CD Scavenger Hunt – June update

Another month behind as usual but here’s a large purchase update from June. I’m breaking it up just a little because the beginning of the month was boring but I caught a huge sale at the record store mid-month and Ebay was really good again…..

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Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 CD (2013) – $14
Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose (2013) – $12
Anvil – Hope In Hell (2013) – $9
Black Sabbath – 13 (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $15
Burning Rain – Obsession (2013) – $10
Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 BluRay (2013) – $14
Megadeth – Supercollider (2013) – $12
Aerosmith – Pandora’s Box (1991) – $20 used

The beginning of the month wasn’t really exciting, just catching some new releases on sale. I picked up the new live Dio CD and the new Black Star Riders (aka Thin Lizzy) and I wanted the Dio BluRay but they only had Finding The Sacred Heart on DVD. Opened the Amazon app on my phone and started price comparisons while in the store! Found the Dio BluRay for $14 saving $2 in the process compared to the in store sale price. I started comparing the prices on the new Anvil ($4 difference), Black Sabbath ($2 difference), Burning Rain ($6 difference), Megadeth ($1 difference) so I placed an order right away. I saved $15 by checking my phone while in the record store! I know, buying online kills record shops, and I’m against killing record shops but how can I deny saving $15 online compared to the SALE prices in the store? And I also saved the sales tax! I ended up taking that $15 savings and applying it to a used original pressing of the Aerosmth Pandora’s Box set for $20 so the store still got my business.

W.E.T. – Rise Up (2013) – $18
Snakecharmer – s/t (2013) – $18
Gloryhammer – Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife (Deluxe Edition) – $0
Jorn – Traveller (2013) – $18
Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – The Land Of New Hope (2013) – $17
U.D.O. – Steelhammer (2013) – $0
Children Of Bodom – Halo Of Blood (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $16
Bon Jovi – What About Now (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $15 used
Rhapsody Of Fire – Live From Chaos To Eternity (2013) – $0
Anthrax – Among The Living (1987) – $8 used
Anthrax – I’m The Man (1987) – $8 used
Slayer – Christ Illusion (2006) – $0 used
Anthrax – Spreading The Disease (1985) – $6 used
Warrel Dane – Praises To The War Machine (2008) – $4 used
Mercyful Fate – Into The Unknown (1996) – $0 used

I’ve been debating the Amazon vs. record store thing for a while but you can never pass up a great sale at the record store. Newbury Comics had a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” on all CDs mid-month so I decided to drive the 20 minutes to the Warwick, RI location with my daughter for some bargains. Is it wrong to teach my kid that you have to be first in line at the door before they open and you race for everything? That’s how it was back in the day. Of course, we were first but also the only ones there…..we got first dibs! Within 15 minutes the place was packed but I already grabbed a handbasket and had the major purchases inside. The goal was to get a lot of new releases from this year that I’ve passed on and I did an awesome job.

(Here’s a tip for all you record store rookies…..if you have the opportunity to go to the record store before a big sale like this, go immediately and put all the CDs you really want in one spot. That way you won’t miss out! I like to hide Metal CDs in the Classical section the day before. Who really shops the Classical section? How many times do you think the staff organizes the Classical section?)

Guilty as charged, I went the night before and hid 9 new releases. Did I think I was going to miss out? Maybe…..its happened before. And what if I was late getting there? Good thing I was in the area the day before! So the first 9 CDs were all high priced new releases NOT on sale (the staff usually pulls most sale stickers in advance). Some of these releases are imports (that means anything from Frontiers Records) so the new album from the Jeff Scott Soto led W.E.T. and the new Snakecharmer were $18 each but I saved $18 getting the limited edition Gloryhammer CD for free. Jorn Lande’s new album, Traveller, was expensive (AFM Records) at $18 and so was Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, The Land Of New Hope, at $17 but I scored the new U.D.O. album for free and saved $17. Saved $35 so far! I saved another $14 when I got the latest double disc live album from Rhapsody Of Fire for free when I paired it with the deluxe edition of Halo Of Blood from Children Of Bodom for $16 on sale and a $15 used copy of Bon Jovi’s What About Now (also deluxe). If you look at these CDs, the Rhapsody Of Fire was on sale for $14 but regular was $16 and both Children Of Bodom and Bon Jovi had regular prices of $22!

After I grabbed all the “hidden” CDs, I started on the used bins. I found three Anthrax albums I didn’t have on CD but have on cassette, an original pressing of Slayer’s Christ Illusion (recently reissued), and two cheap copies of Warrel Dane and Mercyful Fate. I saved $7 on the Slayer by pairing it with two Anthrax CDs, and I saved $4 on the Mercyful Fate. Total savings on free CDs this trip = $60.

Richie Sambora – Stranger In This Town (1991) – $5.50 used
Bruce Kulick – Audio Dog (2001) – $12.70
Cutty Sark – Die Tonite (1984) – $10 used vinyl
Cutty Sark – Heroes (1985) – $10 used vinyl
Rainbow – Finyl Vinyl (1983/1999 2CD reissue) – $13 used
KISS – Monster (International Tour Edition) – $16
Coney Hatch – s/t (1982) – $7 used vinyl
Coney Hatch – Outa Hand (1983) – $7 used vinyl
Coney Hatch – Friction (1985) – $7 used vinyl
Cheap Trick – Sex, America, Cheap Trick Box Set (1996) – $17.50 used

Can’t forget Ebay! I always watch Ebay daily because there have always been bargains since I joined in 1999. It’s not the same as it was back then but, if you search properly, the bargains are still there. I found the Richie Sambora solo album while watching a Bruce Kulick solo album from the same seller. I missed Bruce Kulick but got Richie Sambora and then had to go to another seller and pay slightly extra for Audio Dog. I picked up the two Cutty Sark vinyl LPs while searching for Die Tonite on CD at a decent price. After careful communication with the seller about the LPs condition, I pulled the trigger and paid a little extra for fast shipping. Finyl Vinyl fills the last hole in my Rainbow collection and it’s the complete two disc version and the international edition of KISS Monster was necessary for the bonus track ‘Right Here Right Now’ that was only previously available on iTunes. Add the digipak format and poster along with the bonus track to make it even more necessary for this KISS diehard. Technically, my international version is from Canada and this is the 4th version I own of this album (I also have the original release, the Wal-Mart zine pak and the Best Buy version with the 3D cover)…..all I need is a Japanese import or a German version with the alternate KISS logo! I bought more vinyl while researching Coney Hatch CDs and I got copies in really awesome condition but the real gem from Ebay this month was the Cheap Trick box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick. I’ve been immersing myself in all things Cheap Trick and I had to have this rarities box set but it’s out of print and high priced most of the time. I picked this up for $15 plus $2.50 shipping because the seller misspelled Cheap as “Cheep”. Another bargain through someone else’s mistake!

Total = $339.70

Total (year) = $1446.50

Average Price (per item) = $10.88

Total CDs (year) = 116

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 4

Total LPs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) =7

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NOTE:
Just to compare, here’s the mid-year totals from 2012…..

Total (year) = $1171

Average Price (per item) = $8.87

Total CDs (year) = 127

Total DVDs & Blu-Rays (year) = 5

The 2012 Heavy Metal Addiction Awards

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

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

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

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

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

The Top 15 Albums of 2012

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

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

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

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

The 5 Most Disappointing Albums of 2012

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

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

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

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

The Top 5 DVDs of 2012

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

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

The Top 10 Miscellaneous Releases of 2012

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

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

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

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

3 Releases I Missed In 2011

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

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

CD Scavenger Hunt – August, September, October, November & December update

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here at Heavy Metal Addiction…..a real long time! Sorry to all my loyal readers but I just haven’t had the time or the inspiration to write about anything Hard Rock or Heavy Metal but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been buying my fair share of music! Seeing that we are at the end of the year, I figured it was about time I posted something and why not be a full update of everything I’ve bought since August? Enjoy and please leave some comments…..

(WARNING — This is going to be a long post!)

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August update

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Rainbow – Difficult To Cure (1981/1999 remaster) – $8
Fozzy – Sin & Bones (2012) – $13
Loudness – Eye To Dawn (2012) – $13
In This Moment – Blood (2012) – $10
Jackyl – Best In Show (2012 Best Buy Deluxe Edition) – $10
MSG – The Michael Schenker Story Live (1997/2001 re-release) – $0
Loverboy – Rock N Roll Revival (2012) – $0
Baroness – Red Album (2007) – $0
House Of Lords – Sahara (1990) – $0
Marshall Law – Power Games (1992) – $0
Headcat – Walk The Walk…Talk The Talk (2011) – $0
Exciter – Unveiling The Wicked (1986) – $0
Enuff Z’nuff – Welcome To Blue Island (2003) – $0
Zyklon – Aeon (2003) – $0
Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain (Tour Edition) (2007) – $0
707 – The Bridge (2004) – $0
707 – Anthology (2009) – $0
Starz – Brightest Starz (2000) – $0
Petra – Still Means War (2002) – $0
Rob Zombie – The Sinister Urge (2001) – $0
Sentenced – The Cold White Light (2002) – $0
Frameshift – An Absence Of Empathy (2005) – $0
KISS – Destroyer Resurrected (2012) – $13
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (1975) – $0
Helix – Breaking Loose (1979) – $26.50 used
Mass – Voices In The Night (1989) – $9 used
Tokyo Blade – Camp 334 E.P. (2012) – $3 (iTunes download)

Where to begin? Obviously August was a good month! One thing that happens evey August is that my birthday rolls around and I get a lot of gift cards to Newbury Comics, my favorite record store, so that will account for all the CDs with zeros for amounts. Let’s analyze these purchases…..

I bought the new albums by Fozzy, Loudness, In This Moment, and KISS on the day of release and on sale…..I had to have the new Destroyer Resurrected the moment the doors to Newbury Comics opened because my KISS collection isn’t complete without the latest new album! The Bruce Springsteen disc was a gift from my best friend’s son who loves Springsteen and is trying to turn me on to his music. I like myself some Bruce, mostly the stuff I hear on classic rock radio, but this is the album I would pick to start getting into The Boss if I were buying it myself. The Helix and Mass CDs were auctions I won on ebay from the same seller, both are original pressings and the Helix album is especially rare and it’s been on my radar for a long time. The last album listed is a digital only E.P. by NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade that I got from iTunes. I have NEVER bought anything from iTunes because I believe in physical media but there are no plans to release this on any other format so I had to bite the bullet and spend the $3. On to the freebies…..

Birthday = gift cards. I decided to head up to a different Newbury Comics, this time Norwood, MA, to see if there were any bargains to be had. Now this is the BIG Newbury Comics so they have excellent selection when I make the 45 minute trip a few times a year and right off the bat I found a used copy of Baroness – Red Album (2007) for what would have been $10 ($14 for the regular priced one that was there. Among the other highlights from this shopping trip, the Michael Schenker Group live double disc rerelease that would have been $14, the new Loverboy album that would have been $13 on sale ($20 regular price!), and a tour edition copy of Ozzy’s Black Rain used that has all the bonus material for all the different versions of the original album for a mere $6 used price. Of course I padded the collection with used CDs that ranged in price from $2 to $8 but they were all free for me.

September update

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last of a Dyin’ Breed (2012 Deluxe Edition) – $10
Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance 30th Anniversary Edition (2012) – $14
The Darkness – Hot Cakes (2012) – $16
Cloudscape – New Era (2012) – $15
ZZ Top – La Futura (2012) – $0
Steve Harris – British Lion (2012) – $13
Bullet – Full Pull (2012) – $13
Dokken – Broken Bones (2012) – $0

As September hits we have back to school for the kids, house preperations for winter, the beginning of football season and fantasy football and starting to think of the holidays…..that means money is at a premium and CDs have to wait. I was able to pick up some new releases in my two trips to the record store in September and I caught a great sale at the end of the month – Buy 2 get 1 Free on all regular and sale priced CDs.

On my 1st trip of the month, I had to have the deluxe edition of the new Lynyrd Skynyrd CD to get the 4 bonus tracks and was lucky to grab the last sale priced copy they had for $10 which saved me $7. Take a listen to the Skynyrd records with Johnny Van Zant on vocals, they are all excellent and rival the classic 70s era of Skynyrd with his late brother Ronnie fronting the band. Of course the legend of Skynyrd back in the day overshadows everything newer but the quality is definitely there. The other major purchase was the 30th Anniversary Edition of the classic Screaming For Vengeance from Metal legends Judas Priest. I love all the bonuses on these special anniversary releases and it makes it worth it to re-buy the album, this time around the big deal was the included DVD of Priest’s performance at the US Festival in 1983 but the live tracks and the bonus studio track ‘Prisoner Of Your Eyes’ add to the value. You can’t beat $14 for a CD/DVD combo and I still saved $3 buying it on sale.

The 2nd trip of the month was towards the end but that’s where I caught the special sale and picked up a bunch of new releases I was waiting on. My strategy is to always group the CDs by price from high to low so when I get to the register I get some of the higher priced CDs free. I had been waiting on Hot Cakes from The Darkness and missed the sale price so I had to pay the full $16 regular price and the new Cloudscape was the same deal at $15 regular price but I put them together with the new ZZ Top to get that one free and saved $14 right off the bat! The $14 was the sale price for ZZ Top but regular price was $17 so I really saved $17 in the long run. My second grouping was the new Steve Harris solo album ($13 sale/$17 regular) + the new Bullet ($13 sale/$17 regular) with the new Dokken ($12 sale/$18 regular) for free and saved more money. You have to love those Frontiers Records albums that are $17+ regular price, I would have choked if I had to pay that much for the new Dokken! At least I got it on a double sale!

October update

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KISS – Monster (2012) – $12
KISS – Monster (2012) – $15 (Wal-Mart exclusive limted edition zine-pak)
Arch Enemy – Stigmata (1998) – $4 used
Allen-Lande – The Revenge (2007) – $8 used
Dream Evil – Evilized (2003) – $8 used
Rob Rock – Garden Of Chaos (2007) – $8 used
Motorhead – March Or Die (1992) – $4 used
Cloudscape – Crimson Skies (2006) – $4 used
Kotipelto – Serenity (2007) – $4 used
Dragonforce – The Power Within (2012) – $13
Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2 (2 CD/DVD/Blu) (2012) – $18
Ten – Heresy And Creed (2012) – $12
Sister Sin – Now And Forever (2012) – $12
Night Ranger – 24 Strings & A Drummer (CD/DVD) (2012) – $10
The Sword – Apocryphon (2012 Deluxe Edition) – $12
Praying Mantis – Time Tells No Lies (1980/2011 remaster) – $13.50 (Ebay)

September was a slow CD buying month but October’s prospects improved and there were a few new releases that were must haves. Starting the month of right was the new KISS album…..Monster. I was out front banging on the door fo the record store so I could get this album as soon as the store opened, got it on sale for $12 and saved $4 off the regular price. Of course, KISS is my favorite band and they can’t do anything simple so I ran over to Wal-Mart right after to buy the limited edition zinepak exclusive to Wal-Mart.

My second CD hunt was at the Newbury Comics in Warwick, RI (about 20 mins from home) when the family and I were out for the day and they allowed me to go and search. Actually, they dropped me off and went to the Target down the road! Nothing is better when you walk into a record store and you start to find a lot of cheap CDs that you’ve been looking for…..obviously, I hit the store after someone dumped part of their collection because I’d never seen these CDs at this location before. Right away I found a copy of the latest Dragonforce record, The Power Within (2012), still on sale for $13 while the other two copies with it were regular price at $19. Then I started through the Metal section in alphabetical order and I found the Allen-Lande, Cloudscape and Dream Evil all used and immeadiately crossed them off my want list. I only had $60 in disposable CD income so I had to make wise purchases and I already had $33 worth of discs in my hand so I had to ignore some more higher priced used gems but I did make my way over to a sale table towards the front of the store. Score! Arch Enemy for $4 used, Motorhead for $4 used and Kotipelto for $4 used and Rob Rock for $8 used…..the Motorhead – March Or Die was a missing album in my collection and both the Kotipelto and Rob Rock CDs replaced very plain promotional CDs I received from the record label years earlier. I spent $53 on this trip so i was pretty psyched to come under budget just a little.

The last trip of the month also included an Ebay auction I actually won while I was in the record store! New releases everywhere during the last week of the month: the new Motorhead, Ten, Sister Sin, Night Ranger and The Sword were all high priority buys and the Ebay auction was the Praying Mantis reissue from Rock Candy Records. I saved $35 off the regular prices of the new releases by buying them on sale the day of release with the biggest savings coming from the Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2 release at $12 off. I also saved $6 on the Ten CD and $8 on the Night Ranger (both imports from Frontiers Records), $3 on the new Sister Sin and another $6 on the limited edition of the new CD from The Sword.

November update

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Mob Rules – Cannibal Nation (2012) – $14
Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $20
Kamelot – Silverthorn (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $0
Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves (2012) – $13
Twisted Sister – A Twisted Xmas Live In Las Vegas (2012) – $0
Butcher Babies – Butcher Babies E.P. (2012) – $5 (from Butcher Babies merchandise website)

Another slow month with the holidays looming…..I only made one trip to the record store but I made it count when they had a “Buy 2 get 1 Free” sale on all CDs. Of course they ring the CDs from highest to lowest so I paid for the limited edition version of the new Aerosmith record and the new One Direction limited edition new album (I have a daughter that loves that boy band!) for $20 each and I got the new Kamelot – Silverthorn limited edition for free. I forget what the regular price on the One Direction CD was but that wouldn’t count here but the regular on the Aerosmith was a crazy $29 and the new Kamelot was on sale for $18 but the regular price would have been $22. My second bundle at this sale was the new Mob Rules album for $14 and the new Geoff Tate solo album for $13, both on sale, and I got the new Twisted Sister live Xmas album from Las Vegas for free. The Twisted Sister CD was on sale for $12 with a regular price of $16 and both the Mob Rules and Geoff tate albums had a regular price of $18. The last purchase I made was the debut E.P. from the Butcher Babies for $5. I had been hearing a lot about the band on various podcasts and I finally decided to pick up the E.P. towards the end of the month.

December update

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King Kobra – Ready To Strike (1985) – $8
King Kobra – Thrill Of A Lifetime (1986) – $8
U.D.O. – Live In Sofia (2CD/DVD) (2012) – $14
Bloodbound – In The Name Of Metal (2012) – $14
Municipal Waste – Massive Aggressive (2009) – $10 used
Ring Of Fire – The Oracle (2001) – $10 used
Tankard – Beast Of Bourbon (2004) – $0 used
Avian – Ashes And Madness (2009) – $10 used
Overkill – Feel The Fire (1985) – $9 used
Doro – Classic Diamonds (2004) – $0 used
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Pt.2) (2008) – $8 used
Municipal Waste – Hazardous Mutations (2005) – $8 used
Tristania – Midwinter Tears (CD/DVD) (2005) – $0 used
Grave Digger – 25 To Live (2CD) (2005) – $7 used
Grave Digger – Rheingold (2003) – $7 used
Gwar – Live From Mt. Fuji (2005) – $0 used
Scorpions – Taken By Force (1977) – $6 used
Overlorde – Return Of The Snow Giant (2004) – $6 used
Tristania – Ashes (2005) – $0 used
Straight Line Stitch – When Skies Wash Ashore (2008) – $6 used
Fates Warning – Inside Out (1994) – $4 used
Tristania – World Of Glass (2001) – $0 used

With the Christmas holiday looming, there was no extra money for CD shopping during December but that’s OK because the end of the year is always the slowest time for new releases. I knew there was a shopping spree coming at the end of the year because of all the gift cards I get to Newbury Comics for holiday gifts. This year was no exception, I netted $135 in gift cards so I held out as long as I could after Christmas (3 days!) and I was able to catch a year end used CD sale, Buy 2 Used CDs and Get 1 Free! The strategy for gift cards and a great sale was to get as much music as possible and to get some of those used CDs that I’d been passing over in my travels and, seeing that everything was basically free and nothing coming out of pocket, I spent a long time combing every rack in the Warwick, RI Newbury Comics. I put up all the prices above, including the sale freebies, so you could get an idea of what I would have spent.

I couldn’t pass on the King Kobra CDs because both were recent reissues in album style cardboard sleeves and brand new sealed at awesome cheap prices…..turns out they should have been $17.99 instead of $7.99 but that’s OK with me! I also couldn’t pass up the latest U.D.O. 2CD/DVD live release, Live In Sofia (2012), or the latest release from Bloodbound…..both were still on sale and they weren’t at my normal closer location. Both of these were $18 regular price so I saved $4 on each theoretically. So those are the new CDs, on to the used!

I put everything up by price because that’s how the store separates them and denotes the free ones. I like the fact that they give you a free CD closest to the price of the ones you buy so the Tankard CD should have been $10 used but it was free because the Municipal Waste and Ring Of Fire CDs were the same price. Obviously, I picked up a lot of back catalog from Municipal Waste, Grave Digger and Tristania with the biggest bargains being the two Municipal Waste and two Grave Digger CDs because you never see these albums used and, if you do, they are $12+ used because of the demand for Municipal Waste and Grave Digger is usually imports. Of the $0 CDs, the Tankard shuld have been $10, Tristania and Doro were $8 each, Gwar and another Tristania were $6 each and the last Tristania was $4 used. The final total on this hunt was $135 all paid with gift cards so I paid nothing out of pocket and I saved an additional $42 on the free used CDs!

Final 2012 Totals

Total (year) = $1804

Average Price (per item) = $7.71

Total CDs (year) = 227

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

Total iTunes Downloads (year) = 1

Just a quick analysis…..

Compared to 2011, I bought 85 more items (227 this year and 142 last year) and I spent $659 more than I did the previous year. My DVD total is low because a lot of bands/labels are packaging DVDs or Blu-Rays with live CDs now and I count those as CD packages. Also, 2012 was the first time I bought a Blu-Ray and paid for an iTunes download. I’m not sure what 2013 will hold 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.

Let the hunt continue!

CD Scavenger Hunt (June update)

Finally! Once I post this update for June then I’m all caught up! June was a good month with a ton of new releases so I spent some extra dollars…..

Newbury Comics

Rush – Clockwork Angels (2012) – $13
Meshuggah – Koloss (CD/DVD) (2012) – $12
Kreator – Phantom Antichrist (CD/DVD) (2012) – $14

My first trip of the month to Newbury Comics was pretty uneventful. I went in to pick up the new albums by Rush, Kreator and L.A. Guns but the store never got in the new L.A. Guns. Why? Because they were moving locations and their shipments were minimal. I got the Rush and Kreator albums no problem, and I was willing to wait until the next shipment for the new L.A. Guns rather than go to another store, so I started to browse. With the staff boxing up inventory, some of the selection was a little thin but I did manage to find the deluxe version of the new Meshuggah album, KOLOSS, for a sale price of $12. The other couple of copies were regular price around $18 so I decided to grab this while I could still get it a little cheaper.

L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever (2012) – $9.50
Lita Ford – Living Like A Runaway (2012) – $10.30
Malice – New Breed Of Godz (CD/DVD) (2012) – $15.20
U.D.O. – Celebrator (2012) – $9.50
Mantas – Death By Metal (2012) – $8

My second trip into the North Attleboro Newbury Comics came as the store started their moving sale — “Everything 20% off”. I immeadiately hit the new release rack for the new L.A. Guns (finally in stock!), the new Lita Ford (I hope it’s better than her last album!) and the new U.D.O. double disc package with all the unreleased/bonus/special material. I had great sale prices of $12, $13 and $12 respectively but knowing an additional 20% off was coming at checkout I knew I could buy more! I read about the new Malice album but never wrote down the release date so I was surprised to see it in the rack, unfortunately it was $19 regular price. A new album on Frontiers Records with a bonus DVD is always going to cost a little more but the 20% discount made it a little more manageable price wise. I calculated that I was going to save about $10 with the extra discount so that meant I could buy another new CD! I decided to buy the Mantas album because it is Chuck Schuldiner’s pre-Death band and I wanted to hear these demo recordings. I’m starting to get into more extreme forms of Metal and I like Death so I figured the extra savings made this CD free in theory.

Venom – Metal Black (2006) – $4.80
Brand New Sin – Recipe For Disaster (2005) – $1.60 used
Eidolon – The Parallel Otherworld (2006) – $3.20 used

Last trip into the old store before they closed the door and the inventory was all but gone. Everything was still an additional 20% off so it was still worth the trip especially since I had been watching the Venom CD and a Superjoint Ritual CD for a while. Unfortunately the Superjoint Ritual album was gone (it was only $4) but I was able to pick up the Venom CD new and two used discs from Brand New Sin and Eidolon. The prices were a cheap $6, $2 and $4 respectively so I was spending under the regular price of a normal CD as it was but getting another 20% off on top was icing on the cake.

Sleep – Dopesmoker (2003/2012 reissue) – $10

Well, the new Newbury Comics store opened in the Emerald Square Mall about a half mile down the road from the original location and they opened a day early. I checked the North Attleboro store’s Facebook page and saw they were open so I went down with the family to check it out. It’s a little smaller than the old store but it’s in a great location in the mall and there seemed to be a ton of foot traffic so maybe this store won’t go the way of other independent chains! I had to make an inaugural purchase so I decided on the DOPESMOKER reissue because it was cheap. I’ve heard the edited version of ‘Dopesmoker’ (titled ‘Jerusalem’) only once but the original 63 minute song continues to be a benchmark of Stoner/Doom Metal. The full album is one song, recorded in 1996, and released four different times without band authorization…..the 1999 release was re-titled JERUSALEM with an alternate cover and an edited song losing about 10 minutes. This new reissue is fully authorized by the band and I’ll bet that the other versions price and collectibility goes down.

Music Box (Newport, RI)

Pop Evil – Lipstick On The Mirror (2009) – $2.50 used

I caught Pop Evil a few years ago opening for Judas Priest so I’ve always had the band name in my head but I never got around to buying any of their albums. My family and I went to Newport for the day and we took a walk through the Brick Marketplace and I had to make my way to the long time Newport record store Music Box. There’s never anything exciting in there because I either own it already or it’s your basic run of the mill inventory but, one thing I’ve learned over the years, there’s always a treasure somewhere and sometime! This time I checked the cut-out/used bin at the very back of the store and found this Pop Evil CD for less than $3. It’s a promotional CD but it’s intact. I compared it to a regularly priced copy that was $15 and it looks exactly the same.

Amazon.com

Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken (2 CD/DVD) (2012) – $18.20
Great White – Elation (2012) – $10
Kill Devil Hill – s/t (2012) – $10

I went into my usual record store looking for the new Saxon limited edition set with the DVD and double CD but they didn’t have it in stock with no idea when they would have it. They did have the regular double CD but I wanted the DVD. As soon as I got home, I went to Amazon and started filling my cart: Saxon for just over $18 and I added the new Great White and Kill Devil Hill albums for $10 each. Both great White and Kill Devil Hill were priced at $17 regular price at the record store so I saved $7 each buying them with Saxon…..unfortunately, the record store stocked the Saxon limited edition a few days later at a $15 sale price but I spent an extra $3 to save an extra $14!

Total = $151.80 ($159 rounded off)

Total (year) = $1171

Average Price (per item) = $8.87

Total CDs (year) = 127

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

The Top 25 Albums of 2011

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?

CD Scavenger Hunt (June update)

It’s been a slow year so far for buying CDs and collecting but I made up for the last few months with a quality buying spree in June. There were a bunch of new releases on sale, a few hidden bargains in the used CD racks, trips to a few different record stores and the discovery of my childhood record store re-opening in the local flea market! June was definitely a good month for the Hunt…..

Luke’s Record Exchange (@ The Big Flea Market in Cumberland, RI)

Luke’s Record Exchange was my childhood record store that got me started as a record store regular and a CD scavenger hunt expert. Unfortunately, the long time Pawtucket, RI location closed a few months ago for good but a chance trip to The Big Flea Market in a neighboring town provided a link to my record store past…..Luke’s re-opened as a large booth. Prices were pretty good: 50% off the stickered price on all CDs! My oldest daughter loves music and has the record store addiction like her dad and she absolutely loved searching the racks and dark corners that the original Luke’s store had. I’ve tried to teach my oldest daughter as much about Metal and collecting as possible, now it’s up to her to decide what direction to go in.

Hair Of The Dog – Rise (2000) – $7: I started scouring the racks of CDs Luke’s had and I found plenty that used to be at their store and plenty that I already owned but with 50% off you have to buy something. I saw this Hair Of The Dog CD and remembered the name from the late ’90s editions of Metal Edge magazine so I snatched this up to try the band out. When I got home I realized I mixed up Hair Of The Dog with another band, American Dog, but a quick check of my back issues and this purchase was worth making. I’ve read some positive reviews online on Hair Of The Dog, and the band was signed to Spitfire Records back in 2000 (a label with plenty of Hard Rock bands and reissues) so I will definitely check them out when I get around ripping the cellophane off the case! Regular stickered price was $14 so it was really $7 for a brand new sealed copy of RISE. Saved $7.

Vince Neil – Live At The Whiskey: One Night Only (2003) – $6: I always meant to buy this live album when it came out but I had read some bad reviews and I decided against it back then. I did keep it on the want list just in case I came across a used copy somewhere. Over the years I’ve seen this album still at regular price anywhere from $12 to $15 and I’ve passed each time. I’ve seen Vince Neil in concert twice with his solo band and he’s been just OK performance wise and the set is always dominated by the big Motley Crue hits so it’s no surprise to only get one Vince solo song (‘Look In Her Eyes’) on this live record. maybe if there was more from EXPOSED (1993) or CARVED IN STONE (1995) then this would have been a more essential buy. Like I said, you can’t beat 50% off so I finally filled a hole in the Vince Neil solo collection. Another brand new sealed copy stickered at $12, the 50% off making it $6. Saved $6.

Wal-Mart

Def Leppard – Mirror Ball (Live & More) (2011) – $10: I hate going to Wal-Mart! In my life there is no reason to ever set foot in one but some of my favorite bands like KISS, AC/DC, Journey and now Def Leppard have forced me to enter the worst shopping place on earth to buy their exclusive releases! Sure, I could have someone else go in and buy it for me, or maybe buy it online, but sometimes we must sacrifice for the thrill of the Hunt! Definitely an old school move by the Leps with the old bulky multi-disc packaging for their double disc live record with the bonus DVD included. I’ve seen Def Lep on every tour since the 1999 EUPHORIA Tour and I saw them back in the day on the HYSTERIA Tour in 1988 so I know how good these guys are live. It’s a little surprising that it’s taken 31 years to finally get an official live album from Def Leppard but it looks like the band’s last few successful tours have finally given it to us. This was more about the new songs for me and their are three of them on Disc 2. The only positive thing I can say about the Wal-Mart experience is that the price can’t be beat…..$10 is a small price to pay for 21 live tracks, 3 new studio songs and a DVD.

Newbury Comics

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade (Special Edition) (2011) – $12: I already own UNDER THE BLADE on CD and on vinyl but I had to pick this up because of all the bonuses included. First, this is the original mix of UNDER THE BLADE as heard on the original Secret Records pressing (the 1985 reissue is remixed) so that saves the vinyl. Second, the RUFF CUTTS E.P. (1982) is the bonus on the CD. The RUFF CUTTS vinyl is easy to find but high in price for a mint copy, it’s nice getting the music on CD. Finally, the bonus DVD is the band’s performance at th 1982 Reading Festival. This is how you do a reissue! Unfortunately, some of the other Twisted Sister reissues on Armoury Records leave a lot to be desired as far as bonus material but this reissue was worth getting even at the regular price of $16. I bought this the day it was released so I got the $12 sale price saving $4.

Black Stone Cherry – Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea (2011) – $10: Black Stone Cherry is one of those newer bands that I’ve followed from their first album to present but I haven’t really gotten totally into them. I have the band’s first two albums, and I enjoy them, but the band hasn’t had the staying power for me to keep coming back. I’m hoping that BETWEEN THE DEVIL & THE DEEP BLUE SEA breaks that cycle and also forces me to revisit the band’s first two records for a fresh listen. Good band and good music but I’m just not completely hooked. This was another day of release purchase to get the sale price of $10 and save $4 but even the $14 regular price seems reasonable. Of course, the day I purchased the album, I get home from the record store and check my email and find a link from Roadrunner Records PR dept for a download of the album so i could review it! I would have bought the album anyway.

Warrant – Rockaholic (2011) – $13: Frontiers Records was kind enough to send me a download of the album for review so I have been enjoying ROCKAHOLIC for a few months prior to it’s U.S. release. In most cases when I receive a promo download for review, I buy the album for my collection if I enjoy it so I caved on buying the new Warrant. For me Warrant has a stigma…..the Jani Lane stigma. Back in the ’80s, I liked Warrant like most Hard Rock fans tuned in to FM radio and MTV but I started to really dislike the band after I got the internet in 1998 and started reading about all the dumb ass things Jani Lane used to do (cancel concert, quit and rejoin, go onstage drunk, etc). Anyway, after seeing the band reunite on the Poison summer tour a few years ago, I had hope but Jani screwed it up again and again. I thought the band’s move to replace Jani with Jaime St. James from Black ‘N Blue for BORN AGAIN (2006) was a great move resulting in a solid record. This time around it’s Robert Mason (formerly of Lynch Mob) replacing Jani (again!) and Jaime (who has a reformed Black ‘N Blue) at the mic and it’s a solid album that actually charted on Billboard’s Top Hard rock Albums Chart at #22! It’s such a good record that I would have easily paid the $17 import price but I saved $4 by waiting for the U.S. release.

Whitesnake – Live At Donington 1990 (Special Edition Box Set 2CD/DVD) (2011) – $16: Again, thanks to Frontiers Records, I was able to preview the CD portion of LIVE AT DONINGTON 1990 for a few weeks before it was released but this special edition wasn’t one I was going to miss adding to my collection. Recorded on 8/18/1990 at the Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington Park, this is Whitesnake at it’s chart-topping best: a live album with mostly all the big hits from 1984 to 1990 and a DVD of the exact performance all packaged it a double gatefold CD digipak with full color graphics and booklet. Remember how big Whitesnake was back then? Well their bands before them were The Quireboys, Thunder, Poison and Aerosmith! Import prices online were around $25 plus shipping at most shops but the U.S. release was a regular $20…..I bought it day of release so I saved $4.

Hammerfall – Infected (2011) – $10: I had no idea that Hammerfall was releasing a new album until about a week before the release date…..and I have been following the band since 1998! It’s no secret that I’m a big Power Metal guy and Hammerfall has been one of my favorites since the Power Metal resurgence of the late ’90s so this was a no-brainer purchase for me. “No-brainer”…..that’s a funny way of putting it because the concept here seems to be zombies and being infected as one. It’s a different direction for Hammerfall but one I’m hoping to enjoy as much as their last few records. I’m a little puzzled by the lack of vibrant graphics and no sign of Hector, the band’s knight mascot that has been on every album cover, but if it’s something different then why not try it? Regular price was $16 so I saved $6 buying the album the day of release but I was lucky to get a copy because there were only two copies available when I hit the new release rack at the shop.

U.D.O. – Rev-Raptor (2011) – $12: Here’s another album that I received a promtional download for so I could review it but I added it to my want list. I’ve been an U.D.O. fan since he formed the band after his time in Accept so I’m going to buy every album that comes out but I really wanted to get the European limited edition with the bonus tracks but the online shops sold out quick and I didn’t really want to drop around $25 for a couple extra songs and a couple videos. I’ll give Udo Dirkschneider credit, he knows how to do it Gene Simmons style because there were four pressings of REV-RAPTOR: the regular jewel case, the limited edition European with 2 bonus tracks & videos, the Japanese with different bonus tracks and the special box set with a t-shirt and other souvenirs. I wish there was an easier way to get all the bonus material instead of having to buy to high price imports but I’m happy with my U.S. version. Regular price was $16, sale price was $12, saved $4.

Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (2 CD Limited Edition) (2011) – $14: It’s only been recently that I’ve really gotten into Arch Enemy so this new album is kind of a new start for me. There’s been a lot of press on KHAOS LEGIONS so I’m hoping that it’s as good as the older material I’ve been listening to. What makes this release interesting is that there are 2 versions: the regular jewel case or the limited edition with a 4 track bonus disc and a code for a free t-shirt. I was grabbing the double disc version but what astounded me was the regular prices: $16 for the single, $25 for the double! Good thing I buy the new releases the day they come out because I save a lot of money…..in this case, the single disce was on sale for $11 and the limited edition for $14. How could I not buy the limited edition and save $11? Add in the free t-shirt and it’s a great buy even if I have to pay the shipping for the shirt and then give it to my daughter because I can’t fit in an XL!

Pagan’s Mind – Heavenly Ecstacy (2011) – $12: I got into Pagan’s Mind with 2007’s GOD EQUATION but I really haven’t gone back and tried to acquire the band’s previous releases. I like the band and I’m a fan of Progressive Metal but Pagan’s Mind just hasn’t taken hold in my listening rotation, hopefully that will change with this new album. This is another band that I didn’t know was releasing a new album but I was pleasantly surprised to find out in the Newbury Comics weekly newsletter. There are two versions of this album too: the single disc or the limited edition with 2 bonus tracks. When I went to the record store the day of release they only had the limited edition (the version I was buying anyway!) and they had plenty of copies. Regular price was a high $17 for the two extra songs but the sale price was only $12 for a savings of $5. I have been to the record store since I purchased this in the middle of June and I still haven’t seen the standard version but I assume that it’s without the bonus tracks and priced around $15 regular price.

Black Country Communion – 2 (2011) – $13: Black Country Communion is Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham…..now that’s a supergroup! The debut BCC album was awesome and made my list of the Top 30 Albums of 2010 at #5 so I was surprised when I read that the band had a new record ready to go. I waited on buying the first BCC album and ended up paying full price, the sting of that purchase was easier to take because the album was so good, but I wasn’t waiting around this time. Day of release and on sale for $13, I pulled the trigger. I like the old school stadium rock sound BCC has and Glenn Hughes keeps sounding better as he gets older while I am totally into Bonamassa’s guitar sound and now checking out his solo material…..good to see this album get on the U.S. Hot 100 chart with it’s debut. Regular price was an expensive $17 so I was glad to get the sale price and save $4.

Alestorm – Back Through Time (2011) – $13: Alestorm is another band I’ve followed from the beginning and I’ve grown to enjoy their Pirate Metal that’s a continuation of what Running Wild was doing a decade plus before. The thing is that the pirate themes and concepts are going to wear thin on the ultra serious metal fans but it’s all done well and in good fun so I don’t mind dropping a few bucks for good pirate party. I ended up buying the special edition of this album too with the hardbound book packaging and the two bonus tracks that are included. I didn’t see a regular jewel case edition at the record store but I read only that it exists. I actually almost pre-ordered this online through Napalm Records with the free t-shirt but they didn’t have the 2XL I need, the price on that package was $25 with shipping. Regular price for the special edition was $17 at the shop but I bought this on sale for $13 saving myself $4.

AC/DC – Live At River Plate DVD (2011) – $12: I’ve had my eye on this concert DVD for a few weeks but I never picked it up because the local shop had a ton of copies for weeks and the sale price kept going. Usually they take off the sale price after a couple week but they had so many copies of this DVD that the sale price was still there about a month after release. I had a little extra money to burn so I went to go pick up a copy but there was only two left this time! I’m not sure if the shop had a run on them all of a sudden or maybe transferred some to other locations but where there were many stood only two and one copy was regular price $15. Lucky for me the other copy still had the sale sticker on it so I knew that I’d be getting the price I wanted. Sure enough, when I got to the register, the DVD rang regular price but they price adjusted to the $12 sale price and I saved $3. I saw the Black Ice Tour in Foxboro, MA so LIVE AT THE RIVER PLATE will be a nice tour souvenir.

Night Ranger – Somewhere In California (2011) – $14: This is another album that I’ve had the promotional download for through Frontiers Records but I decided to pick the album up for the collection. I remember when DAWN PATROL came out back in 1982 and I was a fan of the band straight through to the break-up and reformation in the late ’90s…..this is another no-brainer purchase for me. I didn’t really get into the band’s last album, HOLE IN THE SUN (2008), right away because of the more modern sound the band used but it was still Night Ranger and it grew on me. From what I’ve read and my initial spin, SOMEWHERE IN CALIFORNIA sounds like classic ’80s Night Ranger. I caught the band’s tour last year in Connecticut and it was a high energy show and the band sounded great, maybe taking that energy into the studio proved successful? Regular price here was $17 because it’s technically an import but I got it on sale for $14 and saved $3.

Symphony X – Iconoclast (2 CD Special Edition) (2011) – $13: I haven’t really listened to Symphony X since 2002’s THE ODYSSEY and I had no idea that they were releasing a new album (I’ve got to keep up on my Metal news!) so I was a little hesitant when i saw this album in the new release rack at the record store. Do I take a chance on a band that has released only two records since 2002? I noticed that there were two versions of this CD also (a trend for June I think!): the single disc and the special edition digipak that’s two CDs and has extra songs. I’m a sucker for bonus tracks and the sale price for this version was only $2 more than the regular so I snatched it up! I also noticed that there were a lot of copies of both versions of the album, a lot of which are still unsold and still onsale in mid-July. Regular price for the special edition was $19 so I saved $6 on the day of release. I’m hoping ICONOCLAST is a surprise record for me this year.

Queensryche – Dedicated To Chaos (Deluxe Edition) (2011) – $16: Another deluxe/special/limited edition for June’s hunt! Things with Queensryche have been hit or miss since 1994’s PROMISED LAND but I really enjoyed AMERICAN SOLDIER (2009) and I’m hoping that DEDICATED TO CHAOS is a continuation of the quality material I know the band is capable of. The wild card here is Geoff Tate and the direction his writing and leadership takes the band, one look at the back cover and seeing a bald Tate could either be a bad sign of he’s channelling his friend Rob Halford. Either way, I’ve been a fan of the band since the QUEENSRYCHE E.P. (1982) and THE WARNING (1984) so I’m always going to support the band. I bought the deluxe version for the three extra songs for only $3 more than the standard version. If you’re going to spend $13, why not just spend the $16 and get the whole package? Regular price for the deluxe version was a scary $22 so there was no way I was going to let a sale price pass me by with an opportunity to save $6 on an album I would easily buy.

Zebra – No Tellin’ Lies (1984) – $6 used: This was easily my bargain of the month and well worth the time spent digging through the used sections. I had gone to a different Newbury Comics location that had better selection than my usual store with my daughter and niece so I gave them each some money to shop so I could dive into the used bins. Unfortunately, I own most of the discs I found but NO TELLIN’ LIES, Zebra’s second album, was sitting there at a perfect price at $6 used! I’m not passing that up especially since all the Zebra records are on my want list so I can replace my cassettes. I was particularly psyched about finding a Zebra album because they had just played a local club in Massachusetts back in May (that I missed!) and the band’s hit from the first album, ‘Tell Me What You Want’, has been all over the local rock stations. My online research tells me that an original Atlantic Records pressing of this CD retails at about $15 if you can find it and the double disc reissue with the band’s third album, 3.V (1986), goes for around the same price and is easier to find. My digging saved me about $9.

Zebra – 3.V (1986) – $10 used: When out on a CD hunt always be mindful that where there’s one Zebra CD, there could be another! Zebras travels in herds don’t they? Seeing that I had good luck finding NO TELLIN’ LIES in the used bins, I decided to take the hunt over to the “Misc. Z” section of the Rock/Pop bins and there it was…..bargain #2 of June…..Zebra’s thierd album, 3.V from 1986! Here’s another pristine original pressing that goes for the same $15 alone or in the latest reissue with NO TELLIN’ LIES so I wasn’t about to pass it up! I haven’t seen original pressings of these Zebra albums in local record stores in at least ten years so I’m hoping that the recent concert at Showcase Live made some people clean out their collections. I’m not saying Zebra is a bad band, quite the contrary, but you would be surprised how many people dump their collections after a concert comes through town or the extra used stock the stores have in back makes it to the sales floor. Either way, it pads my collection and gets the want list a little shorter. Spending $10 for a used CD is a little high but I was sure I wouldn’t see it again and I still saved $5 off what would be a $15 regular price.

Helix – Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge (1984/2009 reissue) – $20: Now this was a big purchase but a necessary one. Ever since I rediscovered Helix back in 2005 when I bought lead singer Brian Vollmer’s autobiography Gimme An R!, I have been snapping up a lot of their back catalogue. Rock Candy Records in the U.K. are a great reissue label that takes great care in releasing high quality reissues of classic albums by working alongside the artist in getting the album back in the stores. In the case of WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE, I do have a cassette that is well worn and I have the single ‘Rock You’ on an ’80s Metal compilation CD so I’ve been content to wait out the last couple years and get this reissue at a good price. Depending where you look online, you can get this reissue anywhere between $15 and $25 plus shipping charges, that’s too high. When I saw the record store actually stocked the album, I jumped on it despite the price. I figured I’d pay at least $20 on the low end of the online price so I decided to buy it now instead of having to wait a week or two because of the mail services.

Total = $239

Total (year) = $559

Average Price (per item) = $10.75

Total Savings (month) = $97

Total Savings (year) = $336

Total CDs (year) = 49

Total DVDs (year) = 2

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

 

The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25)

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!

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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.

CD Scavenger Hunt – catching up edition

It’s been a long time since I updated what I’ve picked up at the local shops and online so here’s a list of what I’ve bought in the last couple of months…..

Ebay

UFO – No Place To Run (1980/2009 reissue), The Wild, The Willing & The Innocent (1981/2009 reissue), Mechanix (1982/2009 reissue), Making Contact (1983/2009 reissue), Misdemeanor (1985/2009 reissue) – $50: OK, that’s a lot of albums! I already own all the UFO album except for MISDEMEANOR and I had been searching for the 2000 Japanese pressing to complete my set…..it goes for $50+ on Ebay. Same thing with MAKING CONTACT, I own a Japanese copy but not the 2000 import with the bonus tracks. So what is so special about these new reissues? The first thing is that they are remastered, that doesn’t really affect me. The second is the bonus tracks from the 2000 reissues plus more bonus tracks added in. Third, these new reissues are cheaper and easier to get! I ended up buying MISDEMEANOR from one seller and the other four from another. I wasn’t planning on buying so many of these reissues but I ended up getting a good deal from the second seller on CD price and shipping. I ended spending $50 total for 5 CDs, that includes the shipping charges.

CD Inzane

Want to try a good online store? Visit CD Inzane, I use them all the time and they always have what I want at a slightly better price than a couple other stores I use. They also have things in stock, some places advertise titles before the have it in stock and then you have to wait until they get it in. Here’s my last order, $101 total with free shipping…..

U.D.O. - Dominator (2009)U.D.O. – Dominator (2009) – $25: This was my most expensive purchase but I couldn’t wait for the U.S. release. I ended up spending an extra $10 for the European edition with the bonus track ‘Pleasure In The Darkroom’ and the video for ‘Black & White’. Usually Udo Dirkschneider is good about releasing the album bonus tracks on a pre-release E.P. but this time around it didn’t happen. I’m a big U.D.O. fan so I didn’t mind spending the extra money, I already knew what the album sounded like because I was lucky enough to get a digital promo copy from AFM Records, you can read the review here.

cage-science-of-annihilation-2009Cage – Science Of Annihilation (2009) – $11: I have been waiting to pick up the latest Cage album for a while now. Just like the U.D.O. album, I was lucky to receive a digital promo download of the album so I could review it. The problem was that the download didn’t go through and I was left with nothing to review. I was going to pick this up anyway, download or not, because Cage is an excellent U.S. Power Metal band and all of their albums are great.

Jorn Lande - Spirit Black (2009)Jorn Lande – Spirit Black (2009) – $14: The new Jorn Lande album has been on my list for a while but I just never got around to picking it up. I saw one copy at the local record store and they haven’t restocked it since. CD Inzane had a great price for the European import digipak with the bonus track ‘The Sun Goes Down’ so I decided not to wait any longer. I’m not sure if the U.S. version has the bonus track but I know that I paid at least two or three dollars less than I would have in the record store.

FarCryHighGearFarCry – High Gear (2009) – $11: I’m not sure where I heard about FarCry first but all of a sudden most of the websites I frequent were raving about the band and this debut album. Usually solid melodic Hard Rock like this comes from Europe but FarCry is an all American band and they sound similar to bands like Danger Danger, Bon Jovi, Tyketto and Firehouse. So far, one of the best new bands I’ve heard this year!

outloud-cdOutloud – We’ll Rock You To Hell And Back Again! (2009) – $16: Another new band that I’ve had on my list to check out. Outloud has been getting a ton of great reviews and it’s another ’80s styled melodic Hard Rock album Frontiers Records is well known for. I had been watching Ebay and other online vendors but I saved close to $4 + shipping by ordering it through CD Inzane. So far it’s a great record…..you have to love the album cover, it reminds me of some old obscure ’80s record.

Bitchfire2009Bitchfire – s/t (2009) – $10: All I know about Bitchfire is that lead singer Sharyn Peach had been a singer on the Boston, MA rock scene for a number of years. I was researching local bands and I somehow landed on Bitchfire, found a few reviews and decided to give the band a shot. This is an independent release from the band so I was able to track it down at a decent price. I haven’t given it a spin yet but I’m hopeful.

UZI - MadhouseUZI – Madhouse (2009) – $13: UZI is one of those obscure late ’80s/early ’90s Hard Rock bands that came out just when the overblown L.A. scene was starting to unravel. MADHOUSE is a reissue of 10 long lost songs from UZI’s recording sessions close to 20 years ago. I like hearing obscure bands from back in the day and I read a lot of positive reviews so I ordered this one too. I was a sucker for the band name and the album cover, I might have given this a shot if I had found it in the record stores.

Record Stores

Megadeth endgameMegadeth – Endgame (2009) – $12: One of the most highly anticipated albums of the year! I ran out the day ENDGAME was released and pick it up at the great sale price but I still haven’t unwrapped it! That’s the thing with me and Megadeth…..I buy all the band’s albums but I end up getting around to them weeks/months later. I did the same thing with UNITED ABOMINATIONS and felt like an idiot after I finally gave it a listen.

ace-frehley-anomaly-2009Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009) – $10: Of course I ran out to Best Buy the day ANOMALY came out, I’ve been waiting 6 or 7 years for Ace to finally release this album after so much talk about it when he left KISS again. It’s been 20 years since Ace released TROUBLE WALKIN’ (1989), and his contributions to KISS – PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998) were limited, so it’s cool to hear Ace take flight with an all new record. Pretty cool artwork and packaging on top of a great album.

KISS - Sonic Boom (2009)KISS – Sonic Boom (2009) – $12: If I ran out the day of release for the new Ace Frehley album then you better believe this KISS diehard was at Wal-Mart at 9am after I dropped my kids at school! The first all new KISS studio album in 11 years, Paul Stanley in full control, and a bonus CD and DVD for $12…..that’s a deal! I already have the greatest hits bonus CD because I bought the Japanese import last year. The DVD is a nice preview of the tour but the real reason to buy this is the new songs…..so far I’m really enjoying it.

anvil-this-is-thirteen-2007Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007/2009 reissue) – $10: I’ve had this album since late 2007 when I bought it directly from the Anvil website. Two years later, the band is re-releasing the album on VH-1 Classic Records due to all the hype and success of the documentary ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL. Why not capitalize on the success and get the latest album distributed to a wider audience? The reissue gets a bonus track, the previously unreleased ‘Thumb Hang’.

3inches_doom3 Inches Of Blood – Here Waits Thy Doom (2009) – $10: 3 Inches Of Blood has become one of my favorite new Metal bands so I’m always on top of their new records. This was another highly anticipated release for me but I haven’t given this a spin yet! I’m not really sure what my problem is, I bought it right away and it’s made it’s way into the famous “pile”. I’m going to have to pull this out and listen this week.

SUNSTORM - house of dreamsSunstorm – House Of Dreams (2009) – $16: The smoothest singer in all of Rock is back with another Sunstorm project…..I will buy anything Joe Lynn Turner sings on. I had the first Sunstorm album when it first came out and it was excellent AOR/melodic Hard Rock so I was expecting much of the same from this new record. Nothing is better than a JLT record, his last solo album was one of my top albums of 2007.

Trouble - Simple Mind ConditionTrouble – Simple Mind Condition (2009) – $15: What did this take, a decade to finally get released? Trouble was one of those bands back in the day that I always thought would be HUGE! Great records like THE SKULL, PSALM 9, and MANIC FRUSTRATION. This album has had so many delays and so the U.S. release date was pushed back so many times. It’s been out in Europe since 2007 but the prices were high and the availability limited. It’s out now and time to enjoy some Trouble.

white-wizzard-high-speed-gtoWhite Wizzard – High Speed GTO (2009) – $9: Another new band that I really don’t know much about except that they are from Los Angeles and they play old school Heavy Metal. I like the band name, the logo and the cover art of the album…..it all screams NWOBHM or early U.S. Metal. It’s a 7 song disc so it’s more of an E.P. that a full length album, the band has another 7 song E.P. from 2008 titled WHITE WIZZARD that I am seeking out.

death - scream bloody goreDeath – Scream Bloody Gore (1987) – $10: My quest for trying out more extremem forms of Metal brought me to Death’s classic debut album, SCREAM BLOODY GORE. I’m determined to try out as many classic and newer Black & Death Metal bands as I can so I decided to go with what is regarded as one of the first proper Death metal albums. I’ve listened to it a few times and it’s really good, I can’t believe that I never got into Death during all these years.

Immortal - All Shall FallImmortal – All Shall Fall (2009) – $10: I’ve read a ton online about how reat Immortal was but I’ve never bothered to listen to a song. Again, I’m not the biggest Black Metal fan but I want to at least check out some of these bands so I know if I’m missing something. I had no idea that Immortal had a new album coming out so I picked it up to check out what they had to offer. Usually I like to buy the first album and work my way up but I couldn’t remember the name of their debut. Spending $10 to try something new is OK in my book.

The Story Of Anvil movie picAnvil – The Story Of Anvil DVD (2009) – $20: I have been waiting for this documentary to come out on DVD all year. Europe and Japan have had it for a few months but now VH-1 Classic Records is properly releasing the movie on DVD with extras. I already saw the movie back in May but I will still give this a full review soon, I can’t wait to watch it again. Good for Anvil, they deserve all their success!

U.D.O. – Dominator (2009)

U.D.O. - Dominator (2009)

U.D.O. – Dominator (2009, AFM Records)

  1. The Bogeyman
  2. Dominator
  3. Black And White
  4. Infected
  5. Heavy Metal Heaven
  6. Doom Ride
  7. Stillness Of Time
  8. Devil’s Rendezvous
  9. Speed Demon
  10. Whispers In The Dark

(NOTE — This is the U.S. release. The European digipak has a bonus track titled ‘Pleasure In The Darkroom’ and the Japanese version has a bonus track titled ‘Bleeding Heart’)

udo_main_02

Band Lineup:
Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Stefan Kaufmann – Guitars
Igor Gianola – Guitars
Fitty Wienhold – Bass
Francesco Jovino – Drums

Producer: Stefan Kaufmann

Country: Germany

Total Time = 44:48

U.D.O.
U.D.O. MySpace page
AFM Records

Doesn’t it seem like there is a new U.D.O. album every year? It just seems like the band puts out record after solid record and there is never a break! Looking back at all the U.D.O. studio album, DOMINATOR is the band’s 12th studio album and, if you count live albums, their 15th. I could add in all the E.P.s with the excusive tracks but that would get a bit too much. One thing is certain: U.D.O. releases new material consistently and it’s always very good. I have to give Udo Dirkschneider a lot of credit for carrying on the Metal tradition he helped start with Accept back in 1979. His voice was an integral, and unique, part of Accept’s Traditional Metal sound and he has kept that sound alive with U.D.O. There are a lot of metalheads out there that would love to see Accept reunite (again) but U.D.O. is the natural continuation. Like I mentioned, the U.D.O. sound is the same as the Accept sound so, if you know Accept, then you basically know U.D.O. This new album picks up right where 2007’s MASTERCUTOR left off by providing pure heavy Metal of the highest order full of melody, thunderous metallic riffs, and Udo’s unmistakeable growl…..all in trademark German Metal style. If the formula ain’t broke, why fix it? U.D.O. has been giving us the same kind of Metal since 1988’s ANIMAL HOUSE!

DOMINATOR starts out with a short subdued piano intro to ‘The Bogeyman’ but it quickly kicks into the main riff and Udo’s grating vocals. I like the fact that Udo does his own backing vocals because it adds a bit more range when he puts his own scream vocal over his regular growl. ‘The Bogeyman’ doesn’t really surprise, it’s the same traditional style the band usually goes for but the chorus cauhgt me and had me singing along. Another thing U.D.O. does well: they put in enough hooks to grab the listener. The title track is definitely faster than ‘The Bogeyman’ with a more focused twin guitar attack and rhythm. Again, there really isn’t much difference here from other U.D.O. material but the simplicity and straightforward delivery is what makes this so good! It’s kind of like being an AC/DC fan! I like the lower vocal on the chorus (with me singing along again) and the guitars are blazing…..the solo trade-off between Stefan Kaufmann and Igor Gianola are awesome!

What to hear a trademark Accept style “balls to the wall” style riff? Listen to the opening of ‘Black & White’. Heavy but slower than the first two songs with that cool Udo drawl over subdued guitars before everything kicks into high gear. The only problem with this song is the repetitve chorus, I would have liked and different line or two. I did detect a melodic Scorpions-like quality to the guitar solo…..definitely a Teutonic Metal flavor. I know ‘Infected’ from the INFECTED E.P. (2009) that preceded DOMINATOR, the song is a speedy metal attack that sounds like METAL HEART (1985) era Accept. Listen to that pounding drum sound too, Francesco Jovino and Fitty Weinhold (bass) keep everything heavy. One thing you will always find on an U.D.O. album is one of those Manowar-esque “we love Heavy Metal” sounding songs…..that’s ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’. It’s a heavy mid-tempo track with melodic guitars and a gang chorus that really sticks in your head. A bit simple though but I could see this song getting played live to get the crowd involved in a sing-a-long. Moving along for a ‘Doom Ride’, the band uses another Accept styled riff for another heavy tune that gets the headbanging right away, the only drawback being the overly simple chorus.

You could probably call ‘Stillness Of Time’ the album’s ballad but it’s more of a guitar driven mid-tempo than pure ballad. It’s a melodic song and Udo sings in a very subdued melodic style. It’s hard to really call this a ballad but the opening piano, keyboard textures and pace of the song really grab hold. It’s definitely the most commercial song on the record, dare I say “radio-friendly”, with an ’80s Whitesnake style. I like the song, it’s something different among the straight forward Metal assault. U.D.O. always has a novelty song on their albums and ‘Devil’s Rendezvous’ sounds like something off Queen’s A NIGHT AT THE OPERA but metallic…..I keep thinking of ‘Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon’ and Freddie Mercury camping it up! Can you imagine Udo camping it up. The song is like a metallic showtune…..a throwaway for me. Things get back on track with the heavy as hell, pedal to the metal ‘Speed Demon’. Traditional Power Metal with blazing guitars, change vocalists and this could be a Primal Fear, Judas Priest or Hammerfall song…..the deulling guitars on this track are worth the price of the CD! The last song on DOMINATOR is ‘Whispers In the Dark’ and it starts with that ballad feel like ‘Stillness Of Time’ does. The song opens with a soft piano, melodic singing from Udo with soft background vocals and acoustics. Then the electric guitars kick in to bolster the sound but the song still has that sense of balladry…..I would call this a ballad more than I would ‘Stillness Of Time’. An odd way to close a heavy album.

Bottom Line:
You can always count on U.D.O. to deliver the goods and the band does it again with DOMINATOR. It’s another solid album in a long line of solid records made in the same style…..Udo Dirkschneider has been doing this for 30 years and he has stayed true to his sound. That’s what I like most about U.D.O., and DOMINATOR: you know exactly what you are going to get and the music is expertly done with high quality musicianship and songwriting. If you want solid Traditional Metal then this is the album to pick up. I followed Udo after the Accept breakup and I have been an U.D.O. fan since 1988, I always look forward to a new U.D.O. album and I rarely get disappointed. My only complaint is with the album cover (it’s terrible!) and the bonus tracks for Japan and Europe. Usually U.D.O. will include these bonus tracks on a preceding E.P. to give all the fans a chance to hear them. My copy is the U.S. version: no bonuses. No matter, DOMINATOR is easily one of my favorite releases this year.

Favorite Songs:
‘The Bogeyman’, ‘Speed Demon’, ‘Stillness Of Time’, ‘Infected’, ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’

U.D.O. – ‘Black & White’ new video available

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow Flash players so the best thing I can do here is post the link for the new U.D.O. video, ‘Black & White’, from the upcoming DOMINATOR album.

Check it out on RockTube.us — http://tinyurl.com/l7fcfv

U.D.O. – Infected E.P. (2009)

udo infected

U.D.O. – Infected E.P. (2009, AFM Records)

  1. Infected
  2. Systematic Madness (non-album track)
  3. Bodyworld (non-album track)
  4. Plachet Soldat (non-album track/remix version in Russian)
  5. Poezd Po Rossii (non-album track/live in 2008)

Band Lineup:
Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Igor Gianola – Guitars
Stefan Kaufmann – Guitars
Fitty Wienhold – Bass
Francesco Jovino – Drums

Producer: Stefan Kaufmann

Country: Germany

Total Time = 24:18

U.D.O.
U.D.O. MySpace page
AFM Records

In the last five years, U.D.O. has released three EPs to announce the coming of the band’s new full-length album. MISSION NO. X (2005) had the 24/7 E.P., MASTERCUTOR (2007) had THE WRONG SIDE OF MIDNIGHT E.P. and now the new DOMINATOR (2009) has INFECTED. The cool thing about all these EPs is that there are a lot of non-album tracks, remixes and/or bonus tracks from previous releases…..this makes the CD special for collectors and diehard fans. Now the last couple of albums I bought but I missed out on the EPs, especially THE WRONG SIDE OF MIDNIGHT, an E.P. I am still trying to track down for all the non-album tracks. INFECTED became a top priority especially when AFM Records announced that the release would be limited to 2,222 copies worldwide!

The title track is also going to be on DOMINATOR and it is a heavy as hell, speed track that sounds like classic Accept around the METAL HEART era in 1985. The whole U.D.O. sound is classic Accept so you kind of get the idea of what you’re getting. The first of two non-album (and E.P. exclusive) tracks is ‘Systematic Madness’, another song that sounds like classic Accept and/or early U.D.O. Great guitar work here and pounding drums, the song really has that fast and loud Metal sound. The second non-album track is ‘Bodyworld’, another cruncher of a song but the chorus really doesn’t fit the intensity of the music. It’s a solid modern U.D.O. song, if the rest of DOMINATOR follows these first 3 songs then it will be one of the best records of 2009!

‘Plachet Soldat’ is the Russian language version of ‘Cry Soldier Cry’ from MISSION NO. X (2005), it originally appeared in 2007 on THE WRONG SIDE OF MIDNIGHT E.P. and the Russian pressing of MASTERCUTOR but this version is a remix so it’s the 3rd version of the original song. ‘Poezd Po Rossii’ is another Russian language version of a previously recorded song, ‘Train Ride In Russia’ from 2004’s THUNDERBALL, but recorded live. It was recorded live in Russia on the Mastercutor Tour so I wonder if there are more livetracks that didn’t make last year’s live record MASTERCUTOR ALIVE.

Bottom Line:
Udo Dirkscheider decided to stay with U.D.O. rather than do an Accept reunion and I can’t say I blame him. Listening to the three new tracks on INFECTED shows that the sound of Accept is/was Udo and that some of the best Accept-style material is still flowing from U.D.O. Definitely a solid E.P. with 4 cool bonus tracks…..now we need the new record, DOMINATOR, in August to kick everything into high gear!

Favorite Songs:
I like all five songs…..the three new songs are excellent and the Russian remakes are very good.

End of vacation Mixtape

Sadly all good things must come to and end…..and so must my vacation. It’s been a great week off from work: I spent time with the family, listened to a lot of music and did a lot of things I can’t do because work gets in the way…..like sleep! I have to go back to work today at 4pm so I decided to relax in the music room and shuffle the iPod one last time to see what comes out…..

  1. Queen – ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ (1986)
  2. Starz – ‘Violation’ (1977)
  3. Dokken – ‘The Hunter’ (1985)
  4. Autograph – ‘Send Her To Me’ (1984)
  5. Journey – ‘Send Her My Love’ (1983)
  6. Judas Priest – ‘Hard As Iron’ (1988)
  7. Accept – ‘Do It’ (1980)
  8. Judas Priest – ‘Solar Angels’ (1981)
  9. Quiet Riot – ‘Twilight Hotel’ (1986)
  10. Sammy Hagar – ‘Mas Tequila’ (1999)
  11. .38 Special – ‘Wild Eyed Southern Boys’ (1981)
  12. KISS – ‘Room Service’ (1975)
  13. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘No Bone Movies’ (1980)
  14. Manowar – ‘Fighting The World’ (1987)
  15. KISS – ‘Exciter’ (1983)
  16. Tim Owens – ‘Believe’ (2009)
  17. ZZ Top – ‘T.V. Dinners’ (1983)
  18. Motley Crue – ‘Hollywood Ending’ (2000)
  19. U.D.O. – ‘Infected’ (2009)
  20. Aerosmith – ‘Last Child’ (1977)

Bonus Track: UFO – ‘Diesel In the Dust’ (1983)