Posts Tagged ‘Stryper’

I know it’s late but here’s the updates for November & December 2013 and the totals for the year…..

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November

Aeon Zen – Self Portrait E.P. (2013) – $12

I only bought one CD in November…..ONE CD! That itself is amazing! Seriously though, getting close to the holidays and it’s better to save money. I picked up this E.P. from Aeon Zen from their website because I wanted the actual CD and not the download, seeing that the CD was limited to 100 copies, I bought it immeadiately.

December

Alestorm – Live At The End Of The World (CD/DVD) (2013) – $15
Stryper – No More Hell To Pay – (CD/DVD) (2013) – $14
Saxon – Unplugged And Strung Up (2013) – $0
Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed (2013) – $10 used
Newsted – Heavy Metal Music (2013) – $10 used
Ghost B.C. – If You Have Ghost E.P. (2013) – $0
Boston – Life, Love And Hope (Best Buy Exclusive) (2013) – $12
Black Oak Arkansas – Back Thar N’ Over Yonder (2013) – $10
Epica – Retrospect 10th Anniversary Box Set (3CD/2DVD) (2013) – $36
Nightwish – Showtime, Storytime (2CD/2DVD) (2013) – $25
Ayreon – The Theory Of Everything (2CD/DVD) (2013) – $20
Rhapsody Of Fire – Dark Wings Of Steel (2013) – $12
Seventh Seal – The Black Dragon’s Eyes (2003) – $4 used
Van Canto – A Storm To Come (2006) – $6 used
Bal Sagoth – The Chthonic Chronicles (2006) – $5 used
Meliah Rage – The Deep And Dreamless Sleep (2006) – $5 used

Let’s start December at Newbury Comics in Warwick. There was a sweet sale (Buy 2 Get 1 Free) on CDs so I decided to spend a few bucks. I didn’t know the Alestorm album was out so I dropped the $15 sale price (saved $5 off regular price) and paired it with the new Stryper studio album on sale for $14 (saved $4) to get the new Saxon unplugged album for free (saved $12). The Saxon CD was on sale for $12 for the regular edition ($16 regular price) but there was also the limited edition with the bonus CD of re-recorded classics. Turns out this bonus disc is Heavy Metal Thunder re-recorded compilation from 2002 so I didn’t need another version of that. I forget the price on the 2 disc set but I think it was around $20 on sale, maybe $24 regular price. Keeping this trip under $50 was a goal so I grabbed three used CDs: the new Skeltonwitch for $10 (saved $6), the new Newsted for another $10 (saved $5) and the new Ghost B.C. disc for free (saved $8). The Ghost B.C. album was listed as used but it was sealed and brand new. This whole trip saved me $40.

The second trip was actually on the same day. I was Xmas shopping so I decided to grab the new Boston album at Best Buy for the exclusive bonus track but I couldn’t find the new Black Oak Arkansas album. Pulled out the phone, added the CD to the Amazon Xmas wish list and, when I got home, I placed the order with other Xmas gifts. Very easy!

Made a second trip to Newbury Comics in Warwick, RI while Xmas shopping a few days later. I bought what I needed for presents and decided I needed a couple presents! I bought the new Epica – Retrospect box set on sale for $36 (saved $10 on the 3CD/2DVD set) and I added the new Nightwish live album (2CD/2DVD) for $25 (saved $5).

The last trip of the year went to the same record store after the holiday. I won $50 on a scratch ticket so I spent it on CDs. I didn’t really see much aside from the new Ayreon and Rhapsody of Fire releases (saving a total of $8 on both) and 4 cheap used CDs that I didn’t own. I ended up spending an extra $2 over the lottery winnings so it was a solid trip.

Final 2013 Totals

Total (Nov & Dec) = $196

Total (year) = $2230.84

Average Price (per item) = $11.93

Total CDs (year) = 169

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 5

Total LPs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) = 7

Just a quick analysis…..

Compared to 2012, I bought 46 less items this year but I spent about $427 more. A lot of that money goes to a few higher priced Ebay purchases and some new releases that were CD/DVD combo packs. I bought 58 fewer CDs and 1 less DVD/Blu-Ray but I did pick up 7 box sets and 6 vinyl LPs so the collection is getting more diverse. Maybe I will add some cassettes in 2014! I’m not sure what 2014 will be for CD hunting but I’m hoping that I find more gems, fill a lot of holes in my collection, acquire more and spend less. I say that every year but I’m really going to concentrate on obvious and glaring holes in the collection that are more mainstream and/or popular. I still like the rarities but I’m going to go for more accessible releases from past years.

Let the hunt continue!

February may have been slow but I certainly made up for it in March with some great new releases, some used bargains and more than a few deals on Ebay and Amazon. Get ready, this is a long update!

Newbury Comics

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Krokus – Dirty Dynamite (2013) – $13
Hatriot – Heroes Of Origin (2013) – $9 used
Halcyon Way – Building The Towers (2010) – $6 used
Jeff Scott Soto – Live At Firefest V 2008 (2CD) (2010) – $6 used
Mass – ’84 Unchained (1985/2010 reissue) – $4 used
DC4 – Electric Ministry (2011) – $4 used
Psycho Motel – Welcome To The World (Japanese import) – $2 used

Flotsam & Jetsam – Cuatro (1992) – $3 used
Firewind – Allegiance (2006) – $6 used
Skid Row – Revolutions Per Minute (2006) – $7 used
Witch Mountain – Cauldron Of The Wild (2012) – $9 used
Anthrax – Anthems E.P. (2013) – $7
Adrenaline Mob – Coverta E.P. (2013) – $7
Clutch – Earth Rocker (2013) – $10
Lordi – To Beast Or Not To Beast (2013) – $13
Orden Ogan – To The End (2012) – $14
Rival Sons – Head Down (2012) – $14

Sinergy – To Hell And Back (2002) – $4 used
Ram Jam – Golden Classics (1996) – $4 used
Delain – April Rain (2009) – $6 used
Lost Horizon – A Flame To The Ground Beneath (2003) – $6 used
7th Heaven – Silver (2CD) (2003) – $6 used
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Dreams Of Fireflies E.P. (2013) – $7
Firewind – Few Against Many (2012) – $8 used

TNT – Tell No Tales (1987) – $10
DeAllen – Deceptions Of Reality (2002) – $6 used
Trivium – The Crusade (2006) – $6 used
Evergrey – Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy (1999) – $4 used
Evergrey – A Night To Remember Live 2004 (2005) – $4 used
Saxon – Sacrifice (Limited Edition) (2013) – $12
Stryper – Second Coming (2013) – $12

Enforcer – Death By Fire (2013) – $13
Sebastian Bach – Abachalypse Now (2CD/DVD) – $16
Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 (2CD) (2013) – $20

Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 (DVD) (2013) – $15

Like I said…..this is going to be a long update!

The first trip to Newbury Comics in Warwick, RI was your basic run of the mill shopping trip, I was heading there to buy the new Krokus record, Dirty Dynamite. The cool thing about this trip was when I walked into the store, I noticed a new section labelled USED NEW ARRIVALS. I got the Krokus disc and went over to the new bin and found some great deals, the first of which was the new Hatriot album for $9 used. I went back over to the METAL section later and found a brand new copy of the Hatriot CD in the rack for $17, so I saved almost half! Other great buys from the new section: Halcyon Way, Jeff Scott Soto, Mass, DC4 and Psycho Motel. The Psycho Motel was an awesome find for $2 used because it was a Japanese import complete with all inserts and the OBI strip. I had just put the Psycho Motel records on my want list because I never really got into Adrian Smith’s work outside of Iron Maiden and then I find one extremely cheap…..not a bad deal!

My second CD hunt of March was a return to the scene of the previous week’s crime, I had to go back to the Newbury Comics in Warwick because of the great deals in that USED NEW ARRIVALS bin. Unfortunately, that bin had no new Metal in it and it was basically everything I already owned so I had to head over to the Metal section and see if any bargains came in during the week. Sure enough I found used copies of Flotsam & Jetsam’s Cuatro and Firewind’s Allegiance right away but the real gems were the Skid Row and Witch Mountain albums especially since they were both added to my want list within the last couple of weeks. The Skid Row CD was the only one I needed to complete their spot in my collection and I hadn’t seen a copy in the local stores in years but this one was actually sealed but marked used…..even better! I read about Witch Mountain online and sampled some of their songs so I put them on the want list too but I’ve held off because the regular price was between $15 – $17 depending on the store. I found this copy on the hunt for $9 used and saved around $6 compared to the one new copy that was also there. I also picked up some new albums as well from Anthrax, Adrenaline Mob, Clutch, Lordi, Orden Ogan and Rival Sons…..all on sale.

My third and fourth trip out on the hunt were on the same Sunday in March when my family and I headed to the closest Ikea store about an hour away for a bookcase. In the back of my mind, I know that there was a Newbury Comics near the entrance to the Ikea about a quarter mile away so, after the trip to Ikea, I was able to get to the Avon, MA Newbury Comics store and look for treasures. Now Newbury Comics is an independent record store chain in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island area that I’ve shopped at for the last 18 years, they are the closest thing we can get to “mom & pop” record stores in this area. Unfortunately, the Avon Newbury Comics sucks…..no selection at all. You can usually tell how a store is when you walk in and see their inventory size…..when the t-shirts, toys, comics and other paraphernalia has more floor space then the CDs & DVDs, you know you’re in trouble. I found used CDs from Sinergy, Ram Jam, Delain, Lost Horizon, 7th Heaven, and Firewind all for decent prices so there was a few things there but the gem of this rare visit was the latest Trans-Siberian Orchestra E.P. that I blew off when it first came out and I haven’t seen it since.

After the Avon store visit, it was time to head for home but I knew that if I went a certain route, I would drive by the Newbury Comics Norwood, MA store (basically the biggest one they have). I wasn’t going to leave without buying something but I found a few used bargains from TNT, DeAllen, Trivium, and Evergrey but I also decided to buy the latest from Stryper and Saxon (Sacrifice limited 2 disc edition) for $12 each.

The last trip of the month was back to the Warwick location for the new Enforcer, Sebastian Bach and Iron Maiden releases, all of which were new and on sale. Here’s my one complaint: Why do some bands decide to put out live releases with the CDs & DVDs packaged together and some who separately release each format? And a second complaint: Why are double CD live albums more expensive than double DVD live videos? The case for my arguement is Sebastian Bach vs. Iron Maiden. Sebastian Bach’s Abachalypse Now was released around the same time as Maiden England ’88 and it was a very similar package, a 2 CD/DVD package vs. Maiden’s separate 2 CD release and 2 DVD release. Now it’s probably a label thing but why can’t it be packaged together? $16 for Sebastian Bach and $35 for both Iron Maiden releases. It’s more than double for the complete Iron Maiden package! Then you add that the Maiden double CD is $5 more on sale than the Maiden double DVD! It’s just one of those things that bother me but I still spend the money anyway.

Best Buy, Amazon, Ebay and Bandcamp

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KISS – Monster (Exclusive Best Buy edition with 3D cover) (2012) – $12

Saxon – Saxon, Wheels Of Steel, Strong Arm Of The Law, Denim And Leather, Power And The Glory, Crusader, Rock The Nations (2009 remasters with bonus material)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Live (2006 remaster)
Triumph – Live At Sweden Rock (CD/DVD) (2012)
Steel Panther – British Invasion DVD (2013)

(Total Amazon order = $119)

Helix – Back For Another Taste (1990) – $12 used
Killer Dwarfs – Dirty Weapons (1990) – $9 used
Loudness – Lightning Strikes (1986) – $10 used
Return Of The Comet (A Tribute To Ace Frehley) (1997) – $15 used
Corsair – s/t (2013) – $9

Dreamer – Turn It Up (2011) – $10

So we start off the miscellaneous purchases with another version of KISS – Monster, this time from Best Buy with the 3D cover and supposed bonus track. Unfortuately, there is no bonus track on this edition, all the Best Buy CDs are just like the normal version. Bonus tracks were included on the iTunes download of the full album and the Japanese release. I have the regular CD and the Wal-Mart version in the special tour magazine so why not have all the versions? All I need now is the vinyl LP, the picture disc and the Japanese import!

I decided that I wanted to complete my Saxon remasters collection from 2009 and get all those bonus tracks so I put aside a few dollars from my tax refund and I picked up the 7 studio albums I needed to get it done. I also picked up The Eagle Has Landed Live 2006 remaster because they never re-did it in 2009. I also decided to get a couple of items off my Amazon wish list with the Triumph live release and the Steel Panther live DVD. The total came to $119 (less than $12 each item) and the Triumph and Steel Panther releases were priced significantly lower than the advertised sale prices that Newbury Comics had!

Ebay was another great way I picked up some older albums from Helix, Killer Dwarfs and Loudness but the two gems this month were the Ace Frehley tribute album and the latest album from Corsair. I read good things about the Corsair album so I decided to give it a try but I kept passing it over at the record shops because the regular price was $14. When I saw a brand new sealed copy going for $9 plus free shipping, I placed the bid and won the auction. The Return Of The Comet tribute album is one I’ve been searching for since 1997. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick this up when it first came out in 1997 during the KISS reunion hype and I’m not sure why I didn’t pull the trigger, I was devouring anything KISS at that time! I remember seeing it at an old mom & pop store back then but I passed probably figuring I could get it anytime and no one really cared about an Ace Frehley tribute CD. The the label, Shock Records, went under and the CD went out of print and that’s when I had to have it! I’ve been watching Ebay for years but have been unwilling to pay the $40 to $100 I’ve seen it end for. I started watching a certain auction for this CD back in January and it was going for $75 Buy It Now. I watched as the seller relisted the CD four times and lowered the price four times until the disc was $50. That’s when I stepped up and put in a “best offer” of $30…..the seller countered with $47. I waited again for the auction to end and the seller relisted the same CD again but back up to $75! I offered $30 again and was countered $65. Auction ends, no buyers, relist $70. Offer $30 again, auction ends, relist $70 again! finally I just shot the seller a nice email through Ebay saying that he was obviously not selling the item and I had been watching for almost two months and I was willing to buy it for $30 plus $5 shipping. I made the case that the CD wasn’t that rare (you can get it at KISS expos) and that it was way overpriced but I was willing to pay half. Basically the response was a “drop dead” sort of reply. About a couple of days later, a different seller listed a used copy of the same CD with free shipping for $15. It was a 5 day auction, I bid $30 and won it for the listed $15. After I paid via Paypal and secured the deal, I then emailed the first seller direct with a link to the completed auction…..needless to say, that first seller ended up relisting for the umpteenth time but this time at $35…..there are still no buyers! The last purchase was through Bandcamp.com for a local Rhode Island band Dreamer and their latest CD, Turn It Up. I always like to support local music, especially good local Rock music.

Total = $489

Total (year) = $867.50

Average Price (per item) = $9.43

Total CDs (year) = 87

Total BluRays or DVDs (year) = 2

Total Box Sets (year) = 3

February is about to end, and I’m not heading out on the hunt until the coming Tuesday (March 1st), so I figured I’d get this update out on time for a change! It was a pretty slow month for new releases at the record store but not online…..I may have to start ordering a little more at some of the online shops to get all those releases you just can’t get in-store anymore.

Newbury Comics

Motorhead – The World Is Yours (2011) – $10: A complete no-brainer here because any self-respecting Heavy Metal fan should be buying every new Motorhead album…..I’ve been a fan since the early ’80s so you know I was at the record store early for this one! I bought the CD for $9.99 on sale the day of release and I got the limited edition with the bonus DVD of part of the band’s performance at the 2006 Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. This album was well-stocked but I didn’t see a single disc version at all and I’m not sure if there is a single disc. You know what you’re getting when you buy a Motorhead album, they’re like AC/DC in the regard that they do the same thing each time with no eye towards current trends. It’s all just kick ass Metal! Regular price for the limited edition was $17 so I saved $7 but you can’t blame someone for paying full price…..this is Motorhead after all!

Crowbar – Sever The Wicked Hand (2011) – $10: I picked up the new Crowbar as an afterthought, I figured I’d just try the band out. I’ve seen a few Crowbar videos on MTV2′s Headbangers Ball, and I got into the two Kingdom Of Sorrow albums, so checking out Crowbar was a natural progression. I don’t own any Crowbar albums and, aside from those few videos, I’d never heard a Crowbar song. Basically, I was walking around the record store and finding nothing of real importance or significance to add to my Motorhead purchase so I grabbed the Crowbar CD (it was displayed next to Motorhead) and went to the register. I don’t think I’ve ever left a record store with a single CD and I sure wasn’t about to start now! Regular price on the CD was $16 so I saved $7 with the $9.99 sale price…..not a large sum to risk on a band you have no experience with.

Lemmy – 49% Motherfucker/51% Son Of A Bitch DVD (2011) – $18: The main focus of my second trip to the local record shop was the new Lemmy documentary DVD…..how can you beat two weeks straight of Motorhead related new releases? I had seen the documentary on VH-1 Classic so I set the DVR to record it but I never bothered to watch it knowing that it would be severely edited…..at least they’re playing it! This is a 2 DVD set with the original documentary clocking in at about 2 hours on disc one and a bonus DVD with over three hours of extra material. That’s the stuff I want to see because you know that there’s got to be ton of interesting footage of Lemmy and Motorhead doing what they do. and a ton of behind the scenes/making of stuff as well. Lemmy is well into his his mid-60s and the guy is still making records, playing full tours and kicking ass! Original price on the DVD was $25 so I saved $7.

Mr. Big – What If… (2011) – $14: This was the second reason why I ventured out for a second hunt at Newbury Comics. Say what you want about Mr. Big but they always rocked even if they’re best known for their syrupy ballad ‘To Be With You’ from way back in 1991. If you remember, they had a hit off their first album with ‘Addicted To That Rush’ but they got lumped into the big hair and sappy love song bands and there’s so much more to them. I had originally thought that WHAT IF… was going to be released a week earlier (that’s what I was looking for the trip before) so I snatched up one of the three copies of the limited edition I saw in the new release section. You get a choice of the single disc for $11 or the limited edition with the bonus track ‘Unforgiven’ and a bonus DVD with two videos and the making of the record for $3 more. Seems logical to me! This album is an import on Frontiers Records so the regular price was a little higher on this version at $18 but I still saved $4.

Stryper – The Covering (2011) - $10: I support the bands I grew up with and Stryper is no exception. I started with SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND (1985) and kept buying all their studio albums over the years. I was hoping for a brand new studio album because their last one was awesome but I knew exactly what I was getting into with THE COVERING. It’s an album of covers with one new song…..and I detest covers records when new material could be put out.For some reason, I always get sucked into these cover albums, and the tribute albums too. I figured that the sale price wasn’t a lot to risk and maybe there would be some decent versions of the songs…..it’s not a bad album, just one I probably won’t spin again. I guess I wasted $10? Well, at least I saved $5 off the regular price! The band is coming to town in late March but this new CD doesn’t get my blood pumping to buy a ticket…..yet.

Hurtsmile -s/t (2011) – $10: I’ve been an Extreme fan from the beginning and I was a big supporter of Gary Cherone in Van Halen so I was on the lookout for this new project from Gary while Extreme takes a break. The Extreme reunion of the last few years has been excellent, especially their last record SAUDADES DE ROCK (2008), but Gary’s last project, Tribe Of Judah, sucked royally! Tribe of Judah was way to experimental and that’s the problem with Gary solo: you never know what you’re going to get. Even the album with Van Halen was experimental but that was more Eddie Van Halen than Gary. Hurtsmile could either be an Extreme-like project or an extreme project. Gary isn’t above experimenting and trying different syles but that Tribe of Judah record was so bad it still hurts! This one’s a risk like Stryper but I’m high on Extreme right now so I think it will be worth it. Regular price was $15 so I saved $5.

Nelson – Lightning Strikes Twice (2011) – $17: Another risky purchase, especially at the full regular price! I admit it, I own AFTER THE RAIN (1990) and I liked it back in the day…..there was no way to escape it! I haven’t bought another Nelson record since and I’ve had ample opportunities to add some of their follow-ups at cheap used prices. Call it backlash but I just couldn’t stomach Nelson after they were all over MTV with their squeaky clean image. So why am I buying their latest album? Not sure but I was walking around the store and the album cover caught my eye. Frontiers Records was having a great release day with ’80s artists with Nelson, Mr. Big and Gary Cherone’s Hurtsmile and they were all well-stocked. If I’m going to take a chance on Stryper doing covers and Cherone possibly releasing a wreck of a record then I can definitely plnk the money down for 12 original tunes by the talented Nelson brothers. And that’s the thing, these guys are talented musicians, they just got lumped in with the rest back in the day and they paid for their quick rise to the top. I’m as interested in this as I am the new Mr. Big…..looking forward to it.

Cauldron – Burning Fortune (2011) – $7: I had to counter the ’80s bands’ new releases with some solid new school Traditional Metal and the new record from Cauldron fit the bill. When I read about a band, I write the name down for future reference and I’d done that with Cauldron a couple years ago when I read a review on their first album, CHAINED TO THE NITE (2009). I never picked that album up but I kept the name on my wish list so I could pick it up at some point. I like what these guys have to offer: basic heavy Metal like I grew up with and they’re a three piece, if they sound like their Canadian counterparts Anvil or Annihilator then I’ll be happy. How can you pass up a new album for $6.99 on sale? I can’t ! I would have grabbed this based on the old school album artwork anyway so it’s cool to check out this band on the cheap price. Regular price was $12.99 so I saved $6.

Total = $96

Total (year) = $163

Average Price (per item) = $8.58

Total Savings (month) = $41

Total Savings (year) = $195

Total CDs (year) = 18

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 0

Stryper – The Covering (2011, Big3 Records)

  1. Set Me Free
  2. Blackout
  3. Heaven And Hell
  4. Lights Out
  5. Carry On Wayward Son
  6. Highway Star
  7. Shout It Out Loud
  8. Over The Mountain
  9. The Trooper
  10. Breaking The Law
  11. On Fire
  12. Immigrant Song
  13. God

Band Lineup:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Oz Fox – Guitars & Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums
Timothy Gaines – Bass & Vocals
Charles Foley – Keyboards/Piano/Organ

Executive Producer: Bill Edwards
Producer: Michael Sweet

Country: USA

Total Time = 53:30

Stryper
Stryper MySpace page
Big3 Records

When a band from the ’80s releases a new album, I always get excited. I lived and died with these bands as a kid growing up and I still do to this day. I love hearing what these veteran bands have to offer 20 to 25+ years after their ’80s heyday. When I read that Stryper was releasing a new album in early 2011 I marked the release date on my calendar right away because I was a big Stryper fan back in the day. I started out with SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND (1985), picked up the 1986 re-release of THE YELLOW & BLACK ATTACK (originally released in 1984) and went forward. I’ve supported the band ever since and picked up every album as they were released. Recently, the band has been very active with three new releases since 2005 and touring consistently in that time. With a new tour date at the end of March added to my local area, and the announcement of THE COVERING, I admit that I got a little psyched about Stryper…..until I found out the new album was an album of cover songs.

If you’ve read this website over the last five years then you know that nothing irritates me more than cover songs taking the place on a studio album where original songs could be AND records that are billed as “new albums” but are really covers and nothing new except new versions of old songs. I’ll give Stryper credit, they were up front about doing a covers album, and the performances are good. If you take a look at the song selection you’ll notice a lot of safe and well known Rock songs included from the likes of the Scorpions, KISS, Deep Purple, Ozzy, Iron Maiden and even Led Zeppelin. I have no problem with the performances because the band sounds in fine form and the songs are all done basically as the originals. I also like a few of the songs the band selected among the safe ones: UFO’s ‘Lights Out’, The Sweet’s ‘Set Me Free’, Kansas’ ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and Van Halen’s ‘On Fire’. The other songs are done well but how many times have we all heard the original or a cover of ‘Breaking The Law’, ‘Over The Mountain’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’? Maybe a few more deep tracks by some of these bands would have been a better choice. The last song on THE COVERING is the new Stryper song aptly titled ‘God’. If there was ever a song title that you would think Stryper would have already used it would be ‘God’! The new original is an uptempo Hard Rock song that easily fits into the typical Stryper fare and could have easily been a part of the last Styper record, MURDER BY PRIDE (2009). What impresses me most is Michael Sweet’s voice…..this guy hasn’t lost a step since the mid-’80s! He can still hit all the highs and sing with a lot of power and melody. The band is always going to sound very good because Robert Sweet, Oz Fox and Timothy Gaines were always a tight unit but the usual measuring stick on a band’s sound is usually how the singer is…..if you want classic Stryper, they sound like classic Stryper and I bet they pull it off well live.

Bottom Line:
I was looking forward to a new Stryper album because their last one, MURDER BY PRIDE, was so good. Unfortunately, I’m disappointed to have a new album of covers with only one new song bu this is the trend lately to get a quick product on the shelves before a tour. A veteran band like Stryper can easily go through the more popular Rock songs with ease and put out an album like this but I would rather have all new material. Like I said, the performances are well done and there are a few different songs in the tracklist that you don’t hear that often but I’m still disappointed, I’d rather gat an album of original tunes. The main highlight for me is the new song ‘God’, the best cover for me is probably ‘On Fire’ because you don’t really hear that covered much. I would recommend this for the Stryper diehard and collector completist but not for a general fan looking to discover Stryper or add some new Stryper to their collections.

Favorite Songs:
‘God’ is the best song for me because it’s a good solid original. Best covers are ‘On Fire’, ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and ‘Lights Out’

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 is part 2, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11 – #25):

#25

Ravage – The End Of Tomorrow (2009): Living in the New England area, there really isn’t much of a local scene like there used to be, especially in Rhode Island, but there are a few bands worth checking out. Ravage has been a fixture on the Massachusetts scene for over a decade but this is only their second full-length album! With most bands on the local, and national, scene playing mostly Metalcore and/or Hardcore it’s refreshing to hear a band play old school Traditional Metal. You could call this Power Metal too, maybe even Thrash in some spots. The bottom line here is that Ravage released a solid record that reminds me of my early ’80s roots…..great to have another local band in this year’s countdown.

#24

Artillery – When Death Comes (2009): WHEN DEATH COMES was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, as well as, one of the albums I was really looking forward to. Thrash is on a major comeback and it was good to hear a new Artillery album, this one with new lead singer Søren Nico Adamsen. I feel that Artillery has expanded their overall sound and added enough melodic touches to their Thrash base to make this album even better than expected. I didn’t take WHEN DEATH COMES out of my regular weekly rotation until mid-November so I really spent a lot of time with it and it hasn’t disappointed.

#23

Slayer – World Painted Blood (2009): Any year with a new Slayer album is a good year and anytime you get a new Slayer album then you know it’s going to be good. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Slayer fan but I have been following the band since the early ’80s. 2009 was a year for me to fill all the holes in my Slayer collection and give the entire catalog a serious listen. Then the new album was released and I’ve given that all my attention. The more I listen to WORLD PAINTED BLOOD, the more I like it. It’s brutal, heavy, and dangerous…..just like a Slayer album should be!

#22

Bloodbound – Tabula Rasa (2009): The only reason I picked this album up because Urban Breed (ex-Tad Morose, current Pyramaze) was the lead singer. Besides Urban, I knew nothing about Bloodbound but TABULA RASA turned out to be a great buy! I’d call this heavy Power Metal incorporating great guitarwork, a solid rhythm section and, of course, awesome vocals. This is more or less a concept album with most of the songs having the tabula rasa (Latin for “blank slate”) idea but each song stands out on there own. Another big surprise for 2009 and an album I have kept in my weekly rotation for most of the year.

#21

Mastodon – Crack The Skye (2009): I only started listening to Mastadon in 2006 with BLOOD MOUNTAIN so I’m not as familiar with the band’s style as others might be. I’m not going to lie…..I had a hard time getting into this album at first, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the wall of sound that Mastodon is. I bought this when it was released and gave it serious listening time but I didn’t get it. After letting it sit and coming back to it, I get it! Mastodon is going to be like Dream Theater for me where I have to stop listening and then come back later for more, especially with Mastodon as they continue to evolve their sound from album to album. I didn’t rank this as high as other websites’ but this is definitely one of the year’s best.

#20

Candlemass – Death Magic Doom (2009): When Messiah Marcolin left Candlemass again in 2006 I didn’t think that a new record would be anything short of a letdown. That’s why I passed on 2007′s KING OF THE GREY ISLANDS. I picked this album up because the sale price was right and I figured I’d check out what the band sounded like with their current vocalist Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus). One listen to ‘Hammer Of Doom’ and I was hooked into the pure Doom influenced by Ozzy-era Black Sabbath…..after that, I was hooked. Robert Lowe puts in a great performance and the band hasn’t lost a step…..another great surprise for me in 2009 and definitely in the Top 20.

#19

Stryper – Murder By Pride (2009): I only bought MURDER BY PRIDE because I have been a Stryper fan since the early ’80s and I still support the bands I grew up with. I had a lot of doubts about this album because the band’s last album, REBORN (2005), was awful. Then there is the Boston connection, lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet now fronting the Classic Rock band…..I wasn’t sure about a cover of the Boston classic ‘Peace Of Mind’ being added to a new Stryper record. Talk about a comeback, Stryper does a complete about-face and shelves the grungy sound they used on REBORN for a return to their classic melodic ’80s sound. The difference between 2009 and 1983-1990 is that the overall religious message isn’t constantly crammed into the listener, the message is still there but it’s more subtle. Stryper had me singing along almost right away and that’s always a good sign…..and the Boston cover? It’s pretty good!

#18

U.D.O. – Dominator (2009): If you’re an old school Metal fan, then you should be an Accept fan. If you’re an Accept fan, then being an U.D.O. fan is basically the same thing. Udo Dirkscheider continues to fly the Accept flag through his namesake by playing uncompromising Traditional Heavy Metal that is always high quality. Every year U.D.O. releases a new record you know exactly what you’re going to get and DOMINATOR is definitely follows the same path as other U.D.O. albums. It’s great to have a veteran band that’s consistent year in and year out releasing solid Metal albums, now if they could just find a better album cover for this one!

#17

Outloud - We’ll Rock You To Hell And Back Again! (2009): First let’s settle the confusion on the album title. The band’s label, Frontiers Records, lists this as “Self-titled” or “Outloud” but there is the title of “We’ll Rock You to Hell And Back Again!” above the band logo on the album cover. Which is it? The Metal websites & blogs are split down the middle and so are the online retailers. All year I went with “s/t” but I will use what’s on the album cover for this list. Back to the music…..remember the late ’80s? Outloud does! This album is a heavy melodic Hard Rock record that is full of hooks and bombastic arena tailored riffs…..fans of Dokken, Europe, early Bon Jovi and definitely Riot will all like this. I had this ranked higher but it fell as other albums moved up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on a lot of year end lists.

#16

Jorn Lande – Spirit Black (2009): I swear that everything Jorn Lande does is near perfect! Doesn’t matter if it’s with Masterplan, Ark, solo or part of projects, Jorn always puts in a masterful performance. It’s hard to believe that SPIRIT BLACK is Jorn’s seventh studio album in ten years but he just keeps releasing album after album of great Metal. SPIRIT BLACK is a record that still has a ton of melody and hooks but a lot heavier, more Heavy Metal. When I was putting this list together, Jorn Lande was an obvious choice…..just listen to that voice, he’s becoming one of my favorite singers alongside Halford, Dio, Turner, Hughes, Bonnet, Soto and D.C. Cooper.

#15

Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009): This is one of the biggest surprises of 2009! I only picked up VAGABOND BONES a few weeks ago but it has been the most played album on a daily basis ever since. Helix always puts out consistently good albums and I have to give Brian Vollmer credit for following his musical formula and keeping everything sounding fresh. Sure, the Helix sound is rooted in AC/DC and the big ’80s but isn’t that what’s so good about them? VAGABOND BONES is an absolutly fun record with a ton of hooks that had me singing right along almost immeadiately. Some of the great songs here are ‘Go Hard Or Go Home’, ‘Jack It Up’ and ‘Vagabond Bones’. Go to the excellent PlanetHelix to give this album a listen and then go buy it!

#14

Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009): The best thing Primal Fear did in the last few years was to expand their Power Metal sound by adding in a lot of different melodic styles. They did it with NEW RELIGION in 2007 and they have continued with 16.6. You’ve got serious heavy metal with ‘Riding The Eagle’ and then  melodic balladry with ‘Black Rain’ moving into more traditional Metal on ‘Killbound’. Basically, Primal Fear keeps you guessing as to what’s next and the expansion of their overall sound makes them more diverse and exciting then a lot of other Power Metal bands crowding the scene. This album took a few listens to take hold but it became one of my favorite albums of the year and stayed in the weekly rotation for most of 2009.

#13

Kreator – Hordes Of Chaos (2009): The best Thrash album of 2009 without a doubt! I’ve had HORDES OF CHAOS since mid-December 2008 when the kind  people at SPV sent me a promo and I have been playing it regularly for the entire year. I know that Megadeth, Slayer and Artillery all released great Thrash albums this year but kreator set the bar high early on and no one has matched it. The intensity is there, the blistering guitar is there, the brutality is there too but what sets HORDES OF CHAOS apart is that Kreator wasn’t afraid to expand their Thrash formula and add in some melodic flourishes to the overall sound. I hope we don’t have to wait another four years again between new Kreator albums.

#12

Praying Mantis – Sanctuary (2009): SANCTUARY is one of the big reasons why 2009 was such a great year for music, it was one of those albums that came out of nowhere and was just excellent. I grew up with bands from the NWOBHM so I know all about Praying Mantis but I really didn’t expect much from the band 20+ years after I discovered them. SANCTUARY is one of the best AOR/Melodic Rock albums of the year…..there are enough fast songs, mid-tempo songs and ballads that blend together to create a diverse wall of sound filled with melody and hooks a plenty. Current singer Mike Freeland puts in as smooth and effortless performance as  Joe Lynn Turner would and the music is striking in it’s power and beauty. Tino and Chris Troy have kept the Praying Mantis flag flying and SANCTUARY is one of their crown jewels…..I certainly enjoyed this album all year long and it just barely missed out on the Top 10.

#11

FarCry – High Gear (2009): Another band, and album, that came out of nowhere to really captivate my attention and turn in one of the best Melodic Rock albums of 2009! FarCry is a new band and HIGH GEAR is an awesome debut filled with some of the best ’80s styled AOR/Melodic Rock I’ve heard in a long time with big harmonies, hooks and guitars. The music reminds me of classic Danger Danger, Tyketto, Firehouse and Warrant with a bit of Survivor and Journey mixed in. Sounds like good music? It is. Bottom line is FarCry isn’t reinventing the wheel here, their sound is easily 20+ years old for a new band, but they do this kind of music extremely well…..they have great songwriting, good performances, and huge production. HIGH GEAR is one of the best purchases I made this year and it just missed my Top 10. Well worth checking out, I’ve listened to it daily for months!

——————————————————————————————-

Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1-#10) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40) for the rest of this year’s countdown.

Stryper - Murder By Pride (2009)

Stryper – Murder by Pride (2009, Big 3 Records)

  1. Eclipse For The Sun
  2. 4 Leaf Clover
  3. Peace Of Mind
  4. Alive
  5. The Plan
  6. Murder By Pride
  7. Mercy Over Blame
  8. I Believe
  9. Run In You
  10. Love Is Why
  11. Everything
  12. My Love (I’ll Always Show)

Band Lineup:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Robert Sweet – Drums & Vocals
Oz Fox – Guitars & Vocals
Tracy Ferrie – Bass & Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Tom Scholz – Guitar on ‘Peace Of Mind’
Paul McNamara – Piano/Keyboards
Danny Bernini – Percussion
Kenny Aronoff – Drums

Producers: Michael Sweet & Danny Bernini

Executive Producer: Bill Edwards

Country: USA

Total Time = 45:45

Stryper
Stryper MySpace page
Big 3 Records

I have been a Stryper fan for a long time. Growing up part of the MTV generation, I knew all about Stryper while Hard Rock bands ruled the airwaves and TV channels. I remember first hearing the term “Christian Metal” and seeing the Stryper logo with “Isaiah 53.5″ under the name to mark the passage in the Bible where they got the name from. The band had these crazy yellow and black outfits that made their detractors call them bumblebees but the band had one thing going for them…..talent. I bought THE YELLOW AND BLACK ATTACK and SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND in ’85 but the real Stryper testament came with 1986′s TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL. That album had the hits, the videos and the band at their peak. As time went on, I grew out of Stryper as the band faded after 1990.

The band reunited back in 2003 for a tour and live album but the real testimony was when the guys recorded the REBORN (2005), the new Stryper album! What a disappointment! Gone were the signature hooks, guitar solos and melodic ’80s Hard Rock sound…..in it’s place was a modern Hard Rock, Grunge, alt Rock sound. The band had toughened up their sound from their hair metal heyday but it just wasn’t Stryper. When I read that the band was coming back for another album, I was definitely wary. Especially when Michael Sweet joined classic rock legends Boston to help fill the void left by the late Brad Delp. All I could think of was another poor Stryper record…..I was wrong.

Stryper in 2009 is much different than Stryper in 2005. The most obvious thing is that the band has dropped the modern/grungy Rock sound and returned to their roots with the big ’80s sound that got them famous. The album kicks off right away with a solid rocker ‘Eclipse Of The Son’ and I could tell right away that this was going to be a good album. The song is fast with plenty of sing-a-long hooks, big background vocals and plenty of guitar. ’4 Leaf Clover’ slows down a little bit and adds some serious punch with the heavy riffing of Oz Fox. There’s plenty of hook to ’4 Leaf Clover’ to keep the listener involved and singing along. In order to make the connection with his latest gig in Boston, Michael Sweet steers the band to a cover of the Boston classic ‘Peace Of Mind’. Normally I won’t accept any cover tune on an album of original material but this version of ‘Peace Of Mind’ is great. Michael Sweet obviously has the high vocal register to handle the Boston tunes and he definitely shines, as does Boston founder Tom Scholz, who plays guest guitar on the track. This is one cover tune that gets a rare pass from me.

Ballad #1 is ‘Alive’ and it’s a beautiful piece of music that rivals the bands biggest hit ‘Honestly’ (from 1986) while ‘The Plan’ dives back into the Hard Rock groove with an opening guitar riff that sounds like .38 Special’s ‘Hold On Loosely’. More pure Hard Rock comes out of the title track, a song that sounds like it came from the harder side of ’80s Stryper. It’s weird to see a Stryper song title with the word “murder” in it but it’s hardly dangerous and/or violent. The song is more about rebellion and standing up for yourself so it’s really inspirational, something the band has always tried to do with their music. The band gets a little more modern edge to their big sound on ‘Mercy Over Blame’ but it doesn’t fall into the trap the songs on REBORN did. ‘Mercy Over Blame’ sounds like classic Stryper, just heavier. Listen for the cool basslines that tracy Ferrie peppers all over this song.

Ballad #2 arrives with ‘I Believe’, a surefire Stryper song title! The song is pretty quiet until the chorus when the guitars and backgrounds really kick in. It’s another successful ballad that could give their signature ballad ‘Honestly’ a run for it’s money. ‘Run in You’ is a mid-tempo, keyboard laced and acoustic guitar drivem track that sounds more like a slower Cheap Trick song.Same thing with ‘Love Is Why’ but the song is a little heavier due to the tempo and the big chorus. The Hard Rock tempo picks up again with the edgy ‘Everything’ and the Heavy Metal tinged guitar throb of ‘My Love (I’ll Always Show)’…..these are two of the best heavy rockers on the album.

Bottom Line:
I definitely wasn’t sure a Stryper comeback would work, especially after REBORN, but the band has created their best album since 1986. All the songs have excellent songwriting and perfect performances. Michael Sweet sounds just as good as he did back in the day and the rest of the band is tight. The songs are full of hooks that had me singing along almost immeadiately. The one thing I noticed is that Stryper conveyed their message of God to the fans without cramming it down their throat. Instead of writing songs that were complete bible-thumping, Stryper decided to take a more subtle approach and use positive lyrics to express their take on every day life. The songs stand on their own as Christian Metal and regular Rock songs. Definitely a solid comeback for Stryper and MURDER BY PRIDE definitely makes the list as really good album from 2009…..and a surprising one at that.

Favorite Songs:
‘Eclipse Of The Son’, ‘Peace Of Mind’, ‘I Believe’, ‘Alive’ , ‘Run In You’

Just a quick update to let you all know what I’ve picked up the last couple of weeks online and in store…..

halestorm - selftitled (2009)Halestorm – s/t (2009) – $9.99: I know absolutely nothing about Halestorm but they seem to be everywhere! I’m not above trying out something new so I’m hoping that the medieval looking cover art is a prediction of some good Hard Rock or Heavy Metal inside. I would feel better if the band was on an independent label, they are signed to Atlantic Records and a lot of new bands on major labels are copycats designed to make quick money. I hope this CD is good, if not, the sale price wasn’t too bad.

Lillian Axe - Sad Day On Planet Earth (2009)Lillian Axe – Sad Day On Planet Earth (2009) – $15: A couple of weeks ago when this album was released, I went to the record store with it at the top of my list. Unfortubately, the store only stocked ONE copy of the album and I have been waiting ever since. I saw this lone copy mixed in with the Lizzy Borden CDs so I grabbed it right away. Maybe someone “hid” it and they were coming back? I do that all the time! Today I made sure that a couple of Tankard albums were under “T” instead or “Tankard”!

Music Review Cheap TrickCheap Trick – The Latest (2009) – $14: Cheap Trick is one of those classic bands that I always forget about and then, when I hear some songs on the radio, I remember to pick up some of their CDs. On the way to the record store today I heard ‘Dream Police’ and I quickly added THE LATEST to my mental list of CDs to buy. I probably should have picked up a copy a month ago when the band opened for Def Leppard & Poison but it was $20 at the merchandise booth. Cheap Trick is definitely an underrated band.

Stryper - Murder By Pride (2009)Stryper – Murder By Pride (2009) – $9.99: Stryper’s new record came out today and I wasn’t missing the special sale price. The band’s last record, REBORN (2005), wasn’t the best Stryper album but I always support the bands I liked in the ’80s so I’m willing to give this one a fair listen. The sale price was a good deal and the guy at the counter told me that this album was better than REBORN…..bigger riffs and more solos and more old school than modern.

global_metal1Global Metal DVD (2009) – $24: I had no idea that GLOBAL METAL was getting a U.S. release today! I have been after this DVD since it was released everywhere else in the world late last year so this is a great surprise and well worth the regular price. If you’ve seen Sam Dunn’s other films (FLIGHT 666 and METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY) then you know that this will be a top notch DVD set. Remember those two Tankard albums I said I hid? I hid them because I bought this in their place and I want to pick them up over the weekend.

mrcd5Melodicrock.com – Vol. 5: Writing On The Wall (2009) – $23: I have been reading Melodicrock.com daily since 1998 so I support the website any way I can. I have bought the other four volumes through the pre-order and this one was no exception…..the price included shipping from Australia for the 2 CD set and there is also a CD worth of extra downloads for pre-orders only. Not a bad deal! There are always a lot of exclusive tracks by a lot of different bands and there are always some new bands included…..I always find a new band through these compilations.

7th Stranger - Push Harder7th Stranger – Push Harder (1992) – $6.25: Another band that I haven’t got a clue about! I have been seeing this CD pop up on Ebay a lot lately so I started watching the auctions and doing research on the band. The only thing I really know is that 7th Stranger are from Seattle and that they start the album with a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’. I figured I could get the CD cheap on Ebay and I was right…..add me to the dozen or so list of people who bought this on Ebay in the last month.

Railway - Climax (1987)Railway – Climax (1987/1997 reissue) – $18: Back in 1997, High Vaultage Records from Germany started to produce some great reissues full of bonus tracks, pictures and extended liner notes. The releases they put out are now out of print and getting harder to find at decent prices. Railway’s first three records were reissued on High Vaultage and they are high on my want list. I saw this copy on Ebay from a seller I’ve bought from in the past and this was the last copy they had. Other retailers were charging $25 + shipping so I used BUY IT NOW and made sure I got a fair price. Now I need the first two reissues.

Stryper – The Yellow & Black Attack (Japanese import) CD sells for $899!

Stryper - The Yellow & Black Attack CD sells for $899.
I understand the need to have this CD for the diehard Stryper fan and for the serious collector: First, this is the original artwork. Second, the tracklisting is different. $899 is very steep and I hope the lone bidder enjoys the CD.

Metallica – …And Justice For All (1988) sealed longbox CD sells for $291.98!

Metallica - …And Justice For All (1988) longbox CD sells for 291.98
The sealed longbox CD craze is in high gear and people are paying very expensive prices. I understand the need to have this classic album in your collection but why sealed in a longbox? Aren’t you going to listen to it? If you have one already, do you need one sealed in a longbox for safekeeping? This nonsense makes me want to go out and look for these types of discs and start putting them to auction. Almost $300 for a CD that’s going for $10 used at the local record shop!

Pretty Wicked – s/t (1992) sells for 281.69!

Pretty Wicked - s/t (1992) sells for 281.69
This one is a repeat offender and it’s gone up in price! Last time I featured this CD, it went for $199.99 with BUY IT NOW. It’s up almost $82! I hope it’s good…..

Tempest – Hard Night CD goes for $185.50!

Tempest - Hard Night
I know nothing about Tempest and I didn’t find much online. I can vouch for the seller though, a major player in the collector’s circuit. I’d be interested in hearing this one, I like the cover art, and I would like to know what year this was released.

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth (1985) Japanese CD pressing ends at $152.50!

Warrior - Fighting For The Earth (1985) Japan import for $152.50
I have this! I paid a lot less but I have it! The seller is one that is also reputable and I have dealt with him in the past, always a good selection and good shipping to the U.S. There were 17 bids on this one, it’s a hard CD to find.

Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry CD for $150!

Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry (1984)
This is a joke right? $150 for a CD I can buy at any retailer? $150 for an album that is a used bin classic? Notice the seller on this one is new (Rating = 0) and the buyer had a negative rating (-1). Sounds fishy to me! Still, why would anyone list this CD for $150 and who would even bid on it at that price?