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The Best of 2011!

In addition to my top picks for 2011, you can also read the top 5 picks from Mike, Pete, and Ty. Since we all have different tastes, it makes more sense to see different folks' opinions.

First... a Rant!

As wonderful as 2011 was musically, it also was "The Year of Douchebaggery" on the part of a few record labels. I think that at times, certain people get caught up in their own self importance and lose sight of the fact that the relationship between musicians, record labels, marketing companies, and media outlets (magazines, web sites, blogs, etc.) is SUPPOSED to be a symbiotic one. In theory, we're all supposed to be working towards one common goal, that being the promotion and enjoyment of, music we all love.

I had two separate incidents this year, where "executives" at firms either didn't do their homework, or simply behaved like idiots; shooting first and asking questions later, creating annoying and hostile situations that both could been avoided entirely had someone at these companies actually stopped to THINK and COMMUNICATE rather than shooting from the lip (or keyboard in this case).

  1. First up is a record label and marketing company that I have been doing business with for approximately a decade now. One morning several months ago I woke up to an irate voicemail (left at 2AM) from a musician very unhappy that I had put samples from his forthcoming album on Heavy Harmonies. This was followed by a terse email from the record label, demanding that I remove these samples, combined with their removing my access to their promotions system.

    Now here's the kicker... I did absolutely nothing differently with this particular album than I do with ANY of the albums they send me for promotion, and more importantly, they had NEVER bothered to say that this release/musician should be treated differently from all the others they handle!

    If you want special considerations for a particular album or band, e.g., holding the release of samples until after the formal release date (which begs the question WHY are you even doing promotions in the first place??) or only releasing samples of certain songs, or limiting their duration... THEN FOR GOD'S SAKE TELL THE MEDIA PARTNERS! We're not fucking mindreaders.

  2. Second is a case of a record label being lazy and not even bothering to lift a finger and do homework before firing off a cease-and-desist letter. Record label A partners with marketing company B to promote artist (an artist that I have promoted through various labels and marketers for many years). Company B sends me promotions information for new album. I add it to Heavy Harmonies along with samples...

    Out of the blue, I get a formal cease-and-desist letter from Record Label A demanding that I remove the entire discography of Artist, and immediately cease all illegal streaming of all of Artist's albums.

    Huh? What?!!

    Somewhere along the way, "somebody" told Record Label A that Heavy Harmonies was a torrent site (which is complete bullshit; there are no complete albums here, only samples. The only time I put up a complete song for people to listen to is for a favorite track or two in the annual "Best of" awards).

    So... did Record Label A bother to verify there were indeed torrents/streaming here? No.

    Did Record Label even bother visiting Heavy Harmonies to see what the site is about and what is contained here? No.

    Did Record Label bother to send me an inquiry or request on the matter? No.

    Did Record Label bother to check with their own marketing company to see if that company knew about Heavy Harmonies or whether they had sent me the material in question (which they had)? No.

    Record label executive thought it was easier/better to just fire off a cease-and-desist letter rather than making an attempt to communicate or corroborate.

And people wonder why the melodic hard rock scene is struggling? Answer: Douchebaggery.

If I could make a simple recommendation: Whether you are a musician, promoter, record label exec, or media partner, when you are in the process of taking someone to task for a perceived transgression, take a minute or two to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have all the information I need or am I possibly missing pieces of the puzzle?

  2. Have I confirmed the infraction for myself or am I taking someone else's word for it?

  3. If I have special promotional conditions that I am placing on an album, have I included those conditions or restrictions in the press package?

  4. If I'm handling a musician with a prima donna ego, have I made sure that THEY don't have special restrictions that I don't know about?

  5. Have I tried to constructively communicate with the media partner about this, or is my formal demand letter the first point of contact?

It's not rocket science, folks. All it takes is a bit of planning and foresight. We're supposed to all be working together towards a common goal. Situations like the ones above make it damned hard to maintain a positive outlook... and it is so unnecessary.

Enough negative bullshit... how about the music?

Dan's Picks for the Best of 2011

2011 was an amazing year musically. More "excellent" albums in a single year than I can recall in recent memory. Interestingly, for me at least, it was somewhat of a down year for so-called "modern hard rock" with bands that would be classified as "classic melodic hard rock" taking center stage. Sorting through and ranking albums is always difficult, but even more so this year.

The Also Rans

After Hours - Against the Grain
Alfonzetti - Here Comes the Night
Anthrax - Worship Music
Autograph - The Anthology
Beggars and Thieves - We Are the Brokenhearted
Benedictum - Dominion
Big Life - ST
Black N Blue - Hell Yeah
Black Veil Brides - Set the World on Fire
Bonfire - Still Alive
Bridger - ST
Cage - Supremacy of Steel
China - Light Up the Dark
Daughtry - Break the Spell
David Mark Pearce - Strange Angels
David Roberts - All Dressed Up
David Roberts - Better Late Than Never
David Roberts - The Missing Years
Destrophy - Cry Havoc
Disturbed - The Lost Children
Divinefire - Eye of the Storm
Electric Boys - And Them Boys Done Swang
Elevener - Symmetry in Motion
Evanescence - S/T
Fergie Frederiksen - Happiness Is the Road
Foreigner - Feels Like the First Time
George and G - So Much to Say
Golden Resurrection - Man With a Mission
Gotthard - Homegrown - Alive in Lugano
Grand Illusion - Prince of Paupers
Hard - Even Keel
Heartland - ST reissue
House of Lords - Big Money
Human Zoo - Eyes of the Stranger
If Only - No Bed of Roses
Issa - The Storm
James Durbin - Memories of a Beautiful Disaster
Jerusalem - She
John Waite - Rough and Tumble
John Wetton - Raised in Captivity
Jojo - ST reissue
Jorn - Live in Black
Journey - Eclipse
King Kobra - S/T
King of Hearts - 1989
Lady Gaga - Born This Way
Motherlode - Tomorrow Never Comes
Mr. Big - What If
Myland - Light of a New Day
Newman - Under Southern Skies
Nickelback - Here and Now
Night Ranger - Somewhere in California
Oriz - II
Paradise Inc - Time
Pop Evil - War of Angels
Reason - The Darkest Star
Reckless Love - Animal Attraction
Redlight King - Something for the Pain
Reece Kronlund - Solid
ReinXeed - 2012
Royal Hunt - Show Me How to Live
Saracen - Marilyn
Scheepers - ST
Scott Rolaf - Light of Day
Sebastian Bach - Kicking and Screaming
Sideburn - Jail
Sixx A.M. - This Is Gonna Hurt
Skansis - Leaving You
Soul Seller - Back to Life
Stala and So - It Is So
Strange Karma - Vol. 1
Swedish Hitz Goes Metal
Talon - III
The Poodles - Performocracy
The Wheel - S/T
Tokyo - ST reissue
Tora Tora - Revolution Day
Trillium - Alloy
Uriah Heep - Into the Wild
Uriah Heep - Live in Armenia
Vain - Enough Rope
Vhaldemar - Metal of the World
Victory - Dont Talk Science
Warp Drive - Something to Believe In
Warrant - Rockaholic
Whitesnake - Forevermore
Wild Rose - Half Past Midnight
Yes - In the Present Live from Lyon

Honorable Mentions

Airrace - Back to the Start. Much better than I was expecting, an excellent followup to the debut, granted a very long timespan intervening. A slightly heavier touch, but very melodic.

Alyson Avenue - Changes. Excellent female-fronted AOR, with solid production and a good blend of styles.

Chris Ousey - Rhyme and Reason. A bit crunchier than one would expect, yet distinctly melodic. Denander's and Slamer's input make this a very entertaining CD.

Fate - Ghosts from the Past. A revamped line-up produces a nicely heavy melodic rock album infinitely better than their last.

Grand Design - Idolizer. If you like Leppard, you'll dig this... how could you not? Some might call it derivative, but it is well executed.

Lechery - In Fire. Solid melodic metal in the same vein as the debut.

Lionville - ST. Classic 80s AOR in the most traditional sense. Lush and melodic, with the vocals taking center stage.

M.ILL.ION - Sane and Insanity. These guys have seemingly put out a zillion albums over the years (or maybe it just appears that way). I've heard the previous releases, and my reaction has always been one of indifference... until this album. Good production, great use of keys, and it keeps your attention.

Serpentine - Living and Dying in High Definition. I've always been a fan of Tony Mills' lead vox. This may seem to be "just another TM project" (he whores himself out more than JSS...) but it's very well done.

Shadowman - Watching Over You. A must-have for FM fans. Very consistent.

Shy - ST. Better than expected, more rocking than one would expect from the name, given the previous material.

Stealing Eden - Truth In Tragedy. In an otherwise bland year for modern hard rock, this debut effort is very well done!

Steel Panther - Balls Out. Even better executed than the debut! From a strictly musical perspective, this one would be in my top 5 for the year, but the lyrical content is holding them back, IMO. I know that raunchy is their schtick, but personally I would LOVE to hear an album of "normal" material from them.

Ten - Stormwarning. The new lineup and especially producer Dennis Ward give this a bit of a different spin, although at its core it is still tried and true "Ten". I would love to see Ten's first 3 albums get rerecorded and reproduced, as musically they are pure genius, but have the shittiest production ever made.

Theory of a Deadman - The Truth Is. This album has been almost universally panned for not bringing anything new to to the Nickelback/Hinder/INSERTBANDHERE table here, but this album gets some props from me for the most excellent "The Bitch Is Back".

Toby Hitchcock - Mercurys Down. A stellar album, period. If I had a "Top 6" of the year, this album would be in it. This release allows Toby to let loose a bit more than Pride of Lions allows him to.

White Widdow - Serenade. Syrup and keyboards please, hold the bacon. Wonderful production and over-the-top sound.

Williams Friestedt - ST. Pure westoast AOR bliss! Probably lighter than most here care for, but if the traditional '80s westcoast sound is what you're yearning for, look no further.

XOrigin - State of the Art. Classic AOR with wonderful vocal harmonies, although a bit generic at times.

Dan's Winners

5th Place

cover Work of Art - In Progress. This sophomore effort is just an absolutely wonderful AOR album, with just the right amount of "crunch" to it. The production is excellent, and there are lots of layers to the music. Keys are everpresent, as are lush vocal harmonies, very Toto-esque at times. The pace is somewhat frenetic occasionally, so repeated listens are necessary to get all the nuance.

Favorite track : Nature of the Game.

4th Place

cover The Magnificent - S/T. In the same manner that Spinal Tap's knobs "go to 11", The Magnificent take "over the top" well... over the top. The choruses are particularly powerful throughout. The only thing keeping this album from being in the top 3 is that the songs start sounding a little "samey" after a while. That said, this is some brilliant Scandi AOR.

Favorite track: Bullets.

3rd Place

cover Rob Moratti - Victory. This one came out of left field and smacked me in the head... hard! I was a fan of Rob's work with Final Frontier, but always found that there was just something lacking. No such problems here. Everything is a major improvement over previous efforts: the songwriting, the variety, and especially the production. This is a fun AOR album from start to finish. Plenty of replay potential; I've kept coming back to the album over and over.

Favorite Track: Standing on Top of the World.

2nd Place

cover Mecca - Undeniable. This album hasn't really gotten the level of "buzz" or promotion that I think it deserves, probably because for some idiotic reason the label has decided to split the release dates across 2011 (Europe) and 2012 (U.S.), so most folks in the U.S. won't even have a chance to hear this until 2012. So what exactly does a 9-year wait from first album to second get us? One amazing kick-ass album. This is one of the most skillfully crafted AOR albums I have heard in a long time. Very polished blend of westcoast and classic 80s AOR (think a modern-day blend of Survivor and Toto). While squarely in the AOR camp, some of the songs push an edgier sound (Perfect World, W2W) and there's even use of spoken verse in Life's Too Short, which initially put me off, but after repeated listens it fits quite well. One thing that I've not read anyone else mention is that to my ear, at times the timbre of Joe Vana's voice reminds me very much of an early Dennis DeYoung, which is not a bad thing at all. This album is an absolutely must-have for any fan of classic AOR.

Favorite Tracks: Ten Lifetimes (click to open), From the Start (click to open).

Dan's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2011 CD of the Year

cover Within Temptation - The Unforgiving. The Unforgiving is a concept album, based on a comic book series written by Steven O'Connell (BloodRayne) and illustrated by Romano Molenaar (Witchblade, X-Men). Several of the music videos for the album are actually short movies.

My obsessed fandom of this Dutch group is certainly no secret, and I've watched them progress from their formative years as a death metal band, to gothic metal, to symphonic metal, to their current equilibrium as richly-orchestrated hard rock. This album, their fifth studio effort, is their most accessible and radio-friendly yet. Interestingly enough, unlike fans of most bands that change their style radically over time, most WT fans have not complained about the progrssion of the band. This album hits on all cylinders, in many cases, trading the previous ethereal progressive orchestral elements for more "standard" guitar-based riffs.

The choruses on the songs are actually a much stronger component than their previous efforts. Think of it as if a progressive band like Dream Theater were to create an album of songs that had more traditional song structure... it wouldn't be inherently better or worse than previous releases, but a different offering that would provide a different perspective of the band and its material.

Not a week goes by when I don't listen to the album at least once... and considering I've had it since March, that is no mean feat.

Favorite Tracks: Shit.... well... pretty much all of them. Allright, we'll give it a go: Iron, Faster, Sinead.

Mike's Picks for the Best of 2011

The Also Rans

Arabia - Welcome To The Freakshow
Black 'n Blue - Hell Yeah!
Black Tide - Post Mortem
Bloodbound - Unholy Cross
Bulletboys - Rocked and Ripped
Burn Halo - Up From The Ashes
Coldspell - Out From The Cold
DC4 - Electric Ministry
Def Leppard - Mirror Ball - Live and More
Dynazty - Knock You Down
Eden's Curse - Trinity
Electric Boys - And Them Boys Done Swang
FarCry - Optimism
FireWolfe - FireWolfe
Firehouse - Full Circle
Foreigner - Extended Versions II
Foreigner - Feels Like The First Time
George Lynch - Kill All Control
Helix - Smash Hits ...Unplugged!
L.A. Guns - Acoustic Gypsy Live
Legion - Code Of Honour
M.ILL.ION - Sane And Insanity
Malicious - Malicious
Malison Rogue - Malison Rogue
Megadeth - Th1rt3en
Puddle of Mudd - Re:(disc)overed
Queensryche - Dedicated To Chaos
Reckless Love - Animal Attraction
Rob Moratti - Victory
Sebastian Bach - Kicking and Screaming
Serpentine - Living and Dying in High Definition
Sister - Hated
Steele - Steele (Tricks Up My Sleeve)
TNT - A Farewell To Arms
Tesla - Twisted Wires and the acoustic sessions...
The Cars - Move Like This
The Poodles - Performocracy
Tora Tora - Revolution Day
Vains Of Jenna - Reverse Tripped
Vamp Le Stat - Bloodline 2: Thrill of the Kill
Vamp Le Stat - Music to Strip To: Live 1994
Victory - Don't Talk Science
Whitesnake - Live At Donnington 1990
Work of Art - In Progress

Honorable Mentions

Anthrax - Worship Music. The best old school thrash/metal album of the year. With thunderous tracks like "The Devil You Know" and "Fight 'em 'til You Can't", this one barely missed the top five!

Beggars and Thieves - We Are the Brokenhearted. Great comeback album! "We Come Undone" is one of the best songs of 2011.

Grand Design - Idolizer. Killer sophomore effort featuring more excellent Leppardesque tunes.

Human Zoo - Eyes Of The Stranger. Another excellent release from one of the best hard rock bands out there at the moment.

Journey - Eclipse. Another highly enjoyable outing from Schon and company; "City of Hope" is excellent!

King Kobra - King Kobra. While this sounds nothing like the original King Kobra, Shortino is great as always on this hard rocking affair.

Mr. Big - What If. It's been 10 years since their last studio album, and they haven't missed a beat. Welcome back guys!

Night Ranger - Somewhere in California. A great return to their hard rockin' 80s roots. This is another one that barely misses the top five.

Rubicon Cross - Limited Edition EP. With C.J. Snare on vocals, Rubicon Cross sound like a heavier, more contemporary version of Firehouse, and that's a good thing!

Shy - S/T. Fantastic return to action with new vocalist Lee Small, and a much heavier attitude and approach.

Sixx: A.M. - This is Gonna Hurt. Easily the best "modern" hard rock album of the year in my opinion. "Oh My God" is tremendous!

Slash - Made In Stoke 24/7/11. Great live release featuring Myles Kennedy on vocals, and of course, Slash kicking ass on guitar!

Stryper - The Covering. While many folks consider covers albums to be blasphemy, Stryper do an excellent job here. Their version of Sabbath's "Heaven & Hell" alone makes this one worth the price of admission!

Mike Tramp - Stand Your Ground. This one came in under the radar. In a normal year, this would have been top five easy! Songs like "Straight From the Look in Your Eyes" and "The Soldier Never Started a War" make this one of my faves.

Mike's Winners

5th Place

cover Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot III. Chickenfoot are back with the follow-up to their 2009 debut, and pick up pretty much right where they left off. This one is solid through and through, but the big standouts for me are the rockers "Big Foot" and "Three and a Half Letters" along with the excellent balladesque "Different Devil". Slightly stronger overall than the debut in my opinion.

4th Place

cover The Magnificent - S/T. Carrying the torch for "power AOR" in 2011, The Magnificent actually live up to their name, and have delivered a magnificent album. The incredible power ballad "Angel" makes this release a must have, but the other 11 tracks are excellent as well. I look forward to hearing what these guys come up with next. Fans of Brother Firetribe should grab this one immediately if they haven't already done so!

3rd Place

cover Warrant - Rockaholic. Some folks will never accept Warrant with anyone other than Jani Lane (R.I.P.) on vocals, which is a shame, as Robert Mason does a fine job on this release. From hard rockers like "Sex Ain't Love" and my favorite, "Snake" to ballads like "Found Forever" and the superb "Home" this is a great release from top to bottom, and was virtually assured of a place in my 2011 top five from first listen.

2nd Place

cover Whitesnake - Forevermore. Wow. I honestly didn't think the 'snake could top 2008's "Good to Be Bad" which was one of the best releases of that year in my opinion, but damned if they didn't! Coverdale sounds as great as ever, and the twin guitar assault of Aldrich and Beach is insane. No need to go into track specifics here, as this one kicks some serious ass from beginning to end!

Mike's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2011 CD of the Year

cover House of Lords - Big Money. I proudly present to you the most consistent band of the last six years, James Christian and company aka House of Lords. After the misfire that was 2004's "The Power and the Myth", these guys have come back time and time again with one great album after another, and 2011's "Big Money" is no exception. From the hard rockin' title track/opener "Big Money", and the excellent "Someday When" to the closing track "Blood", this is another fantastic entry in the discography of one of my all-time favorite bands. Kudos!

Pete's Picks for the Best of 2011

The Also Rans

Adelitas Way - Home School Valedictorian
Bai Bang - Livin' My Dream
Bangalore Choir - All Or Nothing - Live At Firefest 2010
Black 'n Blue - Hell Yeah!
Burn Halo - Up From The Ashes
Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot III
FarCry - Optimism
George Lynch - Kill All Control
Grand Design - Idolizer
Hell in the Club - Let the Games Begin
House of Lords - Big Money
Journey - Eclipse
Lionville - Lionville
Mecca - Undeniable
Night Ranger - Somewhere in California
Outloud - Love Catastrophe
Pushking - The World as We Love It
Rev Theory - Justice
Sacred Heart - Propaganda
Sebastian Bach - Kicking and Screaming
Steel Panther - Balls Out
Steve Bello Band - Go Berzerk!
Strangeways - Where Do We Go From Here Live At Firefest 2010
Talon - III
The Poodles - Performocracy
Victory - Don't Talk Science

Honorable Mentions

Bangalore Choir - All Or Nothing (Live At Firefest 2010). Those that know me know I usually despise live albums, but the audio on this alone sounds phenomenal, and combined with a great performance well worth adding to your collection.

Beggars and Thieves - We Are the Brokenhearted. So glad to see these guys working together again. Love the voice, love the songs, hope it's just the start and they'll continue to release new music for years to come.

Black Country Communion - 2. Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian, and Joe Bonamassa... not really sure anything else needs to be said, except that this sucker ROCKS!

Chris Ousey - Rhyme and Reason. This took me by surprise, but really with the vocal power of Chris Ousey combined with heavy hitters Denander and Slamer it really shouldn't have. WELL WORTH picking up if you're looking for some well crafted melodic hard rock.

Daughtry - Break the Spell. It's Daughtry, I love Daughtry... hooks that are bigger than big, with songs about love and heartbreak that pretty much resonate with anyone with a pulse.

Fergie Frederiksen - Happiness Is the Road. Solid, well written AOR with keyboards from my good friend Eric Ragno, this album also represents a personal triumph for Frederiksen, who was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2010.

Mr. Big - What If... Nice to see these guys back, and with an album that doesn't sound like they forced it, or tried to do it by the numbers.

Newman - Under Southern Skies. Steve Newman is nothing short of amazing... 8 studio albums, each one a bit different, but all filled with great hooks and a ton of talent. With their latest release, Steve & Co. bring a dynamic maturity to the party making this quite possibly the finest release to date.

Shy - Shy. A bit heavier than other Shy releases I really dug this one. Sadly, guitarist Steve Harris passed away just a month after it was released.

The Answer - Revival. This is some seriously 70's influenced hard rock, with some odd arrangements, great hooks and the killer vocal prowess of Cormac Neason.

White Widdow - Serenade. The sophomore release from these Aussies brings more keyboards to the table with some great hooks and a competent production.

Work of Art - In Progress. Melodic hard rock with AOR sensibility, this is well played, well written and well produced, love it!

Pete's Winners

5th Place

cover Mitch Malloy - II. I was never a huge MM fan, having heard only a couple of the more popular tracks from his 1992 self-titled release... and then I saw his set at 2011's Firefest and I'm pretty much a fan for life. "II" is great collection of all new material that pretty much picks up where his first release left off. Poppy, upbeat, with a nice clean production and choruses that I DARE you not to sing along with... and if you get a chance to see him live, JUST DO IT!

4th Place

cover Warrant - Rockaholic. Yeah, I know it's not Jani... but Robert Mason brings it big time on this one. Mason is one of my favorite living vocalists hands down, and what he does on this release will show you why. From the rip it up opener of "Sex Ain't Love", through the heart tugging anthem of "Life's a Song" and the ballads "Home" and "What Love Can Do" Mason's impassioned vocals and the tightness of the rest of the band shine. My heart goes out to everyone who had to ride in my car and listen to me sing along with this over the many weeks it spent time in the player...

3rd Place

cover Black Stone Cherry - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Since the first self-titled BSC release in 2006, we've seen the evolution of a band. Starting out a bit heavier and with less solid lyrical content, we saw the cohesiveness increase with "Folklore and Superstition", and now finally with their latest release we see a tight, powerful unit with huge sounds and even bigger hooks. Detractors may say they've sold out with shout along singles like "Blame it on the Boom-Boom" or "White Trash Millionaire" but between that and songs like the road weary "In My Blood" BSC have really nailed it for me with their latest.

2nd Place

cover Sixx:A.M . - This is Gonna Hurt. Unlike Whitesnake, I was pretty sure there was no way Nikki & Co. could top 2007's "The Heroin Diaries" which sounded like Nikki had poured out his soul to a soundtrack from DJ Ashba. Lo and behold this one hit me like a freight train and didn't leave my player for weeks. I know Nikki and DJ tend to get all the credit for the Sixx:A.M. stuff, but you really shouldn't leave out the passionate vocals of James Michael which really add something that would be greatly missed if it weren't there. So okay, NOW I don't think they can top this... but I hope they prove me wrong...

Pete's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2011 CD of the Year

cover Whitesnake - Forevermore. What can I say... Coverdale and Aldrich took all the passion and fire from 2008's "Good to be Bad" and upped the ante with some hook laden powerhouse tracks full of everything you'd want from Whitesnake... David's sexed up lyrics, Doug's bigger than big guitar sound, and tons of singalong choruses. I was pretty sure I was going to like this one even before I picked it up, and I was not at all disappointed. A great blend of old and new school 'snake for ya.

Ty's Picks for the Best of 2011

The Also Rans

Angeline – Disconnected
Baby Jane – Are You Listening
Big Life – Big Life
Billion Dollar Babies – Die For Diamonds
Black & Blue – Hell Yeah!
Chickenfoot – III
Coldspell – Out From The Cold
Dynazty – Knock You Down
Eden’s Curse – Trinity
M.ILL.ION – Sane & Insanity
Paradise Inc. – Time
Shy – Shy
Soul Seller – Back To Life
Warrant – Rockaholic

Honorable Mentions

3 Doors Down – Time Of My Life. Exactly what I expected from this band. I mixed mood album full of great tunes that blended together nicely.

Bai Bang – Livin' My Dream. All around great album. There's a great mix of ballads and rockers with catchy hooks and melodies to sing along with.

Electric Boys – And Them Boys Done Swang. It's like they never left. You take the 60's and 70's funk & groove mashed into the 80's and 90's rock and you get these guys. This album is chock full of mojo and vibe along with some very impressive guitar playing.

Emphatic – Damage. A slightly more modern rock album in the style of My Darkest Days and Hinder, but still enough 80's vibe to keep your attention.

FarCry – Optimism. Straight forward hard rock. It's as simple as that. Nicely crafted songs with a good mux of guitar and enough keyboards to keep the AOR guys interested as well.

Hell In The Club – Let The Games Begin. Another straight forward raunchy “in your face” party rock album with elements of both Glam and hard rock. I really dug this one.

Journey – Eclipse. Darker and moodier version of Journey. While I understand the direction they were trying to go with this album, it didn't really seem like the Journey I personally wanted to hear. As always, Neal Schon really shines on this album and there are some good tunes, but a few are too long and seem to drag on.

Manraze – Punkfunkrootsrock. This one really surprised me. I only checked out due to Phil Collen being in the band. There is a little diversity here as far as style goes, but every song blends well into the next. Phil sings a LOT like Joe Elliot did in the late 80's.

Night Ranger – Somewhere In California. A great release by the mighty Night Ranger. I really had my hopes up for this to return to their 80's style more than it did. Although everything about this album was done top notch, there were still too many modern hints in it for me. I did enjoy it, but was expecting a few more Brad Gillis guitar solos.

Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming. All in all a decent release and continued on right where the last left off. Unfortunately, this one suffered from a little lack of direction I think. Great musicianship and production, but the songs didn't flow well.

The Magnificent - The Magnificent. A hard rock album with enough AOR and Melodic Rock to please everyone. This one was just barely edged out of my top 5.

The Poodles – Performocracy. Another great album that continues right where the last left off. These guys keep getting better and better if you can ignore the name

Voodoo Circle – Broken Heart Syndrome. Fantastic album, musicianship, production and songwriting. Alex Beyrodt and David Readman really shine here. Hard rock and blues all mixed up in a Deep Purple on steroids kind of way.

Whitesnake – Forevermore. What can be said about Whitesnake that hasn't been said already… David Coverdale really knows how to pen a tune and the combo of Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich are easily one of the best 1-2 punch guitar duos in rock at this time. This album is a time warp back to the late 70's/Early 80's Whitesnake sound and the 1987 self-titled album.

Ty's Winners

5th Place

cover Warp Drive – Something To Believe In. This was originally recorded back in the early 90's as a follow up to their Gimme Gimme album under the working title of "Speed Of Life", but it was shelved due to Mark Woerpel joining Blackfoot. Why? I have no idea. It was unshelved about 2 years ago as a digital download through different music vendors and finally, Kev Hellrazor of the mighty Kerrang! magazine wanted to put it on CD on his own record label. While the Gimme Gimme album was slightly directionless and varied a LOT in styles, this release tears right down the Hard Rock road with layers of great axework and fantastic production all around. Highlights: Rock N'Roll Party In The Streets, Something To Believe In, Hearts Done Time, Lay Me Down, and Black Mamba (Instrumental)

4th Place

cover Nickelback – Here & Now. These guys have really got their songwriting down to a tee to say the least. This album is exactly what I expect from Nickelback each and every time they release one. I know some people don't like their bands sounding the same every time, but there are certain bands that need to stick to what they do best and these guys are one of them. Highlights: This Means War, Bottoms Up, We Stand Together, Gotta Get Me Some, Lullaby, and Kiss It Goodbye

3rd Place

cover White Widdow – Serenade. Holy 80's Flashback, Batman! This album is a spectacular blend of Guitar and Keyboard rock in the style of Night Ranger, Danger Danger, and Heaven's Edge. Highlights: Seranade, How Far I Run, Strangers In The Night, and Love Won't Wait

2nd Place

cover Underride – Distorted Nation. Straight forward catchy fun Hard Rock. This hasn't left my truck since I got the CD. Great production, melodies, musicianship and I especially liked the guitar tone on this one for some reason. Highlights: Another Way Out, Paparazzi, Don't Walk Away, Do Anything To Me, Say Goodbye To Everything That's Gone, and Inside Out.

Ty's Pick for Heavy Harmonies 2011 CD of the Year

cover Sixx AM – This Is Gonna Hurt. In Your Face... This entire album just plain REEKS of Nikki Sixx songwriting and D.J. Ashba guitar wizardry. Each and every song is crafted very carefully and delivers a message of some kind. While I normally gravitate towards the more 80's sounding fun albums, this one just blew me away. I really liked The Heroin Diaries, but it didn't seem to flow well. This album really shows how much these guys have grown both musically as well as a band. Highlights? Pretty much every damn song!

Existing comments about Best of 2011

From: Doghouse Reilly Date: February 8, 2014 at 12:58
Arch Enemy: Khaos Legions; Symphony X: Iconoclast; Bullet: Highway Pirates; Machine Head: Unto The Locust; Anthrax: Worship Music; Evile: Five Serpents; Teeth; Amon Amarth: Surtur Rising; Mastodon: The Hunter; Rhino Bucket: Who's Got Mine; Warbringer: the title escapes me a the moment.

From: Scandiman Date: February 7, 2018 at 16:15
Here is my list of the best of 2011: Lovex - Watch Out!, Rob Moratti - Victory, Reckless Love - Animal Attraction, Work of Art - In Progress, Within Temptation - The Unforgiving. Honorable mentions: 7th Heaven - Pop Media, Adelitas Way - Home School Valedictorian, Lionville - S/T, The Magnificent - S/T, White Widdow - Serenade, and The Poodles - Performocracy.

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