Best of 2011 – EvilG
#1. Pagan’s Mind – Heavenly Ecstasy
I’ve liked Pagan’s Mind for a while, even saw them live with Stratovarius a couple years ago, but they were always just a “back burner” kind of band to me….good but not irreplaceable. With their 2011 release this is all changed for me as HEAVENLY ECSTASY just seemed to come from out of nowhere! I played this album over and over this year and I’m still not bored of it. Awesome album, awesome musicianship (godly guitar solos), and such memorable songs.
#2. Tyr – The Lay Of Thyrm
Tyr are another band who have become one of my favorites in the past few years. Despite a slight lessening of the folk in their metal, they are still one of the best, and for me, THE best band that falls within the “viking metal” style.
#3. Stratovarius – Elysium
Stratovarius are a long time favorite of mine, and they are still on top of their game! This album is another that I listened to a million times this year. The 18min title track is an amazing feat as they manage to keep my interest for 18mins without sounding like it’s 3 songs mashed together nor 1 song played 3 times! Hope they find a replacement worthy of the replacing long-time drummer Jörg Michael in 2012. Still sucks they didn’t tour North America for this release!
#4. Iced Earth – Dystopia
Although I loved this album upon first listen, it’s still a new release and as such is growing on me. Perhaps if it came out earlier in 2011, it would of placed even higher. Regardless, Jon Schaffer is a riff god and he sure picked the right replacement for the vocal throne with Into Eternity’s Stu Block!
#5. Scheepers – Scheepers
I’m a total Scheepers/Primal Fear fanboy. Ralf Scheepers is my favorite vocalist and if Primal Fear would of had an album out in 2011, it very likely would of been my #1 selection. Ralf’s 2011 solo album had a lot of amazing stuff on it that for the most part stayed true to his PF style with a few different songs to mix things up!
#6. Riot – Immortal Soul
The speed! The melodies! The power! WOW! This is another album that I heard late in December 2011 and since then I’ve been spinning it a LOT. The vocals of Tony Moore are absolutely amazing, so much variety in melody and phrasing…again, I’m still developing a “relationship” with this album and we’re in the honeymoon phase still and I’m loving it!!! Hopefully this album keeps the band and this line-up together for some solid touring in North America and many more albums!
#7. Jag Panzer – The Scourge Of The Light
One of the big disappointments of the year is the disbanding of Jag Panzer. This album is easily one of the best from 2011 and at least they are leaving on a high note with an amazing and uncompromising album. Farewell Jag Panzer, you will be greatly missed.
#8. Steel Panther – Balls Out
Yes they are a hilarious comedy band, yes, everyone except the vocalist wears a wig (silly I know)…but holy crap their music and musicianship puts MANY of the bands they emulate to shame. The lyrics are retarded….retardedly awesome!
09. Anthrax – Worship Music
I thought the day would never come for a new album with Joey Belladonna on vocals. Finally! I won’t go so far as to say it was worth the wait. They should of had this out when they reunited the first time when Dan Spitz was in the band. While I miss his distinctive leads, the overall music is as strong as I hoped for. Welcome back…finally!
10. Rhapsody Of Fire – From Chaos To Eternity
While not my favorite album from the Rhapsody of Fire gang, they are still leaders when it some to blending metal with choirs, classical orchestration, storytelling, etc.
11. Megadeth – Th1rt3en
12. Anvil – Juggernaut Of Justice
13. Hammerfall – Infected
14. Saxon – Call To Arms
15. Iron Savior-The Landing
16. Edguy – Age Of The Joker
17. Motörhead – The World Is Yours
18. Wolf – Legions Of Bastards
19. Wizard – …Of Wariwulfs and Bluotvarwes
20. Hell – Human Remains
Best New Band
Stargazery – Eye on the Sky
STARGAZERY is a new Finnish melodic/power metal band made up from some familiar names.
* Jari Tiura (MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, MASTERSTROKE, SNAKEGOD) – Vocals
* Pete Ahonen (BURNING POINT, GHOST MACHINERY) – Guitar, Backing Vocals
* Jukka Jokikokko (BURNING POINT) – Bass, Backing Vocals
* Marco Sneck (POISONBLACK, KALMAH) – Keyboards
* Jussi Ontero (BURNING POINT, GHOST MACHINERY) – Drums
Best Live Album
Sonata Arctica – Live in Finland
This is a really nice live album that is two CD’s and two DVD’s. I’m kinda cheating here as this is both audio and video, but that’s it.
Tony Iommi’s autobiography "Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath"
While this was not quite as good or as funny as Ozzy’s "I Am Ozzy", it was still a great and enjoyable read. I wish there was more details on some fronts, but I guess the substance abuse left some gaping holes in there! Regardless, a great book and I highly recommend it! Some of the gaps are nicely filled in with the below book…
Runner Up: Black Sabbath FAQ – All That’s Left to Know on the First Name in Metal
Other awesome metal books I read and loved in 2011 were not 2011 releases….for example, the 2010 release from Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer "Tales of a RATT: Things You Shouldn’t Know" was a great read despite it’s flaws. I’m currently reading the 2011 book "Overkill: The Untold Story of Motorhead" by Joel McIver and I’m only 1/3 the way though but it’s already pretty awesome! I’m becoming quite obsessed with reading "metal books" these days thanks in part to JP and the Library of Loudness we unleashed in 2011!
Lemmy: 49% motherfucker, 51% son of a bitch: Similar to the Ozzy DVD (see below), this DVD was a long time coming. The doc itself is decent, but it’s all the bonus material on the blu-ray that takes this to the next level.
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne: This was very well put together and contained a very candid look at the life of Ozzy. The title of this doc was originally "Wreckage of my Past". I DO NOT like the title they changed it to AT ALL. I won’t go into an Atheist rant here…I guess Jack Osbourne figures that Ozzy needs all the help he can get, even if it’s from an imaginary sky god.
Iced Earth: Festivals of the Wicked
A great release and one which I was very glad to see BOTH Ripper and Matt Barlow on!
Discovery of 2011
I’m always on the look-out for folk/viking/pagan metal that has clean vocals. Seems as if 99% of the bands playing this music seem to resort to the death growls which for some work well (Amon Amarth) and for others…well., it’s just not my thing. A small bit about them: "Heidevolk is a folk/viking metal band from the Netherlands. The lyrical themes of their music are inspired by nature, the history of Gelderland, and the history of Germanic mythology. All of their lyrics are in their native language, Dutch. Heidevolk’s name translates in English as "people of the moorland"."
This is the song that caught my ear first. It sounds original and despite not knowing a word of Dutch I love it!
Check them out: http://www.heidevolk.com
Best Local Metal Band of 2011
Wizards of Kaos
WOK have been gigging a lot in 2011 and I managed to see them live a number of times and they are always great. They are recording an album right now that will be out in 2012. Great band with hints of doom/stoner/and every now and then some thrashy parts. Killer drumming, vocals, riffs! If they were from anywhere but here in St. John’s, NL they would be getting offers from labels.
Disappointments of 2011
Seven Witches – Call Upon The Wicked
With the return of vocalist James Rivera, I really thought that things would return. I really wanted to like this album. I don’t "hate" it, but it just didn’t grow on me and after repeated listens and "not feeling it" I had to shelf it….is the magic created by the pairing of Jack and James gone?
The break up of Jag Panzer: Wow…just wow. Still not over this. Jag Panzer should be as revered MUCH bigger bands…sadly they seem to of remained mostly kings of the underground. Still not a bad place to be, but it’s sad they called it quits. I guess with little to no touring, even existing as a recording project was just not possible….oh well. Thanks for the great music!
The collapse of Nevermore: Jeff Loomis and Van Williams leaves band implodes…WTF happens next?
Symphorce calls it a day – One of the best "modern" metal bands that were able to maintain a mix of power and thrash. Perhaps they were not moderns enough for the poseurs and not traditional enough for the purists? I dunno, but it sucks ass that they’ve called it a day.
Greatest Hopes For 2012
Yea yea people love to say they need to retire, or at leas they love to say Ozzy needs to retire…and well fuck that! I saw Ozzy do a near 3hr set last year and he kicked ass! He’s still got it…sure he can’t hit his high notes like he did in the 70′s but his voice is still great and I for one have high hopes for A NEW ALBUM and the tour….I hope to be able to see the original Sabbath live for the first time in my life!!!
While I would love a new album in 2012, it looks like we have another year with no studio release. I’m impatient when it comes to my fav band. Related to this is my hopes for the Unisonic project with Kiske/Hansen. I hope it’s like Keepers Pt I and II…I’m allowed to dream big!
Primal Fear – Unbreakable
I had this pegged as a hope but before this was published I heard it so I’m already totally happy with the new Primal Fear. It’s out in late January 2012, and it is fantastic! I hope they tour in North America in 2012
"Rhapsody" and "Rhapsody of Fire"
Yeah it’s kinda retarded that Luca and Alex amicably split and have created two Rhapsody bands. Regardless, I’m excited since I’m hopeful that it means that we’ll get TWO awesome bands!
INFESTED from 2010 was awesome…then they dropped the ball and did no big tour and Stephen Pearcey went off and did some solo album that very few care about….so my hope is that the band releases and album as heavy and as vital as their 2010 release in 2012!!
Tooth and Nail
This is Dokken minus the man with the name Dokken….weird, but these guys are all icons and even without the lead vocalist in place I have high hopes that this album will be amazing.
DIE CORE DIE (see last year for my rant)
I’m fkn sick of the core garbage….