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):
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
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
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
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/
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/
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/
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/
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/
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/
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/