full bonus album titled OMEGA WHITE but the only problem I had was that I wanted the new Angel Witch album but there were none in stock. There were about 6 copies sitting around for a few weeks at a $10 sale price but all of a sudden they were all gone! I decided to take a 25 minute ride from North Attleboro to the Warwick location to find the Angel Witch CD and I was successful as they had a single copy left and while I was there I grabbed Sepultura’s ROOTS and Soulfly’s debut used. The last trip to the record shop was to get more new releases: the new Sabaton, Sonata Arctica and Unisonic were all $10 but I splurged on the new Slash record limited edition that included a bonus DVD, bonus tracks and a coupon for a free t-shirt. Like I said….a quick month.

Ebay

Anvil – Speed of Sound (1998) – $11 used

Only one Ebay purchase this month…..Anvil’s SPEED OF SOUND. With all the reissues of Anvil’s back catalog lately, I’ve been tracking down the original releases and grabbing them as the prices level out. This CD was $8 + $3 shipping and it was used but in mint condition.

Total = $144

Total (year) = $1012

Average Price (per item) = $8.72

Total CDs (year) = 111

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

2010 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10

My favorite time of year is here again…..Halloween!

It’s a tradition here at Heavy Metal Addiction to have a Halloween Top 10 and this year is no exception. This all started with the 2007 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10, then I skipped 2008 but the overwhelming emails came to do a new one so last year I did the 2009 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10. I have been through my collection again and I tried not to repeat the same songs again except for a couple that will always be in the Top 10. I always search out a new pumpkin picture to post at the top and, since we lost Ronnie James Dio to stomach cancer earier in the year, I thought this pumpkin I found on Facebook was a fitting tribute.

So here it is, in no particular order (except the #1 spot), the 2010 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10…..

  1. Black Sabbath – ‘Black Sabbath’
  2. Alice Cooper – ‘I Love The Dead’
  3. King Diamond – ‘Trick or Treat’
  4. Type O Negative – ‘Black No. 1′
  5. Iron Maiden – ‘The Number Of The Beast’
  6. Judas Priest – ‘A Touch Of Evil’
  7. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Diary Of A Madman’
  8. Dio – ‘Master Of The Moon’
  9. Alice Cooper – ‘Go To Hell’
  10. Black Sabbath – ‘After All (The Dead)’

Bonus Track: Moonspell – ‘At Tragic Heights’

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

Moonspell – Night Eternal (2008)

Moonspell – Night Eternal (2008, SPV)

  1. At Tragic Heights
  2. Night Eternal
  3. Shadow Sun
  4. Scorpion Flower
  5. Moon In Mercury
  6. Hers Is The Twilight
  7. Dreamless (Lucifer And Lilith)
  8. Spring Of Rage
  9. First Light

Band Lineup:
Fernando Ribeiro – Vocals
Mike Gaspar – Drums
Pedro Paixão – Guitars & Keyboards
Ricardo Amorim – Guitars & Keyboards

Total Time = 44:20

Moonspell official website
Moonspell MySpace page
SPV USA

I haven’t picked up a Moonspell album in a long time, I think the last one was DARKNESS & HOPE (2001), and I haven’t given any of the albums I own a spin in a long time. When I started to read the press releases on the new album, NIGHT ETERNAL, I decided it was time to “re-discover” Moonspell and get prepared for a new album. Taking a listen back to older albums like DARKNESS & HOPE, WOLFHEART (1995), and IRRELIGIOUS (1996), I remembered the myriad of sounds and styles that the band has always used. On NIGHT ETERNAL, Moonspell have taken all those different styles and blended them into one of the most unexpected surprises of 2008!

Opening track ‘At Tragic Heights’ starts off with grand orchestration and a spoken word intro that continues to build until the hammer falls and the band kicks into high gear. The drums start to roll, the guitars get a little faster moving into the main riff, the keyboards build up the sound and then Fernando Ribeiro’s death metal growls take center stage. The music is sweeping and atmospheric, a very full heavy sound, a great start to set the tone for the entire album. The title track comes in next with another quiet intro that leads into the heavy guitar and Mike Gaspar’s double bass drumming. This song is absolutely driven by the drums mirroring the main riff and the growls and shrieks surrounded by the keyboard flourishes really helps enevelop the song with sound. ‘Shadow Sun’ sounds very gothic with a spoken word vocal that gives it an eerie/spooky feel until the drums kick in and Ribeiro growls through the speakers only to return to the spoken word chant. Three songs in and it’s very apparent that the vocals and drums are excellent but the guitars from Paixão & Armorim are heavy as hell intertwined with the keyboards.

Moonspell collaborates with former The Gathering singer Anneke Van Giersbergen on ‘Scorpion Flower’ to provide what is probably the most accessible song on the album, no surprise that it’s the first single and video. It’s a mid-paced song that reminds me of Giersbergen’s former band’s work on MANDYLION (1995) but with a deep male voice trading off with Anneke’s pure vocal beauty. Obviously I really enjoyed this song due to my allegiance to mid-90s Moonspell and The Gathering, I got into both bands around the same time. ‘Moon in Mercury’ immeadiately reminds us that Moonspell is powerful and the clean vocals from the previous track are replaced with a Death/Black Metal crush and driving guitars but with that atmpspheric keyboard. ‘Here is The Twilight’ continues the combination of the Gothic Metal mid-tempo spoken word with the Death Metal flourishes while ‘Dreamless (Lucifer And Lilith)’ sounds similar to ‘Scorpion Flower’ with it’s symphonic/gothic slower pace and swirling slower riffs. Back to a faster pace from the opening riff, ‘Spring Of Rage’ moves from mid-pace to fast pace and spoken word to growls giving the song continued variety. The last song, ‘First Light’, begins with an acoustic guitar/keyboard intro that moves into the main electric riff. Everything slows down for more spoken word from Ribeiro (until the bridge) where he uses his growls. The orchestration is superb with female choir vocals but not overbearing, a perfect blend.

Bottom Line:
The best Moonspell album I’ve heard in a long time! Every song is strong with a variety of styles blending into each other to provide a heavy, scary, and beautiful soundscape. Everything fits so well together: the different vocal deliveries, the guitars and keyboards blending together, the drums driving the album, and the orchestration enhancing each track. The album is dark and brooding at the same time it’s beautiful and grand, a solid blend of gothic with Death/Black Metal. One of the best albums so far this year!

Favorite songs: ‘Scorpion Flower’, ‘Night Eternal’, ‘At Tragic Heights’, Dreamless (Lucifer & Lilith)’, ‘Moon In Mercury’

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.