The 2012 Heavy Metal Addiction Awards

2012 is over so that means it’s time for my year end awards! It’s been another awesome year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with so many releases on CD, DVD, Vinyl and Digital formats, not just new studio albums but also live records, reissues and special edition releases. I have had more albums submitted for review this year from bands, labels and PR agents as digital promos have taken over as the easiest way to get the word out as quickly as possible and I have done my part as a consumer and purchased plenty of new and old albums & DVDs from record stores, Ebay, online vendors and direct from bands and labels. The only problem has been finding the time to do through everything!

With all this music it’s been every hard to keep up so this has been the worst year for posting but I have made a serious push in November and December to listen to as many CDs, and watch as many DVDs, as possible to prepare for my year end lists. I said the same thing at the end of 2010 & 2011 but 2012 was in fact the worst year for posting at Heavy Metal Addiction…..I only managed to post 19 times! I couldn’t even break 20 posts on a blog I started 7 years ago as an extension of my hobby! Pathetic! Obviously sitting in front of a computer writing wasn’t something that interested me again this year.

I did listen to a lot of albums this year but I stayed mainly with albums in my collection even though I have piles on my desk, and in boxes right next it, chock full of CDs and DVDs released in 2011 and 2012. I bought a ton of new releases as they came out and I’ve spent some time listening to them, I just didn’t get around to writing about them. I haven’t completely abandoned this website as I plan to continue it because there’s a lot to write about and I will try and catch up on as many reviews as I can but the reality is that there’s no way to “catch up”. I think it’s best to try and concentrate on 2013 and add in what I can from previous years.

I have been re-listening to as many 2012 albums that I can since November so I can post my year end awards. Usually I break this up into a week’s worth of posts but I decided to take advantage of a couple new WordPress features and do it all as one big article. I’m pairing down my lists a bit to give you the absolute cream of the crop in each category and I’ve also decided to re-define a couple categories. This year the Best DVD category will include DVDs that came with CD releases, because that seems to be the current trend,  and the Worst Album category will get a name change to Most Disappointing Album so I can try and maintain some positive spin…..but if an album makes it into this category, then I thought it sucked! Last is the Miscellaneous Release category, that stays the same but there could be some crossover between this and the Best DVD category with all the multiple CD and DVD or Blu-Ray combo releases coming out. I tried to limit the crossovers but the best package is going to get on both lists.

That’s all I’ve got for changes so I hope you enjoy the 2012 awards, please leave comments and give me your thoughts on what was the best & worst of the past year. I’ve got my sights set on 2013 and I expect and even bigger year in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal as I keep checking out new releases and catching up on things I missed from the last couple of years.

The Top 15 Albums of 2012

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  1. Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth
  2. UFO – Seven Deadly
  3. 3 Inches Of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal
  4. KISS – Monster
  5. Accept – Stalingrad
  6. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
  7. The Darkness – Hot Cakes
  8. Kamelot – Silverthorn
  9. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
  10. Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth
  11. Rush – Clockwork Angels
  12. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last Of A Dyin’ Breed
  13. Lita Ford – Living Like A Runaway
  14. L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever
  15. Lamb Of God – Resolution

There were a ton a great albums in 2012 but only one album can earn the top honor of being the best of the year and that is reserved for A Different Kind Of Truth from the “reunited” Van Halen. By reuniting with David Lee Roth a few years ago, the only thing the Van Halen brothers had to do was release a new album with Diamond Dave on lead vocals. Let’s call it like it truly is: this isn’t a TRUE Van Halen reunion because Michael Anthony is out of the band and replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang. The good news is that A Different Kind Of Truth is a great album! Forget the fact that Eddie and Alex went through the Van Halen tape vault for ideas because EVERY band does it…..hasn’t the father of Heavy Metal, Tony Iommi, stated often that he has tapes of riffs for miles? Every band looks for ideas and revisits demos and music they created years before, it’s the updating that counts. This album has that unmistakable classic Diamond Dave/Van Halen sound circa the late ’70s and early ’80s and, even though he’s a bit older, Dave does a great job on the mic. The first single, ‘Tattoo’, wasn’t the best song on the album and might have been better suited to a follow-up single but everything after is classic Van Halen. ‘She’s The Woman’ is a re-worked demo from the ’70s that is clearly the best song on the album for me and it definitely fits that 1984 album era well. ‘China Town’, ‘Blood And Fire’, ‘Stay Frosty’, ‘Big River’…..all new Van Halen classics that sit right up against anything in their back catalog. A Different Kind Of Truth is the true follow-up to 1984, unfortunately 28 years after the fact, and it’s my top album of 2012.

Taking a look at the rest of the Top 5…..UFO released Seven Deadly and earned the 2nd spot with another excellent album of bluesy Hard Rock. UFO has done much wrong since they came back in 1995 and I can’t find a weak track on the album. Phil Mogg’s lyrics are modern poetry and there is no slack in the guitar department because Vinnie Moore has more than a few albums under his belt with the band. Hard to pick a favorite track here but ‘The Last Stone Rider’ is my favorite this week! Had Van Halen not released their new record, UFO would easily be #1. The third best goes to 3 Inches of Blood with Long Live Heavy Metal, probably the best pure and traditional Heavy Metal record of the year. Take one listen to the opener ‘Metal Woman’ or the Judas Priest influenced ‘Leather Lord’ and that’s a great example of not only this record but the band’s career. Of all the Metal albums I heard this year, 3 Inches of Blood got the most rotation on my stereo and iPod. My favorite band KISS comes up a bit short of the top spot but still maintains the #4 album with Monster. When it comes to KISS, I’m extremely critical because they are my favorite band and they have barely released anything since new in 15 years. We got Sonic Boom in 2009 and it took the top spot that year and Monster is just as good but I had a harder time getting into it like I did with Sonic Boom. Maybe it was the anticipation of the previous album, or the travelling circus atmosphere that KISS creates with everything they do, but after repeated listens the album is just as good if not better. Anyone worrying about Dave, Eddie and Alex recycling should give Gene Simmons grief too because it’s obvious he does it but his songs are the better ones on the album. Paul Stanley has great moments too but I worried about his vocal issues going in and Gene hasn’t lost a step vocally. a lot of good songs here: ‘Wall Of Sound’, ‘Back To The Stone Age’, ‘Shout Mercy’ and ‘Eat Your Heart Out’…..here’s hoping they give us another one! Rounding out the Top 5 is Accept’s Stalingrad, the second record to feature new vocalist Mark Tornillo (formerly of TT Quick). The last Accept album with Mark debuting on vocals, Blood Of The Nations, was a superb record and Stalingrad is a great follow-up and it might be more powerful. I think Accept shares the same fate as KISS here, the anticipation for the first new album was so high on my part that a second release suffers just a little. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Hung, Drawn and Quartered’, the title track, and ‘Shadow Soldiers’ are awesome tunes but can anyone explain the meaning behind ‘Flash To Bang Time’?

Rounding out the Top 15…..Nightwish’s Imaginaerum was very close to the Top 5 but came up short because they first 5 albums were so good. I expected nothing from The Darkness but I bought Hot Cakes when it came out and I loved it immeadiately, same thing with Silverthorn from Kamelot despite the change at singer. Gojira was a surprise of the year because I’d never bought an album from them before and L’Enfant Sauvage kicked major ass, so did the new Testament album at #10 and the new Lamb of God at #15, giving the more extreme side of Metal a presence. Rush picked up #11 with Clockwork Angels but I expected a great album so their was no surprise there but Lynyrd Skynyrd surprised with their latest album proving that good music always prevails despite the genre, time or legacy. Lita Ford had a great comeback with Living Like A Runaway, a very introspective Hard Rock record, especially after the debacle of Wicked Wonderland and L.A. Guns proved that they still write great songs and that usually the lead singer’s version of the band will always out do the founding guitarist’s version because the singing voice is the most identifiable thing to most fans.

The 5 Most Disappointing Albums of 2012

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  1. Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension
  2. Steve Harris – British Lion
  3. Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves
  4. Slash – Apocalyptic Love
  5. Great White – Elation

Usually I call this “the worst albums” of whatever year it is but I wanted to keep a positive spin on this category because who am I to say an album sucks? I have no musical talent, I don’t write songs or play an instrument. I could change it back next year if a bunch of albums do indeed suck but, for 2012, these are the most disappointing records of the year. I heard the first two singles from the new Aerosmith album and I was hooked right away, especially with ‘Lover A Lot’, but the bulk of Music From Another Dimension sounded formulaic and forced. Too many outside writers, too many ballads, too many predictable songs. Do we need another Diane Warren ballad? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and the ballad is what gave the band ultra-success from the Pump record straight through Nine Lives. I was really looking forward to a reunited Aerosmith and a bunch of rocking songs but there’s too much filler. Take a page from KISS…..lock the band in the studio and do it mostly yourself.

There was a lot of surprise when it was announced Iron Maiden’s founding bass player, Steve harris, was releasing a solo album that he had been working on for a long time. With Maiden’s hectic schedule, who knew? Apparently Steve did and he enlisted musicians from a band he had been producing called British Lions, to create the British Lion record. It’s supposed to be a throwback album to the days of classic Thin Lizzy and UFO that had a big impact on a young Harris but, aside from the hard Rock style, I didn’t hear much of the influences. Let’s call it like it is: anything Steve Harris does outside of Iron Maiden will always be compared to Iron Maiden. There’s a different style to the music on this album compared to Maiden but I expected the same excellent quality from Steve. The songwriting seems too pedestrian, too simplistic……then again, we are used to epic lyrics on Maiden albums. The band can play well but Steve seems pushed back purposely in the mix (probably due to the Hard Rock style) and the singer has no range…..then again, we are spoiled with Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden. There’s no helping the comparisons to Iron Maiden but the quality of the material just lacks on this solo album from Steve Harris.

Rounding out the Top 5 here…..Geoff Tate’s new solo album comes on the heels of his split with the Queensryche camp, who are no strangers to this category! In the back of my mind, I knew this wouldn’t be good but I had hope but Kings And Thieves was just plain boring. Same thing with Apocalyptic Love from Slash. Slash is an iconic guitarist and hopes were high for this album with lead singer Miles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) but it was just boring. remember that Izzy Stradlin and Axl Rose were the creative forces in Guns ‘N Roses, not to say Slash didn’t contribute, but anything he does will always come back to Guns…..and even then, Guns only had two albums of classic material with Appetite For Destruction and if you cherry pick off the Use Your Illusion albums. Last album in this category is Elation from Great White, featuring former XYZ singer Terry Ilous on vocals replacing the fired Jack Russell. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on this album but, for me personally, it comes down to the voice and Jack Russell’s fits the bluesy Hard Rock of Great White’s music better than Terry Ilous. It’s by no means a bad album and, considering the vocalist change, it a solid effort. I just couldn’t get into it and I expected a bit more after the last two records, Back To The Rhythm and Rising.

The Top 5 DVDs of 2012

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  1. Scorpions – Live In 3D: Get Your Sting & Blackout
  2. Iron Maiden – En Vivo!
  3. Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009
  4. Queen – Days Of Our Lives
  5. Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil: Live At Irvine Meadows ’82

This year I decided to included DVDs and/or Blu-rays that came with CD releases or box sets because this seems to be the way bands and labels are adding something extra for fans. My favorite DVD of the year is also the first Blu-ray release I ever bought…..Scorpions – Live In 3D: get Your Sting & Blackout. An excellently produced concert film with plenty of extras, this got the top spot because I saw this tour live over the summer and that put Live In 3D over the top. The Scorpions needed that emotional attachment because iron Maiden delivered another excellent DVD in a long line of excellent DVDs with En Vivo! Does Iron Maiden ever do anything wrong went it comes to video releases? Plenty of awesome concert footage from Santiago, Chile and plenty of documentary film as well the only thing I could complain about is to package the DVD or Blu-ray with the double CD live album for a special package (that’s the next category). The new Saxon DVD is solid and part of the Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009 release, the DVD incorporates the band’s best performances from the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany for 2004, 2007 and 2009…..that’s 31 songs! and some behind the scenes footage and you’ve got a Saxon fan’s dream DVD, only bettered by the super limited edition box set of this release that included separate DVDs of the full concerts. Had I been able to get one of those, Saxon would own the top spot easily. Rounding out the Top 5 is the Queen documentary, Days of Our Lives, finally getting a proper DVD release and the famous often duplicted, VHS only Ozzy Osbourne concert Speak Of The Devil: Live At Irvine Meadows ’82.

The Top 10 Miscellaneous Releases of 2012

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  1. Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009
  2. UFO – The Chrysalis Years (1980 – 1986)
  3. Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2: Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else
  4. Motorhead – The world Is Ours Vol.1: Everywhere Further Than Everywhere Else
  5. U.D.O. – Celebrator
  6. Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance (30th Anniversary Edition)
  7. KISS – Destroyer Resurrected
  8. U.D.O. – Live In Sofia
  9. Dio – The Very Beast Of Dio Vol.2
  10. Quiet Riot – Live At The US Festival ’83

I never like to put these kind of releases into my top albums category because I like to reserve that for albums of new material but there are always other great new releases aside from new studio albums and 2012 was no exception.

The #1 spot goes to the 2CD/DVD release from Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009 because that was my favorite release with the DVD of the best of the band’s last 3 appearances at Wacken Open Air and the double audio CD from Glascow on the Call To Arms Tour in 2011. My only regret is not knowing about the preorder for the limited edition that came with extra DVDs and CDs but it was also a couple hundred bucks. The second slot goes to the second volume of the UFO back catalog on Chrysalis Records from 1980 thru 1986. You get 5 CDs that include the 5 post Michael Schenker albums (No Place To Run, The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent, Mechanix, Making Contact, & Misdemeanor) all with bonus tracks, plus a full BBC In Concert from February 1980 and the live tracks from the Headstone compilation from Hammersmith 1983. I was lucky to have the label send me a copy but to get all this at retail for around $50 is a steal! I already have all the UFO albums on Japanese import with bonus tracks but this is another great compilation for a great band.

The #3 and #4 spots belong to Motorhead with The World is Ours Vols 1 & 2. I couldn’t decide which was better so I put the second volume first because it was fresher in the memory. Both sets have 2CD live sets and a live DVD in great packaging just like the Saxon set. Their label UDR is really putting out great stuff! U.D.O. also gets 2 slots in this Top 10 with the Celebrator two disc compilation of rare tracks and the Live In Sofia 2CD/DVD set. I put Live In Sofia at #8 but it’s a solid live package, AFM Records doing what UDR is doing and, for $14 on sale, it was a no brainer. The Celebrator album is really great because it collects all those hard to find Japanese bonus tracks remixed, some previously unreleased songs and a few songs from various tribute albums. I could have done with out the remix treatment and had the originals but I’m sure that was done to get thru legal label red tape. Its a great compilation of 25 songs on two discs with a great full color booklet. I put the Judas Priest Screaming For Vengeance 30th Anniversary Edition in at #6 more for the DVD from the US Festival ’83 than anything else, same with Quiet Riot at #10…..now that makes three bands that have released live DVDs of their US Festival performances (Triumph did it a few years ago). KISS released Destroyer Resurrected and it made #7, basically it was a 36 year celebration release restoring all the original artwork and having producer Bob Ezrin remix the album. It’s a nice novelty to have especially for the original guitar solo on ‘Sweet Pain’ as a bonus track but I will admit that my KISS fanaticism pushed this higher. Last to mention is The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 covering the best of the Dio band’s work from the ’90s up until Ronnie’s death, the track here to have is ‘Electra’ the first completed song from what would have been from the Magica II album that the band was working on when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

3 Releases I Missed In 2011

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  1. Royal Hunt – Future Coming From The Past DVD
  2. Benedictum – Dominion
  3. Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination

Just a quick note on a couple releases I missed out on in 2011…..the Royal Hunt DVD is a formal worldwide release of the Japan only video release of Live 1996 and, even though it’s all over Youtube, it’s a welcome addition to my collection. Benedictum keeps churning out great albums and their third, Dominion, is awesome as is Forever Abomination from Skeltonwitch, a band I finally got around to checking out in 2012.

CD Scavenger Hunt (May update)

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

Newbury Comics

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

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

Ebay

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

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

Total = $144

Total (year) = $1012

Average Price (per item) = $8.72

Total CDs (year) = 111

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

The 5 Worst Albums of 2010

2010 was another great year for new albums. Bands from all different genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal released good albums this year and I was on the frontlines buying them up as they were released. Of course there were some bad albums too. I bought more new releases, and had more new albums submitted for review, in 2010 than I have any other year that Heavy Metal Addiction has been active so there were bound to be some bad ones in the pile. In previous years, I’ve received a lot of email about my decision to call this the “Worst” albums of the year, some people have thought that it is too negative. My feeling is that no matter if the album is a major disappointment because you were looking forward to it so much, or the album is just plain awful from the packaging, to the production to the performance, then it qualifies under the heading of “Worst”. Of all the albums I picked up some releases were just plain bad, some were huge disappointments, some I just couldn’t stand…..so here is my list of The 5 Worst Albums of 2010:

#1

Methods Of Mayhem – A Public Disservice Announcement (2010): Without a doubt, this is the WORST album I heard in 2010. I tried, I really did, but it was so hard to try and sit through the entire album and I tried at least a half dozen times. I’m all for solo projects, I’m all for experimenting with different styles but when you advertise and market a new album in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal circles then it better have some Hard Rock or Heavy Metal in it! This is Alternative, Nu-Metal and Rap beats all thrown together, with outside contributions from guest musicians and fans, to create a wall of sound that is so just a bunch of noise. This album is 10 years too late and even then that’s a stretch. I never bought this album and I am so glad I didn’t waste my $13, I just feel bad for the guy I borrowed this from because there’s no way this album was worth 13 cents rather than $13. I would even go as far as saying that this album might even be worse than last year’s Worst Album of the Year.

#2

Bret Michaels – Custom Built (2010): Big bad Bret is no stranger to the Worst of the Year list because he made the list in 2008 with his last “new album” ROCK MY WORLD (2008). The problem the last time was that Bret advertised ROCK MY WORLD as a “new studio album” and only three songs were actually new with the rest coming from previous Bret solo records. Fast forward two years and Bret is at it again with CUSTOM BUILT! He advertised this album as a “new studio album” but only four songs were actually new with the balance coming from the out of print FREEDOM OF SOUND (2005) and LETTERS FROM DEATH ROW (1998). Add in a cover and a couple alternate mixes/demos and you’ve got a 1/3 of a new album. Is it right to rip-off fans like this? Why not re-release the three real studio albums Bret has done outside of Poison? I understand you want to promote your reality television career but what about the fans? If it wasn’t for Tommy Lee, Bret Michaels would take the top honors this year.

#3

Dark Age – Acedia (2010): This is one of those albums that got released everywhere else in the world in late 2009 but got a North American release in early 2010. Dark Age is a Melodic Death Metal from Germany and one of my goals this year was to open myself up to more of the extreme forms of Metal. The problem with ACEDIA is that it’s very light on the Death Metal and very heavy on the Nu-Metal and Alternative Metal. The comparison I made in my review was Linkin Park…..I’m not and never have been a fan of Linkin Park and their style of whining Rap infused music. This album is ten or eleven years too late to the party, I’m not sure if Dark Age’s previous albums were a lot heavier and more Death Metal but there really isn’t a lot of Metal here to enjoy. I may not be an expert in the Death Metal, or Melodic Death Metal, scenes but I’ve heard enough to know that there is still Heavy Metal in it!

#4

Slash – s/t (2010): This new album from Slash was highly anticipated and highly disappointing, making it a leader for “Worst Album of 2010″ since it’s release. There’s no doubt that Slash is a guitar icon and that he has had a hand in some excellent Hard Rock & Heavy Metal albums with Guns ‘N Roses, Velvet Revolver and Slash’s Snakepit but not everything can turn to gold or platinum. There’s an all-star cast on this album and some of the names are well known in Metal circles: Lemmy, Ozzy, Duff, Izzy and Dave Grohl. Then there are the names well known in Pop circles: Adam Levine from Maroon 5, Kid Rock and Fergie. Fergie? Are you serious? I’m all for Slash experimenting with different musicians and different styles but, when you advertise an new album heavily in Metal magazines and Metal television shows, shouldn’t you put some extra Metal in it? I really wanted to like this album because I really like Slash, especially in GNR and Snakepit, but Fergie? The guy from Maroon 5? I would have rathered Slash make an entire rock record with one singer handling most of the album and adding in the Lemmy, Ozzy and Ian Astbury tunes, I’m sure Myles Kennedy could have done some Rock songs instead of the mid-tempo/ballad types he did here. But Fergie? Really?

#5

Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila (2010): I really debated adding this album in because I did hear some other albums that could have qualified but TATTOOS & TEQUILA was a major disappointment. Vince had all the cards lined up: a summer tour coming with Motley Crue on Ozzfest, the album was being released on Nikki Sixx’s label, solid producers and a great backing band. This had the potential to be a really good album on par with the latest albums from Vince’s main band Motley Crue. The problem is that there was no effort. Vince has “Bret Michaels Syndrome” (BMS): let’s hype a new record as a “new studio album” and then give the fans only a couple new originals. Granted, Vince didn’t re-release previously recorded material like big Bret but how hard is it to go in and sing some well known cover tunes? I read all the press and hype and it went from “a brand new studio album” to “an album of songs that influenced me”…..let’s call it what it is, a quick cash grab! I bought it, I listened to it, I was fully disappointed especially when the two originals were really good. Then again, Vince didn’t have a hand in the writing so where’s the effort?

Slash – s/t (2010)

Slash – s/t (2010, EMI)

  1. Ghost (featuring Ian Astbury)
  2. Crucify The Dead (featuring Ozzy Osbourne)
  3. Beautiful Dangerous (featuring Fergie)
  4. Back From Cali (featuring Myles Kennedy)
  5. Promise (featuring Chris Cornell)
  6. By the Sword (featuring Andrew Stockdale from Wolfmother)
  7. Gotten (featuring Adam Levine)
  8. Doctor Alibi (featuring Lemmy Kilmister)
  9. Watch This Dave (featuring Dave Grohl & Duff McKagan)
  10. I Hold On (featuring Kid Rock)
  11. Nothing To Say (featuring M Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold)
  12. Starlight (featuring Myles Kennedy)
  13. Saint Is A Sinner Too (featuring Rocco DeLuca)
  14. We’re All Gonna Die (featuring Iggy Pop)

Musicians:
Slash – Guitars
Josh Freese – Drums & Percussion on track #13
Chris Chaney – Bass
Leonard Castro – Percussion
Dave Grohl – Drums (track #9)
Duff McKagan – Bass (track #9)
Steve Ferrone – Drums (track #12)
Lemmy Kilmister – Distorted Bass (track #8)
Izzy Stradlin – Rhythm Guitar (track #1)
Eric Valentine – Piano/Keyboards (track #1 & #10)

Producer: Eric Valentine

Country: USA

Total Time = 60:29

Slash
Slash MySpace page

Slash is a guitar icon, there is no denying that. Back in 1987 when Guns ‘N Roses was conquering the Hard Rock world with APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION, Slash became a household name. He had signature riffs and solos in that dangerous sleaze the Gunners called a record but he also had the look: denim and leather, long hair hiding his face and a Ritchie Blackmore styled top-hat that has become as identifiable as the main riff of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. He took Hard Rock guitar and made it dirty and dangerous again at a time when the latest guitar wizards were trying to outdo each other by over-indulging in the works of the great Eddie Van Halen. It’s been hard to escape Slash over the last 23 years…..he’s had success with GNR, Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and various session work but now we get the first ever Slash solo album, SLASH.

When I first heard of this albums release, I was psyched because I thought it was going to be a Slash’s Snakepit album. I was a big fan of the Snakepit (I thought those two records were great) so I figured the natural progression was to revisit his mid-90s solo vehicle. I guess a lot of people thought this would be a Snakepit record because Slash himself announced that this was going to be a true solo album with a ton of guest stars. In my opinion, this can be hit or miss but there has been recent successes that prove Slash could create a similar situation. Carlos Santana was able to achive mega multi-platinum success with SUPERNATURAL (1999) and SHAMAN (2002), Tony Iommi released a self-titled solo album in 2000 to critical acclaim and former Nirvana/Foo Fighters mainman Dave Grohl surprised everyone with his Probot side project…..if these guys can do it then why not Slash? Without hesitation, I bought the record. I already knew that there were some guest stars like Fergie (Black Eyed Peas) and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) that I knew would suck but there were some Metal guest stars that made it worthwhile in Ozzy and Lemmy and Rock stars like Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and Ian Astbury (The Cult).

Opening the record is ‘Ghost’ with Ian Astbury and it has a cool riff but it sounds like danceable Cult meets The Doors. Astbury has been moonlighting with the reunited Doors as a replacement for the late Jim Morrison and you can hear his Morrison impression all over this song. Next up is Ozzy singing ‘Crucify the Dead’. I thought this would be a heavy track, something metallic and there certainly was some potential but it’s a disappointment for me. Ozzy sounds good but the song is a mid-tempo/ballady style song and it could have been so much more when you have the Prince of Darkness at your disposal. ‘Beautiful Dangerous’ is Pop diva Fergie’s chance to do her best Alanis Morrisette impression and it actually works a little but you can just tell she can’t sing, I mean really sing. ‘Back From Cali’ features Myles Kennedy, who is singing for Slash’s live band and is best known for his time in the Creed off-shoot Alter Bridge and, most importantly, as Thor “God of Thunder” in the Mark Wahlberg movie ROCK STAR. I’ve never heard Myles sing in Alter Bridge but I thought he did a good job on ‘Stand Up’ from the ROCK STAR movie so I figured that there could be an uptempo Hard Rock  song in the making. I was wrong…..more heavy mid-tempo stuff that sounds like the current state of modern Rock. I had hope for the Chris Cornell track ‘Promise’ but it’s more of the same mid-tempo stuff that Ozzy and Myles have already done. Cornell is a versatile vocalist like Kennedy but I prefer his more aggressive style and this song is geared toward mainstream acceptance instead of hard rockin’.

(I’m only 5 songs in and I already want to stop listening…..very disappointed so far!)

Moving forward…..Andrew Stockdale from Wolfmother comes in to sing on the acoustic driven, southern styled, mid-tempo ballad ‘By The Sword’. I’m not really sure who Stockdale or Wolfmother is but I have heard the names and I guess they are popular, I thought this was the guy from The White Stripes and he kind of sounds like him with all the effects on his voice. ‘Gotten’ announces Slash’s joining the lightweight Pop Rock band Maroon 5 by coming up with another slow ballad featuring Adam Levine. The solos and underlying guitarwork is calm, cool and smooth but I’m looking for something gritty and dirty with a touch of GnR sleaze…..at least give me a little Velvet Revolver here! If this is the first single on the album, Slash is going to get an easy Gold record and chart success but his album will have to be filed with the Maroon 5 CDs! Could it get any worse? At least we have Lemmy to jumpstart the album off life support with the ‘Doctor Alibi’. This is the best song on the album for me and could easily fit onto a Motorhead record as one of Lemmy’s more toned down songs. Slash is joined by fellow GnR alum, and Velvet Revolver bandmate, Duff McKagan and Foo Fighters mainman Dave Grohl (who I respect a lot as a creative musician) for the heavy instrumental ‘Watch This Dave’. There is some excellent Hard Rock guitar here and the three guys sound really tight, too bad they didn’t get some lyrics and put somone (Grohl perhaps?) on the mic. I can’t believe I’m going to say that an insturmental is one of the best tracks…..but I am.

So there is light in the middle of the record but Kid Rock is up next and I’m not a big fan of his Rap-Rock hybrid but he does a good job on ‘I Hold On’ with his southern Skynyrd vocal. There’s something about Kid Rock that I like when he actually sings and has a decent Rock arrangement around him, ‘I Hold On’ has a heavy main riff but it slows down to a southern drawl. Of all the mid-tempo/slow songs, I like this one best so we’ll call this another good song making it three in a row. ‘Nothing To Say’ features Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows on vocals and I really wasn’t sure what to make of this pairing right away because I’ve never heard anything from Avenged Sevenfold. The song opens with a thick Black Sabbath opening riff and moves into fast machine gun style riffing that reminds me of the energy of that first GnR record and maybe a bit of Dave grohl’s Foo Fighters when they rock. If Avenged Sevenfold sounds anything like this song then I will definitely check the band out…..for Slash, this is the second best song on the album making it a solid four in a row!

Myles Kennedy comes back for his second song, ‘Starlight’, another mid-tempo/ballad paced song that is really generic until the chorus where there is a little energy. Singer/songwriter Rocco DeLuca adds his vocal to ‘Saint Is A Sinner Too’ and it’s similar to the Adam Levine and Chris Cornell tracks in the slow ballad pacing and the Pop friendly vocal. I guess this would be good on DeLuca’s solo albums but I just expect a lot more from a Slash record. The album thankfully ends with the Slash and Iggy Pop collaboration ‘We’re All Gonna Die’ that has an opening riff that makes the song sound promising in a garage rock sort of way. Then Iggy opens his mouth and sings the first line: “Gee I really like your tits, I’ll say anything that fits.” Anything promising with this song died when I heard this opening line and there is no recovering. It’s one thing to be a 60+ rocker and sing a song with that type of lyric that you wrote when you were in your early 20s (Gene Simmons anyone?) but to write a fresh song at age 63 with that line…..I don’t care if your a Rock/Punk/Alternative icon, it’s ridiculous. I give Gene the business when he does it and he’s in my favorite band!

Bottom Line:
Very disappointed. Probably the most disappointing album so far this year! I’m not going to say that the album sucks because I understand what Slash is trying to do and there are a few good songs here. Slash is a Rock icon, debate his talents all you want but he is unique in his playing and style to get put with Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen as far as a recognizable Rock guitarists. I can’t blame the guy for wanting to branch out and explore new styles, work with new people and try new things. Slash is a musician and a good musician isn’t afraid to experiment but, when the new album is marketed to a certain type of fan, the experiment fails. If I walked into a room full of Rock fans and said I heard the new Slash solo album, the obvious question would be “Does it Rock?”. That’s because Slash is Rock, he is identified as a Hard Rock guitar player, part of one of the biggest Hard Rock bands to have ever taken the stage. The album is advertised in Hard Rock/Heavy Metal magazines and websites, the marketing is geared toward the Hard Rock/Metal fan. Look at the album cover…..looks like a rocking album to me. Looks can be deceiving and this record is just that. The point is that this album barely rocks. I like 5 out of 14 songs here and the Ozzy track didn’t make it but the instrumental did! I’ve played this CD a lot just so I could make sure that I wasn’t being too critical and missing something…..I didn’t miss anything at all. I will file this album away and probably never listen to it again.

Favorite Songs:
‘Ghost’, ‘Doctor Alibi’, ‘Watch This Dave’, ‘I Hold On’, ‘Nothing To Say’

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