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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/

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Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (2011, RCA Records/Roswell Records)

1. “Bridge Burning” … 4:47
2. “Rope” … 4:19
3. “Dear Rosemary” … 4:26
4. “White Limo” … 3:22
5. “Arlandria” … 4:28
6. “These Days” … 4:58
7. “Back & Forth” … 3:52
8. “A Matter of Time” … 4:36
9. “Miss the Misery” … 4:33
10. “I Should Have Known” … 4:16
11. “Walk” … 4:16

Band:
Dave Grohl – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Pat Smear – Guitar
Chris Shiflett – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Nate Mendel – Bass
Taylor Hawkins – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Bob Mould – Guitar, Backing vocals (“Dear Rosemary”)
Krist Novoselic – Bass, Accordion (“I Should Have Known”)
Rami Jaffee – Keyboards, Mellotron, Organ (“Bridge Burning”, “Rope”, “I Should Have Known”, “Walk”)

Producer: Butch Vig & Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl has got to be one of the hardest working guys in music. If he isn’t recording or touring with Foo Fighters, he’s got some other side project going on. I’ve always felt Foo Fighters were a good band. One of the best to spring out the ’90s in fact, but alternative rock isn’t even close to being a much-loved genre of mine so despite owning There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999), One By One (2002) and the exhausting double disc In Your Honor (2005) I was never a HUGE fan. Though they weren’t bad albums, I began to lose my interest with the two albums following There Is Nothing Left to Lose so I didn’t even bother to pick up 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace.

So why did I pick up Wasting Light? Purely by chance I caught the music video (YES — music video) on VH1 (YES — VH1) for “Rope” the Monday before the album’s release. I’ve always felt FF did a really good job at writing quirky yet catchy hard rock songs and “Rope” was no exception. I couldn’t get it out of my head so I ran to the computer to check out some reviews where I ran across one of my usual review sites and they said it was their best and most focused album yet. High praise considering their first three albums were all very well received.

While there are a few songs that fall flat with me (“Dear Rosemary”, “White Limo”) for the most part this is the catchy alternative hard rock that the Foo Fighters are known for. “Rope” is classic Foo, “Back & Forth” is one of the band’s better commercial sounding songs and “Arlandria” is near and dear to my own heart since I am a Virginia boy just like Grohl and “I Should Have Known” is a ballad that has got to be one of the band’s better songs.

If you’ve never been impressed by the Foo Fighters, this album won’t win you over. But for the already converted? This is a much welcome return to form, so to speak. It certainly has reaffirmed my faith in the band and has got to be one of 2011’s best releases.

Highlights: “Rope”, “Arlandria”, “Back & Forth”, “Miss The Misery”, “I Should Have Known”, “Walk”

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

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 – Music From and Inspired By

Mission: Impossible 2 – Music From and Inspired By (2000, Hollywood Records)

1. “Take a Look Around” – Limp Bizkit … 5:20
2. “I Disappear” – Metallica … 4:26
3. “Scum of the Earth” – Rob Zombie … 2:55
4. “They Came In” – Butthole Surfers … 4:42
5. “Rocket Science” – The Pimps … 3:30
6. “Have a Cigar” – Foo Fighters & Brian May … 4:02
7. “Mission 2000” – Chris Cornell … 3:42
8. “Goin’ Down” – Godsmack … 3:23
9. “What ‘Chu Lookin’ At?” – Uncle Kracker … 5:11
10. “Backwards” – Apartment 26 … 3:09
11. “Karma” – Diffuser … 3:16
12. “Alone” – Buckcherry …3:23
13. “Immune” – Tinfed … 3:49
14. “My Kinda Scene” – Powderfinger … 4:26
15. “Carnival” – Tori Amos … 4:18
16. “Nyah” – Hans Zimmer & Heitor Pereira … 3:32

Ordered this one online for dirt cheap all because I wanted the Metallica and Buckcherry songs that were exclusive to this album.

A number of singles were released from this album: Limp Bizkit’s “Take a Look Around” (a rap-metal reworking of the Mission: Impossible theme), “I Disappear” and the Foo Fighters/Brian May cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” spring to mind. The local radio stations seemed to be all over the Limp Bizkit single (it was 2000, after all, and rap-metal was all the rage) and “I Disappear” received substantial play as well.

I love “I Disappear”. I think it’s one of Metallica’s best songs. Sure it’s not heavy metal but it’s a great hard rock tune and whenever I heard it on the radio I felt compelled to drive faster. Maybe the music video of James Hetfield speeding around had something to do with that!

Once again showing myself becoming ever more the completist, Buckcherry’s “Alone” is what truly made me decide to buy this album. I didn’t even realize they were on this soundtrack until recently and the song is exclusive to this soundtrack so I had to own this. It’s a pretty good tune, not a career highlight for the band, but I like it and it’s a lot better than most of the songs here.

As you can tell by looking at the artists involved, this is mostly an alternative rock/metal album with most acts turning in the usual generic songs that has come to be expected from soundtracks. Chris Cornell’s “Mission 2000” is decent and despite the title, it’s not some type of remix or variation on the M:I theme — it’s a new, harder version of the song “Mission” which was on his excellent Euphoria Morning solo debut from the year previous.

To be honest, most of this soundtrack is garbage but I only spent a few bucks and got out of it what I expected to get out of it so I guess it’s not a total loss.

Highlights: “I Disappear”, “Have a Cigar”, “Mission 2000”, “Alone”

SLASH – Slash

Slash (2010, EMI Label Services/Dik Hayd Records)

1. “Ghost” … 3:34
2. “Crucify the Dead” … 4:04
3. “Beautiful Dangerous” … 4:35
4. “Back from Cali” … 3:35
5. “Promise” … 4:41
6. “By the Sword” … 4:50
7. “Gotten” … 5:05
8. “Doctor Alibi” … 3:07
9. “Watch This Dave” … 3:46
10. “I Hold On” … 4:10
11. “Nothing to Say” … 5:27
12. “Starlight” … 5:35
13. “Saint is a Sinner Too” … 3:28
14. “We’re All Gonna Die” … 4:30

Musicians:
Slash – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass (Track 9)
Lemmy Kilmister – Vocals, Bass (Track 8 )
Chris Chaney – Bass (Tracks 1-8, 10-14)
Dave Grohl – Drums (Track 9)
Josh Freese – Drums (Tracks 1-8, 10, 11, 13, 14)
Leonard Castro – Percussion (Tracks 1, 3-7, 10, 14)
Izzy Stradlin – Guitar (Track 1)
Eric Valentine – Piano, Keyboards
Ian Astbury – Vocals (Track 1)
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals (Track 2)
Fergie – Vocals (Track 3)
Myles Kennedy – Vocals (Tracks 4 & 12)
Chris Cornell – Vocals (Track 5)
Andrew Stockdale – Vocals (Track 6)
Adam Levine – Vocals (Track 7)
Kid Rock – Vocals (Track 10)
M. Shadows – Vocals (Track 11)
Rocco DeLuca – Vocals (Track 12)
Iggy Pop – Vocals (Track 13)

Producer: Eric Valentine

Well, it’s finally here: “Slash & Friends” (the original working title for this project). The few reviews I’ve read are mixed. Some “fans” were crying out that it sucked and Slash had sold-out before it was even released and now that it has been released typically those same “fans” are still saying it sucks and Slash is a sell out. Then you have Classic Rock magazine, who has claimed it’s the first great rock album of the decade. This might sound like mighty fine praise to some but given that the album was released in April 2010 the statement seems less impressive and sounds more like hyperbole to help promote an album they have a vested interest in (the album was a free UK-exclusive gift with a special Slash-themed issue of Classic Rock).

For my money ($7.99 + free shipping from BestBuy.com!), this is indeed a great album and I don’t really get the “sell out” criticisms. Why is he a sell out? Because a GIRL sings on this album? Fergie has a great voice for rock ‘n’ roll and she proves it on “Beautiful Dangerous”. If anything, I can see maybe cries of selling out coming from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine singing “Gotten”. It’s a decent song but if I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a Maroon 5 song. Not much rock to it at all other than the solo. Then again, Slash has always flirted with pop stars. He’s a guy that doesn’t like to pigeon hole himself and goes to play with whoever wherever he thinks he’ll have fun. Nothing wrong with that. He’s not a sellout, he’s just not close-minded.

For the most part, it seems like every song was written with that song’s particular singer in mind. I know Slash already had ideas for songs before enlisting the troops but I’m also sure the songs were tailored to suit the vocalists. “Ghost” sounds like The Cult, “Crucify the Dead” sounds like the best Ozzy song in the last decade at least, “Promise” sounds like something Chris Cornell would have done in Audioslave, “Nothing to Say” could have been on Avenged Sevenfold’s last album and so on and so on. In a way, this is somewhat disappointing for those that were looking forward to a bluesier guitar hero effort or for something similar to Guns N’ Roses from Slash. There is NOTHING here that brings to mind anything GNR has done. I’m okay with that but maybe some backlash stems from people wanting Slash to have delivered something more akin to the original GNR since Axl has moved the hired Guns into heavier more industrial terrain.

Slash claims this is a rock album and for the most part he’s right but songs like “Gotten” and “Saint is a Sinner Too” are pure pop that I can’t imagine Slash would be playing without the chosen vocalists. I was worried myself when I saw the guest list for this album. The participants just seem so over the place I thought it would all be a big mess. Definitely not the case and there’s a surprisingly low amount of filler with the two Myles Kennedy songs “Back from Cali” and “Starlight” being the only ones that really fall short with me. Kennedy is from the band Alter Bridge and he’s the only singer that has two songs and I’m sure it’s because he’s the singer for Slash’s touring band while promoting this album.

Everything else is decent at the very least while “Nothing to Say” featuring Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows and the album’s lead “By the Sword” featuring Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale are my favorites. “By the Sword” has a cool Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd classic hard rock sound to it.

Despite Slash’s insistence that this is a rock album, there’s a bit of genre jumping and he dips his feet (fret?) into the pop realm but it’s only done so in order to fit the singers. Even though this is a self-titled affair, Slash really isn’t the star here. There’s some good solos on this disc but this album isn’t built around them. It’s all about the songs as a whole and Slash (and friends) has delivered a very satisfying release that is much better than anything he did the first time he went “solo” with Slash’s Snakepit.

I do have two disappointments though: Dave Grohl drums on the album but does not sing (he apparently has a thing against singing on other peoples’ albums) and the U.S. version of this album does not feature “Baby Can’t Drive” featuring Alice Cooper and The Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger. It’s a pretty cool song so what gives ?!

Highlights: “Ghost”, “Crucify the Dead”, “Beautiful Dangerous”, “By the Sword”, “Watch This Dave”, “Nothing to Say”

http://www.slashonline.com/
http://www.myspace.com/slash

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Buy it at CD Universe

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