Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best of 2011: The year's disappointments

A few of my most highly anticipated releases of this year turned out to be duds, so I'll start my look back at this year with the records that didn't pan out.

White Wizzard, Flying Tigers: This retro-metal act’s 2010 album Over the Top topped my best of list for that year. It was a fun, energetic and campy throwback to the days of my youth. After some turmoil in the band, White Wizzard comes out with a follow-up which shows a lot of musical growth. That’s admirable. Unfortunately, most of the big hooks and unadulterated fun of Over the Top are missing on Flying Tigers. It’s not bad, but it’s also not memorable.

Hank III, "Guttertown/Ghost to a Ghost/3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin': Like most fans, I figured that III had been sandbagging his best material for that first record once he got out from under his dispute-filled contract with Curb Records. I expected something along the lines of his 2006 masterwork Straight to Hell. Instead, we got four separate releases, and only one of the four – his doom metal outfit Attention Deficit Domination – even came close to meeting expectations. With the double album Guttertown/Ghost to a Ghost, we got another mediocre country record and an album of Cajun music that, while drawing critical acclaim, didn’t connect with me. Like most double records, there was probably enough material there for one decent record. The 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin’, which set actual auctioneer calls to a thrash soundtrack was certainly an original idea, but, for me, falls into the same territory as Metallica and Lou Reed’s Lulu – something that sounds interesting in concept, but arrives as a big mess.

Lazarus A.D., Black Rivers Flow: This modern thrash act's 2009 Metal Blade debut, The Onslaught, was a favorite for that year, and I expected big things. What I got was actually pretty boring.

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