Best of 2009 – Theis

January 5th, 2010
by EvilG

Top 20

1. Cain’s Offering – Gather The Faithful

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Cain’s Offering delivers an astonishing performance as they push and push you through their album filled with power metal! Spearheaded by Stratovarius singer Timo Kotipelto, who sounds incredibly fantastic, they manage to give you pleasure in every aspect of “Gather The Faithful”.

2. Sirenia – The 13th Floor

One of the best quality albums of this year 2009. Sirenia has proved capable of creating yet another diverse and impressive musical album where allure is a key word along with its more darker elements and melodious composition.

3. Skyfire – Esoteric

4. Luna Mortis – The Absence

5. Epica – Design Your Universe

6. Delain – April Rain

7. This Ending – Dead Harvest

8. Deathstars – Night Electric Night

9. Crimfall – As The Path Unfolds

10. Iron Fire – To The Grave

11. Tyr – By The Light of the Northern Star

12. Månegarm – Nattväsen

13. Lunatica – New Shores

14. Eluveitie – Evocation 1 – The Arcane Dominion

15. Dark Moor – Autumnal

16. Grave Digger – Ballads Of A Hangman

17. Stratovarius – Polaris

18. Alestorm – Black Sails At Midnight

19. Katatonia – Night Is The New Day

20. Candlemass – Death Magic Doom

Best New Band

Cain’s Offering

Disappointments of 2009

Sonata Arctica – The Days of Grays

I am still in love with all of Sonata Arctica’s albums up until Unia which did not reach the same overall level of musical enjoyment as its predecessors. It was not a bad album, not at all but it was not great either. I had high hopes for The Days of Grays that disappeared as soon as I put my ears on the line for it. Featuring even more advanced compositions than Unia and cool creativeness it is not catchy and ultimately fails at thrilling me.

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Best of 2009 – Marko

January 5th, 2010
by EvilG

Top 20 Albums of 2009

1. KISS: Sonic Boom

After eleven years of waiting we finally got new KISS album. SONIC BOOM is a great combination of 70′s and 80′s KISS and will please fans of both era’s. The whole band, especially Gene Simmons is,

are really good mood here and this album beats out PSYCHCO CIRCUS any day. The best tracks include Simmons’ "Nobodys’s Perferct", Stanley’s "Modern Day Delilah", "Stand" where Paul and Gene

share vocals and Eric Singer’s "All For the Glory"-

 

2. WASP: Babylon

3. Ace Frehley : Anomaly

4. Heaven and Hell: The Devil You Know

5. Saxon: Into The Labyrinth

6. Alice In Chains: Black Gives Way To The Blue

7. Slayer: World Painted Blood

8. Dream Theater: Black Clouds and Silver Linings

9- Megadeth: Endgame

10. Stratovarius: Polaris

11. Hardcore Superstore: Beg For It

12. UDO: Dominator

13. Paradise Lost: Faith Divideds Us, Death Unites Us

14. Amorphis: Skyforger

15. Europe: Last Look At Eden

16. Lynch Mob: Smoke and Mirrors

17. JORN: Spirit Black

18. Impellitteri: Wicked Maiden

19. Stryper: Murder By Pride

20. UFO: The Visitor

 

Overall, in new releases wise, this year was a way weaker than some previous years. It was actually hard to even remember twenty albums from year 2009…

 

 

DVD of the Year

HANOI ROCKS: Buried Alive

 

Best New Band

Steel Panther


Disappointments of the Year

 

New albums of Tim Owens, UFO and Queensryche:

Queensryche, it’s been fifteen years since thier last decent release (PROMISED LAND). Maybe I should give up for them, finally? With UFO it’s almost the same thing. The last truly great album WALK ON WATER was released 1995 but there’s still always have been some good material on each album since then. Tim Owens’s album is also a huge disappoinment. He’s one my favorite metal singers but after hearing this lazy and boring album I no longer wonder why he wasn’t allowed to do too much writing with his past bands …  Too much expectations here ?

 

Lita Ford

In brief, "Wicked Wonderland" is a horrible, childish and dull album. In addition to that, her performance at Swedenrock was something indescribably weak, one of the worst shows I’ve ever witnessed there. She should have stayed on her Tropic Island with Jim and boys instead of trying still to play "Metal Queen" … because she’s FAR from it nowadays…

 

 

Breakup of Hanoi Rocks: and new adventures of Andy McCoy.

I’m still very disappointed that Hanoi Rocks did break up. Fortunately I was lucky enough to see their last show ever in May. What’s even more disappointing is Andy McCoy and his new (already disbanded) band  REAL MCCOY. his band managed to do only three shows before the second guitarist Chris Shiflett (FOO FIGHTERS) decided to jump off the sinking boat and as a result the whole band broke up. Andy seemed to be in really bad shape both physically and musically… Hope he finds way to get himself on shape soon, otherwise his career is completely done.

 

Album sales.

It’s both sad and confusing to notice low sales figures of many top albums in 2009. New KISS album selling only something like 300 000 in U.S? Heaven and Hell sold only tens of thousands albums while their older albums sold platinium in 80′s.. What’s wrong with buyers today or is it just about Internet downloading? I don’t know…

 

Biggest hopes for 2010

 

New studio albums from Anthrax, Ratt, Krokus, Y&T and Alice Cooper.

I was really waiting for WORSHIP MUSIC with Dan’s vocals but with John it will be even better for sure! New RATT album is something unbelievable, something that was never going to happen and the same goes with Y&T. Krokus has never released bad albums and this one with classic line-up will not disappoint, I hope… Alice Cooper is another artist who never let’s you down. His current THEATRE OF DEATH -tour proved that the man is still in top form, can’t wait another album from him.

 

KISS "Sonic Boom over Europe" tour.

Something to wait for…. The stageshow looks fantastic, hopefully they will do some changes in setlist though.. Still haven’t decided how many shows I will check out this time …

 

Michael Monroe band.

Since Hanoi Rocks demise Michale has been writing new material with Ginger and other well known musicians. His new band will include Sam Yaffa (ex- Hanoi Rocks, New York Dolls) the rest of the members will be announced in late spring. This is going to be a really interesting band and for sure way better than the McCoy fiasko.

 

Swedenrock 2010 and Sonisphere festivals.

Both festivals will have AMAZING line ups this year. Swedenrock gives us chance to see interesting smaller bands like: Raven, Danzig, Y&T and Anvil whereas Sonispere has all the biggest names like: Iron Maiden, Mötley Crue, Heaven and Hell, Alice Cooper, Slayer, the Cult, Anthrax etc…. Haven’t seen such a strong line-up anywhere since the glory years of Donington festival in late 80′s.

Best events/concerts of 2009

Ace Frehley: ANOMALY -European -tour

Alice Cooper: THEATRE OF DEATH -tour

Swedenrock Festival 2009

Hanoi Rocks: FAREWELL shows in club Tavastia

Michael Schenker Group: European tour 2009

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Scar Symmetry – Drummer Henrik Ohlsson

January 5th, 2010
by EvilG

Interview with Drummer Henrik Ohlsson

by Alan Gilkeson

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In September of 2008, Scar Symmetry released a statement announcing they had parted ways with their vocalist due to creative and touring conflicts. Losing a singer is probably the toughest challenge for any band. Often the group’s image is wrapped up in the personality of it’s front man. However, Scar Symmetry rightly believed that no one person was bigger than their band… so they found two new singers, allowing them to do live what their former vocalist could not handle, all of the vocal parts without losing his voice. With Lars Palmqvist and Roberth Karlsson sharing front man duties, Scar Symmetry appear poised to take their brand of melodic Death Metal to the masses. Their latest opus, DARK MATTER DIMENSIONS has already spawned two popular videos and sees the band touring the globe. Drummer Henrik Ohlsson was kind enough to answer some questions for us at Metal Rules.

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Ensiferum Live at The Gramercy, NYC 12/5/2009

January 4th, 2010
by EvilG
EnsiferumLogo.png

Ensiferum Live at The Gramercy, NYC 12/5/2009

Review by Alan Gilkeson


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Best of 2009 – Luxi

January 4th, 2010
by EvilG

1. Sacrifice – THE ONES I CONDEMN

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If we are strictly talking about one of the true comebacks of the last decade, limiting this talking to speed/thrash metal genre only, then I have personally valued the Canadian thrash legends, Sacrifice´s comeback most. Rob Urbinati, one of the original members of Sacifice, was mentioning in a few occasions before the recording process for their comeback album had even started, that they will make their return worth the wait by going back to the same feel they had on the FORWARD TO TERMINATION album – trying to re-capture the same vibe and sound they had on that album, more than 20 years ago. And they did exactly that. Therefore THE ONES I CONDEMN – to put it simple, Sacrifice´s amazing, balls-nailing comeback album, rightfully earned its 1st place on my personal ´Top 20 Albums´ list in 2009. Thrash metal hasn´t tasted THIS good for a long time…

2. Candlemass – DEATH MAGIC DOOM

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Leif Edling and the rest of his troops in Candlemass, are fuckin´ genious. I don´t know how on earth this Swedish grand master of doom, manages to surprise us every time from one album after another album, but they have yet again done it with their latest album, DEATH MAGIC DOOM. Could one album possibly be more powerful, genious and strong song structure-wise than DEATH MAGIC DOOM – not forgetting either Robert Lowe´s monstrously emotional-charged vocal approach on this record. This album truly is about death, magic and doom. What a fantastic release from the Candlemass camp once again.

  1. Dream Theater – BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS

  2. Survivors Zero – CMXCIX

  3. Heaven and Hell – THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

  4. Amorphis – SKYFORGER

  5. Lie in Ruins – SWALLOWED BY THE VOID

  6. Hellwitch – OMNIPOTENT CONVOCATION

  7. Absu – S/T

  8. Winterwolf – CYCLE OF THE WINTERWOLF

  9. Redemption – SNOWFALL ON JUDGEMENT DAY

  10. Artllery – WHEN DEATH COMES

  11. Paradox – RIOT SQUAD

  12. Slugathor – ECHOES FROM BENEATH

  13. Hirax – EL ROSTO DE LA MUERTE

  14. Deströyer 666 – DEFIANCE

  15. Dark Funeral – ANGELUS EXURO PRO ETERNUS

  16. Count Raven – MAMMONS WAR

  17. Tenet – SOVEREIGN

  18. Tribulation – THE HORROR

Best New Band

Survivors Zero

Just a fuckin´ brilliant debut album from these highly technical and modern sounding Finnish deathsters – kind of like a crossbreed of technical wizardry of Arch Enemy, sheer heaviness of Entombed and riff-tastic moments of Testament. You need to hear the album in order to believe my shameless praising about it. I bet you won´t regret it afterwards.

Best DVD

Iron Maiden – THE FLIGHT 666: THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

If you consider yourself at least a little bit a Maiden fan, then this is a somewhat mandatory DVD for you. ´nuff said, I guess.

Biggest Disappointment

Slayer – WORLD PAINTED BLOOD

No matter how big Slayer fan I have always been – almost like a true fanboy for over 2 decades, but the band´s latest album left me quite disappointed in the end. Slayer´s previous album CHRIST ILLUSION was a step to the right direction from Slayer, so I did have every reason to expect a bit more from Slayer than I eventually got on WORLD PAINTED BLOOD. Sure thing, it´s got some good Slayer songs on it, but whenever I play that album, I am always having hard times to get used to that ´modern´ approach some of their songs have got in them – not to talk about the weak guitar tune that also tends to ruin a big part of enjoyment on this record. And who the fuck´s idea was it to let Greg Fidelman to produce the album anyway?

Discovery of 2009

Forced to Kill

Having always been a big sucker for old school thrash metal, I was truly blown away by this young Finnish thrash act Forced to Kill´s debut 4-track demo titled SPEEDING DEATH VELOCITY that simply reeks of those well-spiced old school thrash metal times of mid ´80s. The SPEEDING DEATH VELOCITY demo was all about early Slayer, early Sacrifice and early Dark Angel albums – and it would be a screaming crime if this highly energetic and furious Finnish thrash act was left completely unnoticed among other suckers of strongly ´80s tinged thrash metal in 2010. These guys deserve a record contract, absolutely!

Greatest Hopes for 2010

  1. Great hopes for Heathen´s comeback album EVOLUTION OF CHAOS

  2. New album from Atheist is tickling my mind already…

  3. Hearing some new songs from the underground death metal legends Sadistic Intent.

  4. New songs from the legendary Possessed make me curious…

  5. Debut full-length album from After Death (as everyone of us knows already, that´s Mike Browning´s latest incarnation of evil; the guy who used to play drums and sing in Morbid Angel´s ABOMINATIONS OF DESOLATION album, released a couple of albums with his Nocturnus – and have played together with the guys of underground death metal heroes such as Incubus (FL), Acheron, etc.)

  6. Getting finally to hear a new album from Infernäl Mäjesty SYSTEMATICAL EXTERMINATION, so let´s hope it will eventually come out in 2010.

  7. The line-up at Jalometalli festival in 2010 will most likely be somewhat incredible again, just like in the previous 2-3 years… ;o)

  8. Jumalation´s THE CHURCH OF ISAAC album… about time!

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Best of 2009 – Lord of the Wasteland

January 4th, 2010
by EvilG

TOP 20 CDs


1. The Devin Townsend Project – ADDICTED!

Dev can really do no wrong in this writer’s eyes, so the real challenge this year was deciding which of his two albums released in 2009 would top the other.  KI was stellar (and made it to #3 on my list) but landing Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering) to handle the female vocals on ADDICTED! was really what earned this record the pole position.  Townsend’s sonic palette coupled with van Giersbergen’s stunning vocals crafted a remarkable second chapter to The Devin Townsend Project’s four-part opus that is sure to complete one of the finest collections of music put to disc this decade.

2. Lamb Of God – WRATH

Possibly a tad “mainstream” for some, Lamb of God delivered its magnum opus with WRATH.  The band stepped up considerably in its songwriting, musicianship and ferocity while maintaining a savvy ear for melodic hooks.  The added spotlight and press attention garnered after nailing direct support on the Metallica tour will only raise the bar for what we can expect from Lamb of God on its next record, too.


3. The Devin Townsend Project – KI

4. Heaven & Hell – THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

5. Goatwhore – CARVING OUT THE EYES OF GOD

6. The Red Chord – FED THROUGH THE TEETH MACHINE

7. Megadeth – ENDGAME

8. Cannibal Corpse – EVISCERATION PLAGUE

9. Between The Buried And Me – THE GREAT MISDIRECT

10. Kreator – HORDES OF CHAOS

11. Baroness – BLUE RECORD

12. God Dethroned – PASSIONDALE

13. God Forbid – EARTHSBLOOD

14. Suffocation – BLOOD OATH

15. Marduk – WORMWOOD

16. Candlemass – DEATH MAGIC DOOM

17. Daath – THE CONCEALERS

18. Slayer – WORLD PAINTED BLOOD

19. Immortal – ALL SHALL FAIL

20. DevilDriver – PRAY FOR VILLAINS

BEST NEW BAND

Ex-Deo

The ancient Roman-themed side-project of Kataklysm frontman, Mauricio Iacono, combined groove-based death metal with film clips and a few big-name guest stars to rise above the rest of the baby bands this year.  ROMULUS stands up to repeated listens and is a stronger outing than the last few Kataklysm records have been, too, so hopefully Ex Deo isn’t just a one-off thing.  

BEST DVD

As I Lay Dying – THIS IS WHO WE ARE

While many people will likely give this spot to Anvil just on principle (and duly receive an honourable mention from me), As I Lay Dying put together the best overall package with THIS IS WHO WE ARE.  Spread over three discs including an all-encompassing documentary, the band’s entire collection of videos and a ton of live clips spanning As I Lay Dying’s earliest performances to Wacken Open Air, Metal Blade continues to provide its marquee acts with top-quality DVD releases that raise the industry bar.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2009

1.  No time…!!

A new career and a big move to another city put a serious damper on my Metal Rules input in the latter half of 2009.  This caused me to miss out on a TON of live shows and left me little time to devote to writing CD reviews or listening to new music.

2. Killswitch Engage – KILLSWITCH ENGAGE

Not horrible but pales in comparison to the band`s three previous releases.

3. Mastodon – CRACK THE SKYE

A few bright moments cannot dilute the fact that this is a pretentious and unenjoyable record.

4. Hammerfall – NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY

The power metal formula that Hammerfall has been following is beginning to wear a little thin after seven records.

5. VoiVod – INFINI

The band has now released two albums using Piggy`s leftover guitar riffs.  KATORZ was okay but INFINI definitely shows signs of a band struggling for direction after Piggy`s death.

GREATEST HOPES FOR 2009

1. King Diamond/Mercyful Fate Live DVDs

When I interviewed King four years ago, these were just in the planning stages, so it has been a long, long wait filled with technical issues but it sounds like they will finally see the light of day in 2010.

2. Pig Destroyer – TBA

Topping TERRIFYER and PHANTOM LIMB will not be easy but anytime Pig Destroyer has a new record coming down the pipe, you know it will be buzz-worthy.

3. Orphaned Land – THE NEVER ENDING WAY OF ORWARRIOR

Grand in scope and painstakingly arranged, the latest release from Israel`s Orphaned Land is six years in the making and sure to be just as majestic as the band`s last conceptual epic, MABOOL, with Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Opeth) producing.

4. Fear Factory – MECHANIZE

Dino and Burton have patched up their differences and replaced Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers with Gene Hoglan and Byron Stroud, respectively.  The early release of one track—“Powershift“—sounds like the logical follow-up to DEMANUFACTURE and OBSOLETE, so let`s hope the rest of MECHANIZE holds up just as well.


5. Ihsahn – AFTER

Since disbanding Emperor in 2001, Ihsahn has kept metal fans intrigued through a pair of solo releases.  On AFTER, his third due in 2010, Ihsahn will undoubtedly mix things up once again to create his own unique—and unclassifiable—style of metal.

6. Triptykon – EPARISTERA DAIMONES

Tom Gabriel Fischer`s return to music after Celtic Frost`s unfortunate implosion last year.  Fischer claims the songs are similar in style to MONOTHEIST but heavier.  Let`s hope so because we don`t want another Apollyon Sun on our hands.

7. Guns `n Roses Tour

If Axl can hold it together, the Calgary date on January 16th could be this city`s concert event of the year.

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Best of 2009 – JP

January 4th, 2010
by EvilG




Top 20

1. Cain’s Offering – GATHER THE FAITHFUL

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The album that the fans of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius have been waiting (for over half a decade) for those bands to make. This new Finnish supergroup easily vaults into the #1 spot.

2. Steel Panther – FEEL THE STEEL

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The filthiest, most clever and perhaps best metal parody ever. The hype is deserved. Extremely well executed and delivered to the target audience.

3. Candlemass – DEATH MAGIC DOOM

4. Samael – ABOVE

5. Kiss – SONIC BOOM

6. Sonata Arctica – THE DAYS OF GRAYS

7. Dream Theater – BLACK CLOUDS AND SILVER LININGS

8. Macbeth – GOTTESKRIEGER

9. Derek Sherinian – MOLECULAR HEINOSITY

10. W.A.S.P. -  BABYLON

11. Hammerfall – NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY

12. Mantic Ritual – EXECUTIONER

13. House Of Lords – CARTESIAN DREAMS

14. Alestorm – BLACK SAILS AT MIDNIGHT

15. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – AGORAPOCALYPSE

16. Meanstreak – METAL SLAVE

17. Stratovarius – POLARIS

18. Spheric Universe Experience – UNREAL

19. Nazxul – ICONOCLAST

20. Revocation – EXISTENCE IS FUTILE

Best New Band

HROM-Blesk

This young band from Calgary is blessed with a singer who is a dead ringer for Geoff Tate circa 1984. Already signed to Steel Legacy I predict big things for these talented Power Metal hopefuls.

 

Best DVD of 2009

Edguy-Fucking With F**e-Live. Good show, 4 videos, and a nice documentary too.



Disappointments for 2009

1. Running Wild

They called it quits and scuttled their own ship. One of my favorites have walked the plank into Davy Jones locker. Damn shame.

2. Children Of Bodom – Skeletons In The Closet

Poorly executed on so many levels. To get all the tunes the fans have to buy three different versions. Gamma Ray called their collection the same title a few years ago. Most of the cover tunes are available elsewhere and they still haven’t included all their cover tunes. Good idea, poorly done.

3. Judas Priest – A Touch Of Evil – Live

A weak and unnecessary live album billed as all new, rare material but in reality most of the songs are available on other live albums or DVD’s. The poorest of all their live albums to date.

4. Anvil (twice!)

  1. The Story of Anvil (the movie) doesn’t get nominated for Best Documentary category by The Academy. Would have been the perfect end to the Cinderella story.

  2. Anvil’s new studio album delayed. Juggernaut of Justice was announced over two years ago and was pushed back while Anvil does the American talk-show circuit. They need to get off the late-night TV shows for house-wives, stop milking it and go back to what they do best, kicking ass!

5. Lazy / unproductive / preoccupied bands

Many bands announced delays to new material this year. It’s been over 5 years since the following bands have had a new studio album. They are all active bands, touring, song-writing, and recording. Many of them have announced new albums years ago. In some cases (Ozzy!) have the albums already done for years. Aerosmith, Angra, Anthrax, Angel Dust, Agent Steel, Blind Guardian, Cathedral, COC, Dio, David Lee Roth, Flotsam & Jetsam, Fates Warning, L.A. Guns, Lullacry, Mortician, Nevermore, Ozzy, Poison, Skid Row, Steel Prophet, Type O Negative, Van Halen, Virgin Steele. Get to work!

Greatest Hopes for 2010

  1. New Manowar

  2. New Iron Maiden

  3. New Rhapsody EvilG’s hope for 2009 didn’t come true, but 2010 is the year!

  4. W.A.S.P. Blackie finally decides to release the mountain of archived footage (and the long-lost Japanese only video collection) in a cool historical 3+ DVD set and Blackie finishes his autobiography he has been rumoured to have been working on for years.

  5. Accept reunion takes the world by storm followed by world tour.

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Best of 2009 – Hanntu

January 4th, 2010
by EvilG

Best of 2009

As we here at Metal-Rules.com bid farewell to the last year of the Noughties and get ready to welcome 2010, I take a look back at 365 days of amazing metal from new and old bands; turgid shite from stalwarts and upstarts alike, and stunning stuff from the newly-birthed, the rejuvenated and the reincarnated. I look back on wonderful shows that I saw in the first half of the year when I was in London, and the incredible festival experiences in the summer in France, Slovenia and Austria. We remember the departed troops of metal and pay our respects, but celebrate the bands we’ve just discovered, and the friends, drinking buddies and travelling companions we made at gigs, festivals, online, at the metal store or the pub, through other mutual friends, etc. And always we look forward to the new year as bands retread old but hallowed ground, or push the boundaries of what the genre can and cannot accept. And as I look over and ponder all this, through hours of listening and re-listening to the releases of the year – iTunes tells me I’ve listened to 79 albums in 2009 – agonising and fretting and re-considering, foraging, slashing, paring, re-instating, one thought keeps running through my mind, thank fuck I’m a metalhead!

Click on the titles to read our (my?) review of the album…

1. Vader ~ NECROPOLIS

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Undoubtedly THE death metal release of the year, and this is up against some stiff competition from heavyweight releases from Nile, Behemoth, Obituary, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Pestilence, Dying Fetus; not to mention the slew of tech-death bands like Obscura, Ulcerate, The Faceless, Despised Icon and plenty others. But the sheer quality and consistency of the songwriting, the ferocity of the playing and the vehemence of riffs, vocals, drumming and everything else makes this my top record of 2009. One of the few highly-anticipated records in recent years that not only did not disappoint, but actually exceeded my expectations in almost every way.

2. Anaal Nathrakh ~ IN THE CONSTELLATION OF THE BLACK WIDOW

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I called this a “sonic tour de force” in my review of this album in October, and let me tell you that IN THE CONSTELLATION OF THE BLACK WIDOW ran Vader close for top album of 2009 – only my unabashed Vader fanboyism gave the Poles top spot. Pure twisted grind/black metal madness that never lets up for an instant – and the gruesome snarls, gurgles, roars, shrieks competing with beautiful yet occasional clean vocals that both emanate from Dave Hunt’s throat is the highlight of an outstanding 35 minutes of blasting fury. One of England’s finest and most criminally underrated metal exports.

3. Blut Aus Nord ~ MEMORIA VETUSTA II: DIALOGUE WITH THE STARS

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The lack of bottom end on this record only serves to highlight the sparseness of sonic material that Blut Aus Nord rely on to create one of the richest and most rewarding albums I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to. The swirling and cavernous nihilistic black metal riffs intersperse with wonderful passages of lead melodic guitar lines to excite conflicting emotions in the hardest and blackest of hearts – truly a dialogue with the stars indeed. An undeniable triumph of French black metal, MEMORIA VETUSTA II is an album that sounds just as fresh on the 50th listen as it did on the first listen.

4. Asphyx ~ DEATH…THE BRUTAL WAY

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Suffocating, crushing death metal the old school way. The Dutchmen may have Martin van Drunen as the marquee frontman, but it’s always been the team of Bagchus and Daniels that drove Asphyx forward, backward, up, down and every which way. Daniels may have left already, but their 2009 incarnation is unmistakeably death metal, the brutal way, and what other way is there? Dismember-buzz with Entombed-bottom end takes us all back to Stockholm, 1991, and if Asphyx were to disband (again) tomorrow, they will have left us with one of the most enduring and essential death metal albums ever.

5. Diablo Swing Orchestra ~ SING-ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED AND DELIRIOUS

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One of the most imaginative albums I’ve heard in a very long while, proving that the Swedish race CAN go beyond cheesy power metal or Gothenburg or Stockholm death. The album tends to lag a little in the latter half, but as I said in my review in November, “if anyone can name me a band that sends extreme voltage through 1940s Big Band jazz and infectiously corrupts 1930s swing music, that electrifies Russian folk dance music and marries it with groovecore Meshuggah guitar lines, that brings funk bass, flamenco, mariachi, oompah, Broadway, doo-wop choir, carny music, slinky Latin rhythms, light opera and Bossa Nova into a harmonious whole, all the while keeping it unmistakably METAL, well, send me an email because I do want to hear about it.” Darkly fantastical music that’s head-bobbing and spine-chilling at the same time.

6. Hypocrisy ~ A TASTE OF EXTREME DIVINITY

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The mighty Peter Tagtgren makes a much awaited return with Hypocrisy, sadly neglected for the past four years in favour of his other band Pain. A TASTE OF EXTREME DIVINITY gives us long-suffering Hypocrisy fans a taste of extreme melody bound up in his unique vision of melodic death metal a la Hypocrisy v. 2.0. A great continuation to VIRUS and hopefully a sign of great things to come from the Swedish maestro.

7. Voyager ~ I AM THE REVOLUTION

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The Aussies are a bit of a cult favourite of mine, as I got into their music sometime last year after listening to ‘To The Morning Light’ from their ELEMENT V album over and over again. Maybe their isolation in Western Australia – as my Perth crew never fails to remind me that Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world – gives them their own voice; they are certainly unique in sound, and I AM THE REVOLUTION continues the fine and innovative work they started on ELEMENT V (2003) and UNIVERS (2007).

8. Amorphis ~ SKYFORGER

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The constant renewal of the long-running Finnish band should be a source of wonder and inspiration to any musician. Amorphis started their career with the legendary THE KARELIAN ISTHMUS and TALES OF A THOUSAND LAKES in the early 90s, proving that metal can be intellectual yet primal at the same time. SKYFORGER is far removed from their early days of doom-death, but the same epic quality, the same ambition, and the same dedication to strong song-writing shines through unabated and untempered by time.

9. Pestilence ~ RESURRECTION MACABRE

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In fact, “resurrection macabre” could be the slogan for 2009, with so many ‘comeback bands’ – Asphyx, Heaven and Hell, Sacrifice, Absu, Stratovarius, to name a few – and Pestilence make the return from the wilderness to the delight of the fans who fellate CONSUMING IMPULSE and TESTIMONY OF THE ANCIENTS. Together with the frankly unbelievable Tony Choy on four strings and Peter Wildoer (Darkane) behind the kit, Patrick Mameli growls and shreds his way back into death metal’s collective consciousness.

10. Cannibal Corpse ~ EVISCERATION PLAGUE

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The Corpse are one of the hardest working and most conscientious bands playing today, and are still highly respected for their unchanging stance on brutal death metal. The New Yorkers don’t seek to reinvent the wheel – they just want to gang fuck its maggoty cunt with rusty nails and push hot acidic death metal sperm into its charred smoking intestines. Yes, EVISCERATION PLAGUE is pure classic Cannibal Corpse.

11. Heaven and Hell ~ THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

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I freely admit that THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is on this list based on nostalgia and obviously coloured by the recent tragic news concerning Ronnie James Dio, who I saw tearing up the stage only this June at Hellfest. But even if Dio’s body is susceptible to earthly ills and ailments, His voice is immortal, heavenly. To say Tony Iommi is the master of the monster riff is a woeful example of the inadequacy of mere language. Leaving aside nostalgia and sentimentality, with THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, Heaven and Hell answer many questions surrounding their very existence with a big resounding ‘Fuck Off’.

12. Absu ~ ABSU

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Absu is another one of 2009’s successful comeback stories. Their mainman Proscriptor smashed his arm in an accident a couple of years back, so he gave up the guitar (smart move, right?) to take his place on the drum stool in a real “lol wtf?” moment. But the drumming on their self-titled return album is top notch, as is the guitar playing, whoever their guitarists are at the moment – catchiness and rhythmic sensibility is the order of the day. With such a hiatus behind them, any signs of rustiness you might expect is absent, and Absu are ready to take their place atop the USBM pile.

13. Imperial Vengeance ~ AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN

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The debut album of this English band, the eccentric duo comprised of Mr Charles Edward-Alexander and Mr David Bryan have come up with an updated take on the symphonic black metal genre – a gloomy, gothic, yet fiery offering that is sure to take the band places in the future.

14. Paradise Lost ~ FAITH DIVIDES US, DEATH UNITES US

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Unlike fellow countrymen My Dying Bride’s turgid FOR LIES I SIRE this year, Yorkshire’s Paradise Lost deliver a focused yet expansive offering that showcases Nick Holmes fine and emotional voice and Greg Mackintosh’s pounding 7-string dirges. This is true gothic music, “music to be murdered by”.

15. Blood Tsunami ~ GRAND FEAST FOR VULTURES

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Thrash done Scandinavian style, Pete Evil and ex-Emperor drummer Faust show us that thrash metal is not the exclusive preserve of the Bay Area, the Canadians, the New Yorkers, the Germans or the Brazilians. Flurrying guitar riffs from Pete Evil and Dor Amazon, shrieky vocals a la Angelripper, solid drumming from Faust – what’s not to like?

16. Goatwhore ~ CARVING OUT THE EYES OF GOD

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Black/thrash metal with a strong Motorhead engine to it, the blasphemy that has arisen from the swamps of “N’orleans”, Louisiana, is not too abashed to mix up various influences that culminates in CARVING OUT THE EYES OF GOD, Goatwhore’s strongest effort to date.

17. Katatonia ~ NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY

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The inimitable voice of Jonas Renkse carries you gently through a meandering trip on a wispy cloud…okay that sounded really very gay, but there is an indefinable quality to his voice that, when partnered with the overall output of the rest of Katatonia, creates a magically melancholy effect.

18. Gorod ~ PROCESS OF A NEW DECLINE

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One of the picks of the technical death metal bunch of 2009, and the pride and joy of Willowtip Records, Frenchmen Gorod often have to fight off comparisons with their countrymen Gojira – but PROCESS OF A NEW DECLINE is a funky, loose-limbed, bewilderingly rhythm-heavy slice of technical death metal, and they show that they can stop-start with the best of the best of the genre.

19. Immortal ~ ALL SHALL FALL

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Frankly I didn’t expect such a solid album from Abbath and co., so often the butt of many black metal related jokes. Great production, riffs bursting with energy and vitality, and it’s also clear that Abbath has regained a zest and relish for his music.

20. Napalm Death ~ TIME WAITS FOR NO SLAVE

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The grindfathers show that they still have it – a fury that is unmarred by the passing of years. And speed to spare as well!

So there you have it: five British bands, three American, three Swedish, two Norwegian, two French, two Dutch, one Finnish, one Australian band, and the lone Pole taking the top spot of 2009.

Best Newcomer

Imperial Vengeance ~ AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN

Even though Charles Edward-Alexander is a relative veteran of the scene (ex-Cradle of Filth), Imperial Vengeance is a stunning example of a band hitting the ground running. Big things will come to them, I predict.


Runners up:

Xerath ~ I

Xerath’s style of Meshuggah-type riffs mixed with symphonic movie-soundtrack elements is an interesting premise, and although their debut album lacked a little maturity in songwriting and execution, there is no reason whatsoever why they should not go on to produce some stellar work in the future.

Fleshgod Apocalypse ~ ORACLES

This Italian death metal band is yet another Willowtip Records prodigy, and counts among its members relative veterans like Cristiano Trionfera from Eyeconoclast and especially Francesco Paolo of the mighty Hour of Penance. While many parallels may be drawn to Hour of Penance, Fleshgod Apocalypse seeks to give a bit more than pure brutality, incorporating classical samples and interludes seamlessly into the blasting fury. Highly recommended death metal.

Best Discovery of 2009

Septic Flesh

This Greek band is my discovery of 2009, and I could kick myself for not finding out about their awesomeness earlier. The perfect mix of the cerebral and visceral, the finest balance of majesty and brutality. The orchestral elements never overshadow the pure death metal riffs; the guitar is always kept in focus, but is backed up flawlessly with classical elements. Utterly fantastic death metal.

Biggest Disappointments

Behemoth ~ EVANGELION

Not a bad album, but not as good as it’s made out to be. A lot of the tracks on EVANGELION sound like the B-sides to THE APOSTASY, and that simply isn’t good enough for a band of Behemoth’s stature. I’m confident that they’ll come roaring back in a couple of years.

Nile ~ THOSE WHOM THE GODS DETEST

When Karl Sanders did his own solo project and released SAURIAN EXORCISMS, it was hoped that he would have exorcised many of his tendencies towards long, drawn-out, ‘atmospheric’ interludes. Unfortunately, the interludes remained, while the riff-writing is not good or inventive enough to hold the interest. Not bad, but not great either.

Swallow the Sun ~ NEW MOON

Not a big fan of their new black metal direction, and the more I listen to NEW MOON, the more it saddens me to say that they don’t look like recapturing the unique atmosphere they had on THE MORNING NEVER CAME. The melancholy is gone. Boo hoo.

Slayer – WORLD PAINTED BLOOD

Where to start with this utter letdown? Poor sound, terrible riffs, rehashed ideas etc etc. Not ST ANGER levels of shiteness, but certainly not Slayer standard. Please, Jeff, Tom, please, PLEASE don’t let Kerry write any more songs.

Megadeth – ENDGAME

Not a disappointment per se, more of a ‘meh’. Some good songs, some average songs, a couple of plodders, some great guitar-playing, some terrible singing. Par for the course for a Megadeth album, even during their glory years in the mid-80s. On the plus side, Chris Broderick is a fine guitarist, and hopefully he’ll do more writing on future ’Deth albums. If he stays long enough.

Greatest Putrefaction of 2009:

  • The deaths of Mike Alexander of Evile and Miika Tenkula (ex-Sentenced) – RIP forever guys and thanks for the memories. Shannon Hamm (ex-Death, Control Denied) and Athera (Susperia) suffering heart attacks, Ronnie James Dio diagnosed with stomach cancer.
  • The dissolution of Metal Church.
  • Watching Manowar at Hellfest this year. Forty minutes of songs, an hour and a half of posturing, talking shite and “hailing true fucking metal”.
  • No new Morbid Angel or Wintersun.
  • Finally leaving London and all the wicked shows and people there.

Hopes for 2010

Obviously that Ronnie James Dio, Shannon Hamm and Athera recover from their various ailments.

We were promised a new Morbid Angel album for 2009, obviously that never materialised, so here’s hoping that 2010 brings us good news on that front. I think most sane people have given up hope on a new Wintersun album.

New Atheist and Sigh albums.

That I’ll have time to pop down to Perth for the Origin/Decapitated tour of Australia in April.

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Best of 2009 – Celtic Bob

January 3rd, 2010
by EvilG

Top 20

  1.  Lacuna Coil – Shallow Life

      Just got into them thanks to the amazing song “Spellbound”. Heard the album and was hooked. It hasn’t been far from my stereo since I got it.

   2. Mudmen – The High Road

      Bagpipes and Rock n Roll is where it’s at. A new singer joins the Campbell Brothers for their 4th disc, It has taken awhile to warm up to his voice but once you do… A great disc that blends traditional Scottish music with Rock.

   3. Steel Panther – Feel The Steel

   4. My Wicked Twin – Decibel Music

   5. Helix – Vagabond Bones

   6. Mike Hall – Have Guitarz…Will Travel

   7. Bastard Child Death Cult – Year Zero

   8. Neil Young – Fork In The Road

   9. Uncle Cracker – Happy Hour

  10. Grady – Good As Dead

  11. Roxie 77 – Two Sides To Every Story

  12. CKY – Carver City

  13. Winger – Karma

  14. Ace Frehley – Anomaly

  15. D.O.A. – Kings Of Punk, Hockey and Beer

  16. John Mayall – Tough

  17. Saga – The Human Condition

  18. Megadeth – Endgame

  19. 3 Inches of Blood – Here Awaits Thy Doom

  20. Lynyrd Skynyrd – God & Guns

 

Best DVD

1. Billy Idol – In Super Overdrive Live

A short but excellent concert release that captures Billy’s high energy shows.

2. Iron Maiden: Flight 666

 

Best New Band

Bastard Child Death Cult

Intense, is the word to describe this band that features ex members of Monster Voodoo Machine, Damn 13, Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah and others.

Runner Up: Crooked X

 

Hopes For 2010


New album (Products) from Razor and Monster Voodoo Machine.

 

Disappointment of the Year

Kiss and Slayer’s new CD’s. As great as they are they doesn’t live up to the hype that they initially created.

Discovery of 2009

Razor. They were around for ages but never paid much attention back then. This past year I have gotten into their later stuff (Bob-era).

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Best of 2009 – Brat

January 3rd, 2010
by EvilG

TOP 20 ALBUMS

   1. Saint Deamon – Pandeamonium

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A consistently strong melodic metal CD with balls. It hasn’t been taken out of my car stacker since I bought it and singing along with the memorable melodies keeps me relaxed in traffic and gets me looks from fellow commuters when I belt out a particular strong or high note behind closed glass. I’ve been a fan of ‘Nobby’ Noberg (Nation, Dionysus) and Ronny Milianowicz (Sinergy, Dionysus, Primal Fear) for a while and I’m pleased to finally put their work in my #1 spot.


   2. SuidAkra – Crogacht

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I just love metal with bagpipes!


   3. Winger – Karma

   4. Powerwolf – Bible of the Beast

   5. Crimfall – As The Path Unfolds…

   6. Fairyland – Score To A New Beginning

   7. Jorn – Spirit Black

   8. Dark Moor – Autumnal

   9. Paradise Lost – Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us

  10. Thunderstone – Dirt Metal

  11. Lacuna Coil – Shallow Life

  12. Ensiferum – From Afar

  13. Primal Fear – 16.6 Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

  14. Sonata Arctica – The Days of Grays

  15. Trick Or Treat – Tin Soldiers

  16. Adagio – Archangels In Black

  17. Holyhell – Holyhell

  18. Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue

  19. Tyr – By The Light of a Northern Star

  20. Cain’s Offering – Gather The Faithful

BEST NEW BAND

Crimfall

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BEST DVD

1. Pink Cream ’69 – Past and Present

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Pink Cream ’69 has been promising fans a live DVD for years so just the fact that it was finally released after so many years of anticipation was enough for it to rank highly this year. I saw them at Das Fest in Karlsruhe, so adding footage from that performance tipped the scales.

2. Promised Land of Heavy Metal

BEST LIVE CONCERT

I can’t belive a rock band has surpassed all metal bands this year in the best live show, but I walked away from the world’s most hated rock band, Nickelback, with sore cheeks from smiling so much. Chad Kroeger works a 30,000 seater stadium like a pub. Many frontmen have talked as much during a show, but none as well as Chad – from the funny, to the poignant, to the downright controversial -  I wasn’t bored once. Even managed to sing along to a few songs with the diehard fans.

If you really want a metal show, then it would have to be PAIN at QStock festival in Finland.

An honorable mention goes to finally seeing Sonata Arctica on home turf at Screamfest. Now that’s how every New Year’s Eve celebration should be!

GREATEST HOPES FOR 2010

1. A full length release from Floor Jansen’s new band.

2. To get to Norway and Sweden for a festival or two

DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2009

There were so many disappointing CD releases and all the offenders have been in the business for 20 years plus.

doro2009.jpg I can’t believe I had my worst release for 2009 as early as January.

                          I didn’t think anything else released in 2009 would be as bad as this.

                          I actually felt really bad for Doro – she’s a great performer.

kiss.jpg Too many familiar melodies and riffs in this release.

                          They should have quit when the packed away the makeup the first time.

00-lita_ford-wicked_wonderland-2009-retail_cd-front.jpg So disappointing. Only one good song and having a second male

                          vocalist probably saved it.

wasp.jpg I expect too much from bands that have been around for a long time.

                          I always hope for something different and new and get disappointed

                          when I hear the same old, same old.

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Best of 2009 – Aaron

January 3rd, 2010
by EvilG

Top 20 of 2009

1. Katatonia – NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY

In a year full of stellar releases, having to wait until almost the end of 2009 for this album made it that much more stunning.  One of the few albums from 2009 that was consistently strong from start to finish, NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY is the kind of genre defining album that only Katatonia could make.  It edged out Heaven & Hell for my number 1 spot – that should tell you how good this album is.


2. Heaven & Hell – THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

The fact that this album even happened still blows my mind.  There’s something special that happens when this lineup of Sabbath gets together, and THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is no exception.  Every time I think that I’ve had enough of this album, I give it another spin and it pulls me back in again.  Heavy, powerful, magical – this is what great metal is all about.  Ozzy who?

3. Alice in Chains – BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE

4. Obscura – COSMOGENESIS

5. Candlemass – DEATH MAGIC DOOM

6. God Dethroned – PASSIONDALE

7. Dark Moor – AUTUMNAL

8. Suffocation – BLOOD OATH

9. Ex Deo – ROMULUS

10. Kreator – HORDES OF CHAOS

11. Augury – FRAGMENTARY EVIDENCE

12. Cauldron – CHAINED TO THE NITE

13. Wino – PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM

14. Thin Lizzy – STILL DANGEROUS

15. Zoroaster – VOICE OF SATURN

16. Wolves in the Throne Room – BLACK CASCADE

17. Soulfallen – GRAVE NEW WORLD

18. Killswitch Engage – KILLSWITCH ENGAGE

19. Shrinebuilder – SHRINEBUILDER

20. Black Pyramid – BLACK PYRAMID

Best New Band

Cauldron

This Canadian three piece understands that it’s okay for metal to be fun.  Delivering stripped down, 80’s influenced melodic proto-thrash with punchy riffs and catchy lyrics; CHAINED TO THE NITE was one of the best debuts to surface in 2009.  These guys have the potential to be huge.

Best DVD

Iron Maiden – FLIGHT 666

Part documentary, part concert film, FLIGHT 666 gave fans a rare glimpse into what touring with one of metal’s biggest acts is really like.  This film made me fall in love with Maiden all over again.

Biggest Disappointment

Paradise Lost – FAITH DIVIDES US-DEATH UNITES US

This one hurt me the most this year.  Being a die hard PL fan since ’91, I had huge hopes for this album.  Huge hopes that were unceremoniously crushed upon finally hearing the results.  2007’s IN REQUIEM showed that the band could still bring the heavy while maintaining their trademark melody.  FAITH DIVIDES US brought the heavy, but forgot the melody and everything else interesting about Paradise Lost.  Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings…

Discovery of 2009

Obscura  

Seeming to have come from out of nowhere, Germany’s Obscura released what was arguably the best death metal album of the year, COSMOGENESIS.  Limited distribution kept the band’s 2006 debut, RETRIBUTION, off the metal community’s radar, but a new deal with Relapse Records fixed that problem.  The band’s sophomore follow up, COSMOGENESIS was a sci-fi influenced, progressive, technical death metal masterpiece that didn’t sacrifice songwriting for the sake of shred.  If you haven’t heard this album yet, what are you waiting for?

Hopes for 2010

1. A full and speedy recovery for Mr. Ronnie James Dio.  MAGICA 2 & 3 are still on the horizon, as is the possibility for new Heaven & Hell material.  There’s too much great music still left in you Ronnie, so get well soon and get back to work.

2. Anthrax and John Bush will quit dancing around and officially kiss and make up.  Festival dates are confirmed in 2010 and supposedly JB is re-recording the vocals on WORSHIP MUSIC, yet still, Bush has not “officially” rejoined the band.  Seriously guys, please make this happen for the fans.

3. The new Pestilence album will be the technical monster that RESURRECTION MACABRE wasn’t.  Obscura and Augury set the bar pretty high in 2009, so Patrick Mameli needs to put up or shut up.

4. We’ll finally see those DVD collections that King Diamond has been promising us since forever.

5. There were some phenomenal tour packages in 2009.  Hopefully in 2010, they won’t forget that the southeastern U.S. exists.

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Best of 2010 – Arto Lehtinen

January 3rd, 2010
by EvilG

Top 20

1. Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones

After the demise of the mighty Celtic Frost, Mr T.G. Warrior went on and formed Triptykon. The band’s debut album Eparistera Daimones presents the pure hate and anger of Mr. Warrior from beginning to end. The songs are massive, heavy, and above all depressive crowning all the Daimones experience.


2. Hail Of Bullets – On Divine Winds

Hail Of Bullets visited the Finnish metal fest Jalometalli Festival up in Oulu. The five piece’s delivery was a bone and crushing experience. It was therefore more than logical to expect more war based death metal from these Dutch warriors. On Divine Winds is another piece of brutal death metal art which will be remembered for years to come.

3. Immolation – Majesty and Decay

The legendary NY death metallers combo have always released outstanding great outputs since the demo days. No compromises, no sell out, no gothic keyboards or other added tricks. Just pure death metal in the old school mindest. Excellent!

4. Overkill – Ironbound

5. Kylesa – Spiral Shadow

6. Atheist – Jupiter

7. Halford – Made of Metal

8. Melechesh – The Epigenesis

9. Watain – Lawless Darkness

10. Forbidden – Omega Wave

11. Accept – Blood of the Nations

12. Danzig – Deth Red Sabaoth

13. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier

14. Death Angel – Relentless Retribution

15. Rotting Christ – Aealo

16. Hour of Penance – Paradogma

17. Soulfly – Omen

18. Grand Magus – Hammer Of The North

19. Ufomammut – Eve

20. Spiritual Beggars –Return To Zero

Best New Band

Ghost – Opus Eponymous

The Swedish band GHOST came as a huge surprise with their grim and occult image reminding slightly of the mighty Mercyful Fate. Ghost’s occult metal with old heavy metal influences gives real chilling  shivers. Above all, the band’s vocalist’s outlook is quite creepy.

Best Metal DVD/Blu-Ray

Heaven And Hell – Live at Wacken

Does this need any explaination? Well Heaven And Hell was absolutely great when playing in Helsinki in the old ice hall and a week later at Sweden Rock. The Wacken show is basically the same as was seen at Sweden Rock. Ronnie James Dio’s premature move to the end of the rainbow increases the value and respect toward the last Heaven And Hell shows. This is the best concert you could of attended in 2010!

Best Live Show

Carcass at Jalometalli in Oulu. The band sounded tight and clear and above all murderous.

Album disappointments of 2010

1. The latest Iron Maiden output “The Final Frontier” didn’t convince me at all.

2. The newest Ozzy Osbourne Scream. I still prefer the 80’s albums.

Greatest hopes for 2011

Seriously I rather not predict anything as the year 2010 was already a full of setbacks and unwanted pieces of news and major disappointments from the world of heavy metal.



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Best of 2009 – EvilG

January 2nd, 2010
by EvilG

1. Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)

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witness a band at the peak of their creativity! Primal Fear can’t be stopped! This is everything I could have hoped for for a Primal Fear album. It has the aggression, the speed, the melody, and even a couple of departures thrown in to mix things up just right. Even though some critics believe that this band has a 50/50 track record, I’ve been a huge fan since the first album and love all their stuff! It seems most of those on the fence are also loving this album too, not that that makes me love or hate this album more however.

2. Týr – By the Light of the Northern Star

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For me this album really came from out of nowhere. I hadn’t really heard them until 2009 and it was by chance. Since I’ve heard this album over and over and over….it’s really left an impression on me. I love the folk-ish mix with the Viking/Power/Thrash styling. It’s probably not right to call this traditional Viking Metal since it’s not the typical growling. The vocals on this are more in the Hetfield gruff vein and they suit the music perfectly. Awesome band, awesome album…check them out if you haven’t already!


3. Megadeth – Endgame

4. Steel Panther – Feel The Steel

5. Slayer – World Painted Blood

6. Stratovarius – Polaris

7. Kreator – Hordes Of Chaos

8. Brainstorm – Memorial Roots

9. Savage Circus – Of Doom and Death

10. Rebellion – Arise: From Ginnungagap To Ragnarok – History of the Vikings, Vol. III

11. Lord – Set In Stone

12. Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know

13. Vader – Necropolis

14. Austrian Death Machine – Double Brutal

15. Wolf – Ravenous

16. Mob Rules – Radical Peace

17. W.A.S.P. – Babylon

18. Dark Moor – Autumnal

19. Lion’s Share – Dark Hours

20. HammerFall – No Sacrifice, No Victory



BEST NEW BAND

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Steel Panther

Yes they are cheesy, and yes this is blatant glam metal…but on steroids. Everything about them is perfect from their over the top humor to their actual songs which are surprisingly awesome. This is not just a gimmick band, even though the humor aspect is a big draw. If you take away the profanity and humor, the songs are still very well written 80′s metal with some great vocals and guitar work from Russ Parrish (ex-Fight guitarist).

(Although they formed in 2000, and went under names such as Danger Kitty, Metal Shop and Metal Skool, FEEL THE STEEL is the debut full album from them as Steel Panther, which thereby qualifies them for the best new band category as we define it). 


BEST DVD

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Anvil – The Story of Anvil!

A band I’ve always loved finally is getting some well deserved exposure! I just hope that they capitalize off of this and can ride the wave into a sucessful new era. Regardless of the impact of this documentary, this is one of the best metal DVD’s I’ve seen up there with "Metal: A Headbangers Journey". The only thing that would make this better would be a double DVD release with all of Anvil’s videos, and the complete 1983 and 2008 Japanese concerts that provide the bookends to the documentary.

 

Discovery of 2009

tyr.jpg 

Týr

This is a new category to highlight a band that is new to each staffer. Surprisingly, Tyr managed to stay beneath my radar until mid-2009. I found the band bit by word of mouth, not by promotional materials from their label, but by reading a blog about Viking metal. The band’s cover art for "By the Light of the Northern Star" caught my eye with the angry Viking chopping down the Xtian cross. After checking out the song "Hold The Heathen Hammer High", I was sold. Hold the heathen hammer high, with a battle cry!!

Best Concert of 2009

Primal Fear:  Sept. 13 2009, Foufounes Electriques, Montreal, Canada

Just…wow….best live performance I’ve ever witnessed.

DISAPPOINTMENTS of 2009

Tim "Ripper" Owens – PLAY MY GAME

I love Tim’s voice and the line-up of musicians on this on paper seemed to be a perfect matching. However, the album is just plain boring! After a couple listens I figured it was just me because I was so expecting to love this. After about 15 more listens I had to admit, this is just bad song-writing, lifeless, unmemorable, a complete failure. I don’t like to crap over someone who’s other works I admire (especially his stuff with Iced Earth despite popular opinion) but this is easily the biggest musical disappointment of 2009.

Sonata Arctica THE DAYS OF GRAYS

UNIA was a step down for Sonata Arctics but it still had some great songs. DAYS OF GRAYS is again another step downwards with even fewer great material. I know they don’t want to play speed metal all the time with double kicks and dog whistle vocals, but c’mon, they had that sound down and owned it. No need to totally abandon a good thing! Sure, evolve, but you don’t need to become slow and boring to evolve. Get heavier! Get angry! I don’t even like most of the non-riffs on this album as the guitar seems to mainly do chugga-chugga rhythmic crap in the background. I want riffssss..notessss….runs….not chuggachugga crap…c’mon and write something that inspires, not that depresses.

 

Greatest Hopes For 2010

1. Will the mighty Rhapsody of Fire return to their speed and kick ass? I really hope so…

2. Savatage (not some blues/gospel/broadway shit) doing a full on METAL album with Jon and Zakk on vocals. I wished for this forever…is it time to forget about it?

3. The new albums from Nevermore, Imagika, Jag Panzer, Blind Guardian….

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SEBASTIAN BACH: Live at Pakkahuone, Tampere FINLAND 13/12 2009

December 28th, 2009
by Marko Syrjala

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SEBASTIAN BACH

BACH IN THE SADDLE OF EUROPE TOUR 2009

Pakkahuone, TAMPERE

FINLAND

13/12 2009

Former SKID ROW singer Sebastian Bach returned to Finland after 18 months.  Last year Sebastian and his band got so many excellent reviews and overall positive feedback that it wasn’t a big surprise that they wanted to return here as soon as he did. This current BACH IN THE SADDLE IN EUROPE –tour consisted of nine shows and when three out of those nine shows were now in Finland so there must have been such a high expectations here.  Last year Sebastian played Tampere at the SAUNA OPEN AIR festival and so now it was ttime to find out how successful he will be here one his own?

 

REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ

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Megadeth / Warbringer / Suicide Silence Live In Kansas City: December 5, 2009

December 27th, 2009
by Lord of the Wasteland

Megadeth / Warbringer / Suicide Silence

The Beaumont Club

Kansas City, USA

December 5, 2009

 

***Review By Jodi Michael; Photos By Sara E. Robbins


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