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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 —

Bring Back Glam —

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. –

Hair Metal Mansion —

Hard Rock Hideout —

Hard Rock Nights —

Heavy Metal Addiction —

Heavy Metal Time Machine —

Imagine Echoes —

Layla’s Classic Rock —

Metal Odyssey —

The Ripple Effect —

Black ‘N Blue – Hell Yeah!

Black ‘N Blue – Hell Yeah! (2011, Frontiers Records)

1. Monkey … 3:54
2. Target … 4:22
3. Hail Hail … 5:22
4. Fools Bleed … 4:46
5. C’mon … 2:33
6. Jaime’s Got the Beer … 0:54
7. Angry Drunk Son of a Bitch … 3:21
8. So Long … 3:53
9. Trippin’ 45 … 0:47
10. Falling Down … 4:44
11. Candy … 4:14
12. Hell Yeah! … 3:50
13. World Goes Round … 4:25
14. A Tribute to Hawking … 1:20

Jaime St. James – Vocals
Jef “Woop” Warner – Guitar
Shawn Sonnenschein – Guitar
Patrick Young – Bass
Pete Holmes – Drums

Producer: Jef “Woop” Warner

Though they reunited in 2003, Black ‘N Blue seems to be one of few major label hair bands that never really had a full-fledged comeback back when many other hair bands were becoming popular again. Their frequency of activity has wavered over the last decade but for good reason — original guitarist Tommy Thayer was busy taking over Ace’s role in KISS while Jaime St. James spent a few years singing in Warrant. Well, it’s 2011 and Tommy is still in KISS (his replacement is Shawn Sonnenschein) but with Warrant behind him, Jaime is able to fully focus on Black ‘N Blue. Hell Yeah! is the band’s first studio album since 1988’s In Heat.

I have read that plans were being made for a new album in 2003 but with Warrant recruiting St. James, everything came to a standstill. Jaime has since said some of those initial song ideas were used to help create this album. You wouldn’t know it if the basis of some of these songs were nine year old ideas because the entirety of Hell Yeah! is unashamedly a love letter to those that grew up on ’80s glam. Jaime is in fine form on this album. I think he’s put in a better vocal performance on this album than he did on Warrant’s Born Again.

I can’t imagine any fans of ’80s rock/metal not liking this album, Black ‘N Blue fans especially. Out of the man good tracks on this album, “Fools Bleed” is absolutely my favorite. It’s a haunting and powerful mid-tempo number that sounds exactly like something out of the golden age of pop metal. It’s just good time hair metal for the most part but there is one song that leave me scratching my head… “World Goes Round”. It sticks out like a sore thumb and reminds me of something rock/pop song from the late ’90s. It sounds like something from Sugar Ray or something and just does not mix well with the rest of the album which is filled with a number of fantastic hard rockers like “Target”, “Hail Hail” and “Hell Yeah!”.

This is another great release to pick up in a year that’s already shaping up to be something special for rock music. Hopefully this band won’t take as long of a break between albums as they did between this one and In Heat!

Highlights: “Monkey”, “Target”, “Hail Hail”, “Fools Bleed”, “C’Mon”, “So Long”, “Falling Down”

Buy ‘Hell Yeah!’ at!

WARRANT – Born Again

Warrant – Born Again (2006, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Records)

1. “Devil’s Juice” … 3:28
2. “Dirty Jack” … 4:02
3. “Bourbon County Line” … 3:52
4. “Hell, CA” … 4:20
5. “Angels” … 4:33
6. “Love Strikes Like Lightning” … 3:56
7. “Glimmer” … 3:31
8. “Roller Coaster” … 2:48
9. “Down In Diamonds” … 4:00
10. “Velvet Noose” … 3:01
11. “Roxy” … 3:16
12. “Good Times” … 4:10

Jaime St. James – Lead Vocals
Joey Allen – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Erik Turner – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jerry Dixon – Bass, Backing Vocals
Steven Sweet – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Pat Regan – Keyboards

Produced by: Pat Regan

Ah, Warrant. They just can’t keep it together, can they? Musically, throughout their entire career, they’ve done fine, but as far as keeping the “classic” lineup going (the lineup that gave us the classic hair metal albums Dirty Rotten Stinking Filthy Rich and Cherry Pie), it’s been quite a struggle.

In 2006, the “classic” reunion almost happened. The version of Warrant that enjoyed the most commercial success just missed getting back together. In January of that year, singer Jani Lane left the band and the following month “classic” members Joey Allen and Steven Sweet rejoined. Coincidence? Or conspiracy? I seem to remember some rumors swirling around that the one thing that kept Joey and Steven from ever rejoining the band was the fact that Jani was still in it. So he was out, and in very short order, they were both back in.

Enter former Black ‘n Blue vocalist Jaime St. James and a new album was fast tracked. It was great news to me to know a new Warrant album was coming because with Jani at the helm, despite the fact that he was/is a great songwriter, Warrant seemed content to merely be a nostalgia act and to do hair band package tours in the Summer. They never went fully in on the early 2000s hair metal resurgence and it never made sense to me when they didn’t join in and do a reunion/new album like many of their peers had done. I’m sure Jani’s alcohol problems go a long way in explaining just why it didn’t happen though.

To the music at hand, despite my anticipation for a Warrant album, I wasn’t sure if Born Again was going to be any good at all. As I said above, Jani’s a great writer and he was the lead creative force in the band, but founding members Jerry Dixon and Erik Turner (and St. James to an extent) really stepped up and delivered one of the 2006’s most surprising and pleasant rock albums.

It’s not really retro, the band doesn’t attempt to capture past glories, but it still has a cool old school hard rock feel. The album doesn’t sound outdated, but it doesn’t sound like a lame attempt to sound modern either. It’s a little more dirty, raw and bluesy than anything Warrant has done before. Sounds like a bit of St. James’ Black ‘n Blue influence has worn off on the band.

A good effort from a band that I was ready to write off. There’s definite promise in them post-Lane and that fact would become ever more important after Lane rejoined the group and lasted all of nine months in 2008 when he was ousted again due to alcohol abuse.

I hope Jani really pulls it together, his non-Warrant projects are solid, so I know he’ll at least musically be fine without Warrant but I’m also looking forward to seeing what Dixon & Turner wild do next with ex-Lynch Mob/current Big Cock vocalist Robert Mason up front (Jaime St. James has since reunited Black ‘n Blue).

Highlights: “Devil’s Juice”, “Dirty Jack”, “Bourbon County Line”, “Hell, CA”, “Angels”, “Love Strikes Like Lightning”, “Roxy”

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