Artist: Various Artists
Written By: Ken Pierce (copyright 2008) for PiercingMetal.com
If you have been observing the releases that came upon us during 2008 then you will agree that this was a tremendous year for Metal. We’ve noted in our editorial that it felt like the year of the comeback as much as it delivered new bands that we hope will shine far into the future. The multi-faceted genre that makes up our Metal not only delivered quality music releases but also DVD’s, Books and Concerts that left you sore and with that in mind we are lining out some of the best stuff that we felt was delivered. While we are sure that many of you will agree with us on some of the releases discussed we are also sure that some of the omissions will spark heated debate among the readers and that’s good since it keeps the Metal engine running. Take a look…..
The Best CD’s of 2008:
Eluveitie “Slania” (Nuclear Blast Records): Pagan/Folk Metal of resounding proportions. I loved this one and played it quite a bit.
Meshuggah “Obzen” (Nuclear Blast Records) – Reminding us with every groove and spine crushing riff that they are one of the most powerful Metal bands on the planet. If this is news to you, then get with the program.
Journey “Revelation”(Columbia Records): New singer, new album, new versions of classic material & a DVD concert all in one package? Truly this is a standout release from the Rock legends.
Whitesnake “Good To Be Bad” (SPV Records): It’s as if no time had passed by and this CD came out after the juggernaut self-titled album from the eighties. Great work guys.
Def Leppard “Songs From The Sparkle Lounge” (Universal Music): I haven’t liked a Def Leppard album in years and was set on giving them up entirely until this one came out and showed us that they still had it in them.
In This Moment “The Dream” (Century Media Records): I knew I was seeing something special when I first caught them as an opener for Kittie, and this release shows musical and compositional growth from their killer debut that raises the bar. A must have album that offers much for wider scopes of fans. Trust me.
Origin “Antithesis” (Relapse Records): Clearly one of the most powerful Extreme Death Metal records released this year. This is smoldering stuff that moves at break neck speeds.
Keep Of Kalessin “Colossus” (Nuclear Blast Records): A band that has chosen to walk in the path of Dimmu and see what storms they can cause themselves is a worthy addition to the Metal collection. Killer stuff here.
Fish “13th Star” (Chocolate Frog UK): A return to form for the singer who once fronted Marillion. His strongest release in years and a must have.
Black Sabbath “The Rules Of Hell” (Rhino Entertainment): Collecting the four albums that Sabbath recorded with Dio and remastering them after many years of waiting, this was a must have release. Nicely packaged and eventually released individually for those fans who didn’t want the complete set.
Opeth “Watershed” (Roadrunner Records): The Masters of Progressive Death Metal deliver once again after the impressive “Ghost Reveries”. Clearly the new label has not cost the band their style in any fashion. They put out a deluxe edition that gave you some more treats if such things enticed you more.
Into Eternity “The Incurable Tragedy” (Century Media Records): Progressive Metal’s favorite opening act deliver a concept album about the terrible topic of cancer. Its well thought out and based on personal loss that the band experienced. Nice work gentlemen.
Enslaved “Vertabrae” (Nuclear Blast Records): Black Metal meets Progressive for a stunning release from one of the most important bands in the darker genre.
Metallica “Death Magnetic” (Warner Bros): Thank the Metal powers that be, the Thrash Titans have returned to form with a solid record. Much better than the last three releases and once you hear it you will agree.
Scar Symmetry “Holographic Universe” (Nuclear Blast Records): This won me over instantly with ripping guitars and thunderous drums. Double vocals from Christian makes me wonder how this band will do without him.
Cheap Trick “Budokan” (Epic Legacy Recordings): Celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Live At Budokan”, this set presents the full concert, and a DVD video of the show. Cool booklet and poster as well.
Yngwie Malmsteen “The Perpetual Flame” (Rising Force Records): Combine the guitar technique of Yngwie with the vocals of Tim “Ripper” Owens and you have a winner on track after track.
Death Angel “Killing Season” (Nuclear Blast Records): An album that showed us how good old school Thrash can be in today’s Metal scene.
Type-O-Negative “Dead Again” Special Edition (SPV Records): TON was back and now with a live DVD there was more than enough reason to repurchase this one.
Kamelot “Ghost Opera – The Second Coming” (SPV Records): The initial release was a 2007 favorite and now with bonus tracks, expanded artwork and a live CD they deserve a place in my 2008 picks.
Moonspell “Night Eternal” (SPV Records): Once again the Dark Metal legends embrace their sinister beginnings and the result a malevolent ride into the abyss.
Evergrey “Torn” (InsideOut Music): Much better than their previous release and this one shows upward growth in their style.
David Bowie “Live In Santa Monica 72” (Virgin Music): A vintage concert from Bowie’s most influential period in a stunning collectable box. Kick ass.
AC/DC “Black Ice”: Back at what they do best comes an ACDC great. Nothing over the top flashy here just pure Rock & Roll that makes them a favorite.
Night Ranger “Hole In The Sun” (VH1 Classic): Proving they were more than just Hard Rock balladeers, Night Ranger gives us a rocking return.
Ayreon “01011001” (InsideOut Music): Ayreon delivers more of what only Ayreon seems to be able to do with ease. A stunning and chock full of guest stars release without a doubt. Special editions include a DVD with extra goodies.
Tobias Sammet Avantasia “The Scarecrow” (Nuclear Blast Records): The EdGuy front man and master of ceremonies delivers a new masterpiece from his other enterprise and shows us that all the fun he has with the EdGuys hasn’t ruined his ability to be profoundly serious once in awhile.
Tesla “Gold” (Universal Music): A best of anthology yes, but one that really digs deep into the band catalog and makes one wonder why they are not so much bigger.
Equilibrium “Sagas” (Nuclear Blast Records): Symphonic Pagan Folk Metal that is epic.
Within Temptation “Mother Earth” (Roadrunner Records): A re-release of the bands killer CD now available to a wider audience. Not a bad tune on it, and some bonus tracks.
Motorhead “Motorizer” (SPV Records): Much like traditional ACDC, with Motorhead you get what you pay for and this one is a rocking ride with Lemmy and company.
Lizzy Borden “Appointment With Death” (Metal Blade Records): Lizzy Borden took an axe and gave the Metal heads forty whacks, when he saw what he had done he raised the horns and gave them more. This was a great release from the master of disguise.
Testament “The Formation of Damnation” (Nuclear Blast Records): Bay Area Thrashers back in command for a throttling new Metal regime.
Extreme “Saudades del Rock” (Independent): Welcome back guys, we have missed you.
Amon Amarth “Twilight Of The Thunder God” (Metal Blade Records): The Vikings have returned to pillage and destroy anything in their path and their newest is a driving force without question.
Slipknot “All Hope Is Gone” (Roadrunner Records): The masked Metal mayhem returns and this one blends both the chaotic and the melodic into one.
Unearth “The March” (Metal Blade Records): Raising the bar to be followed by Metalcore’s elite, Unearth show there is a lot more in the way of dynamics to be displayed on this one.
Suspyre “When Time Fades” (Sensory Records): A total surprise and stunning release from these New Jersey natives. Progressive Metal with thought-provoking changes and experimentation. The playing field changes more with bands like this coming forward.
Iced Earth “The Crucible Of Man” (SPV Records): Iced Earth puts Matt Barlow back in place as their singer as the second chapter of Jon Schaffer’s epic tale concludes. It took me a few listens, but this is powerful stuff and delivered as the diehards have wanted it to be.
The Best DVD’s of 2008:
Various Artists “Roadrunner United” (Roadrunner Records): Filmed concert with Heavy Metal’s finest celebrating the record labels 25th anniversary. Lots of fun stuff here.
Opeth “The Roundhouse Tapes” (Peaceville Records): Filmed during the “Ghost Reveries” tour and a follow up to the CD released last year.
Twisted Sister “Live At The Astoria” (Demolition Records): The SMF’s from NYC remind London and the world about why they are a Metal super power to this very day.
Within Temptation “Black Symphony” (Roadrunner Records): A stunning live concert performance that pairs the Dutch sensations with a full orchestra. This is an amazing show. Audio CD included.
Iron Maiden “Live After Death” (Universal Music): Never before on DVD this classic Iron Maiden show from the “Powerslave” tour, this release was loaded with extras and is listed as required Metal.
Lamb Of God “Walk With Me In Hell” (Epic Records): This documentary took the viewer on a three year trek with the band and was insightful, entertaining and sometimes jarring in its honesty. Great job guys.
Dimmu Borgir “The Invaluable Darkness Tour” (Nuclear Blast Records): The giants of Norwegian Black Metal have their tour captured on DVD for more to enjoy. A great set with a ton of features.
Blackmore’s Night “Paris Moon” (SPV Records): A great concert from the Renaissance Rockers. Bonus CD included.
ZZ Top “Live In Texas” (Eagle Vision): There is nothing like the Blues-Rock of ZZ Top to make a day fun. This film captures all of their hits and offers up some cool bonuses. A companion CD is also available for this release
Spock’s Beard “Live” (InsideOut Music): Some found this sterile, but having seen it myself in person I felt it was a perfect depiction of the Beard in today’s scene. Great melodies and a tight production. A companion CD is available as well.
Gorgoroth “Black Mass Krakow” (Metal Mind Productions/MVD Entertainment): Visual villainy at its most notorious. This film finally surfaces and shows why Gorgoroth is one of the most feared of the Black Metal bands today.
Bloodbath “Wacken Carnage” (Peaceville Records): Brutal and uncompromised live set from this Death Metal super group. A CD comes with it.
The Best Concerts of 2008:
“Metal Masters Tour” - Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell, Motorhead & Testament (Sony/Rhino Entertainment/SPV Records/Nuclear Blast Records) at PNC Bank Arts Center: Pairing Judas Priest and H&H together would have made this an amazing show, and adding Motorhead and Testament to the mix just upped the ante. It was a fantastic display of Metal power.
“Paganfest USA” – Ensiferum, Turisas, Tyr & Eluveitie (Candlelight Records/Century Media Records/Napalm Records/Nuclear Blast Records) at B.B. King Blues Club: Luminaries of Viking and Folk Metal all touring under one banner made for an incredible night.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Lava Records) at Izod Center: The TSO is a yearly tradition for me, and this year they added Savatage numbers and brought out special guest Steven Tyler. I was on my feat more than in the seat that night. Always impressive and something that finally needs to be on DVD.
Helloween & Gamma Ray (SPV Records) at B.B. King Blues Club: Two bands that are closer knit than most others on the same stage. This was an exhilarating Power Metal ride.
Fish (Chocolate Frog UK) at B.B. King Blues Club: It was great to have Fish touring in an intimate venue and for the NYC show we had 3 as the opener. A great show.
At The Gates at Fillmore NY (Earache Records): Reunions were popular this year and this one presented the legends of the Gothenburg sound. A killer show without question.
Carcass at Nokia Theater (Nuclear Blast Records): Carcass’ endeavors gave the ok to new forms of Metal and their reunion tour was an amazing experience. It also brought Suffocation and 1349 among others along and was to be talked about for weeks after.
Opeth at Nokia Theater (Roadrunner Records): You cannot go wrong with the power of Opeth in concert. They are raising the Metal bar with each and every show. High On Fire and Nachtmystium helped out as support.
Apocalyptica at Nokia Theater (Zomba Music): The four cellists of Metal delivered the goods to a scaled down Nokia Theater where everyone had an amazing time. I love how these guys do their thing and recommend you see them at least once if not more.
Dethklok at Nokia Theater (Williams Street Records): The animated juggernauts in a live concert? Yes it can and was done. An amazing time and lots of fun watching the crowd mosh to a giant movie screen band.
Ace Frehley at Nokia Theater: The Space Ace was back in the New York Groove and not much more needs to be said on that.
Iced Earth at Nokia Theater (SPV Records): Much to the delight of Metal fans, Matt Barlow is back in Iced Earth and all is right in their world. Into Eternity opened up and delivered a crushing set as well.
Symphony X at Nokia Theater (SPV Records): Prog-Metal will never be the same now that they are finally getting their due. They brought Epica and Into Eternity along for the ride and I love both of those bands as well.
Misfits at B.B. King Blues Club: You cannot go wrong on Halloween night at a Misfits show. This was a rocking good time for all.
Trail Of Tears at B.B. King Blues Club (Napalm Records): The ToT had never toured the US before and since they brought Unexpect, The Agonist and Echoes Of Eternity along we made sure to join in. Sadly it was ill attended but those who came loved it, and that’s all that matters.
Twisted Sister at Nokia Theater (Razor and Tie): It's a Twisted Christmas Charlie Brown!!!! Dee and the boys really made the holidays a hoot and a half with this show that pulled out all the stops and upped their game from the previous year's Fillmore NY gig. Guest star Lita Ford made this all the more special.
Kamelot and Ed Guy at B.B. King Blues Club (SPV Records & Nuclear Blast Records): The yearly Kamelot show has been a welcome part of my Rock and Roll year as they always deliver. This year they brought EdGuy along and the fun just was upped a bit more.
Sonata Arctica at Nokia Theater (Nuclear Blast Records): Sonata Arctica stepped up their game when Nightwish had to cancel due to illness, and as result this show was a blast of Melodic Metal that showed just how good these guys are at what they do. New fans were made this night without question.
Uli Jon Roth at B.B. King Blues Club (SPV Records): UJR is a legendary and very influential guitarist and he really is something to see in concert with his Sky Guitar. This show was a night of fun musical friends as Chris Caffery and Alex Skolnick were part of the players that joined him for the show.
Other shows that needed to be mentioned and also kicked ass included Candlemass, Grave Digger and Iron Savior but sadly these shows had what I considered a pathetic level of attendance as opposed to full rooms and this should not have been the case based on how little these particular groups get to tour around these parts . It’s not a reflection on the bands because they rocked everyone’s socks off but it seemed to be more a case of there being other larger events happening at the same time that forced the Metal legions to choose one over the other. Those who attended were entertained while those who missed out without good reason very simply missed out.
Interesting Reads of 2008:
"Reckless Road” by Marc Canter: This book delivered early photographs of Guns ‘N Roses from their pre-signed days and offered set lists and commentary from the people involved during their climb to the top. A must for Guns historical buffs.
“Heavy Metal Painkillers” by Martin Popoff: Popoff’s book about the history of Judas Priest is very similar to his Black Sabbath one and features a ton of amazing photos and delivers a year by year, album by album synopsis of one of the world’s greatest Metal bands. It even focuses on the Ripper years and Halford’s solo work all the way up until the reunion.
The Worst of It All in 2008:
Ministry “C U La Tour” (13th Planet Records) at Fillmore NY: Yes this was Ministry’s “final” tour but performing behind a chain linked fence in limited light on top of giving the mighty Meshuggah an almost dark stage and 30 minutes to perform made this a major suck fest for me. Legends or not, this show could have ruled and instead made me stare at my watch. Lucky for those parties interested, Meshuggah returns for their own headlining tour next year.
Guns ‘N Roses “Chinese Democracy” (Universal Music): Wow, the wait is over and everything I heard via the streaming version made me say who cares. I couldn’t bear to spend money on it being as under whelmed as I was by this Axl Rose solo effort. Call me when the reunion happens guys.
Motley Crue “Saints Of Los Angeles” (10th Street Entertainment): I expected much more from these guys especially with such incredible releases from their 80’s Metal peers coming out around the same time. Not completely awful but really not impressive either. Luckily this year saw the re-release of a complete remastered catalog for the Crue and that impressed me.
Judas Priest “Nostradamus” (Sony Music): Maybe it’s not fair to line it out as a “worst” release, but it was too epic and hence too ponderous for many listeners. A single disc could have made this a more focused and interesting listen. If they tour this full album they will be playing to empty sections without question. Fans want Priest to rock and not be something meant for the Broadway stage. It was hard to place this here after eventually liking the CD.
Jarboe & Justin Broderick “J2” (The End Records): Sound effects and atmospheric drech was par for the course with this unlistenable piece of “music”. No matter how you sliced it, this was an arduous listen.
KISS “Ikons" & "Playlist Plus" (Universal Music): It almost pains me to list a KISS album as a flop in any sense and this is not as much their fault as it is the fault of Universal for continuing to re-package the same stuff that we have had them issue over and over. Yes the label owns the KISS back catalog, and I love that they gave us remasters a few years ago, but I am sure that unreleased stuff that is under their control is somewhere to be released. Please give us that and no more Greatest Hits packages. We KISS fans will buy it anyway and in today's economy you are killing us.
“Top 100 Metal Guitarists” by Joel McIver (Jawbone Press): Some might like this one but the book left out far too much for me and I found that my own views were in massive disagreement with the author. You might like it, I didn’t and again it shows that difference of view is what helps keep Metal a vital music.
As you might expect, we had quite a few more to bring to the table in this list, but we felt that we had gone on long enough and these give a reasonable look inside our heads for this year. We loved a lot about what 2008 delivered and had some other issues with things it failed to stand up and shout about, but we will leave those comments to the other reviews as we formulate those ideas into the articles you will continually see loaded onto the site. Remember if you want to read more into the stuff we have lined out here that all of them live on the site somewhere and can be searched for.
Horns up!!! 2009 Here We Come!!!!
Readers can leave us topical views on what rocked or what sucked in their opinion for this year via the link to our Official Blog HERE.
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