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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.

My Darkest Days – Sick And Twisted Affair (Album Review)

My Darkest Days – Sick And Twisted Affair
(2012,  Mercury Records)

1. Sick And Twisted Affair … 3:41
2. Save Yourself … 3:43
3. Casual Sex … 3:16
4. Stutter … 2:45
5. Nature Of The Beast … 3:03
6. Perfect … 3:51
7. Again … 3:38
8. Gone … 3:33
9. Love Crime … 2:59

Band:
Matt Walst – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Sal Costa – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brendan McMillan – Bass
Doug Oliver – Drums, Percussion
Reid Henry – Keyboard, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
John 5 – Guitar (“Casual Sex”)
Barry Stock – Guitar (“Again”)

Producer: Joey Moi

Well, when something is working, why change it? Just like My Darkest Days’ self-titled debutSick And Twisted Affair has he same producer (sans Chad Kroeger), guest musicians and dirty catchy club-worthy hard rock numbers that deal with sex.

There is a deluxe edition that features extra tracks a few alternate mixes and the same cover art but colored differently (I prefer the deluxe edition’s color scheme). I haven’t heard the deluxe edition but I’m really loving the fact that there’s only 9 songs on the regular edition. Always leave ’em wanting more, never overstay your welcome. Helps to cut down on filler too.

Speaking of filler, the only track I would consider to be just that is the band’s cover of Joe & Mystikal’s “Stutter”. I loved their take on Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” on the last album but this one doesn’t work, IMO.

So getting to what does work, let’s start off with the lead single “Casual Sex”. Definitely the follow up to “Porn Star Dancing” and meant to appeal to the club scene but that’s okay because it rocks at the same time (and just like “Porn Star Dancing” there are pop and rock mixes available). With that song and others, I’m noticing keyboards being used a lot more. There’s very much a synth sound found on Sick And Twisted Affair”, “Love Crime” and “Again” where the band comes across like a sexier version of Orgy (not that orgies can’t be sexy).

More in the typical modern hard rock style there is “Nature of the Beast” which I would place as the weakest original track on the album.

It’s really hard to pick the best tracks because I find myself repeating each song 2 or 3 times. On this day alone I think I’ve listened to this album 6 or 7 times total. Virtually every song will stick in your head and take up space. There’s so much single potential here. “Love Crime”, “Again”, “Save Yourself” and “Gone” are ready for rock & pop stations. “Save Yourself” and “Gone” are the two ballads on the album, great songs and I can definitely see them blowing up big on the pop stations.

As with the debut, this album is going to be one of my favorite of the year. Great collection of hard rock that has broad appeal. If you were a fan of My Darkest Days’ first album, you’re going to be a fan of this one as well.

Highlights: “Sick And Twisted Affair”, “Save Yourself”, “Casual Sex”, “Perfect”, “Again”, “Gone”, “Love Crime”

http://www.mydarkestdays.com
http://www.facebook.com/MyDarkestDays 

Buy the regular edition at Amazon.com Buy the deluxe edition 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/

 

My Darkest Days – My Darkest Days

My Darkest Days (2010, Mercury Records)

1. “Move Your Body” … 3:13
2. “Porn Star Dancing” (feat. Zakk Wylde & Chad Kroeger) … 3:19
3. “Every Lie” … 2:56
4. “Like Nobody Else” … 3:41
5. “The World Belongs To Me” … 3:42
6. “Save Me” … 3:41
7. “Set It On Fire” … 3:27 (feat. Orianthi)
8. “Come Undone” (feat. Jessie James) … 4:08
9. “Can’t Forget You” … 3:53
10. “Goodbye” … 3:59
11. “Porn Star Dancing” (feat. Chad Kroeger, Zakk Wylde, & Ludacris) … 3:55

Band:
Matt Walst – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Sal Costa – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brendan McMillan – Bass
Doug Oliver – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Zakk Wylde – Guitar
Chad Kroegar – Vocals, Percussion, Acoustic Guitar
Ludacris – Vocals
Orianthi – Guitar
Jessie James – Vocals
Joey Moi – Percussion, Backing Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Ted Bruner – Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
Scott Cooke – Backing Vocals

Producer: Joey Moi and Chad Kroeger

My Darkest Days is a post-grunge act. So why am I reviewing them? Well, I had read a few positive reviews on Amazon a few months ago and put the CD on my wishlist. I never got around to buying it but saw it at FYE the other week for $8 or $9 and knew it’d be cheaper to get it right then. If it sucked, well, I’d only be out a few bucks.

Does it suck? NO! This album is awesome and I can’t even explain why I like it! My Darkest Days is firmly entrenched in the radio-friendly post-grunge format but I think they are just a lot more melodic and hooky than most other “modern” acts and a bit more poppy. All of these songs are getting stuck in my head. There’s a good mix of the typical rock ‘n’ roll bravado with “Move Your Body” and “Porn Star Dancing” but I also dig the lovelorn moments like “Save Me” and “Can’t Forget You”, “Goodbye”. But never fear, there’s actually a POSITIVE love song called “Like Nobody Else”. I’m finding that I’m enjoying the lyrics to these songs as much as the music itself.

Here’s a fun fact: this group is apparently another pet project of Chad Kroeger (Nickelback). He co-produced and co-wrote all but three songs on this album. If I knew that before hand, I probably wouldn’t have bought the album. I’m not a Nickelback fan, they’re the #1 band to blame for the bland acts on radio these days and the last time I went for one of Kroeger’s “finds” it was Theory of a Deadman and they suck.

Kroeger definitely called in some favors for this album though. Lots of guest stars lined up for this one and I think that’s pretty cool. Zakk Wylde, Ludacris, Orianthi and Jessie James on the same album? What, is this a Slash record? With the guest stars, a cover of Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” and two versions of “Porn Star Dancing” it looks like the band is giving their all to become a success in the mainstream. There’s the “rock version” of “Porn Star Dancing” and then an alternative version featuring a part by Ludacris. It isn’t rap-metal or a hip-hop remake but I guess that version’s for the clubs or pop stations. There’s really only one dud in the whole bunch — The Police-influenced “Set It On Fire”.

This is definitely a band worth checking out for anyone who has a taste for modern hard rock that’s NOT influenced by the classic rock bands. I don’t really fit into that category but I’m enjoying it anyway so if you’re in the same boat as I am, you may end up enjoying this one too.

Highlights: “Move Your Body”, “Porn Star Dancing”, “Like Nobody Else”, “The World Belongs To Me”, “Save Me”, “Can’t Forget You”

http://www.mydarkestdays.com
http://www.facebook.com/MyDarkestDays
http://www.myspace.com/MyDarkestDays

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