s me of the finest album has brought about so year 2009... of a decade.

This past the top ten albums of End of a year, the end urs of musing here is ties’. After many ho released of the ‘nough

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LAMB OF GOD WRATH
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Top tracks: Set To Fail, Contractor, In Your Words

sure fire hit from the Virginian metallers. Building on the success of 2005’s equally brutal ‘Sacrament’, Randy Blythe and co have certainly stepped up their game this time around. Avoiding the formulaic breakdowns that plagued earlier releases, Lamb of God have gone down a more energetic and catastrophic path, treading the waters more associated with death metal territory. With lead single ‘Set to Fail’ regarded as one of the finest songs of their career (and also nominated for a 2010 grammy award in the ‘Best Metal Performance’ category) it is only fitting that the album itself is regarded as one of their best releases. Other highlights include the in your face anthem ‘Contractor’ that moves along like a bullet train and with its shout along chorus, marks it as one of the fastest songs they’ve released since Black Label. The album also sounds a lot more cleaner than previous releases, allowing you to hear the countless riffs much more clearer. If you didn’t know heavy before, then after listening to Wrath, you’ll be more than well educated. Be sure to catch them at this years Download Festival ripping up the main stage one devastating circle pit at a time. Lamb of God’s Wrath will surely be tasted

9 Muse – The Resistance The ONLY British entry, Devon’s own Muse has come a long way through 5 albums in ten years. Following on from their smash hit 2006 album ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ and fresh off the back of their 2007 residency at the then newly refurbished Wembley Stadium, Muse returned in late 2009 with The Resistance. With this release the technical trio have cranked the political axis and conspiracy theories from yesteryear up a notch or two. The Resistance is loosely based on George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and judging by the lyrical content it is hard not to see why. The opening ‘Uprising’ delivers a thumping bass line reminiscent to Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ and questions a the controlling influences of a futuristic government. The feeling of nostalgia is stornlgy incorporated into Muse’s sound, with influences drawn heavily from Queen. ‘United States of Eurasia’ is Muse’s own Bohemian Rhapsody, not only because Matt Bellamy’s vocals at times mirror those of the late Freddie Mercury but it retains the abnormality that made Bohemian Rhapsody a classic. It still manages to hold its own ground, avoiding cliche and maintaing an original standpoint. ‘Unnatural Selection’ holds nothing back as Bellamy’s voice unleashes a heartfelt chorus against those of opposition. Ending with three part epic ‘Exogenesis’, a work of pure genius that allegedly used over 40 musicians in order to complete.if epic wasn’t used to describe Muse before, it certainly does now. Top tracks: Uprising, Unnatural Selection

8 Static-X – Cult of Static: Evil Disco, as spiky haired front man Wayne Static dubs his band’s industrial dance sound, has been ripping up venues worldwide for over 10 years now. It continues to desomate the coveted Ozzfest each year. Adding guitar solos to the mix on 2007’s ‘Cannibal’ and approaching darker lyrical territories silenced those who dismissed Static-X as another trendy ‘nu-metal’ band. On this record, the riffs and samples command you to get up and dance with aggression. ‘Lunatic’ (previously heard on the soundtrack to ‘The Punisher: War Zone) which now sports a brief guest solo from Megadeth’s mastermind Dave Mustaine, sets you off on a nostalgic journey to the classic ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ days and bringing back the aggression the ban regained after the firing of previous guitarist Trip Eilsen. The blistering ‘Z28’ and ‘Stingwray’ are destined to stand out at any live concert, particularly ‘Skinned’ shows the band at their best creating the most violent ‘evil disco’ that the fans have loved for the last ten years. Some might argue that ‘Cult of Static’ is another example of the band staying in their comfort zone, but when you name an album in appreciation to your loyal fan base, you may as well giv them what they want yet at the same time laying the blueprint of things to come. Top tracks: Z28, Lunatic, Stingwray

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6 Devildriver – Pray For Villains: When they’re not out on tour raising hell one circle pit at a time they’re in the studio churning out some of the darkest and heaviest metal of the 21st century. Dez Fafara has certainly come a long way since his nu-metal days in Coal Chamber, undoubtedly one of the worst bands of the last decade (save it Limp Bizkit haters). His growly vocal range shines on this record and proves that Devildriver aren’t one trick ponies. Listening to lead single Pray For Villains, a song about ‘the anti-hero’ the only advice that can be given is to find the nearest neckbrace, you’ll need it after headbanging to thiss ong. Devildriver move on to explore their more adventurous side in ‘I’ve Been Sober’, a sombre effort that introduces clean vocals, a first in Devildrivers 7 year career. Although not as heavy as the rest of the album it is still brutal in its delivery, and also one of the more catchy efforts! Accompanied by devastating screams, growly vocals and guitar solos galore, Pray For Villains reinforces Devildriver’s position as one of the top live metal acts of the new wave, and one of the more solid albums of 2009. Top tracks: Pray For Villains, Resurrection Blvd. I’ve Been Sober, Another Night in London

CHRIS CORNELL
SCREAM

hen news broke that former Soundgarded/Audioslave singer Chris Cornell’s third solo album would be produced by Timberland, the rock world all but revolted. Many were quick to dismiss it as the singer’s ‘sell out’ record. Some even went as far as to dismiss it off of the Billboard 200, lasting only several weeks on the chart. Despite all of this however, Scream is actually not as bad as it seems. In fact it’s an overlooked record with some exceptional R ‘n’ B inspired songs. The title track itself is an easy listening ‘chill out’ affair guaranteed to get the crowd to sing along. ‘Part of Me’ strays even further from Cornell’s body of work, with a backing track reminiscent of Daft Punk. The rock element however hasn’t been fully abandoned as ‘Never Far Away’ retains the necessary elements to cons. Recent rumours surfaced that Chris has returned to the studio to rework ‘Scream’ as a straight up rock record. After hearing the leaked mix of ‘Never Far Away’ it appears there is hope in reclaiming those lost fans. Top tracks: Part of Me, Never Far Away, Scream, Watch Out 5 Steel Panther – Feel The Steel Now whoever said metal had to be serious all the time? Steel Panther may be a parody metal band but what they do well is write catchy heavy metal anthems playing on the stereotypes of the average hair metal rock star. It’s so cliched to 80’s metal that it is awesome. Such topics include rocking out with your cock out (literally) and several explicit sexual activites. Such low brow humour is displayed in songs such as ‘Party All Day’ and ‘Community Property’ (the only power ballad known to use the word ‘dong’). Standout track ‘Death To All But Metal’ verbally attacks the trends and musical artists that succeeded the Motley Crue’s and the Bon Jovi’s (just be sure to listen out for the sneaky Metallica riff before the chorus). The subtle references just don’t stop there, with Party All Day’s suspiciously sounding homage to Livin’ on a Prayer. The band even have the likes of Kelly Clarkson queuing at their door to play on stage with them! (The band regularly hold a heavy metal show on the Las Vegas strip with countless celebrities joining them onstage to sing). Selling out venues in the UK on their last tour only emphasises that Steel Panther are well and truly bringing the fun back into metal. Thar they blow! Top tracks: Death To All But Metal, Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)

4 Pearl Jam – Backspacer 2009 has been the year of the comeback, with the live returns of Limp Bizkit and KoRn to name a few Then towards the end of the year we saw an astounding return from grunge legends Pearl Jam. With their ninth studio album Backspacer (named after the defunct button used on old typewriters, which front man Eddie Veddar uses to write all his lyrics) they funnily enough take it several steps forward, and is undoubtedly the most upbeat album of their career thus far. For this they have reunited with legendary producer Brendan O’Brien (Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against The Machine), of whom hasn’t worked with Pearl Jam since their 1998 release Yield. In terms of musical direction this is Pearl Jam at their best and, shockingly to grunge purists, their poppiest. It moves quick and fast before giving you time to breathe, lasting aproximately 39 minutes, much shorter than prevfious releases. No longer willing to be stapled to their ‘grunge icon’ status, they have gone as far as incorporating a New Wave sound into their arsenal whilst retaining the hooks that gained them a loyal following. Songs such as ‘The Fixer’ (an instant classic and undoubtedly THE perfect summer anthem) ‘Gonna See My Friend’ and ‘Supersonic’ are some of the highlight sing along anthems envoking nothing but positivity in the Pearl Jam camp. Sure Pearl Jam maybe a little more older and wiser than they once were but it just goes to show that they still know how to have fun. Top tracks: Supersonic, The Fixer, Gonna See My Friend, Got Some

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ALICE IN CH AIN S
BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE

fter front man Layne Staleys tragic death by heroin overdose in 2002 it was widely believed that the Seattle legends’ future died with him. Many were quick at the mark to attack new front man William Duvall as they felt he could not fit into Staley’s shoes. It is true that it was going to be no easy task trying to carry on the Alice in Chains name, making this album very nearly killed Jerry Cantrell at one point! But thankfully he fought himself back from illness.The creeping opener All Secrets Known rips away all doubt with Cantrell's eerie guitar and Sean Kinney's crashing drums. Recent singles 'A Looking in View' and 'Check My Brain' contain the classic sludgy sound reminiscent of classics such as God Smack and Man in the Box. Duvall himself truly shines, at times sounding vaguely similar to the late former singer Layne. The title track, Cantrell’s personal salute to his friend and ‘brother’ Layne, also includes a beautiful piano melody from the legendary Elton John, who’d have thought? Top tracks: Last of My Kind, Check My Brain, A Looking in View, Black Gives Way To Blue

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eleased in their native Sweden in May, Dead By April’s stunning debut crashed into the charts at number 2 (14 copies BEHIND Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown, fending off the returning Eminem to the number 3 spot). Consisting of former members of various death metal bands this album certainly does wonders. Incorporating elements of dance, pop, shredding metallic riffs and heart-wrenching aggressive vocals guaranteed to invoke emotion from its audience. Each song is as infectious as the other, with solid choruses and catchy riffs it will be no surprise to see the crowd singing along when performed live. Highlight tracks include ‘Promise Me’ ‘Erased’ and the In Flames inspired ‘Angels of Clarity’ which has garnered some attention from rock channel Scuzz!. ‘Erased’ begins with a melodic start before launching into a circle pit of tight, heavy riffs while retaining its pop hooks It’s like Linkin Park listened to too much Swedish Death Metal and went to a pop festival by accident. It is without doubt one of the more different albums of the last year. Here’s hoping that their success back home can be replicated here, Shinedown style! Check out an interview with lead vocalist Jimmie Strimmell on page … about touring the UK with Skindred and more about the album. Top tracks: Angels of Clarity, Falling Behind, I Made It, Promise Me, In My Arms

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DEAD BY APRIL

With other critics barking at the knees of manufactured garbage, one band has stood out from the pack, creating a Leviathan of a record. Released in the first quarter of 2009, it has since earned them acclaim once more, and is quite possibly the greatest album of the last few years. So who is it? Read on to find out...

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