New albums by classic (hard rock/metal) bands get such a bad rap. They are usually pretty good, but aren’t generally mentioned in tandem with a band’s “classic” period or classic albums and they aren’t accepted because they don’t have the nostalgic memories attached to them or that sense of hunger in the youth and excitement of a new band in their prime. Things change, times change and people grow and move along; an album really is what people say it is: a snapshot of that moment in time. Sure we can create sounds and songs similar to these past glories, however it must be remembered that the songs and albums that we consider to be classic now did not start that way, and given time and attention, new albums by classic bands can be classics in their own right. So here are some recent albums by our beloved classic bands that I’ve checked out and I think if you haven’t given them a spin, you should. 2016 was a great year for some fine hard rock and metal albums, and you really need to stick these in your collection today. Read on for my blatantly subjective opinions!
Anthrax – For All Kings
Anthrax kicked so much ass on their “Worship Music” comeback album after being away for many years and flip flopping between vocalists John Bush and Joey Belladonna. They came back roaring with Joey and lightning struck twice (“Breathing Lightning”?) and made an album that is great and stands on par with WM, even if it takes a few listens to get into, and trust me that it does, it pays off big time and you are rewarded with some great music and another collectable in the Anthrax catalogue. There’s a heaviness and a lot of melodies and big choruses here to satisfy a broad spectrum of music tastes, and one thing I love about Anthrax’s style is the counter point of Scott Ian when he barks his aggressive growl that accents Joey’s soaring melodic vocals and just make that Anthrax sound, like the poison they are named after, it is infectious. Sometimes I wish Scott wold sing more often but I truly believe now that he is behind having Joey front the band 100% that he is comfortable to stay in the background and let this voice be heard. It’s winning all the way. Check out the vinyl version of course for a massive display of the artwork, as imagined and conceived by drummer and riff writer Charlie Benante. Great music lives here!
Megadeth – Dystopia
Outside of a few tracks here in there, since 2004’s The System Has Failed, I haven’t really liked a Megadeth album cover or near cover to cover in that time frame. I found most of their albums bring or tedious, or lacking strong melodies or having any memorable passages. 2009’s Endgame was pretty cool but then the albums after that really were spotty. In my opinion of course. But if I like a band and have followed their career and enjoyed them, I will always at least give their albums a try out, just to see. I don’t let past disinterests in the product sway me from entering into a new project with a blank slate and open mind. So I found myself really enjoying and being completely surprised and how instantly I took to the songs, even the passages within the songs so easily, and then the ultimate sign, wanting to and returning to listen to the album again on a regular basis. The album cover is pretty gosh darn cool, it’s got that Terminator vibe which I am a big fan of that franchise. The songs have a melodic and accessible feeling over top of some heavy and thrashy guitar solos and that is all over top of Dave Mustaine’s snarling and whiny vocals and delivery. It’s the perfect storm, it has all the elements of their classic period in the early 90s, but definitely does not feel like a rehashing or overly sunshiny like the last release seemed to sound like. It’s tight and powerful, and it’s worth a look and to be heard over and over and over again. Now, this is how I like my Megadeth
Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage
I’ll make this one brief but on point, say what you want about Avenged x7, they have not made a whole album of songs I wanted to hear again much less over and over. That changed with this album and this album only. It’s got long but captivating and intricate songs, it’s diverse, it has interesting subject matter and like all good albums on this list, it makes me want to play the songs more and more and feels fresh and interesting. The vocal approach that M. Shadows is using on this album, particularly in “Paradigm” and “Creating God” show that he is growing as a singer and front man, and that’s a good way to describe where this band is at now. They’ve come a long way and I;m sure that they will go farther,. This band will be the next generation in the hard rock and metal scene when are classics and legends leave the stage and studio for good. An album like this coming along gives me hope and it should do the same for you, as long as your mind is open and free
Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
I tied to get through the monstrous Nostradamus project they released back in 2008. Prior to that, I initially liked but eventually got bored of the songs on 2005’s Angel of Retribution and feel that they haven’t aged well. So with Redeemer I wasn’t sure what I would take away as I assumed that the interesting song structures and mountain shattering screams would be gone and I was worried that it will be slow and plodding collection of songs with small bright spots but not enough to warrant a complete take home. So I listened to some of the clips online and they sounded pretty promising, and then I listed to the album in it’s entirety and I was extremely surprised in how much power and melody the songs had. Like many people have said before, the production is lacking and I do think that it takes away from some of the power and fullness that the songs could have, however I truly feel that this right here is the best album they have made since Painkiller (1990!!) and this is the one that I was waiting for. I got some of Halford’s shrieks, some amazing and intricate guitar pieces from Tipton and Faulker, who really rejuvenated this band. Now if i can hear some more of Halford’s burgeoning death growls that I heard on a recent live cut of the song “Painkiller” (I think at Wacken?) on the next album then I think we have found the winning formula for an amazing Priest record in the twilight of their career. Just perfect. The length of the album may bother some, but if you can stand it, make sure you get the extended version with the bonus songs; they are truly some of the best on the album.
Helloween – My God Given Right
Same as the Judas Priest album above, I hadn’t properly enjoyed a Helloween album in it’s entirety since 2007’s Gambling with the Devil and I was beginning to think that their best years of recorded out-put was behind them. I thought I might never enjoy a full album by my beloved pumpkins again and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Some of their most recent albums have actually contained, in my opinion, some of the very best songs ever in their career but the album as a whole seemed uninspired and just not interesting. Well executed, but just not musically entertaining like I was used. And Andi Deris is in my top 3 of all time vocalists. But like every new album by a classic band that a love, I will give it a good spin and see what becomes candy to my ear. This was the candy I was searching for! It was super sweet. Ok, no more candy references. This album brought me back to the glory days of a Helloween release, a joy and appreciation for an album that wasn’t the same since 2003 or really the lost of a key member in Roland Grapow. It’s not a perfect album (yes, to me there are some!) and in some parts through the middle it can drag a bit, but overall this is the album I was waiting for them to make and now they haven’t disappointed. If you haven;t picked up a recent Helloween album, this is the one to get and this will restore your faith in their songsmithing and hopefully give us a few more good power gems before they light their last pumpkin. Awesome album, great melodies and interesting song structure. Can I compare it to sweet candy here?
I hope you have enjoyed me ranting about albums I like, remember this is only my opinion, but rest assured, it is a good one! Hint: I also think that these album covers are (some of) the coolest and interesting album art images I have seen in awhile. They are begging to be seen as a gate-fold vinyl.
So, in conclusion, I appreciate you taking the time to read this and always comment and feel free to email at ChadVice@sebcamco.com.
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