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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/

 

Helloween – 7 Sinners

Helloween – 7 Sinners (2010, The End Records)

1. “Where The Sinners Go” …3:35
2. “Are You Metal?” …3:37
3. “Who Is Mr. Madman?” … 5:42
4. “Raise The Noise” … 5:06
5. “World Of Fantasy” … 5:14
6. “Long Live The King” … 4:12
7. “The Smile Of The Sun” … 4:36
8. “You Stupid Mankind” … 4:04
9. “If A Mountain Could Talk” … 6:44
10. “The Sage, The Fool, The Sinner” … 3:59
11. “My Sacrifice” … 4:59
12. “Not Yet Today” … 1:11
13. “Far In The Future” … 7:45

Band:
Andi Deris – Vocals
Michael Weikath – Guitar
Sascha Gerstner – Guitar, Backing vocals
Markus Grosskopf – Bass
Dani Löble – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Matthias Ulmer – Keyboards
Eberhard Hahn – Flute (“Raise the Noise”)
William “Billy” King and Olaf Senkbeil – Choirs
Ron Deris – Backing Vocals (“Far in the Future”)
Biff Byford – Spoken Prologue (“Who is Mr. Madman?”)

Producer: Charlie Bauerfeind

Up to this point, I’ve never been what you would call a “fan” of Helloween. I own Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II and the Treasure Chest compilation but like with most power metal — I think of Helloween as a fluffy, flowery, keyboard-heavy metal. Not really my thing. I know not all power metal bands follow this formula but it seems to be the norm.

Feeling that way, I really wasn’t going to give a new Helloween album a second (or even first) thought. But then I ran across the video for “Are You Metal?” and was surprised at just how heavy it was. It’s a true heavy metal anthem! Then I found out if you pre-ordered the album you got a t-shirt, a small poster signed by the band and the CD all for $20. So I figured why not?

I’m glad I ended up getting the album. I’ve ready many reviews saying it’s the heaviest Helloween has been in a long time (if ever) and it’s certainly a HEAVY metal album. The band does fall back onto the keyboards from time to time but they more than make up for it with the anger on “Where The Sinners Go”,  the anthem “Are You Metal?” and the creepy “Who Is Mr. Madman?”. It’s really the first four songs that are the best on the album. “Raise The Noise” is another good metal anthem (even though it has a Jethro Tull moment in the form of a flute solo). This song sounds like something Sister Sin would record. “The Smile Of The Sun” is a very good and powerful ballad. One of the few things I think Helloween has always nailed is their ballads.

Overall, the album has become one of my favorites for the year. There are a few bland moments. Specifically, “Far In The Future”, which limps the album to a close but from top to bottom the album is full of solid METAL with so many sing-along moments and much more metal than I ever expected from Helloween. Are they metal? Yes they are!

Highlights: “Where The Sinners Go”, “Are You Metal?”, “Who Is Mr. Madman?”, “Raise The Noise”, “The Smile Of The Sun”, “You Stupid Mankind”

www.helloween.org
www.facebook.com/helloweenofficial
www.myspace.com/helloween

Coming Up…

Knowing me, it’s probably going to take two (maybe three) weeks to get through all these albums but I just wanted to let the world know that, yes, there are more NEW music reviews on the way!

The latest from Dio, Helloween, Death Angel, Exodus, The Sword, David Rock Feinstein, Jettblack, Skelator and Evestus should all be popping up soon. So keep checking back!

HELLOWEEN – Treasure Chest

Helloween – Treasure Chest (2002, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)

Disc One
1. “Mr. Torture” … 3:28
2. “I Can” … 4:39
3. “Power” … 3:28
4. “Where The Rain Grows” … 4:46
5. “Eagle Fly Free” … 5:08
6. “Future World” … 4:02
7. “Metal Invaders” … 4:10
8. “Murderer (Remix)” …4:33
9. “Starlight (Remix)” … 4:13
10. “How Many Tears” … 7:15
11. “Ride The Sky (Remix)” … 6:43
12. “Halloween” … 13:18
13. “A Little Time” … 3:59
14. “A Tale That Wasn’t Right” … 4:42
15. “I Want Out” … 4:41

Disc Two
1. “Keeper Of The Seven Keys (Remix)” … 13:50
2. “Dr. Stein (Remix)” … 5:03
3. “The Chance” … 3:46
4. “Windmill” … 5:12
5. “Sole Survivor” … 4:30
6. “Perfect Gentleman” … 3:53
7. “In The Middle Of A Heartbeat” … 4:30
8. “Kings Will Be Kings” … 5:08
9. “Time Of The Oath” … 6:56
10. “Forever And One (Neverland)” … 3:50
11. “Midnight Sun” … 6:19
12. “Mr. Ego (Take Me Down)” … 7:07
13. “Immortal” … 4:04
14. “Mirror Mirror” … 3:43

Band:
Andi Deris – Lead Vocals
Michael Kiske – Lead Vocals
Kai Hansen – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Weikath – Guitar
Roland Grapow – Guitar
Markus Grosskopf – Bass
Uli Kusch – Drums
Ingo Schwichtenberg – Drums

Helloween is a very well respected band in the power metal community, but I’ve had a hard time getting into them. From what I’ve heard, they seem like a campy and lighter version of Iron Maiden. But…

I’m a sucker for power ballads and Helloween has done two of the best power ballads I’ve ever heard with “In The Middle Of A Heartbeat” and “Forever And One (Neverland)”. They were the two main reasons I bought this compilation album (which features remixes and remasters), though I also wanted to give the band another chance after disappointing me a few years earlier with Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II.

After listening to this album, I have a greater appreciation for the band, but I’m completely content with owning this compilation and not delving into the band’s catalog unless I get an extremely strong recommend from someone.

A limited edition box set was also released featuring a third CD showcasing the band’s B-sides.

Highlights: “Mr. Torture”, “I Can”, “Power”, “Eagle Fly Free”, “Future World”, “How Many Tears”, “Halloween”, “I Want Out”, “Soul Survivor”, “In The Middle Of A Heartbeat”, “The Time of the Oath”, “Forever And One (Neverland)”, “Mr. Ego (Take Me Down)”, “Immortal”

www.helloween.org
www.myspace.com/helloween

HELLOWEEN – Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II

Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II (1988, RCA Records)

1. “Invitation” … 1:06
2. “Eagle Fly Free” … 5:08
3. “You Always Walk Alone” … 5:08
4. “Rise and Fall” … 4:22
5. “Dr. Stein” … 5:03
6. “We Got the Right” … 5:07
7. “Save Us” … 5:12
8. “March of Time” … 5:13
9. “I Want Out” … 4:39
10. “Keeper of the Seven Keys” … 13:38

Band:
Michael Kiske – Vocals
Kai Hansen – Guitar
Michael Weikath – Guitar, Keyboard
Markus Grosskopf – Bass
Ingo Schwichtenberg – Drums

Produced by: Tommy Hansen

Another pick up from the late 90s. I was trying to get into power metal at the time and Helloween’s name kept coming up on message boards and websites, so I gave’em a shot. I also remember WWE wrestler Chris Jericho’s column in the Metal Edge magazine raving about them. Jericho was actually a big enough fan to base his ring name and one of his finishing moves (the Walls of Jericho) on Helloween.

The funny thing is, I picked this album up by mistake. I wasn’t really schooled on Helloween yet. All I knew was that Keeper of the Seven Keys was a two-parter, and I thought Part II was the superior album, but it’s actually Part I that is considered better, if you pay attention to other reviews.
Helloween has done some great songs elsewhere, but I just can’t get into this album. It’s actually pretty bad outside of the really catchy “I Want Out”. I think one major issue I had is I was expecting something heavier and not as keyboard-heavy. This album turned me off to listening to any of their other albums. I’ll stick with the Treasure Chest compilation for my Helloween fix.

Highlights: “”Eagle Fly Free”, “I Want Out”

www.helloween.org
www.myspace.com/helloween

YOUTH GONE WILD: Heavy Metal Hits of the 80’s, Volume 2

YOUTH GONE WILD: HEAVY METAL HITS OF THE 80′S, VOLUME 2 (1996, Rhino Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Rock Me” – Great White (7:18)
2. “Heaven Tonight” – Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force (4:07)
3. “The Final Countdown” – Europe (5:10)
4. “Over My Head” – King’s X (4:49)
5. “Goin’ Crazy!” – David Lee Roth (3:09)
6. “It’s Not Love” – Dokken (5:01)
7. “Seventeen” – Winger (4:06)
8. “Poison Ivy” – Faster Pussycat (4:27)
9. “Gotta Let Go” – Lita Ford (4:40)
10. “I Want Out” – Helloween (4:41)
11. “I’m On to You” – Hurricane (3:59)
12. “Edge of a Broken Heart” – Vixen (4:24)
13. “Dreams in the Dark” – Badlands (3:30)
14. “Wild Thing” – Sam Kinison (4:29)

Rhino’s Youth Gone Wild compilation series essentially peaked with Volume 1, which was loaded with big names and big hits. It’s curious as to how they decided the track placement for the first three volumes because they were all released on the same day, yet Vol. 2 & 3 suffer with a lack of names & hits. Perhaps they figured since people would probably start with Volume 1 they should load the deck for that particular album?

That’s not to say this is a bad album, in fact, it’s very good and it’s the Youth Gone Wild album that I’m most familiar with. A friend of mine owned this and I borrowed it for many months playing it nonstop back in ’97 or so.

The album gets off to a great start with the hair metal classic “Rock Me” by Great White. The song is a slow burn rocker which then explodes about halfway through. Diamond Dave makes an appearance with the infectious “Goin’ Crazy!”, and Vixen, Winger and Europe bring their biggest hits to the table. “Poison Ivy” by Faster Pussycat is just pure sleaze rock ‘n’ roll fun and turned me into a huge FP fan.

Here, the artist selection starts to get a bit weird and that theme continues for the following albums. King’s X & Helloween seem somewhat out of place here (although both turn in decent rockers). Sam Kinison’s “Wild Thing” also feels strangely out of place. It may have the metal cred (many 80s rock/metal superstars appeared on the track and/or in the video), but I can’t help but think that’s one more track that could’ve been devoted to an actual band.

Volume 2 doesn’t compare to Volume 1, but it’s certainly worth a listen.

Highlights: “Rock Me”, “The Final Countdown”, “Goin’ Crazy!”, “It’s Not Love”, “Seventeen”, “Poison Ivy”, “I Want Out”, “I’m On to You”, “Edge of a Broken Heart”, “Dreams in the Dark”

Lowlights: “Wild Thing”

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