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The Best of 2006!

In addition to my top picks for 2006, you can also read the top 5 picks from Mike and Pete. Since we all have different tastes, it makes more sense to see different folks' opinions.

But First, Something New...
The First Annual BazookaBarf Awards(tm)

Before we got to the best of 2006, I'm doing something new this year: bringing special attention to a release (or releases) that I find especially putrid. It isn't enough to be a bad album... I mean anyone can put out a piece of shit; rap and grunge groups have been making a living doing this for entirely too long. No, in order to win a BazookaBarf, you have to start with something that has potential in some way, shape, or form, whether it be the personnel involved, the songwriter(s), producers, etc. and then just completely miss the mark when it comes to the final release. There has to be some anticipation that is completely and utterly destroyed. It's as if you go through six of the seven stages of grief upon hearing the album, but never making it to "Acceptance and Hope"... just Anger and Depression.

I am awarding the 2006 BazookaBarf Award to a trio of CDs that sound worse than the rawest demos one could imagine. Recorded in abandonded outhouses around the world. Some raving genius thought they'd save a buck and record the bands in one take, using a mono microphone, straight to 64kbps mp3. Well, not really, but if they spent more than $1.97 on the mixing process they got ripped off.

  1. Zion - S/T. Whadafuq? After releasing this dreck, Freddy Curci better be living under an Alias or else the Sheriff is going to lock his ass up. Quite a few of the songs have potential, but the sound is gawdawful! I might expect such lofty fidelity from bands like Emperor, or Mayhem, but somehow I don't think even black facepaint is going to help Freddy live this one down. Egads.

  2. Ten - The Essential Collection 1995-2005. Mkay, the idea when reissuing material is usually NOT to make it sound worse. Somehow this concept eluded Gary and the boys. As poor as the original mix was on a lot of the original tracks, I was ecstatic when I learned they were getting a "new" treatment. Finally! They would get the clean mix and production these masterful songs deserve!!! Not so much. Defying all human logic (and methinks relying on the crack pipe a wee bit too much), they decided to make the songs sound rawer. Rawer.... Scuse me? If I want shit this raw I'll run the neighbor's chihuahua through a meat grinder. It will taste better than this pile sounds... I want to bill the band for therapy after having actually spent hard-earned money on this feeble excuse for a coaster.

  3. Anderssen Mills Project - Crank It Up. Close... "smoking crank" is what I think Tony Mills was doing when he decided to release this. When I got this in the mail unexpectedly, I was stoked. I love Tony's work with Shy and Siam. And I was looking forward to hearing his voice in fine form... unfortunately you'll need to buy some other CD in order to hear that, cuz there ain't no "fine form" to be found anywhere on this CD. Tony spends most of his time shouting rather than singing and playing a punk rocker wannabe. To rub salt in the wound, not only is this CD musically horrific, but it sounds like it was recorded and mixed by someone who flunked out of the St. Anger School of Music. It's noisy and shrill... and even when it's not, it's STILL noisy and shrill. The only saving grace about my attempts to listen to this eardrum-rupturing slice of septic sewage, was that I hadn't actually spent money on the CD. If I had, I'd be filing a lawsuit against the band for mental trauma...

Dan's Picks for Best of 2006

The Also Rans

Alleycat Scratch - Deadboys in Trash City (CD + DVD)
Altaria - The Fallen Empire
Ambition - Ambition
BB Steal - Resurrection
Backwash - Kick Ass!
Bang Tango - From the Hip
Benedictum - Uncreation
Beyond Fear - Beyond Fear
Blind Guardian - A Twist in the Myth
Bon Jovi - Live from the Have a Nice Day Tour
Bonfire - Double X
Bonfire - The Early Days of Bonfire (5-CD Box)
Compilation - Swedish Sleaze & Rock 'N Roll
Dirty Rhythm - Never Cleaned Up
Dream Evil - United (Limited Edition)
Edguy - Rocket Ride
Europe - Secret Society
Faro - Angelost
Fraze Gang - Fraze Gang
Frontline - Circles + Heroes
HIM - Uneasy Listening Vol. 1
Heavy Pettin - Pettology Box
Hotwire - Devil in Disguise
Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death (Limited Edition)
Lacuna Coil - Karmacode
Lost Weekend - Forever Moving On
MacMaster, Daniel - Rock Bonham and the Long Road Back
Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell III, The Monster Is Loose
Nightwish - Highest Hopes (Best of Nightwish)
Opeth - Ghost Reveries (CD + DVD Digipak Reissue)
Pell, Axel Rudi - Mystica
Petra - The Praise Collection
Queensryche - Operation MindCrime (Deluxe Edition Reissue)
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime II
Rain - Stronger
Rainbow - Deutschland Tournee 1976 (Boxed Set)
Royal Hunt - 2006 Live
Sweet Teaze - Groovin' on the Backside
Talisman - 7
Tara's Secret - Tomorrow the World
Ten - The Twilight Chronicles
Terashain - Dawns Early Life
Those Charming Bastards - To Hell With Rock 'n Roll
Three Legged Dogg - Frozen Summer
Three Wishes - In Your Eyes
Threshold - Surface to Stage
Tigertailz - Bezerk 2.0
Toto - Falling In Between
Twisted Sister - A Twisted Christmas
Valentine - The Most Beautiful Pain
Vicious Rumors - Warball
White Lion - Anthology '83-'89
Winters Bane - Redivivus
Zeno - Runway to the Gods

Honorable Mentions

Andersen, Laine, Readman - III. Members of Pink Cream 69 and Royal Hunt join to make a solid one-off project. A little too much filler though
Cannata - Mysterium Magnum. Excellent combination of new and reworked vintage material. Excellent production
Chicago - XXX Seriously good comeback from this classic westcoast group
Circle II Circle - Burden of Truth. Zak Stevens and company provide an excellent disc for fans of latter-era Savatage. Better than the second album.
Falconer - Northwind. Original lead vocalist is back with the band, and it shows! The only thing keeping this album from being ranked higher for me was that after a while a lot of the songs starts ounding "samey."
Final Frontier - Freelight. A lot of folks don't care for Rob Moratti's vox, but I do. The songs are excellent, but the production is a little thin.
Jesse Strange - Looking for Some Strange. Talk about a comeback album after a long hiatus! Wasn't expecting this one, but it's extremely solid!
Leverage - Tides + 2. Take the melodic prog of Threshold and then toss Brother Firetribe's lead vocalist into the mix. Great to listen to, although individual songs aren't overly memorable.
Slamer - Nowhere Land. Extremely melodic AOR with some great songs, but I found my attention wandering too much throughout.
Survivor - Reach. This comeback is MUCH better than I expected. Much like the vintage Survivor we all remember.

Special Honorable Mention

Muse - Black Holes and Revelations. This one *almost* made it into my top 5 for 2006. Modern rock/pop along the lines of Depeche Mode meets Queen. The final track, Knights of Cydonia, is pure genius! If you're in your 30s or 40s, you'll love the video over at YouTube (you'll want to enlarge it though to catch all the action). Take spaghetti western, add parody of David Carradine's Kung Fu, and cheesy 1970s Science Fiction, then throw it to music. To quote Guiness: Brilliant! I couldn't put the CD in my top 5 just on the strength of one song though. The rest of the album is OK, but not stellar.

Dan's Winners:

5th Place

cover Fair Warning - Brother's Keeper. What can I say? I'm biased when it comes to Fair Warning. Given how despondent diehard fans were when the band broke up, who could anticipate that they would come back with an album 6 years later that sounds like they were only apart for a few weeks? The albums biggest strength is that it does not disappoint, as is so often the case with "reunion" or "comeback" albums. Unlike previous Fair Warning albums though, I think the strength is more in the rockers than the ballads.

4th Place

cover Wig Wam - Wig Wamania. Having not listened to their ealier efforts, my first thought when receiving this was "Great... another glam CD." Au contraire. While there is attitude a-plenty, there is also lots of melody that will appeal to all melodic rock fans. Very accessible. Standout tracks are At the End of the Day and Gonna Get You Someday.

3rd Place

cover House of Lords - World Upside Down. Aww, hell yeah! In my opinion this is the best work HoL has ever done. Lots of memorable hooks, and These Are the Times and Million Miles Away just decimate the competition. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if Gregg Giuffria's keys were a bit more prominent.

2nd Place

cover Sunstorm - Sunstorm. Talk about coming out of nowhere! Probably the best "pure" or "classic" AOR album I've heard in years! Not only is Joe Lynn Turner in fine form, but the SONGS are phenomenal. There is no filler here from start to finish.

Dan's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2006 CD of the Year!

cover Brother Firetribe - False Metal. I simply cannot stop playing this CD. This one CD has memorable choruses than all the other discs I've listened to combined (well not really, but you get the idea). This album presses all the right buttons when it comes to riffs and hooks. The choruses are infectious (makes for great driving music). The songs exude power throughout. Solid use of keyboards without going over the top. A couple of the ballads are a little weak, but the strong tracks FAR FAR outweigh those. The back-to-back lineup of Devil's Daughter, Midnite Queen, and the absolutely phenomenal One Single Breath is the best threepeat I've heard in a looooooong time. Great sing-along material for lovers of Scanid AOR!

Mike's Picks for Best of 2006

The Also Rans

7thdb - Rewind
Akira Kajiyama Joe Lynn Turner - Fire Without Flame
Axel Rudi Pell - Mystica
BB Steal - Resurrection
Backwash - Kick Ass!
Barracuda - Unacceptable Practices
Blacklist Union - After The Mourning
Bombay Black - Junk Food
Brinx - Rain On The City
Def Leppard - Yeah!
Defcon - Defcon
Demon Angels - Time Of Confusion
Final Frontier - Freelight
Franky Dee - If I Had A Fortune
Frontline - Circles
Godsmack - IV
Gotthard - Made In Switzerland
Harem Scarem - Human Nature
Hellrazor - Feel The Sting
Herazz - Herazz
Jeff Scott Soto - Essential Ballads
Kidd Blue - Big Trouble
Manila Thrills - Tomorrow's Waiting
Mennen - Freakalive
Michael Bormann - Conspiracy
Motley Crue - Carnival Of Sins Live
Nitro Tokyo - Hell Yeah
Pete Moss - Live Dirty
Poison - The Best Of Poison: 20 Years Of Rock
Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime II
Ra - Raw
Robby Valentine - Most Beautiful Pain
Rock Star Supernova - Rock Star Supernova
Shameless - Now Playing
Skid Row - Revolutions Per Minute
Skin Kandy - Matters Of The Flesh
Smash Alley - Too Late To Say No
Snake Eye - Ritual Instinct
Speedy Gonzales - Electric Stalker
Survivor - Reach
Sweet Teaze - Groovin on the Backside
The Last Vegas - Seal The Deal
Tracy Starr - Tracy Starr
Treat - Weapons of Choice 1984-2006
Vains Of Jenna - Lit Up / Let Down
Winger - IV
XL New York - Walkin New York
ZO2 - Ain't It Beautiful

Honorable mentions

Babylon Bombs - Doin' You Nasty. Good sleazy hard rock from Sweden's Babylon Bombs!
Big Cock - Big Cock. Sleazy hard rock done up right!
Bombay Black - Anger Management. This one just missed my top 5; great release featuring one of my favorite songs of the year, "Masochistic Love Song"
Corabi, John - Uncovered. A very cool collection of Corabi's cover tunes
Daughtry - S/T. Great modern rock release from the former American Idol contestant
Hagar, Sammy - Livin' It Up. A truly laid back effort from the Red Rocker; quite enjoyable if you just wanna sit back with a cold brew and soak up the sun
Jesse Strange - Looking For Some Strange. Monster comeback release from Jesse Strange, and another disc that just missed my top 5!
Krokus - Hellraiser. Surprisingly strong CD from Swiss veterans Krokus; well worth grabbing if you enjoy their previous work.
Mirror Mirror - Kick It! Where did these guys come from??? Great AOR/melodic rock release; check 'em out if you haven't already!
Miss Crazy - Miss Crazy. Excellent stuff! Fans of Cinderella should grab this one immediately!
Papa Roach - The Paramour Sessions. Great modern hard rock from Papa Roach: "What Do You Do?" is a monster power ballad!
Paul Stanley - Live To Win. Too short, but other than that, a really strong effort from the Kiss frontman!
Poley, Ted - Collateral Damage. Good release from the former, and now again Danger Danger frontman; classy stuff!
Poodles, The - Metal Will Stand Tall. Another one that just missed my top 5; a more "metallic" version of Wig Wam if you will, these guys crank out some great tunes, with "Don't Give up on Love" being my fave. Damn fine release!
Quiet Riot - Rehab. Surprisingly strong disc from Dubrow & Co; much better than expected!
Rain - Stronger. Second release from Michael Bormann's Rain; I prefer this one to his solo disc "Conspiracy"
Slamer - Nowhere Land. This one features one of the BEST songs of the year, "Jaded"; simply awesome power ballad!
Snakeryder - Back For The Kill. Excellent sophomore release from Jersey rockers Snakeryder; Y&T fans should grab this immediately!
Sunstorm - Sunstorm. Great release featuring the always impressive Joe Lynn Turner
Sweet Cheater - Eatin' Ain't Cheatin'. Excellent "hair band" release from Perris Records. "Summer" is another of the year's best tunes!

Special Honorable Mention

Buckcherry - 15. This was technically out in much of the world late in 2005, so I won't include it in my 2006 "Best Of" list, but without doubt, I listened to "15" more than any other CD this year. Just an all-round ass-kicker of a CD from Josh Todd and the boys. "Crazy Bitch" is sleazy hard rock at its finest, and slow tracks like the beautiful "Carousel" and "Sorry" make this one phenomenal release!

Mike's Winners:

5th Place

cover Funny Money - Stick It!. I always enjoyed Kix' music back in the day, and to be honest, I've enjoyed Funny Money's releases even more. Stick It! is easily the group's best release to date, and features some of the catchiest tunes they've ever written. Songs like "Crush", "Big Bang Boom", & "Fool's Confession" will have you spinning this one over and over. Great effort!

4th Place

cover Warrant - Born Again. Many folks weren't expecting a whole lot from a Warrant release without Jani Lane, but in my opinion, the down boys more than delivered on this one. With Jamie St. James now handling the vocal duties, "Born Again" is more akin to Black n Blue than the "classic" Warrant sound, but that's ok, as Black n Blue always rocked too! "Hell, CA" is one of the catchiest songs of the year, and along with other great tunes like "Bourbon County Line" and "Glimmer", this one has received repeated spins from me throughout 2006!

3rd Place

cover Wig Wam - Wig Wamania. Wig Wam return with their sophomore effort, and have actually eclipsed their first release, "Hard to Be a Rock n Roller…". This one features some of the most memorable songs of the year such as "Slave to Your Love", "Bygone Zone", and "Dare Devil Heat" and has proven Wig Wam to be a force to be reckoned with in the world of hard rock. I can't wait to see what these guys come up with for their third release; could they possibly get better?

2nd Place

cover House of Lords - World Upside Down. After disappointing many fans with 2004's "The Power and the Myth", James Christian and company return with an impressive release titled "World Upside Down" . A solid effort from start to finish, this one has received spin after spin from yours truly this year. With songs like "Rock Bottom", "Your Eyes", and the title track, this is one helluva return to form for HoL. Highly recommended!

Mike's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2006 CD of the Year!

cover Brother Firetribe - False Metal. What started out as a "side project" for Nightwish guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, quickly turned into one of the best releases of 2006. With a sound that I would describe as Power AOR, Brother Firetribe have unleashed a truly monstrous effort upon the world with "False Metal". Chock full of excellent songs like "Valerie", "Love Goes Down", Midnite Queen", & "Kill City Kid", this one is excellent from start to finish, with nary a filler in site. In short, if you have not had the pleasure of hearing this one yet, do yourself a favor, and get a copy….NOW!

Pete's Picks for Best of 2006

The Also Rans

Bang Tango - From The Hip
Big Cock - s/t
Black Label Society - Shot To Hell
Bombay Black - Anger Management
Brother Firetribe - False Metal
Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage
Eden's Lie - s/t
Europe - Secret Society
Hagar, Sammy - Livin It Up
O'Hora, Tony - Escape Into The Sun
Pell, Axel Rudi - Mystica
Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime II
Rob Zombie - Educated Horses
Tigertailz - Bezerk 2.0
Tool - 10,000 Days
Vains of Jenna - Lit Up/Let Down
Zeelion - Steel Attack
Zeno - Runway to the Gods

Honorable Mentions

Buckcherry - 15. Nice and sleazy, but not as much passion as the previous two releases IMHO
Edguy - Rocket Ride. This was in my top 5... and then Pretty Maids came out
Evergrey - Monday Morning Apocalypse. Really, really good just a bit heavier than my normal levels, but still really, really good
Frontline - Circles. Aanother fine release from Frontline, but far weaker than some of the previous masterpieces they've put out. It's their own fault for setting my expectations so high...
House Of Lords - World Upside Down. Great release, very close to the top 5
Mad Max - Night of White Rock. Good solid riffs, vocals and production were a little thin marring an otherwise very nice release
Miss Crazy - Miss Crazy. Some killer tracks, but too hit and miss for top honors
Newman - Heaven Knows. I was surprised at how much I liked this consistently good AORish rock release
Poodles, The - Metal Will Stand Tall. A fine release, but overshadowed by the mighty Wig Wam
Smash Alley - Too Late To Say No. Really good tunes, great sleazy vibe, uneven production
Sweet Cheater - Eatin' Ain't Cheatin'. Oh man this one was close, some GREAT stuff on here, but again too hit and miss overall
Z02 - Ain't It Beautiful. Really killer release and a great band to boot, not quite enough hooks to pull it up into the top spots

Pete's Winners:

5th Place

cover Warrant - Born Again. Yeah I know, it's not "Cherry Pie" but this is one damn fine release, make no mistake. Singalong chrouses abound and the musicianship is as always super tight as one would expect from these guys. For the most part a heavier release than the Warrant of back in the day, the ballad "Glimmer" can't hold a candle to an "I Saw Red" but the hooky midtempo rockers are in no short supply. I really wouldn't say any of it is filler, and the standouts for me are "Devil's Juice", "Bourbon County Line", "Angels" and "Down In Diamonds."

4th Place

cover Ted Poley - Collateral Damage. I was waiting for this one and it was just what I was hoping for. No alternamodern leanings here, just the killer melodic songwriting and voice of Mr. Poley combined with a crisp production. A fan of D2, I can't help but be sucked in by "Yeah, You Want It" (featuring an Andy Timmons solo), "Curtain Call", "Endgame", hell I might as well list the whole album... Lots of great guest musicians and extremely solid backing from Vic Rivera bring this all together.

3rd Place

cover Pretty Maids - Wake Up To The Real World. Solid release, very little to complain about and much to enjoy. From the riffy beginnings of the midtempo title track, it doesn't fail to disappoint. Nice variety as well, shifting from the quicker numbers ala "All in the Name of Love" and "Brave Young Breed" to the slower, more melodic compositions like "Where Beauty Lies" and "As Guilty As You Are" to the midtempo numbers (my favorite) and topping it all off with a finely executed rendition of Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers", there's something for everyone.

2nd Place

cover Jesse Strange - Lookin' For Some Strange. A bigger production would be my only request for this balls out 80's style rocker. Reminding me of Beau Nasty, Sweet F.A. with a collection of sleaze tinged hard rock songs about girls and drinkin'. Not for the deep thinking prog lover in me, it appeals to my baser instincts and what the hell's wrong with that anyway? My favorite tracks: "If Whiskey Was A Woman", "Bottom Of A Bottle", "Wild Side Of Heaven" and showing their softer side, the pretty ballad "What's Loving For?"

Pete's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2006 CD of the Year!

cover Wig Wam - Wigwamania. Talk about consistent, this blew me away from the first listen. Killer choruses, lots of guitars and a big production. It doesn't get much better than this. My favorite tracks are "Slave to your Love", "Bygone Zone", "Dare Devil Heat" and "At The End Of The Day" but every song has something to offer, even the instrumental packs a good hook. I can honestly say very little came close to this in 2006 and I thought it was a great year overall. That something this phenmomenal can still be released in this day and age gives me a feeling of optimism for the future of the genre.



Existing comments about Best of 2006

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 8, 2014 at 12:22
l Meets Rebel: s/t; Amon Amarth: With Oden On Our Side; Brand New Sin: Tequila; Funny Money: Stick IIt!; Trivium: The Crusade; Kataklysm: In The Arms Of Devastation; Into Eternity: The ScatteringOf Ashes; Buckcherry: 15; Lamb Of God: Sacramemt; Rhino Bucket: And Then It Got Ugly.


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