BEST OF 2008

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Best of 2008

As always, some restrictions are placed on our lists. The top albums are for releases from 2008 that are full albums (no EP’s or demos). They also have to be new studio albums for 2008, not re-recordings, re-releases, cover songs, or live material. For best new band, the restriction is that the band’s debut full-length album (not including demos or EP’s) has to be a 2008 release. Below the list are links to each staff members personal best of lists which besides the top album contains such things as best new band, best DVD, disappointments of 2008, and greatest hopes for 2009.

The Top 20  Heavy Metal Albums of 2008

(click the album cover to read our review)



The comeback of the decade? You decide.  For once, the hype and climactic build-up (THE GATHERING came out nine years ago!!) was worth it, as the Bay Area veterans brought enough modern flair to their mid-paced thrash formula to show metalheads that there is still some gas left in the tank.  Chuck Billy’s ferocious roar is as strong as ever and the guitar team of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson deliver in spades.  A great return and fully deserving of top-tier status.

2. Motörhead – Motorizer


Motörhead is as dependable as always on MOTORIZER, with the unstoppable Lemmy and co. turning in another excellent platter of metallic might.  Is Motörhead ageless?  Maybe, but one has to wonder just how many more years Lemmy will be croaking and craning his neck across stages.  If MOTORIZER is any indication, he’ll join Keith Richards and cockroaches as the only living things when Armageddon comes.



Amon Amarth have produced another standout album that can take a rightful place amongst the best in their catalogue. The band, as always, has stayed true to their formula, and true to the type of metal they write. They are able to never deviate from the path they have tread, and yet continue to keep each release sounding fresh and new, rather than rehashed. For those of you looking to explore the band for the first time this album is a fantastic starting point. So grab your drinking horns, fill them with your favorite mead, and raise them high in a salute to another legendary release one of the finest!

4. Avantasia – THE SCARECROW


In a making of the album segment, Sammet has said he does not want his music to be labeled. He does not want to be pigeonholed into metal or hard rock, but wants to present a variety of musical styles that he enjoys through his work. With THE SCARECROW, he has succeeded greatly in accomplishing this goal, proving once again that he may be one of the most talented and diverse songwriters producing music in the metal (or hard rock) scene right now. Power metal purists may turn their nose up at these more direct, memorable, and highly catchy songs due to the lack of overwhelming speed, but everyone else should grab this release immediately.

5. Metallica – DEATH MAGNETIC


After the unmentionable angsty hardcore-ish self-indulgent abomination that was ST ANGER (*spit), DEATH MAGNETIC will be lauded as the best of post-1990 Metallica. I’d even rank it above BLACK, although this may be because BLACK followed four great thrash albums, and DEATH MAGNETIC follows…a string of pop-rock, country-rock, covers, symphonic dalliances, and pure crap.This is actually the first Metallica album that we reviewed since we started this zine in 1995…so welcome back to the realm of metal Metallica!



As the frontman of Nevermore and Sanctuary, Warrel Dane has been engrossing fans with his soaring vocals and high-pitched wails for over twenty years. Finally, Dane has taken a step outside the group dynamic and recorded his first solo album, PRAISES TO THE WAR MACHINE. With help from Soilwork’s Peter Wichers, as well as Matt Wicklund (ex-Himsa), Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Scarve) and a few guest spots, this is the perfect example of what a solo album should be. A pair of interesting covers are included but ten original, Dane-penned tracks run the gamut from straight-forward, melodic heavy metal to dark, brooding hard rock and even a Gothic-tinged ballad.




Over the last several years, the metal community has been offered the return of several classic vocalists to the bands that they helped make important. However, the results have been rather mixed. For many metalheads, the return of Matt Barlow to Iced Earth is of similar importance. The question that remained for all, though, is whether or not the anticipation would be worth the wait. Based on the placement of their album in our top 10, it seems most of us here would agree it was.



In 2008, it may have seemed odd that people were excited about the release of a new Mötley Crüe album. Maybe it’s because this is the first album of new material featuring the original lineup since GENERATION SWINE eleven years ago. Maybe it’s because Nikki Sixx landed himself on the New York Times best-seller list with 2007’s year-in-the-life-of-a-drugged-out-rock-star autobiography, THE HEROIN DIARIES. Or maybe the retro nostalgia factor is still strong enough from the sold-out “Carnival of Sins” and “Route of All Evil” tours that took the band across the globe three years ago. Whatever it is, there been some serious buzz surrounding Mötley Crüe’s new album, SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES and now with 2008 behind us, it seems like enough of our staff bought into the album to place it into our top 10.



BLACK ICE is the best album overall that AC/DC has released since 1980’s BACK IN BLACK. Despite clocking in at a rather lengthy 55 minutes (the band’s longest yet), the album never drags and is devoid of any noticeable filler. Some musical experimentation and vocal dynamics (not to mention the slick production—man, this record sounds great cranked up loud!) certainly show the band still has some fire in the furnace even though there is snow on the roof. In a nutshell, BLACK ICE is versatile, fresh and modern but maintains that classic AC/DC vibe. Welcome back, boys.

10. Airbourne – Runnin’ Wild


From AC/DC to perhaps the band that has best encapsulated their sound ever, we have Airbourne. If you are an AC/DC fan, then this is the album for you. Bursting onto the scene this four-piece heavy rock band takes all the elements and cues from Aussie-land’s greatest export. Their explosive energy and good time party lyrics create one of the most talked about releases in awhile.


Number 11 to 20

11. Guns n’ Roses – Chinese Democracy

12. Cavalera Conspiracy – Inflikted cavalera.jpg
13. Brainstorm – Downburst brainstorm.jpg
14. Opeth – Watershed opeth.jpg
15. Sabaton – The Art Of War sabaton.jpg
16. Eluveitie – Slania eluveitie.jpg
17. Firewind – The Premonition firewind.jpg
18. Whitesnake – Good To Be Bad whitesnake.jpg
19. Into Eternity – The Incurable Tragedy intoeternity.png
20. Cradle Of Filth – Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder cof.jpg

 Individual Staff Lists For 2008

Includes: top 20, best new band, best DVD, greatest hopes for 2009, and disappointments of 2008.

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