Best of 2011 – JP
Another banner year for Metal! As always, more albums, more tours, more shows, more books, more DVD’s…as Blackie Lawless would say, the torture never stops! There were a couple of professional highlights for me in 2011. As co-host of one of the world’s longest running Metal radio shows, Megawatt Mayhem, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary and I celebrated my 11th year as co-host.
The other highlight was when I had the very great honor of being asked by EvilG to be the Managing Editor of Metal-Rules. I became involved more than ever before; with a year-long project culminating in the launch of The Library Of Loudness. This new section is, to the best of our knowledge, the biggest collection of Heavy Metal book reviews of the internet with more titles being added every month. Metal-Rules.com is at the height of our power with more reviews, interviews, concert reviews, pages, hits and members than almost any other Metal webzine on the internet. It won’t be long in 2012 before we eclipse 8,000 CD reviews and 1000 interviews in our database, all for you to enjoy. We passed 11,000 friends on our Facebook Page and we have almost 100,000 registered users on our Discussion Forum. We rule the ruins!
A personal highlight was attending the inaugural 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise. I got to see many of my favourite bands that I had never seen before like Saxon, Raven and Rage! It was a great year, all backed by a full-on Metal soundtrack. Here is what caught my eyes and ears this year!
Top 20 Albums
As usual, Traditional, Classic and Power Metal reigned supreme on my list. There is plenty of new, young talent on my list. Seven bands’ debut albums, and another five bands only on their sophomore effort, roar into my Top 20. These young guns wave the flag of True Metal.
#1. Riot-Immortal Soul (SPV)
Unlike the last two years where new bands (Cain’s Offering, Pathfinder) from out of nowhere take the top slot, this year it is a battle-tested veteran of the Metal wars. The speed, the power, the glory, the majesty…I never thought that in a million years they could make an album like this again, namely Thundersteel Part II. It instantly was a Top 3 contender and made the cut for this year’s #1 pick for me.
2. Dragon Guardian-Destiny Of The Sacred Kingdom (Indie)
3. Reinxeed-1912 (Rivel)
4. Pagan’s Mind-Heavenly Ecstasy (SPV)
5. Solar Fragment-In Our Hands (Scarlet)
6. Rhapsody Of Fire-From Chaos To Eternity (Nuclear Blast)
7. Lorenguard-Eve Of Corruption: The Days Of Astasia-Part One (Indie) (debut)
8. Symfonia-Paradisum (Armoury) (debut)
9. Vicious Rumors-Razorback Killers (SPV)
10. Fireforce-March On (7hard) (debut)
11. Iron Savior-The Landing (AFM)
12. Absolute Power-Absoulte Power (Feto) (debut)
13. Fullforce-One (SPV) (debut)
14. Holy Force-Holy Force (Music By Mail) (debut)
15. Divinefire-Eye Of The Storm (Liljgren)
16. Crylord-Blood Of The Prophets (Lion) (debut)
17. Lord Volture-Never Cry Wolf (Indie)
18. Infinity Overture-The Infinity Overture-Part One (Lion)
19. Iron Mask-Black As Death (AFM)
20. Eagleheart-Dreamtherapy (Scarlet)
Best Live Album
Whitesnake-Live At Donnigton-1990.(Frontiers)
Captured at the height of their power I saw this tour just a few months prior to the recording of this show. The band was firing on all cylinders on it’s home turf, finally released for all to hear.
Best New Band
Masterforce – Masterforce (Indie) Young Italian hopefuls, worth watching.
Discovery Of The Year
Dragon Guardian-Destiny Of The Sacred Kingdom (Indie) With seven albums already under their belt I have a long way to go to explore this Japanese bands catalogue.
Cradle Of Filth-Evermore Darkly.(Nuclear Blast) An EP done right with tons of bonus material on DVD.
Best Misc. Release (Covers/Remakes/Childrens/Comedy/Acoustic/Compilations etc)
Necrocomiccon-Hot Dog Cart Hunger. (Indie) Deadly brilliant Black Metal cover tunes of 80’s pop tunes performed perfectly by Pat of Swashbuckle and friends!
There are so many different types of DVD’s (Documentaries, video collections, concerts, band histories) it’s hard to rank, so of the dozen I saw this year here is my Top 2 breakdown.
Hypocrisy – Hell Over Sofia (Nuclear Blast) Killer concert and the bonus documentary, 20 Years Of Chaos And Confusion is one of the better band histories I’ve seen.
Deep Purple – Phoenix Rising (Eaglevision) Best DVD packaging I’ve seen in years. Fascinating documentary as well as awesome, rare live, footage from Japan.
Again like DVD’s there are so many categories of books, biographies, autobiographies, academic works, photo/art books, books of lists, that it is hard to only pick one! These three stood out for me.
Metallion: The Slayer Mag Diaries (Bazillion Points) All 20 glorious issues in one place and a history of the fanzine!
Glenn Hughes-Deep Purple And Beyond (Foruli) A quintessential Rock Star autobiography.
The Collectors Guide To Heavy Metal Vol IV: The 00’s. Martin Popoff completes the quadrology of the best series of Metal album review books.
Hibra-Blind Ride (King Records)
Too dark, too slow and the singer changed his style too much into a ‘so-called’ modern style.
It was nice to finally see Arkona, Mayhem, Grave, Chthonic and Sepultura.
Festival Style: 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. (Florida/Mexico)
Bar Show: Skullfist, Hrom and Stinger (Calgary, Alberta) followed closely by Gatekrashor and Midnight Malice at Noctis Valkyries 4.20. (Calgary, Alberta)
Lucky Seven Greatest Hopes for 2012
New Manowar album. (Carried over from 2010, again)
W.A.S.P.’s Blackie Lawless decides to release the mountain of archived footage (and the long-lost Japanese only video collection) in a cool, historical 3+ DVD set. Blackie also finishes his autobiography he has been rumored to have working on for years. (Also carried over from 2010, again)
Metalocalypse Season Four. (Carried over from 2010, again) The only TV series worth watching. Delayed from 2011, it got renewed on Adult Swim and returns to it’s original episode run-time of 15 minutes. Watch for the DVD by late 2012. Season Four airs on April 15th.
New albums by Kiss and Van Halen dominate the universe.
The return of the International Heavy Metal Industry Conference at Noctis Valkyries 6 in Calgary, Alberta in October.
The new album by Dragonforce featuring their new vocal god, Mark Hudson!
Metal Evolution is released on DVD with mucho bonus material.