Posts Tagged ‘Stratovarius’

In keeping with the tradition of not posting the Hunts at the end of the proper months, here is another big update, this time for this past May…..

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Fozzy – Happenstance (2002) – $4 used
High Noon – No Turning Back (2009) – $6 used
Lance King – A Moment In Chiros (2011) – $6 used
Heaven’s Edge – s/t (1990) – $12 used
Rush – Moving Pictures (1980) – $2.50
Rush – Signals (1982) – $2.50
Deep Purple – Now What?! (2013, Deluxe Edition) – $16
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Control (2013) – $12
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Blood Lust (2012) – $15
Queensryche – Frequency Unknown (2013) – $10
Stratovarius – Nemesis (2013) – $10
Avantasia – The Mystery Of Time (2013) – $10
Amaranthe – The Nexus (2013) – $10
Free Fall – Power & Volume (2013) – $10
Ugly Kid Joe – Stairway To Hell E.P. (2012) – $6

Poison – Sexyback (promo CD single) (2007) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Black Earth (1996) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Burning Bridges (1999) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Wages Of Sin (2001) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Dead Eyes See No Future E.P. (2004) – $7 used
Shok Paris – Go For The Throat (1984) – $7 used
Shok Paris – Steel & Starlight (1987) – $11 used
Shok Paris – Concrete Killers (1989) – $11 used
Trixter – New Audio Machine (2012) – $12
Waysted – Save Your Prayers (1986/2013 reissue) – $10
Jorn – Symphonic (2013) – $11
Torch – Electrikiss (1985) – $14 used
Airbourne – Black Dog Barking (Special Edition) (2013) – $22.50
Armored Saint – March Of The Saint (1984) – $9.25 used
Armored Saint – Delirious Nomad (1985) – $9.25 used

May was a really good month but I kind of stayed away from the record stores and did more online. I’m torn right now because technology is providing me a means to compare prices on Amazon and Ebay while I’m in the record store and I’m making decisions based on price. I’ve always been a record store rat and I always will be but, I buy and devour so much music yearly, that I need to save as much money as possible. I support local record stores but it’s hard to when Amazon offers the same CD cheaper than the record store sale prices and no sales tax. No shipping for me because I’m an Amazon Prime member and the membership has already paid for itself. Let’s move on to the treasures I found…..

My first outing of the month was a quiet one. I hadn’t planned to go to Newbury Comics but I was driving through Warwick, RI and decided to stop in. I picked up the Fozzy, High Noon, Lance King and Heaven’s Edge CDs all in the used bin for some really great prices. The Lance King CD replaces the promo digital download that Lance’s label, Nightmare Records, sent me to review but the gem was the original pressing of the self-titled Heaven’s Edge album. It’s a highly bootlegged CD and there have been some shoddy reissues so I was cool spending $12 for a used CD. I checked Ebay while I was in the store and original pressings were listed for $25+ so I feel like I got a bargain. After the record shop, I went across the street to Best Buy so I could burn a $5 off coupon that was expiring the next day. Best Buy doesn’t have much of a selection and they aren’t big on organization so it can be a crap shoot finding a gem. I knew what I wanted…..Rush! I’ve been filling the holes in my Rush CD collection with Best Buy purchases because they are all $5 each so I grabbed Moving Pictures (1980) and Signals (1982). Take that $5 coupon off the $10 total and I got both for $2.50! My last trip out before I went online shopping was to my usual Newbury Comics location in North Attleboro, MA to grab the new Deep Purple album special edition. I wanted the CD/DVD edition so I paid a little extra than the regular CD. While I was there the store was playing the new Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats record, Mind Control, so I added that in on sale and caved in to buy their 2012 release Blood Lust also.

Now we get to the dilemma…..online vs. record stores. I had been watching a few new releases at the record stores and passed on them because I either thought the sale price was too high or I was skeptical about the material therein. The releases in question were the new albums from Geoff Tate’s version of Queensryche, Stratovarius, Avantasia, Amaranthe and Free Fall.  The Queensryche record has gotten terrible reviews so I was holding out for a used copy and I was actually shopping for the new Stratovarius online for the special ecition with three bonus tracks and those two were well stocked at the sale price. Also, I wasn’t in the mood for another concept record so I passed on Avantasia on sale and I really wanted to try out Amaranthe and Free Fall but those CDs were available at regular price. I finally caved in towards the end of the month and checked the prices on Ebay and Amazon and decided that the best value was to order through Amazon. I got all five CDs for $10 each ($50 total) with free shipping (I have Prime) and no sales tax, had I bought in the record store, with sale prices, the total would have been $68. So I actually saved $18 for the same exact items on Amazon vs. my favorite Newbury Comics…..that’s 1 or 2 CDs! If the Queensryche, Stratovarius and Avantasia albums were bought in store at their respective regular prices ($17 each regular price) then my total in store would have jumped to $80. And those figures in store don’t include state sales tax! The savings is obvious and I guess that’s why record stores are having a hard time competing. As a bonus for saving all that money, I also ordered a hard copy of the Ugly Kid Joe E.P. that I bought digitally back in 2012. The actual CD was $6 so it wasn’t a large add on.

Ebay was extremely lucrative in May. There were a few CDs I paid a little extra for and there were some good bargains. I had to have Poison’s cover of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexyback’ but I didn’t want the entire Poison’d covers album so I found the CD single for a cheap $4 + $3 shipping. As soon as that CD was taken off the want list, I focused on Shok Paris. I found a copy of Go For The Throat from a seller who was also selling a four CD lot of Arch Enemy CDs I needed so I went for both auctions and won for a grand total of $35. So I’m averaging $7 per CD on Ebay but the rest of the month was higher. I finished the Shok Paris discography (Steel & Starlight and Concrete Killers) for $11 each, grabbed the latest Trixter record from 2012 for a cheap $12 (replacing the promo download I was sent), the Waysted – Save Your Prayers 2013 reissue from Cherry Red Records and Jorn Lande’s Symphonic album for $11. I grabbed a CD copy of Torch – Electrikiss even though I already own the vinyl…..I’ve never seen a CD version so I grabbed it for $11 + $3 shipping and it’s in mint condition. The CD says Metal Blade for a label and I checked all Metal Blade releases through 2002 (through the anniversary box set) and didn’t see it listed. I think it was a Metal Blade Europe release and it’s a real silver pressed, factory made CD…..I’m still researching it. I had to have the new Airbourne album but I wanted the 2 disc special edition so that cost me a total of $22.50 and the seller who sold me the Arch Enemy lot had both Armored Saint CDs listed in one lot so I grabbed that for $18.50.

Total = $284

Total (year) = $1106.80

Average Price (per item) = $11.07

Total CDs (year) = 91

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 3

Total LPs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) =5

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! More and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2011 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 2011 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than in 2010! 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 is on par with what I had for 2010. Unfortunately, I’ve let the website go a little in the last couple of years so, while I’ve been listening to almost everything, I just haven’t posted about it.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 25 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 2011. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2010 internationally, but was released in the U.S. in 2011, qualified as a 2011 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 25 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 2011″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 25 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 25 Albums of 2011:

25. Nelson – Lightning Strikes Twice (2011)
24. Michael Monroe – Sensory Overdrive (2011)
23. U.D.O. – Rev-Raptor (2011)
22. Riot – Immortal Soul (2011)
21. Tokyo Blade – Thousand Men Strong (2011)

Starting at the bottom of the countdown is the new Nelson album that surprised me with it’s huge melodic hooks and vocals, former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe’s latest solo album that I bought late in the year but ended up enjoying a lot and the steadiness of U.D.O.’s Traditional Metal REV-RAPTOR. I still can’t figure out what a “rev-raptor” is aside from the machine on the cover but there you go. Two huge surprises were from Riot and Tokyo Blade! Riot scored #22 with a solid record from the THUNDERSTEEL-era lineup (a record I was looking forward to big time!) but the band had to endure the loss of Riot founder/guitarist Mark Reale…..at least he left a lasting legacy with this last album. The big surprise was NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade, who came out of nowhere with THOUSAND MEN STRONG, one of the biggest comebacks of 2011! I’ve been a Tokyo Blade fan for a long time but I really didn’t expect much when I heard the band was releasing a new album but I was completely surprised and excited, sounds like old school NWOBHM with a modern touch.

20. Stratovarius – Elysium (2011)
19. Journey – Eclipse (2011)
18. Iced Earth – Dystopia (2011)
17. Royal Hunt – Show Me How To Live (2011)
16. Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (2011)

I came late to the Stratovarius party even though I’ve acquired a few albums over the years, ELYSIUM was another epic Power Metal record. Journey’s ECLIPSE was a leader for the Top 5 this year but, as other bands released new records, and I kept comparing this album to 2008′s REVELATION, ECLIPSE fell a little. It’s still a solid AOR album Arnel Pineda still shines as the new Steve Perry but it wasn’t as good as REVELATION. Iced Earth made another vocalist change adding Stu Block from Into Eternity but they released one hell of an album with DYSTOPIA…..another late year purchase that might have gone higher with more time. Same for Royal Hunt but their reunion with D.C. Cooper is just what I needed to add their new Progressive/Power Metal album into the Top 25. I know a lot of fans of the more extreme side of Metal look at Arch Enemy as somewhat of a commercial band, especially with Angela Gossow front and center, but they are still kind of new to me. As I open myself up to more extreme bands, a band like Arch Enemy is a good starting point. I’m more of a Traditional/Power Metal fan and a AOR/Hard Rock fan but KHAOS LEGIONS sounded great to my ears and I had to rate it higher than some of my favorite bands (Iced Earth, Royal Hunt, Riot).

15. Anvil – Juggernaut Of Justice (2011)
14. Scheepers – Scheepers (2011)
13. Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
12. Chickenfoot – III (2011)
11. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming (2011)

Gotta give some love to Anvil because THIS IS THIRTEEN (2007) was a great comeback album (even though they never left!) even without the movie and they had four busy years to release a follow-up. JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE continued where THIS IS THIRTEEN left off and exceeded all my expectations…..great to see the band still getting success even with the movie hoopla dying out, hard work pays off! Ralf Scheepers didn’t stray too far from the more commercial side of Primal Fear’s last few albums but his first solo album was just as good as those. What can you say about Dream Theater? They always release one great record after another and, yes, Mike Portnoy is a huge loss on drums but Mike Mangini does a great job! Another big surprise in 2011 was the new Chickenfoot album, III, because I didn’t really feel the debut album. Not to say I didn’t like the first Chickenfoot record but the songs weren’t as catchy, as memorable. On III, the songs instantly stuck too me and the harmonies were awesome between Mike Anthony and Sammy, they can take the “supergroup” label off and just be a band now. Talk about a comeback! Sebastian Bach came back and kicked his former band in the teeth with this new solo album, KICKING & SCREAMING.  Baz sounds as great as he ever did and his band is blazing! I always get disappointed with Baz because I always think he should be doing more music than interviews, or reality shows, or VH-1 related things but he really came back strong with this record.

10. Warrant – Rockaholic (2011)
9. Saxon – Call To Arms (2011)
8. Night Ranger – Somewhere In California (2011)
7. Motorhead – The World Is Yours (2011)
6. Black Country Communion – 2 (2011)

Despite original singer Jani Lane passing away, Warrant recruited former Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason (who replaced Black ‘N Blue singer Jamie St. James) and released a wicked Hard Rock record with ROCKAHOLIC. The first two songs, ‘Sex Ain’t Love’ and ‘Innocence Gone’, are two of the best Hard Rock songs of the year! Saxon is one of my Top 5 favorite bands of all time and they released another great album with CALL TO ARMS. I was a little worried when I read they were stripping back their current sound for something more like the early ’80s because they have released a string of great Traditional/Power Metal albums since 1997′s UNLEASH THE BEAST…..the good news is that the old NWOBHM guard still maintained their excellent track record of the last 15 years! I’ve been a Night Ranger fan since the early ’80s and I thought they easily made the best Melodic Rock record of 2011 after one spin of the new album, once I heard this album, the  Journey and Nelson records started to pale in comparison. Like Saxon, Motorhead is a favorite band and a staple when it comes to my year end countdowns. You know what you’re going to get from Motorhead before they album is released but you know it’s going to rip your face off and punch you in the gut! Lemmy, Mikkey and Phil just keep making great album after great album every other year…..see you in 2013 Motorhead! Coming is at #6, and just missing the Top 5 by a hair, is the sophomore album by Black Country Communion (the other supergroup in the countdown). Just hearing Glenn Hughes sing ’70s styled Hard Rock is enough to catapult any band or album into year end lists but the songs are so good and the performances so perfect that I knew this was going to be a top album of 2011 after the first spin. Hard working band too, this album came out a year after the debut, they released a live record and DVD and have toured constantly…..that’s old school work ethic and it pays off.

5. Whitesnake – Forevermore (2011)
4. Mr. Big – What If… (2011)
3. Anthrax – Worship Music (2011)
2. Michael Schenker – Temple Of Rock (2011)

Making the Top 5 is no easy task when hundreds, if not thousands, of new albums get released each year but these four albums had the #1 spot on my countdown and really put me to task to pick the best album of 2011. Whitesnake started the year off with the album to beat, FOREVERMORE being a continuation of GOOD TO BE BAD but just a shade behind that awesome 2008 album. Maybe it’s because FOREVERMORE didn’t have 11 years of waiting and then hit you between the eyes but the new album did keep David Coverdale and the band at the top again. This year’s countdown has a lot of Hard Rock comebacks with Baz and Warrant turning in solid albums but Mr. Big really made the superior Hard Rock album of 2011 and then toured the album hard with more than just a few making the live set. I expected nothing from a new Mr. Big album but WHAT IF…. was a great album from a band reuniting and not just going out for the quick nostalgia buck. I’ll tell you what, they were definitely one of the best concerts I saw this past year too! Mr. Bog would have had the top album of 2011, and the best comeback of 2011, if Anthrax decided not to release WORSHIP MUSIC! Are you kidding me? WORSHIP MUSIC is an album that should be my top record of 2011 because it’s so good, so thrashy, so hard and so melodic all rolled into one. The band is tight as usual, no problems there, but the wild card in all of this was whether the band reuniting with Joey Belladonna would make a difference. No offense to the John Bush-era of Anthrax but Belladonna is just a better fit! Joey sounds as good as he ever has, the band sounds as brutal as ever and there isn’t a throwaway song on the album. A lot of year end countdown’s have Anthrax at the top of the list and, in a year of comebacks, they have the best one but the band got trumped by one of my favorite guitarists of all-time…..Michael Schenker! The #2 album of 2011, and a serious contender for the #1 spot right to the end, was Schenker’s new TEMPLE OF ROCK solo album. Is it the Michael Schenker Group? Is it him by himself, hence a solo album? TEMPLE OF ROCK follows the lead of 2006′s TALES OF ROCK ‘N ROLL where Michael and his regular backing band teamed up with another new vocalist for the half of the new album and then did a few songs each with a different singer from Michael’s career. This time around it’s new singer Michael Voss for 10 of the 12 new songs with Robin McAuley and Doogie White each singing one…..I kind of expected Gary Barden to fit in here somewhere considering he’s done Michael’s last two albums but he’s not here. Voss sounds great, the guitar is pure Schenker mastery and the songs are all well written with big memorable hooks and solos. Best song on the album is the McAuley led ‘Lover’s Sinfony’, which I got to see live when the band came through town, with a close second being ‘Miss Claustraphobia’ performed by Michael Voss. Michael Schenker had some rough years since the mid-’90s but the guy is such a talented musician, so prolific on guitar, that the music is a reflection of the man’s genius. Definitely a tough task to beat out anyone in the Top 5, especially Anthrax, but Schenker and company came out of nowhere and blew me away.

Up until the last minute, up until I had written this post this far, I finally made the decision to place the next album as the best album of 2011…..the top album of 2011 is…..

(drum roll please…..)

#1

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

This was a hard one to call with the Top 5 albums being so good and Anthrax and Michael Schenker being in a virtual three-way tie with Alice Cooper right up until the end. Actually, I didn’t make up my mind until I gave each album a spin one last time before I wrote this up. In the end…..Alice is the winner!

WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE is not a sequel to the iconic WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE (1975) but a continuation of Alice’s nightmares…..that’s exactly how this album won. Alice and producer Bob Ezrin weren’t trying to best one of the greatest Rock albums of all-time, they were trying to continue the tale and putting a current spin on what Alice would be dreaming about 37 years later! Turns out Alice’s nightmares just get worse! Every song on the album is well written with the usual Alice Cooper trademark humor and horror mix, the production is perfect and the performances are flawless. There are more than a few guest stars, including the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band and notable names like Vince Gill and Ke$ha, and they all move into the dreamworld effortlessly. I was especially impressed with the reunion of the original Alice Cooper band members because it just shows how much impact the original band had and how much creativity they still have because they are all great musicians. Now Alice Cooper is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and now Alice has a #1 album at Heavy Metal Addiction…..what could be better?

April was another slow month for CD hunting…..probably my slowest month ever in the last 15 years! I had opportunities to buy a lot of things but, like so many people, money is a little tight lately so I had to be very concious of what I was buying. Another reason for the slowdown is the vast amounts of promos that are coming in on a daily, almost hourly, basis. A lot of the promos are albums I would buy anyway but I will have to wait on for the time being. So here it is…..a meager April update…..

Newbury Comics

Duff McKagan’s Loaded – The Taking (2011) – $10: I’ve heard about Duff’s band Loaded but I never got around to picking up their two previous albums. Maybe it’s because of the GNR backlash with the CHINESE DEMOCRACY failure and my dislike of Slash’s last record, neither of which involves Duff but guilt by association. I got a bit hyped up on THE TAKING because I started reading a lot of good review and I caught Duff on VH-1 Classic’s That Metal Show with Eddie Trunk. Add in a half hour live concert I caught on TV and now I wanted the new album. I went down to the record store the Tuesday THE TAKING came out and left the store with this one CD for $9.99 on sale, regular price would have been $13.99 so I saved $4. I haven’t listened to the disc yet but I’m hoping this is going to be one of those surprise records. If it is, i will go back and grab the previous albums.

Stratovarius – Elysium (2011) – $10: I actually haed no intentions of buying the new Stratovarius anytime soon because I got a digital promo emailed to me so I figured I would add it to my want list and pick the CD up when money wasn’t an issue. Buying ELYSIUM is a no brainer because I have been picking up Stratovarius albums since the late ’90s and I really got into the band’s last album POLARIS (2009). The problem was I got hit with a nasty trojan virus a couple weeks back and I had to reset my computer to a date before I downloaded the promo, when I went back to the link to re-download the album it was expired. I probably could have lived without ELYSIUM but now I wanted to hear it so I picked this up at the $9.99 sale price (regular price = $13.99), saving $4. After all that hassle, I still haven’t given the album a full spin but I like what I’ve heard so far…..gotta have my Power Metal!

Amon Amarth – Once Sent From The Golden Hall (1998/2009 reissue) – $12: This purchase was a total mistake! I originally was trying to buy Amon Amarth’s new album, SURTUR RISING, because the trojan virus situation did the same thing to my digital promo as the new Stratovarius CD. I just started getting into Amon Amarth so I really wanted to hear the new album so I went to the record store to buy it while it was still on sale for $11.88. The bonus to the album is the second disc that’s a full length DVD concert. The mistake came when I was pressed for time and in such a rush that I went straight to the Amon Amarth section instead of the New Release rack and I picked up what I thought was SURTUR RISING because I saw the sale price sticker. I didn’t notice my mistake checking out, only when I got home and ripped off the cellophane did I notice my mistake! All is not lost. I did get the reissue of this album that includes the remastered debut on disc one and a live show on disc two. I made a mistake but I saved $4 off the $15.99 regular price.

Total = $32

Total (year) = $280

Average Price (per item) = $10

Total Savings (month) = $12

Total Savings (year) = $227

Total CDs (year) = 26

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

2009 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I am still very lucky to have many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review, to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU! Without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases and discovered some new bands. I have totalled up the CDs and there were 125 albums up for this year’s honors!

The only criteria I followed for my Top 40 was that 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 2009. In the beginning of the year I decided that an album that was released in 2008, but was released in 2009 for the U.S., qualified as a 2009 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 more than doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into three posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26 – #40):

#40

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Night Castle (2009): I have been waiting five years for a new TSO album and they announced the release of NIGHT CASTLE back in December 2008! Nothing like waiting a full year but the wait was worth it. A double album full of TSO expert Rock orchestra with enough guest vocalists (Jeff Scott Soto sings) to make it interesting. I prefer TSO’s holiday albums but NIGHT CASTLE fits in great.

#39

Immortal – All Shall Fall (2009): I’ve always read a ton of great reviews and articles about Immortal but Black Metal has never really been my genre of choice. I picked up ALL SHALL FALL to try the band out and I ended up really getting into it! What impressed me most was that it wasn’t stereotypical Black Metal but there were melodic layers to the overall sound using orchestration and some great guitarwork. I’ve started to backtrack and explore the rest of the Immortal back catalog as a result.

#38

Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman (2009): Old school Power Metal at it’s best, Grave Digger has been doing it longer than most and they always seem to put out a solid album. I got this early in the year and it turned out to be a standout album for most of the year…..being a Grave Digger fan for a long time, I enjoyed it. Unfortunately there were better Power Metal albums that came out this year and I kept moving this one lower, a result of good competition.

#37

Nashville Pussy – From Hell To Texas (2009): Nashville Pussy is one of those bands I started to follow with their debut album and forgot about, subsequently missing out on a few records. I love this Southern-fried, hard drinking, sex crazed Hard Rock, it’s a cross between Motorhead, Ted Nugent and AC/DC mixed with Black Oak Arkansas & Lynyrd Skynyrd. I didn’t really expect much from this album and it turned out to be a great one, especially for the car! ‘Drunk Driving Man’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.

#36

Great White – Rising (2009): Despite my living in Rhode Island and the whole Station Nightclub Fire, Great White is still one of my favorite bands. In 2007 they released one of the biggest surprises with BACK TO THE RHYTHM so I expected another Hard Rock classic. RISING is acoustic based and slower than it’s predecessor but it’s still a solid record that reminded me of the acoustic SAIL AWAY (1994). This album grew on me over the course of 2009 but I’m still a little disappointed that it didn’t have more of the Blues Hard Rock the band is known for.

#35

Tragik – Outlaw (2009): Good to have a local Rhode Island band in this year’s countdown! Led by local AOR/Melodic Rock artist Phil Vincent, Tragik’s second album was a solid Hard Rock record with plenty of guitar and a great overall tone. Tragik follows the footsteps of ’80s AOR/Melodic Hard Rock bands like Journey, Bon Jovi and Night Ranger but there was a more modern sound. Good solid melodies and plenty of hooks to go along with the great guitar sound made this an album I enjoyed all year.

#34

Alestorm – Black Sails At Midnight (2009): I know a lot of people don’t get into the whole Pirate Metal concept but I’m definitely a sucker for a good gimmick and I really got into Alestorm this year. This album has some good songs but the one thing that pushed this album above a lot of others was that it was fun. I bought into all the whole concept and imagery of and the Pirate Power Metal is definitely different…..I really like all those traditional pirate styled instruments mixed in. Added bonus was the DVD from Wacken 2008 included inthe limited edition.

#33

Behemoth – Evangelion (2009): Kind of like Immortal, I knew nothing about Behemoth except for what I had read online. After I saw the ‘Ov Fire And The Void’ video, I had the obsession with checking out the band. Just like Immortal, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed EVANGELION because Black Metal isn’t usually my thing but what struck me was just how brutal the music sounds. The guitars, bass and drums are just so fast and heavy that you have to take notice. EVANGELION helped me start to open my Black Metal horizons and I went from trying to understand Behemoth to enjoying Behemoth.

#32

Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctis (2009): This latest album from Edguy was originally released in late 2008 but it didn’t receive a proper U.S. release until January from Nuclear Blast so I’m going with what the back of the CD says and it’s a 2009 album. I’ve been an Edguy fan since basically the beginning so their Power Metal style is what i like best but the band has gone for more of a Hard Rock style here. I had a hard time getting into this album at first because I kept comparing it to the old Edguy sound, once I got past that I started to enjoy the album a lot more. Turns out I played TINNITUS SANCTUS more as the year progressed and I kept coming back to it.

#31

Saga – The Human Condition (2009): Saga has been churning out melodic Progressive Rock for 38 years and I have been keeping up with the band on and off since 1982. One of the things that helped define the overall Saga sound through the years was the superb vocals from founding member Michael Sadler…..but he left the band in 2007 after a 36 year tenure. Enter ex-Final Frontier vocalist Rob Morrati and he puts on a performance that makes you forget that Sadler just vacated the mic. This was one of the greatest comebacks of the year!

#30

Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009): When Dream Theater releases an album I always know that it’s going to be a good one, then band just releases good albums every single time. Six songs spanning 75+ minutes and that’s just Disc 1! I always have to listen closely to Dream theater records because there are so many layers of sound and this one was no exception, what really stood out was that there was a song that clocked in just under 6 minutes (‘Wither’)! Add the 2 bonus discs and this turned out to be a great package to listen to.

#29

Queensryche – American Soldier (2009): My review is long and it may not reflect the fact that I really enjoyed AMERICAN SOLDIER, the first Queensryche album I’ve enjoyed since 1997. The first thing I needed to do was accept the fact that old ’80s Queensryche is gone and that the band has gone into more Progressive and Epic musical directions. The overall sound is full and layered but it’s the subject matter that really made the album, what is more relevant in today’s society than how soldiers cope with war? Some of the record was repetitive lyrically but the album just flowed every time I listened to it. I bought this when it first came out and I waited until late October to finally unwrap it, I think I would appreciate it more if I had listened to it all along. ‘At 30,00 Ft.’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.

#28

Megadeth – Endgame (2009): Like I said in my review, I haven’t fully recovered from 1999′s RISK debacle. UNITED ABOMINATIONS (2007) started me back on the Megadeth bandwagon and ENDGAME follows closely to cement the band back into my good graces. ENDGAME isn’t a pure Thrash record but it’s heavy, I think it’s more traditional Heavy Metal with some Thrash moments. It’s clear that Dave Mustaine and company have a solid direction and a desire to re-conquer the Metal world.

#27

Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009): If it wasn’t for me discovering Hammerfall in 1997 then I wouldn’t be the big Power Metal fan I am today. They basically single-handedly revived the Power Metal scene with it’s traditional style and soaring vocals. The problem with the last few albums is that they all just sounded the same and Hammerfall started to become a footnote in the now overly crowded Power Metal world. This album reminds me of the first three Hammerfall albums and it’s the first one since 2000 that I’ve really enjoyed. I had this ranked higher but, as 2009 progressed, there were better albums in the same genre. That said, this is still a solid album full of great powerful songs and Joacim Cans sound better than ever but I’m still not sure what the band was thinking with a cover of The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’!

#26

Stratovarius – Polaris (2009): Remember what I said about better Power Metal albums? POLARIS is one of the big reasons why both Grave Digger and Hammerfall fell a little in this year’s best of list. I really didn’t expect much from Startovarius…..I had actually forgotten all about the band because it has been four years since the bands last album. Add a lot of new members, especially replacing guitarist Timo Tolkki, and this was a recipe for disaster. I got this album when it came out and left it in the pile, I just started listening to it a couple months ago and I missed out on some serious music. Had I started listening to this record when I got it, I probably would rank it higher because it hasn’t left my daily playlist. Another great comeback this year!

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Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1-#10) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25) for the rest of this year’s countdown.

Has it really been over a month since I went out on a Hunt? Sad to say but it has been a month since I went wild in the record store. I’m not sure what was up with May but I made up for things the right way by scooping up a bunch of new releases that came out the last couple weeks, grabbing a CD that I featured in a WANTED! post, and a couple of Ebay purchases. The weird thing was that I walked into my local Newbury Comics and the store was completely changed around! I had no idea where anything was! So let’s get to this week’s finds…..

Online

SAVANNAH - S-TSavannah – s/t (1998) – $15: Once I posted the WANTED column for this CD, I decided to go out and get it right away. I went to Amazon and found the Nightmare Records store where they had a brand new copy for $12 ($3 shipping). The listing stated that it was the U.S. version but it turned out to be the Japanese pressing with the bonus track: ‘Too Young Hearts’ (Soul Version). I was surprised to get the Japanese pressing because it usually goes for $50-$75 in most places…..definitely a bargain!

alyson avenue omegaAlyson Avenue – Omega (2004) – $11: I read online somewhere that both Alyson Avenue albums were going to be re-released but then I couldn’t find the article again. I have the band’s first album PRESENCE OF MIND (2000) and that goes for big bucks at auction now so I figured I might as well find OMEGA and have a complete set of original pressings. This album was easy to find but at inflated prices but I found this auction because the band’s name was misspelled…..I won for $8 + $3 shipping.

JLT - Rescue YouJoe Lynn Turner – Rescue You (1985) – $12: I love Joe Lynn Turner, he has one of the finest voices in Rock and I’ve taken an interest in picking up everything he’s done in the last few years. RESCUE YOU has been on my wishlist for quite some time now and it’s an easy album to find on CD because Wounded Bird Records reissued the album in 2004. I’ve actually seen a copy or two in my record store hunts! I was watching an auction for one of the reissues and I found this one ending soon for a Japanese pressing from ’85. I always prefer an original over a reissue especially when there is nothing extra on the reissue so winning this one for $9 + $3 shipping was a great deal!

Record Store

whitesnake-lovehunter-1979Whitesnake – Lovehunter (1979) – $12 used: I know $12 is a lot of a used CD but I haven’t been able to track down LOVEHUNTER in a few years, once I saw it I grabbed it right away! I posted a WANTED column for this album just over a year ago and I’ve been giving this the weekly search online…..you can’t find this online for less than $10 and, if you do, a bidding war starts! Another hole in the collection filled!

Candlemass_DeathMagicDoomCandlemass – Death Magic Doom (2009) – $12: This album came out last week but I never went to the record store…..I ended up missing the $9.99 sale price and had to settle for the new $12 sale price. I haven’t really paid much attention to Candlemass lately, especially when Messiah Marcolin left again in 2006, but I decided to give the band a fresh listen. This U.S. version has a bonus track ‘Lucifer Rising’ (album outtake).

Stratovarius-PolarisStratovarius – Polaris (2009) – $9.99: Here’s another band that I haven’t paid much attention to in the last few years and another album that came out last week. The good news is I got the special first week $9.99 sale! Power Metal is one of my favorite genres of Metal so Stratovarius should be one of the bands I really enjoy but I haven’t bothered to pay attention to the band since they released INFINITE in 2000. Something about the album cover really interested me this time around and the sale price helped out as well.

Alestorm - Black Sails At Midnight (2009 limited edition)Alestorm – Black Sails At Midnight (2009 limited edition) – $13: Pirate Metal! I’ve been getting into Alestorm a lot lately by listening to their first album, CAPTAIN MORGAN’S REVENGE (2008), online and the LEVIATHAN E.P. (2009) that I picked up a couple months ago. I couldn’t resist picking up this CD when I saw that the limited edition included a DVD of the band’s performance at 2008′s Wacken Open Air festival. Comes in a nice digipak slipcase with the original artwork on the booklet.

doro_fear_no_evil_limited_edition_2009Doro – Fear No Evil (2009 limited edition) – $9.99: The reigning queen of Metal is back with another album and it just seems like she just keeps releasing new albums every year. This album has been out everywhere but the U.S. since January and this version says it’s a limited edition because of the online access to bonus content with the CD. That really makes no difference to me because the digipak version from Europe has 2 bonus tracks AND the online bonuses. A little disappointed brcause I’d want the other 2 songs but the price was good, I’ll keep my eye out for the European version though.

the gathering - the west pole The Gathering – The West Pole (2009) – $12: I got into The gathering back in 1995 when I heard ‘In Motion #1′ from MANDYLION…..after that I became a big fan of the band and vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen. I followed the band closely, buying every new album, until they released IF_THEN_ELSE (2000). By that time I was getting bored with the direction the band was taking into a more atmospheric realm. Now Anneke is gone, having left after the tour for 2006′s HOME, and new singer Silje Wergeland (ex-Octavia Sperati) is on board. I’m interested in how Silje sings and if the music will be different with a new vocalist.

streamofpassion_flameStream Of Passion – The Flame Within (2009 limited edition) – $12: I’m going into this CD blindly because I have never heard a Stream Of Passion song before but I read quite a few positive reviews from some well respected Metal websites so I figured I’d take a chance. Arjen Anthony Lucassen from Ayreon used to be in the band so I figure the music has a Power/Progressive/Ambient quality. The limited edition digipak release for the U.S. has a bonus track called ‘Far And Apart’.

tyr_bythelightTýr – By The Light Of The Northern Star (2009 limited edition) – $12: Well Napalm Records surely got my business this week with Týr, Alestorm and Stream Of Passion all coming out the same day and all U.S. limited editions! Big fan of Týr since I picked up LAND (2008) and I started into their back catalogue. I didn’t realize they had a new record coming out but I know it’s going to be good.