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Who Cares (Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends) – Out Of My Mind / Holy Water

Who Cares (Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends) – Out Of My Mind / Holy Water (2011, earMUSIC/Eagle Rock Records)

1. “Out of My Mind” … 5:19
2. “Holy Water” … 7:00

Band:
Ian Gillan – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Linde Lindstrom – Guitar
Jason Newsted – Bass
Nicko McBrain – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards

How’s THIS for a super group: Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, Iron Maiden’s Nick McBrain, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, ex-Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord and HIM’s Linde Lindstrom! Well, um, nothing against Lindstrom but, wow, he feels a bit out of place doesn’t he? I think his connection is he’s either dating or married to Iommi’s daughter.

Who Cares was initially a project put together by Gillan & Iommi to help benefit the rebuilding of a music school in Armenia but there was always the vague promise that Gillan & Iommi would continue to work together on some new material. I imagine with a reunited Black Sabbath that won’t be happening… ever (Sabbath will probably take up the next few years and these guys are old enough already). Shame. I’d much rather hear a Iommi & Gillan record (Geezer can tag along too) than a new Sabbath album with Ozzy.

Initially released as a digital single, the album has been made available on 7″ vinyl (limited to only 1,000 copies) and as a deluxe CD single featuring a video clip and a 30 minute documentary.

Despite being a one-off super-group that implied Tony & Ian might continue to work together, Who Cares went a bit under the radar, I think. Yes, it was done for charity so it’s not like there was any huge label or promotion backing this but given the talent involved I would have expected more buzz from the rock/metal community.  The songs are just phenomenal and while I haven’t heard any of Gillan’s recent work with Deep Purple, the guy can still sing and scream like a rock ‘n’ roll god (even if his voice is a tad bit weathered, but at 66 years old, I’ll give him a break).

“Out of My Mind” is just plain heavy. Not Born Again heavy, but still heavy nonetheless, stomping along and sounding Black Sabbath & Deep Purple put in a blender: Iommi pulling out a great riff and solo, Gillan singing with venom and Jon Lord doing what he does best. Musically, it’s really not too far off from what we might’ve heard from Heaven & Hell.

“Holy Water” is a bit more majestic in scope with a taste of the Middle East. I’m not all that well-versed on Deep Purple with Steve Morse but from what I have heard, this sounds like the type of song you might hear from them as Jon Lord’s keyboard factors heavily into this track and Gillan is a bit more subdued.

Who Cares was put together for a great cause and features great music so it’s definitely worth buying. It also shows us what a great pairing Gillan & Iommi can still be and hopefully we can get some more music of out this duo in the future.

Amazon.com

Stryper – The Covering

Stryper – The Covering (2011, Big3 Records)

1. “Set Me Free” … 3:45
2. “Blackout” … 3:58
3. “Heaven and Hell” … 6:11
4. “Lights Out” … 3:44
5. “Carry On Wayward Son” … 5:16
6. “Highway Star” … 5:45
7. “Shout It Out Loud” … 3:15
8. “Over the Mountain” … 4:21
9. “The Trooper” … 3:53
10. “Breaking the Law” … 3:02
11. “On Fire” … 3:08
12. “Immigrant Song”  … 2:18
13. “God” … 4:55

Band:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Oz Fox – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Timothy Gaines – Bass, Backing Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Charles Foley – Keyboards, Organ, Piano

Producer: Michael Sweet

And Stryper continues their trend for having AWFUL album covers. =P

Luckily, the album art is not a good indicator of the music itself because this is seriously one great album of covers! When I first heard it was going to be a cover album, I kind of rolled my eyes. That’s usually a sign that a band is slowing down and/or giving up on new material but then they started releasing all these samples and they sounded amazing. I guess the band has caught some flack from their Christian fanbase for having the gall to cover secular music and evil bands such as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and KISS but whatever. Get over yourselves! Christian acts don’t need to be singing about God & Jesus in every single song. Just because you want to cover Van Halen and Scorpions it doesn’t mean you’ve turned your back on the Lord.

Anyway, what a great line-up of bands to cover! In order, they are: Sweet, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, UFO, Kansas, Deep Purple, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. The only original song of the bunch is “God” which is a fantastic hard rocker that just doesn’t let up and gives me hope that maybe the band will put out an entirely new and original album later this year.

It was Murder By Pride that pulled me onto the Stryper bandwagon. That was a very good album. Sometimes a veteran act seems to be going through the motions even when they release new material but that wasn’t the case then and even though the band is covering songs here, they still sound energetic and on fire. “God” gives me hope that maybe the band will put out an entirely new and original album later this year because they are on a roll.

The band stays pretty faithful to the source material only making slight alterations here and there but these are some killer covers. “Blackout” and “Lights Out” are pure fire and it’s interesting to hear Michael Sweet vocals on these songs. I think he’s got a unique singing style and it’s interesting hearing him find some middle ground between his own style and the styles in which these songs were originally sung.

One of the better cover albums I’ve heard. Essential pickup for 2011.

Highlights: “Set Me Free”, “Blackout”, “Lights Out”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “On Fire”, “God”

http://www.stryper.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Stryper

Buy ‘The Covering’ at Amazon.com

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/

 

IRON MAIDEN – The Final Frontier

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier [Mission Edition] (2010, Universal Music Enterprises)

1. “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier” … 8:40
2. “El Dorado” … 6:48
3. “Mother of Mercy” … 5:20
4. “Coming Home” … 5:52
5. “The Alchemist” … 4:28
6. “Isle of Avalon” … 9:06
7. “Starblind” … 7:48
8. “The Talisman” … 9:03
9. “The Man Who Would Be King” … 8:28
10. “When the Wild Wind Blows” … 11:00

Band:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar
Janick Gers – Guitar
Steve Harris – Bass, Keyboards
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Producer: Kevin Shirley & Steve Harris

Um, yeah. This “Mission Edition”? It’s basically the album in a tin instead of a jewel case with the band’s logo and the title of the album being absent from the album art and the CD artwork is different as well. So if you haven’t decided on which version of the album to pick up, I suggest you save a few bucks and stick with the “regular” version. There are some bonus features which you can unlock by going to http://www.ironmaiden.com/bonus and putting the disc in your computer but I’m not a fan of stuff like that. When I buy a special edition, I want bonus tracks not access to games, photos and videos on a website (at least put all of that ON the disc!).

By the way, I guess the idea of this “Mission Edition” tin is we’re looking out of a spaceship’s window. I initially tried to scan the booklet inside the tin case but it didn’t turn out so well:

The Final Frontier is an album that seems to have many Maiden fans divided. When you’ve got such a large following and have been a successful group for 30+ years, every new release is going to be analyzed, questioned and compared to the “classic” catalog. Before this album arrived in the mail, I read many reviews (from critics and actual fans) stating this album was the sound of a tired, repetitive and boring band. I read other reviews saying it’s a top three or top five Maiden album that is full of exciting music and that the band is admirably blazing new paths and taking chances with their music. Hm.

Despite owning the majority of Maiden’s catalog, I must confess I’m not a huge fan. Sure, I like them, but they wouldn’t crack the Top 20 as far as my favorite bands go. I’ve always thought many (not all) of their songs could be repetitive and their albums tend to drag. That said, I was still anticipating this release because they are legends and I recognize their contributions to heavy metal. I’ve been following the band since the Brave New World reunion album and the digital release of “El Dorado” sounded really promising, so I wasn’t going to stop following them now.

I guess one common complaint (or praise) I’m running across with other people is the progressive nature of this album. Well, other than the earliest records, they’ve always sounded like progressive metal to me. Especially since Brave New World, so I’m not sure why this is shocking people now. Someone put it best when they said Iron Maiden is no longer a heavy metal act and they are now a progressive hard rock act. This is true but I’ve felt that was the case for years. Anyone that turns in a 10-track album that clocks in around 80 minutes has to be progressive!

Still, they can churn out some really good rockers. “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier” is a great number (after we get through that way too long intro, seriously, they should’ve cut this into two different tracks) and “El Dorado” is the album’s bright spot, it’s really catchy and the most straightforward rocker of the bunch. Both of these songs stick with you. The rest of the album is mostly made up of mid-tempo rockers that all seem to have slow building intros. Again, standard Iron Maiden, in my opinion. In the middle of all of this is “Coming Home”, a ballad I’ve grown quite fond of.

So is this a classic Iron Maiden album? I don’t know, I’ll leave that up to the hardcore fanbase to decide but I do know that it’s a really good album and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. It will probably my my Top 10 list for 2010 after all is said and done, if that tells you anything.

Highlights: “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier”, “El Dorado”, “Coming Home”, “The Alchemist”, “Isle of Avalon”, “The Talisman”

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden

Concerts! Part II

This past April, I mentioned a number of concerts I would be attending this summer. A few more have been announced/come to my attention so I thought I’d provide an update as to who I’m going to see this summer. Here’s my complete dance card!

July 1st
Scorpions w/ Cinderella
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Less than a month away! This was the second concert I had lined up this year and Scorpios are one of my all-time faves so I’m pretty excited about it. Cinderella’s great too, I just wish they had some NEW material to play.

July 16th
Alice Cooper w/ Tesla
Common Ground Music Festival
Lansing, MI

Finally bought my tickets for this last night. It’s all general admission so there was no rush to get’em, even though they’ve been on sale for close to month now. In addition to Sammy Hagar playing on another night, Buckcherry and Bret Michaels were recently added as headliners for the nights they play and Cinderella is now playing a date too (not as headliners though). I would love to see all three of them but I’ve seen Buckcherry three times already, saw Poison last summer and I’ll be seeing Cinderella with Scorpions, so I gotta go with Alice! I’ve wanted to see him forever, he’s one of my favorite acts and the fact that I’ll see Tesla too is a really cool bonus.

July 17th
Iron Maiden w/ Dream Theater
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

First concert tickets I bought for 2010. I just saw the set list for the tour and I’m kinda disappointed because it mostly focuses on their music from ’90s through today. It’s understandable since their last tour was built around their ’80s catalog but for this being my first time seeing Maiden, I wanted all the signature songs!

July 22nd
Huey Lewis & The News
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

I actually like this band a lot, at least when it comes to their “hits”. I have one of their albums and two greatest hits. Lawn tickets were only $7 so I figured why not? Should be fun.

Aug 31st
Aerosmith w/ Sammy Hagar & The Waboritas
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, MI

Haven’t bought the tickets yet (they go on sale next Wednesday but I won’t be able to buy them until the Wednesday AFTER next Wednesday) but I’m really excited for this show. Tickets are pricey but it’s AEROSMITH! With Sammy Hagar! I don’t want to pass up seeing Aerosmith at least once in my life.

Sept 5th
Ted Nugent
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Another $7 lawn seat ticket. Ted’s a really cool guy but he’s another act I’m not all too familiar outside of his signature songs. Still, I think it should be a fun show. Haven’t bought these tickets yet but I will the same time I buy the Aerosmith tickets.

Sept 11th – Saturday
KISS w/ The Academy Is
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI

Definitely HAD to buy these tickets, got’em yesterday. Since the great ‘Rock The Nation’ show cancellation back in 2004 (Paul got heat exhaustion and the Pensacola, FL show I had tickets to got canceled and was never made up), I made a promise to myself that I would always go see KISS should they ever be in my neighborhood. How could you expect any less of me when they’re my favorite band? Well, I saw ’em last September as they were one of the last acts to ever play the historic Cobo in Detroit and I’ll see them this September too! DTE’s site lists The Academy Is as the support (they kinda suck and are way too indie rock/pop to be supporting KISS, IMO) but KISS is also holding a contest for a different unsigned band to get the opening slot in each city. Could be interesting…

So that’s my summer concert series! Should anything else pop up, I’ll be sure to report on it here and I’ll definitely be doing my concert reviews for each and every one of these shows.

Looking Forward to in 2010…

2009 was good, can 2010 be better? With these albums penciled in for 2010 it looks like we’ll have another good year for rock ‘n’ roll because there’s tons I’m looking forward to! I’ve listed tentative release dates where I could.

Ratt – Infestation (March): Ratt is one of the best bands to spring from the L.A. metal scene, I can’t wait to hear some new music from that.

Scorpions – Sting In The Tail: Well, hopefully we’ll see some new Scorpions. They haven’t gotten a U.S. distribution deal yet, but in this day of the internet, I don’t foresee any problems getting my hands on an import. According to the band, they’re going back to their “early ’80s” sound and scrapping the modern style they had on Humanity: Hour I. That’s a shame because I remember Klaus Meine being pretty adamant about the band not writing anymore “eighties” songs and I like Humanity a lot (which seemed to imply there’d be a sequel). Oh well, I liked 2004’s Unbreakable a lot too (the band’s most recent attempt at having that classic Scorpions sound), so either style they want is good with me.

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon (April 3): Edguy’s Tobias Sammet, one of my favorite vocalists, is back with his side project and he’s got two albums coming at us at once on the same day. The Scarecrow was really good and Sammet has tons of guest musicians lined up again, I just hope he hasn’t spread himself too thin by releasing two albums’ worth of material.

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IRON MAIDEN – Brave New World

Iron Maiden – Brave New World (2000, Columbia Records/Portrait Records)

1. “The Wicker Man” … 4:38
2. “Ghost of the Navigator” … 6:50
3. “Brave New World” … 6:19
4. “Blood Brothers” … 7:14
5. “The Mercenary” … 4:42
6. “Dream of Mirrors” … 9:21
7. “The Fallen Angel” … 4:01
8. “The Nomad” … 9:06
9. “Out of the Silent Planet”… 6:26
10. “The Line Between Love & Hate” … 8:27

Band:
Bruce Dickinson – Lead Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Janick Gers – Guitar
Steve Harris – Bass, Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Producer: Steve Harris & Kevin Shirley

This was my very first Iron Maiden album and over time it has become one of my favorites as well. Initially, I wasn’t much of a fan the album. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting, but it just seemed boring to me. Another issue for me was/is that I’ve always had a hard time getting into the themes that Iron Maiden uses. Fantasy stuff is cool, but I generally favor songs and bands that write about things I can relate to. Still, it’s a minor quibble because I’m quite proud and happy that Iron Maiden has continued to successfully wave the banner of heavy metal high in the 2000s.

Anyway, this was the comeback album for Maiden. After the abysmal sales and harsh reviews for 1998’s Virtual XI, singer Blaze Bayley was out by early ’99 and Bruce Dickinson was back in after leaving the group in ’93 to go solo.  Also rejoining the group was guitarist Adrian Smith (who left sometime in 1990). So, for the first time, we had not two but THREE guitarists in Iron Maiden as Janick Gers, Smith’s replacement, stayed on. The band ran through a successful reunion tour, release another greatest hits album and then set about to record Brave New World.

Needless to say, the album was a major success as Iron Maiden was one of the few acts signed to famed A&R man John Kalodner’s revived Portrait Records label and this album would eventually go gold, also proving Maiden to be the only successful act for the label’s short-lived return.

Listening to the album now, I think I see why I didn’t care for it at the time. It’s a very melodic, epic slow album. Not that there aren’t a few rockers, but most of these songs are slow-tempo and make use of keyboards a lot. So at that time, I was wanting balls-to-the-wall heavy metal. Perhaps an album full of “Run to the Hills”, “Can I Play With Madness?”, “2 Minutes to Midnight” or “The Trooper” was what I was looking for it. Nothing here matches the urgency and punch of those songs, but the album comes pretty close with “The Wicker Man” and “Brave New World”.

The numbers have a slower pace and are less metallic, but this is still a must have Maiden album, IMO.

According to Adrian Smith, “The Nomad”, “Dream of Mirrors” and “The Mercenary” were songs originally written to Virtual XI.

Highlights: “The Wicker Man”, “Ghost of the Navigator”, “Blood Brothers”, “Brave New World”, “The Mercenary”, “The Nomad”, “Out of the Silent Planet”

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden

IRON MAIDEN – Killers

Iron Maiden – Killers [Enhanced Edition] (1998, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)
Original Release: 1981, Capitol Records

1. “The Ides of March” … 1:45
2. “Wrathchild” … 2:54
3. “Murders in the Rue Morgue” … 4:19
4. “Another Life” … 3:22
5. “Genghis Khan” … 3:06
6. “Innocent Exile” … 3:53
7. “Killers” … 5:01
8. “Prodigal Son” … 6:11
9. “Purgatory” … 3:21
10. “Twilight Zone” … 2:34
11. “Drifter” … 4:48

Band:
Paul Di’Anno – Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass guitar, Backing Vocals
Clive Burr – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Dennis Stratton – Guitar

This the second and final album to feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals and I like it much better than their debut. Iron Maiden had some punk influence, but I enjoy Killers much more because it sees Iron Maiden settling into a much more typical NWOBHM sound (which isn’t a bad thing). The album still shows the beginnings of the galloping metal the band would produce with Bruce Dickinson though. The addition of guitarist Adrian Smith (replacing Dennis Stratton) greatly helps bring the band to the next level as well.

Though I like Di’Anno’s vocals, I agree with what the band his vocals were not and would not fit in with the musical direction they wanted to go in. The signs of a mismatch were showing on this album, most glaringly on “Prodigal Son”. He doesn’t offer up a bad performance on the album, it’s just a case of not fitting in anymore (he was a great fit for their more raucous debut though).

To be honest, I don’t have much more to say about this album because I don’t have much of an emotional connection to Iron Maiden (and certainly not to the Di’Anno albums), but it’s definitely a classic metal release and I recommend it over the band’s debut for anyone who is curious about pre-Dickinson Iron Maiden.

Produced by: Martin Birch

Highlights: “Wrathchild”, “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “Another Life”, “Genghis Khan”, “Prodigal Son”, “Purgatory”, “Twilight Zone”

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden
www.pauldianno.com
www.myspace.com/diannothebeast

Looking forward to in 2009…

2008 gave us tons of great rock/metal albums, but we gotta keep movin’ on! Here’s the bands I’m looking forward to most, who are slated to have new albums released:

KISS – THE most looked forward to release for ’09 for me. With Paul producing, promises of a 1970s KISS vibe, and Tommy & Eric in the studio, I have no doubt this album will deliver.

Megadeth – My 2nd most anticipated release. United Abominations was a slight step down from The System Has Failed, but still high quality. I know Dave is going to get it done again.

Heaven And Hell – Dio-era Black Sabbath. ‘Nuff said! Can’t wait to hear what these guys have cooked up.

Iron Maiden – Bruce Dickinson says something new will pop up…

Anthrax – While I wish John (or even Joey) was still in the band, I’m looking forward to the release of Worship Music.

Bon Jovi –  Another greatest hits is in the works for ’09 and Jon & Richie are reportedly working on new material for the next studio album. Richie has stated they’ll be moving away from the country sounds of Lost Highway, which is great news to me. I suppose the hits comp will be the only Bon Jovi release of 2009, but hopefully, the greatest hits record will give us a taste of their next musical step with a new song or two. Despite the recent disappointments, Bon Jovi is a band I’ll always give a chance to win me back.

Ace Frehley – Tentatively planned to be released in Spring 2008, there’s been little word from Ace about his latest solo effort since that season has come and gone. Some song ideas reportedly go back to the early-90s. Is this Ace’s Chinese Democracy? Hey, I hear KISS is putting out a new album in 2009, what better time than Ace to get a bit of that spotlight and release his own album? KISS tour with Ace as the supporting act, anyone?

Hot Leg – The new band from Justin Hawkins, the former frontman for The Darkness, is due for a release in January. From what they’ve released online, it sounds just as silly as The Darkness was and I’m okay with that.

Slash – A new Velvet Revolver album seems unlikely (at least for 2009), but I’m really curious as to what Slash has got in his top hat for a solo release.

Who else?

IRON MAIDEN – The Number of the Beast

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast [Enhanced Edition] (1998, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)
Original Release: 1982, Capitol Records

Track Listing:
1. “Invaders” (3:22)
2. “Children of the Damned” (4:34)
3. “The Prisoner” (6:00)
4. “22 Acacia Avenue” (6:34)
5. “The Number of the Beast” (4:49)
6. “Run to the Hills” (3:50)
7. “Gangland” (3:47)
8. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (7:11)

Band:
Bruce Dickinson – Lead Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass, Backing Vocals
Clive Burr – Drums

Not only is this Iron Maiden’s brightest moment, IMO, but it’s also one of the greatest metal albums ever released. As good as the Di’Anno albums are, Bruce Dickinson’s arrival as lead singer took the band to even greater heights.

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was my favorite Maiden album (and my first purchase, used), but once I heard this, it blew it out of the water.

Every song here is a heavy metal classic, though if pressed for an absolute favorite I’d have to go with the haunting “Children of the Damned”. Really not much else to say about this album that hasn’t been said throughout the years. A MUST HAVE for any true metalhead.

Produced by: Martin Birch

Highlights: The whole album

www.ironmaiden.com
www.myspace.com/ironmaiden

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