Since starting up the website we have tried our best to maintain an annual list of what we felt was the most stand out of music releases, videos and live concert events. It’s generally a daunting task since being a reviewer of these wide scoping mediums you really have to keep it maintained as the year progresses along. This year the task would be much more involved and intense because it was also the end of the decade and closed out on a very amazing number of years in the Metal realm. Initially I had added the previous ten years views at the end of the “Best Of 2009” thoughts but realized that this was better presented as a standalone piece. That would allow me to keep it as something special of its own and allow for easier digestion and research into the picks. Having been to a lot of shows and listened to a lot of music that was submitted in addition to that which was purchased I did my best at giving a tip of the hat to some of the things that we could recall as being of significant importance on the Metal and Hard Rock scene over the last ten years. I’m going to break this up into two parts and start with the music and videos. I hope you enjoy it.
PiercingMetal.com’s Top 10 CD Releases Of The Decade: 2000-2009:
Are you kidding me? You actually expect me to define only ten releases for an entire decade when the last five years of my life have been spent reviewing music…..do you people realize just how many albums that comes out to when you add it all up? OK, so even though I am closing in on 1000 actual CD reviews for the website, I will give a quick nod to ten of the albums that I found very appealing to my Metal and Hard Rock ears. You know what, since this is a big occasion and only happens once every ten years I will give you even more than CD preferences and add to the mix some of the DVD’s that I found to be noteworthy and make this whole thing a little more worth reading. Please understand that we did NOT offer up a top to bottom ranking on this list and just wanted you to be aware of some of our favorite releases from the decade that spanned from 2000-2009. Enjoy.
Kamelot “Ghost Opera” (SPV Records): The mighty Kamelot followed up their astounding “Black Halo” CD with this album and while they had already snared me with that release, this one signed the paperwork in blood.
KISS “Alive” Boxed Set (Universal Music): You’re probably screaming at me for including a CD boxed set that compiles all three existing KISS “Alive” recordings and offers up a long missing fourth one and if you are too bad about you. I found these albums inspirational, well at least the first two, and to find all of it put in one handy place with a superb booklet I could find no fault in this and it truly was one of my favorite items over the past ten years.
The 69 Eyes “Devils” (EMI Music): For me this ranks as one of the Decade’s best because it was an album that opened the band up to an entirely new fan base since it was the first of the bands catalog to be available in this part of the world. It would be followed by the full back catalogue but without this one they still might have been a best kept musical secret from Finland. My own first go at the band came via “Blessed Be” and the track “Brandon Lee”, so while a few years late to the party still a fan since that time.
Unexpect “In A Flesh Aquarium” (The End Records): This band defies description more than it does not and shows just how much room there is in modern Metal music. Take Progressive, Black Metal, Jazz and blend it up for this tasty musical cocktail. Diversity thy name is Unexpect.
Metallica “Death Magnetic” (Warner Music Group): Love it or not based on the “production” that some experts are lambasting, this was the album that showed us all that Metallica could still kick our ass with a Metal album. Now Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and MTV Icons, they chose to no longer take the role for granted and pummeled us.
Nightwish “Wishmaster” (Century Media Records): This 2001 release would be the album for the band that would somehow spark my own interest in reviewing albums and concerts so how could it not be on my list of best of the decade.
Porcupine Tree “Fear Of A Blank Planet” (Atlantic Records): Really just an incredible album and one that broke a lot of new fans for the work. Congratulations Mr. Wilson.
Marillion “Marbles” (Racket Records): This album proved to be that Marillion still had what it took to impress and inspire me and what came afterward made me question this once again found trust. Oh well.
Halford “Resurrection” (Metal Is Records): Now I had NOTHING against Fight when Halford formed that band but to me there was no original Priest vibe to the Metal Gods presentation. That said, I could not even wrap my head around the side project with John Five that followed it but when the energy and soaring vocals began on this new album “Resurrection” I felt that the Metal God had returned home at long last. I played this album at great volumes and consistently and as we all now know this was a clear path of the return to Judas Priest.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra “The Christmas Trilogy” (Lava Records): These days we find nothing larger than the Holiday juggernaut that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This was a boxed set release that captured all three of the bands holiday albums and their only DVD release ever. The pureness of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” still resonates strongly today as when it was initially released and having the other recordings and the public broadcast special make it all the more worthy of owning. One listen and you are a fan for life.
Amon Amarth “Twilight Of The Thunder God” (Metal Blade Records): When this release came out I had seen Amon Amarth a scant couple of times and always felt that they entertained and delivered. All of a sudden it seemed as though everyone loved them and clamored for their headlining show reign. I’m not arguing at all because they work hard at the craft and deserve it. To me this was the one that really rallied the armored forces of the Metal fans worldwide.
Ayreon “The Human Equation” (InsideOut Music): A stunning effort with numerous chapters all tied together for a fascinating story. Wow Arjen…..wow. Nicely done.
Epica “The Phantom Agony” (Transmission Records): I was new to the writing game and had pitched a label for some product to review especially a certain band I was curious about. They also included this new release and since it was their debut I gave a listen and loved every single song. What a wonderful first experience in the band and becoming a diehard fan of singer Simone Simons and founder Mark Janssen.
HIM “Razorblade Romance” (Universal Music): This was my first go at the band HIM and once I heard it I didn’t look back. Too many good tunes on this one to not be a fan after a couple of listens and I have supported this group ever since and even convinced others to help me rally the cause they maintain.
Opeth “Watershed” (Roadrunner Records): Yes the band did some good with “Ghost Reveries” and it was a logical progression from their earlier material and the latter stuff but I think that “Watershed” kicked this up a notch. The band employed numerous influences of their personal musical tastes and brought to life a stunning piece of music. One has to wonder what could come next after this milestone.
Iron Maiden “Brave New World” (EMI Music): For me the biggest deal about this recording was that it once again found Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith as a part of the Iron Maiden lineup. Yes, they did continue with Blaze at the helm, but it was different. Musically this was stronger than expected and now a three guitar unit the sky was the limit. Everyone in Metal today knows Iron Maiden is a band that is better than ever before and still in command of the genre. I fondly remember seeing the “Brave New World” tour when it came to Madison Square Garden. The show found Halford’s solo band opening up and Queensryche as well. For the concert I remember no less than a couple of dozen of my neighborhood friends from way back all gathering together and attending en masse. It was just like the old days when we were much younger and didn’t have too many of today’s workaday woes keeping us from the fun. Maiden was nothing less than outstanding and they have remained so since.
Judas Priest “Angel Of Retribution” (Epic Records): Maybe not so much for the songs on this one more than the fact that like Iron Maiden’s “Brave New World”, this album for The Priest found the one and only Metal God back in command of the unit and leading the charge. Halford had been gone for twelve years by the time 2005 rolled around and while each side made fans, it just didn’t cut the mustard. The best part of the Halford absence was of course its introduction to the Metal scene of Tim “Ripper” Owens who has really done good for himself and the genre as well. Priest continues to tour with the classic lineup and shows no real sign of stopping.
Sonata Arctica “Winterheart’s Guild” (Spinefarm Records): Music like this was rather new to me when I first heard it and much like Nightwish, this band hailed from Finland and was of immediate appeal to me. I loved everything about the vibe and flow of their sound and the energy that was being delivered on every track. At the time I never thought I would see them live but now I have a few times and with my journalistic broadcasting hope to convince more people to listen to bands we speak of.
Korpiklaani “Tales Along This Road” (Napalm Records): Another Finnish band and one that brought an energetic level of Folk Frenzied fun to the Metal table. This might have been their third album, but it was the one for me that led me to becoming a bigger fan than I ever expected to be. It came out in 2006 and since the release the band has been here on tour several times.
Dimmu Borgir “Death Cult Armageddon” (Nuclear Blast Records): In 2003 I was really not listening to much when it came to the Black Metal stuff but the Dimmu Borgir album had a majesty with its symphonic overtones and the video for “Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse” just blew me away. I was sold and have followed them since.
Immortal “All Shall Fall” (Nuclear Blast Records): The bands first album in “7” years came at the fans hard in 2009 and after a few short years of learning to appreciate some of the Black Metal sound, found this one to be an absolute crusher.
I know we kept going past ten and you will just have to deal with it but as I kept on typing I stopped for a moment to ask myself “how long do we want this list to be Ken?” and my answer was very simply to stop now. In the end, the decade that just closed up offered fans of the heavy genres a wonderful and wide variety of albums that helped strengthen our grip on the scene we appreciate. Yes the larger “popular music” culture doesn’t “get” or really support many of these bands efforts, but we hardly need them when we as fans help keep the destinies of these artists in play. Now onto the films.
PiercingMetal.com’s Top DVD Releases Of The Decade: 2000-2009:
As long time and even new readers of PiercingMetal.com are very aware, we review a ton of DVD films as well and based on that I’ve decided to also offer what we felt amounted to the best DVD’s that were unleashed upon the Metal maniacs of the world over the last ten years. Here goes nothing….
KISS “Kissology” Volumes 1-3: Having pulled some shenanigans on you just above with my choice of KISS “Alive” Boxed set I figured I would try it again and apologies to those who now hate me for this. I’m sorry but any series that collects vintage KISS material and presents them to me on a multi-disc set is a clear winner. I am counting this as a single item based on its title being the same on every volume barring the numbers
Kamelot “One Cold Winter’s Night” (SPV Records): Filmed during the bands tour for “The Black Halo” this DVD helped make a lifer out of me and many of the other Melodic Power Metal fans of the world. It is a rousing performance and one that is not easy to skip around and instead finds you replaying once it completes.
Iron Maiden “Live After Death” (Universal Music): It took a long time for this classic concert film to come to DVD but all were glad it did since it was remastered and brought everyone back to Maiden’s “Powerslave” tour which as many recall was incredible. Now the next generation of Metal fans can see what the fuss was all about. I had this on VHS tape originally and remembered watching it hundreds of times with my friends back in the day.
Nightwish “The End Of An Era” (Nuclear Blast Records): The show in and of itself was stunning but when it historically became the last show ever done with the band by singer Tarja Turunen it became all the more important for the Metal world. The show is a blockbuster one and as it closes up with the credits you will find yourself at a loss for what once was. Each side moved on productively of course but that is a different story altogether. This even came with an audio CD of the full show for those IPod or other music player users.
Gorgoroth “Black Mass Krakow” (Metal Mind Productions/MVD Entertainment): The villainous concert finally came out in 2008 and it showcased the Black Metal might of Gorgoroth in vivid blood red and fire colors. Watch closely and you will swear Gahl himself knows you are there. Creepy stuff and a riveting show whether you are a fan of the band or not.
Rush “R30” (Zoe Records): This concert celebrated thirty years of Progressive Rock legends Rush and delivered the full show in a superb deluxe edition. It also came with an audio CD and guitar picks. I also loved the Rush “Replay” 3 DVD set but I will not mention it here in all fairness to the others…..ooops.
Amon Amarth “Wrath Of The Norsemen” (Metal Blade Records) Any band that gives their fans a DVD boxed set with five concerts on it deserves to be on a best of list. Kudos to these Death Metal Vikings for bringing glorious combat to the stages of the world.
Queensryche “Mindcrime At The Moore” (Rhino Entertainment): For the longest time I have felt that “Operation: Mindcrime” by Queensryche was a movie or a Broadway presentation in the making, and when the band chose to deliver the entire album and its second chapter live on stage with actors, actresses and props that brought it all to life – the end result was amazing. Could a real feature film for this story be far behind?
Heaven And Hell “Live At Radio City Music Hall” (Rhino Entertainment): The reunion concert of the decade surely merits its visual capture a place on the DVD list of the decade. If you disagree we will have Mr. Dio, Mr. Geezer, Mr. Iommi and Mr. Appice pay you a little visit. They played only “Dio Era” Sabbath tunes and new material, and nobody was “Paranoid” about them doing so.
Roger Waters “In The Flesh” (Live): This terrific show presented Roger Waters’ amazing concert where he played something like 80% classic Pink Floyd and his own greats. The full show was presented in sequence so it felt like being there. A companion CD preceded the film.
Opeth “Lamentations: Live At Shepherd’s Bush Empire” (Koch Records): A latecomer to the ball was I when it came to Opeth but this happens and when friends suggested I check them out I made this DVD one of my first explorations. Interesting without a doubt and make me eagerly search into the much heavier earlier stuff.
Slipknot “Disasterpieces” (Roadrunner Records): If you have ever wondered what the Slipknot show is like and fear braving it in person then this DVD film is a great way to see what you miss out on and perhaps will make you brave the insanity and chaos one of these days.
KISS “The Second Coming” (Image Entertainment): What? Another KISS listing? Yeah so what if there is. This DVD re-presents the VHS release from a couple of years earlier which documented the return of the original KISS lineup in full makeup. Of course a lot has changed since this film’s time but it brought all of the events leading up to that magnificent tour all together and remains a very favorite documentary.
Iced Earth “Live In Athens” (Century Media Records): The Power Metal giants were always given props for this live album but the film remained a mystery until a couple of years ago and it was a great one. A perfect career spanning release of the albums of the time and presented the bands most beloved lineup.
Therion “Celebrators Of Becoming” (Nuclear Blast Records): Talk about an encompassing release, this was intense and brought you way back to this bands beginnings all the way up until a couple of years ago. It was a massive set and not all that common to find being the type of release being done. Now we see more of them and I would have it no other way. If you like well executed Symphonics in your Metal then there are few better at it than Therion.
Dream Theater “Score” (Rhino Entertainment): Celebrating 20 years of the bands history with a full orchestra, this was a magnificent concert film and it was presented in full. Here’s to the next 20 years guys. I’m sure you will keep it interesting.
KISS “Symphony: Alive IV” (Sanctuary Music): Sorry gang, but this was a killer release and while we had numerous orchestras playing with heavy bands, this one worked out among the best and found the entire group of classical musicians sporting KISS makeup. The concert came from Australia, and found three different suites being performed. One traditional Rock show, one ensemble set and then the rousing closer with full sixty something piece orchestra.
Within Temptation “Black Symphony” (Roadrunner Records): The US version gave us a live full concert DVD and a single CD with most of the songs, but the key is the film in this releases case. A great show that found the band delivering a great batch of tunes from their catalog with another orchestra. This band’s tunes were made for such a setting anyway and the whole show works visually and in the audio sense. Awesome.
So there you have it. Some of my very favorite music and video from the past decade. As you could tell there were a lot of them that were my first experiences with a particular group or sound. Maybe some of the selections are still new to you and if that’s the case I hope that I have made you curious about them. If I have please look into them via one of the online mediums to do so or brave a purchase. I’ll return in the coming days with my “Best Of Decade” Concerts list. See you then and remember that we are using both the Facebook and Twitter very often if you want to take this journey with us as it happens. You can present some of your own decade end picks if you like. We would love to see what you felt the years offered you as a fan and how it impacted your day.