1. Bloodbound – Tabula Rasa
With the return of Urban Breed, Bloodbound have finally moved up into the heavyweight category. Fresh from his departure from Tad Morose, Urban Breed and Bloodbound released NOSFERATU in 2005. It was a bit of a letdown and Urban left the band for the follow-up BOOK OF THE DEAD. Now with him firmly back in the fold Bloodbound have created one of the strongest releases of the year. Urban Breed is at his best and his vocal melodies take what is an excellent disc and make it amazing!
2. Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
Primal Fear has been one of my favourite bands since its inception. The band’s music is powerful and Ralf Scheepers is arguably one of the best vocalists in all of metal. That being said I have drifted away from the band for the last few CDs. There have been a few amazing moments on those discs but they seemed to me to a be a bit of the “same old same old”. Nothing wrong with that but they just did not do it for me. Not so with 16.6 (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead). From the first listen, I felt that the band had recaptured the magic. Here was Primal Fear at their best and back on top of the metal heap!
3. Steel Panther – Feel the Steel
4. Alex Beyrodt’s Voodoo Circle – Voodoo Circle
5. Megadeth – Endgame
6. Brainstorm – Memorial Roots
7. Lamb of God – Wrath
8. Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue
9. Stratovarius – Polaris
10. Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know
11. Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings
12. Lions Share – Darkest Hours
13. Redemption – Snowfall on Judgment Day
14. Evile – Infected Nations
15. Sirenia – The 13th Floor
16. Slayer –World Painted Blood
17. W.A.S.P. – Babylon
18. Shadows Fall – Retribution
19. Manimal – The Darkest Room
20. Tyr – By the Light of the Northern Star
Best New Band
All hail the panther. I know that these guys are a comedy act but their CD FEEL THE STEEL hasn’t left rotation in my player in months. The tunes are infectious and funny as hell but they have staying power. The band has been around in many incarnations but this is the first release under the Steel Panther moniker. It remains to be seen whether they can follow-up on their current success but FEEL THE STEEL might just be the surprise disc of the year.
Discovery of 2009
How did I miss these guys. Having released their first CD ENTER THE GRAVE in 2007, the band somehow flew under my radar until a friend who was spinning their newest CD INFECTED NATIONS non-stop turned me onto them. I fell in love with the band’s retro thrash and reeled with the metal world when their bass player Mike Alexander died in October while on tour in Sweden. I just hope that the band survives this episode and comes back stronger than ever in 2010.
Queensryche – American Soldier
Where to start? I was hoping that OPERATION MINDCRIME 2 had marked a turning point for the band. I guess I was wrong. Queensryche had been lost in the wilderness for years churning out bland mediocre albums that were relegating the band to the Spinal Tap “Where Are They Now” file. OPERATION MINDCRIME 2 showed some small signs that the band could still step up to the plate and make some good music. I guess I was wrong. AMERICAN SOLDIER has a good premise but Queensryche are long past having any relevance to anyone and tugging at the heartstrings will not save them now.
Yet again, I am disappointed with no Savatage CD. Time to get over it I guess.
Biggest Hopes for 2010
The classic Thundersteel lineup has reunited and is supposedly working on new material for a mid 2010 release. Riot is one of my favourite bands and I am looking forward to seeing what that groundbreaking lineup can do 20 years later.
Maiden is supposed to have a new disc ready at some point in 2010. I am looking forward to hearing what the band has up its sleeve. Their focus has changed and the songwriting has been spotty as of late but I still have hopes that they have some great songs left in them. There will never be another POWERSLAVE or NUMBER OF THE BEAST but I do not think the creative pot has run dry yet.
Iron Maiden – Flight 666
It is Maiden. They put out some of the best metal DVDs period. What else needs to be said?