Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Best of 2023, Part 2: In Flames, Avatar, Metallica, Nita Strauss, Overkill

Continuing my list of top 20 albums of 2023:

No. 10. NITA STRAUSS – THE CALL OF THE VOID: The long-time Alice Cooper guitar slinger delivers her second solo album, this time shaking things up with a whole host of guest artists (including the boss), as well as some incredible instrumental pieces. The songs with guest stars do tend to take on the flavor of the guest’s band, but that’s honestly not a problem at all as it brings great variety from the melodic death metal influence of “The Wolf You Feed,” featuring Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, to the quirky nu metal of “Dead Inside,” featuring David Draiman of Disturbed, to the all-out hard rock of “Victorious,” featuring Dorothy. But it’s not just guest vocalists that Strauss brings on as we get a shredder's dream collab with Marty Friedman on “Surfacing,” to close the record. Call of the Void is a solid album that should appeal not only to guitar fans, but fans of great rock songs.

Standout songs: “Summer Storm,” “The Wolf You Feed,” “Victorious,” “Winner Takes All,” “Kintsugi,” “Surfacing”

Monday, January 1, 2024

Best of 2023, Part 1: Icon of Sin, Extreme, Texas Hippie Coalition, Burning Witches, Gloryhammer, Angus McSix

This was another surprisingly good music year for me. Perhaps not as strong as 2022, but still solid enough to produce a Best of 2023 list that includes a lot of very familiar faces and a few newcomers:

No. 20. GRYMHEART – HELLISH HUNT: There were several albums competing for this last spot on my list, including solid new efforts from Prong and Spirit Adrift. In the end, though, Grymheart’s debut album was just too much fun to deny. From the first time I stumbled across “Ignis Fatuus,” I knew this was my kind of band – a blend of folk metal, power metal, and extreme metal with some super addictive melodies. The lyrics are, at times, pretty awful, but since the only Hungarian words I know I learned from Alestorm, I really can’t knock them for their English lyrics.

Standout songs: “Ignis Fatuus,” “My Hellish Hunt,” “Fenrir’s Sons,” “Monsters Among Us”