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Happy New Year…It’s the Must Have Albums of 2010!

It’s the end of a MASSIVE year in metal and hard rock. A laundry list of old school metallers and riffmeisters return to form with some of the best work of their careers.

One band in particular, Overkill, finally created their masterpiece after thirty years as a band, 26 years of album releases, and 15 albums. Overkill joins the ranks of thrash metal “BIGS”  with 2010”s Album of the Year in metal and hard rock: IRONBOUND.

I now put Overkill as number five on the thrash metal list right behind Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer and put 2010’s IRONBOUND as an “essential” metal album for anyone who wants to fully immerse themselves in and begin to understand metal.

Without further ado here is my Top 10 list of metal and hard rock releases between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.

1. Overkill- Ironbound: This CD has more head snapping riffs per song than any album I’ve heard in years. Overkill is “ON” every moment of this album. They create some of the best new thrash riffs since the glory days of Metallica and Megadeth, while giving a nod to those metal masters and stepping out of their shadows and into their own masterpiece. If you’ve paid little or no attention to this band over the years now is the time to get on board and get yourself Ironbound! I CANNOT get enough of this album even after all six months of it perpetually spinning in my CD player!

Do yourself the biggest New Year’s favor you can: BUY THIS NOW! Before the stores close today….BUY IT NOW!

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2. Accept- Blood of Nations: This band is one I briefly was into during the Metal Heart and Balls to the Wall days. I would occasionally check in on them when they had something new to listen to but I kept hearing such buzz about the return of Accept after 14 years away from the biz that I just had to get a copy of this, and man am I glad I did. New lead singer Mark Tornillo sounds fantastic and puts on a clinic of metal vocalizing. Good stuff Mark!! The rest of the grizzled Germans lay down some mighty fantastic music for Jersey’s Tornillo to showcase his talents. Everyone rises to the ocassion on this album. One listen to “No Shelter” and you’ll understand.

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3. Ratt- Infestation: Another glorious return to form from a band that hasn’t done anything respectable in over two decades. This album simply kicks ass. Fun, rollicking, and hard hitting this album is the best thing Ratt has done since 1985’s Invasion of Your Privacy, Ratt’s second album. Ya wanna’ party like it’s 1985? Buy this album crank it up and pound the Buds!

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4. Dio- Live at Donington: One of the first of the sure to be many posthumous Ronnie James albums to be released. A strong live album showing Mr. Dio early in his post Sabbath days. The first disc is the recording of the very first live show the Dio band performed after the release of their first album. It is a fine testament to the brilliance of Ronnie James and a powerful showcase for his burgeoning solo career.

Disc two is Dio phase two and four years later on the same stage he debuted on. The band sounds even better on this disc, especially the guitar work of Craig Goldy. This double live disc is a blast from the past and a great way to get to know one of the finest metal singers who ever lived.

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5. Godsmack- The Oracle: I can’t say I’ve ever been a big Godsmack fan but I have seen them live and they put on a great show. From time to time I’ve heard a Godsmack tune I thought was really cool and I’ve always felt they were a solid band who occasionally nailed a tune or two per album.

This disc is the exception. I LOVE this album. Every track has something to offer the hardcore metalhead. “What If,” is my favorite track, with” Love, Sex, Hate, Pain” a close second. You could spend your hard earned dough on a lot less interesting bands but I wouldn’t if I was you. This is one of the strongest efforts of Godsmack’s career and I highly recommend you treat your ears and your mind to The Oracle.

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6. Armored Saint- La Raza- John Bush is back with the band that put him on the map and it’s a pretty darn good return too. After five great, hugely underappreciated albums with the mighty Anthrax, John has reunited with Armored Saint. His return and Armored Saints’ are quite impressive and quite welcome.

The first four Armored Saint albums were inconsistent at best although they did have a gem or two on nearly every album. La Raza is a much more consistently strong effort than any of their five previous studio recordings and has some top notch moments.  In fact, Armored Saint sounds like hard rock dipped in a sliver of hot salsa on this cd. Very, very cool tunes. Heavy, rolling, grooves injected with the trademark John Bush delivery.

I really like this album. It has a refreshing sound that reminds me of how pliable hard rock and heavy metal can be in the right hands. How you can take metal, put your own stamp on it, and have some rip, roaring fun. In fact, this is my favorite Armored Saint album now and may earn a place in my year end best of list.

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7. Scorpions- Sting in the Tail – I’ve been a BIG Scorpions fan ever since I heard Blackout back in ’82.  I couldn’t get enough of that album back then and I went thru my Sting in the Tail addiction this year. Sting in the Tail was a refreshing blast of hard rock glory to kick off my spring last March. I spent all of that month and into June with Sting in the Tail in one CD player or another as it traveled everywhere I went. I’m sure my neighbhors can probably sing along to a lot of the tunes on this disc because I blasted this album over and over in my garage with the door flung wide open.  

From the rousing opening or “Raised on Rock,” to the powerful closing number “The Best is Yet to Come,” the Scorps prove they still have the chops to knock your block off and make you sing along while they do it. The standout tracks and sure to be Scorpions classics are: “Sting in the Tail,” “Slave Me,” and “The Best is Yet to Come.”

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8. Black Country Communion – The son of the God of Thunder finally has the band he deserves. Joining Jason Bonham are blues/rock guitarist extraordinaire Joe Bonammassa, metal vocalist supreme Glenn Hughes, and one of the most sought after keyboard players on the planet Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper) on one of the best rock albums since the heyday of  Bad Company in the mid ’70’s.

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Yeah, it’s that good.

Hughes voice sounds incredible, the songs really rock and Mr. Bonammassa’s guitar work soars. The stick work by Jason Bonham is tight as is the rhythm section of Mr. Hughes and Mr. Bonham. Nods to the great blues based rock bands and players of all-time, Bad Company, Zep, Stevie Ray, Jimi, with a pinch of Purple are woven throughout and sound fresh and exciting again. No small feat to walk in the shadows of giants and make yourself shine but these guys pull it off.

 Stellar stuff gentlemen!

9. Krokus- Hoodoo – My first thought when I began hearing the rumblings of how good this album is: Krokus is still around? Who of us metalheads had heard anything about those guys in the last twenty years? I certainly had not but was very intrigued since my brother John had been a HUGE Krokus fan back in the days of Headhunter and The Blitz. We both were in high school cranked the shit out of those albums wearing out more than one cassette.  I thought Krokus were long gone.

Not long gone by a long shot. What a great album! From the first note to the last this CD is a blast. Marc Storace sounds the same as he did back in 1982 and ’83, the guitar riffs are driving and the songs are sweet, sweet rock and roll fun. With song titles like “Rock and Roll Handshake,” and “Eventide Clockworks,” how could they not be fun? Ya want a blast from the past and a new party album? Combine this with Ratt’s: Infestation, Black Country Communion’s debut disc and a big ole bonfire and you’ll party like it’s 1985!

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10. Iron Maiden- The Final Frontier – Iron Maiden. The definition of a pure metal band. No less than three masterpiece albums. In some circles they’d say as many as five if you count “Killers,” and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,” along with indisputable classics “The Number of the Beast,” Piece of Mind,” and “Powerslave.”

This album is a new take on Maiden while being unequivocally and unapologetically Maiden. It’s not another masterpiece in the same vein as their three headed monster of the mid-80’s but it is a rock solid and at times excellent addition to the Iron Maiden canon.

There are some genuinely kick ass moments on this disc and it’s a must have if you are a hardcore Maiden fan. For the casual fan of Iron Maiden or heavy metal fan you won’t be missing any groundbreaking work if you don’t have this collection of songs and you’d be safe sticking with the five Maiden must haves of “Killers,” “The Number of the Beast,” “Piece of Mind,” “Powerslave,” and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.”

But if you want to hear one of the best heavy metal releases of 2010, you need to get yourself some o’ “The Final Frontier.”

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