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Metal Excess Awards: The Best of 2015

 

 

 

  • Most Anticipated Releases for 2016
    Megadeth – Dystopia
    Avantasia – Ghostlights
    Anthrax – For All Kings
    Bon Jovi – This House Is Not For Sale
    Avenged Sevenfold
    Metallica
    Sixx:A.M.
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Metal Excess Awards: The Best of 2014 List

Okay, I’m calling it. I tried to listen to as many releases from 2014 as I could by the end of January 2015 in order to make my best of list. There’s still a number of albums I want to listen to that were released last year, but I’m pretty confident in the list I’ve come up with. If you want more details on the albums, click on the link!

Top 15 Albums of 2014
1. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
2. Steel Panther – All You Can Eat
3. Allen/Lande – The Great Divide
4. Riot V – Unleash the Fire
5. Wolf – Devil Seed
6. Ace Frehley – Space Invader
7. Michael Sweet – I’m Not Your Suicide
8. Edguy – Space Police: Defenders of the Crown
9. AC/DC – Rock or Bust
10. Crazy Lixx – Crazy Lixx
11. Bloodbound – Stormborn
12. Loudlion – Die Tough
13. Winger – Better Days Comin’
14. Mike Tramp – Museum
15. Fozzy – Do You Wanna Start a War

Best Live Albums
1. Scorpions – MTV Unplugged
2. Whitesnake – Live in ’84: Back to the Bone
3. Dio – Live in London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993

Best EPs
1. Buckcherry – Fuck
2. Buckcherry – The Covers: Volume I
3. Skid Row – Rise of the Damnation Army: United World Rebellion, Chapter Two

Best Compilation/Cover Album
Various Artists – Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life

Most Anticipated Releases of 2015
(Bands confirmed or rumored to be releasing new music.)
Alice Cooper
Anthrax
Black Sabbath
Bon Jovi
Def Leppard
Guns N’ Roses
Megadeth
Metallica
Motley Crue
Scorpions – Return to Forever
Stryper
Venom – From the Very Depths
W.A.S.P. – Golgotha
Whitesnake

Metal Excess Awards 2013

2013 was an interesting year for rock/metal. Some bands delivered more than I expected them to (Stryper, Bon Jovi, Mike Tramp), a few disappointed me (Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold, De La Cruz) and some confirmed my suspicions that they shouldn’t have released an album at all (Black Sabbath… okay, it was good but it seemed derivative of their past works).

Overall, it was a bit of a slow year for me as I focused a lot on listening to old favorites rather than having an interest in checking out and reviewing some of the latest releases.

Best Albums of 2013
1. Buckcherry – Confessions
2. Stryper – No More Hell to Pay
3. Bon Jovi – What About Now
4. Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes
5. The Poodles – Tour de Force
6. Avantasia – The Mystery of Time
7. Reckless Love – Spirit
8. Megadeth – Super Collider
9. Jorn – Traveller
10. Mike Tramp – Cobblestone Street

Best Live Albums
1. Whitesnake – Made In Britain / The World Record
2. Dio – Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986
3. Def Leppard – Viva! Hysteria
4. Whitesnake – Made In Japan
5. Great White – 30 Years: Live from the Sunset Strip

Best EPs
1. Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington – High Rise
2. The 69 Eyes – Love Runs Away
3. Skid Row – United World Rebellion: Chapter One

Best Compilation/Cover Albums
1. Stryper – Second Coming
2. Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped in Red
3. Buckcherry – The Best of Buckcherry
4. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Upon the Winter Solstice
5. Jorn – Symphonic

Most Anticipated New Releases for 2014
Alice Cooper
Judas Priest
Motley Crue
Sebastian Bach
Whitesnake

R.I.P. Sammi Curr (1947 – 1986)

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Sammi Curr
1947 – 1986

One metal legend that I’ve never really discussed has been “Rock’s Chosen Warrior” — Sammi Curr.  A former student at Lakeridge High School, Sammi’s aspirations went higher than being stuck in his small town. It’s no secret that Sammi was an angry young man growing up. He cared little for authority and used his rebellious nature to propel himself to the top of the heavy metal heap in the mid-1980s. With his dangerous attitude and shock rock antics, he became a rock icon, a living legend, and amassed a large loyal teenage fanbase.

Sammi was a controversial figure during his time. While popular with teenagers, his music, lyrics and stage show were extremely controversial with parents, schools, politicians and members of the religious community. In a time when bands like Megadeth, W.A.S.P. and Motley Crue ruled the airwaves, it was Sammi Curr that felt the wrath of the media and concerned citizens the most.

That’s not to say that Sammi didn’t encourage the controversy though. Ego was another driving factor for Curr. He thrived on the adoration of his young fans and on the hatred of his detractors. Like many rock stars, Sammi wanted the attention and he lived the image of the “bad boy” to its fullest. You can’t drink blood straight from a snake’s mouth onstage and not expect some people to get up in arms about it.

Spending the majority of his music career signed to Waste City Records, some of Curr’s most loved (and despised) songs are “Trick or Treat”, “Fuck With Fire”, “Burn in Metal” and “Torture’s Too Kind”. It was in those last three songs that he used the technique of backmasking. Whether done for fun and as a gimmick or if there was a more sinister intention there, I don’t know. There are many who will argue either side.

In October 1986, Sammi petitioned to play a free concert at his old high school’s Halloween dance. He was denied this opportunity by the PTA and died just days before Halloween, under mysterious circumstances, in a hotel fire.

Sammi’s final album was to be called Songs in the Key of Death but it has never been released to the public in its entirety. The demos were set to debut on a local radio station in Sammi’s hometown at midnight on Halloween (per Sammi’s request) in 1986 but there was a malfunction with the broadcast. The demos have since gone missing.

Sammi Curr lived fast and died young. Perhaps for someone him, there was no other way.

“You cannot legislate morality, or music, or people’s minds… or we’ll bring you down, man!” – Sammi Curr

Metal Excess Awards 2012

Despite 2012 being a year where a number of major classic rock acts reappeared with new albums (KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith), I was slightly disappointed with the rock scene overall. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I’ve listened to less music in 2012 than I have compared to the previous 5 years or so. Whether it’s because I’m getting too old or getting too busy, I didn’t sit down and listen to or write about as much music as I have since I started this blog a few years back. I haven’t been paying attention to the world of hard rock & heavy metal as I should have. Forgive me. Maybe I can make up for it in 2013.
Anyway, here’s my contribution to the millions of “Best of 2012” lists that are already all over the internet!
Best Albums of 2012
As I said, 2012 didn’t seem like an incredibly bright year for rock releases but that doesn’t mean I’m knocking some of the cream of the crop. Rick Springfield (of all people!) delivered a classic album that I just had to give the #1 spot based on how much I played it. My Darkest Days had yet another incredibly strong release. Other than Hess at #7, the rest of the top 10 is made up of veteran artists who know how to get the job done.
1.Rick Springfield – Songs for the End of the World
2. My Darkest Days – Sick and Twisted Affair
3. KISS – Monster
4. Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
5. Aerosmith – Songs from Another Dimension!
6. Adler – Back From The Dead
7. Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage
8. Hess – Living In Yesterday
9. Slash – Apocalyptic Love
10. Dokken – Broken Bones
11. Great White – Elation
12. Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown
13. Jorn – Bring Heavy Rock to the Land
14. Jack Blades – Rock ‘N’ Roll Ride
15. Trixter – New Audio Machine
16. Lita Ford – Living Like a Runaway
17. Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue
18. Hinder – Welcome to the Freak Show
19. Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint
20. The Morning After – Legacy
21. Heart – Fanatic
22. Accept – Stalingrad
23. Papa Roach – The Connection
23. Zerokings – Kings of Self Destruction
24. Primal Fear – Unbreakable
25. Fozzy – Sin and Bones

Missed Them in 2012…

These are releases from 2012 that I’ve heard some songs from but I haven’t listened to the entire album yet. I wouldn’t have felt right trying to place them on the list without having heard the complete album. Look for reviews of these albums soon.

* Danko Jones – Rock and Roll is Black and Blue
* Black Country Communion – Afterglow
* L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever (from what I’ve heard, this probably would’ve made my Top 10)
* Jettblack – Raining Rock
* The Last Vegas – Bad Decisions
* Ian Gillan & Tony Iommi: WhoCares
* Overkill – The Electric Age
* T & N – Slave to the Empire
* Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Session EP

Best EP/Compilation/Cover/Singles

The “everything else” category.

1. Richard Marx – Christmas Spirit
2. Dio – The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2
3. Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby
4. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – This Christmas
5. TSO – Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) EP
6. Dee Snider – Dee Does Broadway
7. Buckcherry – “Gluttony” [single]
8. Motley Crue – “Sex” [single]
9. Wildstreet – “Easy Does It” [single]

Most Anticipated in 2013

Judas Priest:   Slated for sometime in 2013, this is easily the most anticipated album for me. I’m looking forward to and hoping Priest will deliver a classic sounding metal album and forget about overblown concept records. It’s just a shame KK Downing isn’t along for the ride but I think having some young blood in Priest might actually help push them to be heavier, harder and faster. The same thing happened when Scott Travis joined the band. I’d still love to see Downing come back at some point though. Why not have six members of Judas Priest?

Buckcherry – Confessions (Feb. 19): The lead single “Gluttony” has already been released and I’m really enjoying it. These guys do not disappoint.

My Darkest Days (fall): These guys have released two of my favorite albums from the last few years and are already writing for a follow up to last year’s Sick and Twisted Affair with a new studio album in the fall. I’m hoping the recent departure of guitarist Sal Costa wouldn’t delay the release.

Avenged Sevenfold: No timetable for a new album other than 2013. The band is supposedly going to begin recording this month.

Motley Crue: Another “sometime in 2013″ release. The question is — LP or EP? Vince Neil has mentioned it will be an EP and that’s more in line with what Tommy Lee has stated he’d like for the band to release from now on. Nikki Sixx has been referring to the next Crue release as an “album”, so I guess we’ll see. The single they released in the summer (“Sex”) was decent and seems to fit in with the modern rock turn Crue has taken since 2005.

Black Sabbath: Originally meant for 2012, all kinds of legal issues and drama have slowed this one down. Pretty stupid if they don’t end up pulling Bill Ward in but I’m interested just because I’m a fan of Iommi & Butler. In fact, bring back Ward and get rid of Ozzy and I’d feel even better about this reunion album. My preference is still for Iommi & Butler to form a new band with either Tony Martin (long shot), Jorn Lande, Ian Gillan or Glenn Hughes.

Megadeth: I dunno… Megadeth is one of my all-time favorite bands so I’m always interested but with each release I’m finding less and less to like. Yes, they are getting heavier and faster. Perhaps they are the heaviest and fastest they’ve ever been but Dave seems to be forsaking melody to do it. Seems like he’d rather go off on political rants and conspiracy theories than write memorable songs.

AC/DC: One of those bands that myself & radio have played out to the point where I’m kinda numb to them. But, Black Ice was far better than I ever imagined it could be so I’m definitely interested in new music. This past spring Malcolm Young said a new album would be out in a “year or two”. Here’s hoping it’ll be released in 2013.

Tom Keifer (spring) – I’m a big fan of Cinderella. People have been asking for a new Cinderella album for over 10 years now. I’m not sure why Tom would decide to a solo release instead but I’m not going to complain.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan said they were planning a new release. Hopefully they follow through!

Anthrax: I think it was Joey Belladonna who stated in interview this past summer than they wanted to release something new in 2013.

Hardcore Superstar – C’mon Take On Me (March 1)

Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (January 8): I surprisingly enjoyed their last album. Looking forward to hearing whether they’ve kept the same sound or going even more glam/power metal than before.

Crashdiet – The Savage Playground (late January)

Bon Jovi – What About Now (March 26): I’m not a fan of the lead single, “Because We Can”. I actually haven’t been a fan of the last few albums either but I was optimistic because I liked all four new songs they released with the deluxe version of their latest greatest hits compilation. I can’t help but get excited when a new Bon Jovi album is coming out but I would not be surprised if this album was only good for a ballad or two.

Mark Reale (1955 – 2012)

On Wednesday, January 26, 2012, the metal world suffered a great loss. Mark Reale, the guitarist, founding member & driving force behind Riot, passed away due to complications from his life-long battle with Crohn’s disease. He had been in a coma for the past two weeks after suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

An official statement from the surviving members of Riot (Tony Moore, Mike Flyntz, Don Van Stavern & Bobby Jarzombek):

“To friends and fans of Mark Reale and Riot, we are deeply saddened to confirm that Mark has lost his battle with a lifelong illness. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated by Mark’s family, friends, and bandmates at this difficult time.”

This is really shocking news to me. I was aware that Mark was suffering from Crohn’s disease and had been hospitalized, but I did not know he actually entered into a coma and had a brain hemorrhage.

His contributions to the world of hard rock & heavy metal are immeasurable in my opinion. Despite Riot’s line-up changes over the years, and the shift in styles from hard rock to NWOBHM to power metal to Celtic influences to southern hard rock to melodic rock, Mark was always the driving force and the one constant.

It was only in the last few years that I got into Riot but I was blown away once I started buying their albums and I quickly acquired the entire catalog. They never released a bad album. Riot’s constant shift in styles was a double-edge sword though. They did so well at playing numerous styles of rock/metal, and I enjoyed the variety, but it probably kept more casual fans at bay and prevented them from ever gaining a large following. Albums like Fire Down Under (universally agreed to be their best), Thundersteel, Born in America, Restless Breed and even last year’s Immortal Soul are absolute CLASSICS.

I do not know where Riot goes from here or if there even is anywhere for them to go. Mark & Riot have soldiered on through various line-up changes and styles since 1975. They’ve even had to deal with two previous deaths. Former vocalist Rhett Forester was killed during a carjacking in 1994 and original vocalist Guy Speranza died of cancer in 2003. With Mark’s passing, there are no more original Riot members left in the band. And to me, Mark was Riot.

Neither Reale nor Riot ever really got the credit or success they deserved. While the loss of Mark is a tragic tale for his fans, friends & family hopefully some good can come out of this and people will be compelled to look back into the Riot catalog and realize just how talented and consistent the man has been since the 1970s.

My condolences to all of Mark’s friends and family during this tough time. Rest in peace, brother. Your suffering is over and I thank you for all the years of great music you gave the world. You will be missed.

http://www.riotrockcity.com
http://www.facebook.com/riotrockcity
http://metalexcess.com/category/riot/ 

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Upcoming Reviews…

Be on the lookout for reviews for Slash’s new live album, the new Eric Carr anthology and the latest from Riot!

Rock Blocked

I’ve been listening to so much holiday music lately I haven’t had much time for rock ‘n’ roll! Hoping to change that soon and start posting more reviews!

Trimming the Fat: Metallica’s Load & ReLoad

 

Quite some time ago I took a look at Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums, took the best tracks and laid out what I thought one single album should’ve looked like (never mind there is a UYI compilation… mine is better). Well, I’m here to do that again.

The subject? Metallica. The albums? Load and ReLoad.

The original plan was for Load to be a double album but with some songs coming along slower than others, this idea was scrapped. The 14-track Load was released in June 1996 while the band continued to work on the remaining songs and released them as ReLoad (13-tracks and essentially “Disc 2” of Load) in November 1997.

Both albums are completely filled with, er, um… filler. Too many tracks, too many long tracks. Load is nearly 79 minutes. ReLoad is 76 minutes. Both albums are WAY TOO LONG.

I know it’s fashionable online to bash anything and everything this band has done since 1991 (even 1988 if you’re particularly grouchy) but mid/late ’90s Metallica wasn’t too bad. Were they card carrying members of the Metal Militia anymore? Absolutely not but that doesn’t mean they weren’t able to spit out a few good hard rock numbers… even if those songs did have a southern rock and/or alternative vibe. Corrosion of Conformity, anyone? What is too bad is that Metallica thought they were onto something so special that they felt they needed 2 albums, 27 tracks and 2.5 hours to tell their tale.

I give you the “Metal Excess Cut”:

Loaded: The Very Best of Load & ReLoad

Fuel
Ain’t My Bitch
King Nothing
Devil’s Dance
The Unforgiven II
Bleeding Me
Slither
The Memory Remains
Hero of the Day
Until It Sleeps
Fixxxer

Of course I profess no great skill when it comes to sequencing the tracks, so you mileage may vary, but I will not budge on “Fixxxer” being the closer.

So there you have it. I think these 11 tracks are really the only ones worth listening to from Load & ReLoad and with a running time of a little over 60 minutes, it may still be a tad lengthy but certainly better than nearly 80 minutes!

Buy ‘Load’ at Amazon.com

Buy ‘ReLoad’ at Amazon.com

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