This week at Hard Rock Hideout, we have our Best of 2011 picks by HRH Staff Writers Ryo Vie, Stone and Rob Rockitt. Check out Ryo Vie’s Top 10 Best Hard Rock Albums of 2011 below!
Another year has passed us by, which means we’ve gone through another year of some great music releases. While I still think that 2010 was a stronger year overall, 2011 did have its share of fantastic releases and magnificent surprises. From an unexpected release by Vain to a mind blowing album from Megadeth, 2011 delivered some real gems. Here now are my picks for the ten best of 2011.
10. Hurtsmile – Hurtsmile
Early in the year, Gary Cherone and his brother Mark released the debut album from their newly formed band, Hurtsmile. The result was spectacular. Taking the funked up, jazz infused hard rock sound of Extreme, and blending it with snippets of modern era music made for an incredible experience. Hurtsmile is unto a class themselves. The disc combined elements of Extreme, Gary’s days in Van Halen, and his more recent solo albums, and combined all the ingredients into an identity that was unique and fun. Hard rocking and filled with gems, Hurtsmile is an album that Gary Cherone fans are bound to love.
9. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
I’m almost positive that it was the last song, “Walk,” that hooked me on the new Foo Fighters record. I’ve never been a huge fan of the band. I’ve enjoyed their music over the years, and the heavier singles, but I would never call myself a “fan.” However, when the movie THOR came out this past spring, it featured the song “Walk” from Wasting Light. As a huge fan of the movie Thor this song resonated with me the first time I heard it. It was the perfect song for the ending sequence. Sometimes songs can leave lasting images in the brain when associated with something that produced great feelings. That song compelled me to check out their latest record. I must admit that I am very glad I did. Wasting Light is chock full of enjoyable gems, hard rockers, and even a ballad or two. The Foo Fighters may be a band that I have to pay more attention to in 2012.
8. Vain – Enough Rope
Once, they were close to being the next darlings of hair metal. Unfortunately, bad timing cost them their chance at superstardom. Now, many years later, Vain has returned with a disc full of spectacular new songs that shows why they could have conquered the metal world more than 20 years ago. Enough Rope is a magnificent album that fans of hard rocking hair metal are going to love. Being able to hear such great guitar licks and the amazing vocals of Davy Vain after all the time that has passed is a real treat. It’s sad that Vain was a victim of bad timing. If you love 80s metal, or any metal, you should definitely pick up a copy of Vain’s Enough Rope. It is one of the greatest records released this year.
7. Bullet – Highway Pirates
Swedish metal act, Bullet, released their sophomore effort, Highway Pirates, this year to the delight of many hard rock fans. Highway Pirates is hard rocking, head banging, guitar shredding, heavy metal mayhem at its finest. The one thing I’ve always liked most about Bullet is lead singer’s Dag Hofer’s voice. He has power and range and can really unleash a metal scream as he does often on Highway Pirates. Packed with exceptional guitar solos and all the metal madness you can handle, Highway Pirates was a phenomenal album and certainly one of 2011’s best.
6. Mr. Big – What If…
One of the best hard rock treats of 2011 was a fully reunited Mr. Big releasing an album of brand new material. The last time the four original members of Mr. Big recorded a new record was in 1996. It was quite a wait for fans to hear new music from this astonishing quartet. Thankfully, 2011 finally saw the wait come to an end, and Mr. Big delivered a rock solid record in What If… From the funk/slap/sensational bass antics of Billy Sheehan to the incredible vocals of Eric Martin, this disc really had it all. Why the album would have sold on nostalgia alone, it was the band’s commitment to deliver something worthy of the Mr. Big moniker that pushed it over the top. You’d be hard pressed to find another record that is so much fun to listen to.
5. Sebastian Bach – Kicking And Screaming
With a brilliant young axe wizard in the mix, Sebastian Bach released a solo album worthy of your hard earned dollars. Before hearing this record, I had no expectations of what it would be. I thought that it might be a decent record, but I didn’t have high hopes. The past couple of years Bach has not shown much, so I figured his new album would be watered down rock. Boy was I wrong! Wrong in a HUGE way! Kicking and Screaming is one of the most superb albums of 2011. Not only does young guitar wizard, Nick Sterling, light up the songs with his astounding fret work, but Bach’s voice has never sounded stronger. Kicking and Screaming is a collection of greatness that blew me away. This is truly Sebastian Bach at his best.
4. Whitesnake – Forevermore
Even after rocking the world for over 30 years, David Coverdale can still put together music with meaning that fans will care about. This year’s Forevermore was a treat for the ears that was highly unexpected. Sure, I figured that Whitesnake was going to release a solid album in Forevermore, I just didn’t realize how amazing it was going to be. From the moment I played the record for the first time this past March, I knew this was going to be included on my top 10 albums of the year. The beauty of Forevermore is how the songs hit the listener immediately and with such definition. It’s like the band never went away.
3. Megadeth – Th1rte3n
Megadeth unleashed an absolutely astounding album earlier this year in the form of Th1rte3n. A whirlwind of fun, heavy metal, thunderous tunes, Dave Mustaine and company have put together a truly grand record that shines as bright as albums from the bands early days. Th1rte3n is one of Megadeth’s strongest albums to date and serves as a reminder to all metal fans what great hard rock sounds like. The glory of the album is the return of the guitar solo. While other bands are forgetting what guitar solos are and how they make a song grow into something much stronger, Megadeth is taking solos to the next level. The blazing speed and intensity of the guitars is featured mightily on this record and it’s all for the better. Simply stated, Th1rte3n is metal done right.
2. Anthrax – Worship Music
Prior to the release of Worship Music, Anthrax claimed that this was the best album the band had ever recorded. While that was a bold statement, after listening to the album just once, I realized that they may be right. After multiple listens, I am sure of it. Worship Music is not only an incredible Anthrax record it is an incredible rock record. It’s been 20 years since the band recorded with Joey Belladonna and after hearing Worship Music all I could think was “what the hell took them so long?” It’s not that Anthrax released bad albums with their other singers, it’s just that they never released an album this great. From the intense, heart pounding, hard rocking “The Devil You Know” to the Maiden-esque “In The End,” Anthrax has served up a serious record. There are very few metal records that could even come close to being this grand. Not just for 2011, but for all time. If Anthrax continues to create music in this capacity, they will spend the next 20 years of their career celebrating with a lot of gold and platinum.
1. Pop Evil – War of Angels
Between magnificent power ballads, hard rocking openers, and good old fashioned fun rock and roll, Pop Evil’s War of Angels is a record that should be added to any hard rock fans collection. I have waxed poetic about this band for a while now, and their latest release only proves that I should continue to sing the band’s high praises. Yes, perhaps I have a man-crush on lead singer Leigh Kakaty, but that’s all right. Beyond my envy, the man is a talented singer and a hell of a front man. Packed with memorable ballads such as “Purple” and “”Open Your Eyes,” in addition to hard core rockers like “Last Man Standing,” War of Angels contains nothing but songs you will be singing for years to come. Give them a few more years, and Pop Evil will be the darlings of hard rock radio. They are a cut above most of the new breed of rockers that are out there. Nickleback, Theory, even Hinder, can’t hold a candle to what Pop Evil is doing. War of Angels is the best rock record I’ve heard this year… the others don’t even come close.
And there they are…my choices for the best in rock, 2011.
Nelson – Lightning Strikes Twice
Sinner – One Bullet Left