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The Best of 2008!

In addition to my top picks for 2008, you can also read the top 5 picks from Mike, Pete, and Ty. Since we all have different tastes, it makes more sense to see different folks' opinions.


Dan's Picks for the Best of 2008

...and I thought picking last year was tough. Sheesh! 2008 was actually tougher than 2007 for me to pick, but for different reasons. Rather than not having releases that stood head and shoulders above the rest, this year there were too many top notch releases that (a) stood above the rest of the field, and at the same time (b) were too close to one another in their supreme quality. I probably shuffled my top 5-8 CDs around a half dozen times, and in all honesty I'm *still* not sold on the final order. In my opinion, 2008 was the best release year I can remember in the last 15-20 years.

A few thoughts:

  • Was 2008 the "Year of the Comeback Album?" Some classic groups released new material after LOOOOOONG hiatuses. Incredibly solid releases from AC/DC, Motley Crue, Journey, and Guns N Roses (whodathunk?).

  • For those of us who usually bask in the aural glow of tried-and-true traditional hard rock and AOR, this year brought out some new surprises in "modern" hard rock. Rather than the vintage sound providing the greatest buzz, in my opinion the most pleasant surprises came from bands not normally thought of in the genres we enjoy here.

The Also Rans

Androids - Let It All Out
Bassinvaders - Hellbassbeaters
Circle II Circle - Delusions of Grandeur
Crown of Thorns - Faith
Cruella D'ville - Showdown in Tinsel Town
Dark Sky - Empty Faces
Def Leppard - Songs from the Sparkle Lounge
Disciple - Southern Hospitality
Dreamtide - Dream and Deliver
Eclipse - Are You Ready to Rock
Eden's Curse - Seven Deadly Sins
Elevener - When Kaleidoscopes Collide
Fight - A Small Deadly Space Remixed/Remastered
Fight - Mutations Remastered
Fight - War of Words Remixed/Remastered
Flash Addict - Live Fast... Die Pretty
From the Inside - Visions
Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy
HIM - Digitile Versatile Doom
Hardreams - The Road Goes On...
Harem Scarem - Hope
Honeymoon Suite - Clifton Hill
House of Lords - Come to My Kingdom
Johnny Crash - Unfinished Business
Judas Priest - Nostradamus
Khymera - The Greatest Wonder
Lande, Jorn - Lonely Are the Brave
Lessdress - Dumblondes
Masque - Face First
Ramos-Hugo - The Dream
Ra - Black Sun
Revolution Renaissance - New Era
Saint Deamon - In Shadows Lost from the Brave
Southern Gentlemen - Valley of Fire
Starbreaker - Love's Dying Wish
Thunder - Bang!
Whitesnake - Good To Be Bad
Within Temptation - Black Symphony
Work of Art - Artwork

Honorable Mentions

AC/DC - Black Ice. Long awaited, and well worth the wait. AC/DC has made a career out of releasing the same album 20 times, but hey, if it works, why not?
Black Tide - Light From Above. Incredibly crisp and polished blend of hard rock from a bunch of TEENAGERS, fer cryin' out loud! Warriors of Time is huge.
Blessed by a Broken Heart - Pedal to the Metal. This one is so strange, you just have to marvel at it. It's nu-metal and vintage 80s hard rock and 80s pop all blended together. Absolutely bizarre! Don't believe me? Check out Doing It (6.8MB, 320kbps) Give it a full listen... it's something else. Really. It won't hurt. Much.
Hinder - Take It to the Limit. Extremely melodic, sounds like Harem Scarem for a new age, but kinda trite lyrically. Wins the award for best cover art though. ;)
Jamison, Jimi - Crossroads Moment. Sounds like Jimi is back in the late 1980s again. This is true vintage AOR! This CD slid in and out of my top 5 for the year several times.
Journey - Revelation (CD + DVD). Another great comeback album. Arnel does the heritage of Journey proud.
Kissin' Dynamite - Steel of Swabia. Another group of youngsters, kicking out a cross between Edguy and Crashdiet. Very melodic stuff. Formulaic, but enjoyable.
Leverage - Blind Fire. Sophomore release is quite solid.
Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles. Another comeback, and this one was a surprise. MUCH better than anticipated. Balls out!
Rockarma - Bring It!. Well-produced, well-executed, polished melodic rock. Quite refreshing.

Dan's Winners

5th Place

cover Marcello Vestry - S/T. Excellent slice of melodic rock! Well polished and memorable choruses. The Danger Danger comparisons are spot on. My favorite track is All I Wanna Do (10MB, 320kbps). The chorus is killer!

4rd Place

cover Nickelback - Dark Horse. I'll admit that I never really followed their previous material, so this one cought me out of the blue. Classified as "modern rock," but this one has MANY aspects of traditional melodic hard rock. Mutt Lange's signature touches really add to the disc as well. This disc has both memorable ballads and rockers. It was hard to pick a favorite track from the disc to showcase here, as I have several, and after a few more repeated listens, I've decided to giveit to Burn It to the Ground (8MB, 320kbps).

3rd Place

cover Disturbed - Indestructible. This one resided in my CD player and MP3 player almost nonstop for about a month this summer. I've always loved their stuff, and was hoping this newest release wouldn't let me down. It didn't. In my opinion this is their finest work. Moreover, the production quality and mix are leaps and bounds above their previous efforts. Good music for driving and/or venting your frustrations. ;) My favorite cut is Criminal (9.8MB, 320kbps). Another one where the chorus makes the song.

2nd Place

cover Shinedown - The Sound of Madness. A phenomenal slice of modern melodic rock. I hadn't heard their previous efforts, but heard some good buzz about this one. The buzz, if anything, was understated. No filler on this disc at all. The strongest works on the disc are the ballads, which are poignant and simply wonderful. My favorite track is Second Chance (8.4MB, 320kbps). Just a beautiful song.

Dan's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2008 CD of the Year

cover Brother Firetribe - Heart Full of Fire. This is a first. Brother Firetribe is my first ever repeat winner of CD of the Year! Their debut False Metal won CD of the Year in 2006. I was worried that they might fall prey to the sophomore slump, but I needn't have worried, for as much as I loved their first CD, this one raises the music to a new level. The production and mix are better and the songs are better. There are ZERO fillers on this disc, and the more prominent role of the keyboards REALLY adds a lushness to the overall sound. Throughout the year, despite my enjoying plenty of other releases, I constantly kept coming back to this one... over... and over... and over. While many "Top X" lists become victim of the "most recently released" phenomenon, where releases from the last month or two tend to dominate the results, there was never the danger of this one falling through the cracks. It's THAT good. My favorite track (and also my overall song of the year) is Going Out With a Bang (9MB, 320kbps)



Mike's Picks for the Best of 2008

The Also Rans

AC/DC - Black Ice
Alliance - Road to Heaven
Androids - Let It All Out
Beretta Jane - Die 4 U
Biloxi - III In The Wake of The Storm
Black Tide - Light From Above
Bombay Black - Psycho Magnet
Michael Bormann - Capture the Moment
Cruella D'ville - Showdown in Tinsel Town
Dimage - It Takes Time: 1991-1993
Disciple - Southern Hospitality
Don Dokken - Solitary
Eden's Curse - Seven Deadly Sins
Extreme - Saudades de Rock
Fire With Fire - Fire With Fire
From The Inside - Visions
Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy
Gypsy Rose - Another World
Tony Harnell - Cinematic
Hinder - Take It to the Limit
House of Lords - Come to My Kingdom
Hungryheart - Hungryheart
Jimi Jamison - Crossroads Moment
Johnny Crash - Unfinished Business
Jones Street - Dancin' With the Devil
Kutless - To Know That You're Alive
Letter 7 - Follow the Light
Leverage - Blind Fire
George Lynch - Scorpion Tales
M.ILL.ION - Thrill Of The Chase
Yngwie Malmsteen - Perpetual Flame
Masque - Face First
Metallica - Death Magnetic
Midnite Club - Circus of Life
Miss Crazy - II
Axel Rudi Pell - Tales of the Crown
Pleasure Dome - For Your Personal Amusement
Poley/Rivera - Only Human
Ramos-Hugo - The Dream
Ra - Black Sun
Shannon - Angel in Disguise
Silent Rage - Four Letter Word
Soul Doctor - That's Live!
Souls Of We - Let The Truth Be Known
Starbreaker - Love's Dying Wish
Stone Gods - Burn The Witch
Syrym - Syrym
Trixter - Alive in Japan
Valentine - Soul Salvation
White Lion - Return of the Pride
White Wolf - Live in Germany
Wired Desire - Barely Illegal
Work of Art - Artwork
XX Badboy - Fire in the Hole
XYZ - The Best of

Honorable Mentions

Big Cock - Motherload. Another excellent dose of sleazy hard rock from Robert Mason and the guys!
Buckcherry - Black Butterfly. Great follow-up to 15; another killer slab of sleazy, ass kickin' hard rock from Josh Todd and company
Def Leppard - Songs From the Sparkle Lounge. While not up to the lofty standards of their past, Lep deliver another set of catchy, uptempo hard rockers
Eden's Curse - The Second Coming. A kickass follow up to their self titled debut, which actually takes things up a notch in my opinion
Gemini Five - Sex Drugs Anarchy. Third time's the charm for these Swedish sleaze masters; a killer set of sleaze/glam rockers!
GrimmStine - GrimmStine. My favorite melodic metal release of the year.A blistering, yet melodic, set featuring Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper fame on vocals
H.E.A.T. - H.E.A.T.. Excellent melodic rock from Swedish newcomers H.E.A.T.; this release received serious Top 5 consideration
Sammy Hagar - Cosmic Universal Fashion. Eclectic & disjointed, but somehow, because it's Sammy, it works. I love it!
Harem Scarem - MelodicRock EP. A nice little acoustic farewell...
Journey - Revelation. Fantastic return to form for Schon & the boys with new frontman Arnel Pineda leading the way
Marcello/Vestry - Marcello/Vestry. This a great disc chock full of Danger Danger inspired melodic rock; this one was considered for my Top 5 as well
Mennen - Planet Black. Not as good as their previous studio effort, "Freakazoid", but with tunes like "Power to the Bone" this one still packs a helluva nice punch
Nickelback - Dark Horse. Not quite as good as 2005's "All the Right Reasons" in my opinion, but still another damn fine modern rock release from Chad Kroeger & Co.
Saints Of The Underground - Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner. A nice set of catchy, very memorable tunes from this Jani Lane led all-star project
Tesla - Forever More. It was damn tough for me to leave "Forever More" outta my top 5, as I simply love this one! "I Wanna Live" & "Pvt. Ledbetter are two of my favorite songs from 2008. Tesla deliver another ass kickin' release!

Mike's Winners

5th Place

cover Whitesnake - Good to Be Bad. Wow,to be honest, I wasn't expecting a lot from Mr. Coverdale and his latest group of hired hands, but "Good to Be Bad" contains some damn excellent hard rock. Aldrich & Beach lay down some great guitar work here, and Coverdale himself is in top form. "All I Want All I Need" is one of the top songs of 2008 in my opinion. A fantastic release which hearkens back to the snake's late 80s glory days.

4rd Place

cover Shinedown - The Sound of Madness. Simply put, this is modern hard rock at its finest. Shinedown have combined the big hooks & choruses that we loved in the 80s with an updated, modern sound, and have knocked it outta the park on this one. While "Devour" and "Second Chance" are great songs, the title track, "SSound of Madness", kicks more ass than should be allowed! Great stuff!

3rd Place

cover Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles. SOLA is a nostalgic look back through the years with Sunset Strip legends Motley Crue. This is another release that I really wasn't expecting a great deal from, and as it turns out, I love it! "Down at The Whisky", "Saints of Los Angeles" & "The Animal in Me" are personal faves of mine, and helped place this one firmly in my top 5.

2nd Place

cover Brother Firetribe - Heart Full of Fire. "False Metal" was my top CD of 2006, and the boys from Finland damn near pulled off the top spot again here in 2008 with the excellent "Heart Full of Fire". 11 tracks of power AOR bliss are what's offered up here, with "Runaways", "Heard it on My Radio" and "Chasing the Angels" being the best out of an incredible group of songs. Well done once again guys!

Mike's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2008 CD of the Year

cover Dokken - Lightning Strikes Again. What can I say? Dokken have been my favorite band since 1984's "Tooth & Nail", so I'm probably just a wee bit prejudiced when it comes to the majority of their releases. With that said, "Lightning Strikes Again" is an absolute killer return to form for Don's namesake, and easily my most played and favorite disc of 2008. From the all out rock assault of "Point of No Return" & "Sunset Superstar" to mid-tempo tracks like "Give Me a Reason" and "Heart to Stone" (my personal fave!) and the beautiful ballad "How I Miss Your Smile", this one truly offers up a little something for everyone. Jon Levin tears it up on guitar, while Mick and Barry do their usual fine job on bass & drums. And yes, it may be true that Don can no longer hit the same high notes that he did back in the glory days of "Back For the Attack", but he still has one of the most distinctive voices in hard rock in my opinion, and I think he does a damn fine job here. While 2004's "Hell To Pay" came up a little short of expectations, "Lightning Strikes Again" has lived up to them, and then some! Great CD guys!



Pete's Picks for the Best of 2008

2008 was possibly the best year for new releases that I've seen in over a decade. Not only were there a ton of great melodic rock releases, but it seems like modern rock has started to shy away from detuned untalented droning and has matured, now adding melody, hooks and all kinds of good stuff. It is for this reason that I've included a few modern releases that to me certainly fit within the overall genre of "melodic rock", at least in my opinion! As usual, I was unable to afford to pick up everything I wanted, and this year was especially prolific in terms of the shear number of quality releases.

The Also Rans

Big Cock - Motherload
Brother Firetribe - Heart Full of Fire
Alice Cooper - Along Came a Spider
Def Leppard - Songs From the Sparkle Lounge
Dirty Looks - Superdeluxe
Extreme - Saudades de Rock
Gypsy Rose - Another World
Hinder - Take it to the Limit
Ari Koivunen - Becoming
Mad Max - Here We Are
Nickelback - Dark Horse
Tesla - Forevermore
Motorhead - Motorizer
Judas Priest - Nostradamus
Rev Theory - Light it Up
Seether - Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
Faith Circus - S/T

Honorable Mentions

AC/DC - Black Ice. Yep, still sounds like AC/DC... and that's all you would want from them anyway!
Bombay Black - Psycho Magnet. Driving, yet melodic hard rock with a killer production.
Rockarma - Bring It!.. Yeah, I'm a little biased, but honestly I would have bought it even if I wasn't in the band. Damon Kelly knows how to write a hook!
Shinedown - The Sound of Madness. Modern rock for sure, but melodic as hell and just a damn fine CD.
Buckcherry - Black Butterfly. The good, the bad, and the ugly... consistently pleasing and sleazing.
Dokken - Lightning Strikes Again. Damned if this doesn't sound just like the Dokken of old, but could have a little more heart in it IMO. Levin is a SMOKIN' player though, that's for sure.
House of Lords - Come to my Kingdom. Lush, with huge choruses and Christian's soulful voice. Well worth a listen if you haven't heard it yet.
Guns 'n' Roses - Chinese Democracy. Surprisingly passionate and dynamic throughout. As mentioned above, one of the more interesting albums to be released this year.
Khymera - The Greatest Wonder. Amazing choruses and hooks. In lesser years, this would have been easily in my top 5!
Disturbed - Indestructible. Once again, Disturbed delivers a consistently driving, yet surprisingly melodic CD with little if any filler.
Black Stone Cherry - Folklore and Superstition. Killer modern hard rock disc, with obvious nods to both classic 70's hard rock as well as a little Southern Rock. Another one close to the top 5 for me.
Talon - Fallen Angels. Solid hard rock with a killer production by Ty Sims, what's not to love?

Pete's Winners

5th Place

cover Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles. Possibly the toughest choice for me to make this got in a hair ahead of the new G'n'R, which to me is possibly the most interesting album released this year, but "interesting" shouldn't get you a top spot IMO. SOLA is a gritty album that sounds like it was taken right from the streets of LA... the catch? ...it sounds more like it was taken from the streets of today as opposed to the 80's. SOLA portrays a band that's seen it's share of hard times, but keeps going, and above all still knows how to have a little fun doing it. The creative influence of DJ Ashba (Beautiful Creatures, Sixx AM) brings this all together in a sleazy, yet modern sounding package with a great production.

4rd Place

cover Marcello Vestry - S/T. Sounding more like the unreleased 2nd disc from Danger Danger's "Screw It!" sessions, this is what many would call "hair metal", plain and simple. Frank Vestry's melodic approach and monster choruses thanks to D2's Bruno Ravel producing, paired with Rob Marcello's relentlessly melodic shredding brings back memories of the dynamic shared by Poley and Timmons. Big, BIG production and almost all killer, no filler makes this a shoe in for a top 5 spot this year. It also makes me hope that this is a precursor to the kind of material we'll hear on the new D2 record as Ravel and Marcello are both a part of that project as well.

3rd Place

cover Metallica - Death Magnetic. Apparently Hetfield and Co. also received the memo about 2008 being the year to return to form, and responded by releasing this slab of punishing, pounding metal sounding more like "And Justice for all..." or "Ride The Lightning" than anything they've released since a ways back. I was admittedly doubtful, even after hearing the first single, but I bought into the hype and pre-ordered it... I was not let down. From the first haunting strains of "That Was Just Your Life" to the closing credenza of "My Apocalypse" this grabbed my brain by the throat and threw me back in time to seeing these guys at L'Amour on the Ride The Lightning tour... you remember that don't you? Back when they had BALLS! Well guess what, they grew back... m/

2nd Place

cover Journey - Revelation. With the addition of new frontman and Steve Perry soundalike Arnel Pineda, this is Journey reborn. The band still clearly knows how to write a melodic hook and reaches a little further back in their career stylistically with a number of tracks reminiscent of the "Evolution" era while still giving it a fresh feel. Also included in an awesome 3-dics package from Wal-Mart is a second disc of classic Journey tunes revisitied, re-recorded,a dn sung by the aforementioned Pineda who sings them with the passion of someone who truly loves this band and the opportunity it's given him. As a side note with 3 discs (2 CD's and a DVD) this easily checks in as the bargain of the year!

Pete's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2008 CD of the Year

cover Whitesnake - Good to Be Bad. The Whitesnake album I've been waiting for since the awesome "1987". Coverdale sounds almost as good as he did 20 years ago, and add to that the combination of one of my favorite guitarists, Doug Aldrich, along with Reb Beach and Tommy Aldridge filling out the cast of characters, this is balls out, blues drenched hard rock euphoria. The songwriting and overall style is a potent blend of the classic blues-based 'snake coupled with the pyrotechnic over-the-top feel of "1987". Still maintains a regular presence in my CD player months after I picked it up.



Ty's Picks for the Best of 2008

First, a special award: Stinker of the Year/Decade awarded to Guns N'Roses - Chinese Democracy: Well... Under a different name, this may have fared a little better, but with 14 years, too many members come and gone, multiple guitar tracks, sequencers, and overproduction... This one went through the bottom of the barrel for me.

The Also Rans

Avian - Ashes And Madness
Bombay Black - Psycho Magnet
Brother Firetribe - Heart Full of Fire
Buckcherry - Black Butterfly
China Blue - Twilight Of Destiny
Dirty Looks - Superdeluxe
Disturbed - Indestructible
Dokken - Lightning Strikes Again
Dragonforce - Ultrabeatdown
Eden's Curse - The Second Coming
Honeymoon Suite - Clifton Hill
House of Lords - Come to My Kingdom
Kissin' Dynamite - Steel of Swabia
M.ILL.ION - Thrill Of The Chase
Miss Crazy - Miss Crazy II
Axel Rudi Pell - Tales of the Crown
The Offspring - Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
Pleasure Dome - For Your Personal Amusement
Pyramaze - Immortal
Ramos/Hugo - The Dream
Ra - Black Sun
Renegade - Straight To The Top
Roulette - Better Late Than Never
Royal Hunt - Paradox II: Collision Course
Shannon - Angel in Disguise
Starbreaker - Love's Dying Wish
Theory Of A Deadman - Scars & Souvenirs
Valentine - Soul Salvation
Vanity Blvd - Rock N Roll Overdose

Honorable Mentions

Pop Evil - Pop Evil. VERY catchy 80's hooks and guitars with modern flair. I blew this one off due to a dumb name, and kicked myself after hearing it.
Rockarma - Bring It. What can we say... It's Pete! Great Axework and catchy tunes. Easy to "Rock Out" to.
Voodoo Circle - Voodoo Circle. Alex Beyrodt teams with with Pink Cream 69's David Readman and throws a fastball. This release is chauk full of guitar wizzardry and killer vocals.
Hinder - Take It To The Limit. This was in my top 5 until I really started listening to the lyrics and realized they are in a lyrical rut with Sober/Drunk, Breakups and Partying. Other than that, this CD easily topped their debut in my opinion.
Michael Bormann - Capture the Moment. Standard Bormann. This guy writes fantastic tunes and delivers them with finesse.
Def Leppard - Songs From the Sparkle Lounge. I wasn't expecting much from this one after recent releases, but after a while, it grew on me. Now... If they could just get back their rock edge and the Pyromania sound.
Whitesnake - Good to Be Bad. True Whitesnake. David Coverdale NAILED this CD. Fantastic guitar work and productionin the style of their 1987 release.
Dirty Looks - California Free Ride. Another sleazy release from Dirty Looks. Easy to sing along with and tap your foot to.
Edguy - Tinnitus Sanctus. EuroMetal masters to say the least. Easily in the same league as the mighty Iron Maiden and Helloween. I loved this CD.
Saints Of The Underground - Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner. I haven't thought much of Jani Lane as of late, but this release really reminded me of Warrant. If they could have released this instead of that aweful Belly 2 Belly.....
Three Doors Down - Three Doors Down. Another fine release in the chain of 3 Doors Down cd's. Not much change at all, but since it was never broke to begin with....
Khymera - The Greatest Wonder. Great production and vocals from Mr. Dennis Ward of Pink Cream 69.
AC/DC - Black Ice. Typical AC/DC... Nothing More, Nothing Less.

Ty's Winners

5th Place

cover Eclipse - Are You Ready to Rock. I never saw this one coming. I had heard a few samples and from what I had heard, it sounded like the Jake E. Lee of the Ozzy era slinging his mighty axe! Well... it's wasn't Jake E Lee at all, but still the same, this guitarist rocks! Vocally this band compares to Kelly Hanson/Eric Martin/Paul Laine. All around, this is a rocker!

4rd Place

cover Marcello-Vestry - S/T. The Danger Danger comparisons are pretty obvious on this release. Everything from the guitar riffs, lyrics and production are DD-ish, which isn't a bad thing at all. Another fantastic release.

3rd Place

cover Nickelback - Dark Horse. Another fine release by Nickelback. With every release, they get closer and closer to that 80's style vibe without losing their modern edge. The production is spectacular on this release and the choruses are huge. The CD is pretty sexually driven with about half the songs being pretty "Tongue In Cheek". This release was definately worth the wait.

2nd Place

cover Journey - Revelation. Journey is another band that has been barely treading water in recent years, but after a few vocalist changes and a wonderful website known as Youtube, they have found their vocalist in Arnel Pineda. He delivers soul, tone and heart similar to Steve Perry, but still keeps his own identity. The songs on this CD flow together well, except for their tracklist order. Other than a few rearrangements, this cd is perfect Journey. The rerecords of the classics were done well, but the 1st disk of originals could easily stand on their own.

Ty's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2008 CD of the Year

cover Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles. This baby came out of left field and took my head off. The Crue have been barely treading water in recent years, but they truly found thier "attitude" of old and are back with a vengeance. Everything clicked with this CD from the guitar riffs to the lyrics and HUGE choruses.



Existing comments about Best of 2008

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 8, 2014 at 12:35
Tstmt: The Formation Of Damnation; Airbourne: Running Wild; Texas Hippie Coalition: Pride Of Texas; Tesla: FOrever More; Sister Sin: Switchblade Serenades; ... Man, this was a tough year.


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