As this year comes to a close, it is time to decide in retrospect who deserves the acknowledgement in the category of best album of 2009. For this reason, I have constructed a list, consisting of different categories for which excellent albums belong in this year’s musical honors. I have included my choices as well as my runners-up (the runners-up have been crossed out).
Best Old School Metal Comeback:
Megadeth – Endgame
Slayer – World Painted Blood
Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know
Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue
Alice in Chains was the most metal of the grunge bands in the late 80’s/early 90’s and after lead singer Layne Staley passed on in April of 2002, it was evident that AiC was forever gone. In 2006, the remaining band members reunited in concert, joined by fellow musicians, including Pantera/Down singer Phil Anselmo and Metallica’s James Hetfield. The band then picked up current vocalist William DuVall and history was made. While there is great controversy on whether the band should or should not continue under the name “Alice in Chains,” the band continues to excel in what they do. Alice in Chains always was guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell’s band and it always will be. Layne was a tragic loss, but the band has not lost that grunge-metal sound that brought them to where they are now, as shown in their 2009 release, “Black Gives Way to Blue.” It is a great album top to bottom and deserves the title of “Best Old School Metal Comeback.”
Megadeth and Slayer both put forth great efforts and H&H’s new material is to die for, but considering all the factors faced by Alice in Chains and the perfection of their new material, it is sinful to not award them with this title.
Best Old School Rock n’ Roll Album:
Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream
Ace Frehley – Anomaly
Joe Perry – Have Guitar, Will Travel
There is a reason he is called “The Boss.” Bruce and the E Street Band are still rockin’ after all these years. It’s great to see and hear their new material, both on CD and in concert. They are all getting old and it will be a sad day when they declare the absolute end of their careers. Until then, let’s embrace the new music and the possibility of at least one more tour from the Boss and his legendary E Street Band!
Best Hard Rock Album:
Daughtry – Leave This Town
Charm City Devils – Let’s Rock N’ Roll
Both of these efforts are pretty solid, but Daughtry’s unbearably talented vocals slapped CCD’s record aside. However, Charm City Devils’ debut album, “Let’s Rock N’ Roll” was not a bad album in the slightest. They are a great live band and they released a straight-up hard rockin’ debut effort. I hope to hear and see great things from this almost-Motley Crue-esque hard rock band.
Best Blues-rock Album:
Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
Wolfmother – Cosmic Egg
The Dead Weather – Horehound
All three of these albums were phenomenal. Wolfmother did not experience the dreaded sophomore slump from which many up-and-coming bands suffer. “Cosmic Egg” is a terrific listen as is Them Crooked Vultures’ self-titled debut. The collaboration of the great John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age proved to be a good decision. Despite the greatness of the aforementioned efforts, The Dead Weather’s debut outstandingly tops both for miles. The Dead Weather is the third project of the extremely talented Jack White of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. White mainly plays drums for The Dead Weather with the exception of the song “Will There Be Enough Water” on which he rips on his guitar. I highly recommend seeing these guys live. The band is fronted by Alison Mosshart of The Kills with Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age on guitar and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes on bass.
Best Metal Newcomer:
Dirge Within – Force Fed Lies
This up-and-coming metal band from Illinois, formed in 2007, shows great promise. They are a bunch of down-to-earth guys and they sound great live and in studio. It’s hard not to rock out to the song “Last Goodbye” or any other song on their solid debut album for that matter. The moderately mellow intro to “New Disease” is reminiscent of something along the lines of thrash legends Testament. All in All, this band is headed great places and their debut album and live show are true proof.
Best Metalcore Album:
Atreyu – Congregation of the Damned
August Burns Red – Constellations
Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage
God Forbid – Earthsblood
Although God Forbid’s “Earthsblood” is a great album, practically nothing released in 2009 had anything on ABR’s “Constellations.” The guitar work, breakdowns, hard-hitting vocals, and everything else about ABR’s 2009 effort gets the listener headbanging and fully rocking out. There’s nothing for a metalhead not to like in this metalcore masterpiece.
Best Heavy Metal Album:
Lamb of God – Wrath
Mastodon – Crack the Skye
DevilDriver – Pray For Villains
Shadows Fall – Retribution
While some may label Shadows Fall as metalcore, they have also been listed with the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” and that is what I am following with this choice. “Retribution” is a fantastic album all around. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s everything a SF fan could ask from this great Massachusetts band. I have yet to experience them live, but after hearing their exceptional new tunes, I feel obliged to attend a Shadows Fall concert.
Overall Best Album of 2009:
Megadeth – Endgame
I am a diehard Megadeth fan, so this choice may be a little bit biased. However, this record was by no means even moderately mediocre. As many fans say, “Endgame” could easily be hands-down Dave Mustaine and Co.’s best release since 1990’s “Rust in Peace.” While I do enjoy 2007’s “United Abominations,” “Endgame” brings their comeback to an entirely new level. The addition of guitarist Chris Broderick, formerly of Nevermore, was indeed one of the best decisions Mustaine has made in a long time. This 2009 release is a timeless effort and in my mind, it is the Overall Best Album 0f 2009.
Happy New Year and let’s hope for another amazing year in music for 2010!