“Get Into The Spirit” From Halford 3’s Winter Songs
Other Recommended Christmas Listening:
“Get Into The Spirit” From Halford 3’s Winter Songs
Other Recommended Christmas Listening:
Heavy metal vocalist Jeff Scott Soto conjures up the double live disc One Night in Madrid for Jan. 2010. The ex-Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist and current Trans-Siberian Orchestra singer rips through tracks from Beautiful Mess and also offers a wild finish that features a medley of covers saluting rock and funk royalty.
My personal favorite performance from the live album is the rendition of “Stand Up” from the Rockstar Soundtrack. Soto’s live scream at the beginning is purely astounding.
One Night in Madrid demonstrates that JSS has a very loyal fanbase and much larger audience in Europe than the U.S. His loyal followers rock along hard to the songs as Soto diligently leads the band.
Soto’s backing band is very tight and spot on, however some guitar tones seem like they could have been strengthened, particularly on the clean funk channels.
This live album will please Soto’s fans and is is good for what it is. Soto always flew under the radar throughout his long career and will continue to do so following this release.
1. “Head Crusher” Megadeth – Endgame: The first single from Megadeth’s recent release contains a devastating intro featuring Dave Mustaine thrashing on the low E string while Chris Broderick shreds the octave riff on the high e. The opening instrumental “Dialectic Chaos” contains some very similar thrash metal magic. “Head Crusher” is a punishing number and a great way to introduce the feel of Endgame to the masses.
2. “Rite of Passage” Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings: There is no better lead guitar-drum combo in progressive heavy metal today than John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy. The drum production (0:38) on this track is the best that you will find from 2009. In addition to the production and triumphant riffs, the tune is marked with haunting licks (4:33) and an some 80’s thrash influence (4:56).
3. “Death To All But Metal” Steel Panther – Feel The Steel: Whether Steel Panther is mocking metal or worshiping metal is irrelevant. This song is pure lyrical genius in a similar manner to early Eminem, except these guys can play instruments and play them just as well as any metal band out there. From the “Live Wire” inspired riff, to the shout outs to Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, to the nasty and highly inappropriate shots at Kanye West and Madonna, it’s just brilliant.
4. “Hate Worldwide” Slayer – World Painted Blood: This Slayer track proves to be the best fist throwing and hard stomping pit-pleaser of the year. Check out the nasty breakdown points for more info. What makes “Hate Worldwide” so great is how it alternates between aggressive speed riffs and its powerful groove. It is real difficult to not enjoy this one especially with the brutal guitar work from Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman.
5. “Bible Black” Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know: Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio delivers this evil gem in a purely sinister manner, that is an instant classic, and melts your face with its gloomy rhetoric and riffs of impending doom…like I said purely sinister. The opening acoustic guitars with the melodic lead set the tone perfectly for the heaviness that soon kicks in, and kicks your ass.
6. “Heaven is Gone” Seventh Void – Heaven is Gone: Earlier this year, Big Vin Records released this hard and heavy riff-fueled tune by Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly from Type-o-Negative, aka Seventh Void. One of the best features of this band is that the dark sound is a little rough around the edges, which means there is no useless over-production here. A very refreshing release that did not receive nearly enough credit this year.
7. “Check My Brain” Alice in Chains – Black Turns To Blue: Seattle rock pioneers Alice in Chains came back with their first studio album in 14 years and since the death of frontman Layne Staley in 2002. This track demonstrates everything we would expect from AIC: Sludgy riffs from Jerry Cantrell and very dark vocal harmonies. I must admit, this was a pleasant surprise this year.
8. “On and On” – The Answer – Demon Eyes: There are several good bands out there in, what I like to call, the “neo-classical hard rock” genre and one of the best ones is The Answer. “On and On” provides a hard edged rock and roll boogie that honors rock royalty, from Black Sabbath to Queen. Just a great feel-good track. If you enjoyed Airbourne’s album from last year then you will dig these guys too.
9. “Whatever Gets You Off” – The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off: “Whatever Gets You Off” works the same way as “On and On” above, except The Last Vegas has more of a trash and glam feel. This is another fine example of ne0-classical hard rock music done right. The key ingredients: sleazy lyrics and way, way over-the-top energy.
10. “Babylon’s Burning” W.A.S.P. – Babylon: Blackie Lawless has shown that he can still put out great material. On this song you are dealt 5 minutes of classic 80’s sounding riffs with demonic gallops and “666” lyrical madness. This entire album was a late surprise from 2009.
Note: The 10 tracks above are based on pure opinion, obviously, and you probably completely disagree. These are tunes that have grown stronger with more listens as the year progressed. Basically, I have yet to grow tired of them. Comment below and let me know your favorite songs of 2009.
Los Angeles-based hard rock outfit Wyldsky offers this 10-track debut, delivering a feast of vintage tones and catchy hooks that make this disc a stereo staple.
Rocking songs such as “Next World” and “Dog Daze” feature powerful drumbeats that at times summon the legendary John Bonham, or on a much lesser note, Stillwater’s “Fever Dog” from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.
The vocals of Tyler Nelson set most of the tunes on fire, particularly during the choruses, providing an aggressive Skynyrd feel.
Not all of the material is hard and heavy on this album. “Rendezvous” is a power ballad that features an epic guitar solo from Nelson and “Holding On” emanates a jazz-rock fusion vibe that you would expect from a Satriani or Vai track.
“My Baby” carries bluesy keyboard riffs a la Great White to make the ladies dance, while the acoustic dominance of “Goodbye, Good Riddance” and “Where You Belong” will make the ladies cry.
Between the thunderous drums, skillful lead guitars, and powerful vocals, Wyldsky produces a fine sound that is worth giving a listen. If you are a fan of 80’s hard rock, you will definitely love this disc.
Wyldsky is Tyler Nelsom (Vocals/Guitars),Chad Quist (Guitars), Doug Richardson (Bass), Chris Turbis (Keyboards), & Mike Lesniak (Drums).
1. Slayer – World Painted Blood: “You would think that even a pioneering thrash metal band would evolve and head in a different direction at some point during a career that spans nearly 30 years. Not Slayer. On World Painted Blood, Slayer is just as devastating, fast, and angry as they were in 1986…delivers thrash perfection offering musical aggression at its finest…World Painted Blood is flawless and immaculate, a 5-star performance, and the album of the year” (Full Review).
2. Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue: “DuVall’s vocal performance proves to be an adequate replacement for Staley, exceeding expectations of quality, capability, and image. He is no Brian Johnson to Bon Scott, but he does make the group better for what they are today. As for the rest of the band, Jerry Cantrell reclaims his throne as a guitar god and great vocalist, Mike Inez rocks the bass as if he is still in his 20’s, and Sean Kinney is the premier drummer he has always been. The survey says: Black Gives Way To Blue was worth waiting for. In other words, this record makes Chinese Democracy eat sh*t” (Full Review).
3. Megadeth – Endgame: “Dave Mustaine and company are back with an even thrashier and, once again, unapologetic lyrical effort on Endgame. The guitars of Mustaine and Chris Broderick prove to be the best work since Rust in Peace and arguably the most compatible in Megadeth’s history. Tracks such as “How The Story Ends” and “Head Crusher” unleash the classic headbanging euphoria that cannot be mistaken for any other group…another fine moment in thrash metal history” (Full Review).
4. Kiss – Sonic Boom: “Raise up your horns kiddies and let the ol’ Knights in Satan’s Service take you on a nice and rockin’ ride! Sonic Boom reinvents Kiss and brings a whole new respect for the band. They follow the formula that best suits them: Keep it Simple, stupid! Tracks like “Never Enough” and “Stand” make me forget that its 2009 and feel like im listening to the vintage Kiss records of the 70’s…Sonic Boom is the best stuff the originators of the rock n roll circus have to offer in merely two decades” (Full Review).
5. Mastodon – Crack The Skye: Whether you love or hate Mastodon, you cannot deny the success and attention that Crack The Skye has garnered for the band and the heavy metal genre this year. Since tearing up the main stage at last year’s Mayhem Festival, the band has grown stronger and more powerful than anybody ever expected of them. The release of Crack The Skye offers satellite radio gems “Divinations,” “Oblivion,” and the title track. If you appreciate metal, you can appreciate this album.
6. Pearl Jam – Backspacer: “Once again Pearl Jam takes the unpolished rock and roll approach, a page directly from the holy book of The Ramones. For most of the record, Eddie Vedder shows he has no shame in allowing his voice to rip and roar in a slew of continuous streams while leading us all to the chapel of rock…While this is not the greatest record in the band’s repertoire nor does it offer a stunning new direction, it is always refreshing to hear rock music that is done right” (Full Review).
7. Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings: “What better way to begin a record with the words “Black Clouds” in the title than to include a disturbingly haunting intro on the first number — think stormy earth like the opening to “Black Sabbath” and combine that with the spooky keyboards of Jordan Rudess that would make the Cryptkeeper grin. After the opening horror show, John Petrucci shifts gears with a heavy riff for James LaBrie’s vocal entrance. Mike Portnoy’s double bass drum playing during the first movement is as fast and devastating as ever…The lyrical melody combined with the progressive groove is purely exhilarating” (Full Review).
8. The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off: “If you are down with the classic hard rock sound of Airbourne and The Answer, then you will adore the trash glam band, The Last Vegas from Chicago. Whatever Gets You Off features plenty of obnoxious headbanging cuts and power ballad blitzes that will blast you back to the Sunset Strip circa 1982. There are plenty of catchy hooks on this record that will stick to your thick-ass skull for weeks…The Last Vegas brings an updated and fresh vibe to the 80’s glam culture” (Full Review).
9. Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot: “The supergroup concoction of legendary hard rock frontman Sammy Hagar, guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith offers an eleven trackself-titled debut that confirms some recent speculation: “Satch” is the best guitarist to ever play alongside Hagar… For best results, find an open highway just before dusk, preferably along a coastal landscape, hit the pedal, crank it up, and cruise the lonely gray pavement into the pitch-dark sky” (Full Review).
10. Queensrÿche – American Sodier: “Queensrÿche is back with the conceptual release American Soldier, which fuses some modern rock elements with their progressive hard rock edge…the highlights of the record consist of the dramatic ballad “Home Again,” featuring the vocal talent of Geoff Tate (that would make him suitable for a Broadway lead), and the heavy groove prominent on the power hungry “Man Down.” Queensrÿche did not create the greatest concept album of all-time but one worth giving a shot” (Full Review).
Runners-Up: Heaven & Hell The Devil Knows Your Name, W.A.S.P. Babylon, Ace Frehley Anomaly, The Answer Everyday Demons, Otep Smash The Control Machine
Editor’s Note: The Top 10 Albums of 2009 list was compiled and based on the official Gears of Rock reader’s poll.