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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/

 

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert – Live In Tokyo

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert – Live In Tokyo (2010, Inakustik Records)

CD 1
1. “Welcome Howl” … 2:06
2. “Feels Like A Good Thing” … 3:45
3. “Cry For The Nations” … 5:50
4. “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” … 6:59
5. “Armed And Ready” … 4:24
6. “Victim Of Illusion” … 5:22
7. “Are You Ready To Rock” … 6:49
8. “I Want You” … 4:00
9. “A Night To Remember” … 4:14
10. “Into The Arena” … 4:22

CD 2
1. “Lost Horizons” … 9:52
2. “Rock My Nights Away” … 4:48
3. “On And On” … 5:40
4. “Attack Of The Mad Axeman” … 5:16
5. “Ride On My Way” … 4:27
6. “Rock Bottom” … 11:39
7. “Dance Lady Gipsy” … 4:28
8. “Doctor, Doctor” … 5:51

Band:
Gary Barden – Lead Vocals
Michael Schenker – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Wayne Findlay – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums

Producer: Kiyoshi Iwasawa

The 30th Anniversary Concert – Live In Tokyo is, well, a 30th anniversary concert from Tokyo! It was recorded on January 10, 2010 at the Nakano Sun Plaza to celebrate 30 years since MSG’s formation. Rightfully, the night mostly focuses on the group’s first two releases and original MSG members singer Gary Barden and drummer Simon Phillips are back in the fold. There are also a few songs from the group’s 2008 album In the Midst of Beauty and “Dance Lady Gipsy” comes from an album called Lady Gipsy which was released under the Schenker Barden Acoustic Project name in 2009.

I must admit for all these years I haven’t followed Michael’s career all that closely outside of the albums he did with the Scorpions. It wasn’t until this past year I’ve made an effort to try out his solo material and the only UFO album I own is The Essential UFO compilation but after listening to this album it’s easy to see why Schenker (the man and the Group) has such a loyal following. I’ve never questioned his status as a guitar god though and it’s obvious a status he is still retaining in 2010, just amazing work all throughout this night.

30 years later, Gary Barden’s voice isn’t as strong as it once was but that’s to be expected and it’s not like his voice is shot. He can still get it done. If anything, his vocals have a bit of a rougher edge and texture that I happen to like and it gives the songs an even more loose, raw rock ‘n’ roll feel. At certain points, I think he sounds like Bruce Dickinson (even if he lacks his power) and Fozzy’s Chris Jericho.

I can’t imagine too many complaining about the set list here. It hits upon the major MSG moments, throws in some new tunes (which are solid and the best of those is “Ride On My Way”) and of course it wouldn’t be a Schenker concert unless he tossed out a few signature songs from his UFO days. The Sun Plaza holds a little over 2,000 people. I’m not sure if this show was a sellout but the crowd is enthusiastic throughout and especially eats up the classics.

For someone that isn’t (yet) a hardcore Schenker fan, I enjoyed this album a lot. I’m sure Schenker fans will enjoy it even more than I did. Thumbs up!

Highlights: “Feels Like A Good Thing”, “Cry For The Nations”, “Armed And Ready”, “I Want You”, “Into the Arena”, “Lost Horizons”, “Ride On My Way”, “Rock Bottom”, “Doctor, Doctor”

http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com/
http://www.myspace.com/michaelschenkerhimself

McAULEY SCHENKER GROUP – Save Yourself

McAuley Schenker Group – Save Yourself (1989, Capitol Records)

1. “Save Yourself” … 6:16
2. “Bad Boys” … 4:05
3. “Anytime” … 5:46
4. “Get Down To Bizness” … 4:23
5. “Shadow Of The Night” … 5:22
6. “What We Need” … 4:15
7. “I Am Your Radio” … 4:49
8. “There Has To Be Another Way” … 1:40
9. “This Is My Heart” … 5:01
10. “Destiny” … 4:35
BONUS TRACK
11. “Take Me Back” … 4:51

Band:
Robin McAuley – Vocals
Michael Schenker – Guitar
Steve Mann – Guitar, Keyboards
Rocky Newton – Bass
Bodo Schopf – Drums

Producer: Frank Filipetti

I’m working back through the McAuley era of Michael Schenker’s career (I started with 1991’s M.S.G.) and Save Yourself is another solid slice of melodic hard rock. I prefer the M.S.G. album but there’s a still a few choice cuts here like the minor hit “Anytime”. It’s easily the album’s best song and is a fine example of what good things could come out of the pop metal genre in the late ’80s. I also like the other two singles this album spawned: “This Is My Heart” is another great commercial rocker and “Save Yourself” is a high energy number. “Take Me Back” was a bonus track exclusive to the CD version of the album and it’s pretty darn good.

The trend with McAuley Schenker seems to be an effort to fit in with the glossy hard rock scene of the day, thus Michael Schenker seems content to lay low for the most part but the instrumental “There Has To Be Another Way” shows particular fire and reminds me of Schenker’s earlier works. Robin McAuley again delivers a good performance with his gravelly voice.

As I mentioned earlier, this album isn’t as good as M.S.G., there are a few songs here I consider filler like “Bad Boys” and “Get Down To Bizness”. Looking at the song titles, you would not be incorrect to assume they are fairly generic pop metal numbers.

Still, all told, this is a good album. It’s a shame this group only managed to squeak out a few minor hits, three studio albums and one live release. Robin and Michael made for a good pair.

Highlights: “Save Yourself”, “Anytime”, “Shadow Of The Night”, “There Has To Be Another Way”, “This Is My Heart”, “Take Me Back”

http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com
http://www.myspace.com/michaelschenkerhimself
http://www.robinmcauley.com/
http://www.myspace.com/robin_mcauley

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP – Michael Schenker Group

The Michael Schenker Group – The Michael Schenker Group [Remastered] (2009, EMI Records/Chrysalis Records – UK Import)
Original Release: 1980, Chrysalis Records

1. “Armed and Ready” … 4:05
2. “Cry for the Nations” … 5:08
3. “Victim of Illusion” … 4:41
4. “Bijou Pleasurette” … 2:16
5. “Feels Like a Good Thing” … 3:44
6. “Into the Arena” … 4:10
7. “Looking Out from Nowhere” … 4:28
8. “Tales of Mystery” … 3:16
9. “Lost Horizons” … 7:04
BONUS TRACKS
10. “Just a Lover” (Demo) … 4:34
11. “Looking Out from Nowhere” (Demo) … 5:13
12. “Get Up and Get Down” (Demo) … 3:59
13. “After Midnight” (Demo) … 4:31
14. “Breakout” (Demo) … 4:42
15. “Cry for the Nations” (Radio Edit) … 3:35
16. “Armed and Ready” (Live) … 4:40
17. “Into the Arena” (Live) … 4:20

Band:
Gary Barden – Vocals
Michael Schenker – Guitar
Paul Raymond – Guitar, Keyboards (Tracks 16 &17)
Mo Foster – Bass (Tracks 1-9, 15)
Chris Glen – Bass (Tracks 16 & 17)
Billy Sheehan – Bass (Tracks 10-14)
Simon Phillips – Drums (Tracks 1-9, 15)
Denny Carmassi – Drums (Tracks 10-14)
Cozy Powell – Drums (Tracks 16 & 17)
Don Airey – Keyboards (Tracks 1-9, 15)

Producer: Roger Glover

I’ve had the early Michael Schenker Group albums on my want list for years and for once my procrastination has paid off because this album was reissued & remastered in 2009 with an additional EIGHT tracks. Now that’s how you do reissues!

The first time I recall hearing “Armed and Ready” was earlier this year (I know, shame on me) on the Guitar Hero: Metallica game. I blown away by it, it’s a great tune and became one of my most played tracks from that game. Unfortunately, the rest of the album isn’t up to meet the energy and high level of rock set with opening track.

The album isn’t bad and it isn’t even average, I have to say it’s quite good but “Armed and Ready” is such a great hard rock song, I was disappointed by everything else I heard. This is melodic hard rock, but maybe a bit too melodic and polished. I was hoping for a bit of a harder take on things ala Scorpions. So the MSG debut is good, but not quite as good as I was lead to believe over the years.

The bonus tracks are really cool though. It’s hard rock, there’s no keyboards to be heard (I much prefer the demo of “Looking Out from Nowhere” over the final product). Solid stuff. I wonder why Schenker decided to add in keyboards for the actual album and why some of these songs didn’t make the cut?

Highlights: “Armed and Ready”, “Victim of Illusion”, “Feels Like a Good Thing”, “Into the Arena”, “Tales of Mystery”, “Just a Lover”

www.michaelschenkerhimself.com
www.myspace.com/michaelschenkerhimself

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