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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/

 

Halford – Made of Metal

Halford – Made of Metal (2010, Metal God Records)

1. “Undisputed” … 5:17
2. “Fire and Ice” … 2:52
3. “Made of Metal” … 4:01
4. “Speed of Sound” … 4:32
5. “Like There’s No Tomorrow” … 4:20
6. “Till the Day I Die” … 3:50
7. “We Own the Night” … 3:54
8. “Heartless” … 3:38
9. “Hell Razor” … 3:44
10. “Thunder and Lightning” … 5:28
11. “Twenty Five Years” … 7:01
12. “Matador” … 5:39
13. “I Know We Stand a Chance” … 3:51
14. “The Mower” … 4:40

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Producer: Roy Z

Ah, this is more like it! The Halford band was one of the best bands to come out of the last decade but a reunited Judas Priest put the group on hold for a long time (even though that didn’t stop Rob from remastering and reissuing the band’s three albums previous ad nauseum). A comeback was made last year in the form of the odd, yet enjoyable Winter Songs but now Halford is back with an album that sounds much more like Resurrection than Crucible and that’s okay by me. Crucible was a bit too angry and heavy to me and lacked hooks. Resurrection on the other hand was one of the my favorite albums from the last decade and Made of Metal (sometimes referred to as Halford IV: Made of Metal) is easily one of the top albums of 2010 in the very least.

I was really looking forward to this album but the album’s first single “The Mower” didn’t thrill me (though I didn’t hate it). Luckily, “Made of Metal” was put online, accompanied by a very cheesy NASCAR-inspired CGI video, and gave me much more optimism for this album. By the way, what’s up with the NASCAR stuff? Even in press releases for the album they would mention the unofficial NASCAR connection with the “Made of Metal” video. There’s no licensing deal that I’m aware of but it seems like like maybe Rob was fishing for one.

As I said earlier, the album isn’t as heavy as Crucible, much of it sounds like the commercial metal that you might’ve heard from Priest during the mid-’80s. “Speed Of Sound” and “We Own The Night” have an obvious commercial flair, “Undisputed” is a lyrically cheesy but still very catchy anthem and “Hell Razor” sounds like late ’70s/early ’80s Judas Priest. On the flip side, “The Mower” is an absolutely brutal metal number in which Halford’s vocals get downright nasty.

Then there’s “Till The Die I Day” which is a surprisingly bluesy outlaw of a rocker that reminds me of something Whitesnake would do and “Thunder and Lightning” has a bit of boogie I didn’t expect from Halford either while “Matador” appropriately has a south of the border feel to it. I really like the variety on this album. The album is similar in sound to Priest, Fight and previous Halford efforts while a song like “I Know We Stand A Chance” brings to mind H.I.M. and other similar sounding goth rock bands.

I knew this album had potential to be good but I also thought it could’ve been a train wreck. Luckily Rob and Roy Z have turned in one of the best albums of the year and Rob’s voice shows no signs of slowing down. A lot of reviews have bashed the lyrics but who cares? It’s good MUSIC! Great album.

Highlights: “Fire And Ice”, “Made Of Metal”, “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, “Till The Day I Die”, “We Own The Night”, “Twenty Five Years”, “I Know We Stand A Chance”

http://www.robhalford.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rob-Halford/136458273486
http://www.myspace.com/robhalford

The Best Albums of the 2000s

Welcome to 2010!

I’m going to start the year off with yet another list except I won’t be limiting myself to “Top 10” or “Top 20” or whatever. I’ll be going chronologically, year by year (I didn’t put the albums in any specific order though) and if I thought it was a really good album, I’ll list it regardless of whether one year has four albums listed and another year only has two.

Looking back, the whole decade was pretty good for this rock/metal fan. The scene suffered greatly during the ’90s, but by 2000, the genre was turning the corner and I think most people had grown tired of depressed drug addicts and angry no-talent white rappers playing rock music. The legends were laying low during the ’90s and the next decade was made up of many comebacks, but that’s not to discount many newer acts who stepped up and played a vital role in rock ‘n’ roll.

2000
Marvelous 3 – ReadySexGo
Halford – Resurrection
Bon Jovi – Crush
Cold – 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage
The Union Underground – …An Education in Rebellion
Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet

2001
Puddle of Mudd – Come Clean
Megadeth – The World Needs a Hero
Alice Cooper – Dragontown
Lit – Atomic

2002
Dio – Killing the Dragon
Butch Walker – Left of Self-Centered
Bon Jovi – Bounce
Sentenced – The Cold White Light
L.A. Guns – Waking the Dead

2003
Anthrax – We’ve Come For You All
Alice Cooper – The Eyes of Alice Cooper
Dream Evil – Evilized

2004
Scorpions – Unbreakable
Megadeth – The System Has Failed
Tesla – Into the Now
Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal
Brides of Destruction – Here Come the Brides

2005
Judas Priest – Angel of Retribution
Alice Cooper – Dirty Diamonds

2006
Edguy – Rocket Ride
Paul Stanley – Live to Win

2007
Avenged Sevenfold – Avenged Sevenfold
Sebastian Bach – Angel Down
Scorpions – Humanity: Hour I

2008
Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus
Whitesnake – Good to Be Bad

2009
KISS – Sonic Boom
Steel Panther – Feel the Steel

The Top 10 Albums of 2009

It was pretty tough for me to come up with a top ten for this year. There were so many good releases in 2009, but only a handful of them were special so I changed my mind quite a bit when coming up with this list. 2009 seemed to be the year of the “grower”. Meaning, many albums on this list (and many others that I liked that didn’t make this list), didn’t grab me at first but upon repeated listening, I started to appreciate them.

Overall, 2009 was another good year for rock and metal even if it wasn’t the star-studded affair that 2008 was (Crue, Metallica, AC/DC, GNR, Priest, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper… WOW!). Anyway, most veteran acts with new releases continued to deliver and newer acts stepped up to release quality music as well.

Read the rest of this entry

HALFORD – Halford III – Winter Songs

Halford – Halford III – Winter Songs (2009, Metal God Records)

1. “Get Into the Spirit” … 5:26
2. “We Three Kings” … 4:06
3. “Oh Come O Come Emanuel” … 4:38
4. “Winter Song” … 5:38
5. “What Child Is This?” … 4:27
6. “Christmas For Everyone” … 3:06
7. “I Don’t Care” … 3:14
8. “Light Of The World” … 4:13
9. “Oh Holy Night” … 4:09
10. “Come All Ye Faithful” … 2:27

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Ed Roth – Keyboard

Producer: Roy Z.

Seven years after the last studio effort from Halford, Rob & Company return with a… CHRISTMAS ALBUM ?! Yes, it’s weird, it’s shocking, it’s true. Even more shocking — it’s actually pretty good.

I was extremely excited to discover 2009 would bring us new Halford music. When Rob rejoined Judas Priest, the band went inactive but there were still countless live albums, reissues and compilations being issued so it is nice to see and hear new material from the group, even if most of it is covers of Christmas songs. I find it odd that Rob chose to let this be the third studio release from Halford though. A Christmas CD? Really? Well, if Twisted Sister can do it, surely the Metal God can!

I’m hearing a lot of resistance to the idea of Rob Halford doing Christmas songs, but maybe some of that is stemming from having his solo band’s name on it (who were one of metal’s most promising acts of this decade, IMO). Maybe Rob wants to turn Halford into the next Trans-Siberian Orchestra? Maybe if he stuck ‘ROB HALFORD’ on the cover instead of just ‘HALFORD’ metalheads could accept it more, though I admit it is a bit of an out there concept to wrap your head around.

Clearing away any preconceived notions I might have had, I’m really enjoying this album. It’s Christmas, it’s hard rock, it’s heavy metal, it’s ROB HALFORD! How can you go wrong? I’m sorry for ever doubting you, Mr. Halford! The original songs (“Get Into the Spirit”, “Christmas For Everyone”, “I Don’t Care”, “Light of the World”) are pretty good, with “Get Into the Spirit” easily being the best of that bunch but what is really surprising is just how good Halford’s take on these traditional Christmas songs can be.

There is no doubt this is the Metal God at work, but unlike some rock/metal acts who do Christmas songs, Halford doesn’t try to impose himself too much over the songs. In short, you’re not going to confuse “Oh Holy Night” or “Come All Ye Faithful” with “Painkiller” or “Resurrection”!

This is a great addition to my growing Christmas rock collection and I have a feeling it’s going to be getting a lot of airtime at home and in my car this holiday season… and for many more to come!

Highlights: “Get Into the Spirit”, “We Three Kings”, “Oh Come O Come Emanuel”, “Winter Song”, “What Child Is This?”, “I Don’t Care”, “Oh Holy Night”, “Come All Ye Faithful”

www.robhalford.com
www.myspace.com/robhalford

HALFORD – Live Insurrection

Halford – Live Insurrection (2001, Metal-Is Records/Sanctuary Records)

DISC 1
1. “Resurrection” … 4:02
2. “Made in Hell” … 4:13
3. “Into the Pit” … 4:15
4. “Nailed to the Gun” … 3:35
5. “Light Comes Out of Black” … 5:00
6. “Stained Class” … 5:32
7. “Jawbreaker” … 3:25
8. “Running Wild” … 3:02
9. “Slow Down” … 4:40
10. “The One You Love to Hate” … 3:11
11. “Life in Black” … 4:26
12. “Hell’s Last Survivor” … 3:24
13. “Sad Wings” … 3:33
14. “Saviour” … 2:57
15. “Silent Screams” … 7:32

DISC 2
1. Intro … 0:14
2. “Cyberworld” … 3:04
3. “The Hellion” … 0:48
4. “Electric Eye” … 3:29
5. “Riding on the Wind” … 3:10
6. “Genocide” … 7:36
7. “Beyond the Realms of Death” … 6:51
8. “Metal Gods” … 4:34
9. “Breaking the Law” … 3:50
10. “Tyrant” … 4:41
11. “Screaming in the Dark” … 3:41
12. “Heart of a Lion” … 3:51
13. “Prisoner of Your Eyes” … 4:33

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Pat Lachman – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Ray Riendeau – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals (“The One You Love To Hate”)

Produced by: Roy Z

This is a good live album with a setlist that spans Rob’s career in Priest, Fight and Halford (What, no Two songs?). The songs were recorded at various locations throughout Halford’s 2000-20001 World Tour, but you wouldn’t really know because the production of this album gives both discs a nice feel on continuity, making you think it’s all one gigantic show.

Virtually every live album includes some sprucing up in the studio, and Rob has admitted that about this album himself, but you can still tell this band is in top form. Rob’s voice is great and the rest of the crew is on fire. I really don’t care for the sound of Fight, but the rest is aces… You can’t go wrong with Judas Priest or Halford! Maybe the crowd response was sweetened, but it still gives me goosebumps, especially on “The Hellion” and leading into “Electric Eye”.

Halford was (is?) a great band, this live setting proves that, so I had mixed emotions when it was announced Rob was going back to Judas Priest. Hopefully, when/if Priest ever decides to take a break, Halford will get back going at full force (Rob intended to give us a new Halford album in 2007, but writing for Nostradamus put that on hold).

Notes about some of the songs:

Unfortunately (and here’s the band thing about post-producing live albums), Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson did not really duet with Rob on “The One You Love to Hate”. According to Scott over at No Life ’til Metal, they were two separate soundchecks done in London that were then spliced together with crowd noise added in. Additionally, “Light Comes out of Black” and “Life In Black” were both soundchecks with crowd noises thrown in. “Hell’s Last Survivor” and “Sad Wings” were bonus tracks from the Japanese version of Resurrection.

“Screaming in the Dark” is a new studio song by Halford. It’s okay. It’s much heavier than anything from Resurrection and sounds much more similar to the heavier sound the band would produce on 2002’s Crucible. “Heart of a Lion” and “Prisoner of Your Eyes” are Priest demo songs (both later made their way onto Judas Priest remasters/box sets). I like’em.

Highlights: “Resurrection”, “Stained Class”, “Slow Down”, “The One You Love to Hate”, “Cyberworld”, “The Hellion”, “Electric Eye”, “Riding on the Wind”, “Beyond the Realms of Death”, “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law”, “Heart of a Lion”, “Prisoner of Your Eyes”

www.robhalford.com
www.halfordmusic.com
www.myspace.com/robhalford

Buy Live Insurrection [remastered] at Amazon.com

METAL EXCESS Goes LIVE!

In honor of the Judas Priest/Whitesnake/Pop Evil show on July 15th and Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick show on July 24th that I’ll be attending (both at the DTE Energy Center in Clarkston, MI), for the next two weeks I’ll be reviewing nothing but live albums. The plan is five album reviews a week, plus a concert recap.

Here’s the rundown:

Week 1
Aerosmith – Classics Live!
Halford – Live Insurrection
KISS – Alive
KISS – MTV Unplugged
Megadeth – Rude Awakening

Concert Review: Judas Priest/Whitesnake/Pop Evil @ DTE Energy Center 7/15/09

Week 2
AC/DC – Live
Bon Jovi – One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001
Cheap Trick – At Budokan
Poison – Great Big Hits: Live Bootleg
KISS – Alive II

Concert Review: Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick @ DTE Energy Center 7/24/09

Check back Monday to see what album I kick things off with!

HALFORD – Resurrection

Halford – Resurrection (2000, Metal-Is/Sanctuary Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Resurrection” [3:58]
2. “Made in Hell” [4:12]
3. “Locked and Loaded” [3:18]
4. “Night Fall” [3:41]
5. “Silent Screams” [7:06]
6. “The One You Love to Hate” [3:11]
7. “Cyber World” [3:08]
8. “Slow Down” [4:51]
9. “Twist” [4:08]
10. “Temptation” [3:32]
11. “Drive” [4:30]
12. “Saviour” [2:57]

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Patrick Lachman – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Ray Riendeau -Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Even though he officially left Judas Priest in 1993, Rob Halford never left the world of metal. He carried on by forming Fight, a band with a slightly updated heavy metal sound, and then dabbled in industrial metal by forming Two. Neither band proved to be particuarly successful for the Metal God. So while Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens was doing his best Halford impersonation with Judas Priest in the late 90s, Rob Halford decided to impersonate himself with a brand new band called, approriately, Halford.

And the results are stupendous. From the opening title track, you know the Metal God has returned and he’s done playing with other metal genres. The scream is signature and I played that opening track so many times just to hear him scream “RESURRECTION!” It gave me goosebumps and still does.

Although Rob broke out the leather & motorcyles imagery he was famous for, this album and band aren’t a Judas Priest clone. Halford pulls off a classic heavy metal/modern heavy metal hybrid, thanks in part to songwriting help from producer Roy Z. and guitarist “Metal” Mike Chlasiak. For those of us who were awaiting the Judas Priest/Halford reunion, this was the next best thing and there was no doubt that Halford was outdoing Judas Priest during this time.

This was a big comeback album for Rob, and was fairly successful in the metal scene. As Halford’s stock started to rise in the metal kingdom again, Judas Priest’s began to drop after the two disappointing Owens albums, and I believe the success of this album probably had a large hand in moving along the reunion of the Halford-led Judas Priest.

A major highlight on this album is the appearance of Bruce Dickinson (who was on a comeback of his own having recently rejoined Iron Maiden) on “The One You Love to Hate”.

Highlights: “Resurrection”, “Locked and Loaded”, “Night Fall”, “Silent Screams”, “The One You Love to Hate”, “Slow Down”, “Twist”, “Temptation”

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