Robert Williams – Best of 2011
1. Twisted Tower Dire – Make It Dark "Make It Dark" marked the first studio effort for the band with new vocalist Johnny Aune who surprisingly delivers on all fronts, transitioning very smoothly into the role of lead screamer for the traditional American heavy metal veterans. Instant classics like the high energy "Mystera" and the catchy hooks of "White Shadow" had me spinning this record in heavy rotation throughout the year. The combination of the devil may care musical delivery and the convincingly bad to the bone lyrics of "The Stone" made me proud to be a metal fan in 2011 and who could forget the epic classic heavy metal powerhouse of a journey that was "Beyond The Gate"? I knew from the beginning that "Make It Dark" would top my year end list and it has held up all year against all contenders to the throne. All hail Twisted Tower Dire!
2. Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – Land of the Dead
One of the records I was most looking forward to in 2011 was "Land Of The Dead" the new release from famed American heavy metal guitarist Jack Starr (ex-Virgin Steele, Guardians of the Flame, Phantom Lord, Strider) Two years ago a regrouped and revamped Burning Starr released the comeback album "Defiance" through Magic Circle Music. In my opinion, Jack and company have never sounded tighter as a band than on their latest record "Land Of the Dead". Look to the charging title track, the scorching melodic metal riffery of "Here We Are" and of course "Warning Fire" where Jack teams up with Ross "The Boss" Friedman (ex Manowar, The Dictators) for a facemelting exchange of shredding heavy metal lead guitar awesomeness. Jack Starr delivers the metal goods once again!
3. Scheepers – Scheepers
4. Ancient Creation – Moonlight Monument
5. Saxon – Call To Arms
6. Jag Panzer – The Scourge Of The Light
7. Destruction – Day Of Reckoning
8. Riot – Immortal Soul
9. Arch Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance
10. Meliah Rage – Dead To The World
11. Pentagram – Last Rites
12. Anthrax – Worship Music
13. Denial Fiend – Horror Holocaust
14. The Rods – Vengeance
15. Exhumed – All Guts, No Glory
16. Omnium Gatherum – New World Shadows
17. Destroyer 666 – To The Devil His Due
18. Avigal – Unbroken
19. Sinner – One Bullet Left
20. The Gates Of Slumber – Wretch
Best Metal EP/MCD
Brute Forcz – Kick Ass Heavy Metal
Every now and then in life we are introduced to some metal that is so over the top in it’s sincerity and delivery that it makes us say "Wow, this is fucking great!" Such is the case with Brute Forcz, the kick ass heavy metal three-piece made up of professional wrestlers Slammer and Jammer and lead guitarist Will Wallner. The perfect combination of sleazy lyrics, eighties metal riffery and no nonsense approach make this a debut release to remember. If you don’t "Dig It" like Macho Man Randy Savage, prepare to get dealt a steel chair spiked piledriver.
Best New Metal Band
Power Theory are a four piece powerhouse heavy metal band from Tullytown, Pennsylvania who enlisted the services of wunderkind producer Achim Kohler (Primal Fear, Amon Amarth, Brainstorm) for their self financed debut full length "Out Of The Ashes, Into The Fire…And Other Tales Of Insanity" shortly before signing with cult true metal label Pure Steel Records. Definitely a band to keep an eye on in 2012.
Best Metal DVD
Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder: The Movie
"Heavy Metal Thunder: The Movie" is the definitive inside look into the longstanding career of NWOBHM legends Saxon. Featuring vintage concert footage of the band, in the studio and on tour behind the scenes documentaries, not to mention archived interviews from the recording of the "Crusader" album and guest appearances by Lemmy, "Fast" Eddie Clarke and Mikkey Dee, Lars Ulrich, Doro Pesch and Airbourne make this an enyoyable viewing and must have addition to the DVD library of Saxon fans everywhere.
Best Metal Book
Ace Frehley – No Regrets
I have to admit to have reading a lot about KISS over the years, whether it’s books about the band or magazine articles or website coverage, and there is already plenty of stuff out there about the "Hottest Band In The Land" but never before have we had the opportunity to read it through the perspective of the Spaceman, original KISS lead guitarist Ace Frehley. Where Gene and Paul steered clear of drugs and alcohol, centering their empire around sex, money and fame; Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss were the bonafide party animals of the band and this book recalls everything from growing up in the Bronx as a teenage gang member to touring the world with KISS, his solo years, the reunion tour, his personal life and battles with drug and alcohol abuse and everything in between.
Best Metal Concert
1. Saxon – South Texas Rockfest – Sunken Garden Ampitheatre – San Antonio, Texas
2. Dio Disciples – South Texas Rock Fest – Sunken Garden Ampitheatre – San Antonio, Texas
3. Pentagram – SXSW – Austin, Texas
4. Mayhem – Emo’s – Austin, Texas
5. Cannibal Corpse – Fun Fun Fun Fest – Austin, Texas
Best Local Metal Band
Cruxiter hailing from Alice, Texas are composed of the last known lineup for cult U.S. thrashers Hammerwhore. Differing greatly in sound than the ashes of their former namesake, Cruxiter bring a strong branding of NWOBHM and early to mid eighties American heavy metal influence to the forefront of their arsenal. Definitely a band to keep an eye on in 2012.
Greatest Metal Hopes
1. I would like to hear some kick ass new albums from Angel Witch (Finally) Twisted Tower Dire, Manowar, Candlemass, Primal Fear, KISS, Iron, Maiden, Ross The Boss, Metalucifer, Watain, Cannibal Corpse, and Kreator.
3. Lost Horizon reunite with Daniel Heiman. Both Evil G (Editor Supreme) and myself have long held out hope for a reconciliation and reformation of the band that brought us "Awakening The World" and "A Flame To The Ground Beneath". Who knows…It may not happen in 2012, but when it does it will knock your f*cking socks off. I guarantee it.
4. We’ve had the Big 4 of Thrash, so now it is time for a world tour or at least a one off performance from the Big 4 of Heavy Metal (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar)
5. I would like an Yngwie J. Malmsteen signature Fender Stratocaster with scalloped frets to magically show up on my doorstep when I get home from work. I know guitar manufacturer’s hang on our every word here at Metal-Rules.com and surely one of you can make this happen! Contact me via the staff page and I’ll e-mail you over my mailing address! (Well I can dream can’t I?)
Greatest Metal Disappointments
1. After 31 years of delivering the goods with some of the best metal this world will ever know, KK Downing left Judas Priest. I am still severely mentally distraught and devastated over this shocking turn of misfortunate events. There is no hope for any of us from here on out.
2. Queensryche – "Dedicated To Chaos" should have been titled "Dedicated To Writing Farty Ass Music That Even Balding Fifty Year Old Weekend Warriors Find Super Boring"
3. Metallica/Lou Reed – "Lulu" – Two steps forward, ten steps back.
4. Any kind of list on "That Metal Show" I cannot tell you how many times I have yelled at my TV set and/or face-palmed over your ridiculously rated, ever interchangeable selections. Get knowledgeable people. The "Box of Junk" chick is the best thing going for this show.
5. Joe Elliot’s appearance in Sam Dunn’s "Evolution Of Metal" series. While I am with you on Def Leppard not being "Metal" Joe, the nerve of comparing your FM pop rock fodder to classic rock legends like Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Who and The Beatles is downright insulting. Oh, and I’ve always despised everything about your band and the way you sing your crappy songs.
Best Metal Reissue
Blacksmith – Strike When The Iron’s Hot
Heaven and Hell Records delivered an awesome re-issue of the long out of print back discography of New York’s Blacksmith, newly remastered and with extensive liner notes, photos and enhanced bonus video content. This release was a total "no brainer" for collectors of underground eighties heavy metal and Blacksmith fans with bootleg quality recordings.