1. Testament – THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION
I am still shocked at how awesome this thrashterpiece is. Often when my hopes are this high before an album release I end up being disappointed with the end result, but not this time. We did have a LONG wait for this album considering it’s their first since THE GATHERING (1999)! Having original guitarist Alex Skolnick back in the band (he left after 1992′s THE RITUAL) plays a big role as well.
2. Brainstorm – DOWNBURST
Yeah so I’m an Andy B. Franck fan-boy. I first became captivated with Symphorce and then Brainstorm. Andy’s voice keeps on getting better as does both bands that he fronts. On DOWNBURST the band stick with their power/thrashy mixture of melodic yet aggressive metal…and it doesn’t get much better than this.
3. Iced Earth – THE CRUCIBLE OF MAN – SOMETHING WICKED PT 2
4. Into Eternity – THE INCURABLE TRAGEDY
5. Metallica – DEATH MAGNETIC
6. Firewind – THE PREMONITION
7. Mötley Crüe – SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES
8. Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia – THE SCARECROW
9. Motörhead – MOtORIZER
10. Cavalera Conspiracy – INFLICTED
11. Chrome Division – BOOZE, BROADS & BEELZEBUB
12. Warrel Dane – PRAISES TO THE WAR MACHINE
13. Metal Church – THIS PRESENT WASTELAND
14. Moonspell – NIGHT ETERNAL
15. Edguy – TINNITUS SANCTUS
16. Circle II Circle - DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR
17. Jon Oliva’s Pain – GLOBAL WARNING
18. Judas Priest - NOSTRADAMUS
19. Sabaton – THE ART OF WAR
20. Revolution Renaissance – NEW ERA
BEST NEW BAND
Revolution Renaissance – NEW ERA
The jury is still out on how much of a “band” this is versus Tolkki’s solo project. I found it hard to pick a best new band this year and hesitated in selecting Revolution Renaissance because the album is about a 3/5 on my scale. I like a lot of the songs and it had plenty of repeat plays but all of the slower ballad orientated songs should have been replaced with songs in the vein of “Speed of Light”…then I would have been satisfied.
Gamma Ray – Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome: Live In Montreal
This DVD was talked about and delayed for quite a while and in late 2008 it was finally released. After seeing Gamma Ray live this past September, at the same venue as this DVD was shot at (Le Medley, Montreal, Canada) I can say that the DVD does capture the magic and power of a Gamma Ray show. The only thing that would of made this DVD twice as awesome would have been if it was a 4 DVD set featuring both Gamma Ray and Helloween from the Hellish Rock tour. The show closers where both bands took to the stage was hopefully pro-shot and can one day be released! But that aside, this DVD is a must for Gamma Ray / power metal fans. The sound quality is very good but the video is a little sub-par. It’s well above bootleg of course, but with the bar being raised so high with high definition, you can really see the graininess and lack of HD quality that most of us are used to and demand. The DVD bonus materials are fun to watch with a road movie, videos, a live at Wacken segment (has higher quality picture than the main DVD) some Gamma Ray “histoRay”, behind-the-scenes antics, and more.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS of 2008
Judas Priest – NOSTRADAMUS
This one did not grow on my like I hoped it might. After all the build-up and hopes I had for this album it completely failed to deliver the goods. Out of the 2 CDs of material there is ALMOST enough to make one OK album, but so much of the material plods along and I lost interest rather quickly. After the self-titled song was released as a teaser to the album I thought all the material would be as strong….PAINKILLER this ain’t!
Death Angel – Killing Season
Taking another step along the road first trodden with their comeback album THE ART OF DYING (2004) Death Angel continue to move away from what they do best…thrash! I love Motorhead but I do not love Death Angel playing dirty rawk and roll/metal. For me their peak was the modic thrash album ACT III. I’m still waiting for “Act IV”.
GREATEST HOPES FOR 2009
1. Heaven and Hell – Can the reunited Dio Black Sabbath release an album as godly as their new band name, easily the best Dio/Sab album HEAVEN AND HELL? I can’t wait to find out!
2. Slayer – Can they continue with an album similar to the amazing CHRIST ILLUSION?
3. Primal Fear – I expect the German power commandos will continue to kick ass with “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” in May 2009!
4. HammerFall – “No Sacrifice, No Victory”, the 7th studio album by HammerFall out February 20, 2009.
5. Rhapsody (of fire) – This band hasn’t put out an album since the piece of shit TRIUMPH OR AGONY in 2006. Here’s hoping that Luca stops being so weird and gets Rhapsody back for some SPEEDY symphonic power metal from the enchanted lands!
6. Savatage (I can still continue to dream)
I’ve listed this one for this section for several years to no avail. SAVATAGE, WE MISS YOU! TSO is great and makes you a load of money, but why can’t you take a couple months of the year to record new Savatage material with Jon and Zakk on vocals…what a huge album it could be! I know that Circle II Circle and Jon Oliva’s Pain are both great (they are in my top 20 this year) and Chris Caffery is also quite active with his solo stuff, but combined you all could unleash something quite groundbreaking.