The Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#21-#30)

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 it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#21 – #30):

#30

Van Canto – Tribe Of Force (2010): A Capella Power Metal…..that’s the best way to describe the Van Canto sound. I was skeptical when I first heard about Van Canto but after a few listens to the first single, ‘Lost Forever’, I got more interested. What drew me in was the uniqueness of the project but that also made the album a little hard to take after multiple listens. I’m adding TRIBE OF FORCE to the countdown because of the uniqueness of the idea and the fact that the band pulls it off extremely well. The only instrument used was the drums, everything else is vocal instrumentation. You have to admit, it takes a lot of talent to pull something like that off! Not having proper guitars and bass may take some getting used to for some fans but Van Canto is definitely more than a novelty band. http://www.vancanto.de

#29

Human Cometh – Evolution (2010): Human Cometh has to be one of the biggest surprises for me this year. I’m not sure how I found out about the band, either I found them through other Metal websites or the band contacted me about their debut album EVOLUTION. It doesn’t matter because I found them and the album is an excellent blend of different styles including Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, Power Metal and Progressive Metal. Every song on EVOLUTION is well written with solid musicianship and it’s hard to believe that this is a new band. One of the things I thought was cool about Human Cometh was that they offered this album as a FREE download to anyone interested and, if they wanted, fans could send a donation to the band via Paypal. It’s all about getting the music out there and Human Cometh have done just that. From what I understand, there is a proper CD pressing available so head over to their website to preview the music and support the band by purchasing a CD. http://www.humancometh.com

#28

Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2010): After re-reading the review I wrote on SCREAM back in July, I noticed that it may be a little too influenced by the previous two subpar albums. I sat down and gave this album a fresh listen and it’s actually pretty good. When you start to compare it to Ozzy’s last two records it sounds like a solid comeback for the Prince Of Darkness. I’m always skeptical of anything Ozzy does because of that stupid TV show that made him look like an idiot and his puppetmaster wife Sharon but I have to give Ozzy credit for trying to stay relevant in an ever-changing Metal climate. SCREAM isn’t the Ozzy of old, it isn’t the Ozzy of the ’90s, but it’s definitely the Ozzy for the new millenium. Dropping Zakk Wylde and replacing him with Gus G. added some fuel to the fire and seeing Ozzy live this past summer proved that he is back in a big way. SCREAM was a grower and it turned out to be a solid record. http://www.ozzy.com

#27

Raven – Walk Through Fire (2010): WALK THROUGH FIRE is one of those albums that got a worldwide release in 2009 except for North America. Metal Blade Records stepped to the plate and distributed the album here in the U.S. and I finally got to here the new raven at a decent price! Nothing is better than hearing new music from one of my old favorites, especially from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Raven was one of those bands I picked up on from the Metal magazines in the ’80s and I have slowly acquired a lot of their back catalogue. This new album sounds like the Raven of old, like the Raven that made WIPED-OUT (1982) and ALL FOR ONE (1983). A ton of high powered energy here and John Gallagher sounds like he hasn’t aged at all. This an album well worth waiting for, I just hope the next one isn’t another nine years in the making! http://www.ravenlunatics.com/

#26

Dimmu Borgir – Abrahadabra (2010): Two of my goals for 2010 was to open myself up to more extreme styles of Metal and bands that I have always wanted to check out but never get around to. Dimmu Borgir fit both goals perfectly, I have been wanting to check out more Black Metal and Dimmu Borgir has been one of those bands that I have wanted to check out for a long time. I’m very new to the whole Black Metal scene, I’ve read a ton about it and I’ve heard some songs but it’s safe to say that my personal collection and listening habits don’t include a lot of it. Dimmu seemed to be the most popular Black metal band so grabbing this new album was a perfect opportunity. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this album, it had a lot of different sounds and orchestration and the vocals weren’t completely unintelligible. ABRAHADABRA has the same effect that Immortal’s ALL SHALL FALL (2009) had on me last year, it’s opened up a new appreciation for Black Metal and now I’m starting in explore Dimmu’s previous records and check out other Black Metal bands. http://www.dimmu-borgir.com/

#25

Heavenly – Carpe Diem (2010): It’s kind of funny following Black Metal’s biggest band with a band name Heavenly. CARPE DIEM is another one of those albums that got a release everywhere but the U.S. in 2009, we finally got the proper release from AFM Records in early 2010. I’m a big Power Metal fan but I had never heard any songs from Heavenly’s previous four records so they were a totally new band for me. I have to admit, the reason why I got so interested in this album is the album cover, it’s so old school and so ’80s that it’s great. Seriously, album cover of the year! The music is well done with plenty of soaring vocals, orchestration and powerful guitars and I was completely surprised by the overt Queen influence on a few songs. Heavenly is a perfect example of a band that makes music I like but has fallen below my radar, CARPE DIEM has me searching out the band’s previous albums. http://www.heavenly.fr/

#24

Overkill – Ironbound (2010): When you get into discussions about Thrash Metal, the first four bands people bring up are the big four of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. As you move along, you get the second tier of Thrash bands like Testament, Exodus and Overkill. I don’t know if it’s because Overkill was an East Coast band and the focus always went to the San Francisco Bay area scene back in the day but Overkill always seems to get forgotten. The band has been going strong for 26 years and they have released great album after great album the whole time. IRONBOUND continues the tradition and it’s one hell of an old school Thrash album following the same formula Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and D.D. Verni have been using their entire career: high powered, in your face Thrash. There’s no frills here just straightforward power and that’s why IRONBOUND is one of the best Metal albums of 2010. http://wreckingcrew.com/Ironbound/

#23

Bruce Kulick – BK3 (2010): KISS is my favorite band so anytime a former member releases a solo project I run to the record store! Bruce Kulick was one of the biggest reasons KISS remained a vital entity from the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s…..his playing was always great and he added that sense of stability at the lead guitarist position that the band needed since Ace Frehley left. I never really got around to buying Bruce’s two previous solo albums but I did follow him post-KISS with Union so I knew a little of what to expect. What I didn’t expect was a high quality and very personal Hard Rock album and that’s a statement made without all the KISS fandom attached. The songwriting is great as is Bruce guitar work but the surprise is how well Bruce sings because he only ever got one song to sing in KISS (‘I Walk Alone from 1997′s CARNIVAL OF SOULS). Another great surprise is how well the collaborations went with other musicians singing like Gene Simmons, Nick Simmons, Tobias Sammet, John Corabi and Doug Fieger from The Knack…..these are some of the best songs on the album. Maybe Bruce could teach Slash how it’s done? http://www.kulick.net/

#22

Mob Rules – Radical Peace (2010): I’ve been a Mob Rules fan since 1999′s SAVAGE LAND but I missed out on the band’s last album ETHNOLUTION A.D. (2006). When I read that Mob Rules was releasing a new record, I jumped at it as soon as it came out but the problem was that it didn’t get released until 2010 in the U.S. but everywhere else got it in late 2009. This is another one of those albums from AFM Records in Germany…..I don’t know if it’s a distribution thing or what but I wish these album would come out at the same time in all territories. RADICAL PEACE is a mix of Power and Progressive Metal and it has a HUGE sound, it kind of reminds me of one of my favorite records from 2008, Cloudscape’s GLOBAL DRAMA. All the songs on this album are really good but the standout is the 18+ minute long ‘The Oswald File’, a song that is the second part of ETHNOLUTION A.D. and is broken up into six chapters. Definitely an epic! http://www.mobrules.de/

#21

Sister Sin – Sounds Of The Underground (2010): I had Sister Sin on the list of bands to check out but once I saw them open up for the Michael Schenker Group in July, I ended up putting both their albums at the top of the listening pile. Sister Sin plays a traditional style of Heavy Metal and I was blown away by how much energy and power they had live. Lead singer Liv has a great Metal voice that reminds me of Doro Pesch and she kicks a ton of ass on stage. Sister Sin’s overall sound reminds me of Doro, Warlock and also Judas Priest, the aggressiveness gives it that early ’80s Metal sound. I like the fact that the music is guitar oriented and aggressive, the only other band I can remember in recent years that kicked this much ass doing female-fronted Traditional Metal is Benedictum. Sister Sin is definitely a band to check out and watch in the future. http://www.sistersin.com/

CD Scavenger Hunt – update 4/12/10

This is going to be a good update because I have been picking CDs off Ebay for great prices and the local independent record chain I frequent, Newbury Comics, had their 32 Year Anniversary sale last Tuesday…..one day only, everything in the store 32% off. If the item was on sale then you either got the sale price or the 32% off the regular price depending on which was lower. Can you imagine how much money I spent! I bought a few DVDs for my kids and a Lady Gaga CD for my wife but the rest is all mine!

Newbury Comics

(I will list the price I paid rounded up to the nearest dollar and I will let you know what the original price was for comparison.)

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Gods & Guns (2009) – $16: This album was on the Wanted list in January because I missed out on it in 2009. I was not going to buy anything but the 2 CD special edition with the 6 bonus tracks so, after I missed the sale price when the record was released, I waited because the regular price was $24! I couldn’t pass this CD up on such a great sale so this was the first CD I went for because I knew from my previous week’s adventure that there was only one copy! Saved $8.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand (2007) – $7 used: I have put off buying this CD for three years but I finally decided that I would pick this up during this sale. Of course I had my choice between the $15 brand new CD or the $10 used disc…..I went used to maximize my buying power. I haven’t heard any songs from this album but everything I’ve read and everyone I’ve talked to said it’s great. I figured that if Plant was involved then it had to be interesting and high quality. This will be a change of pace album for me, somthing different. Saved $3.

Slash – s/t (2010) – $9: This was on my list of new releases and I was going to head over to Best Buy to pick it up because it was $7.99 advertised but I bought it at Newbury Comics and gave the extra dollar to the independent store. This CD was cheaper on the sale price (reg. $15.99) so it didn’t qualify for the 32% off. I’m very interested in this album because of all the guest vocalists like Ozzy, Lemmy, Iggy Pop, and Chris Cornell…..I thin the track with Fergie is going to suck but I’ll save it for the upcoming review. Saved $7.

Armored Saint – La Raza (2010) – $10: I’ve been an Armored Saint fan since MARCH OF THE SAINT in 1984 so I don’t miss a new record when they decide to put one out. It’s been 10 years since REVELATION (2000) and the NOD TO THE OLD SCHOOL (2001) compilation was just a stop-gap so LA RAZA was at the top of my list for 2010. Regular price was around $14 and the sale price was $11 so I saved a extra dollar…..that’s makes up for giving the store the extra buck for the Slash CD! Saved $4.

Raven – Walk Through Fire (2010) – $10: After a year since being released in Japan, Raven’s WALK THROUGH FIRE finally gets a U.S. release on Metal Blade Records. I’m a huge fan of the NWOBHM, and I support a lot of that era’s bands when it comes to new music, so this record was on the WANTED list as soon as I saw it was only available as an expensive Japanese import. I read a lot of good reviews on this album so I have been psyched for this album for a year! I found only one copy, at a $14 price. Saved $4.

Charred Walls Of The Damned – s/t (2010) – $11: I know absolutely nothing about this band except that Richard Christy (ex-Iced Earth) is on drums and Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens has the vocal spot. I’ve read a few reviews online and I saw Richard Christy promoting the band/album on a recent episode of VH-1 Classic’s THAT METAL SHOW so I figured I would take a chance on something new. I’m not sure if there is a regular version but the one I picked up has a bonus DVD that shows the behind the scenes making of the album. Regular price was $16, sale price was $12, I got the 32% off for more savings. Saved $5.

Saxon – Destiny (1988/2010 reissue) – $11: I already have an original Japanese pressing of this CD but I couldn’t pass up this reissue, with it’s 6 bonus tracks, at 32% off. Saxon is one of my favorite bands so picking up the latest round of reissues is a priority, there are two other albums reissued: INNOCENCE IS NO EXCUSE (1985) and ROCK THE NATIONS (1986)…..albums I already own on CD. Regular price $16, saved $5.

Saxon – Innocence Is No Excuse (1985/2010 reissue) – $11: I already own an original Japanese pressing of this CD but I couldn’t resist the 7 bonus tracks that EMI tacked on this reissue. 32% off is a good excuse to add expensive, imported reissues to the collection so I bought this and DESTINY (1988). I would have bought ROCK THE NATIONS (1986) too but it wasn’t in stock! Regular price was $16, saved $5.

Gamma Ray – To The Metal! (2010) – $11: I have had a promotional copy of this album for a couple of months now but it had no booklet, artwork or information like a regular CD would so the collector in me wanted an official CD. I saw that there were two versions of this album: the regular CD and the CD/DVD combo that includes the making of the album. I was going to grab the double disc but it was $5 more so I went the cheaper route. Regular price $16, sale price $12, the 32% discount saved $5.

Ebay

Riot – Shine On (1998) – $16: riot is one of my favorite band sand I spent most of the late ’90s collecting every album they released. Missing in action is SHINE ON, the 1998 live record. I had plenty of opportunities to buy this album from 1998 through 2001 at my favorite record store but, when it closed it’s doors, it was the last time I saw the CD. This particular version is the rarer Japanese import released by the Zero Corporation, there is another version on Metal Blade with a different cover.

Heavy Bones – s/t (1992) – $12: About 10 years ago, I could have found multiple copies of this album in used bins and clearance racks across Rhode Island and Massachusetts for $5 – $8. Now I can’t even find one for the price of a regular new CD! I’ve been watching this CD on Ebay for a while but I was not willing to pay more than $10 for it knowing that it’s in a used bin somewhere for half the price! Surprisingly, this CD was commanding high prices in excess of $20+! I happened to get an email in the early morning hours stating that this particular CD was just listed as a BUY IT NOW for $10…..I pulled the trigger immeadiately! Shipping was extremely reasonable at $2. Came with the price tag the seller bought it for…..a dollar!

Mark Free – Long Way From Love (1993/1998 – 2 CD reissue) – $22: Now this CD has been a long time coming! I like King Kobra, so when I got the Internet in 1998, I found out that King Kobra singer Mark Free had released this solo record in 1993. What made this album even better was that Frontiers Records rereleased the CD as a “Special 5th Anniversary Reissue” in 1998 with a second CD added. The second CD has 16 extra songs: a 10 song live set from The Gods Festival 1993 and 6 new studio tracks. I never dropped the $20 for this 2 CD set at the record store and, like the Riot disc above, it was gone after the store ceased operations. I’ve been tracking this set for years but the price always gets high because it is out of print in it’s 2 disc format…..you can still get the single disc version but I didn’t want that one! I’ve seen this reissue sell on Ebay anywhere from $30 to as high as $100 so I was definitely waiting until I found a good deal.  I found this auction 2 weeks ago and I watched it closely, the end time was after 2am so I stayed awake and snatched the CD with a high bid of $25. I ended up paying $19 with $3 shipping.

Total = $146

Total (year) = $399

Total CDs (year) = 42

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total LPs (year) = 1

Press Release: Raven sign with Metal Blade Records, Walk Through Fire artwork, tracklisting, release date announced for North America

From Metal Blade Records:

Metal Blade Records signs RAVEN, prepare to release first album in 10 years!

Walk Through Fire set for release on March 30th in North America.

Metal Blade Records is pleased to announce the signing of legendary metal band RAVEN and is gearing up to release Walk Through Fire, RAVEN’s first album since 2000’s One for All. Walk Through Fire contains 14 new tracks and two live bonus tracks. Track listing for Walk Through Fire is as follows:

1. Intro
2. Against the Grain
3. Breaking You Down
4. Under Your Radar
5. Walk Through Fire
6. Bulldozer
7. Long Day’s Journey
8. Trainwreck
9. Grip
10. Running Around In Circles
11. Hard Road
12. Armageddon (the Beginning)
13. Attitude
14. Space Station #5
15. Live at The Inferno**
16. Rock Until You Drop**

**Bonus Live Tracks

Vocalist, bassist, and founding member John Gallagher comments; “We are ecstatic – we go way back with Metal Blade (we’ve known Brian since meeting him backstage at one of our shows in the UK in 1982!!!) so there’s mutual respect. We feel that having this killer new album Walk Through Fire and a relationship with Metal Blade, an outfit that lives and breathes this music – that UNDERSTANDS where we have been and what we’ve been through, will show that we are not trading on past glories but that we are a band that continues to be relevant…and kicks ass more than ever before! We’ve set the bar high here with this album and are happy to have a partner willing to get it out there to the metal fans and spread the word. This is the RAVEN album the diehards have been beating us up for…and then some!”

Metal Blade Record’s Michael Faley comments; “We are excited and proud to be releasing the new album by RAVEN entitled Walk Through Fire! This record has garnered tremendous reviews worldwide and combines all the strength and power that only the Gallagher brothers can deliver, Rock Solid METAL! With a career that has spanned over 25 years, RAVEN is back with a CLASSIC album.”

According to the pages of the various metal media, the labels “LEGENDARY,” “INNOVATIVE,” “TRUE ORIGINALS,” as well as “F**K!ING CRAZY!!” have been rightfully pinned upon RAVEN over the years. In a music scene filled by clones nurtured with a cookie-cutter mentality, the unique personality, power and humor of the three band members has always shone through. The crazed vocals & bass playing of John Gallagher, the full frontal guitar assault of brother Mark Gallagher, and the punishing polyrhythmic pounding of drummer Joe Hasselvander all combine to form a sonic battering ram unique in rock!

From the well documented early days as NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) frontrunners, RAVEN’s albums ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP, WIPED OUT and ALL FOR ONE virtually invented both the speed metal and power metal genres – during the trailblazing USA tours of the 80′s introducing the States to “Athletic rock” as well as giving opening acts like Metallica and Anthrax their first tours, through the doldrums of the late 80′s/early 90′s when a grunge obsessed media wrote off so many acts — RAVEN has consistently proved to be both survivors par excellence and in a genre of grim imitation – shown that they are “the real thing”. Where so many of their contemporaries have either faded creatively or become parodies of themselves, RAVEN have consistently pushed the envelope while retaining their unique sound and attack – both in the studio & in their true element, onstage!

Following a forced layoff through half of the last decade due to Mark Gallagher’s long recuperation from a serious accident where Mark’s legs were crushed after a wall collapsed on the musician, the band have fought back with a number of European festival appearances, a UK tour in 2008 and a triumphant jaunt to Japan in 2009.

And now, the band unleashes the best album they’ve done in many years, Walk Through Fire – this, quite simply, is the real deal – the right songs, the right sound and the right feel – guaranteed to rip yer head off! – Raven are finally set to reclaim the title that is rightfully theirs – “the wildest band in the f**kin’ world!!”

RAVEN is:
John Gallagher – vocals & bass
Mark Gallagher – guitars
Joe Hasselvander – drums

http://www.myspace.com/ravenlunatics
http://www.ravenlunatics.com

WANTED: Raven – Walk Through Fire (2009)

WANTED

raven-walk-through-fire

Raven - Walk Through Fire (2009)

Long time NWOBHM lunatics, Raven, released their latest album WALK THROUGH FIRE on March 25 in Japan on King Records and there is no U.S. or European release date on the horizon. Nothing bothers me more than not being able to find an album I want at a decent price. I’ve checked Ebay and the CD is going for around $38 plus shipping. I’ve checked various online stores and the prices range from $30-$35 plus shipping (the lower the price the higher the shipping and vice versa!). Prices like this make me want to pull my hair out!

I got into Raven around the time they released ALL FOR ONE (1983) and LIVE AT THE INFERNO (1984), I remember seeing ads for both albums in Hit Parader and Circus and I thought the albums looked cool. Back then I really didn’t know much about the different scenes, it was all Heavy Metal to me. As I’ve gotten older, and become a big fan of the NWOBHM, Raven has been one of those bands that I still enjoy listening to…..even through the mid-80s Atlantic Records years where the band tamed their style. WALK THROUGH FIRE is Raven’s first album since ALL FOR ONE (2000) and 9 years is way too long so I’m dying to hear what the music sounds like. I’ve read some reviews online and they are split down the middle: half good/half bad. I want to hear the album for myself…..the search continues!

New album from Raven – Walk Through Fire due March 25

From Raven:

raven-walk-through-fire

NWOBHM act Raven’s new album WALK THROUGH FIRE will be released in Japan on King Records on March 25th – the tracklisting is as follows: ‘Intro’, ‘Against The Grain’, ‘Breaking You Down’, ‘Under Your Radar’, ‘Walk Through Fire’, ‘Bulldozer’, ‘Long Day’s Journey’, ‘Trainwreck’, ‘Grip’, ‘Running Around In Circles’, ‘Hard Road’, ‘Armageddon’, ‘Attitude’, ‘Necessary Evil’ (Japan only), ‘Space Station #5′ (MONTROSE cover).