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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/

 

RAVEN – Walk Through Fire

Raven – Walk Through Fire (2010, Metal Blade Records)
Original Release: 2009, King Records (Japan only)

1. “Intro” … 0:52
2. “Against The Grain” … 3:52
3. “Breaking You Down” … 3:02
4. “Under Your Radar” … 4:05
5. “Walk Through Fire” … 3:20
6. “Bulldozer” … 3:53
7. “Long Day’s Journey” … 4:50
8. “Trainwreck” … 3:34
9. “Grip” … 3:31
10. “Running Around In Circles” … 3:40
11. “Hard Road” … 3:45
12. “Armageddon” … 6:31
13. “Attitude” … 3:24
14. “Space Station #5” … 4:01
BONUS TRACKS
15. “Live At The Inferno” [live] … 4:17
16. “Rock Until You Drop” [live] … 5:32

Band:
John Gallagher – Vocals, Bass
Mark Gallagher – Guitar
Joe Hasselvander – Drums

Producer: Raven

This album was originally released exclusively in Japan in 2009 but received European/U.S. releases in 2010. I’m American and I have the American version that features two new bonus tracks, so that’s good enough to call this a 2010 album for me. Previous to buying this album, I owned only one Raven release — their debut Rock Until You Drop. It was okay but didn’t thrill me enough to catch up on the rest of their catalog. Still, I was willing to give this new release a try, even willing to buy the Japanese import but it was so expensive. I was relieved to hear a U.S. distribution deal was finally secured for this album.

Though I haven’t followed Raven’s career, I can at least report this album continues the NWBOHM meets early thrash/speed style they started with. For anyone else unfamiliar with this band, the closest comparison I can think of is Anvil. Both bands have that New Wave British metal sound while slightly pushing it to the limit and into the territories of speed & trash metal. I’m particularly impressed with John Gallagher’s high pitch vocals. It adds to the charm of this old school metal release.

Though this album isn’t going to make my Top 10 for the year, it’s still a fun heavy energetic listen carried by John’s vocals and great guitars. Hardcore Raven fans should be very pleased.

I hate this album cover, it’s so cheap looking but it appears they were maybe giving a nod to previous album covers for All For One and Live At The Inferno. In another bit of annoyance “Necessary Evil”, a new studio track, was left off the European/U.S. releases and replaced with two live “bonus” tracks. Frankly, I would have rather had a listen at another new song especially when John’s voice seems strained on “Rock Until You Drop” and the crowd seems rather subdued (small?).

Highlights: “Against The Grain’, “Under Your Radar”, “Long Day’s Journey”, “Trainwreck”, “Hard Road”

http://www.ravenlunatics.com/
http://www.myspace.com/ravenlunatics

Upcoming Reviews

I feel like I’ve finally made some progress on recent releases I had been procrastinating on reviewing but the music never stops so still I soldier on! Here’s more recent releases that I’m hoping to have reviewed over the course of the next week:

Gallows End – Nemesis Divine
Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon
Raven – Walk Through Fire (somewhat new, finally got released in the U.S. a few months back)
Fallen Angel – Crawling Out of Hell

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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