Best of 2013 – Marko Syrjala
1. Carcass: Surgical Steel
I was never expecting to hear a new music from Carcass but I’m gladly wrong here. SURGICAL STEEL presents the hungry and a merciless-sounding band which is in unbelievably tight shape. The album is full of killer songs and Jeff Walker still growls like back in the day.
2. Motorhead: Aftershock
Lemmy Kilmister has lately been headlines other but musical reasons but the fact is that AFTERSHOCK is another masterpiece from the legends. Many people do think that if you’ve heard one Motorhead album you’ve then heard them all but that’s not true at all. Although there are all the Motorhead elements needed on the album, AFTERSHOCK is different to its predecessors, definitely. The album is a bit slower and it shows the bands bluesy side which is often forgotten. If you don’t believe, check it out by yourself.
3. Annihilator: Feast
FEAST is Annihilator’s strongest release in years and definitely the best album from the Dave Padden era.
4. Stratovarius: Nemesis
Stratovarius have been more or less lost since the breakup with Timo Tolkki. NEMESIS is the third album released without him and now it sounds like the band has finally get over it. NEMESIS is the best album from Stratovarius in over 20 years.
5. Black Sabbath: 13
Talk about album with enormous expectations here… Fu***n Black Sabbath releases new album with Ozzy after 35 years and the results are… very mediocre. The album is full of slow or mid-tempo songs and most of the material is just forgettable. Unfortunately.
6. Avantasia: The Mystery of Time
MYSTERY OF TIME is another strong release from Sammett and co. It’s more straight forward album than its predecessors and goes high in my Avantasia album rank.
7. Pretty Maids: Motherland
MOTHERLAND is a great follow-up for PANDENOMIUM and one of the best hard rock albums released in 2013.
8. Krokus: Dirty Dynamite
Not as good as HOODOO was but still a solid release from the Switzerland’s finest.
9. Queensryche: Queensryche
After 25 years of disappointing releases this was a great effort from Queensryche. It’s going to be interesting to follow where the band goes next from this?
10. Dream Theater: Dream Theater
A decent release from the prog metal kings and better than DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS but far from the glory days still.
11. Airbourne: Black Dog Barking
The curse of the third album? Nah, BLACK DOG BARKING is another good, straight head rock album from the Aussies. The new album is not even close of rate of their brilliant debut but it doesn’t lose an inch for the second album.
12. Helloween: Straight Out Of Hell
STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL is solid but a bit neutral release from Helloween. Hopefully there will be more variations and new ideas on the next releases?
13. Saxon: Sacrifice
There’s nothing wrong with new Saxon disc either but it’s just another good album on the bands long list of releases.
14. Death Angel: The Dream Calls for Blood
A positive surprise from these guys. I kind of lost interest after boring KILLING SEASON but this one sounded great.
15. U.D.O: Steelhammer
Sometimes the bands do changes when they have to and sometimes bands do changes when they want to. Don’t know how it was with U.D.O but after recent line-up changes they now released the best U.D.O album in years.
16. Megadeth: Super Collider
This album has been bashed more than anything what Megadeth has ever released. But it’s not that bad album really. There are several decent songs there and as a whole it’s a way better than A WORLD NEED A HERO or RISK.
17. Children of Bodom: Halo of Blood
HALO OF BLOOD is another decent release from the Finns. Nothing spectacular though.
18. Stryper: No More Hell to Pay
Easily the bands best post re-union album. Melodic 80’s hard rock/metal at its best.
19. Queensryche feat. Geoff Tate: Frequently Unknown
A way better release than its reputation but why there are so many unnecessary re-recordings of QR classics on the album?
20. Amorphis: Circle
There’s nothing wrong with this release either but seems that the band is just repeating itself too much nowadays. Time for a change?
BEST ROCK ALBUMS OF 2013
1. Michael Monroe: Horns and Halos
HORNS AND HALOS is a follow-up to Michael’s “successful” comeback album SENSORE OVERDRIVE which was released two years ago. Guitarist and main songwriter Ginger is gone and he’s now been replaced with Swedish Dregen (Backyard Babies). The new album does not quite reach the level of its predecessor but it’s definitely worth to check out because there isn’t too many bands/artists left on this genre who are still capable to release such a great music.
2.Deep Purple: Now What?
NOW WHAT? was a pleasant surprise from the veterans. After a few somewhat disappointing albums, it’s definitely something different from the band. Probably it’s because of legendary producer Bob Ezrin who now worked the first time with Purple.
3.Black Star Riders: All Hell Breaks Loose
I had huge expectations for this and it’s a good album. The problem is that it’s not great, just good…
4.Stone Sour: House of Gold & Bones 2
Stone Sour is one of those bands which I have found later on and I currently own all of their albums. As a whole “HOUSE OF GOLD & BONES 2 is perhaps the strongest album from the band to date.
Buckcherry is always been one of my favorite bands from the late 90’s. It’s great to hear that after a little disappointing ALL NIGHT LONG the band is now back on track.
6. The Winery Dogs: The Winery Dogs
If band called Winery Dogs does not ring any bells for you should still recognize at least some of the following names: Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheenan and Richie Kotzen. The Winery Dogs is “a supergroup” and its self-titled debut is mostly very nice album to listen to.
7. Alice In Chains: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
AIC is another band which I started to listen to only a few years ago. BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE was an excellent comeback album from the band but this one is not far behind it.
8. Rob Zombie: Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor
It’s not another HELLBILLY DELUXE but better than some other Zombie albums. A kind of “back to roots” release in a good way.
BEST LIVE ALBUM
Scorpions: Live at Athens
In fact this was the only live album I purchased in 2013. Acoustic releases can be sometimes be boring and sound like forcibly made but this one is a pleasant exception here. First of all, the band sounds great, as always. But the main reason to pick up this great album are the songs. There are a lot of songs from the bands entire career included which have never been played live by the Scorpions before.
Skid Row: United World Rebellion: Chapter One
Honestly, I don’t buy too many EP’s but with this one I did exception. Of course, this EP sounds nothing like the first two Skid Row albums but it’s a way better than almost disastrous REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE a few ago. If nothing else, it definitely gives hope from better future of the band.
BEST COVERS ALBUM
Like with EP’s I don’t usually buy covers albums neither but did have one exception. Anthrax is always been a very successful with cover songs choices and Anthems doesn’t make any exception here. From surprising Boston song “Smomin” ‘till a rough rendition of AC/DC classic “T.N.T” Anthrax does make ‘em all sound like Anthrax itself.
KISS: Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975)
There wasn’t too many great metal/rock books released last year but his one. The book chronicles the crucial formative years of KISS, culminating with the groundbreaking success of their classic 1975 album Alive! The book includes interviews with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, as well as with producers; engineers; management; record company and other related people.
1. JUDAS PRIEST: Epitaph
This time there was really tight fight between these so I decided to share victory between the two Nearly two and a half hour DVD includes songs from every Rob Halford era Judas Priest album. Highlights include rarely played “Blood Red Skies” and “Never Satisfied” and of course all mandatory Priest classics. Well filmed and produced DVD from one of the best metal bands ever.
2. NIGHTWISH: Showtime, Storytime
Nightwish have gone through numerous changes during the last two years. Especially their latest “Imaginaerum” -tour turned out much differently than they or anybody else could have anticipated. Nevertheless, this DVD is great to watch. New vocalist Floor Jansen gets the job done in style and the band plays as tight as always. The second DVD includes nearly two hour long documentary called “Please Learn the Setlist in 48 Hours” and it’s truly interesting material to watch too.
That Metal Show
Excellent interviews and interesting quests night after night.
There were tons of great shows last year but these three were the most memorable ones.
1. KISS: Kiss Kruise III, Caribbean
Finally the band listened its fans and played a set list what truly was a dream come true for many long-term followers. “Almost Human”, “The Oath” and “Anything For My Baby” had never been played live until now and set also included many rarely played classics like “Let Me Know”, “Ladies In Waiting” and “Mainline”. This was easily one of the best performances from the band in ages.
2. KING DIAMOND: Tuska-Festival, Helsinki
King Diamond returned to stages last year after a long hiatus. It can’t be denied that King’s amazing performance in Swedenrock was something to remember, it was just perfect but… although King now performed in full daylight this one was even better. Hail the King!
3. ALICE COOPER, Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Ft. Lauderdale
I haven’t seen indoor Cooper show in few years and this was definitely worth to check out. A lot of things had now changed since the last time. A reinvented band, a new stage show and pleasant surprises on the set list. What more you can ask?
BEST NEW BAND
Winery Dogs: Hopefully the band will stay together and we can hear more releases from them in the future. The world needs “supergroups”
MAJOR EVENTS IN METAL WORLD
Deaths: I know I’m repeating myself here but once again there were lot of sad news announced in metal community. A lot of great musicians joined the celestial band last year. Jeff Hanneman, Clive Burr, Trevor Bolder… the list goes on and on.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2014
MORE REUNIONS: There are a few interesting re-unions already on the way. Norwegian hard rock legends TNT is one of those and I can’t wait to see the band with Tony Harnell in charge once again. Also it’s going to be interesting what’s going to happen with KISS after the Hall of Fame ceremony… AND what’s even more interesting is that maybe Vinnie Vincent is finally activating next year…
NEW RELEASES: There are many interesting new albums coming out next year. If everything goes as planned we will have new albums from such names as: Jake E. Lee, Accept, Judas Priest, Anthrax and Ace Frehley. It’s going to be another good year for METAL!
GREAT TOURS AND FESTIVALS: Next year will be really busy. There are again tons of great festivals in Europe on the summer. Swedenrock, Hellfest, Download, Tuska etc etc. Lot of fun indeed. And of course there will be individual tours from many great bands.