TOP 10 METAL ALBUMS 2013

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As 2013 comes to a close, it is time to rate the Top 10 Metal Albums of this year.  As I have mentioned so often before, there are so many styles of Heavy Metal, too many to possibly cover all genres.  For purposes of this piece, we will be looking at Heavy Metal (Thrash, Speed, Power, Modern, Hardcore).  Death Metal and other variations will not be looked at when picking the Top Albums.  Those albums may be discussed at a later date.  Before we get to my list, let us take a look back to 2012 and some of the music that was released last year and some of the most anticipated Metal Albums.

2012 was a very busy year in the Heavy Metal community.  Lamb of God released “Resolution” in January.  Resolution was the followup album to Wrath, which was one of Lamb of God’s best releases yet.  In March 2012, Impending Doom released “Baptized in Faith” and Soulfly countered with “Enslaved.”  Overkill, part of the “Big Six” released “The Electric Age”, its second album in successive years.  The Band Accept showed the world “Stalingrad.”  My favorite album that was released in 2012 was Testament’s “Dark Roots of Earth.”    Testament went the extra mile on this album and even covered a few songs from other popular bands including Iron Maiden’s “PowerSlave.”  This was Testament’s best album in years and my personal favorite.  Kreator released “Phantom Antichrist” and HellYeah released “Band of Brothers.”  As I Lay Dying put out “Awakened.”  The most anticipated album of the year was SoundGarden’s “King Animal”, which marked the return of the original band lead by Chris Cornell.

2013 was an even better year for Heavy Metal Music.  There were many new releases as well as compilations and movie soundtracks.  Def Leppard released Viva Hysteria, which was a CD/DVD combo that included a concert in Vegas that Def Leppard played in the Summer.  Iron Maiden also released Maiden England and Judas Priest released Epitaph.  Both of these were live concerts on DVD and also included a jacket chronicling both bands history.  Well here we are, I am now ready to give you my Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013.  Without further a due, here are my TOP 10.

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STRYPER (NO MORE HELL TO PAY)

On November 5th, Stryper released their first studio album in over fifteen years.  This album is actually very underrated.  No More Hell to Pay really showcases Stryper’s talent as a Metal Band, albeit Christian Metal.  The lead singer Michael Sweet is extremely dynamic on the album as he hits a wide range in tone and ferocity.  The album starts out with the track “Revelation” which is self explanatory.  The album then stars the Title Track “No More Hell to Pay” which is similar to the epic hit To Hell With the Devil.  This track laments Strypers musical talents al the way across the board and the guitar solos are off the hook and plentiful.  Stryper also covers the popular gospel song, “Jesus is Just Alright” which was originally recorded but the Byrds and more recently by the Doobie Brothers.  No More Hell to Pay rounds out Number Ten on this list.

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MEGADETH (SUPER COLLIDER)

Super Collider is Megadeth’s 14th Studio Album and was the followup to Thirteen which was also produced by Johnny K.  This album is actually the first from Megadeth to be released on Dave Mustaine’s own label.  The album debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200, which was actually the highest for any Megadeth album since Youthanasia.  “Kingmaker” is the first and best track on the album.  Megadeth also covers the Thin Lizzy hit “Cold Sweat”.  David Dramain also makes a guest appearance on one of the tracks.  Unfortunately, despite selling over 80,000 copies of the album thus far, it has received mostly criticism.

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KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (DISARM THE DESCENT)

Disarm the Descent is the sixth studio album for the Metalcore Band Killswitch Engage.  The album was released in April 2013 and is the first album to feature Jesse Leech on vocals since 2002.  “The Hell in Me” and “Beyond the Flames” are both huge hits.  In the albums first week, it reached #7 on the Billboard 200 as well as #1 on the Hard Rock Album Chart.  This was the band’s first studio album since 2009 with their self titled album.  Killswitch Engage definitely cracks the Top 10 with this masterpiece.

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SEVENDUST (BLACKOUT THE SUN)

Blackout the Sun is Sevendust’s Ninth Studio Album and first since 2010.  This album is a darker vibe that still produces Sevendust’s classic melodies.  It has even been described as being a Greatest Hits album of songs never heard before.  Most popular Reviews gave this album 5 Stars out of 5.  The album begins with a ballad instrumental “Memory” and then continues on with an all out onslaught of good song after good song.  For those of you that have never heard Sevendust, Blackout the Sun is a must for your archives.

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ALICE IN CHAINS (THE DEVIL PUT DINOSAURS HERE)

The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is the 5th Studio Album for the band Alice In Chains.  This album is the followup to Black Gives Way to Blue.  The album was actually put on hold for some time after guitarist Jerry Cantrell had shoulder surgery.  The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200.  The best songs on the album (all released as singles) are “Hollow”, “Stone” and “Voices”.  The album also made #1 on the US Top Hard Rock Albums.

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BLACK SABBATH (13)

13 was Black Sabbath’s first studio album since 1995’s “Forbidden.”  13 marks the return of the original Sabbath lineup with Ozzy Osbourne.  The album sold 155,000 copies in its first week of release and reached #1 on the Billboard 200.  This album was unexpectedly brilliant, harmonic, In the second week of release, the album fell to the 5th spot on the charts.  “End of the Beginning” and “God is Dead” are classic Sabbath dark riffs.  Black Sabbath has even toured around the entire continent in support of the new album.  The song “Zeigeist” is like a modern day version of “Planet Caravan”. “God is Dead” has the same style as “War Pigs”.  This album is classic Sabbath at it’s BEST.

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METALLICA (THROUGH THE NEVER)

Through the Never is the live interactive album that lets you know that Metallica is Truly Back.  For those of you that have not heard the album as of yet, I suggest you go buy it.  And after you listen to the CD, go see the 3D Movie.  You will definitely have a greater appreciation for one of the World’s most famous bands.  I kind of liken the movie to Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  The only difference is that they merge the story with a live concert.

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AVENGED SEVENFOLD-AX7 (HAIL TO THE KING)

Hail to the King is Avenged Sevenfold’s greatest piece of work to date.  This is their sixth studio album and is the first album that does not contain any contributions from the late Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, their talented drummer that passed away a few years back.  Arin llJay is the new drummer and he actually joined the band during the previous tour and was good enough to remain in the band.  Hail to the King has enjoyed both critical and commercial success reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 in America as well as topping the charts in the U.K.  In this album, the Band goes back to an old school metal approach instead of their usual complicated metal core style.  The album received “generally favorable” reviews.  Unfortunately, they mimicked the styles of Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Guns N Roses, Metallica and Pantera so well that many believe they lost their own “metal identity.”  Nonetheless, the album is a Bad Ass, in your face metal onslaught that goes from opening to close like a book.  I highly recommend this album for any true old school Metal Fan.

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VOLBEAT (OUTLAW GENTLEMAN & SHADY LADIES)

For those of you that are not familiar with the band, Volbeat, you really don’t know what you are missing.  Volbeat is a Danish Metal Band that was formed in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Outlaw Gentleman and Shady Ladies is the fifth studio album released by the band and is by far their BEST!  The album features 14 Tracks, including 2 Tracks with guest singers.  “Room 24” is a Metal Classic and features King Diamond in a special guest appearance.  “Lonesome Rider” features Sarah Blackwood.  Volbeat is known for their fusion of Metal, classic Rock, Heavy Metal and Groove Metal.  The new album stays true to form, but Volbeat takes it to the next level.  This is also the 1st album with Lead Guitarist, Rob Caggiano, formerly of Anthrax.  My personal favorites on the album are “Lola Montez” and “The Hangman’s Body Count.”  “Room 24” is also BADASS.  Volbeat was very close to Number One, but their is one album that I rate higher.

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METAL CHURCH (GENERATION NOTHING)

Most of you are probably like, “who the hell is Metal Church?”  Well Metal Church is an American Heavy Metal Band that was formed in 1980, in San Francisco California.  Their first album, “Metal Church” was formed in 1984.  Kurt Vanderhoof, the lead guitarist is the only member that has stood the test of time.  Metal Church has had three lead singers: David Wayne (The Original-He has since passed away), Mike Howe, and now Ronny Munroe.  The band has had multiple breakups and their last album was “This Present Wasteland”.  This Present Wasteland was their Ninth Studio Album and was a major disappointment.  The band broke up after this and the future of Metal Church was bleak.  That was until this past years, when a few of the Band Members bumped into each other and collaborated on the new album. This album has zero filler and keeps you completely on edge.  The album has received a 4/5 on every major review.  From the first song “Bullet Proof” to the last track “Media Horse”, Metal Church pounds out awesome music.  Ronny Munroe has a tremendous voice and he kills the lyrics.  This is just one of those rare albums that has every song as a hit.  There is no drop off.  Seriously, if you have not heard the album, buy it.  If I am wrong, I will refund your money.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Bullet For My Valentine- Temper/Temper, Device-Device, Hatebreed-The Divinity of Purpose, Anthrax-Anthems (Cover Album), Ugly Kid Joe (Stairway to Hell E.P.), Queensryche- Both with Geoff Tate and without, Skid Row-United World Rebellion Chpt.1, Children of Bodom-Halo of Blood, Five Finger Death Punch-The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Motorhead-Aftershock, Trivium-Vengeance Falls.

So this was my Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums of 2013.  Who is yours.  And we have a lot to look forward to in 2014.  Until next time, this has been your host “DA BIRD,” HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL MY FANS!

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STRYper: The Covering

In one of my prior posts I mentioned that the band Stryper had released an album of all cover songs called “The Covering.” The album is an instant masterpiece. Michael Sweet has one of the better voices in Metal and his Guitar playing is brilliant. I have heard many Cover albums…Spaghetti Incident (Guns N Roses), Garage Inc. (Metallica), and many more.

What makes this cover album stand out is the great songs that are covered and the star power of the bands that originally produced them. Michael Sweet was also playing with Boston the past few years. Not only is the choice of music stellar, but the quality of their versions is awesome.

They nail every song on the album, including their two singles that were released “Heaven and Hell” and “Carry on my Wayward Son”. The best covers in my opinion are “Blackout (Scorpions), Wayward Son (Kansas), Highway Star (Deep Purple), Over The Mountain (Ozzy), and The Trooper (Iron Maiden). As always, every time a star band produces a cover they usually put their own style, mix and spin on the tune.

From Track 1 (Set Me Free) to the final tune a brand new studio song “God” written by Stryper, the songs kick ass. Every song on the album sounds near exact to the original. Michael Sweet has a good disposition as far as hitting the different notes on the different songs. I rate this album a 9/10 and would highly recommend any true Metal Fan to purchase this album due to its variety and notoriety.

At the end of this month, Stryper will release a brand new album “Second Coming.” The more that I listen to their material, the more I recognize how good of a band they really are. I mean I realize they are a Christian Metal band and that they never really got the airplay that they deserved. However, Stryper is an extremely talented ban not only musically but also lyrically. Michael Sweet has one of those rare voices that can hit all the highs and lows. I mean, when it comes go vocalists you have Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickenson, Sebastian Bach, Axl Rose, and Jani Lane. I put Sweet on the map with these guys.

Purchase this album, which was released in 2011 pop it into your CD player and Rock Out! I am so looking forward to this spring with all of the new material that is being released by many great bands. I will be doing some special blogs on my top metal artists including best vocalists, best guitarists, best drummers, and best bassists. I am sure Michael Sweet will be on one of those lists. I will also be doing my Top 10 Metal Albums as well as Hard Rock albums.

My fellow metal heads, buy this album. You definitely will not be disappointed. And you may even agree that this band is underrated and not given the praise they are truly due. Until next time, ROCK ON!

METAL MANIA

It has become an ongoing trend the past few years for bands that have not released new studio material in some time to get back in the grind to release new albums. Last year we saw SoundGarden, Aerosmith, KISS, Megadeth, Queensryche, Testament, Sevendust, and many other iconic bands release brand new studio albums. After listening to all of these new albums, there is one noticeable difference in the sound quality. Music Technology has hit a home run as these new albums that are being produced have such good sound quality.

It is 2013 already, and bands are already making their mark. Bullet For My Valentine released Temper Temper. This is their fourth full studio album, coming after Fever, Scream Aim Fire, and their first album The Poison. Although one may argue that Scream Aim Fire was their best all around album to date, Temper Temper does have that extra bump in sound quality that is being described. The one problem that arises with certain bands like Bullet, is that the style of music makes a lot of their material sound mundane.

BuckCherry also just released their new album “Confessions”. This album gets an 8/10 in my eyes. There is superb sound quality and they left their old label to reach new heights. This album has more of the raunchy feel of their very first album but also incorporates some new style. I highly recommend any one who enjoys straight in your face rock n roll to purchase this album. The first song Gluttony is an in your face onslaught about addiction. Nothing Left But Tears is my favorite track on the album. This album has a Velvet Revolver Billy Idol combination of sound.

Ok…these are just two examples of new albums that have been released in 2013. Anthrax will be releasing a new album at the end of March that is a compilation of Cover Songs from the sixties and seventies. This should be a true hit as Anthrax always has a way of making any song sound like their specific style. Michael Sweet has left Boston and has rejoined his original band Stryper, who will be releasing their first new Studio Album since 2009. The album is titled Second Coming and is said to sound like the original Stryper, adding some heavier riffs. This should also be a great addition to the 2013 release party.

Bon Jovi will be releasing a new studio album “What about Now” On March 11th. I have not been able to sample much of it, but the few songs I did hear sound like classic Bon Jovi, which is good considering they have become so mainstream.

The following bands will be releasing new studio albums in the coming months:
David Bowie, Clutch, Sevendust, Killswitch Engage, Paramore, Fallout Boy, Goo Goo Dolls, Switchfoot, Alice In Chains, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, Iron Maiden, Limp Bizkit, Motörhead, Pearl Jam, Sixx Am, Suicidal Tendencies, and Volbeat are all slated for new albums in 2013.

Slayer is working on new material which could also make the 2013 cut. No matter what, it should be a great year for Rock N Roll/Heavy Metal Fans. Keep supporting Metal and be sure to watch That Metal Show every week with Eddie Trunk. There is great material each week and plenty of guest appearances from the band members we have grown to love. There are also many up and coming bands that are making their way to the spotlight. My friend Mario’s band Red Carpet Masquerade is a band to keep an eye on in 2013! Long Live Metal! Rock on Folk

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MISCELANEOUS

Ok…so it’s been awhile. Had some personal issues to attend to but I am back with a vengeance. Today I will cover a wide variety of topics. First off, I would personally like to give my condolences to the entire Saint Louis Cardinals Extended Family for losing one of the true Baseball Legends that were still alive. Yesterday, Stan Musial died at the ripe old age of 92. Well, many of us will not even see 75 so that is quite an accomplishment in itself. Musial in my mind has to be in the top 3 MLB players of all time list and he was an offensive legend. Stan Musial was probably the best all around hitter with both power and tenacity to ever play the game. RIP Stan…You were a true legend and gentleman.

Yesterday also marked the return of the NHL from its extended labor strike. There were quite a few key markee match ups including the Pittsburgh Penguins opening on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers. Well, the game did not disappoint as it was a well played game considering the long layoff…it took the Flyers two periods to really break off the rust. I must admit, I was totally shocked with the amount of support and fans that showed up all over the league yesterday, especially in Philly. There was. 10,000 people alone in the XFINITY Entertainment Lounge. With a shortened 48 game season, it should be interesting which teams will ultimately make the playoffs. By judging the games from Saturday, the playoffs are already here in spirit. This should make for some very exciting games and story lines. Stay Tuned.

Well, I worked all day and have not even turned on the TV…I had heard that Atlanta had an early lead on the 49ers in the NFC Championship. Well, my original picks for the Superbowl did not even make it to this round so at this point anything is possible. I was going to take the 49ers, but I feel that Atlanta has the edge at home. Also, I think they are out to prove that their season was not a fluke. The AFC Championship tonight…The Patriots are favored to beat the Baltimore Ravens. I’m going out on a limb to say that Ray Lewis will have one last hurrah and stun the Patriots faithful.

Speaking of Football, the Eagles did finally get a head coach this week by signing Chip Kelly. We will visit this topic many times in the near future but my only early opinion is that the Philadelphia Fan Base is out of control for some of the statements that they have made. C’MON give the guy a chance! Lets see what he can do?

On the music scene, Anthrax announced a new release of an EP this spring featuring cover songs from bands of the 60’s and 70’s. Anthrax also announced that they will be doing the Among the Living Anniversary Tour, following the footsteps of its other Big Four members. They are actually scheduled to play a show in AC so I’m sure that I will try and make it again. Also in other big news, Metallica announced that they will be doing the Orion Festival once again this summer. Should be AWESOME!

As you all know, I am a huge fan of Heavy Metal, but I am far from proclaiming myself Eddie Trunk or anywhere close to his knowledge of music. I would even venture to say that my best friend Aaron knows much more about music than me. Well, while using Pandora I actually heard a tune from Stryper…who??? Yes Stryper! I totally forgot how good this band was and them I did some research and realized that they released an album in 2011 called “The Covering” in which they covered some classics from such bands as Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, the Scorpions and a few others! The album is SICK and I would recommend it to any fan of metal or hard rock. These guys are way underrated in my mind. Michael Sweet is a Musical genius. Look for his new autobiography due out this spring along with a Greatest Hits Remaster album followed by a Brand New Studio Album! Awesome News! Can’t wait…so looking forward to this. Anyways, I was researching Christian Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Bands and I came across a band named Pillar. Let me tell you, heard some of their material and was absolutely impressed. More music news to follow, so many exciting stories including Def Leppard doing Hysteria as a Week Long Guest in Las Vegas. Wow! Wish I could be there for that.

Finally, I thought it necessary to bring up the fact that I think I had posted back when the school shootings occurred in Connecticut, that the one major problem of our government during these crises…is failure to act! Well, here we are a month has went by and still morning on the part of our government. Not even one BILL! I mean…geez they owe it to these families to do something. And the other horrible thing about these tragedies is that after time they are forgotten. This crime cannot and should not be forgotten and the Government must take action in the Gun Control and Mental Health realms. Well…thanks for letting me vent lol. Anyways…it’s good to be back…thanks again to my loyal fans!

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