It was pretty tough for me to come up with a top ten for this year. There were so many good releases in 2009, but only a handful of them were special so I changed my mind quite a bit when coming up with this list. 2009 seemed to be the year of the “grower”. Meaning, many albums on this list (and many others that I liked that didn’t make this list), didn’t grab me at first but upon repeated listening, I started to appreciate them.
Overall, 2009 was another good year for rock and metal even if it wasn’t the star-studded affair that 2008 was (Crue, Metallica, AC/DC, GNR, Priest, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper… WOW!). Anyway, most veteran acts with new releases continued to deliver and newer acts stepped up to release quality music as well.
1. KISS – Sonic Boom
Was there ever any doubt that my favorite band would release my favorite album of the year? To be fair, the album didn’t knock my socks off at first and there are a few filler tracks, but it has grown on me and I would put “Modern Day Delilah”, “Say Yeah” and “I’m An Animal” up there with rest of the band’s classic works. There’s more than enough songs here to not only make this a great KISS album but also the best album of 2009. Even KISS retired tomorrow, we can all now sleep safely knowing Psycho Circus was not their final offering to the world.
2. Steel Panther – Feel the Steel
Fantastic “comedy” album that poses as a glam metal release… or is that the other way around? The lyrics are hilarious, the vocals are great, the musicianship is great. I’ve probably listened to this album more than any other album this year.
3. Ace Frehley – Anomaly
With Ace, you’re never sure what you’re gonna get. The only thing I knew before hearing this album was that it was going to be one of two things: a great release or a train wreck. Luckily, the train stayed on track! Some of my favorite songs of the year are from this release. Now, can you imagine if Ace had remained with KISS and some of these songs had found their way on Sonic Boom? But, hey, who am I to complain about TWO great releases? This could possibly be my favorite Ace album.
4. W.A.S.P. – Babylon
Another surprisingly great release for me because I hadn’t followed WASP since Dying for the World and everything since has gotten mixed reviews. This is classic W.A.S.P.
5. Winger – Karma
I did not expect this album to impress me so much. Their previous release 2006’s IV is probably one of my least favorite albums from that year but they really rebounded (and redeemed themselves) with this one — it’s a mix of ’80s Winger, ’90s Winger and modern Winger.
6. Megadeth – Endgame
I didn’t swoon all over this album like some did, but it was still good enough to make the list. A definite grower, but it deserves to be spotlighted as one of the year’s best as Dave keeps crankin’ out fine heavy metal.
7. Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud
I caught off guard by this one this year because I had never heard of Johnny Lima before. I listened to a few samples online and fell in love with what I heard — a modern pop metal masterpiece with bits of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. Just a fantastic melodic hard rock release. I’ve seen this one popping up on a number of “best of 2009” lists and good for Johnny — he deserves the recognition.
8. Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know
I was letdown by this album when it came out. There are too many mid-tempo numbers for me and times when the album just crawls, but anytime you have the Dio edition of Black Sabbath, you’re going to get some really good stuff.
9. Great White – Rising
Some people didn’t like this one citing is as being too mellow but I don’t see how it’s any more mellow than any of their previous efforts. Despite the band’s troubles in this decade, they’ve managed to release three great albums since 1999 so it’s amazing to me that they don’t have more of a buzz going for them in the ’80s rock and melodic rock communities.
10. Saxon – Into the Labyrinth
My first Saxon album and after hearing it, I don’t plan on letting it be my last. There’s a great old school NWOBHM vibe to this one.
Want more 2009 lists? Don’t forget to check out these great sites doing their own wrap-ups: