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Best Of 2011 - 2012 (Dangerzone)

ARTIST: Best Of 2011 (Dangerzone)


Although the last four months of 2011 were somewhat of a loss musically for me due to being deployed here to Afghanistan, I have to admit there were some fine releases during the year, within the confines of many genres. The albums I've chosen as my picks for the best of the year are the ones I've listened to consistently the most, which sometimes makes picking even ten a dreaded prospect! Unlike much of the GD readership I haven't delved into the modern AOR scene too closely and most of the music I listened to was from dated artists and thrash bands, many of whom wouldn't normally feature on the website.

Of course there were compulsory disappointments in 2011, the biggest of which was Journey's 'Eclipse,' easily the poorest album the band has ever released. Anyone still clinging to these guys as AOR magnates probably needs to evaluate their lives severely. The same can be said of stale acts like Megadeth, Saxon and U.D.O. etc... Whoever is still getting excited by these guys is a far braver man than I. Thankfully we have the likes of Bullet and Sepultura to make up for those flops.

Whatever 2012 brings I know I'll have some catching up to do when I get out of here in June.. it also makes ten years of writing for the site!

In Summary

10 Lifeless - Judgment Day
This young English thrash outfit have been around for a few years now and their debut is a heavy piece of vintage thrash based on 80's ideals, paying homage to legends like Venom. A great start for sure.

09 Cavalera Conspiracy - Blunt Force Trauma
Miles ahead of their 2008 debut, this is easily the best thrash effort from Max and Igor Cavalera since their days in Sepultura. The aggression is constant, with no pandering to anything remotely current.

08 Night Ranger - Somewhere in California
I didn't think these guys had it in them to produce AOR of this depth anymore, but this is easily their greatest accomplishment since the 80's. Finally a return to the formula that made them melodic rock staples and proof some of the veteran acts can still cut it when necessary.

07 King Kobra - King Kobra
A superb release from a band long thought dead and buried. Paul Shortino proved more than an able replacement for Marci Free and with throwback 80's rockers by the truckload they really couldn't go wrong. An enjoyable romp by some tried and tested musicians.

06 Uriah Heep - Into the Wild
For me this is the best Heep album since 1989. Wisely the band dispensed with some of their more progressive and long winded tendencies of the last few albums and returned to shorter, more commercial tracks with hints of the Goalby era. 'Nail on the Head' is a perfect representation of the album as a whole, melodic, heavy and highly listenable, always Heep traits.

05 The Rods - Vengeance
Great comeback after a long spell of inactivity for the New York metal legends. There's nothing here to suggest it still isn't 1982, with the lads tearing it up much like their classic 1981 debut. With a formula like that The Rods can't go wrong and the result is one of the more enjoyable hard rock workouts of 2011.

04 Anvil - Juggernaut of Justice
With the well deserved success afforded by their documentary several years back, Anvil required a positive album to reinforce their newly found commercial credentials. This easily did the trick, a typical set of blistering heavy metal in the finest Anvil tradition. It's refreshing to see Anvil not compromising themselves one bit. There isn't a track on offer that even smacks of filler.

03 Bullet - Highway Pirates
If there's one band I've come to rely on over the past 5 years it's Bullet. With their reliable brand of metal, they can't go wrong. Their third album, this demonstrated an even greater sense of melody, with the usual great riffs and subject matter. It's pretty obvious Bullet isn't going to change and who wants them to? Their best work yet.

02 Deathraiser - Violent Aggression
This album rates so high with me that I even reviewed it a while back here at GD. By far in 2011 this was my most played album, with a thrash sound so raw it blows just about everyone away. It might not be original or groundbreaking, but these Brazilians have it down to a fine art, making their idols seem tame. At last count the total amount of listens I had to these songs was in the hundreds. That makes it special in my books.

01 Sepultura - Kairos
Although a certain portion of Sepultura fans might baulk, I believe the band has never been as good as it has with Derrick Greene at the helm. With 2009's 'A-lex' being one of that year's best, hopes were high for 'Kairos' and it exceeded all my expectations. Another intelligent heavy metal album, with the bands usual flair for blending heaviness with more intimate acoustic shadings and tribal overtones clearly apparent. Of course there's thrash in abundance and just an overall amazing listening experience. These guys are probably the best metal band out there right now and for me it didn't get any better in 2011.

Honourable Mentions:
Airrace, The Cars, Warrant, Work of Art, Havok, Ghost, Final Assault, Venom and Harm, all of who released some fine albums in 2011.

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#1 | AOR Lee on February 04 2012 13:47:17
It's been a while Alun! Seems like you're getting into some heavy material, nothing wrong with that. Liked your reference to Heep's Goalby era (sacred trilogy of albums to me), I'll just have to check this new one out
#2 | dangerzone on February 04 2012 13:53:34
Thanks mate. Good to see you back!
#3 | opbrekke on February 05 2012 02:19:26
Yup, got the Heep and Nightranger albums on my list as well. Good choices.
#4 | englandashes on February 05 2012 14:13:01
Must look again at King Kobra, as Shortino always does a great job when drafted in as a substitute, like his Quiet Riot days.
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