Home > Music > Mini-Issue #577.5 – 2010 In Review

Mini-Issue #577.5 – 2010 In Review

Mini-Issue #577.5
January 28, 2011

To subscribe to the e-mail version do one of the following:
Visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Detritus/
Send a blank e-mail to: Detritus-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

To unsubscribe from the e-mail version:
Send a blank e-mail to: Detritus-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

To contact us:

Patrick Brower, Editor

Sean P. Gahgan, Editor

Tim Wadzinski, Owner

Steve Shumake, Co-owner

-Here we go with everything you could possibly want to know about 2010. – Tim

*** AT THE ALTAR ***
by Patrick Brower (pwbrower@gmail.com)

-I have a confession to make, dear readers… Well, more of an acknowledgment of disappointing statistics. My metal quotient was way down in 2010. Not by choice, mind you, but by the circumstance of not really finding as many new discs as I would have liked to. I mean, I’m listing a “Top 15” this year, but I’m hard-pressed to find 20 actual metal CD’s I bought this year, you know? Is it me? Have my tastes changed? I am not now, nor have I ever really been into the really heavy, thrashy dark stuff, the stuff that Stephanie Davison seems to revel in, but I do have a greater appreciation for the some of the heavier modern-day bands like In Flames or Nevermore, however my daily geography has changed and it’s harder to find the time to listen to certain types of music.

I work with the general public and I am sensitive to the kind of music playing in that regard. Not because people hear me play Savatage and say, “This is one of the worst things I have ever heard.” which has happened, but because I routinely dear with families and young children and I really can’t justify playing some of the music I really want to hear, so the majority of my work day is family friendly metal. And I now carpool to work, so the 2 hours of daily travel time, the times when I would usually get to play the crap out of a new disc, is also gone.

Now, I’m not asking for sympathy; I’m just trying to explain to myself why my list is so… lacking this year. But, and I say this EVERY year-end issue, this is my favorite issue as I get to see what I’ve missed thanks to my fellow Detritus contributors. As I write this in mid-January, I have already gone over Stephanie’s list and we have a grand total of one CD that overlaps. But enough.

-My Top 15 CDs of 2011

I have easily listened to this a few hundred times. So excited was I for this release, that I set up an account with E1 Entertainment in order to be able to carry this album in my store. And no, I do not work in a record store.

Vanden Plas never fails to disappoint me, and this is as good a reason of why as any.

3. Allen Lande – THE SHOWDOWN
If only there was a new Symphony X disc this year, then Russell and Jorn could have each made my list twice. It’s happened before!

Say what you will about pro-wrestler/rock singer Chris Jericho, but this album was the first thing I got excited about in 2010. Really fun stuff (except when they try too hard w/ “Wormwood”).

5. Masterplan – TIME TO BE KING
It’s great to have Jorn Lande back in this band and this is my favorite disc of theirs yet.

6. Jon Oliva’s Pain – FESTIVAL
How many years did it used to take between Savatage records? Now Jon and Chris Caffery are two of the most prolific metallers of today!

7. James LaBrie – STATIC IMPULSE
Pretty interesting idea, but I wish James would have tried to do all the screaming himself, or just left it off.

8. Armored Saint – LA RAZA
Man, I LOVE me some Armored Saint, but this album can’t beat the older stuff, especially SYMBOL OF SALVATION.

9. Blind Guardian – AT THE EDGE OF TIME
The most fun I’ve had with Blind Guardian yet. And I really want to cover “Tanelorn (Into The Void)” as a Christmas song, “Cry For Tannenbaum.”

10. Bruce Kulick – BK3
Gene Simmons best non-Kiss vocals, ever, and a great job by Nick Simmons, too. Also has the honor of the last recording by The Knack’s Doug Feiger on the really great “Dirty Girl.”

Probably the weakest CIIC disc yet, but I still love hearing new Zak Stevens work.

12. Helloween – 7 SINNERS
As good as they’ve been in years.

13. Gamma Ray – TO THE METAL!
New Gamma Ray AND Helloween this year? I guess I was a good boy.

I think this is Nevermore’s most accessible disc yet.

This gets the Time Machine Award of the year for me. And the year is 1988.

Honorable Mention: Section A – SACRIFICE

-Non-Metal Albums I Played The Crap Out Of:

Superchunk – MAJESTY SHREDDING (Honestly my favorite disc of 2010, hands down)
She & Him – VOLUME TWO
The Pretty Reckless – LIGHT ME UP
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World – SOUNDTRACK (I have really come around to 8-bit music, but in very small doses)
Magnetic Fields – REALISM

-Live Show of the Year:

The Metro; Chicago, IL
16 March 2010

-Most looking forward to in 2011:

Coming out 22 Feb 2011! Can. Not. Wait.

by Stephanie Davison (Zatanna7@comcast.net)

Top Ten Albums of 2010

Looking back at 2010 I have to analyze and ponder over whether or not it was a good year for metal. So in order to analyze everything, I decided to compile a top ten list. Why ten? Because 20 gets to be too excessive, five is being lazy, and 10 is just right. But I had quite a challenge trying to qualify what would make it onto my list. Maybe I’m picky, but the albums that were going to make my list had to be mind-blowing, dazzling, bounding with ingenuity and brimming with talent. I’ll throw in some honorable mentions, too. And to be fair, I’ll cover a live act this year, worthy of attention. And finally, I will end with a note about what to expect in 2011!

The list! In no particular order:

Why: I am a Zombie fan. When a band you like releases an album, you’re more likely to like it than loathe it. Admittedly, Zombie is not the most poetic of song writers, but it is almost the fact that the lyrics are meaninglesss that gives it an odd charm. The man can still be wildly successful with lyrics chanting, “chew it up, spit it out, sick bubblegum!” It’s the musicality that always draws me in, and HELLBILLY DELUXE 2 delivered!

Why: What is it about long-lasting underground bands that they tend to kick the asses of all of their mainstream counterparts? It’s because of the hard work ethic and their refusal to conform to what’s popular. Doin’ their way. And that is precisely what My Ruin embodies. GHOSTS & GOOD STORIES is both an emotionally deep album as it is thought-provoking.

Why: It’s Enslaved. Norwegian’s finest! Enslaved has been a band that has consistently had better and better releases, and the release of AXIOMA ETHICA ODINI is no exception. I remember hearing a lot of hype for this album, and when that happens, unfortunately, the album doesn’t live up to the high standards. This was the fate of this album too, though it was pretty damn close to being amazing. It’s definitely an album worthy of being one of the best of 2010.

Why: I was surprised that I like this album as much as I did. I was in a Hot Topic store this summer and while I was there, decided to listen to samples of some of their new material. I randomly selected In This Moment, only kind of roughly knowing what they sounded like. What sealed the deal with A STAR CROSSED WASTELAND was it was a concept album and I enjoyed the plot being told through the lyrics. And overall, good melody and killer screaming.

Why: This is one that I wasn’t sure of in the beginning. But after listening to the whole album, I knew Watain was different from other bands I had been recently reviewing. They are talented motherf*ckers, that’s why. And they have staying power. LAWLESS DARKNESS also had the ability to remain entertaining from start to finish without feeling dull. I was impressed by guitar soloing and the thick and raspy vocals!

ODYSSEY UNDEAD by The Breathing Process
This might be my favorite album that I reviewed this year. Maybe. Not all-time favorite of the year, but it’s up there. One thing that really impressed me about this band was that they had not one, not two, but three vocalists. That really added diversity. Not only that, but the band boasted being a hybrid of melodic death metal and symphonic black metal. This unholy matrimony of two devilishly grand genres yielded excellent results!

Why: This is another one that I was surprised to like. I had never been a Kamelot fan before, and generally prog metal isn’t usually my favorite. I found out Kamelot had a new album, and literally thought, what the hell, I’ll give it a listen. And after hearing the first track, I knew I had to hear more. So I bought the album and played it obsessively for weeks and the rest is history!

Why: I got on the Celtic Frost bandwagon really late. Like MONOTHEIST late. That’s the only album that I actually have by them. So I was sad to see the band break up just as I was getting into them. But then lo and behold, it is reincarnated into Triptykon, which is essentially the continuation of the band. EPARISTERA DAIMONES is everything you could hope and evolving Celtic Frost would be.

MISLED BY CERTAINTY by Cephalic Carnage
Why: This is an album that takes so many twists and turns, you’re going to ge lost in the labrynith of songs. I like seeing a band flex their creative muscles and set out to do something different. Not only that, but the album is painstakingly technical and precise! Couple that with face-melting brutality psychotically smattered throughtout the album, and what you get is something amazing.

OMEN by Soulfly
Why: Being a Sepultura and Soulfy fan, I knew I was going to like this. Anytime where I get Max Cavalra vocals, I know the album is going to be brutal as f*ck. And staying true to his track record, OMEN was laden with intense feocity. Another cool thing was the addition of Greg Puciato from Dillenger Escape Plan on the track, “Rise Of The Fallen.”

Honorable mentions:

A THIN SHELL by October Tide
AUSSERWELT by Year Of No Light
DECADE by At Vance
DEGENERATE by Trigger The Bloodshed
DIVINITY by The Singularity

Concert review!

THE coolest concert of 2010 was the Megadeth/Slayer/Testament Tour (or in some areas it was Anthrax instead of Testament). It was the 20th anniversary of two of the greatest and influentional metal albums ever to be released: RUST IN PEACE and SEASONS IN THE ABYSS. Testament opening the show was an excellent choice. They got the crowd revved up. Even got the Wall of Death going! I think they’re truly underrated, and that’s a shame. Then it was Megadeth’s turn to stalk the stage. The cool thing about this tour is that you get to hear songs that you would ordinarily never hear a band play, simply because it wasn’t a popular song on the album. So, getting to hear a song like “Dawn Patrol” which isn’t as popular, was truly a treat. That whole album is loaded with epicness though. From starting it off with Holy Wars to ending it with “Rust In Peace… Polaris,” it was a non-stop, “take no prisoners” fury of godlike guitar playing and unforgettable singing. I remember when “Holy Wars” started, a personal favorite of mine, screaming every f*cking line, every f*cking lyric, because I knew it by heart. We even got paid a visit by Vic Rattlehead during “Dawn Patrol.” He came wandering about across the stage in a haphazard kind of way, just making his presense conspicuosly known. Dave ended the set with perfecly picked, fan-favorite encores and used a wicked two-neck guitar to play “Trust.” And then there was Slayer. Again, it was awesome to hear songs off of SEASONS IN THE ABYSS that normally the band wouldn’t play. It was funny though, because by the time Slayer took the stage, the people in the pit were visably getting tired. They seemed to lose their vigor a bit, not because Slayer was underwhelming, but because having gone through two heavyweight bands right before it was too much of an onslaught. But when “Raining Blood” oozed out of the speakers, a fire was lit under everyone, and the moshing was reborn and to terrorizing proportions, just like a Slayer mosh should. The concert was very entertaining. Saw faces young and old… but they were all clad in appropriate band attire! It was a memorable concert that if you were smart enough to go see it, you have the bittersweet feeling of knowing you witnessed something that will probably never happen again.

Onward To 2011!

I have four much anticipated releases for 2011. The first is Ana Kefr’s second album, THE BURIAL TREE, slated to be released in May. I got to hear fragments of songs while I was in the studio with them, so I feel as though I’ve been tantalized and now the wait is maddening. I can already tell it is going to be an awesome album. I cannot wait to hear it! The second is the release of Devin Townsend’s albums, DECONSTRUCTION and GHOST, also to be released in May. May is really going to be my month! I absolutely loved 2009’s ADDICTED, and I think the progression of Devin’s project has been diverse as it as creative. These two next albums have a lot of hype riding on them, but with a man like Mr. Townsend being the musical engineer behind it, I have faith that both albums will be nothing short of magical. And finally, this March will see the debut of Children Of Bodom’s new album, RELENTLESS RECKLESS FOREVER! They have already given us a sampling of this disc, streaming the track “Was It Worth it?” via Facebook. It’s more than enough to seal the deal that I’ll be buying this when it comes it. Children Of Bodom continue to grow and mature yet retain their distinct Bodom sound with each new album. Very much looking forward to it!

*** CLASSIC ROCK MY @$$! ***
by Jan W. (jw4jzon@hotmail.com)

2010 – Still Waiting For Improvements

10. How could A&E pull the plug on “Growing Up Twisted?” According to his own “House Of Hair” newsletter, Dee Snider and his family say it was a mutual decision, so the six weeks we already saw will be the end. On the plus side of music on reality TV, I think this had the potential to be the recurring guilty pleasure that Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels” has become. Total reality or totally scripted — the personalities of these people are interesting either way.

9. Bret Michaels must be taking career management lessons from Sharon Osbourne. Who else could find such inventive ways to get such huge amounts of press from all that happened to him in 2010? Yes, I watched him on Trump’s otherwise boring “Celebrity Apprentice,” thinking he would be within the first four to get booted. When he was part of the last four, even I was routing for him. Then came all the health scares and other news: the appendicitis, the hemorrhage, his insistence on appearing on the “Apprentice” finale against medical advice, his choice to delay surgery to repair a heart defect, two “debuts” of yet another VH1 show, “Life As I Know It,” and finally, ending said show with an engagement. I can’t believe he’s made my list again. At the risk of repeating myself for deaf ears, I must say to him, “Hey Bret — just play your damn guitar!”

8. Vince Neil sure has no issues shooting off his mouth to give his opinion on everybody else’s career choices, and most of them are not complimentary. Here’s hoping that his own latest move teaches him a lesson. Who would have ever guessed we would see anyone from Motley Crue on a show as pathetic as “Skating With The Stars?” Since when is Vince Neil a “star” to be considered for this type of show? I had to watch, just to see how the hypocrite did on the ice. Saying he was stiff as a robot is being kind. Thankfully, I didn’t have to stick with this show as long as I did with “Celebrity Apprentice” and Vince was booted from this cheesy show not first (as expected) but second, during week three. Let’s hope he finds a better way to pay the bills. Vince, can you say “hit the studio?”

7. Did you ever wish for there to be over two hours of TV on Canadian band Rush? If so, VH1 has granted your wish. While channel surfing late one night last year I found the premiere of the newest of the “Rock Docs” series. Sometimes I like Rush and sometimes they are more than I am prepared to listen to, but no matter what you think about this band, the return of “Rock Docs” should be a good sign for music fans. Sadly, I haven’t seen or heard of any other “Rock Docs.” VH1, you finally get back on track, only to derail again. What is with music networks? Which brings me to…

6. Did you hear that MTV finally officially removed the words “Music Television” from its logo ( http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=142017 )? While it’s been a long time coming, for many of us it is the end of an era. MTV general manager Stephen Friedman said the channel was having a problem with brand recognition among viewers who love their shows but had no idea they were on MTV. Maybe that’s because they did not belong on a MUSIC channel! If you want to do nothing but air crappy reality TV, you should have started another network. Why is A&E airing more music-related shows (Gene Simmons, Dee Snider) than MTV? Why is E! airing biography-style shows on music artists? It may seem like I’m flip-flopping here, but they could have very easily created a whole new channel that aired nothing but their other shows. Leave music-related shows on the music channel. Now VH1 is following MTV downhill with the same stupid trends. What is truly insulting is that they still aired MTV Video Music Awards in 2010 — when you rarely see a video there. VH1 still shows Top Ten Video countdowns weekly, though you can only see those videos air between 5 – 7 a.m. Anyone out there want to start a new network with a true music channel? We are sorely lacking… or are we to rely solely on artist websites and YouTube?

5. In 2010 the Scorpions announced that they will retire after touring in support of their final album. Yes, there is something to be said for going out on top. Yes, there is something to be said for enjoying your retirement. While I respect the decision, it still must be said that they will be missed.

4. The RIAA still doesn’t get it. As much as I am “for” the music artists profiting from their own intellectual property and finding a way to charge fans for music, the industry big-wigs are still trying to eliminate MP3s and digital files ( http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/supreme-court-riaa/ and http://www.usaliveheadlines.com/1842/limewire-ordered-to-kill-its-p2p-service-after-losing-to-riaa.htm ). Instead of spending so much money suing and alienating the very fans who are the artists’ bread and butter, how about investing that money in technology to make digital files better, lawyers who will make sure digital files are on the legal up-and-up, and a savvy marketing team to make legal digital files more attractive to the fans? After completing a thesis last year that delved into this very subject, I found that most feel there is a compromise out there; we just need to find it. It’s time to make the artists and the fans happy, instead of pitting them against each other. Fat cats beware: we are tired of your games and filling your wallets. My bet is that the artists who work independently to distribute their music to fans digitally will be the ones who will end up making more money. Sorry record execs: you lose.

3. Ronnie James Dio will be missed. Everyone else said it better than me, but even the casual fan, such as myself, will miss not having him around. It also should be said out loud that while freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, since when did it become acceptable to exercise that right at the expense of being respectful to others? A group of protestors thought they should cause a scene and make their own views known at RJD’s funeral. ( http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=56079 and http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=140446 ). Yes, you have a right to say what your views are, but families and friends have the right to grieve in peace. And that right should take precedence.

2. Steven Tyler is now a judge on “American Idol????” I just don’t know about this one. Aerosmith has made my list before for all their in-fighting. Some members claim this stint from Tyler will make Aerosmith the laughingstock of the industry. I say trust your legacy more than that. Some members claim this gig is preventing them from making another album — when the show only tapes a portion of the week, leaving large blocks of time for studio work. I say it’s just another item to argue over. Last time boys: I say shut up and rock.

1. The music industry nearly imploded by not embracing the possibilities of online music distribution, and may or may not be limping back to life. However, it seems that with the approval of the Powers-That-Be, there is now the possibility that they will destroy the touring business. Ticketmaster and Live Nation have merged, for better or worse ( http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/01/doj-approves-modified-ticketmaster-live-nation-merger/ ). I say it’s for the worse, despite the conditions that have supposedly been set up to safeguard against problems like monopolization. Remember when Eddie Vedder tried to bring Ticketmaster back down to size? It didn’t work then, and I’m not optimistic now either. Sure, the casual fan who just wants the atmosphere or to just be able to say “I was there” can slip into lawn or nosebleed seats for a fraction of the old prices. But what about the diehards who want more of an experience — those who want the prime seats? Get ready to max out those credit cards or lose out. I kept a close eye on this progression over the last few years as I was writing a thesis (on the music business), and I could not find a positive point in this development in any of the research I did. They may lie in the weeds like snakes for a while, but I predict that it won’t be long before they strike at the fans with prices that keep many of us either far, far from the action, or out of the seats completely. Heaven help the fans.

by Sean P. Gahgan (spgahgan@comcast.net)

A lot of good quality music came out in 2010. I know I missed a bunch of releases that I wanted to hear and I’m still playing catch-up. What I have listed here, as was the case in previous years, are the CDs that occupied my CD player the most over this past year.

Records Of The Year

AT THE EDGE OF TIME – Blind Guardian

I need say little about this release to anyone who is familiar with the band. The quality and high standards in which this band continues to deliver music with are unparalleled in the Metal community. Going on 25 years they put out another incredible album complete with a healthy dose of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Production is top-notch and Hansi Kursch is at the top of his game.


Wow… This band has really evolved… from a just for fun cover band to an all-out Metal outfit. The songwriting has matured greatly. Chris Jericho’s lyrics are catchy and intelligent and Rich Ward and the rest of the guys provide heavy, groove-oriented Metal that is in-your-face and melodic at the same time. Don’t let the fact that this band is fronted by a six-time World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, Jericho grew up on the likes of Maiden, Priest, Motley Crue, and Helloween (he took his performing name from their first album). Give these guys a chance, this album is a monster.

GREED – Silent Call

This release came out of nowhere for me. Great production and vocal performance. (Do you see my common denominator?) Very catchy and memorable songs. Powerful melodic Metal with catchy choruses and meaningful lyrics. They have a previous CD out that I have yet to check out but it’s on my radar.

PANDEMONIUM – Pretty Maids

This band just doesn’t get old… They keep kicking out memorable discs with great songs and stellar production.

Songs Of The Year (ranked)

3) “Art Of War” by Anberlin – Great emotional song by a band that really knows how to construct a good song.

2) “All That Might Be” by Silent Call – I probably listened to this particular chorus more than any other part of a song this year… very powerful and great lyrics… great vocal performance. The song is a powerhouse full of emotion. I love the way they repeat the chorus for this song in the song that follow is it, “Dream Tomorrow”… it ties the two songs together nicely.

1) “Sacred” by Blind Guardian – Epic, emotional, and recorded with a real live orchestra… what more can you ask for. Hansi Kursch delivers an incredible performance here with gut-wrenching vocals. Nothing got my blood pumping in 2010 like this song!

Honorable Mentions

LIFE, LOVE, LOSS – Degreed

Well-written melodic rock songs that while being close to the pop style still retain enough gutsy edge to give you a kick in the ass. The only thing that kept this off my Records Of The Year is the production; it’s not bad, but a big bombastic production/mix would push this over the top! Looking forward to another release from these guys!

FEVER – Bullet For My Valentine

Another strong offering from this band. Catchy, get your blood pumping music with a slick production. Not quite as good as the sophomore effort, SCREAM AIM FIRE, but very solid nonetheless.


Although this came out in 2009 I discovered it in 2010 so it gets an honorable mention. Awesome vocals, crunchy guitar, good songwriting and great production. The rhythm section reminds me a Lynch Mob but the while remaining melodic and catchy breathes a little more progressiveness. This CD really grew on me and I am looking forward to their second release OUT FROM THE COLD, due in February of this year.

Disappointments For 2010


Don’t get me wrong, this is a quality release with great performances and a stellar production that only Sascha Paeth and Miro can do… I just believe Kamelot is stuck in a rut and keep repeating themselves. They peaked on THE BLACK HALO and need to experiment and branch out… The songs on their last two albums just don’t make me get excited the way EPICA and KARMA did. I’m sure if I had never heard those two CDs that I would really like their last two releases but since they raised the bar so high they are a victim of their own success.


This one falls under the same description as POETRY FOR THE POISONED by Kamelot. The bar is raised so high for my expectations that this one just fell flat for me.

Releases I have not got around to yet but are on my radar:

THE SHOWDOWN – Allen Lande

What I’m Looking Forward To In 2011

New Serenity, ColdSpell, and Evergrey.

ProgPower USA XII is going to be the best concert of the year… Vanden Plas and Evergrey on the same night… unbelievable!!!

by Keith Abt (KeithAbt@yahoo.com)

“2011 IN REVIEW”

Greetings, and welcome to Veterinarian’s Hospital, the continuing story of a quack who’s gone to the dogs… whoops, sorry, wrong column. So hey, here we are again, a brand new year, and a brand new “Mega-Vault” looking back at the previous 12 months of hard rock and metal.

So… um… was it just me, or did 2010 kinda sorta suck, just a little?

I usually have trouble coming up with a “Top Ten” list of CDs for any given year. To prepare for writing my “year in review” column, I pull out all of my releases for the year in question, listen to them over and over for a number of weeks, agonize over which order they should be presented, etc., etc. … well, at least this year it will be a much easier chore, because 2010 was pretty much Year That Wasn’t There for me. I don’t have to obsess over making a Top Ten list because I barely even bought ten new releases this year. Shoot, I hardly bought any CDs at all, and the ones I did buy were mainly back catalog fillers or stuff I’d missed out on in 2009.

Mind you, this horrendous lapse in my metal-hood was not due to a lack of interesting album releases, but due to the fact that I simply have cut back — waaaaay back — on my CD collecting this year. The sad truth that our economy continues to suck is the major reason, of course, but even sadder is that there just aren’t as many places for me to buy CDs anymore. Unlike most folks, I still haven’t gotten into the online shopping habit, I prefer to scrounge through an actual store (yeah, I know, I’m a freak), and there simply aren’t many of them left in my neck o’ the woods anymore. Hell, one of my favorite used-CD stomping grounds, the local F.Y.E. music/movies store, closed up shop for good just this past week. I did place more orders with Amazon this year than I ever have before, and though it’s convenient and quick, it’s just not the same…

There are a whole host of other personal reasons that I don’t want to get into here, so let’s just say that it was an “off” year for me. In terms of the worldwide metal scene as a whole, some major events (The ultra-long-awaited “Big 4” European festival tour being the biggest) and cool album releases aside, there were some bummers as well. We said farewell to Peter Steele of Type O Negative and Ronnie James Dio in 2010, and the loss of both of these titans is still felt by their legions of fans. The Scorpions and Judas Priest both announced they were hanging up their leathers and retiring, which may be well deserved in both cases, but still, the idea of a “scene” without those two legendary bands leading the way only serves to remind us that dammit, we’re all getting older. (In addition, your humble columnist turned 40 this year… no wonder I’m getting crotchety. Get the hell off my lawn, you damn kids! Show your elders some respect!!)

…wow, this column is getting depressing. Sorry, I didn’t mean to come off as bleak as I probably sound, but by the same token, I certainly hope that 2011 is a better year for all of us. So what do you say we get to the good stuff, shall we? Without further ado, here’s my rather piddly “best of” picks for 2010…

FROM THE MEGA-VAULT’S TOP FIVE CDs of 2010 (downsized from the usual Top Ten due to my being a CD-shoppping slacker)…

#5: Raven, WALK THROUGH FIRE (Metal Blade) – It was absolute torture waiting for this disc to finally get a U.S. release (it was out in Japan for nearly a year beforehand) but it was well worth the delay when it finally landed on this side of the ocean. Longtime “Mega-Vault” readers know that I’m an utter fanboy for these NWOBHM legends and even after a ten-year layoff, the Gallagher brothers still showed they have plenty of fire in their bellies and metal spirit in their hearts. It’s so good to have them back!!

#4: Ratt, INFESTATION (Loud & Proud/Roadrunner) – Chalk this up as one of two incredibly pleasant surprises for me this year (the other will be at the #1 spot on this rundown). I had wandered away from Camp Ratt nearly twenty years ago so I was indifferent (at best) to the idea of a new CD from the famed L.A. rodents… then I heard the album. One listen to INFESTATION had me eating a fair share of crow and taking back a lot of smack I’d talked about them prior to the album’s release. INFESTATION is nothin’ fancy, just good old fashioned Sunset Strip style sleaze rock, and it obliterated my opinion that they don’t make’em like this anymore.

#3: Disaffection, BEGIN THE REVOLUTION (Bombworks Records) – I haven’t had much time, money or patience to pay attention to most of the so called “new school” or “retro-thrash” bands that are currently making the rounds but these youthful Brazilians impressed me with their blend of Kreator/Slayer/Megadeth styled mayhem that sounds like it dropped out of a time capsule straight from 1986. These guys are worth keeping an eye on in the future!

#2: Overkill, IRONBOUND (E1 Music) – Speaking of Thrash, the boys in Overkill never disappoint, and their latest album continued with their tradition of cranking out some of the best old-school mosh anthems on God’s green earth. With IRONBOUND the legendary Jersey boys add yet another quality slab of aural abuse to one of the most consistently excellent catalogs in all of metaldom. Long may they rip-n-tear.

#1: Accept, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS (Nuclear Blast) – This album would be the other “pleasant surprise of the year” for me, and it spent more time in my CD player than anything else released in 2010. When Accept first announced that they were getting back together with a new vocalist (ex-T.T. Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo), I was skeptical, like most fans… then along came the utterly bad-ass video for “Teutonic Terror” and I was hooked. “Can the rest of the album possibly measure up to that video?” I thought, and the answer came back, “DAMN STRAIGHT IT CAN!” After literally hundreds of spins of BLOOD OF THE NATIONS, I’m saying “Udo who?” Seriously, I never dreamed that Accept could come back from a decade-plus hiatus from recording, with a new singer to boot, and yet still sound so damned GOOD … but I’m sure glad I was proven wrong.

Honorable Mentions:

Airbourne’s NO GUTS. NO GLORY. (Roadrunner) kept the flame of Bon Scott era AC/DC burning bright (somewhere, Mr. Scott is sitting on a cloud with a glass of bourbon in his hand, saying “Nice work, lads… but you owe me some f*ckin’ royalties!”), the Scorpions bowed out on a high note with STING IN THE TAIL and Iron Maiden, as ever, kept things classy with THE FINAL FRONTIER. Late in the year came Halford’s IV: MADE OF METAL, which I haven’t had much time to digest yet, but so far it sounds like another hunk of Stainless Steel, Metal God style.

So what else is there? I obviously missed a whole bunch of good stuff this year (Helloween’s 7 SINNERS being the biggest), but hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on all the 2010 stuff I wasn’t able to hear as 2011 rolls along. We can also look forward to new releases from KISS (hopefully), Stryper, Jag Panzer, Vicious Rumors, and possibly Crimson Glory in the new calendar year. I hear the world is supposed to end in 2012 so I guess we’d better catch ’em all as quick as we can so we have time to enjoy ’em!! 🙂

Happy New Year, onward and upward… I’m out. Peace.

by Neal Woodall (MysticX9@gmail.com)

Favorites 2010

Rough year 2010, not least of all due to the passing of metal’s greatest vocalist. Fortunately 2010 produced its share of exceptional metal and hard rock achievements, so presented for your consideration are my favorites from the past year…


After reviewing all the great albums that came out last year, I couldn’t bring myself to rank them so I’m going to just alphabetize my list. Here you go:


This one was a real surprise for me as I’d heard some early demos of Mark Tornillo singing old Accept material and honestly I wasn’t impressed — boy this album changed that! Totally kick-ass classic metal songwriting, musicianship and production, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS deserves to be on every traditional metalhead’s best of the year list.


Like last album A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, this received a mixed reaction due to the lengthy, considered material but this was a real grower for me; not in the same league as Maiden classics like PIECE OF MIND and POWERSLAVE, THE FINAL FRONTIER is still a captivating listen by one of metal’s most enduring and respected outfits.

Jorn – DIO

Normally I wouldn’t include a covers album in a top 10 rundown but this is so good I really felt it should be here. Many fans originally cried “cash in!” when this was released shortly following Dio’s untimely passing, but the album had actually already been recorded and was about to see the light of day, so the timing was just coincidental. Exceptional renditions of some of Dio’s most loved tracks, a fitting tribute to the master.


Surely the best material these Italian melodic metallers have come up with since 2003’s awesome LABYRINTH, this one is almost as good as RETURN TO HEAVEN DENIED. Exquisite.


I always liked this band so it was a pleasure to hear new material by them. At the end of the day it’s all about the songwriting and this album has some great hard rock and metal tracks that really should be experienced by a wider audience.


Veteran hard rock favorites Ratt recaptured a bit of the magic that made their early albums ’80s mainstays on the surprisingly good INFESTATION, great music for a summer road trip.

Sacred Oath – WORLD ON FIRE

For the second year in a row Sacred Oath ends up on the list due to this killer release, a concept album inspired by the novel “Dune.” Elements of Vicious Rumors, Lizzy Borden and Iron Maiden make this essential metal listening.


Reportedly the Scorps’ swan song, if so the band departs with a strong album that reminds us of how potent they were in their glory days. Classy hard rock from a band that will be sorely missed…


Expertly crafted prog metal that just gets it right, blending technical passages with melodic and emotionally satisfying songwriting. An underrated gem.


Sure it’s derivative and they could really use a name change but these Norwegian rockers know how to write really melodic songs that are just a lot of fun. Motley Crue meets Ratt for an album that I kept coming back to.

There were many albums that I did not get to really hear enough to make a judgement, along with those that were right up there but perhaps not quite top 10 material. Some of these include:

Overkill – IRONBOUND
Armored Saint – LA RAZA
Helloween – 7 SINNERS
Jon Oliva’s Pain – FESTIVAL

Bunch more but I must move on…

Live Album:

Dio – AT DONINGTON UK: LIVE 1983 & 1987


Michael Harris – TRANZ-FUSED
Paul Gilbert – FUZZ UNIVERSE
Ray Riendeau – ATMOSPHERES



Non Metal:

Eric Johnson – UP CLOSE




Rory Gallagher – GHOST BLUES
“The Runaways”




Alice In Chains – Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, February 25
Megadeth/Testament/Exodus – Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, March 21
Jeff Beck – Chastain Park Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA, June 11
Scorpions/Ratt – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Alpharetta, GA, July 14
Accept – ProgPower USA Showcase, Centerstage, Atlanta, GA, September 9
ProgPower USA – Centerstage, Atlanta, GA, September 10-11
Rush – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Alpharetta, GA, September 30
Crimson Glory – The Local, Marietta, GA, November 6


Ozzy Osbourne – “I Am Ozzy”


Ronnie James Dio
Peter Steele
Bill Aucoin
Steve Lee (Gotthard)
Xaver Drexler (Gun Barrel)


Seems every year I list a bunch of things that don’t end up coming out, so I’ll just try to hit the highlights of what I am pretty sure will happen this year:

Judas Priest – Epitaph Farewell Tour
Evergrey/Vanden Plas – ProgPower USA Showcase
Labyrinth/Red Circuit/Mob Rules/Sanctuary – ProgPower USA
Yngwie Malmsteen – RELENTLESS Tour
Fifth Angel
Tony MacAlpine
Gary Moore
Symphony X

Everyone have a great rockin’ 2011!!!

by Tim Wadzinski (tsw512@yahoo.com)

-Ah well, here we go. It’s almost February and I know 2010 totally seems old hat, but so be it. For me personally, ’10 was kinda big because I did way more interviews than I normally do. There was only six, which is small potatoes in the Grand Scheme Of Things, but I’d been down to like two per year or something. It was great speaking to FireHouse’s Bill Leverty (both backstage and over dinner at a Subway restaurant — how rock ‘n’ roll!), Lillian Axe’s Steve Blaze (while he was on vacation at Disney World!), Herman Rarebell (at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago, and he was beyond totally cool), Y&T’s Dave Meniketti (on the roof of the Penny Road Pub), The Rods’ David “Rock” Feinstein (super, super nice guy), and Jackyl’s Roman Glick (who was filling in for Jesse “Cannonball” Dupree). I chased Rob Halford for a bit towards the end of the year but it didn’t work out. Rats. But overall, a great slate if I do say so myself.

-Before we move on to the “best of” stuff I’d like to recap a few of the bigger stories that struck me this past year:

…Ronnie James Dio passes away (R.I.P.)
…The Big Four tours Europe (pretty momentous)
…Scorpions and Judas Priest announce retirement (bummer)
…Mike Portnoy leaves Dream Theater (ridiculous)
…the “Queensryche Cabaret” tour (um, guys… seriously…)
…VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show” expands to one hour (long overdue)
…Divebomb Records continues kicking ass as a reissues label (kudos)

-Favorite Albums:

Accept – BLOOD OF THE NATIONS (Nuclear Blast)

What a great comeback! Although I’m *certainly* glad the fellas are back and kicking ass, and the show I saw in October was totally awesome, I am not quite as far over the moon for this album as most of the folks out there. I felt a couple songs could’ve been trimmed, and at times the disc gets a little samey, but hey, it’s Accept and I am very, very happy they returned. Can’t wait to see ’em live again in 2011.

Avantasia – THE WICKED SYMPHONY (Nuclear Blast)

I don’t think there’s anything Tobias Sammet has released that I haven’t liked, either with Edguy or his Avantasia project that allows him to work with all of his heroes. By some weird quirk of fate I haven’t yet gotten this disc’s companion album, ANGEL OF BABYLON, but trust me I will. If epic and power metal rock operas with tons of awesome guest stars are your thing, check out every single Avantasia record.

Broken Teeth – VIVA LA ROCK, FANTASTICO! (Perris Records)

This is the first album of all-new material since the departure of founding member and guitarist Paul Lidel, and I’m happy to report the band has survived. The sound has heavied up a bit, so now it’s a mix of Motorhead and AC/DC as opposed to straight AC/DC worship. 🙂 Fun stuff.

Crystal Tears – GENERATION X (7Hard)

Great to hear vocalist Ian Parry again! I’d lost touch with him the last several years. This is some great power metal with winning hooks and riffs.

Danger Angel – s/t (Perris Records)

This one surprised me in many ways. I was sure — nay, 110% convinced! — this had to be a reissue from some long-ago time but nope… This Greek rock band has firmly planted its feet in the world of ’80s commercial hard rock and AOR, and hey, they’re great at it so enjoy!

Empires Of Eden – REBORN IN FIRE (7Hard)

Another great power metal record, this one from ex-Dungeon guitarist Stu Marshall, featuring several guest star vocalists including Zak Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle), Mike Vescera (Yngwie Malmsteen, Loudness, Obsession), Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper, Grimmstine, Onslaught), and Sean Peck (Cage). Expertly done, quality.

David “Rock” Feinstein – BITTEN BY THE BEAST (Niji Entertainment Group)

I have a few old albums by Feinstein’s main gig The Rods, but I can’t honestly say I was a huge fan of his work. I also initially thought including a track sung by the late, great Ronnie James Dio (who happened to be Feinstein’s cousin) on this disc might’ve been construed as tacky by some. Bah! It’s all good; the song makes sense and the album is a pretty darn good slab of old school rock/metal.

Gamma Ray – TO THE METAL! (earMUSIC)

I’m still not wild about C-H-E-E-S-E title, but otherwise this album from the metal stalwarts rules. Michael Kiske’s guest appearance is the cherry on top. Buy this.

Halford – MADE OF METAL (Metal God Records)

The man is unstoppable. It hurts that Judas Priest is winding down, but if Rob continues to release excellent solo material like this I’ll be okay. (I think…) This certainly isn’t as heavy an album as its predecessor, CRUCIBLE (2002), but it expertly shows off many sides of the Metal God’s creativity.

Heathen – THE EVOLUTION OF CHAOS (Mascot Records)

I never got around to reviewing this (sorry!) but it’s pretty killer. I love when these graybeard ’80s bands come out with kick-ass records so far into their careers. Bravo, Heathen, and extra special yahoo’s for the awesome album artwork.

Helloween – 7 SINNERS (The End Records)

As Patrick alluded to earlier, any year in which we get killer new discs from both Gamma Ray and Helloween is certainly, undoubtedly a good year. I liked this one more than their last couple.

Jackyl – WHEN MOONSHINE AND DYNAMITE COLLIDE (Mighty Loud Entertainment)

This was a surprise — I’d basically given up on Jackyl as a gimmick band with no new ideas, but this is a solid, fun party record. No more, no less. (Just skip that cover of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedez Benz.” Yikes.)

Lordi – BABEZ FOR BREAKFAST (The End Records)

Another fun one — do not expect any pretentious preaching from Mr. Lordi & Co. This band is a cartoon and they know it, and they make no apologies for it, and they have a blast with it. So should you.

Ozzy Osbourne – SCREAM (Epic)

I liked this one even if nobody is really talking about it anymore. Then again, I thought BLACK RAIN (2007) was okay, too, and that one got savaged by a lot of folks, so what do I know? I could’ve used a little more lead guitar from Gus G., but such is life.

Phantom-X – THIS IS WAR (Perris Records)

Another cool surprise on Perris Records, from ex-Omen mates Kevin Goocher and Glenn Malicki. Good battle-ready power metal.

Pretty Maids – PANDEMONIUM (Frontiers)

These guys can do no wrong in my book. How can a band be so freakin’ good for so freakin’ long, yet remain so freakin’ unheralded??? Boggles the freakin’ mind. If you like *any* kind of melodic metal you will freakin’ like Pretty Maids. Freakin’ trust me.

Ratt – INFESTATION (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud)

Okay, really, who predicted this album? WHO? Wow was this *easily* the biggest surprise of 2010. This is a fantastic slab of glory years Ratt that stands right up there with the old classics. Good for you boys!!!

Scorpions – STING IN THE TAIL (UMe)

So let me get this straight, the band releases its best album in 20 years and then announces its going to retire!? That SUCKS! This is a pretty good swansong to a recording career marked by some all-time great hard rock songs.

Y&T – FACEMELTER (Meanstreak Music Co.)

Another great return to form from a criminally underrated and underappreciated band. I guess the title kind of threw some people — no, Y&T did *not* go thrash. 🙂 The guys just decided to get serious about recording new music and boy did they ever do a fine job. R.I.P. Phil Kennemore. Who knows what Dave Meniketti will do now?

-Shoulda Coulda Woulda’s:

Armored Saint – LA RAZA (Metal Blade)

More of a “shrug” or a “meh…” than a true disappointment. I mean, there’s nothing wrong here — no drastic style changes or head-scratching moments — but after waiting a friggin’ decade for a new studio album I expected and wanted much more.

Helloween – UNARMED: BEST OF 25TH ANNIVERSARY (Sony Music/The End Records)

This wasn’t the total P.O.S. I heard some people described it as, but yes, it was kind of weird way to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. Let’s leave it at that. (And besides, they did put out a killer new studio album later in the year.)


Like the Armored Saint album, I hoped this would be an absolute corker. (Especially after the boner they pulled with 2006’s A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH!) Instead, it’s just another post-reunion Maiden album. The horribly too-long intro piece “Satellite 15” bugs me every time I listen to it and kinda sours the rest of the album for me. I know that’s stupid but so be it. I’m being too hard on this — the title track, “El Dorado,” “The Talisman,” and “The Alchemist” are good — but I just wanted a jaw-dropper and didn’t get it.

Bruce Kulick – BK3 (Twenty4 Record/Rocket Science)

I’m a Kiss nut so I had to get this, and it’s just kind of… there. Another shrug I guess. I wasn’t expecting a world-beater or anything, but still… I kind of feel sorry for the way he was kicked to the curb when Kiss put the makeup back on, so I keep pulling for Bruce to do something totally awesome. This isn’t it. Dammit.

Lillian Axe – DEEP RED SHADOWS (Love & War Records)

Steve Blaze, please please PLEASE settle on a singer and write a kick-ass record. It’s been too long.

Jon Oliva’s Pain – FESTIVAL (AFM Records)

I read Oliva’s thoughts on why he considers these JOP discs to be just as valid as a new Savatage record, and I really can’t disagree with the man, but geez… Why can’t he, Chris Caffery, and heck, even Zak Stevens just get it together and do one more ‘tage album?

Slash – s/t (Dik Hayd Records, LLC)

This one’s actually pretty good, but given the guest stars (Ozzy, Lemmy, Ian Astbury, etc.) I was expecting sheer greatness, not just “pretty good.” Perhaps more spins are needed.

-The Jury’s Out ‘Cuz I Haven’t Heard ‘Em Or I Haven’t Heard ‘Em Enough To Make A Decision:

Acacia Avenue – s/t (Lion Music)
Airbourne – NO GUTS. NO GLORY. (Roadrunner)
Angels Of Babylon – KINGDOM OF EVIL (Metal Heaven)
Annihilator – s/t (Earache)
Blind Guardian – AT THE EDGE OF TIME (Nuclear Blast)
Buckcherry – ALL NIGHT LONG (Eleven Seven Music)
Charred Walls Of The Damned – s/t (Metal Blade)
Circle II Circle – CONSEQUENCE OF POWER (AFM Records)
Creation’s End – A NEW BEGINNING (Sensory)
Dirty Looks – SUPERDELUXE (Perris Records)
Dream Evil – IN THE NIGHT (Century Media)
Firewind – DAYS OF DEFIANCE (Century Media)
Forbidden – OMEGA WAVE (Nuclear Blast)
Freedom Call – LEGEND OF THE SHADOWKING (Steamhammer/SPV)
Grave Digger – THE CLANS WILL RISE AGAIN (Napalm Records)
Heavenly – CARPE DIEM (AFM Records)
Holy Rage – s/t (Z Records)
Icarus Witch – DRAW DOWN THE MOON (Cleopatra Records)
Iron Fire – METALMORPHOSIZED (Napalm Records)
Iron Mask – SHADOW OF THE RED BARON (Lion Music)
Jaldaboath – THE RISE OF THE HERALDIC BEASTS (Napalm Records)
Kamelot – POETRY FOR THE POISONED (KMG Recordings)
Keel – STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL (Frontiers)
Kickhunter – ALL IN (AFM Records)
Krokus – HOODOO (Sony)
Kreyson – 20 YEARS OF KREYSON (Retroactive Records)
Labyrinth – RETURN TO HEAVEN DENIED PT. II (Scarlet Records)
Legion – s/t (Z Records)
Liberty N’ Justice – LIGHT IT UP (Retroactive Records)
Line Of Fire – MOMENTUM (Tribunal Records)
Yngwie Malmsteen – RELENTLESS (Rising Force Records)
Manowar – THUNDER IN THE SKY (Magic Circle Music)
Masterplan – TIME TO BE KING (AFM Records)
Mistheria – DRAGON FIRE (Lion Music)
Vince Neil – TATTOOS & TEQUILA (Eleven Seven Music)
Overmaster – MADNESS OF WAR (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Rage – STRINGS TO A WEB (Nuclear Blast)
Raven – WALK THROUGH FIRE (Metal Blade) (US release)
Revolution Renaissance – TRINITY (Napalm Records)
Rhapsody Of Fire – THE FROZEN TEARS OF ANGELS (Nuclear Blast)
Ross The Boss – HAILSTORM (AFM Records)
Royal Hunt – X (Frontiers)
Sacred Oath – WORLD ON FIRE (Angel Thorne Music)
Section A – SACRIFICE (Lion Music)
Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – DEFIANCE (Magic Circle Music)
Symphorce – UNRESTRICTED (AFM Records)
Tarot – GRAVITY OF LIGHT Nuclear Blast)
Vanden Plas – THE SERAPHIC CLOCKWORK (Frontiers)
Virgin Steele – THE BLACK LIGHT BACCHANALIA (SPV/Steamhammer)
Wuthering Heights – SALT (Sensory)

-Top 5 Concerts I Attended

7th Heaven
1. Halford – House Of Blues, Chicago, IL
2. Accept/King’s X – Arcada Theater, St. Charles, IL
3. Y&T/Icarus Witch – Penny Road Pub, South Barrington, IL
4. Anvil – House Of Blues, Chicago, IL
5. FireHouse – Penny Road Pub, South Barrington, IL

-Onward and upward, people. Have a great 2011.

*** OUT ***

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: