Current Playlist – 11/30/08

Thanksgiving is over and so is the rush at work. Nothing is worse than working in a supermarket during the holidays so my hard work earned me a long weekend after my Friday shift. I planned to do three things on my four days off: sleep, go to the Patriots game, and catch up on some Metal. I slept most of the day Saturday, and the game is today, so here’s what I’ve listened to and what I have on deck…..

Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (2008): I bought it last Sunday and I’ve been giving it some spins. I always said that this album would either be the greatest album of all-time or the biggest flop of all-time…..so far, it’s not the flop. It’s definitely a more modern sounding GnR.

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): Saxon’s new record isn’t due for release until mid-January 2009 but the record label was kind enough to send over an advance copy last week. 13 songs of pure Heavy Metal, I recommend it.

Kreator – Hordes Of Chaos (2009): SPV was nice enough to send over Kreator’s new album along with the new Saxon last week and I’ve been giving this album some good spins. Another record that’s supposed to be released in mid-January.

Hammerfall – Glory To The Brave (1997): I was talking with a friend of mine about the late ’90s Power Metal revival and we started discussing Hammerfall’s debut. This is one of the best debuts in the Power Metal scene and you can’t deny Hammerfall’s influence on how the Metal scene was shaped in the last decade.

Hammerfall – Legacy Of Kings (1998): This is my favorite Hammerfall record and definitely their best. I remember buying this at my favorite local shop as an import and blasting this daily for weeks. I still enjoy pulling this one out regularly but I wanted to compare this one with the debut.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Enchanted’ (2008): This is the new TSO single from the upcoming album NIGHTCASTLE. There was a free download of this song at Amazon.com and I went for it. I’m not a download type of guy but I’ve been on the TSO bandwagon before there was even a bandwagon. Being a Savatage fan for a long time, I knew about the project when it was still in the planning stages. It’s good to hear new TSO music because it’s been 4 years since THE LOST CHRISTMAS EVE.

KISS – Crazy Nights (1987): This is one of my favorite KISS records because this was the tour that I saw KISS for the first time. With the 17th anniversary of Eric Carr’s death this past Monday, I decided to remember him and the non-makeup lineup of KISS by giving this album a couple of spins.

Ebay Madness – Vulture, Guns N’ Roses, Roxxi, Dirty Looks, Metallica, Saxon

I love Ebay! There is no better place to find obscure albums while sitting in front of your stereo spinning discs. Unfortunately, the current economy has stopped my rare CD buying but it hasn’t stopped everybody! There are still fans and collectors willing to pay a premium price for a CD that may or may not be rare, is a promo, or an international edition. I have to admit, I’m one of those people but I have limits……it’s good to see that there are still people out there with more money than sense!

vulture-fatal-gamesVulture – Fatal Games (1990) = $321

Seller – vilainshadows
Staring Price = $9.99
Bids = 5

Vulture is a Thrash Metal band from Holland and FATAL GAMES is their debut full-length album. I’ve seen this Vulture album on Ebay before but not at this high a price. Personally, I would have been wary of this auction because of the CD’s location…..Greece. A lot of bootlegs of “rare” discs have come from Greece over the last few years and I usually avoid these sellers but this particular seller describes the CD as an original pressing on Overdrive Records, not a reissue, and from his own collection. I’ve checked the current auctions and there is another original pressing located in Houston, TX but it is a BUY IT NOW for $350. Looks like the market price has been set!

roxxi-drive-it-to-ya-hardRoxxi – Drive It To Ya Hard! (1990) = $209.50

Seller – hinomoto1
Staring Price = 99 cents
Bids = 7

Roxxi is one of those U.S. Hard Rock bands that tried to make a dent in the Metal scene just as the decline started in the early ’90s. The only reason I know this album is because the video for the title track actually got some airplay on MTV in 1990. I saw the video again when VH-1 Classic came to our digital cable provider a couple of years ago but never again. This Japanese pressing has different cover art than the U.S. release and I can vouch for the seller because I have bought a number of Japanese pressings from him in the past. When I was searching Ebay what I found interesting is that the same exact CD was up for auction 10 hours earlier from a seller in the U.K. That CD ended at $69 and then a bidding war started for this CD later in the day! Also, you can get a cassette copy anytime on Ebay for about $15-$20. Here’s the video for the title cut…..

Roxxi – ‘Drive It To Ya Hard!’

dirty-looks-live-in-san-diegoDirty Looks – Live In San Diego (2005) = $202.50

Seller – opd1991
Starting Price = $19.99
Bids = 8

LIVE IN SAN DIEGO was released in 2005 by Dirty Looks vocalist Henrik Ostergaard through the Dirty Looks website. Turns out that this is a CDR of a live recording from the band’s tour in 1994 and is now out of print. There is another auction out there with a higher starting price of $99.99 (BUY IT NOW for $150). I’m not sure if a CDR is worth a couple hundred dollars but there are passionate Dirty Looks fans out there! My question is if it is a CDR then why doesn’t the band print up more?

guns-n-roses-better-singleGuns N’ Roses – ‘Better’ (2008, CD single) = $200

Seller – musick2004
Starting Price = $200 (Buy It Now)
Bids = 1

The hype machine is in full effect for the new GNR album CHINESE DEMOCRACY and these promo CD single for ‘Better’ have been fetching anywhere from $50-$175 at auction. This is the highest price I’ve seen paid so far for this single. Remember, it’s $200 for one song! There are plenty up for grabs right now but you could also wait and drop $15 at Best Buy this coming Sunday.

metallica-death-magnetic-promo-from-uruguay

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008) promo disc from Uruguay = $153.50

Seller – u2only
Starting Price = $50 
Bids = 14

Collecting can be a niche thing for many people. I know some collectors that will only buy Japanese pressings and some that will only buy original pressings. Other people I know will only collect a certain band or genre. Who really needs a promo disc from Uruguay of the new Metallica disc? Probably only the most diehard of Metallica collectors. It’s the same album, same songs, just with different promo artwork in Spanish. I think the music might be the same no matter if the pressing is from North America, Europe, Japan and Uruguay.

saxon-innocence-is-no-excuseSaxon – Innocence Is No Excuse (1985) = $151.12

Seller – kingdom_of_rock
Starting Price = $6.50
Bids = 10

I have this CD! About 10 years ago, I picked up a bunch of Saxon CDs in this little record store I found 20 minutes from my house. All the Saxon CDs were part of the BURRN! Magazine reissue series and they are long out of print. I think I paid about $18 for this import and I haven’t come across another one in my travels. I’ve bought from this seller before so I know that he gets really good out of print Japanese pressings. Remember the Roxxi auction above? This is the seller that sold his copy of the Roxxi album for $69 10 hours before it spiked to $200+.

Metal Mixtape – 10/12/08

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

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

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

Bonus Track: KISS – ‘Charisma’ (1979)

Press Release: New Saxon single, ‘Live To Rock’, and new album, Into The Labyrinth, announced with tracklisting, release dates and tour schedule

From Saxon:

All Saxon fans have a lot of things to look forward to in the coming months: to start off with, the British metal legend will release their new download single ‘Live To Rock’, followed by the arrival at the stores of their current studio album INTO THE LABYRINTH, as well as major tours to support both releases. So a hot autumn is about to start in a few days’ time!

Saxon’s new single ‘Live To Rock’ (pictured) will be available as an internet download from October 17th, 2008, and Saxon will present their new track live for the first time during the tour which will take Biff Byford & Co., alongside MOTÖRHEAD and DANKO JONES through England and Germany in November/December 2008. Their new studio album, Into The Labyrinth, will be out on January 12th, 2009 (Germany: January 9th, US: January 13th). February 2009 will see the band embark on another major world tour, only one month after the album release.

Into The Labyrinth was recorded at the Twilight Hall in Krefeld, Germany, under the direction of Charlie Bauerfeind. Saxon recorded 13 new songs at Blind Guardian’s studio, starting with their monumental opener, ‘Battalions Of Steel’, through ‘Demon Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Valley Of The Kings’, which both cover historic events, to the final slide guitar blues track, ‘Coming Home’ (fans are already familiar with the electric version of this track from Saxon’s Killing Ground album). Saxon are currently still working on an additional 14th track, which will be available exclusively as a download on iTunes from the release date. “The new material was written in England and at my house in France,” Byford explains. “Stylistically, I would describe the album as an even balance between Lionheart and The Inner Sanctum, a mix of powerful, in-your-face rock songs and pure heavy metal tracks. We’re very happy with the production and proud of Into The Labyrinth.”

Tracks: ‘Battalions Of Steel’, ‘Live To Rock’, ‘Demon Sweeney Todd’, ‘The Letter’, ‘Valley Of The Kings’, ‘Slow Lane Blues’, ‘Crime Of Passion’, ‘Premonition in D Minor’, ‘Voice’, ‘Protect Yourselves’, ‘Hellcat’, ‘Come Rock Of Ages (The Circle Is Complete)’, ‘Coming Home’ (Bottleneck Version).

Saxon’s tour schedule is currently as follows:

October
4 – Bilbao, Spain at tba
5 – Zaragoza, Spain at tba

November
1 – Holmfirth, UK – The Picturedrome
3 – Wolverhampton, UK – Civic Hall *
4 – Ipswich, UK – Ipswich Regent *
6 – Brighton, UK – Brighton Dome *
7 – Newcastle, UK – Academy *
8 – Sheffield, UK – Academy *
10 – Glasgow, UK – Academy *
11 – Leicester, UK – De Montfort Hall *
12 – Southhampton, UK – Guildhall *
14 – Manchester, UK – Apollo *
15 – Cardiff, UK – University *
17 – Cambridge, UK – Corn Exchange *
18 – Bristol, UK – Colston Hall *
19 – Exeter, UK – University *
21 – Norwich, UK – UEA *
22 – London, UK – Hammersmith Apollo *
28 – Düsseldorf, Germany – Philipshalle *
30 – Bremen, Germany – Pier 2 *

December
2 – Offenbach, Germany – Stadthalle *
3 – Bamberg, Germany – Jako Arena *
5 – Dresden, Germany – Messehalle *
6 – Stuttgart, Germany – Schleyerhalle *
7 – Munich, Germany – Zenith *

* with MOTÖRHEAD and DANKO JONES

Vacation Playlist – 8/31 thru 9/7

I’m back from a quick vacation! I didn’t realize that I had to use some vacation days up quick or I would lose them so i took a quick unscheduled vacation from work. I love being in a union! I decided that I was going to also take the week to get away from my dependence on the Internet and television and just concentrate on listening to music and reading a good book or two. I won’t lie and say I cut both totally out but I did limit my time to an hour for each every day. Sometimes I just need to tune out!

Some other things I did last week involved birthdays, my youngest daughter turned 5 and my mom turned 59 the same day, so there was a birthday barbecue. The return of regular season NFL Football came last Thursday with the reigning champion New York Giants facing the Washington Redskins. As many long time readers know, I’m a New England Patriots season ticket holder so I had the opening regular season game today (I am not discussing Tom Brady’s injury at this time), so I tried out a few new recipes on the grill for the pre-game tailgate in the parking lot. Add my 4 hour fantasy football draft Saturday morning and you can see that I may have been on vacation but I still had a lot going on!

I spent a lot of time with new albums and live albums this past week. I have to catch up on reviews and I want to do a “live album week” at the end of the month so I pulled out a few candidates for those reviews.

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008)
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (2008)
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008)
Cloudscape – Global Drama (2008)
Maiden Heaven: A Kerrang! Tribute To Iron Maiden (2008)
Venom – Hell (2008)
Motorhead – Motorizer (2008)
Ayreon – 01011001 (2008)
Royal Hunt – Collision Course – Paradox II (2008)
Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008)

These are the new albums that I have been rgiving serious rotation to the last couple of weeks. I’ve never really taken Avantasia and Judas Priest out of my weekly playlist, same goes for the new Ayreon but I’ve given it just a little more focus because there is so much to hear. The new albums from Royal Hunt, Motorhead, Cloudscape and Alice Cooper are all very good and I haven’t stopped enjoying them. I just picked up the new Venom recently (along with something else I know I’m forgetting, watch for an update on my purchases soon) and it’s…..well, Venom! Venom and Motorhead are so much alike in that they do the same thing over and over. Most of my listening went to advances of the new Iced Earth and Metal Church that I’ve had a few weeks now…..I’m preparing the Iced Earth review for this week, Metal Church next week.

KISS – Alive! (1975)
KISS – Alive II (1977)
Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)
Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)
UFO – Strangers In The Night (1979)
UFO – Werewolves Of London: Live In Wolverhampton 1998 (1999)
Royal Hunt – Live In Japan 1996 (1996)
Michael Schenker Group – Live Unforgiven World Tour (1999)
Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982)
Black Sabbath – Reunion (1998)
Queen – Live At Wembley ’86 (1992)
Queen – On Fire: Live At The Bowl ’82 (2004)
Judas Priest – Priest In The East (1979)
Judas Priest – Priest…..Live! (1987)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed (1982)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.2 (1998)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.3 (2006)
Krokus – Alive & Screamin’ (1986)
Jeff Scott Soto – Live At The Gods (2003)

That’s a pretty good list of live albums! Some of these albums were instrumental in my discovering studio albums from the bands, some were important in my understanding of different eras of the bands, but all of them had a profound influence on me. The first two KISS ALIVE albums are cornerstones of my love for Heavy Metal and KISS but I would also have to put LIVE AFTER DEATH and WORLD WIDE LIVE right there with them because they were cassettes I played to death back when I was kid. I should probably add the Krokus and Judas Priest live records to that list too.

I did a lot of comparisons: PRIEST IN THE EAST vs. PRIEST…..LIVE!, LIVE EVIL vs. REUNION, all 3 Saxon live albums. Some are no brainers so I expect everyone to comment how bad PRIEST…..LIVE! & REUNION are to two all-time classic live albums. Some of these albums like the UFO records, the Royal Hunt, MSG and Jeff Scott Soto have become favorites over the years and you can’t dispute Queen’s legacy in the live arena. My plan for the “live album week” is to pick 7 out of this list, or maybe pick 6 and throw in a surprise, for reviews and memories.

Current Playlist

Most of the CDs I’ve been listening to are up for review but I also decided to give a few oldies a spin…..

Lana Lane – Red Planet Boulevard (2007): I am kicking myself for not buying this when it came out in late 2007. If I did, this album would have easily made my Top 15 Albums of 2007. I think I have spun this CD more in the last two weeks than any album I’ve bought since the beginning of the year. It is going to be a staple on my playlist for more than a few weeks.

Testament – The Formation Of Damnation (2008): The label was nice enough to send me a copy to review but I would have been more than happy to buy my own copy. I’ve only had a few spins but I like what I hear so far.

Pharaoh – Be Gone (2008): I’ve been enjoying the latest Pharaoh album for a couple of weeks now and I should have a review soon. BE GONE is released in Europe later this week.

Asia – Phoenix (2008): Bought this today but I only had a quick listen in the car on the way home from the record store. Every year there are controversial albums, this year one of them is Asia’s PHOENIX. I have read a lot of reviews and it’s considered either a return to form or very boring and bland, there has been no middle ground.

Saints Of The Underground – Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner (2008): I heard about this “supergroup” toward the end of 2006 but I really didn’t think it would see the light of day. I picked this up with the Asia album and I gave it a spin while I walked the dog today. I’ll review this soon.

W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (1985): My favorite W.A.S.P. album. I never get tired of it except for maybe ‘Blind In Texas’ because it’s always on VH-1 Classic. ‘Fistful Of Diamonds’ is a great song, so is ‘Widowmaker’…..classic W.A.S.P.!

KISS – Animalize (1984): KISS is my favorite band but I know the songs so well that I don’t bother to listen to them that often. For some reason, I had to hear ‘Get All You Can Take’ so I listened to the whole album rather than skip to the song. ANIMALIZE is a solid KISS record, probably their best until 1992’s REVENGE…..there’s more to the album than ‘Heaven’s On Fire’ but that is still a great tune.

Saxon – Denim And Leather (1981): “Denim and leather, brought us all together”…..no truer words are spoken! Pure NWOBHM and classic Saxon with tracks like ‘Play It Loud’, ‘Princess Of The Night’, the title cut and ‘Never Surrender’. The band still revolves five of the songs here in and out of their current setlist.

The Top 15 Albums of 2007

It’s been another solid year for new releases, hundreds of bands released new albums in 2007 and it’s been very hard to keep up. I missed out on many new releases in many different genres because I spend my hard earned money. That money I put aside for my music fix has to be spent wisely and some bands/albums just fall through the cracks. I’ve started to get the attention of some labels and distributors so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to review more new releases in 2008.

Another factor is availability. Today anything can be bought online but the prices can be too high, sometimes it’s better to save a few dollars by holding off on a European or Japanese import and waiting for the U.S. release. In a few of those cases, some albums released around the world in 2007 won’t be released properly in the U.S. until early 2008 (Night Ranger, Airbourne, Primal Fear).

Looking back on 2007, I noticed that some bands got more of my attention than others and I picked up a lot of new releases from 2006 that I had missed. I only expect more of the same as my Want List grows and my musical tastes expand. The only criteria I followed for my Top 15 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. So here it is, my Top 15 Albums of 2007:

#1

Scorpions - Humanity Hour 1 (2007)Scorpions – Humanity Hour 1

The surprise of the year! The Scorpions experimented enough over the last few years but they planted the seeds with 2004’s UNBREAKABLE for a major comeback, not that they ever went away. I admit that I was apprehensive when I found out Pop Rock guru Desmond Child was aboard but the relationship produced a solid Hard Rock album full of melody, emotion, and attitude. This album has remained in my playlist rotation since it’s release and I haven’t tired of it yet, that’s the mark of a great album. I missed the band when they came to Boston this past Fall but their is a rumored tour with Judas Priest in 2008, that will make HUMANITY HOUR 1 even better. Another surprise was the advertised price ($7.99 at Best Buy) and the exclusive bonus track ‘Cold’. A great album AND value!

#2

Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life (2007)Joe Lynn Turner – Second Hand Life

Very close to being my #1 album of 2007. So close in fact that I’ve had to listen to this and the Scorpions more in the last week to make the final decision. All the songs are strong and the music is a pure blend of classic AOR and Melodic Hard Rock. The songwriting is intelligent and emotional and the vocals are the best I’ve heard in 2007, JLT is in fine voice, probably the strongest of his career…..he just sounds so smooth, so effortless in his delivery. There were also a couple of Rainbow influences that gave the album a classic sound without sounding dated. Like the Scorpions album, there was a lot of value: the U.S. release on Friday Music was $12.99 and included an exclusive track (‘Freedom’s Wings’) and all the European and Japanese bonus tracks.

#3

Saxon - The Inner SanctumSaxon – The Inner Sanctum

THE INNER SANCTUM was the album of the year for me until the Scorpions and JLT released their albums. Saxon are one of my favorite bands and they have consistently produced great albums since the late ’90s, this record is no exception. Saxon blends their current approach of blazing fast Power Metal with their NWOBHM roots and creates an album of ten really great songs. Saxon are elder statesmen in the realm of Heavy Metal but they do things better than many of the younger bands. The focus is on the songwriting and then translating it to the live show. Every one of these songs could be played alongside the classics, that’s how strong they are. Add the bonus DVD to the studio album and it turns into a great package, also one of my favorite album covers of the year.

#4

Great White - Back To The Rhythm (2007)Great White – Back To The Rhythm

A successful comeback by a band no one expected to do anything. After all that has happened, did anyone think that Great White would actually make an album? They did and they made a great Blues based Hard Rock record. Getting the classic lineup back together rejuvenated the writing and getting singer Jack Russell sober made all the difference as he put in probably the best vocal performance of his career.

#5

Icarus Witch - Songs For The Lost (2007)Icarus Witch – Songs For The Lost

One of the best new bands out there playing a cross between NWOBHM and Traditional Metal. This is their second album and it doesn’t suffer from the “sophomore jinx”, this is a solid slab of straight up Heavy Metal. I even like the cover of Def Leppard’s ‘Mirror Mirror’! A band worth watching for the future.

#6

Primal Fear - New Religion (2007)Primal Fear – New Religion

Primal Fear just make good Heavy Metal records…..period. NEW RELIGION has a bit more melody and harmony within the power of their Metal assault, making the album more accessible and diverse. Everytime I hear a new Primal Fear record, I always wonder how vocalist Ralf Scheepers lost the Judas Priest gig to Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. Ralf has grown from being complete Halford clone to being one of the best Metal singers alive. Had to pick this up on import in September, the U.S. release is January 2008.

#7

Airbourne - Runnin’ Wild (2007)Airbourne – Runnin’ Wild

I bought into all the hype and rave reviews and I picked this up very late in the year. I was skeptical because I had heard only two songs and I wondered if AC/DC clones could produce a strong album. Everyone likes AC/DC, and with them out of the picture for now, Airbourne has picked up where Angus & company left off. It’s simple bluesy Hard Rock like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and The Angels but with a youthful energy built for party Rock. Had to get this one on import late in the year also because their U.S. distribution starts in January 2008.

#8

3 Inches Of Blood - Fire Up The Blades (2007)3 Inches Of Blood – Fire Up The Blades

A big thanks to a loyal reader, and devout Metalhead, Rene for pushing me to check out this band. Good thing I listened because 3 Inches Of Blood is a great young band that blends many different styles of Metal into their overall sound. Cam Pipes is one of the better Metal vocalists that can incorporate clean/traditional singing with growls. grunts, and groans. Another young band making their mark.

#9

Ted Nugent - Love Grenade (2007)Ted Nugent – Love Grenade

Terrible Ted came roaring from the woods to deliver his best album in years. Continuing with his gonzo attitude and hunter instinct, Ted took his love of the Blues, added his Hard Rock blend and tongue-in-cheek humor, and built the LOVE GRENADE. Jack Blades’ (Night Ranger/Damn Yankees) produces and co-writes here and does a spectacular job at getting the best from the Nuge. One listen to ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ and ‘Funk U’ and you’ll understand.

#10

Kamelot - Ghost Opera (2007)Kamelot – Ghost Opera

Another end of the year addition and it’s a shame I waited so long, it’s a good album. A little more Progressive and Symphonic than their past Power Metal style but still good. Kamelot proves that heavy music can be intricate and diverse while retaining the power…..I really dig the orchestration and strings and the lush backgrounds. Is Roy Khan one of the most underrated singers in Metal or what? Added value to this one is the bonus DVD on the limited edition.

#11

Megadeth - United Abominations (2007)Megadeth – United Abominations

At first, I wasn’t excited or impressed, Megadeth hadn’t regained my trust from 1999’s RISK debacle even though there had been two decent studio releases since. It wasn’t until mid-May when I saw Megadeth open for Heaven & Hell that I stood up and took notice. It’s having classic Megadeth back with Dave Mustaine more focused than ever.

#12

Helloween - Gambling With The Devil (2007)Helloween – Gambling With The Devil

Helloween were kind of put in the same category as Megadeth because I just couldn’t get into their last two albums: RABBIT DON’T COME EASY (2003) & KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS – THE LEGACY (2005). There was too much experimentation and enhancements on those records while the band tried to regain their signature sound and promised fans such. This album was more straight ahead Power Metal that Helloween is known for. Andi Deris puts in a spectacular performance and the band has shown that all the lineup changes of recent years hasn’t disrupted their core.

#13

Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1) (2007)Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1)

Hard to believe that this is only Iced Earth’s third album since 1998’s masterpiece SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. It’s also hard to believe that after releasing two very spotty concept records, the band would come roaring back to form with another concept album based on the SOMETHING WICKED theme. Unfortunately, recent lineup changes (Owens out, Barlow back in) and some late year additions to my collection have pushed this album down the list, I had it Top 10 easily up until the last couple of weeks.

#14

Endeverafter - Kiss Or Kill (2007)Endeverafter – Kiss Or Kill

Endeverafter came out of nowhere to deliver solid party time Hard Rock. A blend of classic L.A. Hard Rock with today’s edge, I couldn’t find a bad song. I’d like to hear how the do on their next record.

#15

Masterplan - MK II (2007)Masterplan – MK II

I’ve had this CD since early April and I’m still enjoying it. Unfortunately, it ranks a little lower due to my getting used to Mike DiMeo replacing Jorn Lande at the mic and the fact that many top bands released excellent albums later in the year. Really good Power/Progressive Metal here, hopefully the lineup stays stable.

In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2007:

Axeman

Bring Back Glam

Hard Rock Hideout

Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes

Layla’s Classic Rock Faves

The Metal Minute

Raise Your Fists

Rock & Roll And Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages (Dave’s Best of 2007)

Rock Of Ages (Bill’s Best of 2007)

The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2007

One of the things I decided at the end of 2006 was to buy more music DVDs in 2007. I bought somewhere between 25-30 DVDs this year and about half were from 2007. It didn’t matter if the DVD was a live concert, a documentary, or archival footage, I bought it and watched it! Some of these DVDs are multiple hours long so there were many late nights and many weeks spent watching a certain release critically. Unfortunately, I didn’t review as many DVDs as I did CDs but that’s something I’ll correct in 2008. Just like with new CDs, the money for new DVDs has to be spent wisely and the following list certainly gave a lot ov quality and value for the money spent. So here is my list of the Top 5 Music DVDs of 2007:

#1

KISSology 3 DVDKISSology Vol. 3 (1992-2000)

I know I’m a biased KISS fan but this release was by far my favorite of the year. Starting with a full concert from the Revenge Tour, to Unplugged, to the Reunion, and thru both the Psycho Circus and Farewell Tours…..KISS delivered a solid package for the second time this year. What makes this so special to me is the Reunion footage, it’s nice to re-live the era again and to feel the awe and excitement I did when I finally witnessed my dream of seeing the original KISS live. I watched 10.5 hours of solid concert footage over 5 DVDs (the bonus DVD was different depending on where you bought KISSology 3). If you add the other 2 copies I bought (from Wal-Mart & Best Buy) for the exclusive bonus DVDs, I spent another 2 hours in front of my TV watching my favorite band. Excellent value and decently priced ($25 at most retailers).

#2

KISSology 2 (2007)KISSology Vol.2 (1978-1991)

It may be a bit too much KISS for some people but KISSology Vol.2, released August 14th, is as solid as Vol.1 and Vol.3 with only one minor hiccup keeping it from the top spot: KISS in Attack Of The Phantoms movie. This is the Australian version that had better music but it could have been released separately giving way to more live concerts. Vol.2 has more clips than performances until Disc 3 but the clips are good to have for the KISS kollector that doesn’t frequent the trading circuit. This version could have a little more non-makeup/’80s era KISS for my taste but I think Gene & Paul are saving that for future volumes. Would have been nice to finally get the old VHS concert Animalize: Live Uncensored on U.S. DVD but I understand there are some legalities to straighten out. Nice to relive the Crazy Nights Tour ’88, that was my first KISS concert.

#3

AC/DC - Plug Me In front artworkAC/DC – Plug Me In

With AC/DC on the shelf about rleasing a long-awaited new studio album, the band decides to release an archive set of performances from both the Bon Scott & Brian Johnson eras. Brilliant! I bought the limited edition 3 DVD set and it was worth the extra $10. After watching over 7 hours of concert footage, I really want a new AC/DC record and tour. This set would have been #1 if KISS hadn’t released the KISSologys.

#4

Heaven & Hell - Live at Radio City DVD (2007)Heaven & Hell – Live At Radio City Music Hall 2007

The Dio-era of Black Sabbath is my favorite lineup and I was really into the reunion even if there had to be a name change. I caught the tour twice and was not disappointed, even the new songs came off well live. The best part of the concerts and DVD are the inclusion of songs from the DEHUMANIZER (1992) album: ‘I’, ‘Computer God’, ‘(After All) The Dead’. It’s an extremely underrated album and is usually forgotten around classics like HEAVEN & HELL and MOB RULES. Looking forward to the new album and tour planned for 2008.

#5

Saxon - To Hell And Back Again (2007) 2 DVD setSaxon – To Hell And Back Again

The bias is showing again because Saxon is in my Top 5 favorite bands. I enjoyed the documentary but I would have enjoyed a full show more. A small complaint because we don’t get to see Saxon here in the U.S. as much as the rest of the world does. It was cool to see Lemmy, Doro, Andi Deris, and Angry Anderson (Rose Tattoo) makes guest appearances in concert. Good to hear the LIONHEART album performed live and it’s nice to have the videos from the album on a proper release rather than just found on YouTube.