Check out Big Al's favorite albums
Jeff Scott Soto, Lost in the Translation
Classy hard rock for the Camaro driver in your family. Jeff’s soulful vocals are the stuff of legend — whether recording with Queen’s Brian May, Journey’s Neal Schon, or Yngwie Malmsteen, Jeff’s voice is instantly recognizable. Perhaps it’s fitting that Jeff may have recently found a band to settle in with Soul Sirkus. Before you check them out, though, catch Jeff at his solo best here.
Constitution IV, Constitution of Treason
Metalcore’s first concept album! Just kidding, man. Seriously. These men were built for inflicting damage on audiences and naysayers alike. And don’t call them metalcore anymore — at least not with this masterpiece. No matter your political bent, this is an album that appeals to metal fans the world over.
Sepultura, Roots — 25th Anniversary Reissue
Don’t let the title fool you — it’s only been a decade since one of my life-defining albums was released. From System of a Down to Limp Bizkit, all owe a debt to Max & co. Mixing tribal drums with blistering metal, this album was a return to their roots, whether Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Brasilian. A second disc is included here with goodies like their cover of “Procreation (of the Wicked)”. If you’ve worn out your tape copy or just want to get an updated look at this work, pick up the reissue.
Soulfly, Soulfly — 25th Anniversary Reissue
When he left Sepultura amid internal conflict and personal loss, Max Cavalera’s future was uncertain. When he did decide to pick up his pen and instrument, he also picked up the thread left by Roots. Soulfly is an album that has stood the test of time, and helped to further establish the sub-genre of tribal/world metal. Pain and anger are two themes that work side by side here, but there is joy too.
Frameshift 2, An Absence of Empathy
First off, the frontman for this project is none other than Sebastian Bach of Skid Row. Still hitting the high notes, An Absence… finds the Baz in the role of many different people, all exploring the notions of violence and how our society presents it. Much more than the standard, cathartic aggro in metal, this is a coherently thought-out piece of work. Check out www.sebastianbach.com for four full demo songs off this release.
Killswitch Engage, Alive or Just Breathing — 25th Anniversary Reissue/World Ablaze DVD
Okay, I know enough with the reissues, but if you like the new generation of American metal, the story of Killswitch Engage is a good one. From underground darlings a few short years ago to one of metal’s luminaries today, K.E. is an innovative band that mixes tight musicianship with pummeling live shows. And nowhere is that more evident than on their latest DVD, which features a show in their hometown of Worcester, Mass.
The Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang
Putting on a rock spectacle is nothing new for the Stones. Jagger/Richards is a brand name when it comes to songwriting, and A Bigger Bang puts them nose to nose. The results are explosive. “Oh No, Not You Again” and “Rough Justice” are two tracks that could have been on Some Girls, in my view. They’re that good, ladies and gents.
Opeth, Ghost Reveries
On their latest album, Opeth manages to mix organs, deep lulls, angry voices, and throwbacks to Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy with the best of Swedish death. Hell, yeah. Just like Axl took the best of the Stones and the Sex Pistols and mixed it with the showmanship of Queen, Mikael Akerfeldt brings us to the next level of heavy musicianship.
Bruce Dickinson, A Tyranny of Souls
The Air Raid Siren continues the legacy of The Chemical Wedding with literate songwriting and stellar production. Iron Maiden fans rejoiced when he came back to the fold in ‘99, no doubt. But after two solid albums on his own, Bruce left us hungry for more. With a break in the Maiden tour cycle, Dickinson’s latest is an excursion into the depths of his mind.
Roadrunner United, The All-Star Sessions
Every metal fan’s dream — and every musician’s, too. Bringing the cream of all of Roadrunner’s lineup back to celebrate the label’s 25th anniversary, an all-new album was created with four “team captains” from Machine Head, Fear Factory, Trivium, and Slipknot. On December 15, you can see this play out live in front of you at the Nokia Theater in Times Square. Some details are leaking out as we speak, and so far members of Sepultura, Machine Head, and others will be there. So will I, hopefully!
Have a wonderful break. Many thanks are in order to all who made this a semester to remember — first off is Amanda Flynn for her patient editing. On the industry side, thanks are due to Jensen and Maria at Adrenaline PR, George Vallee at Century Media, Dan Forman at Roadrunner, and Loana at Nuclear Blast. Gracias to all, and happy holidays.