Dec 30, 2009

Centerfield Maz's Top 20 Albums of 2009

Hard rock is alive and well but not in the United States. For me, most of the best new music is coming out of Europe. Gothic Metal is currently pretty much the mainstream in Europe right now. This sub genre of Heavy Metal takes many different forms. I have become a huge fan of the female fronted Goth bands. Some of it can be labeled as Gothic Femme Metal and others as Symphonic Metal. I only hope America will catch on and this wave can save the music scene over here. There are still the classic rock acts which will continue to dominate the concert venues, and some good female jazz vocalist as well.


#1 LACUNA COIL: SHALLOW LIFE

This great Italian band is out of Milan, Italy and have broken into the American mainstream. Hopefully they will open the door on European Gothic Metal in America. The SHALLOW LIFE debuted at #16 on the US Billboard charts & became Lacuna Coil's first top 20 US Album. They have toured North America in small clubs.

The band is fronted by two singers a male & female giving them a unique sound. The beautiful brunette Christina Scabbia provides the female vocals with her fantastic voice and Andrea Ferro is the male vocalist. This, is their fifth album & gives them even more depth, as they experiment further. An asbolutely great band rock band.

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#2 FLOWING TEARS: THY KINGDOM GONE
I can't stop listening to this album the past month. It's is a great concept album about the loss faith in humans. It's from a German band that has been around since 1996. Not as much Goth as they are a rock band, and by far their greatest release. Helen Vogt sings powerful lead vocals with a touch of an accent & a unique style. She throws in a sensual whisper vocal in many of the songs as well. The music is everything from rock to metal, with clasical piano mixed in, just fantastic. This album could rank number one or two.


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#3 CORONATUS: PORTA OBSCURA
I love this German gothic Femme Metal band. They go a step further in the genre by having two lead female singers, who are completely different from each other. Ada Fletchner (brunette) does the melodic rock singing. I love her voice, with that touch of her German accent. I was sad to hear she has left the band. Then there is the high mezzo soprano range of Carmen Schafer (blonde) who sings like an opera singer. The music behind the ladies is hard & melodic with great arrangements. Their songs are sung in English, Latin & German.



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#4 PAUL McCARTNEY: GOOD EVENING NEW YORK CITY
This is a compilation CD & DVD of Pauls three nights at Citi Field this past summer. I was lucky enough to be at two of the shows, but I don't see myself in the movie. LOL One of the best sets of concerts I ever saw, and only Bruce came close to rivaling this summers concert tour. The Best Buy version has Pauls historic Letterman appearance as well as the full concert outisde the Ed Sullivan Theater. It's Maccas best live album since WINGS OVER AMERICA!!
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#5- AESMA DAEVA- HERE LIES ONE WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN ON WATER 2009
This symphonic/electronic metal band is from Minnesota right here in America. This release comes on the 10th anniversiary of its original release, with new mixes. This band is like nothing you ever heard, even in the symphonic metal genre. Operatic female vocals, with chants over heavy guitar riffs, and pounding drums & bass. What a combination, believe me they are very different.

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#6 ACE FREHLEY: ANOMALY
Ace is back and his solo album blows the new KISS album away. The Bronx boy just does what he does best, plays old fashioned straight forward hard rock & roll. The album was recorded at his Westchester home and features a great cover of the old Slade song, FOX ON THE RUN. Ace continues his instramental; FRACTURED, a series which has been on all his solo albums. This album picks up where his 1978 solo album left off.Great guitar work!


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#7 WOODSTOCK- 40th ANNIVERSARY BOXED SET
Finally a much needed upgrade for the historic concert with some of the best performances by some of the greatest rock icons ever. I love the bonus DVD with the never before seen performances. This was one of the best live albums ever to be released, with every performance legendery.
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#8 THEATRES OF VAMPIRES: DESIRE OF DAMNATION
A dark Italian Gothic Metal band, based on the theme of Vampires. Vampire metal!! This was a 2007 release, but an '09 I Tunes release, so it qualifies since I just got turned on to them this fall. Italian Singer Sonya Scarlett has an exotic dark style, sexy yet evil & scary. Deep down, she's probably a nice Italian girl that will bite your neck off. At live shows she has been known to cut herself with razors and have members of the audience drink her blood in exchange for the gift of imortality. WOW! I love the bands beat, guitar work and background effects. A bit of a sixties pyschadelic sound to it as well.

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#9 CROSBY STILLS & NASH: THE DEMOS
This was one of the great tours of the past year, what a show they put on at Jones Beach with the ocean as the backdrop. The Demos album is a collection of unrealesed early versions of CSN classics from their best period (1969-1970). Its worth it just to hear how good their voices sound on these recordings. My favorite version of Stills' Love the One Your With.


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#10 MADELEINE PEYROUX: BARE BONES
Madeleine has become one of my favourite female vocalists, especially in the jazz genre. She always puts out a quality effort and after seeing her live this past year & meeting her backstage, I'm an even bigger fan.

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#11- WITHIN TEMPTATION: AN ACOUSTIC NIGHT AT THE THEATER
I boasted about this band last year and will do it again. They are one of the best groups on the planet. The veteran Dutch symphonic metal band is fronted by the beautiful Sharon den Adel with her fantastic mezzo soprano voice. This album is an acoustic follow up to last years live; BLACK SYMPHONY which featured a full orchestra & choir. Check this band out, they are simply great!!!
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#12 LUNATICA: NEW SHORES
This veteran band from Switzerland is symphonic metal, as well as very progressive. It's my favorite album from them overall, especially the songs: My Hardest Walk & The Chosen Ones.

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#13 EPICA: DESIGN YOUR UNIVERSE
This great Dutch band can be categorized as both symphonic & progressive metal. They are a pretty big band around the world, and actually headlined their first North American Tour last year, after the release of their sucessful album THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY. They specialize in "beauty & the beast" vocals, which is a combination of male death growls & a soft female voice. The band is fronted by the beautiful Red headed mezzo soprano Simone Simons.

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#14 HEAVEN & HELL: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
The masters are back with a typical Ronnie James Dio album. Tonny Iommi is great on guitar as is Geezer Butler on bass & Vinny Appice on drums. Its not Heaven & Hell but its good to hear the boys can still do it. Hoping for another Tour in 2010.
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#15 MAGICA: WOLVES & WITCHES
This Romanian band fronted by the high pitch vocals of Ana Mladinovici, reminds me a bit of the 1980's metal sound with some Deep Purple & Dokken touches mixed in.
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#16 SIRENIA: THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR
This was one of the first Gothic Female/ Symphonic/ metal bands I got into a few years back. Being a big fan of former vocalist Monica Pedersen, it took me a while to warm up to the new singer Ailyn. The Norwegian band changes lineups alot but Morten Veland always puts out a great product.



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#17- BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: WORKING ON A DREAM
Certainly not in the class of Bruce's best E-Street work. Even he only covered the title track on most of the 2009 Tour. The Tour was great, rivaled only by Paul McCartney as the best tour of the year.
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#18-DIANA KRALL- QUIET NIGHTS
Another great release by the beautiful Diana Krall. The album debuted & peaked at #3 on the US Billboard charts in April. The I-tunes version has a great Beatles, Lennon/McCartney cover of For No One.
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#19- CRUCIFIED BARBARA: TILL DEATH DO US PART
Man do they look good & rock hard. These Swedish ladies rock hard with a simple pure punk/metal style, in the mold of Joan Jett, Lita Ford & the Runaways.

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#20- KISS: SONIC BOOM:
First off, I am a big KISS fan since 1976. This is their first new release in a decade, but it wasn't as good as 1998's "Psyhco Circus" which was ok. I think only the four originals can only make the genuine KISS sound I prefer. That's why I passed on the tour, maybe if they took off the make up.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

heaven and hell - vinny appice on drums. Carmine appice the better drummer (IMO) but not part of this group.

Anonymous said...

Lacuna Coil are great. I hope they can break through in America & headline a show at a decent venue.