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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/

Black Country Communion – 2

Black Country Communion – 2 (2011, J&R Adventures)

1. “The Outsider” … 4:23
2. “Man In The Middle” … 4:35
3. “The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall” … 5:11
4. “Save Me” … 7:43
5. “Smokestack Woman” … 5:10
6. “Faithless” … 5:12
7. “An Ordinary Son” … 7:59
8. “I Can See Your Spirit” … 4:12
9. “Little Secret” … 6:59
10. “Crossfire” … 6:03
11. “Cold” … 6:55

Band:
Glenn Hughes – Lead Vocals, Bass, Backing Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals (“The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall”, “An Ordinary Son”)
Jason Bonham – Drums, Percussion
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards

Producer: Kevin Shirley

Now this is how you do it! Black Country Communion is a band that is cranking out albums with old school pacing — only nine months have passed since they released their debut! How long will we have to wait until the third album?

In comparison to the self-titled debut, 2 is “more of the same” and that’s not a bad thing at all. The band continues with the same classic hard rock style from last year that makes use of blues-rock and a Led Zeppelin influence. Speaking of Led Zeppelin, the influence is even more apparent on 2 — Jason Bonham is pounding away just as his dad did and there are Middle Eastern influences sprinkled throughout thanks to the keyboards. If “I Can See Your Spirit” and “Save Me” aren’t worthy of being a Zeppelin songs I don’t know what is. In the case of “Save Me”,  it just so happens it’s the only song on the album that all four members of the band wrote together.

The Middle Eastern touches also remind me of early Rainbow and alternately there are times when Sherinian does a fine job of making you think you were listening to Deep Purple. But obviously these are all top notch musicians. Joe isn’t just a great blues guitarist, he’s a great ROCK guitarist, Jason is too good to have spent most of his life as a journeyman drummer, Derek shines on this album more so than on the debut and Glenn Hughes still hasn’t lost his touch. I know that Glenn can be an acquired taste but when the guy is singing no-frills hard rock such as this, I can’t see how you can’t be impressed. Definitely one of the best vocalists alive today.

Of course, it isn’t ALL classic rock. Joe Bonamassa has almost been on equal ground with Hughes when it comes to the songwriting in this band. On the songs that Joe actually sings, it really sounds a lot similar to his solo material. “The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall” and “An Ordinary Son” would’ve easily fit on his latest album Dust Bowl.

It’s being said that this album is a “grower” but I felt the original was that way too. It took me about 2-3 spins before I really got into this album but once I did I knew it was great. The album clocks in at sixty-four minutes with the songs averaging about six minutes a piece but it’s well worth the investment to take the time and listen.

Hughes was crowing about how much better this album was than the debut and that BCC now truly feels like a real band. Well, I agree BCC does feel like a real band now but I think the debut is slightly better. Still, this album receives a definite thumbs up from me and here’s hoping BCC continues on after this album/tour.

Highlights: “Man In The Middle”, “Save Me”, “Smokestack Woman”, “Faithless”, “I Can See Your Spirit”, “Cold”

http://www.bccommunion.com/
http://www.facebook.com/bccommunion

Order ‘2’ at Amazon.com!

The Metal Excess Awards: 2010 Edition

I’m really surprised by how many albums I enjoyed this year. I have a pitiful memory so I had to go back through my blog to remind myself what came out this year but I was floored when my Top 10 list was changed to a Top 20 list, then to a Top 30 list! I knocked it back down to a Top 25 list to make it seem a tiny bit more exclusive.

If you haven’t checked out any of these 25 albums, I wholeheartedly recommend you do so. 2010 was an amazing year for rock & metal, much MUCH better than 2009. I don’t see how 2011 can compete!

I’ll keep it short and sweet with my awards. As always, check the links for full reviews.

Best Albums of 2010

1. Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare
2. Buckcherry – All Night Long
3. Scorpions – Sting in the Tail
4. Halford – Made of Metal
5. Slash – s/t
6. Black Country Communion – s/t
7. Avantasia – Angel of Babylon
8. Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony
9. Accept – Blood of the Nations
10. Hinder – All American Nightmare
11. Jettblack – Get Your Hands Dirty
12. Reckless Love – s/t
13. Bad City – Welcome to the Wasteland
14. Stone Temple Pilots – s/t
15. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
16. Krokus – Hoodoo
17. Helloween – 7 Sinners
18. Sister Sin – True Sound of the Underground
19. My Darkest Days – s/t
20. Stereoside – s/t
21. Y&T – Facemelter
22. Danko Jones – Below The Belt
23. Grave Digger – The Clans Will Rise Again
24. Jon Oliva’s Pain – Festival
25. Ratt – Infestation

Top Cover Albums

Seems like every year a few established artists like to cover a few *other* established artists, not to mention all those various tribute albums that small labels will slap together. Well, here’s my official ranking of the three cover albums I bothered to listen to this year. Luckily, all three albums were good fun and I think they all deserve another mention.

1. Jorn – Dio
2. Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila
3. Joe Elliott’s Down ‘N’ Outz – My ReGeneration Vol. 1

Top Live Albums

Again, I don’t buy a lot of live albums, but here’s how I rank what I listened to this year.

1. Dio – Dio at Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987
2. Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell – Live In Europe
3. Megadeth – Rust In Peace Live
4. The Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live in Tokyo

Top EPs

1. Razorwyre – Coming Out
2. Skull Fist – Heavier Than Metal
3. DesDemon – The Awakening

Most Disappointing Albums

1. Ratt – Infestation
The album was good, don’t get me wrong. It landed at #25 on my Best Of list for Dio’s sake! But… most of the songs had trouble living up to the promise of “Eat Me Up Alive” and “Best Of Me”.

2. Armored Saint – La Raza
A bland album from a band that has done so much better. They seemed to be going through the motions (to which John Bush has basically admitted in regards to himself). Symbol of Salvation this ain’t.

3. White Wizzard – Over The Top
The High Speed GTO EP garnered this group a lot of hype and buzz. We all fell for it, I know reviews for this album have been positive and it’s not bad but I expected more. Hopefully a second album will get these guys where they need to be.

4. Raven – Walk Through Fire
The terrible cover art should’ve tipped me off that this album was nothing special.

 

Check out these other sites for even more lists and year-end awards:

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

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

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

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

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.wordpress.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/

The Metal Minute — http://rayvanhornjr.blogspot.com/

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

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

 

Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion

Black Country Communion [CD/DVD Edition] (2010, J&R Adventures)

1. “Black Country” … 3:15
2. “One Last Soul” … 3:52
3. “The Great Divide” … 4:45
4. “Down Again” … 5:46
5. “Beggarman” … 4:52
6. “Song of Yesterday” … 8:33
7. “No Time” … 4:19
8. “Medusa” … 6:57
9. “The Revolution in Me” … 4:59
10. “Stand (At the Burning Tree)” … 7:02
11. “Sista Jane” … 6:55
12. “Too Late for the Sun” …. 11:21

Band:
Glenn Hughes – Lead Vocals, Bass, Backing Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Jason Bonham – Drums, Percussion
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards

Producer: Kevin Shirley

BCC is one of the year’s best surprises for me. I like Hughes, I like Bonham but even when I heard about this band getting together and it wasn’t anything for me to get excited over. I love Glenn Hughes’ voice but other than Deep Purple and the one Black Sabbath album he did, the music he’s been a part of has never really impressed me. Nothing terrible just nothing that stood out and with him fronting the band and seemingly the leader of the group as well, I was afraid BCC would venture into the “unremarkable” category.

Not so! As Hughes himself has said this album is a “traditional classic rock record with a modern twist”. I definitely agree. Many of these songs would sound right at home on your local classic rock radio station, other than the production, some of these songs you wouldn’t even be able to tell they were new! That’s a huge compliment in my opinion. BCC is a complete throwback to the hard working British bluesy hard rock bands of the ’70s, which isn’t a surprise considering the members. The only oddball seems to be Sherinian, who I am only familiar with through Dream Theater and the various session/touring work he has done. Didn’t realize a band like this would be his kind of thing.

Hughes sounds just as powerful as ever. His performance on “The Great Divide” is my favorite on this album. The production is great and gives off a nice meaty sound and the funk/blues influences you would expect from a Hughes/Bonamassa collaboration is all there. Despite Classic Rock magazine’s constant hype for Bonamassa, I’ve never listened to him. He’s primarily a blues artist but this guy can really rock out, he does a fantastic job all throughout the album and even handles lead vocals on “Song of Yesterday” (a classic rock epic if there ever was one) and “The Revolution In Me” while sharing vocals with Glenn on “Sista Jan” and “Too Late for the Sun”.

There’s no reason for anyone who is a classic rock fan to NOT own this album. The album is worth picking up for “One Last Soul” and “The Great Divide” alone. Unfortunately, at least as far as the mainstream and commercial outlets are concerned, this album has gone unnoticed in the States but has done pretty well in the UK. Easily another one of the year’s best albums and I’m glad Hughes has already stated he is working on album Number Two right now. Forget Chickenfoot, this is a “supergroup” that can actually turn in a great album!

I’m not sure if this is a “limited” edition or not but my copy from Amazon came with a DVD that features a music video, photos and interviews. It runs about 40 minutes, that’s a pretty good deal. Sometimes these DVDs that get thrown in are only 15-20 minutes of material. Truth be told, I haven’t watched it yet but because I like this album so much, I’ll probably pop in it in the DVD player soon.

Highlights: “Black Country”, “One Last Soul”, “The Great Divide”, “Down Again”, “Song of Yesterday”, “Sista Jane”, “Too Late for the Sun”

http://www.bccommunion.com/
http://www.facebook.com/bccommunion
http://www.myspace.com/bccommunion

Buy Black Country Communion (CD/DVD) at Amazon.com

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