Another year older and what do we have to show for it? Turns out some very excellent music and as always the Decibel Geek writers are hard at work compiling their top 10 lists. The Decibel Geek writing team has grown in numbers this year, and I am very excited to see the final Official Decibel Geek Top 10 of 2016 list that is created using the Meister‘s elaborate point system reflecting each writer’s top 10 lists.
The ground rules are as such, the album or EP (as EP’s are becoming more and more commonplace) had to be released in the calendar year 2016. “Greatest hits” albums are not valid. It was also decided that “live albums” would not be included in the point system.
I sit back and laugh over how painstakingly torturous this exercise is each year. You would be amazed how much thought, how many hours we sit and think and discuss and debate and argue with ourselves. It is always by far the hardest article I write each year and we take great pride in presenting our picks. Well, the time is now. After painful deliberation, this is Wallygator’s Top 10 Albums of 2016. These are the ten releases that rocked my world the hardest during this most interesting year. With some explanation and insight as to why they are a part of my list.
Before we jump in to my official top 10, I will identify a couple of “honorable mentions”. Two albums that almost made the top 10 that are probably worth mentioning. The first is Volbeat‘s Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie. I was totally turned onto Volbeat courtesy of Mr. Czynszak and this new offering almost cracked my top ten. Standout track(s) – “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”, “Black Rose” and a great cover of Georgia Satellites‘ “Battleship Chains”. The other is SIXX: A.M.‘s Prayers For The Damned Vol. 1, in fact, this album got bumped off late in the game. “You Have Come To The Right Place” is a killer tune, this is a great album but maybe I am still holding a grudge against Nikki and his ass-hat interview with Sweden Rock Magazine earlier this year in which he spent much of the interview needlessly bagging on Corabi. So for those keeping score, Corabi – 1 (Dead Daisies made number 4 on my list!) Sixx – 0.
Ok call me a rebel, I am going against the rules and including a live album in my top 10 but I have strong reasoning behind this decision. I am well aware that it will receive no points in the official Decibel Geek Top 10 but I felt that if I included it here, someone might go check it out. That alone will make me sleep better. So why do I feel this strongly about this record? Simple. There are generally two approaches to recording live albums. 1. Raw and real, warts and all. Usually, I prefer this as it is an honest representation of the band live but sometimes it can result in an actual painful listening experience and yes I am referring to Van Halen‘s Tokyo Dome Live in Concert album. Or 2. the over-dubbed, over polished and over produced live album that covers up every bad note making for a more enjoyable almost Disney-like listening experience. So every once in a blue moon, and I am talking Haley’s Comet rare, a live album comes along that gets it perfect. I don’t mean that in the over polished “fix in the mix” method. When I put on Brutally Honest, Live From Holland I am there! I am in Holland (never been there), in a club I have never been to, seeing a band I have never seen before. I can smell the beer, I can feel my feet sticking to the spilled beer on the floor, I can see the stage and the lights. I can feel the bass cabs shaking my bones. Standout track(s) – “Down & Dirty”, “Drive It Home”, “In Your Arms” and the coolest cover mashup of “Every Picture Tells A Story/Happy”. Fire up the stereo, close your eyes and join me in Holland.
This was a late addition to my list. As I was putting together my picks someone had posted the video for “Heavy” onto their facebook feed. I was impressed. I shouldn’t have been surprised about that as I love Glenn as a bass player and a killer rock vocalist. This album just kind of missed my radar when it came out in November. In the nick of time, I was able to give it a proper listen and it ousted Sixx: A.M. off my Top 10. Glenn has a rich, 70’s type vocal style that is unmistakable and so heavy. Standout Track(s) – “Heavy” and “Flow”.
Ok, I might take some flak for this pick but I enjoyed this record. The “lost” tapes that Lita apparently had to break into her own house to recover resulted in some of the greatest “Lita” songs ever recorded. Lita has always had great melodies and these tunes had they been released in the decade they were actually recorded in would have been platinum, I have no doubt of that. It’s not a perfect album, production wise it’s a bit rough but it deserved more attention than it got. Standout Track(s) – “Rotten To The Core”, “Killing Kind” and possibly one of Lita‘s best songs ever, “Where Will I Find My Heart Tonight”.
Simple, no-nonsense thrash. Music to test your neck muscles for sure. I have often considered them the 5th band in the BIG 4. In fact, it could be argued that they probably have more reason to be in that club than some of the bands that are. They thrash with the intensity of Slayer with just a dash more melody and this is why I prefer Testament. Not quite as strong as The Formation Of Damnation (my favorite Testament record) but pretty damn good. When I need some thrash, I often reach for this one. Standout Track(s) – “Pale King” and “Born In A Rut”.
I will never understand anyone who does not like Cheap Trick. They are simply one of the most consistent, honest and downright fun rock n’ roll bands to have ever strapped on electric guitars. If you have never seen them live then get out a sharpie, put that on the bucket list and then come tell me they sucked. It won’t happen, period. Cheap Trick are always there but I have to admit I was not expecting them to pull out one of the greatest albums of their career. Bang Zoom Crazy Hello is rock solid and I will go on record and state “No Direction Home” could possibly be the best song they have ever created. Punchy, poppy and every bit as much fun as “Dream Police”, “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me”. Standout Track(s) – The aforementioned “No Direction Home”, “Roll Me”, and “Blood Red Lips”.
One of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2016! The mighty Metallica are back with their first album in like 8 years. I am not here to review the record (I already did that, click here for full And Justice For All. For some it has become cool or hip to slag on Metallica for a multitude of reasons, some founded, others not. I am a fan of the band. I did not drink the kool-aid and I don’t worship everything that they do. Load and Re-Load have sat collecting dust for many years, I actually enjoy some of the songs on St. Anger and I thought Death Magnetic was decent but I had higher hopes when I heard Rick Rubin was in charge. He didn’t deliver. Hardwired is fucking good. It is actually great in parts. I stand by my original review….Best Metallica album since 91! Would have been stronger as a ten song single disc but I will be listening to this one for years to come. Standout Track(s) – “Moth Into Flame”, “Spit Out The Bone” and “Halo On Fire”.
Look, say the name John Corabi and I respond with “take my money” plain and simple. Straight ahead, guitars slung low, loud and proud rock n’ roll. Nothing more to be said, this is everything that today’s radio does not deliver. Real musicians playing real rock n roll. Suck on that Kanye/Beyonce/Beiber! Ten originals and two badass cover tunes, so so good. Standout Track(s) – “Long Way To Go”, “How Does It Feel” and the killer version of CCR‘s “Fortunate Son”.
Love Razer, our featured artist from the Hoser Heavy Metal VOL 5 episode of the Decibel Geek Podcast comes in at number 3 on my top 10 and they did so with a three song EP! Sunset Strip NORTH people! Take the best qualities of Motley Crue 1983, Faster Pussycat 1985 and LA Guns 1988 shake and serve. Turn it UP! Standout Track(s) – All 3!
Sometime in 1982 or 83, Ronnie James Dio (arguably the greatest metal singer of all time) gathered a group of musicians that would become the DIO band. The term that is often used is “chemistry”, that rare and intangible magic that can happen when certain musicians get together. That DIO band oozed “chemistry” so I was very intrigued to hear what a 2016 reconvening of Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain, and Vivian Campbell could produce some 33 years removed. When the bass, drums and the opening guitar riff of “Devil In Me” kicked me in the gut I was all in! The magic that is Holy Diver came rushing out of the speakers. Do I miss Ronnie? Yes, but for those willing to listen his spirit is all over this record. The rhythm section is so heavy and so tight it’s insane and Vivian sounds incredible, his tone with just the Les Paul is so tasty, far removed from his role in Leppard. Standout Track(s) – “Devil In Me”, “Starmaker” and “Blame It On Me”.
Not only did As The Crow Flies soar (see what I did there?) to the top of my personal top 10 list but A Rebel Few accomplished much more than just that. The combination of A Rebel Few and producer Sterling Winfield proved to be nothing short of lethal. I will go on record and claim the following, As The Crow Flies is indeed bestowed the ultra-rare and mostly elusive “Perfect Album” award. Everything I love about metal is there. Heavy crunchy guitar riffs, bass groove that rumbles your belly and most importantly killer well-crafted songs. Not a weak moment from top to bottom, it sits proudly alongside Appetite For Destruction, Hysteria, Holy Diver, Defenders Of The Faith, Master Of Puppets and Slave To The Grind. Standout Track(s) – All of them! Zero filler, they all kick my ASS!