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Metal Excess Awards 2012

Despite 2012 being a year where a number of major classic rock acts reappeared with new albums (KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith), I was slightly disappointed with the rock scene overall. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I’ve listened to less music in 2012 than I have compared to the previous 5 years or so. Whether it’s because I’m getting too old or getting too busy, I didn’t sit down and listen to or write about as much music as I have since I started this blog a few years back. I haven’t been paying attention to the world of hard rock & heavy metal as I should have. Forgive me. Maybe I can make up for it in 2013.
Anyway, here’s my contribution to the millions of “Best of 2012” lists that are already all over the internet!
Best Albums of 2012
As I said, 2012 didn’t seem like an incredibly bright year for rock releases but that doesn’t mean I’m knocking some of the cream of the crop. Rick Springfield (of all people!) delivered a classic album that I just had to give the #1 spot based on how much I played it. My Darkest Days had yet another incredibly strong release. Other than Hess at #7, the rest of the top 10 is made up of veteran artists who know how to get the job done.
1.Rick Springfield – Songs for the End of the World
2. My Darkest Days – Sick and Twisted Affair
3. KISS – Monster
4. Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
5. Aerosmith – Songs from Another Dimension!
6. Adler – Back From The Dead
7. Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage
8. Hess – Living In Yesterday
9. Slash – Apocalyptic Love
10. Dokken – Broken Bones
11. Great White – Elation
12. Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown
13. Jorn – Bring Heavy Rock to the Land
14. Jack Blades – Rock ‘N’ Roll Ride
15. Trixter – New Audio Machine
16. Lita Ford – Living Like a Runaway
17. Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue
18. Hinder – Welcome to the Freak Show
19. Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint
20. The Morning After – Legacy
21. Heart – Fanatic
22. Accept – Stalingrad
23. Papa Roach – The Connection
23. Zerokings – Kings of Self Destruction
24. Primal Fear – Unbreakable
25. Fozzy – Sin and Bones

Missed Them in 2012…

These are releases from 2012 that I’ve heard some songs from but I haven’t listened to the entire album yet. I wouldn’t have felt right trying to place them on the list without having heard the complete album. Look for reviews of these albums soon.

* Danko Jones – Rock and Roll is Black and Blue
* Black Country Communion – Afterglow
* L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever (from what I’ve heard, this probably would’ve made my Top 10)
* Jettblack – Raining Rock
* The Last Vegas – Bad Decisions
* Ian Gillan & Tony Iommi: WhoCares
* Overkill – The Electric Age
* T & N – Slave to the Empire
* Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Session EP

Best EP/Compilation/Cover/Singles

The “everything else” category.

1. Richard Marx – Christmas Spirit
2. Dio – The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2
3. Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby
4. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – This Christmas
5. TSO – Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) EP
6. Dee Snider – Dee Does Broadway
7. Buckcherry – “Gluttony” [single]
8. Motley Crue – “Sex” [single]
9. Wildstreet – “Easy Does It” [single]

Most Anticipated in 2013

Judas Priest:   Slated for sometime in 2013, this is easily the most anticipated album for me. I’m looking forward to and hoping Priest will deliver a classic sounding metal album and forget about overblown concept records. It’s just a shame KK Downing isn’t along for the ride but I think having some young blood in Priest might actually help push them to be heavier, harder and faster. The same thing happened when Scott Travis joined the band. I’d still love to see Downing come back at some point though. Why not have six members of Judas Priest?

Buckcherry – Confessions (Feb. 19): The lead single “Gluttony” has already been released and I’m really enjoying it. These guys do not disappoint.

My Darkest Days (fall): These guys have released two of my favorite albums from the last few years and are already writing for a follow up to last year’s Sick and Twisted Affair with a new studio album in the fall. I’m hoping the recent departure of guitarist Sal Costa wouldn’t delay the release.

Avenged Sevenfold: No timetable for a new album other than 2013. The band is supposedly going to begin recording this month.

Motley Crue: Another “sometime in 2013″ release. The question is — LP or EP? Vince Neil has mentioned it will be an EP and that’s more in line with what Tommy Lee has stated he’d like for the band to release from now on. Nikki Sixx has been referring to the next Crue release as an “album”, so I guess we’ll see. The single they released in the summer (“Sex”) was decent and seems to fit in with the modern rock turn Crue has taken since 2005.

Black Sabbath: Originally meant for 2012, all kinds of legal issues and drama have slowed this one down. Pretty stupid if they don’t end up pulling Bill Ward in but I’m interested just because I’m a fan of Iommi & Butler. In fact, bring back Ward and get rid of Ozzy and I’d feel even better about this reunion album. My preference is still for Iommi & Butler to form a new band with either Tony Martin (long shot), Jorn Lande, Ian Gillan or Glenn Hughes.

Megadeth: I dunno… Megadeth is one of my all-time favorite bands so I’m always interested but with each release I’m finding less and less to like. Yes, they are getting heavier and faster. Perhaps they are the heaviest and fastest they’ve ever been but Dave seems to be forsaking melody to do it. Seems like he’d rather go off on political rants and conspiracy theories than write memorable songs.

AC/DC: One of those bands that myself & radio have played out to the point where I’m kinda numb to them. But, Black Ice was far better than I ever imagined it could be so I’m definitely interested in new music. This past spring Malcolm Young said a new album would be out in a “year or two”. Here’s hoping it’ll be released in 2013.

Tom Keifer (spring) – I’m a big fan of Cinderella. People have been asking for a new Cinderella album for over 10 years now. I’m not sure why Tom would decide to a solo release instead but I’m not going to complain.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan said they were planning a new release. Hopefully they follow through!

Anthrax: I think it was Joey Belladonna who stated in interview this past summer than they wanted to release something new in 2013.

Hardcore Superstar – C’mon Take On Me (March 1)

Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (January 8): I surprisingly enjoyed their last album. Looking forward to hearing whether they’ve kept the same sound or going even more glam/power metal than before.

Crashdiet – The Savage Playground (late January)

Bon Jovi – What About Now (March 26): I’m not a fan of the lead single, “Because We Can”. I actually haven’t been a fan of the last few albums either but I was optimistic because I liked all four new songs they released with the deluxe version of their latest greatest hits compilation. I can’t help but get excited when a new Bon Jovi album is coming out but I would not be surprised if this album was only good for a ballad or two.

Hinder – Welcome to the Freakshow [Review]

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Hinder – Welcome to the Freak Show
2012, Universal Republic Records

1. “Save Me”
2. “Ladies Come First”
3. “Shoulda Known Better”
4. “Freakshow”
5. “Talk to Me”
6. “Get Me Away From You”
7. “Is It Just Me”
8. “I Don’t Wanna Believe”
9. “See You In Hell”
10. “Anyone But You”
11. “Wanna Be Rich”

Band:
Austin Winkler – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Joe Garvey – Guitar
Mark King – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mike Rodden – Bass, Backing Vocals
Cody Hanson – Drums

Producer: Kevin Churko & Cody Hanson

Hinder won me over with Take It to the Limit and I became a full-fledged fan after All-American Nightmare but after listening to Welcome to the Freak Show, it’s obvious the band is trying to reclaim the commercial success they had with Take It to the Limit and their debut Extreme Behavior.

This album is full of safe laid-back almost country-sounding pop ballads and “rock” songs that would sound better on a pop station than a rock radio (“Wanna Be Rich” is pretty much dance pop). It’s not that this is a bad album. Hinder is very good at writing slick commercial hard rock songs but this isn’t what I was hoping for after All-American Nightmare. I really thought the band was coming into their own with that release, sounding freer, more melodic and fun than most modern rock bands. I remember that with the past two releases, the band talked about how they were being more like themselves. Well, I guess that’s all out the window now because this is a cash-grab.

There are a number of songs here I enjoy but nothing here packs the same punch as previous songs like “Striptease”, “Use Me” or “Up All Night”. The evolution of this band has been interesting. They seemed like they were going from a generic post-grunge act to becoming more of a modern sleaze rock band than anything else but Welcome to the Freak Show sees them regressing back into post-grunge while throwing in some country/pop and rock/pop for good measure (the lead single “Save Me” even features some rapping). This album is the sound of a band trying to regain a following by any means necessary.

Though a shameless attempt at revitalizing the band’s career, it’s a decent album; just not a memorable one.

Highlights: “Save Me”, “Freakshow”, “Talk to Me”, “Anyone But You”

http://www.hindermusic.com
http://www.facebook.com/Hinder

Buy the album at Amazon

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/

 

Hinder – All American Nightmare

Hinder – All American Nightmare [Deluxe Edition] (2010, Universal Republic Records)

1. “2 Sides of Me” … 3:24
2. “All American Nightmare” … 3:17
3. “What Ya Gonna Do” … 4:07
4. “Hey Ho” … 3:34
5. “The Life” … 3:37
6. “Waking Up the Devil” … 4:12
7. “Red Tail Lights” … 3:48
8. “Strip Tease” … 3:29
9. “Everybody’s Wrong” … 3:41
10. “Put That Record On” … 3:38
11. “Good Life” … 3:35
12. “Bad Mutha Fucka” … 3:34
13. “Put That Record On” (demo version) … 3:43
14. “What Ya Gonna Do” (demo version) … 4:14

Band:
Austin Winkler – Lead Vocals
Joe “Blower” Garvey – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mark King – Guitar, Piano, Backing Vocals
Mike Rodden – Bass, Backing Vocals
Cody Hanson – Drums

Producer: Kevin Churko, Cody Nason, Marshal Dutton

I became a big fan of Hinder with their last release Take It to the Limit. It was one of the best surprises of the year for me and was a good mix of post-grunge hard rock and ’80s hair metal from a band that had previously only been a boring post-grunge group. With All American Nightmare, the band continues with much of the same blended styles of Take It to the Limit while throwing in a bit of Southern rock influence as well that sometimes reminds of Shinedown or later Saliva. Apparently, the band had even more free rein for this record than they did for the last and that is where the Southern rock vibe comes in.

I think from top to bottom this album is even better than Take It to the Limit. That album was still trying to figure out it’s place between ’80s rock and ’00s rock but this album is much more sure of itself giving the obligatory “modern” “Waking Up the Devil” (maybe Hinder at their heaviest), “What Ya Gonna Do”, “The Life” and “Red Tail Lights”, “Everybody’s Wrong” (the last four are all ballads and have single potential for modern radio), while “Striptease” sounds like a modern Crue song and “All American Nightmare” and “Put That Record On” (an ode to classic rock!) have a classic rock and southern influence. They even take the time to take a few jabs at all the worthless female pop stars with “Striptease” and knock hip-hop with “Hey Ho”.

If there’s one problem I have it’s the lyrics. I love that the guys are throwing back to the broads ‘n’ booze lyrics of the ’80s but I find the constant references to getting high and smoking weed to be annoying. It seems like just about every song has to make some type of mention of it and they’ve been going on about it for three albums now.

I don’t listen to radio but I know “All American Nightmare” was the lead single. I don’t know how much play it has gotten but unfortunately it does not look like this album will match the success of Take It to the Limit‘s gold status as this album debuted at #37 on Billboard with first-week sales of 35,000. Hopefully another single to set the album on fire. It’s just a shame that when any band tries to incorporate more melody, classic rock styles and sing-along choruses they get shunned by fans and labels alike. I can’t believe nu-metal garbage like Disturbed is still selling 10 years later and is really bigger than ever. Are people really still that angry? Is it the SAME people from 10 years ago?

I bought the deluxe edition for a few extra bucks just because I’m such a big fan of these guys now. Tracks 11-14 and a mini foldout poster with the band on one side and All American Nightmare cover model Jesse Lee Denning on the other side. The demo tracks are basically throwaways but I like “Bad Mutha Fucka”, it’s a jokey, fun and loose kind of song. I gotta hand it to these Hinder boys — they really know how to put together artwork for the album! There’s no naked chicks this time but Jesse is incredibly hot. It’s not always easy for a girl to have so many tattoos and make it seem sexy but Jesse has no problem doing it!

Really enjoying this album, loving it the more I listen to it and I’m glad Hinder came around to playing REAL rock ‘n’ roll! As far as I’m concerned Hinder has joined Buckcherry and Avenged Sevenfold as one of the best modern rock/metal acts today.

Highlights: “2 Sides of Me”, “All American Nightmare”, “Hey Ho”, “Waking up the Devil”, “Strip Tease”, “Put That Record On”

http://www.hindermusic.com
http://www.facebook.com/Hinder
http://www.myspace.com/hindermusic

I’ve got rock ‘n’ roll pneumonia!

Today’s a good day!

I ordered my Judas Priest/Whitesnake tickets for the July 15th show at the DTE Energy Center in Clarkston, MI, and… I got my tickets in the mail for the Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick concert on July 24th at the very same venue!

In a paycheck or two, I’ll probably pick up the tickets for the August Nickelback/Papa Roach/Hinder/Saving Abel show, also at DTE.

HINDER – Take It to the Limit

Hinder – Take It to the Limit [Deluxe Edition with Best Buy Exclusive Tracks] (2008, Universal Republic Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Use Me” … 3:49
2. “Loaded and Alone” … 4:06
3. “Last Kiss Goodbye” … 3:48
4. “Up All Night” … 3:33
5. “Without You” … 3:52
6. “Take It To The Limit” … 3:11
7. “The Best Is Yet To Come” … 3:22
8. “Heaven Sent” … 3:41
9. “Thing For You” … 3:59
10. “Lost In The Sun” … 3:52
11. “Far From Home” … 4:03
BONUS TRACKS
12. “Heaven Sent (Live)” … 3:42
13. “Loaded and Alone (Acoustic)” … 3:34
14. “Lost in the Sun (Live)” … 3:46
15. “The Best is Yet to Come (Acoustic)” … 3:21
16. “Without You (Acoustic)” … 3:52
17. “Use Me (Live)” … 4:30

DVD:
1. The Making of Take It to the Limit
2. Behind the Scenes at the Photo Shoot

Band:
Austin Winkler – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Joe “Blower” Garvey – Guitar
Mark King – Guitar
Mike Rodden – Bass
Cody Hanson – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Mick Mars – Guitar (“Take It to the Limit”)
Brian Howes – Guitar, Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Paul Laine – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Brian Howes

This band became big with their debut, 2005’s Extreme Behavior. They came off as just another bland modern hard rock band to me at the time, and their big hit, “Lips of an Angel” didn’t appeal to me lyrically at all (it’s about cheating your girlfriend).

I did like Winkler’s voice though and while I’m not sure how Extreme Behavior sounds, this album absolutely rocks. There’s a movement going on in rock right now where the bands are actually (GASP!) having fun and incorporating the fun and party style of the 80s hard rock scene and I think that’s great. Hinder actually reminds me a lot of Buckcherry with this release. They aren’t *as* 80s sleazy as Buckcherry is, but the influence is definitely here. The album pretty much only about one thing: sex. Breaking it down further, it’s about having sex and getting cheated on.

The use of “gang vocals” and catchy glam-inspired guitar work makes this album a winner. I bought the deluxe CD/DVD edition, but because I bought it at Best Buy, I also got six exclusive Best Buys tracks with it (with are live & acoustic takes of some of the album’s songs). I’m not sure how much work was done on those live cuts, but the band sounds great.

And the album packaging? Nothing but a total winner. I was very surprised to open up the flaps and see some absolutely gorgeous naked women (Playboy Playmates!) and breasts so up close. The deluxe edition even includes some “photo cards” done up to look like Polaroids that feature the band with even more naked girls. The booklet has EVEN more naked girls laying about while the band parties on. This is one the greatest album packaging jobs EVER! 1o out of 10! This is what 80s hair bands *wish* their labels would’ve let them done. If you’re still not convinced of Hinder’s dedication to L.A. strip excess, the managed to snag Motley Crue’s Mick Mars for some guitar work and even ex-Danger Danger lead singer Paul Laine to help with the backing vocals.

The DVD ‘Making of’ feature is actually pretty cool. It walks you through (DUH!) the making of the album and the band walks you around the studio, their living spaces during the recording and just generally goofing around. They also mention the success of Extreme Behavior allowed them more freedom with this release and they were able to use their 80s influences more in writing and recording the songs. So there ya go, I guess Take It to the Limit *is* different sounding from their debut. The photo shoot portion is, obviously, very cool and it’s full of “hot-ass fuckin’ chicks” as bassist Mike Rodden says.

If I had heard this album in 2008, it probably would’ve made my Top 10. That just how good I think it is. I’m definitely converted now and would love to see these guys in concert. Modern sleaze metal is big in Europe, but Hinder gives me hope for the good ol’ USA. Watching the DVD, it’s obvious they are starting to make the kind of music they like and are determined to bring fun back to rock.

Just a great release that I can’t stop listening to.

Highlights: “Use Me”, “Loaded and Alone”, “The Last Kiss Goodbye”, “Up All Night”, “Take It to the Limit”, “Without You”, Heaven Sent”, “Far From Home”, “Loaded and Alone (Acoustic)”, “Use Me (Live)”

www.hindermusic.com
www.myspace.com/hindermusic

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