Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013: Beginning of a Heavy Metal Renaissance?

Metal, and I mean REAL good ol' heavy metal that dominated the 80's has been dead since the end of the 80's. It seems to have gone by the wayside, with the bands breaking up, and the ones that don't break up decided to change with the times and neuter their music. It was a shame. Metal fans from all over the globe wondered what the hell happened to their music and bands, and were demanding real bands back. But, the record companies had decided that metal was dead, and flannel was the new leather. Crappy 3 chord progressions with bad mixdowns, and a monotone whiners calling themselves singers replaced the incredible virtuoso guitarists, excellent vocals by guys who actually sang, and the recordings were produced by professionals.

But, hope was not lost. In 2008,  a group of visionaries came forth, and put together a band that would make people realize just how much of a good thing was gone. They were not afraid to once again don the leather, makeup, and mega talented song writing abilities. Steel Panther took the stage, and asked the important question:
Where is Def Leppard? Where is Mötley Crüe?Why do all my lyrics sound like Dr. Seuss?
Also, leading the battle cry against all things modern corporate music machine with a powerful incantation, they pierced the stratosphere, screaming 'DEATH TO ALL BUT METAL!!!!!'

At first, the band was labeled as a gimmick that wouldn't last long. But, as the crowds and venues they played got larger, combined with exposed boobies and cigarette lighters returning to concerts, people began realizing that REAL metal had been underground for far too long...And that it was time bring it back! Heavy Metal faithful rejoice!

Critics weren't the only people to recognize the truth. Slowly but surely, the metal bands of the 1980's began reforming and writing new 'return to form' types of albums. A handful of musicians grouped up to form supergroups. And it was a breath of fresh air to every metal fan who grew up in Metal's Golden Age. But, new fans were getting in on it too. Look at the ages of people on these bands Facebook pages...I've seen many teenagers on pages for bands like Queensryche or even Fates Warning saying that they were new fans, and they love that type of music. Its very refreshing. You can also see it at these bands concerts. Especially Steel Panther. Its not just 40+ year old women flashing their boobies. ;)
reforming and writing new 'return to form' types of albums. A handful of musicians grouped up to form supergroups. And it was a breath of fresh air to every metal fan who grew up in

In 2013, twenty four classic metal bands/ artists released new studio albums. Most of them were 'return to form' type albums, and they all have one thing in common...They are SELLING. I'm going to list my top 10 in no particular order here:

If you look up 'return to form album' in the dictionary, you will see this album. After many years of disappointing albums, Queensryche, along with Todd LaTorre on vocals released their self titled effort, which easily fits in the category of Queensryche's great albums along with Operation: Mindcrime, Rage for Order, and Promised Land. Its first month outsold BOTH of their previous albums in their first months combined.

Another 'Return to form' album, Stryper proudly releases 'No More Hell to Pay' which fits in between their greatest albums, Soldiers Under Command and To Hell With The Devil. Michael Sweet still has the range he did in the 80's. If anything, his voice is even more powerful.

In keeping with the 'return to form' model here, Skid Row released the album that should have come after Slave to the Grind, United World Rebellion: Part One. Seems like everyone still has 'GOT' it!

Fates Warning, after a long hiatus got back together, and released Darkness in a Different Light, and it
seemed like they never even went away in the first place.

Alice in Chains, is back with a new singer. They released The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, one of their best albums to date. I am not aware of any Alice in Chains albums that weren't good, so there's no surprise here. I know they came after the 80's, but they were really the only band that was worth a damn in the grunge era. That's because they weren't a grunge band. They were a metal band that happened to come from Seattle.

Megadeth and Super Collider. Need I say more? Dave Mustaine and Megadeth are one of the only 80's bands that never went through an 'album selling' phase by wearing makeup and making stripped down music to try to fit in with what was popular in the 90's. Their sound did change, but not in an effort to fit in. It was to do something a little different for a change. Say what you want about Megadeth. At least they never released an album with no guitar solos.

Another 'return to form' album, Black Sabbath returned to their deep, creepy, doom and gloom, apocalyptic sound that put them on the map in the first place with 13.  It was strange hearing 'Is God Dead?' being played on the radio right after some crappy band named after a position in football.

Motorhead and Aftershock. Nothing else necessary to say other than 'LEMMY!'

Got it? Good.

Pamela Moore's album, Resurrect Me is iconic. It is her first heavy metal album, and it is just as much of a heavy hitter as any of these others. In fact, most of the songs on this album make just about anything on rock radio stations these days seem like bubblegum...or maybe they are bubblegum? Who cares? This album kicks ass!

What a good way to round out the list than with Dream Theater. They have yet another self titled effort, and its my favorite since their first two albums, Images and Words, and Awake. 

Honorable mention to The Winery Dogs for their self titled release. Consisting of Billy Sheehan, Ritchie Kotzen, and Mike Portnoy, they have released one of the best 'supergroup' albums ever done.

Check out the other 14 classics who have all released great albums this year:

Jason Newsted's 'Newsted' and 'Heavy Metal Music'
Helloween: Straight out of Hell
Saxon: Sacrifice
Krokus: Dirty Dynamite
Anthrax: Anthems
Warlord: the Holy Empire
Suicidal Tendencies: 13
Deep Purple: Now What?
Vicious Rumors: Electric Punishment
Kingdom come: Outlier
UDO: Steelhammer
Anvil: Hope in Hell
GWAR: Battle Maximus

I'm sure I missed a few. There were also several bands like Judas Priest and Manowar who released live albums.

Honestly, can you think of a better year for metal albums than 2013 in the past 20 years or so? I can't. And, I'm hoping that 2014 will be even better with more 'return to form' albums, and overall great albums. These releases are better than any of the current 'modern' metal bands on their BEST days. There are several exceptions. Bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, etc are great bands, but we aren't talking about modern bands now, are we?

So, go out and buy these albums! Support the bands when they come in concert, bug the crap out of your local rock radio stations, and maybe...Just maybe Heavy Metal will return to its glory years in a spandex and leather Metal Renaissance!

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