The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25)

2009 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I am still very lucky to have many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review, to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU! Without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases and discovered some new bands. I have totalled up the CDs and there were 125 albums up for this year’s honors!

The only criteria I followed for my Top 40 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection AND the album had to be released in 2009. In the beginning of the year I decided that an album that was released in 2008, but was released in 2009 for the U.S., qualified as a 2009 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I more than doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into three posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is part 2, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11 – #25):


Ravage – The End Of Tomorrow (2009): Living in the New England area, there really isn’t much of a local scene like there used to be, especially in Rhode Island, but there are a few bands worth checking out. Ravage has been a fixture on the Massachusetts scene for over a decade but this is only their second full-length album! With most bands on the local, and national, scene playing mostly Metalcore and/or Hardcore it’s refreshing to hear a band play old school Traditional Metal. You could call this Power Metal too, maybe even Thrash in some spots. The bottom line here is that Ravage released a solid record that reminds me of my early ’80s roots…..great to have another local band in this year’s countdown.


Artillery – When Death Comes (2009): WHEN DEATH COMES was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, as well as, one of the albums I was really looking forward to. Thrash is on a major comeback and it was good to hear a new Artillery album, this one with new lead singer Søren Nico Adamsen. I feel that Artillery has expanded their overall sound and added enough melodic touches to their Thrash base to make this album even better than expected. I didn’t take WHEN DEATH COMES out of my regular weekly rotation until mid-November so I really spent a lot of time with it and it hasn’t disappointed.


Slayer – World Painted Blood (2009): Any year with a new Slayer album is a good year and anytime you get a new Slayer album then you know it’s going to be good. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Slayer fan but I have been following the band since the early ’80s. 2009 was a year for me to fill all the holes in my Slayer collection and give the entire catalog a serious listen. Then the new album was released and I’ve given that all my attention. The more I listen to WORLD PAINTED BLOOD, the more I like it. It’s brutal, heavy, and dangerous…..just like a Slayer album should be!


Bloodbound – Tabula Rasa (2009): The only reason I picked this album up because Urban Breed (ex-Tad Morose, current Pyramaze) was the lead singer. Besides Urban, I knew nothing about Bloodbound but TABULA RASA turned out to be a great buy! I’d call this heavy Power Metal incorporating great guitarwork, a solid rhythm section and, of course, awesome vocals. This is more or less a concept album with most of the songs having the tabula rasa (Latin for “blank slate”) idea but each song stands out on there own. Another big surprise for 2009 and an album I have kept in my weekly rotation for most of the year.


Mastodon – Crack The Skye (2009): I only started listening to Mastadon in 2006 with BLOOD MOUNTAIN so I’m not as familiar with the band’s style as others might be. I’m not going to lie…..I had a hard time getting into this album at first, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the wall of sound that Mastodon is. I bought this when it was released and gave it serious listening time but I didn’t get it. After letting it sit and coming back to it, I get it! Mastodon is going to be like Dream Theater for me where I have to stop listening and then come back later for more, especially with Mastodon as they continue to evolve their sound from album to album. I didn’t rank this as high as other websites’ but this is definitely one of the year’s best.


Candlemass – Death Magic Doom (2009): When Messiah Marcolin left Candlemass again in 2006 I didn’t think that a new record would be anything short of a letdown. That’s why I passed on 2007’s KING OF THE GREY ISLANDS. I picked this album up because the sale price was right and I figured I’d check out what the band sounded like with their current vocalist Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus). One listen to ‘Hammer Of Doom’ and I was hooked into the pure Doom influenced by Ozzy-era Black Sabbath…..after that, I was hooked. Robert Lowe puts in a great performance and the band hasn’t lost a step…..another great surprise for me in 2009 and definitely in the Top 20.


Stryper – Murder By Pride (2009): I only bought MURDER BY PRIDE because I have been a Stryper fan since the early ’80s and I still support the bands I grew up with. I had a lot of doubts about this album because the band’s last album, REBORN (2005), was awful. Then there is the Boston connection, lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet now fronting the Classic Rock band…..I wasn’t sure about a cover of the Boston classic ‘Peace Of Mind’ being added to a new Stryper record. Talk about a comeback, Stryper does a complete about-face and shelves the grungy sound they used on REBORN for a return to their classic melodic ’80s sound. The difference between 2009 and 1983-1990 is that the overall religious message isn’t constantly crammed into the listener, the message is still there but it’s more subtle. Stryper had me singing along almost right away and that’s always a good sign…..and the Boston cover? It’s pretty good!


U.D.O. – Dominator (2009): If you’re an old school Metal fan, then you should be an Accept fan. If you’re an Accept fan, then being an U.D.O. fan is basically the same thing. Udo Dirkscheider continues to fly the Accept flag through his namesake by playing uncompromising Traditional Heavy Metal that is always high quality. Every year U.D.O. releases a new record you know exactly what you’re going to get and DOMINATOR is definitely follows the same path as other U.D.O. albums. It’s great to have a veteran band that’s consistent year in and year out releasing solid Metal albums, now if they could just find a better album cover for this one!


Outloud – We’ll Rock You To Hell And Back Again! (2009): First let’s settle the confusion on the album title. The band’s label, Frontiers Records, lists this as “Self-titled” or “Outloud” but there is the title of “We’ll Rock You to Hell And Back Again!” above the band logo on the album cover. Which is it? The Metal websites & blogs are split down the middle and so are the online retailers. All year I went with “s/t” but I will use what’s on the album cover for this list. Back to the music…..remember the late ’80s? Outloud does! This album is a heavy melodic Hard Rock record that is full of hooks and bombastic arena tailored riffs… of Dokken, Europe, early Bon Jovi and definitely Riot will all like this. I had this ranked higher but it fell as other albums moved up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on a lot of year end lists.


Jorn Lande – Spirit Black (2009): I swear that everything Jorn Lande does is near perfect! Doesn’t matter if it’s with Masterplan, Ark, solo or part of projects, Jorn always puts in a masterful performance. It’s hard to believe that SPIRIT BLACK is Jorn’s seventh studio album in ten years but he just keeps releasing album after album of great Metal. SPIRIT BLACK is a record that still has a ton of melody and hooks but a lot heavier, more Heavy Metal. When I was putting this list together, Jorn Lande was an obvious choice…..just listen to that voice, he’s becoming one of my favorite singers alongside Halford, Dio, Turner, Hughes, Bonnet, Soto and D.C. Cooper.


Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009): This is one of the biggest surprises of 2009! I only picked up VAGABOND BONES a few weeks ago but it has been the most played album on a daily basis ever since. Helix always puts out consistently good albums and I have to give Brian Vollmer credit for following his musical formula and keeping everything sounding fresh. Sure, the Helix sound is rooted in AC/DC and the big ’80s but isn’t that what’s so good about them? VAGABOND BONES is an absolutly fun record with a ton of hooks that had me singing right along almost immeadiately. Some of the great songs here are ‘Go Hard Or Go Home’, ‘Jack It Up’ and ‘Vagabond Bones’. Go to the excellent PlanetHelix to give this album a listen and then go buy it!


Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009): The best thing Primal Fear did in the last few years was to expand their Power Metal sound by adding in a lot of different melodic styles. They did it with NEW RELIGION in 2007 and they have continued with 16.6. You’ve got serious heavy metal with ‘Riding The Eagle’ and then  melodic balladry with ‘Black Rain’ moving into more traditional Metal on ‘Killbound’. Basically, Primal Fear keeps you guessing as to what’s next and the expansion of their overall sound makes them more diverse and exciting then a lot of other Power Metal bands crowding the scene. This album took a few listens to take hold but it became one of my favorite albums of the year and stayed in the weekly rotation for most of 2009.


Kreator – Hordes Of Chaos (2009): The best Thrash album of 2009 without a doubt! I’ve had HORDES OF CHAOS since mid-December 2008 when the kind  people at SPV sent me a promo and I have been playing it regularly for the entire year. I know that Megadeth, Slayer and Artillery all released great Thrash albums this year but kreator set the bar high early on and no one has matched it. The intensity is there, the blistering guitar is there, the brutality is there too but what sets HORDES OF CHAOS apart is that Kreator wasn’t afraid to expand their Thrash formula and add in some melodic flourishes to the overall sound. I hope we don’t have to wait another four years again between new Kreator albums.


Praying Mantis – Sanctuary (2009): SANCTUARY is one of the big reasons why 2009 was such a great year for music, it was one of those albums that came out of nowhere and was just excellent. I grew up with bands from the NWOBHM so I know all about Praying Mantis but I really didn’t expect much from the band 20+ years after I discovered them. SANCTUARY is one of the best AOR/Melodic Rock albums of the year…..there are enough fast songs, mid-tempo songs and ballads that blend together to create a diverse wall of sound filled with melody and hooks a plenty. Current singer Mike Freeland puts in as smooth and effortless performance as  Joe Lynn Turner would and the music is striking in it’s power and beauty. Tino and Chris Troy have kept the Praying Mantis flag flying and SANCTUARY is one of their crown jewels…..I certainly enjoyed this album all year long and it just barely missed out on the Top 10.


FarCry – High Gear (2009): Another band, and album, that came out of nowhere to really captivate my attention and turn in one of the best Melodic Rock albums of 2009! FarCry is a new band and HIGH GEAR is an awesome debut filled with some of the best ’80s styled AOR/Melodic Rock I’ve heard in a long time with big harmonies, hooks and guitars. The music reminds me of classic Danger Danger, Tyketto, Firehouse and Warrant with a bit of Survivor and Journey mixed in. Sounds like good music? It is. Bottom line is FarCry isn’t reinventing the wheel here, their sound is easily 20+ years old for a new band, but they do this kind of music extremely well…..they have great songwriting, good performances, and huge production. HIGH GEAR is one of the best purchases I made this year and it just missed my Top 10. Well worth checking out, I’ve listened to it daily for months!


Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1-#10) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40) for the rest of this year’s countdown.

Artillery – When Death Comes (2009)


Artillery – When Death Comes (2009, Metal Mind)

  1. When Death Comes
  2. Upon My Cross I Crawl
  3. 10,000 Devils
  4. Rise Above It All
  5. Sandbox Philosophy
  6. Delusions Of Grandeur
  7. Not A Nightmare
  8. Damned Religion
  9. Uniform
  10. The End

Band Lineup:
Søren Nico Adamsen – Vocals
Michael Stiitzer – Guitars
Peter Thorslund – Bass
Morten Stiitzer – Guitars
Carsten N. Nielsen – Drums

Producer: Søren Andersen

Country: Denmark

Total Time = 53:15

Artillery MySpace page
Metal Mind Productions

I haven’t listened to an Artillery album in years but made a point of giving the band a fresh listen when I saw WHEN DEATH COMES on Metal Mind’s list of 2009 releases. After spinning the classic FEAR OF TOMORROW (1985), TERROR SQUAD (1987) and BY INHERITANCE (1990), I went to pull out the band’s comeback album B.A.C.K. (1999) and I didn’t have it! Maybe the 9 year gap between albums had something to do with why I thought I had bought it but never did. I didn’t make the same mistake twice by letting the 10 year gap this time around get to me, I’ve had WHEN DEATH COMES for a couple of months and have been spinning it regularly.

The first thing that most fans will notice is that original vocalist Flemming Ronsdorf is not on the record but new throat Søren Nico Adamsen does a superior job taking over. The second thing most Thrash purists will notice is that the album really skirts the line between Thrash and Traditional/Power Metal. Maybe it’s because Adamsen sounds different from Ronsdorf? I find most of WHEN DEATH COMES melodic…..melodic Thrash/ Maybe that’s going to be the difference? There are some instances in a few of the songs that could easily be from a Primal Fear, Hammerfall or Grave Digger album. That’s not to say that there isn’t Thrash on WHEN DEATH COMES, it’s more of a diversified sound and it comes out perfectly.

Opening with the title track, Artillery starts out heavy and fast with powerfull riffs and pounding drums with different speeds being used. Listen to the chorus on ‘When Death Comes’, it’s melodic to a point and kind of reminds me of Metallica in parts. Great song to open with because you get all the alements Artillery are using on the album in the first song. ‘Upon My Cross I Crawl’ kicks in with another signature Thrash riff and really keeps up the fast tempo with the excellent drumming of Carsten Nielsen. The Stiitzers really have the guitars blazing on the solos and Adamsen gets a little more aggressive except for the chorus where its comes off again melodic. I find myself singing right along to the chorus almost immeadiately so there is a hook in there that’s drawing me in. ‘10,000 Devils’ is the band’s first single/video from the album and it has a very commercial Thrash, dark Helloween sound (from THE DARK RIDE in 2000). Great song, it has some serious guitar and evil sounding melodic vocals, one of my favorites on the album. I like to hear bands incorporate different elements into their core sound and so far Artillery hasn’t disappointed.

Back to pure Thrash with ‘Rise Above It All’, a song that really has some excellent twin guitar riffs and solos and is a really solid headbang, same goes for ‘Sandbox Philospophy’ with it’s harsher vocals but catchy chorus. Both songs are examples of the older Artillery sound with speed riffs and powerful drums. The song that is going a bit against the grain of the album is ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’. The beginning of the song sounds like a cross between the melodic style Primal Fear used on NEW RELIGION in 2007 and slight Folk Metal stylings. Maybe it’s the acoustic guitars? Listen to the solo section right after the first couple of verses and you ca hear that Folk Metal influence. The song does toughen up around the chorus but it still doesn’t really qualify as Thrash, maybe slowed down Power Metal. It’s a different sound and Artillery seems willing to expand their core sound and experiment a little. ‘Not A Nightmare’ gets the album heavy again but it has a definite Primal Fear sound and the band leans more towards the melodic Power Metal end of the spectrum. Actually, ‘Not A Nightmare reminds me of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens-era Priest more than anything as the guitars get heavier towards the middle of the song. Same thing goes with ‘Damned Religion’ but I’m not really hearing much different than I’ve heard throughout the rest of the record. ‘Uniform’ gets WHEN DEATH COMES back on track to Artillery’s main Thrash base. I like how the song opens with a quick bassline and speeds into the main riff, almost Iron Maiden sounding until the drums kick in and everything speeds up. The final song has a fitting title, ‘The End’ finishes the album off with a very dark slower sound in the beginning and then it races off with a a Thrash/Power Metal gallop in some spots and pure speed in others.

Bottom Line:
I have been looking forward to WHEN DEATH COMES and I’ve given the album a lot of spins since I received the CD a few months ago. All in all, I like the entire album, Artillery has managaed to take their base Thrash and diversify it with some other influences. I like when bands try to experiment with their sound to make it better… doesn’t always work but I think Artillery has done a great job. Thrash purists might hear the melodic passages and the Power/Traditional Metal influences and cry foul but Artillery has made an album that is accessible to a wide range of Metal fans and it sounds really good. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Søren Nico Adamsen, the new singer, has co-written 8 out of 10 tracks on the record? That’s a great way to come in and contribute to your new band! I like the enhanced sound, I like the Thrash base, I like Adamsen’s voice so I’m really enjoying WHEN DEATH COMES. I’m not taking it out of my daily rotation for a while and it looks to be ones of my top albums of 2009.

Favorite Songs:
‘When Death Comes’, ‘Upon My Cross I Crawl’, ‘10,000 Devils’, ‘Rise Above It All’, ‘Sandbox Philosophy’, ‘Uniform’

Press Release: New live album from Artillery – One Foot In The Grave, The Other One In The Trash (2009) artwork, tracklisting, release dates announced

In anticipation for the new Artillery album “When Death Comes”, Metal Mind Productions will release the band’s first live album.

The album entitled “One Foot in the Grave, The Other One in the Trash” features a fantastic gig the thrash veterans of Artillery gave at Metalmania Festival 2008! The outstanding guitar play of brothers Stützer, charismatic Carsten Nielsen’s powerful drums and the uncompromising thrash energy of Søren Adamsen’s voice ruthlessly hammered their way into the hearts of the head bangers assembled on that occasion – it’s all there!!! Artillery launched a veritable blitz, bombarding their fans with a skull-breaking selection of some of the best songs from their entire discography, including great thrash metal masterpieces like “By Inheritence” and “Khomaniac”! The digipak edition is limited to 1000 copies!

“One Foot in the Grave, The Other One in the Trash” will be released on 25th May in Europe and 11th August in USA (via MVD).


Label: Metal Mind Records
Cat. No.: MASS CD 1179 DG
Barcode: 5907785034785
Format: CD DG (limited edition)
Genre: thrash metal
Release date: 25.05.2009 Europe / 11.08.2009 USA


1. Deeds of Darkness
2. Into the Universe
3. The Almighty
4. Cybermind
5. The Challenge
6. By Inheritance
7. The Eternal War
8. Beneath the Clay (R.I.P.)
9. Time Has Come
10. At War with Science
11. Out of the Sky
12. Khomaniac
13. Terror Squad

Press Release: New album from Artillery – When Death Comes (2009) artwork, tracklisting, release dates announced

Denmark’s Artillery is one of Europe’s earliest exponents of thrash metal and the band’s contribution to the bourgeoning genre is difficult to ignore. The Danish quartet successfully managed to fuse an abrasive brutality with technicality and good melodies, with the noteworthy guitar leads of the Stützer brothers as well as the remarkable vocals from Flemming Rønsdorf serving as highlights. Due to Artillery’s demos being well distributed, the band gained worldwide recognition even before the release of their first official album; and the band’s first three studio albums, “Fear of Tomorrow”, “Terror Squad” and “By Inheritance”, all assumed the status of classics in the thrash genre. However, due to lack of support from labels and internal band disputes, Artillery never really achieved their big breakthrough and thus split up in 1991. In late 1999, Artillery reunited and released the critically acclaimed album “B.A.C.K.”, but they never really took off as a band again. A few live appearances came in the wake of the release, only to be followed by silence. However, in 2008 the classic core of Artillery, consisting of Morten and Michael Stützer as well as Peter Thorslund (bass) and Carsten N. Nielsen (drums) rejoined forces and subsequently employed new vocalist Søren Adamsen, who provided the band with a rejuvenated energy and a musical prowess that was soon witnessed on the live DVD “One Foot in the Grave, The Other One in the Trash”, containing updated versions of classic material.


A new chapter in the life of Artillery has now begun with their brand new studio album, “When Death Comes”, which contains 10 blistering tracks that fill the void between past glory and future splendour. New material was recorded between March and April 2009 at Medley Studios in Denmark with Søren Andersen as the producer.

The band will promote the new album on a massive tour, which will be confirmed soon. So far the following events are confirmed:

24.04 Forbrændingen, Forbrændingen, Albertslund, Denmark w/ Konkhra
25.04 Vonhatten Randers, Denmark
04-06.06 Metal Magic Festival, Ungdommenhus, Fredericia, Denmark w/ Pagan Altar, Exmortem, Oliver Weers and more
13.06 Hellbrigade Festival, Thunder Road, Codevilla, Italy w/ Whiplash, Hyades and more
15.08 Jalo Metal Festival, Teatria Oulu, Oulu, Finland w/ Voivod, Electric Wizard, Nifelheim, Asphyx, Paradox and more

“When Death Comes” will be released as a jewel case CD and as a digipak CD including 2 bonus tracks. Japanese edition of the album will include an exclusive bonus track which won’t be available elsewhere.

The tracklist looks as follows:

1. When Death Comes
2. Upon My Cross I Crawl
3. 10.000 Devils
4. Rise Above It All
5. Sandbox Philosopsy
6. Delusions Of Grandeure
7. Not A Nightmare
8. Damned Religion
9. Uniform
10. The End

Bonus tracks (European/US digipak version only):
1. Refuse To Live – Part 2
2. Warhead (Morten Stützer/Søren Adamsen)

Bonus track (Japanese version only):
1. Chaos Ride

Metal Mind Productions will release the “When Death Comes” on 15th June in Europe, 23rd July in Japan (via King Records) and 11th August in USA (via MVD). Additional info to follow soon!