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