The Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#1-#10)

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! Every year it seems like more and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2010 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 2010 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than the last two years combined! 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 from 2010 that I have right now at my desk is over 200.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 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 2010. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2009 overseas, but was released in 2010 for the U.S., qualified as a 2010 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I 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 2010″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 30 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is Part 3, the Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#1 – #10):

#10

Mass – Sea Of Black (2010): The new Mass album was a complete surprise for me because I honestly really didn’t expect much. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get into Mass too much back in the ’80s, which is surprising because the band is from Massachusetts and that’s basically my backyard here in Rhode Island! I remember hearing a song called ‘Do You Love Me’ on the radio and I’ve seen the the albums on vinyl and cassette in old record stores but I never really got into the band. SEA OF BLACK is basically my formal introduction to the band it’s a great Melodic Rock/Melodic Metal album that has a serious ’80s retro sound. Opening track ‘Falling From Grace’ starts the album off right with a high powered Metal guitar crunch but with a great melodies and harmonies…..and that’s a perfect way to describe the album! Mass has re-released most of their back catalogue on Retrospect Records and they are also available on their website so now I will be filling the holes in my collection! http://www.massrocks.com/

#9

Keel – Streets Of Rock & Roll (2010): Keel was one of those bands from the ’80s that I got into because of the Gene Simmons connection but, as time went on, I forgot about the KISS connection because the band itself was really great. It’s been 21 years since the band released a true studio album so getting a reunion record as good as STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL is a major comeback. I liked the fact that the album sounds like classic ’80s Keel but with a grittier and deeper sound. Ron Keel’s voice sounds as good as it ever has, the band is as tight as it’s ever been and the quality of the songwriting is really great. A lot of times you get a reunion where the band is just going through the motions, and I thought that was going to be the case with Keel because of the 25th Anniversary of THE RIGHT TO ROCK, but the band stepped to the plate and made a Hard Rock album that could easily sit alongside the rest of their discography. http://keelnation.com/

#8

Krokus – Hoodoo (2010): 2010 was a year that a lot of bands who hadn’t been around in a while got back together and made a comeback album. Krokus has never really gone away because they’ve been releasing albums all along, the problem is that it’s never really been a true reunion, only just a member or two with a supporting cast. 2010 is the 30th anniversary since METAL RENDEZ-VOUS (1980), the band’s worldwide breakthrough album. Krokus had released three albums in the ’70s but the Metal really started in 1980. Back in the day, I was the only rocker I knew that new about Krokus so they were always like “my” band so I was looking forward to HOODOO a lot. HOODOO marks the reunion of the classic Krokus lineup from the ’80s and the band goes back to doing what they do best…..boogie woogie Hard Rock like AC/DC. That’s where Krokus sometimes gets a bad rep because AC/DC were the originators and it’s hard to imagine a band from Switzerland doing the same thing! It doesn’t matter if it’s a similar style, it’s good music that’s catchy and melodic all the while having great riffs that stick in your head.  HOODOO came out in April or early May but the single ‘Hoodoo Woman’ was released ahead of the album’s release, I still can’t get that chorus out of my head! A solid comeback, I hope this lineup does another album. http://krokusonline.seven49.net/Web/

#7

Masterplan – Time To Be King (2010): This is the third album in the row on this year’s countdown that’s a reunion and/or a comeback for a major band. The big selling point with Masterplan in 2010 is that Jorn Lande is back in the vocalist spot for the first time since 2005. The first two Masterplan albums were awesome but things happen sometimes and Jorn left in 2005 to be replace by ex-Riot singer Mike DiMeo for MKII (2006). This is another Power Metal/Progressive Metal album that really took hold of me as soon as I heard it. Maybe it’s because Jorn’s voice is so unique and he’s one of the top Metal singers around but all the songs are well-written, the musicianship is flawless and even the packaging is cool as a gold-embossed digipak. Just a quick mention here, drummer Mike Terrana is one of the most underrated drummers in Metal and he puts in an awesome performance on TIME TO BE KING. Definitely the best Power Metal album of the year and getting Jorn back in the band puts Masterplan right at the top of the heap again. http://www.master-plan.net/

#6

Crazy Lixx – New Religion (2010): Sweden’s Crazy Lixx have been on the scene for a few years now releasing single until their 2007 studio album LOUD MINORITY. When I heard that the band was releasing their second album in late March/early April, I really didn’t pay much attention to it because I really haven’t jumped on the Swedish Glam/Sleaze/Hard Rock scene that has really started to make waves around the world. I had an advance of the album and I gave it a quick listen and I was blown away! Here’s a band from Sweden that’s relatively unknown and they do ’80s Hard Rock better than some of the bands of that era! NEW RELIGION is one of the best Hard Rock albums to come out this year and I still haven’t taken it out of my weekly playlist. Big hooks and harmonies, guitar solos, and good time party Rock. I really enjoyed the Wig Wam’s NON STOP ROCK ‘N ROLL that also came out this year but NEW RELIGION takes it to a higher level and easily outshines that record. Definitely an album that travels back in time to the fun and excess of the ’80s and sounds fresh here in the 2000s. http://www.crazylixx.com/

#5

Black Country Communion – s/t (2010): Wow! Where did this album come from? Where did this band come from? Supergroups come and go and usually disappoint but, when you put Glenn Hughes on vocals & bass, Joe Bonamassa on guitars, Jason Bonham on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards, that’s a lineup of awesome musicians. But does it work? That’s the main thing and I was pretty skeptical, so much so that I blew off buying this CD for a couple of months and I didn’t pick it up until November. I put this in and I haven’t taken it out of my weekly rotation, Black Country Communion is a band that has a Classic Rock sound based on a combination of the Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll. It sounds like old school ’70s Rock that really sounds fresh today. Glenn Hughes is an amazing singer and Joe Bonamassa is a truly fantastic guitarist with a great feel, if you don’t know anything about these two musicians then you should Google them immeadiately and listen to some of their previous works. I almost put this in the #1 slot on this year’s countdown but, as I started re-listening to a lot of the albums from earlier in the year, I had to put four others ahead because of their impact. Black Country Communion is a band and album everyone should  check out. http://www.bccommunion.com/

#4

Scorpions – Sting In The Tail (2010): As soon as the Scorpions announced the release of STING IN THE TAIL, they also announced that this will be their last studio album and that the band is retiring. Sad news indeed to hear from a Hard Rock band that has been around for nearly 40 years but, if this is how they are going to go out, then STING IN THE TAIL is the way to do it! I was a huge fan of the updated sound the band created on their last studio album, HUMANITY HOUR 1 (2007), that I made it the Best Album of 2007 so I was looking for a continuation of that direction. This new record is really a continuation of the classic Scorpions Hard Rock sound from the BLACKOUT (1982) and LOVE AT FIRST STING (1984) eras. At first, I felt like this was a big step back for the band because they had done such a great job on HUMANITY but, after constant listens, this album grew on me and it’s become one of my favorites of the year. I got into the Scorpions with BLACKOUT and LOVE AT FIRST STING so this new album really brought me back in time and made me go back over the entire Scorpions discography…..they are one of the most consistent bands in the scene. Think about it, aside from EYE II EYE (1999), when was the last time you heard that a Scorpions album sucked? This may not be the best Scorpions album compared to the classics they have but it’s a great Hard Rock album and one I enjoyed a lot this year. http://www.the-scorpions.com/english/

#3

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010): In a year full of reunions and comebacks, Accept was really one of those bands that could have either hit it big or crashed and burned. One listen to BLOOD OF THE NATIONS and it’s easy to hear that they easily hit it big! A classic Accept lineup reunited headed by lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann but the distinct Accept vocalist, Udo Dirkschneider, refused to take part. That meant the band needed a singer and the biggest question mark would be former T.T. Quick frontman Mark Tornillo. The band wrote an album of killer Heavy Metal songs, put in a ton of great riffs and then Mark put in a brilliant performance on vocals. Not every band can replace such a unique singer like Udo, Accept tried that back in 1989, but Accept really hit with Mark. I can’t say enough about how Mark sounds like Udo but really puts his own stamp on the songs and takes everything to another level. I’m not sure that BLOOD OF THE NATIONS would have the same impact if Udo did re-join the band. Here’s hoping the band continues making new records because they have set the bar high, one of the best comeback albums of the year! http://www.acceptworldwide.com/

#2

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (2010): Iron Maiden is no stranger to my year end countdowns because they always release such high quality albums and DVDs that it’s hard not to automatically install them at #1. So 30 years have gone by since the band’s self-titled debut and it’s been four years since the band’s last album A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (2006), so how did Maiden do? Well, I called this the album of the year in my review and it came so damn close! Say what you want about Metallica but I would argue that Iron Maiden is the biggest Heavy Metal band in the world and they make better albums then Metallica could ever hope to make. There is a tradition, a pedigree, a reputation that Iron Maiden has and they always rise to the task and create albums that just blow every other album away. THE FINAL FRONTIER gets better with every listen with some much to hear in every song. I know a lot of old school and/or casual fans prefer to hear the quick ‘Run To The Hills’ style Iron Maiden but the band is at their best when they write new material that has a Progressive edge to it. THE FINAL FRONTIER is a 76 minute album that reflects both styles and I haven’t stopped listening to it. A lot of that has to do with being a fan for 28 years and Maiden being in my Top 5 favorite bands of all-time but the album is high quality crafted Metal. Iron Maiden are legends and innovators and everyone else should follow their lead. http://www.ironmaiden.com/

One album to go everyone! The #1 album is next but before I get to it let me say again how great this year was for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal…..my Best of 2010 list, along with the other websites’ lists, will attest to that. I’ve listened to more new releases this year than any other year that I can remember and this year’s list was a hard one to make, there were so many really good albums, so many comebacks and reunions that it became one of the hardest lists to make in the site’s 5 year history. I really had a tough time with this list because I kept going back and forth between the new Iron Maiden record and this next album…..so here is my #1 Album of 2010…..

#1

Ratt – Infestation (2010)

2010 was definitely the year of the Ratt! I never thought that after eleven years since the last reunion and album that Ratt would ever get back together with founding vocalist Stephen Pearcy since there was so much bad blood and legal issues but the band put that stuff aside and set out to make INFESTATION. I’ve been a Ratt fan since OUT OF THE CELLAR (1984) and they have always been one of my favorite ’80s Hard Rock bands. I was psyched to see them on the 1999 Poison reunion tour and I thought they blew Poison away so I was hoping for a full tour after this album was released. Unfortunately, it seems like the band have gone their separate ways again and the future is in doubt for a follow-up album. INFESTATION is the classic Ratt sound: sleazy old school Hard Rock. Right from the opening rocker ‘Eat Me Up Alive’ to the classic ’80s style single ‘Best Of Me’ to the swagger of ‘Look Out Below’, Ratt has really pulled out all the stops writing some really solid songs. The founding trio of Pearcy, drummer Bobby Blotzer and guitarist Warren DeMartini are all on board, as is long time bassist Robbie Crane, but the addition of former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo really stabilizes the band’s sound in a way that hasn’t been heard since the glory days when the late Robbin Crosby traded licks with DeMartini. I bought this album the day it was released in April and it still gets plenty of playing time in my weekly rotation and if I had to name a song of the year, it would easily be ‘Best Of Me’, that song alone brings the band right back to the classic Ratt style of the ’80. Of all the albums I heard this year, INFESTATION is the one I enjoyed the most. Great album, great comeback…..too bad it’s probably over already! http://www.therattpack.com/

CD Scavenger Hunt – update 5/11/10

It’s almost been a month and I am still active buying CDs in person and online but I’m not really doing the volume I used. I’m still out there buying new releases but I’m also re-exploring my own collection. One of the things that is a daily challenge for me is what to listen to, I always have some new releases ready to go but there are so many classic albums that I own that I haven’t played in a long time. So here’s the update on the last few weeks, I picked up a few interesting albums and some definite bargains.

Record Stores

Ratt – Infestation (2010) – $13: This was a complete no-brainer! Aside from the new Scorpions record, the new Ratt record was one of my most anticipated release of the year. I grew up with Ratt, I remember when ‘Round And Round’ was a “world premiere video” on MTV back in 1984, and I have been waiting for a reunion with Stephen Pearcy since…..well, their last reunion in 1999! I was buying this anyway but I was able to get access to the album ahead of time so I knew just how good it was when I dropped my $13 on the counter. Saved $4.

Cathedral – Guessing Game (2010) – $8: There was no way that I was going to pass up the new Cathedral album at such a great sale price. I didn’t realize that it was a double disc set either! That tells me that the Doom across 13 tracks are long and full of sludge. The problem was that this came out the same day as Ratt and I got to the record store late so they sold out of their two copies that were in stock. I ended up having them call the other stores in the chain and hold one for me at a location 20 minutes away. When I got to the other store it turned out that I had the last copy on hold and a few like-minded metalheads had come in looking for a copy. Saved $8.

Armored Saint – Symbol Of Salvation (3 CD Special Edition) (2003) – $12: I already own the original pressing of SYMBOL OF SALVATION but I have been watching this particular reissue for a few years now. It’s always in stock, it’s always around $20 and I always pass it up! On this particular visit to the record store I looked at it again and noticed the new regular price…..$8 cheaper! SOLD! You get the original album plus two bonus videos on Disc 1, the demos and part 1 of an interview on Disc 2 and part 2 of the interview on Disc 3 all enclosed in a nice slipcase. Saved $8.

Jon Oliva’s Pain – Festival (2010) – $12: Pricey imports be damned!I knew that if I waited patiently that this album would eventually get an official North American release. I picked up the first two JOP albums right away because of my love for Savatage but I never got around to buying 2008′s GLOBAL WARNING. Not sure why I never bought it but I didn’t want to make the same mistake with FESTIVAL. I always forget about Jon Oliva’s Pain even though I’m a big Savatage fan and I kept seeing ads, reviews, and JOP stuff everywhere online…..a sign perhaps? Saved $4.

Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (2010) – 10: I picked up the new Triptykon based on two things: my new love of Celtic Frost and the preview I got of a few Triptykon songs on the Ye Olde Metal Shoppe podcast. I started listening to the podcast a couple months ago and I heard the Triptykon stuff and I was hooked! Take a look at that album cover too! If this album was in the record store 25 years ago when I used to tread the aisles of Record Town and Good Vibrations I would have bought it based on the cover alone. Sale price helped too, saved $6.

Possessed – Seven Churches (1985) – $15: So I’m sitting around reading Sound Of The Beast (by Ian Christe) and I get to the part about Possessed and i decide to give SEVEN CHURCHES a fresh listen. I go upstairs to the collection and I can’t find it. So I go down to the cellar and I check the old cassettes…..nothing. Now I’m freaking out because I think I’ve lost an album! In one of my Rubbermaid containers are a bunch of CDRs that were burned for me and there’s SEVEN CHURCHES! I got to listen to the album again but I had to get this at the top of my list. I ended up buying the 1999 reissue at regular price…..saved $0.

Bullet For My Valentine – Fever (2010) – $9: I have successfully avoided Bullet For My Valentine for two albums but I keep getting recommendations from people that this is a great Metal band. I’m usually skeptical of any band that is featured so prominently on the t-shirts of the kids at my daughter’s elementary school…..same thing goes with Avenged Sevenfold and Killswitch Engage. I figured I’d finally give the band a try with FEVER, if it sucks then I’m only out $9 but if it’s good then I saved $7.

Ebay
(prices include shipping)

Bad Moon Rising – Full Moon Collection (3 CD set) (2005) – $15: I love Doug Aldrich’s playing and I am trying to collect all of the bands he’s played in (Burning Rain, Bad Moon Rising, Lion, etc.). I’ve had FULL MOON COLLECTION on the radar for a while but the price has never been right until now. The 3 CD set includes all three of BMR’s albums (1991′s BAD MOON RISING, 1993′s BLOOD, 1995′s OPIUM FOR THE MASSES) with all the bonus tracks from their Japanese E.P.s…..basically, I have all the studio recordings in one package. Unfortunately, there is a song missing titled ‘Union’ that was replaced with ‘Free’ on the OPIUM FOR THE MASSES disc. So I have everything minus one song! Great deal though because this set can go up past $50 sometimes.

Metal Massacre Vol.1 (1982) – $5: I’ve been on a Metal Blade kick lately from reading Sound Of The Beast (by Ian Christe) so I pulled out all my Metal Massacre CDs and my Metal Blade 20th Anniversary box set and I noticed a glaring omission…..I’m missing the first Metal Massacre! Thanks to Ebay, you can grab a cheap sealed copy, with the price tag from Hot Topic still on it for $7, and save $2! Of course, there are two versions of Vol.1, this is version #2. The original version on vinyl has Ratt’s ‘Tell the World’, Steeler’s ‘Cold Day In Hell’ and the original version of Metallica’s ‘Hit The Lights’ (with Lloyd Grant on lead guitar). I’m on the search for the vinyl now…..

Helix – Get Up! (2007) – $15: I’ve been looking for this CD for almost three years now and I finally have it! GET UP! is a self-financed CD from Brian Vollmer of helix that showcases seven songs that would later show up on THE POWER OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (2007) on Perris Records. GET UP! was basically a teaser CD that fans could buy and Brian would autograph it. This CD has been out of print since it came out basically so it’s a rarity and the completist in me had to have it.

Helix – Long Way To Heaven (1985/1999 reissue) – $10: You’ll start to notice a trend here because I’m filling some holes in the Helix collection. This reissue is the one that Helix frontman Brian Vollmer re-pressed and sold through his website – PlanetHelix.com. The CD artwork looks a little blurry and the booklet is your basic lyrics and band picture but it’s official issue from Brian himself (I took the time to research the details of the CD to be sure). I’m not sure if this album ever got a proper CD release but I got the reissue I knew about at a solid price.

Helix – Wild In The Streets (1987/2002 reissue) – $9: This is a great record and the title track is one of my favorite Helix songs. I had this on cassette and I’m finally getting around to buying this one after years! This is another reissue, this time by EMI Canada in 2002. There’s no extras, no bonus tracks or videos, it’s just the regular album. Comparing it to the LONG WAY TO HEAVEN reissue, this CD seems a little more professionally done. Not taking away anything from Brian Vollmer and his reissues, it’s just obvious a major label has a bigger budget for reissues.

Helix – No Rest For The Wicked (1983/2005 reissue) – $8: I’m just replacing all the old Helix cassettes in the CD Scavenger Hunt! I couldn’t pass up such a great price for this album, it’s got ‘heavy Metal Love’ on it! This is the 2005 reissue from Rock Candy Records and they are well known for putting a lot of effort into their reissues. No bonus tracks but the album is remastered and it has an excellent booklet that includes a written note from Brian Vollmer.

Total = $141

Total (year) = $540

Total CDs (year) = 55

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total LPs (year) = 1

RATT_Infestation_(2010)

Ratt – Infestation (2010)

Ratt – Infestation (2010, Roadrunner Records)

  1. Eat Me Up Alive
  2. Best Of Me
  3. A Little Too Much
  4. Look Out Below
  5. Last Call
  6. Lost Weekend
  7. As Good As It Gets
  8. Garden Of Eden
  9. Take A Big Bite
  10. Take Me Home
  11. Don’t Let Go

Band Lineup:
Stephen Pearcy – Lead Vocals
Warren DeMartini – Guitars  & Background Vocals
Bobby Blotzer – Drums
Robbie Crane – Bass
Carlos Cavazo – Guitars & Background Vocals

Producer: Michael Baskette

Country: USA

Total Time = 42:16

Ratt
Ratt MySpace page
Roadrunner Records

It’s about time that Ratt got back together and released a new album! Since the band’s initial break-up in the early ’90s, Ratt has reformed, regrouped and changed members countless times but they haven’t really made much noise. The band did get together with original singer Stephen Pearcy in 1999 for a new self-titled album on Portrait Records and a prime opening slot on the Poison reunion tour but that soon fizzled out again. Drummer Bobby Blotzer and guitarist Warren DeMartini (the two original members left) went through more Ratt incarnations and continued the war of words with their former frontman but now Pearcy is back in the fold. Longtime bassist Robbie Crane is still with the band and former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo is on board adding his slick guitar to the mix. The result? INFESTATION!

I have always been a big Ratt fan. Back when I was a young kid, I read about the Sunset Strip scene in fanzines and one of the names that popped up alongside Quiet Riot and Motley Crue was Ratt. I got into Ratt like most people did when FM radio and MTV started playing ‘Round And Round’ in their regular rotations, that’s when I ran out and bought OUT OF THE CELLAR (1984). I’ve always backed Ratt, even when the albums weren’t as good, because they were always a solid band and one of my favorites. Their reunion performance on the 1999 Poison tour was great and I thought they stole the show both times I saw it! The problem has always been that Ratt has fallen just a bit short compared to Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Poison so when I heard that INFESTATION was a return to the old Ratt sound, I was really looking forward to it.

I was hooked from the opening guitar of ‘Eat Me Up Alive’, a classic Ratt rocker that sounds similar to ‘You’re In Love’ (from 1985′s INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY) but a bit faster. Now that’s the way to open an album…..start right away and go for the throat with a fast song that is guitar heavy. If that isn’t enough, the band follows up with a song that sounds like one of their big hits from the ’80s, ‘Best Of Me’. This track is clearly a return to the commercial melodic Hard Rock that the band became known for and it has a similar sound and tempo to the band’s 1988 hit ‘I Want A Woman’ (from REACH FOR THE SKY). One of the things Ratt did so well back in the day was incorporate the big hooks and the melodic choruses to get you singing along with them, their songs were just infectious and ‘Best Of Me’ follows that tradition. This song is the lead single off INFESTATION and it should definitely be played all over Rock radio, it was tailor made for it, but it’s 25+ years since the band’s heyday and it’s a crime that people won’t hear it.

Ratt always had a sleazy quality to them, maybe it was because of Pearcy’s unique voice or that Sunset Strip hedonistic mentality, but it’s definitely back again on songs like ‘A Little Too Much’, the swaggering ‘Look Out Below’ and guitar driven ‘Last Call’. These songs sound like classic ’80s Ratt, especially ‘Look Out Below with it’s ‘Way Cool Jr.’  strut (from ’88′s REACH FOR THE SKY)  and that isn’t only due to the recognizable vocals from Stephen Pearcy, it’s due to the guitars as well. Warren DeMartini has been in Ratt from the beginning and he has always been the band’s “guitar hero”, even when the late Robbin Crosby was sharing lead guitar duties, and his playing is still amzing both on lead and rhythm guitar. What sets this Ratt lineup and album apart from previous reunion tries is that former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo is on board and he fits in perfectly. The problem with the 1999 self-titled album was that it was just Demartini on guitar, the classic Ratt sound was built on the DeMartini/Crosby twin guitar attack. Ratt has always maintained this in concert with former guitarists John Corabi and Keri Kelli but they never put it to a record. Adding Carlos Cavazo not only brings another versatile guitar player but also a songwriter, he adds his writing to four songs including ‘Eat Me Up Alive’ and ‘Best Of Me’.

There are more classic ’80s similarities like the ‘Lack Of Communication’ style on ‘Lost Weekend’ and the ‘Wanted Man’ grind on ‘As Good As It Gets’ (the band even name checks ‘Wanted Man’ in the lyrics!), these songs have a similar base compared to the classics but they stand on their own and aren’t cheap copies. It’s that familiarity that’s really hooked me in and makes the rest of the hard rocking songs like ‘Garden Of Eden’, ‘Take A Big Bite’ and ‘Don’t Let Go’ just as good. You kind of expect an ’80s Hard Rock band to have a ballad on a new album but the closest thing to a ballad is ‘Take Me Home’. I would call this song more of a combination of a hard mid-tempo (on the chorus) and a ballad (on the verses) with an updated sound. What’s throwing me off on ‘Take Me Home’ is that the rest of INFESTATION sounds so much like classic Ratt that the any updated sounds get lost. I like the string arrangement and the guitar solos but ‘Take Me Home sounds more like an idea that needs to be fleshed out a little more rather than a proper song.

Bottom Line:
Like I said before, I have always been a big Ratt fan so I was really looking forward to this new album. INFESTATION is exactly what an old school Ratt fan is looking for: a return to the classic sound. The band hasn’t released a proper album in eleven years so the classic sound is fresh to my ears where it may be dated to others, Ratt basically followed the same formula with great success for close to two decades. Having Stephen Pearcy back in the band makes a huge difference because his voice is the Ratt sound, kind of like Vince Neil is to Motley Crue, it’s hard to replace such a unique singer. Also adding Carlos Cavazo on guitar brings more energy and diverse playing to join with Demartini’s guitar heroics. INFESTATION is sleazy, slick and hard all at the same time and it’s definitely a classic Ratt record that you could put alongside OUT OF THE CELLAR, INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY and REACH FOR THE SKY. This is easily one of the best Hard Rock albums I’ve heard this year and ‘Best Of Me’ is one of the best songs of the year so far! A great comeback…..

Favorite Songs:
‘Eat Me Up Alive’, ‘Best Of Me’, ‘Look Out Below’, ‘Lost Weekend’, ‘As Good As It Gets’

Press Release: Ratt – Infestation (2010) artwork & release dates announced

From Bravewords.com:

Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records has set an April 20th release date for Infestation, the new album from Californian hard rock legends RATT. Songtitles set to appear on the CD include ‘Look Out Below’, ‘A Little Too Much’, ‘Garden Of Eden’ and the album’s first single, ‘Best Of Me’.

Singer Stephen Pearcy told BraveWords.com recently that “the new record is fucking great, best yet. Sounds like (Out Of The) Cellar meets Invasion (Of Your Privacy)!”

It’s been ten years since Ratt’s last studio album and the band will soon announce dates for their World Tour 2010.

Infestation was produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette, who’s credits include PUDDLE OF MUD, CHEVELLE, SALIVA, LIMP BIZKIT, ALTER BRIDGE, THREE DAYS GRACE.

Ratt’s current line-up features: Stephen Pearcy on vocals, Warren DeMartini on lead and rhythm guitar, Carlos Cavazo (ex-QUIET RIOT) on lead and rhythm guitar, Robbie Crane on bass and Bobby Blotzer on drums.

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!

Current playlist

It’s been a very long weekend and I’m up late trying to recoup after a hellish night at work. I spent the day re-organizing all my CDs but I spent more time spinning the discs than actually getting them uploaded to my database! So here’s a few albums I listened to before work and now after work…..good music relaxes the soul…..

Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus (2009): I started out with this new record from Edguy and it is really good. Is it me or is Tobias Sammet everywhere lately? As long as he keeps putting out good material with Edguy and Avantasia, I’ll still be picking the stuff up. I found some holes in my Edguy collection so I’ll be trying to fill them ASAP.

SBS (Spicy Bits Of Scandal) – The Gambler (2009): SBS is a Heavy Metal band from Italy and they were nice enough to send their latest album along for a review. Very nice package with a DVD too, I’ve been enjoying this Traditional/Power Metal album all week. The full band name through me off (it sounds like a Glam band) but SBS is all Metal…..very good so far.

Buckcherry – Black Butterfly (2008): I have had this album since it came out but I just haven’t been able to get into it, one day I like it and the next I think it’s average. I’ve been a fan of the band since they first came out (before ‘Lit Up’ became a hit single) but I think they can be brilliant at times and dumb as stumps the other. The latest single (‘Too Drunk Too Fuck’) is good but it seems like Buckcherry always needs to have that danceable single that is blatantly explicit. It’s like they are trying too hard. Not out of the playlist yet, I need more time.

Motley Crue – Saints Of Los Angeles (2008): I’m going to the show Friday at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut so I wanted to give this record some spins this week so its fresh. I know the rest of the Crue catalog by heart so SOLA gets the refresher.

Ratt – s/t (1999): I had to dig this out because Metal Mark had a Lesser Of Two Evils column with this album at Heavy Metal Time Machine, I had to give this a fresh listen to see if it was as bad as I remember. At the time, I was psyched to get new Ratt but it wasn’t as good as the Great White album that came out at the same time.

Great White – Can’t Get There From Here (1999): Awesome record! Great White toured with Poison, Ratt and LA Guns in the Summer of 1999 and a buddy and I drove the 8 hours to catch the show in the Pittsburgh area. The cool thing for me was that I knew all the new Great White tunes because I bought the Japanese import a couple weeks earlier. I saw that tour 3 times that summer……

Def Leppard – Euphoria (1999): Another great record from ’99! People slag this album because it sounds too processed (like HYSTERIA) but I thought it was a great return to the classic Def Lep sound (depending on which era you think is classic). I thought ‘Promises’ was a great single the whole record had potential but it got buried by the record company. Even the band doesn’t really recognize it. When Def Lep is live they have visuals on the big screen…..they show all the album artwork and they always skip EUPHORIA.

Snatch – If The Party Is In Your Mouth, We’re Coming (1985): Another album from Metal Mark and the Heavy Metal Time Machine! He had a post about this album and I just had to find it because the title is just so bad! I actually became obsessed with finding it and I found a copy locally for a few dollars. I set up my USB turntable and decided to break the seal with this album…..definitely not a lost gem musically but certainly a timepiece of the bottom of the ’80s barrel.

Current Playlist

Here’s what I’ve been listening to in the last week or so (reviews are coming for most of these)……

Sepultura – A-lex (2009): I’m not the biggest Sepultura fan but I have most of the early albums with Max Cavalera. When Max left and Derrick Greene came in, I started to forget about the band. I’ve had the album for a month now and I’ve been giving it a lot of play.

Kreator – Hordes Of Chaos (2009): Hard to believe that it’s been four years since ENEMY OF GOD (2005) but Kreator is back. I got this around the same time as the new Sepultura so I’ve been giving the good old Thrash on HORDES OF CHAOS a lot of play.

Suidakra – Crógacht (2009): I have never heard anything from Suidakra before and a combination of Black Metal and Death Metal isn’t really my style of choice but I received an advance copy and I will have a review soon.

Axiom – A Means To An End (2008): This debut album from Sacramento’s Axiom came out at the end of November 2008 but the logjam of CDs on my desk pushed this to the new year. So far it’s solid Progressive Metal and I will have a review of this soon. More info at Axiomband.net

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): My favorite album of the year so far! I know we’re only one month into 2009 but Saxon are one of my Top 5 favorite bands of all-time and they have really had a strong run of albums since 1997. This will easily land in my year end best of list for 2009.

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009): I’ve been a Grave Digger fan since way back around WITCH HUNTER in ’85 so this new record was a must to pick up last week. It’s also the Album Of the Month for February 2009 so a review will come this week.

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade (1982): I haven’t heard this album in a long time and I thought I had it in my collection but I didn’t. Picked this up last week and this has been the main album playing in my house because my 10 yr old daughter is obsessed with all things Twisted Sister. Not sure how that happened. I have to give my daughter credit, she knows her TS and she pointed out to me that this CD (Spitfire reissue from 1999) is the re-mixed version of the album that was released in 1985 and not the original. I have no idea how she knew that but she needs to hear the original!

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): Even though this album made my Top 30 Albums of 2008 at #30, I really never gave this album as much time as I should have. Metallica is arguably the biggest Heavy Metal band on the planet and I put DEATH MAGNETIC aside quickly. Now that I’ve had a chance to have some fresh listens, I’m starting to enjoy it more.

Ratt – Out Of The Cellar (1984): I am participating in a debut album tournament at the Hair Metal Mansion and OUT OF THE CELLAR has been voted into the final so I’ve been spinning this for comparison to…..

Cinderella – Night Songs (1986): …..who is Ratt’s opponent. I think both albums are truly solid debuts but after some serious listening I have to go with my gut and pick Ratt.

Saints Of The Underground – Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner (2008)

Saints Of The Undergrond – Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner (2008, Warrior Records)

  1. Dead Man Shoes
  2. Tomorrow Never Comes
  3. All In How You Wear It
  4. Good Times
  5. Exit
  6. American Girl
  7. Signs Of Life
  8. Bruised
  9. Moonlight Mile
  10. Jimmy

Band Lineup:
Jani Lane – Lead Vocals
Bobby Blotzer – Drums
Keri Kelli – Guitars
Robbie Crane – Bass

Additional Musicians:
Chuck Wright – Bass
Rick Flores – Keyboards

Produced by: Bobby Blotzer, Keri Kelli, & Jani Lane

Total Time = 36:40

Saints Of The Underground MySpace page
Warrior Records

Sometime back in 2005, I read an article online that reported that this “supergroup” had begun preliminary work on a record. First thing I remember coming to mind was: “Is this a supergroup?”. You’ve got two big names in Warrant frontman Jani Lane and Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer but would the average Hard Rock fan even know who guitarist Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper’s band) and bassist Robbie Crane (ex-Vince Neil, current Ratt) are? Even if this was the late ’80s/early ’90s, I’m not sure this would be considered a “supergroup”. Immeadiate comparisons to the ill-fated 1992 Contraband project come to mind, especially since Blotzer was involved in that one too. The other thought was when would Jani Lane’s personal demons force the project to implode and be abandoned? I’ll admit that when I put this CD in the stereo I really wasn’t expecting all that much. Turns out that this project is pretty good.

Opening track ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ is a solid Hard Rock tune with a great gritty vocal by Jani Lane and a melodic hook that really gets the album off to a rockin’ start. The song goes back to Bobby Blotzer’s 2002 project, Twenty 4 Seven, with John Corabi & Robert Marcello. ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ keeps up the pace with another solid vocal by Jani and some cool guitar from Keri Kelli. I’ve never really heard much work from Kelli but what I’ve heard two songs in was pretty good and he also shines on ‘All In How You Wear It’. The opening riff from Kelli sounds very Guns ‘N Roses and it gives the song a sleazy feel when added to Lane’s dirty vocals. It’s easy to notice that Mr. Lane’s voice seems to have gotten lower as he’s aged, making him sound stronger and harder than his glory days in Warrant.

‘Good Times’ is the second song taken from Blotzer’s Twenty 4 Seven project and continues with the melodic Hard Rock while ‘Exit’ is a little lighter and more Pop-oriented. I’m not sure why the band decided to cover Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’…..lack of original material maybe? It’s a good straight on version of the song but, with two Blotzer songs already recycled, wouldn’t original material be better served? One thing I noticed is that the drumming is a little heavier by Blotzer here than on the original but the song as a whole is still spot on. ‘Signs of Life’ continues the pure Hard Rock with a heavy mid-paced groove that, along with Lane’s vocal, sounds similar to Warrant circa the DOG EAT DOG/ULTRAPHOBIC/BELLY TO BELLY (1992/95/96) era.

‘Bruised’ is probably the heaviest song on the record with the Blotzer/Crane rhythm tandem in top form and Keri Kelli laying a solid guitar foundation for Lane to sing over. I still can’t get over Lane’s performance, absolutely much better than expected. Cover #2 (or #4 if you count the two Twenty 4 Seven songs) is of the Rolling Stones track ‘Moonlight Mile’. It’s decent, I like the acoustic guitar but I’ll stick with the original by Mick, Keith, & the boys. Last song is ‘Jimmy’, an interesting song that sounds like a Thin Lizzy tune. A little research finds that ‘Jimmy’ is a Lane penned number from back in the beginning days of Warrant and now it finally sees a proper release on the Saints album. This is probably my favorite of the album with it’s ’70s groove and the best melodic guitar of the record/

Bottom Line:
I’m pleasantly surprised. Like I mentioned earlier, I expected this to be a disjointed fiasco based on what was going on with Jani Lane’s addivtive life but this album has Lane and company fully focused on bringing some decent Hard Rock to the fans. Jani Lane puts in a really solid performance with his vocal work and Keri Kelli puts some solid leads and solos down. The Blotzer/Crane tandem is solid after 10 years together in Ratt so they keep everything together nicely. My only disappointment is the covers and retreads: I’d have rather had fresh material than two cover songs and the recycling of an old Warrant song and re-recording of two Bobby Blotzer songs (from another project) makes things a little disjointed. The music is fresh to most ears but diehard fans will recognize the songs and may ask if this was a real band collaboration or just a quick one-off for a check. Still a solid album and one of the good surprises this year.

Favorite songs: ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, ‘Jimmy’, ‘Bruised’, ‘Good Times’, ‘All In How You Wear It’

 

Supergroup Metal Mixtape – 4/23/08

Saints Of The Underground (featuring Jani Lane, Bobby Blotzer, Keri Kelli, & Robbie Crane) released their debut album, LOVE THE SIN, HATE THE SINNER, this week and they are being hailed as a “supergroup”.

Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer was involved in a similar “supergroup” back in 1991 when he teamed with Michael Schenker, Share Pedersen (Vixen), Richard Black (Shark Island), and Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) for the Contraband project. This installment of Metal Mixtape will celebrate these two projects and all their members by playing one song involving each member…..Bobby Blotzer gets two because he was involved in both! Saints members 1st, Contraband members 2nd…..and, yes, I own all of these albums!

Warrant – ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (1988): Probably the best Warrant song I’ve ever heard. I hate the band now but back in the mid-’80s they were everywhere and I liked the tunes. ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ is a great tune, better than ‘Cherry Pie’.

Ratt – ‘Slip Of The Lip’ (1986): I liked DANCING UNDERCOVER but it gets a bad rep for the first single ‘Dance’. This song has a sleazy groove to it and it should have been the first single.

Big Bang Babies – ‘Everybody Needs A Hero’ (1992): Glam, glam, glam! Keri Kelli played guitar in the Big Bang Babies way back when and this is the opening song of their self-titled album. I don’t think I’ve played this whole record in a long time…..maybe it will make the weekend’s playlist.

Vince Neil – ‘Sister Of Pain’ (1993): Robbie Crane played bass on Vince’s two solo albums when he left/was fired from Motley Crue. I liked this single better than ‘You’re Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come)’ and the album was the Motley Crue record we all missed out on.

Ratt – ‘Wanted Man’ (1984): Like I said, Blotzer gets two songs and this is the best song from OUT OF THE CELLAR.

MSG – ‘Samurai’ (1982): Michael Schenker is a guitar god despite his demons. His career has been noted more for his odd behaviors and addictions rather then his music. ‘Samurai’ is one smoking track off of ASSAULT ATTACK with Graham Bonnet on vocals.

Vixen – ‘Cryin’ (1988): Single #2 for Vixen off their first album, I like this one better than ‘Edge Of A Broken Heart’.

Shark Island – ‘Paris Calling’ (1989): I thought Shark Island was going to be huge back in the day and LAW OF THE ORDER has been one of those forgotten gems that I pull out once in awhile. ‘Paris Calling’ was the first single off this record.

L.A. Guns – ‘Sex Action’ (1988): Back in the day we used to play the first L.A. Guns album to death! ‘Sex Action’ was a favorite at the parking lot parties we used to have.