I don’t think anyone is going to argue about 2009 going by like a train without brakes and yet here we are at the part of the year where we line out what we viewed to be “The Best” of the year in terms of albums, videos, concerts, events and books. We’ve aimed at making this a yearly thing and while it’s a lot of fun to share with you it’s also quite a bit of work; This is especially the case when you go way over a small list and keep on writing. With this this installment I’ll be offering up the albums that I got to listen to and liked the most out of the rest of them during the year. Sure we probably missed some that you are expecting to see here but you don’t get your hands on everything in this line of work no matter how you try. So sit back and relax and lets get to onto the main event.
The Best Albums Of 2009:
Mastodon “Crack The Skye” (Sire Records): Mastodon continually push their own musical envelope and this release finds them more a Progressive Psychedelic Rock outfit than a Metal band and the band’s following didn’t mind a bit based on the incredible music that was to be found on this one.
Epica “The Classical Conspiracy” (Nuclear Blast Records): Their 2nd effort for NB is this incredible concert experience that finds the band presenting mostly film score classics and then their greatest numbers with a full orchestra accompanying them. A wonderful experience and one that will impress the most difficult of fans – my hope is that this comes out on DVD sometime soon.
Heaven And Hell “The Devil You Know” (Rhino Entertainment): The most anticipated release for the first half of the year would be this new “Sabbath” album and it did not disappoint at all. Nice and heavy and loaded from beginning to end with solid Metal memories. Hoping this lineup hangs around a lot longer before pursuing other projects.
KISS “Sonic Boom” (KISS Records): Whether you support the fact that a couple of new faces wear familiar makeup or not, the band released a strong album and offered a great batch of extras with it to boot. The Wal-Mart exclusive nature of it made it a best seller that was actually a lot of fun.
The 69 Eyes “Back In Blood” (The End Records): Thanks to producer Matt Hyde The 69 Eyes were indeed back to raw Goth Hard Rock basics and moving on from the glitz they were steadily approaching. Lots of catchy stuff on this one and let’s hope this direction maintains course.
Steel Panther “Feel The Steel” (Universal Republic): Eighties Metal gets a 2009 Cryogenic Defrosting as this bawdy and outrageous foursome return from hiatus with their long-awaited release. If you like songs about sex, sex and just a little bit of sex then this is the album for you.
Stratovarius “Polaris” (Armoury Records): Kotipelto and Company prove that there is life in the band after Timo Tolki and release a rousing Melodic Power Metal CD with lots of cool hooks and catchy choruses. Add an amazing new guitar god to the mix and we find that no one is irreplaceable.
Baroness “The Blue Album” (Relapse Records): This would be my first go at the band but I liked what I heard enough to add them to the year’s top releases. Hoping to catch them do this stuff live one day soon. Interesting band and I can see where the buzz is coming from.
Dream Theatre “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” (Roadrunner Records): Prog-Metal champions keep us enthralled yet again. Make sure you snare the deluxe edition of this one for its cool additions to the conventional release.
Gwynbleidd “Nostalgia” (Black Currant Music): Well constructed and superbly executed Progressive Death Metal with a melodramatic and almost ethereal feel at times. These Brooklyn natives really delivered the goods on their full length and deserve a top spot. Nice work, and they do this music perfectly live as well. Trust me I would know as I’ve caught them a few times in concert. Are they the saviors of Melodramatic Prog-Death Metal? They very might well be.
Thin Lizzy “Still Dangerous” (Eagle Records): A classic live concert performance from one of the most influential bands in Hard Rock history. Even those guilty of knowing only two or three key tracks will enjoy this one.
Amberian Dawn “Clouds Of Northland Thunder” (Ascendence Records): If you are locked into the whole Symphonic Metal ala Female Fronted Metal bands then here is another worthy contender. Thanks to singer Heidi Parviainen, who does a wonderful job and might be the next Goddess for the genre.
The Black Crowes “Warpaint Live” (Eagle Records): It’s not easy to deliver one’s entire new album in the live sense and then close out with odd selections but The Black Crowes did it and the whole CD rocks. There is a companion DVD which can be purchased for those interested. Loved the CD, but I say go with the film since that’s cooler when it comes down to it.
The Answer “Everyday Demons” (The End Records): Blues Rockers gave us a great full length CD after their impressing EP. If you love stuff that comes with lots of Soul then The Answer is simple.
Secrets Of The Moon “Priveligium” (Prophecy Productions): A lot of interesting stuff was going on with this Black Metal band from Germany and it made their CD a rather unique one. For fans of Black Metal that is willing to defy convention.
Delain “April Rain” (Sensory Records): Proving that Nightwish is not the only power packed female fronted Metal band around. This is great stuff and a must for fans of the genre.
Between The Buried And Me “The Great Misdirect” (Victory Records): Possibly one of the most important Progressive Metal bands of our time, these guys knock it out of the park with their follow up to “Colors”. I should have expected as much.
Lamb Of God “Wrath” (Epic Records): It took me longer to appreciate this one than I found happening with “Sacrament” but once it took it worked exceedingly well. Leaders in the field without question.
Katatonia “Night Is The New Day” (Peaceville Records): We wondered if “The Great Cold Distance” could be properly followed up and “NITND” answers us with a “yes”. Drama, atmosphere and presence are all over this release.
Ace Frehley “Anomaly” (Bronx Born Records): We’ve waited almost as long for Ace’s new CD as we did for Guns ‘N Roses and I’m proud to say that the former Spaceman’s music was well worth it. Lots of great riffs and hooks and song composition. In some sense better than the new KISS depending on whom you ask this question. Without question a must have for its music and outrageous packaging surprise.
Alice In Chains “Black Gives Way To Blue” (Virgin Records): While Layne Staley will be forever missed, the band successfully picks up the pieces and delivers a crushing piece of music that reminds us why they were one of the most important of the bands dealt out during the Grunge Era.
Behemoth “Evangelion” (Metal Blade Records): Does any band do it like Behemoth does? I doubt it, and here is continued proof of their capabilities at destruction.
Kittie “In The Black” (E1 Entertainment): The girls show just how hard they can hit with this follow up to “Funeral For Yesterday” and I was impressed with their efforts on this very much.
Volbeat “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” (Megaforce Records): There was just something so different about the way this Belgium band did their Metal that made them so refreshing. A great and fun release.
Leaves Eyes “Njord” (Napalm Records): Always impressive and always a piece of music that takes you away to other lands. I welcomed this release and was proud to admit they had not lost their touch yet even with two new members in place.
Obscura “Cosmogenesis” (Relapse Records): Brutally technical and assaults the synapses with just how musically creative it ends up being. Me likey.
Chickenfoot “Chickenfoot” ( ): A super group where the branding of such a high rank actually applies. Yes, Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith set out to bring us all some Heavy Rock and they did so with passion. This was better than I ever expected it to be.
Marduk “Wormwood” (Regain Records): Prepare a place at the table for the master has returned and with “Wormwood” Marduk shows just how capable and important a band they are for the genre. No one trick pony here.
Saga “The Human Condition” (InsideOut Music): When your long time singer moves on do you call it a day or begin a new one? Saga proved that they could continue with the solid efforts on this new release. Kudos guys.
Satyricon “The Age Of Nero” (E1 Entertainment): Many felt this sounded like part two of “Now, Diabolical” including me in some areas, but no problem with that as a new vibe hits the Black Metal scene. Clearly Satyr is changing the way this music is perceived.
Machines Of Grace “Machines Of Grace” (Independent Artist): An interesting new band with two former Savatage members who together deliver a not too predictable Metal release.
Pestilence “Resurrection Macabre” (RED Distribution): The first release in 15 years by this band and what a return it was. Unrelenting, uncompromising, and lethal Metal medicine for the ills.
Tim Ripper Owens “Play My Game” (SPV Records): Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Beyond Fear….whew, quite the resume but still Tim has things to sing about and now we get the solo effort. Lots of guests on this piece of Metal coolness.
I’m going to stop here because I still have quite a few albums to list and with this year’s overview have added in a nice group of re-issued releases that readers should be investigating. That post will come tomorrow sometime so please stay tuned and in the interim come visit PiercingMetal on our Social Networks of Twitter and Facebook which are linked below.